Software vs. Books: The Difference in Customer Expectations

Hi there,
I’m not getting the results I was expecting and getting it in line with my site takes too much work and manual adjustments. Can you please give me a refund?
Kind regards,

User in a support forum somewhere on the Internet

I recently came across an article where a plugin developer explains why he stopped selling on CodeCanyon. There are numerous reasons that have to do with their pricing structure and the increasingly difficult role of authors. And it somewhat confirms what others have concluded looking at available numbers.

Not everything is a direct criticism of CodeCanyon. In the case of customer service the problem seems to be that sellers are underpaid and insufficiently protected against ridiculous refund claims.

Sometimes a funny example tells more than 1000 words of explanations. Mike compared software to other products that you can buy online, for instance books. If you translate some of the buyers’ feedback to the other settings, it is quite revealing how things suddenly look absurd.

A) Unfulfilled Expectations


Hey, Stephen King. I bought your eBook from Amazon. While you described it well, I’m afraid I didn’t like the third chapter on Scary Clowns. I wanted a Scary Doll to show up. Not a Scary Clown. Please refund me my money as this isn’t what I expected when I bought the book


Hey there. I bought the plugin from CodeCanyon. While it was described well, when I’m using it with my theme which shows pictures of clowns, it doesn’t look as good as when you used it on pictures of dolls. It must be a bug. This isn’t what I was expecting when I purchased it as it doesn’t look good on my site. Please refund me my money as this isn’t what I expected when I bought the plugin

B) Required Skills


Hey, I bought this book but I cannot read. Please can you spend 30 hours reading it to me please Mr King. I don’t want to have it read to me all at once, but one chapter at a time please over the next 6 to 12 months? Will I pay you? But I bought the book, surely this means you’ll read it to me?


Hey, I bought this plugin but I’m not a developer. Please can you spend 30 hours setting it up for me on my website and making sure each release is compatible with each plugin I install as I build my site over the next 6 to 12 months? Will I pay you? But I bought the plugin this means I get support, right?

source: Epicplugins

Of course, these are – fortunately or hopefully – only rare cases. But they illustrate the problem that software is often seen as a special kind of product that seamlessly has to fit into any environment on the customer’s side and doesn’t require any special skills.

I certainly don’t want to defend sellers who simply deceive the buyers about features or WordPress plugins that don’t even work on a basic installation without other plugins or themes. But as the example on the top shows, some buyers either seem to be totally unaware of the “deal” when buying software, or they simply don’t care.

It would be interesting to know if the same happens with books. Are there cases where customers want to return a book because the story doesn’t meet their expectation? I assume that most of the huge sellers for eBooks simply refuse and point to the terms and conditions.

For a good reason, you usually cannot return books or music, once the data carrier was removed from the package. That is exactly why you help customers decide beforehand by offering them samples they can read or listen to before buying. Likewise, most software packages offer demos, a free slimmed-down version or a test account. I think that software previews are actually more than what you get when you have to decide about buying a book.

Photos by Tumisu (Pixabay) and by tropical.pete

Filed under: Job