Following a social media firestorm regarding customer relations, HRD Software co-founder Rick Ruhl, W4PC, has left the company and the ham radio industry. In a January open letter to customers, co-owner Michael Carper wrote that he and fellow co-founder Randy Gawtry would be assuming day-to-day management of the company.
The story goes back to last September, when a Ham Radio Deluxe customer posted a negative review of the product on a ham radio website. HRD management became aware of the review and added the customer's callsign to an internal "problem customer" list that blocked him from running future versions of the software. In December, the customer encountered some problems and created a "trouble ticket," according to Carper. A technician suggested that he install the latest version of the software, not knowing that it would not run under the customer's call. Apparently, the customer then had trouble re-installing the previous version and took his beef to social media, complaining (inaccurately, according to Carper) that HRD had hacked his computer. The post went viral and was reposted on a variety of blogs.
In addition to Ruhl's departure, Carper said the capability to disable the program based on a customer's callsign has been removed from the software and the license agreement has been modified to clarify that a customer has a perpetual license to use the version of the software that he/she has purchased.