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Frogmarch 2002 - Whitby
I have a permanent account with LiveJournal. I bought one for me and one for kateaw back in 2005, after a couple of years of paying for our accounts. It was a decent deal; each one cost the same as six years of a paid-for account, so now we are in 2012 we have benefitted from the deal. Despite the changes that LiveJournal are suggesting for paid accounts, I have an expectation that my permanent account will continue to provide me with the best level of service that LiveJournal offers.

When I buy media from iTunes, games from Steam, or ebooks from O’Reilly or Pragmatic Programmers, I have a similar expectation that they will stand by their promises, and that I will continue to have access to my media. O’Reilly explicitly advertises “Lifetime access, with free updates” for their ebooks. We are surrounded by companies that provide online products or services to customers with an expectation that they will be available indefinitely. Of course, any one of these organisations could fail, and I suppose that is a risk we take when we purchase any intangible products or services.

It hurts more when a company merely decides to renege on its previous commitments to its customers. Back in 2006 I bought a lifetime shared-hosting package from Joyent (né TextDrive), and in 2007 I bought a lifetime VM (running Solaris). With Joyent developing a major profile in the hosting industry, and news reports of major investments in its business, one could expect their long-term customer commitments to be honoured.

Back in August they announced that their “lifetime” packages were being cancelled. (Despite having sent me many emails over the years, and the occasional item through the post, they totally failed to communicate this to me — I only found out through the news media.) Initially they offered credit against their current services, which felt like a poor deal. Then they offered a total refund of original purchase price, which I accepted, but then they withdrew that offer.

Now my shared-hosting account is being spun off into a new TextDrive (the hosting company that merged into Joyent all those years ago), and should remain a lifetime product, so I haven’t lost anything there… apart from the last couple of months of hassle and uncertainty. And for my “lifetime” VM, I’ve received five-years of credit for a similarly-specced product from Joyent. The product is good, but I’m unhappy that “lifetime” can be laughed off with facetious comments from their executives on their forums.

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Get Judge Judy on the case!

As a Bear I have often wondered what "Lifetime" means in my case.
For example I have lifetime membership with both The Great Britain Trust and The Kennet and Avon Canal association.
Given the life expectancy of Kapok, carefuly looked after and indeed pampered, will they stand by me in, say, AD 2500?

I’m not sure that being “carefully looked after” is compatible with living life to the full. Perhaps the Kennet and Avon expect their members to have a wasted youth, and thereby to avoid a wise and productive old age?

That's potentially fraud - morally at least, if not legally.

Joyent are dropping the entire shared-hosting product range, and concentrating on business-oriented data centre virtualisation. So their argument is along the line that their shared-hosting product no longer exists, so its lifetime is over. At least they have now found a way to continue to fulfil the lifetime shared hosting, by spinning them off into a separate company. (I wonder how long it will last?)

The explanation behind the cancelling of the lifetime VM seems a bit wishy-washier, since Joyent continue to offer similar products using similar technology (but under different product names — what was an “Accelerator” is now a “SmartMachine”).

It all seems a bit weaselly.

If Joyent had a legal presence in the UK I’d have been tempted to claim a refund using a small-claims procedure. but as they don’t, I don’t think there is any sane option other than to accept their actions and to grumble.

Which of course is what they're relying on.

No criticism of your actions intended. Of course I did something similar when WinZip was acquired by Corel and abandoned perpetual free upgrades; all I could do was find an alternative rather than give them more money for something I'd already paid for.

Yup, Tivo did the same thing when Virgin took over the Tivo brand in the UK and they dropped their old system, including all the "lifetime" subscribers to it.

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