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Why Handango Sucks Buttermilk Through a Straw

Handango Sucks Why Handango Sucks Buttermilk Through a Straw08-27-09 *** Update: The day after I posted this article, I received a call from the General Manager of Content at Handango, Guy Waitley.  Guy was genuinely concerned about the issues I had with Handango and we spoke at length about them.  I got two things out of this call, both of which made me happy.

One was that the things I experienced when dealing with Handango are not indicative of how Handango wants to treat it’s developers.  Guy expanded on this, but I’m honestly not a liberty to give specifics.  Suffice it to say, that there have been and are changes in the works at Handango when it comes to developer relations.

Second is that, as promised, we received final payment early the next morning after speaking with Guy.

So, will we now go back to selling on Handango?  No am afraid not.  I’m a very unforgiving individual and once a bridge is burned, there’s no going back for me.

But, I was very impressed by the fact that we received a call from a real person and that person was as professional and helpful as Guy was.

End of Update ***

This article is a rant.  It’s a rant by a developer (MobiMadness) about a poor excuse for a distributor, named Handango.  As a developer it is very hard to take a revenue stream and pull the plug.  But there comes a time when you have to say enough is enough and that point came about six weeks ago for us.

As a little background, if you create an application, game, theme, etc. for the BlackBerry smartphone, then you need someone to distribute it for you.  Of course you could just create a web site and sell through that, but it’s a very time consuming prospect and it will take you years to build up a clientele to make it profitable.  By that time, all of the orginal software will be obsolete and you will have a gigantic hole where your bank account used to be.  The easiest way to get your product out to millions of people quickly is to use a distributor such as MobiHand, BlackBerry App Store, or a host of others out there, including the before mentioned Handango, who I DO NOT recommend and you will see why as you read on.

All of this quick exposure does come with a price and in this case it’s a percentage of the sale.  The amount you pay the distributor ranges anywhere from 30-50% of the actual sale price.  Handango is the greediest of the bunch at 50%.  That’s right, they take 50% of every sale, right off the top.  So if you make the mistake of buying something from them, then understand that you are only giving the actual developer 50% of that purchase price.  The other 50% goes directly to Handango.  The bad news for you is that to compensate for this egregious greediness, the developers typically raise the prices for their goods on Handango to offset this.  It’s not uncommon to see a theme for your BlackBerry smartphone selling for $7.99 on Handango, when you could get the same theme on Mobihand.com for $4.99.  What’s worse, having sold our software on both Handango and MobiHand I can tell you the experiences couldn’t be more different.  Handango treats it’s developers like second class citizens, whereas MobiHand is a first rate operation.

Honestly right from the start I have hated Handango.  Hate is such a strong word but putting our themes on their service, was like selling our soul to the devil himself.  The interface was lousy, the accounting component for tracking sales was archaic, and don’t get me started on support.

The beginning of the end came for us almost a year ago when Handango changed their policy on distribution of royalties to developers.  This typically happened on the 15th of the month and you were required to have a commission of $100 due you or they would just hold the amount until you did have $100 owed to you.  Out of no where they changed the amount to $250 and failed to notify anyone, they even failed to change their stated policy online (see attached actual screenshot I took and sent to them)

Here is the actual cronological breakdown of the way Handango treats its developers when they have an issue.

10/16/08 - Noticed I hadn’t received our monthly distribution from Handango and sent an email:

MobiMadness:

Today is the 16th and I have not seen a monthly payment deposited to my PayPal account nor does the system indicated I have a Royalty Payment for the month of September. Please advise.

Handango Partners Support (the word Partner cracks me up)

The new minimum threshold is $250. You will receive a payment once you exceed that amount.

MobiMadness:

This is completely unacceptable considering this is not what I agreed to. You take 50% of my profits and then hold my money and collect interest on it? Please see the above picture of the developer FAQ section on YOUR website that specifically states that $100 is the minimum for a check and $50 for PayPal. Well I have PayPal setup and you owe me approximately $150, so I will look for that deposit today. Feel free to call me to discuss this further.

Here is an actual screenshot of their published policy, that I took at the time of this dispute.  This was attached to my previous demand for payment.

handango getting paid1 Why Handango Sucks Buttermilk Through a Straw

10/16/08 – Ok this is their reply to my email containing the screenshot.

Handango:

The minimum threshold used to be $100 until the CDA (attached).  There you may see that the new minimum threshold is $250. We will send you payments once you exceed that amount.

The only way to receive an amount lower than these thresholds is to close your account. If you would like to close your account, please deactivate and delete all your products. You can deactivate each product by logging into your developer account and selecting Modify> Remove from Customer View. To delete each product please select Your Products> Delete a Product. Once you have deactivated and deleted each product, please contact Partners and we will notify our Accounting Team to send your final payment.

If you think you are seeing things, then read it again.  They essentially are telling me, if I don’t like it, I can stick it.

MobiMadness:

This is by far the most unprofessional response I have ever received from a company. Please direct me to the next level of support. If there is none then please give me the email address for Bill Stone, your CEO.

This never happened, and as you will see from our most recent escipade, you can NOT reach anyone at Handango other than these neanderthals.

10-21-8 – Another attempt to get an email of someone who gives a crap at Handango

MobiMadness:

This is my 2nd request for escalation of this email.

Still no response.

10-22-08 – Again the almost unbelievable response

Unfortunately, you have not reached the $250 minimum. The only way to receive an amount lower than these thresholds is to close your account. If you would like to close your account, please deactivate and delete all your products. You can deactivate each product by logging into your developer account and selecting Modify> Remove from Customer View. To delete each product please select Your Products> Delete a Product. Once you have deactivated and deleted each product, please contact Partners and we will notify our Accounting Team to send your final payment.

This is where I should have stood up and said NO.  I’m not going to be treated like this by a company that is supposed to be professional.  But ultimately I didn’t and it’s a shameful thing to admit.

There are other instances of their substandard support to myself and my customers.

The straw that broke the camels back didn’t come until July 2009.  One of my clients who had an issue with the Handango support was sent to me for resolution and the help they had received was so pathetic that I decided the money just wasn’t worth it anymore.

07-12-09 – As previously instructed, I finally deleted all of our products and sent them an email to close the account.

MobiMadness:

I am very displeased with your company and have removed all of our products. Please send outstanding balance due us.

Handango:

Thanks for your email! I’m forwarding your request to our accounting team. They will confirm and get back with you shortly.

08-05-09 – Finally a response and a closure (NOT)

Handango:

A payment will be sent on 8/15/2009

08-12-09 – Hold on, didn’t we already do this dance?

Handango:

If you would like to close your account, please deactivate and delete all your products. You can deactivate each product by logging into your developer account and selecting Modify> Remove from Customer View. To delete each product please select Your Products> Delete a Product. Once you have deactivated and deleted each product, please contact Partners and we will notify our Accounting Team to send your final payment.

MobiMadness:

Honestly, is this some sort of joke? I deleted all of our products from your web site over a month ago and just now verified that there are none showing. I have already received confirmation that the account is closed and that a final payment would be made on the 15th of August. Has this changed for some reason?

Handango:

We apologize for the confusion as it appears we did not understand your request. We will forward your note on to our accounting team who should get back with you shortly to update you on the status.

So August 15th comes and goes, no payment.  I mean honestly it’s not much money we are talking about, but it’s the principal of thing.  I’ve final thrown off the yoke of oppression that Handango had around our neck and I want to be done with them, once and for all.

08-16-09 - I send and email inquiring about the payment.  No response

08-17-09 – I send an email inquiring about the payment. No response

08-25-09 – This goes on for over a week and finally a response:

Handango:

A payment will be sent 9/15/2009

No, “I’m terribly sorry for the confusion”, or how about a simple, “this was an oversight on our part”.  Nope, just one sentence. “A payment will be sent 9/15/2009″.  Now I’m truly pissed and the dam broke, so how best to vent?  Simple, I post this detailed accounting of what a piss poor organization Handango is and maybe, just maybe, someone will think twice about buying or selling with them.

MobiMadness:

No this is completely unacceptable.  It has been over 6 weeks since I closed this account.  I received a previous email stating this would be paid by the 15th of August and that did not happen.

This just further illustrates why we chose to close our account at Handango in the first place.  Your service and support are substandard and you treat your developers poorly.

I am including your President and CEO on this reply in hopes that this will stir the pot over at Handango.

I will also be starting a blog on our website (www.mobimadness.com) that details the sad state of affairs at Handango and urge my fellow developers to look elsewhere.

As a note, when I replied I CCd several emails that I assumed would be valid, but they all were returned as undeliverable.  Here is a list of those emails that go absolutely no where:  president@handango.com, ceo@handango.com, complaints@handandog.com, bill.stone@handango.com

So apparently Handango doesn’t want you to contact them via email.

I will update this post when and if I hear back from them, but I’m not holding my breath.

As a closing thought, in case it wasn’t clear, I think Handango SUCKS!


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About the Author

Daniel Black is the President and CEO of MobiMadness, Inc. Over the last 4 decades Dan has been an IT Director, Project Manager, Firefighter, EMT, and Army Staff Sergeant (retired).

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