I've had two notably entertaining experiences over the past few days. One with a company called 'Apple' and the other 'Macromedia'. It was a great experiment - I wanted to find out how easy or difficult it was to buy software the legal way down here in deepest darkest.
I just called Apple South Africa. I wanted to buy Quicktime Pro - a software upgrade that requires a "simple" registration code to activate. If you go to apple.com, there are a list of countries where you can purchase the software (you need a local postal address to pay online). South Africa, needless to say, is not among them. So I googled Apple South Africa and found the software. When I went to checkout, I read that the item 'was not in stock' and that I would have to wait '4 days'. I called the local "help" line and was greeted by a woman who told me that, better than '4 days', I would probably have to wait '3 months' for my 12 digit code since they have to email the States and wait for a reply with the registration code. I asked what I could do about it and she said that they (the official resellers of Apple in SA) had been complaining for ages and it was all pointless really.
The second hilarious episode happened after I had been trying to install Macromedia Studio on my new Mac. I had bought the software nice and cheap while I was in the States (it seems that students at Stanford University need all the help that they can get) but when I tried to install I kept getting a message that the software had been activate "too many times". I then emailed the UK Macromedia site (one office in the UK manages Africa, the Middle East and Europe) with my problem. I received a message very shortly afterwards saying that the EULA states that I have to 'transfer' my activation from my one machine to another. I relayed my problem of having spilled juice on my last laptop (leaving out the fact that Windows forces us to reinstall more often than I spill juice on my laptop) and that I couldn't transfer the activation because my computer was deceased. I then received a lovely, kind note saying that I would have to promise not to re-install the software on any other machine ever again. When I replied with 'I promise not to re-install the software on any other machine ever again', I received my new registration code. Much more efficient: only 5 emails and 3 days later.
Now I'm left with a lot of 'wonderings'. I wonder how we get anything done in Africa. I wondered whether someone should ask these companies why they even bother? In the old days they could do all of this without fear of reprisal: you didn't know what you were missing out on because you couldn't see what they were being offered elsewhere. Now I'm pissed off. And I have a software budget to spend.