How long is a lifetime? For Joyent, six years

Summary:How long should a "lifetime" subscription be honored? Cloud services company Joyent seeks to end an offer from 2006, angering customers.

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If you buy a "lifetime" subscription to something, just how long should it be honored, really?

Three years? Five? Ten? As long as the company exists? Forever?

San Francisco, Calif.-based cloud services company Joyent is attempting to move holdout customers to its new cloud platform, in doing so ending the "lifetime" deal these customers entered in by plunking down $500 for a services bundle.

It all started when Joyent acquired web hosting company TextDrive, which sold lifetime subscriptions to its earliest customers as a way to spur investment. Joyent honored the agreement, and everything was hunky dory. Until now.

The outrage is palpable. Here's one from Hacker News:

So sorry about not appreciating enough your new platform because " Everyone that’s moved to our new cloud infrastructure has been pleased with the results".

About the whole "lifetime" ("As long as we exist.") thing ... Stupid me. I never get that. I mean that was meant metaphorically, right, like in marriages?

And another:

200 shared hosting accounts (the state of play when I signed up) should be trivial for them to provide - even if they outsource that obligation to another provider.

And another from Google Plus:

Apparently by "lifetime" they meant until we get tired of supporting them....... 

The about-face on policy here is certainly undesired, but the situation raises a great question: if a company is bold (stupid?) enough to offer "lifetime" subscriptions to services, how long would you expect to have them before it's fair to pull the plug?

In a world where technologies replace technologies (and the companies behind them), how long is a "lifetime"?

[via TechCrunch]

Topics: Cloud

About

Andrew Nusca is a former writer-editor for ZDNet and contributor to CNET. He is also the former editor of SmartPlanet, ZDNet's sister site about innovation. He writes about business, technology and design now but used to cover finance, fashion and culture. He was an intern at Money, Men's Vogue, Popular Mechanics and the New York Daily Ne... Full Bio

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