URC Remote Software Policy Change

Mark Booth

Premium
Joined
Aug 25, 1999
Messages
2,819
Wow, I'm surprised that there wasn't already a topic going on this subject...

I just discovered that, on August 1, 2006, Universal Remote Control made a signficant change in their software policy for their PC-programmable remote controls. That announcement is detailed here:

http://www.remotecentral.com/wn060801.htm

In a nutshell, URC has created two "versions" of their programming software. One version has Live Updates turned off, the other version has Live Updates turned on. If you did not get your remote from an authorized dealer (and there are hundreds, if not thousands of us that didn't), then you only get access to the version with Live Updates turned off. This means that the IR code database you have access to is only the one that was up-to-date as of July 31, 2006 or thereabouts. Any future changes to the code database are unavailable to you.

Fair enough, I guess, for those that purchased their remotes AFTER the policy change. But here's the rub..... URC also turned off Live Updates for those of us that got our remotes BEFORE the policy change. The version of software that was freely available to ANYONE before July 31, and which fully supported Live Updates, has been crippled with no more Live Updates.

I am completely stunned that a company could effect such a policy that would so signficantly alter the performance of an already purchased product in a RETROACTIVE fashion.

Anyway, be warned.

Mark
 

Mark Booth

Premium
Joined
Aug 25, 1999
Messages
2,819
Well, either this is really old news to everyone here (I couldn't find a topic via search) or nobody here uses URC PC-programmable remotes (MX-700, MX-800, MX-850, etc.).

Mark
 

Jeff O.

Stunt Coordinator
Joined
Jun 12, 1999
Messages
190
Well, I for one do. I was reprogramming one of the remotes a couple of weeks ago and tried to do the automatic update and found out the above. Fortunately, I purchased from an authorized dealer, but haven't contacted them yet to see if I could get the latest updates. As long as it is working fine, I am not sure if I will bother.
 

Mark Booth

Premium
Joined
Aug 25, 1999
Messages
2,819
I got my MX-800 remote from Amazon.com. Amazon is not an authorized dealer so, according to URC's new software policy, I was going to be out in the cold with regard to Live Updates. However, I decided to write to URC and ask what they could do for me. I was pleased to receive a reply that they would extend a one-time courtesy and provide me with the newer version of the software with Live Updates turned on. That software should be in the mail on the way to me as I type this.

That said, I'm still completely disgusted with URC for implementing a policy change that RETROACTIVELY shut off some of the functionality of their remote programming software. It is one thing to make this change going forward, and quite another to apply it retroactively.

Don't get me wrong, I'm grateful that they are coming to my aid and providing the software. But I still can't get over the fact that there are so many others that are being left out in the cold or will have to jump through hoops to get a version of the software with Live Updates turned on. It just leaves a really bad taste in my mouth and, as happy as I've been with the MX-500 and MX-800 up until this debacle, I just don't see myself buying or recommending any of their products in the future.

Mark
 

Adam Gregorich

Owner
Owner
Senior HTF Member
Joined
Nov 20, 1999
Messages
16,379
Location
The Other Washington
Real Name
Adam
I have to take their side on this one Mark. That's why you always want to buy from an authorized dealer. It would be impractical for universal remote to have all the unauthorized dealers prior purchases supported, not to mention that if they did, there would be a ton of software out there with live update turned on that would get passed around. If you saved some $ on the purchase by not going through a dealer you got what you paid for. You can always find device files from remotecentral. For those who did buy from an authorized dealer, I'm sure the dealer would be more than willing to provide any updates. While I haven't read the licensing agreement I am willing to bet it mentions something about having needed to buy it from an authorized dealer.
 

Mark Booth

Premium
Joined
Aug 25, 1999
Messages
2,819
Adam,

I would possibly agree had URC never offered the fully working version of their software on their web site for free download by anyone. When I got my MX-800, you didn't need a password or any kind of proof of purchase to download the Live Update version of the software. URC was hosting both the software, and the complete MX-Editor manual for years before they made their policy change.

And that is my objection... they made the policy change RETROACTIVE. The Live Update feature stopped working for EVERYONE using the pre-July 31 software. Even for those folks that had purchased from an authorized dealer. And it is up to the individuals to contact their dealers to get access to the post-July 31 software with Live Update turned on. In some cases, those dealers have gone out of business.

Again, URC is sending me the post-July 31 software with Live Update turned on. But that doesn't mean the will do it for everyone. I suspect some folks will never get it. And, if I'm wrong, and URC is going to go ahead and replace the software for everyone (one-time courtesy for all), then what was the point of turning off the Live Update in the first place?

Mark

P.S. You might want to look at your "My Equipment--old page" link. I just clicked on it and it appears that it has been hacked.
 

Mark Booth

Premium
Joined
Aug 25, 1999
Messages
2,819
BTW, I'd like to remind everyone that URC receives exactly the same amount of $$$ from remotes sold via unauthorized dealers as they receive from authorized ones. Why? Because it is the authorized dealers and/or distributors that are selling the remotes off to the grey market. So, all of the folks using URC remotes from "unauthorized" sources have contributed just as many dollars to URC's bottom line as the folks that purchased the remotes from authorized sources. These aren't stolen or counterfeit remotes we're talking about here.

URC's gripe is with the dealers and/or distributors that are breaking their agreement (with URC) by selling off excess merchandise. Punish them, not the consumer.

Mark
 

Adam Gregorich

Owner
Owner
Senior HTF Member
Joined
Nov 20, 1999
Messages
16,379
Location
The Other Washington
Real Name
Adam
How is this any different if URC just stopped supporting the series of product you have? They supported it for a while and are just now saying if you want any additional support you will now have to go through your dealer. Unfortunately, it is easiest to tell the customers not to shop for grey markets, rather than going after the unauthorized dealers. If customers won't buy then the grey markets go away. This is not a URC problem. Go to just about any companies web page and they warn against going through unauthorized dealers. Having said that if a company finds that a distributor or dealer is selling out the back door they are no longer a dealer. It's more than the bottom line, URC invests a lot of money in training and supporting their authorized dealers who in turn train and support the end user. Unauthorized dealers dont get this and dont really support the customer, URC has to. It is pretty hard to become a dealer for some brands. URC is NOT one of these. Just about any breathing organism with any type of A/V industry connection can become a URC dealer. Having said that, what does that say about dealers who have chosen not to and why would you want to buy from someone like that?
 

Mark Booth

Premium
Joined
Aug 25, 1999
Messages
2,819
Adam,

You make good points but I think you are missing my point. Sure, URC has the right to stop supporting a product that they've DISCONTINUED (though, it wouldn't make good business sense to do so in my opinion). But pretty much all of the remotes that are affected by the loss of Live Updates are still current models.

In addition, while URC's pre-July 31 policy was to encourage buying your remote from an authorized dealer, at the same time they freely offered the MX-Editor software and MX-Editor manual on their web site. And, based on my conversations with a URC tech rep back in early June (when I was setting up my MX-Editor software to work on my Mac Mini with Boot Camp), it seemed quite obvious that URC was perfectly happy to provide some level of support to folks that got their remotes outside of "official" channels because I told the rep where I got my MX-800. And, ultimately, I actually ended up helping the URC technical dept. to learn which USB to serial adapter was the one that was most compatible with Boot Camp. And, at that time, URC's site said nothing about reduced functionality if you failed to buy from an authorized dealer.

For me, what URC has done is the equiv. of a company like Epson somehow turning off features in their printer driver if you didn't buy it from an authorized dealer. All of a sudden, you can only print in black & white, not in color. To get color, you have to get new software from an authorized dealer and if you didn't get your printer from an authorized dealer, tough! Thouands, if not hundreds of thousands, of people buy "grey market' goods each year. And in every case, the company making those goods received the same amount of money for them as those sold through authorized dealers (the exeption, of course, being stolen property... but there is zero evidence that theives are the target of URC's software policy change). It's the distributors and dealers that turn over the goods to the grey market. Until that dealer or distributor sold the remote to Amazon, it was an "authorized" product. But the minute it was sold to Amazon, it became an unauthorized product? Balderdash! It's the same product!

And what about the consequences for those buying the product second-hand? Let's say I buy an MX-800 from an authorized dealer and, later on, sell it to by a newer model. The software I transfer to the new owner of the MX-800 works as advertised (Live Updates is a heavily promoted feature, and an important one) but then, all of a sudden, the new owner of that remote loses the Live Update feature.

Or, I give the remote as a gift?

Or, the authorized dealer I purchased it from goes out of business?

Or, reputable businesses selling the product aren't authorized dealers at all? Who here wants to suggest that Amazon isn't a reputable business?

I simply saying that this was an egregious and immoral move on URC's part. Now, if they are willing to fix the situation for ALL of the affected URC remote owners, fantastic! But there's no evidence that they are doing that.

URC makes a fantastic product but the person that made this software policy change a RETROACTIVE decision needs to apologize to the thousands of URC customers that were inconvenienced. It was nothing more than an attempt to appease the custom installers and authorized delaers that were whinning about losing sales to the grey market. When, truth be told, it was their fellow custom installers and authorized dealers that were screwing them over by selling their excess inventory to the grey market. So, rather than punish the "bad" dealers, URC decides to punish the consumer.

Not very bright!

Mark
 

Adam Gregorich

Owner
Owner
Senior HTF Member
Joined
Nov 20, 1999
Messages
16,379
Location
The Other Washington
Real Name
Adam
I think we are going to have to agree to disagree. I think your printer example is way off base:

A better example using a printer would be if epson came out with an updated font pack every month and then said that they were only going to continue giving out fonts to customers who purchased through an authorized retailer. You can still print in color, they aren't taking anything away from what you have today, they just aren't giving you anything new tomorrow. Like I said I think we have run this conversation out and we will just agree to disagree.
 

Mark Booth

Premium
Joined
Aug 25, 1999
Messages
2,819

The bold emphasis in the above quote is mine. But I think it clearly tells everything that we need to know. It doesn't have a disclaimer anywhere that says, "Unless we change our mind".

Mark
 

Mark Booth

Premium
Joined
Aug 25, 1999
Messages
2,819

With the URC policy change and web site makeover came three things:

1) URC released a new version of the software with Live Update turned ON and made it available only through custom installers and authorized dealers (with at least one "one-time courtesy" exception, as I've already noted in my case).
2) URC released a new version of the software with with Live Update turned OFF and made it available through their web site for download by anyone with a valid serial number from their remote.
3) URC turned off the Live Update feature in ALL of the older existing software. If you already had a URC PC-programmable remote, whether that be 1 month or 3 years, the Live Update feature stopped working. It mattered not if you got your remote from an authorized source or from eBay. EVERYONE has to get new software to get back Live Update.

So, in a nutshell, that new software that is available via the link you provided doesn't return the Live Update functionality that URC turned off in the software I already have.

Mark
 

Mark Booth

Premium
Joined
Aug 25, 1999
Messages
2,819
Adam,

You would think that would be a way around the problem. Unfortunately, it appears that URC is in no big hurry to update the version available online (with Live Updates turned off).... the one currently posted is still the July 31 version. So, that's 4 months old already.

Beyond that, the other big problem with the download idea is that there are quite a few folks that aren't having any success downloading the software. They put in the serial number for their remote and it comes back as "invalid serial number".

Mark
 

Forum Sponsors

Forum statistics

Threads
344,832
Messages
4,721,648
Members
141,345
Latest member
els