2Clix scores own goal with Whirlpool case

2Clix scores own goal with Whirlpool case

Summary: 2Clix's decision to take legal action against Whirlpool means the company has already lost the battle to hide negative comments about its accounting software.

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commentary 2Clix's decision to take legal action against Whirlpool means the company has already lost the battle to hide negative comments about its accounting software.

Yesterday, popular broadband forum Whirlpool announced its founder has found himself on the wrong end of a lawsuit from accounting software maker 2Clix (PDF document).

According to the statement of claim, which was filed with the Queensland Supreme Court, 2Clix is alleging "injurious falsehood" against Whirlpool's owner, after the forum refused to remove user comments that negatively reviewed 2Clix products.

One of the comments cited in 2Clix's complaint read: "The software became such a problem, we threw it out recently ... We stuck with it for over two years but in the end, the many hundreds of lost hours of work and high stress levels were not worth it." Other threads involved in the action have been closed to new comments, but are still available online here and here.

The complaint goes on to list over 20 comments in the same vein from other disgruntled users.

2Clix is now suing for damages of AU$150,000 -- the figure it says it has lost in business as a result of the comments, which it calls "false and malicious" -- and the threads in question to be removed.

Product reviews are precisely that -- reviews: one individual's opinion. They are not ungilded, straight down the line, indisputable fact, nor are they presented as such. This is something any enterprise software buyer will be aware of and any such shopper worth their salt will read around any number of forums and reviews sites and talk to users in person before making any purchasing decision.

What vision of the future does this case engender? Will vendors campaign to stop their users voicing their opinions online? Will product reviews become contraband, passed hand to hand under pub tables? Will software discussions go underground -- a techie Fight Club, if you will? Is fair comment to become a luxury?

If 2Clix had hoped legal action would evaporate the bad press that appeared on Whirlpool, it has been proved very, very wrong. By attempting to stifle the forums and the offending posts, it has only served to distribute them to an ever wider audience.

News of the legal case has spread to influential news aggregators and Web sites across the globe, from Australia's mainstream media, to the US and UK. What started as a very Australian stoush has suddenly become worldwide news -- and as the story spreads, the comments that 2Clix has seen fit to sue over have been repeated over and over again.

Like a computer virus or Chinese whispers, those comments are seemingly self-replicating, making their way into the ears of more tech-heads and more software buyers -- presumably precisely what 2Clix had hoped to avoid.

If 2Clix had not fired up its lawyers and had not started court proceedings, I would suggest that the user comments that so riled it would have just drifted into the online horizon after a time.

Instead, the company has seen screeds and screeds of bad press thrown its way as a result of the case and, as Whirlpool intends to see 2Clix in court, we'll be hearing those comments over and over again.

I would suggest 2Clix would have been better off taking a lesson from Microsoft. The Web is awash with jets of bile of every shade labelling Microsoft products everything from pointless, inefficient bloatware to the software equivalent of Ivan Milat and yet it has never seen fit to call in its lawyers because it knows people will go on using the software, whatever reviews they read.

2Clix, however, has taken the opposite path and seemingly scored a spectacular own goal.

Whichever way the case goes, Whirlpool -- not 2Clix -- will come out the winner.

Topics: Broadband, Government, Government AU, Legal, Reviews, NBN

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Talkback

21 comments
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  • Own Goal

    Well written Jo, you have summed up the way the entire industry is reacting to this rubbish suit.
    anonymous
  • Don't you mean home goal?

    Brilliant article!
    anonymous
  • 2clix

    What a joke this is. This should be a lesson
    in a university on how to destroy a company.

    Its funny--my company used 2clix for over 2 years in Brisbane and we had to can it because
    it could not even produce a bas correctly.

    I can only say i am glad that they have finally decided to commit commercial suicide !!
    anonymous
  • Corrections

    1] 2Clix is actually suing Simon Wright, the site owner, and not Whirlpool itself.

    2] 2Clix is seeking damages of AUD150000 *per month* from January to July 2007.

    Well-written article, sums it up nicely.
    anonymous
  • 2Clix: contradictory behaviour on Whirlpool!

    But, and here's the funny part, 2Clix did see Whirlpool as a good medium by which to:
    a) Announce their new partnership with an overseas company
    b) Advertise a new product
    c) Pledge support to another third party forum that criticizes their product - although are not currently in litigation with that third party forum.

    How can this be seemingly contradictory behavior (the above actions by 2Clix and the current litigation against Simon Wright - the owner of Whirlpool) be explained?
    anonymous
  • Simon Wright

    Thanks for your comment - I've amended the article accordingly.

    Incidentally, the own goal/home goal question - I'm a soccer fan, in case anyone was wondering, hence the reference to an own goal.
    anonymous
  • its football...

    its football...

    Come on Jo, don't forget your roots....
    anonymous
  • Not quite

    The SOC actually contradicts itself - one mention is made of a $150,000 per month claim, but two are made of a *single* $150,000 claim.
    anonymous
  • Wrong targets

    Do you reckon zdnet might get sued because of that comment? ;-)

    Seriously tho' if 2clix have a problem with what people say about their product, then they should try to sue the writer, not the people who host the forum. That is where ownership of content belongs.
    anonymous
  • Per month, per claim

    Ummm.. actually no. 2 Clix's statement is that they suffered $150K loss per month, but iirc they are only seeking $150K in damages.
    anonymous
  • Clap Clap Clap Clap!!

    This sounds like the SCO thing. Sue, Sue & loose
    anonymous
  • Excellent article

    Well done Jo. This is definitely an excellent article which pretty much says how we all feel.

    The negative publicity surrounding this won't stop until the case is over. 2Clix have certainly 'messed' with the wrong site.

    The outcome will most certainly be interesting. I'll be watching this one very closely.
    anonymous
  • 2Clix who?

    1. Never heard of 'em. Did a search for "Accounting Software" and 2Clix not in the top 100. Uh-uh. Narrowed it down to Australia only, and first mention of 2Clix is a negative one (Slashdot to be precise) then 2Clix listing dawdles in at around 15th. Hmmmm ...

    2. I think the number of unsupportive (to 2Clix) opinions on this Talkback forum says it all - I don't think I've seen so much interest, and so many replies for ages.

    Personally, I'd be admitting mistakes, trying to improve the software and trying to keep existing costomers, trying to WIN friends, not alienating potential customers.

    I hope, 2Clix, you're now happy with your new advertising campaign. Great way to get yourself known - as narrow-minded and myopic.
    anonymous
  • wtf is 2clix???

    this is laughable! can't fix their bugs so they try to make money by suing! *lol* maybe the original paying customers should sue 2clix for loss of earnings for their time wasted when spending 2yrs to get their product working with their bizo??? forget any liability wavier in any product license, just file anyway's under the equivalent of your states "fair trading act" (perhaps "deceptive conduct & unfair contract (license))"???). funny thing is, if this was in vic, vcat accepts complaints in the 6 figures range, trying to claim legal costs is almost impossible (been there - done that).

    as a side point, I tend to always look up a product/bizo online. I generally take negative comments as a "pinch of salt" & expect them. what I go looking for is how the probs are resolved. 2clix action of suing instead of fixing their product is pathetic, it shows any prospects that they don't care about their clients after the initial sale.
    anonymous
  • Positives About 2Clix?

    Now, don't get me wrong - I'm totally supporting Simon & Whirlpool and FREE SPEECH IN GENERAL!

    But I wonder if there are any 2Clix customers reading who have anything positive to say about the company.

    Also, has the action taken by 2Clix made you think twice about whether or not you should be using it?

    Anyone out there?
    anonymous
  • re: wtf is 2clix???

    I couldn't agree more. It's how a company responds to a problem that makes the difference and 2clix have used the law? Crazy! I can only assume management at 2clix will now be focused on the court case instead of their product and customers. I donated $20 to Whirlpool... not neccessarily for the court case, but for all the help the forums have given me. Tons of useful info on those forums.
    anonymous
  • 2clix

    I'd never encountered the name of the software until about 6mths ago when a friend asked me for opinions on software for their business, and 2clix was among the shortlisted programs.

    I did some research on them then, and after talking with a tech who did have experience with the programand who mentioned that it was unable to do the basic accounting requirements correctly, we eliminated it from the list. SAP ended up getting the nod.

    After reading about them launching this garbage lawsuit I'm triply glad they didn't get the contract. That said, I'd be curious to know if there's been any action launched against them from unhappy clients for false and deceptive conduct or negligent misstatement.

    I'm glad to see almost everyone has the same general opinion on the matter. Just my 22cents worth.
    anonymous
  • Hear! Hear!

    Anyone who has been involved with Whirlpool knows that they have had difficulty with people posting responses that place them in legal jeapordy.

    Online forums are difficult and they are trying their best in putting together a forum where people can speak freely and be critized by peers.

    Whirpool doesn't consider itself above the law. Ironically, Whirlpool is one of the most democratic of forums on the internet because the voting system is done purely by peers.

    The ownership of such material has to be decided by the courts, and so the decision regarding defamation, if any.

    But why is the founder being put under threats of financial loss?

    It's a sad day when an Australian Software company has to resort to legal threats to upkeep the name of their company, but more so it would be an unfair system where an individual is litigated for providing a novel and new community service!
    anonymous
  • crap program

    Perhaps 2Clix should try to produce software that can actually ADD UP! We have been struggling with this rubbish program for the past two years (after they used MYOB's good name to flog the program to us, mind you. I wonder how MYOB would feel about being attached to crap like 2Clix!) After receiving no support, and no training, phone calls not returned, just the same old story 'you're the only one having THAT problem' or 'its YOUR hardware', we are now looking to get out. You couldn't get a worse program to use.

    If 2Clix don't want people bagging their product, perhaps they should try and fix the issues that it has! If you don't produce crap, people can't call it what it is! You can't use the BAS 'feature', unless of course the idea of going broke overpaying your GST Liability appeals! The reports are ALWAYS incorrect, don't even try to send media to the ATO from it. Not to mention a complete inability to track leave and sick accruals... the list of issues with this software is just endless. Its just rubbish. Comparing it to Microsoft isn't correct either.. MS may have issues, but programs like Excel can actually add up.. are we really asking for that much? Obviously the people who own 2Clix are just in it for the money and have no idea what customer service is all about. Go Whirlpool!
    anonymous
  • I hate them

    We nearly become their customer. We paid $30,000 deposit without even touch the software! Thanks to their great national sales manager. We really feel we were fool by giving him the money after he said yes to everything we asked. In the end we decide not going ahead. Of course we can not get our money back and the boss of the company threaten to sue us to pay him $170,000 even we do not want to buy it!! My comments on the forum were deleted by a modorate thinking I am telling lies.
    anonymous