Recently a customer was having a problem with Outlook; their PST file had become corrupted. This happens from time to time, especially with larger Outlook files, and the first thing to try is Microsoft’s own scanpst repair utility. When that doesn’t work or causes other issues, one goes Googling for specialty applications.
That’s how I found Stellar Phoenix and their Outlook PST Recovery utility. I ran the PST file through a scan with the trial version and it found quite a bit of data to recover – over 45,000 Emails – so I decided to purchase it. After the scan was complete I noticed that Emails were corrupted, with foreign characters and bizarre time stamps and headers. The real problem wasn’t the corrupted Emails, but the massive amount of missing data. The original 4.5GB file was reduced to under 4GB by the Stellar Phoenix recovery utility, as see below.
|Somehow Stellar Phoenix’s utility lost over 500MB of my data. (NOTE: The program doesn’t tell you the estimated recovered file size.)
My decision to purchase the utility was based largely on the fact that they have a very prominently placed 30 Day Money Back Guarantee right there on the product page. Here is what you see when you click on it:
So, let’s break down the language there. They guarantee that all customers will receive a full refund if the software is unable to recover data. Well, it’s pretty clear that the software wasn’t able to recover the data – at least 500MB of it was just gone.
Next they state that they require you to seek technical support to attempt to solve the issue. Over the next eight days I went back and forth with their technical support staff. After my first request for a refund when opening the ticket I was given a list of questions ranging from the version of Outlook in use to what the size of the PST file was. No troubleshooting steps were given, but I answered the questions and again asked for a refund.
After a few more Emails it had become clear that they were not actually interested in providing any technical support, despite my asking them to do so directly. Instead, they continued to state that they would “happily accept [my] refund request” if they were unable to provide technical support. At this point I stated again that data had been lost and asked for a refund. Their reply was that the software “carries a lifetime license which would certainly help you in future along with that we provide unlimited technical support to all our valued customers.”
Now, having lost my patience, I stated once more that they had not provided any troubleshooting steps and reiterated my refund request. They replied again that they would not provide a refund without troubleshooting. I sent them a final Email linking to the Money Back Guarantee image above making the same point that I had made several times before, and this was the Email I received back:
Delivery to the following recipient failed permanently:
Technical details of permanent failure:
Google tried to deliver your message, but it was rejected by the recipient domain. We recommend contacting the other email provider for further information about the cause of this error. The error that the other server returned was: 550 550 5.7.1 Recipient not authorized, your IP has been found on a block list (state 13).
Stellar Phoenix blocked my IP address rather than providing the refund their website guaranteed They provided no technical support whatsoever and then blocked my IP address rather than providing a simple $129.00 refund.
I should have done my research before buying. Several people have posted on Complaintsboard.com echoing my concerns. Even more have posted on RipoffReport.com. It’s one thing to ask the customer to let you help them before granting a refund, but it’s quite another to use that as a tool to avoid granting refund requests. Blocking my IP address rather than providing me with even a hint of technical support makes it perfectly clear that they never intended to honor their guarantee in the first place. Buyer beware.