Review of QuarkXPress and Quark Inc.
And at the beginning of 2020, this is where I stepped into it with my book project. Like so many small users I could not justify the expense of Adobe's InDesign subscriptions. Prices for new unused earlier computer based versions of InDesign went through the roof, as demand for this older software greatly outstripped supply. At the time Affinity Publisher was still in beta release, and I needed to get some work done without dealing with the constant bugs that come with that territory. QuarkXPress was really my only option. It was old software but I had no need for new features. The company had long since been sold by its founders (never a good sign in the software business) but the new owners seemed to be chugging along. So I bought QuarkXPress and started using it for my project.
Right away I found it to be buggy. In fact, I don't think I have ever used commercial software that was as full of bugs as QuarkXPress 2019 and then 2020. I had just finished a small book project using the free and open source desktop publishing software Scribus. Scribus was typical of open source software in that it was quite buggy, but I still could be productive using it, and it was free. In contrast QuarkXPress was far buggier, and I paid real money for it.
Having no set format requirements for the book I worked around most of the bugs in various features of QuarkXPress. But the software crashed on a regular basis, and of course each time it did I lost work. As a former software engineer I fully understand the consequences of fatal bugs. Software developers want to find and fix these quickly. Software that crashes all the time is software that pisses off users. Bigly. I won't bore you with the details of all the bugs in QuarkXPress that thwarted my progress, but there were many. The most basic features, like auto update, auto file saving, and auto backups didn't work. Each time the software was invoked, tool palettes were in different places or not visible at all. There were bugs in paragraph formating, in table formating. The list of bugs goes on. And on.
But the big deal was that the interval between crashes got shorter as time went on, with QuarkXPress eventually crashing multiple times an hour. I finally reached the point where I had to give up trying to use this mess. Quark's response throughout my ordeal was to offer new point releases, but it was abundantly clear that they just were not fixing the bugs that cause the crashes.
And that is when I decided to attempt to convert my project to Affinity Publisher. Fortunately by the end of 2020 it was well out of beta. By the time the free ten day Affinity Publisher evaluation period was up, it was clear that I would have far better success with Affinity Publisher than I did with QuarkXPress. I have found Affinity Publisher to be very robust. It is beautiful software. It has all the features I need for my project. And the price is far, far better than what InDesign and QuarkXPress offer. The cost of Affinity Publisher is about the same as what Quark charges for two months of "support."
Knowing full well after almost a year of trying to work with QuarkXPress that the likelihood of Quark fixing the fatal crashes was slim, I told Quark company president Chris Hickey that I wanted working software or a refund of the purchase price. He sent back a cursory reply, and even though I direct all my subsequent correspondence directly to him, he apparently just forwards anything from me to one of his minions. In what was one of the most tone deaf responses I believe I have ever received from a software company, Lohit Arora, a Quark Support Team member, offered me an additional six months of the same ridiculously ineffective support they had been providing all year. I kept pressing my demand, and made it clear that I was going to detail my experiences with QuarkXPress and Quark Inc. publicly on the Internet.
In response to my demand to Quark for working software or a refund, they offered a refund, in so doing implicitly admitting they could not actually provide working software.
But unfortunately for me Quark Inc. was not yet done wasting my time. Quark Director of Sales Lohit Arora informed me that that they had sent my refund to a credit card account which was no longer active. When I mentioned this was the case and told him they could either refund me via PayPal or send me a physical check, Arora said he'd check on this and get back to me. Which he never did. The next week, I sent email again to Quark Inc. president Chris Hickey demanding my refund, and received yet another tone deaf reply, this time from Rakesh Singh at Quark, telling me that they issued a refund according to their *policy* and I should try to track it down myself.
OK business students, here's a case for you. You've got a technically astute and really pissed off customer that is intending to expose the sorry state of your software and your company on the Internet, and your company has wisely decided it is prudent to refund that customer's money. You (A.) Promptly refund the money, with many apologies for his or her inconvenience; or (B.) do a desultory job of issuing a refund, and when that doesn't work, you tell the pissed off customer to deal with it himself/herself, in the process providing more damning information about your company that the customer will expose on the Internet.
I send yet another message to Quark company president Chris Hickey demanding a refund. Crickets.
As of early January 2021 I'm still waiting for my refund. But I decided to put this site up as a public service, and will add updates on my continuing dealing with Quark Inc. as they happen.
With this site up and running, I send yet another message to Chris Hickey, Quark's president, demanding my refund. In response I get a reply from the feckless Lohit Arora, asking me how I would like my refund, information which I already provided to him. Apparently the need to waste their customers' time is deeply ingrained in the corporate culture of Quark Inc. But I'm not really surprised by this. As a rule, defective software is usually made by defective companies. But the good news is, it appears public shaming has had its intended effect, at least as far as my refund goes.
Finally in late January 2021 I receive my refund check from Quark. With luck, I am done dealing with Quark Inc. forever! But if something comes up I will be sure to add it here.