Pop Software is not fulfilling orders *UPDATED*

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DOSGuy
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Pop Software is not fulfilling orders *UPDATED*

Post by DOSGuy » January 22nd, 2008, 2:08 pm

Ever since Pop Software started selling Invasion of the Mutant Space Bats of Doom and Return of the Mutant Space Bats of Doom again, people have told me that they've made PayPal payments to Pop Software, but haven't received the games. Spacebats.net's own forum is full of posts from customers who never received their games. One customer complained 447 days ago and (presumably) never received a response.

I was royally ticked off when I heard about this, and I've been trying to get into contact with Mike Pooler for over a year. It seems that spacebats.net was just a pet project for him, and he hasn't followed through on his commitments. Taking people's money and not giving them what they paid for is not okay! I have been in regular contact with a fellow who claims to have spoken to Mr. Pooler about my desire to speak to him since September 2006, but his efforts to initiate contact have been fruitless. Until the situation changes, I must discourage everyone from sending payments to Pop Software.

In the interest of full disclosure, I would like to confess my own guilt in this mess. As an editor for DMOZ, the Open Directory Project, I added spacebats.net to the publishers of DOS games section. I've been driving visitors and sales to Pop Software's website, and screwing them out of $24 each. I have to do something to make this right.

To try to force a response out of Mr. Pooler, or at least damage his PayPal rating, I have used $24 of the surplus from 2007 to purchase Space Bats 1 and 2 from Pop Software. If I don't receive a copy of the game within one week, I will file a dispute with PayPal. I suspect that Mr. Pooler won't respond to it because I believe the email address he registered with PayPal is no longer valid. If he doesn't respond, the money will be returned and Pop Software will permanently have an unresolved dispute on their file. I'm not sure if I can ever prevent the account from accepting payments, but hopefully some good will come from this. My hope, of course, is that I will receive the games by email, like I'm supposed to, and I will contact that email and beg Mr. Pooler to fulfill the rest of his orders.

Comments and horror stories are welcome.
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Re: Pop Software is not fulfilling orders

Post by leilei » January 22nd, 2008, 3:38 pm

not a game but i've had a similar horror story with milkshape 3d. In 2000 i've registered it and my serial stopped working in 1.5.x. Fast forward 6 years, 1.8.2 works with my serial, though it's already too late since i've switched to Blender years before that happened.

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Re: Pop Software is not fulfilling orders

Post by ThreeHeadedMonkey » January 23rd, 2008, 3:55 am

Has anyone tried to buy something from Epic Classics? Their website seems hugely outdated.
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Re: Pop Software is not fulfilling orders

Post by DOSGuy » January 23rd, 2008, 10:55 am

It is hugely outdated, in that it sells four games that have since become freeware. Tim Sweeney assures me that they fulfill all orders and send payments to the copyright holders. I'm going to phone them right now to let them know about the games that are freeware. I'm sure they didn't intend to list games that are free in their order catalog.

Edit: I just spoke to the fellow who runs Epic Classics, and he was unaware that those games are now freeware. He reminded me that when you order the games, you get the brochure as well. He said that the manual that comes with the Epic Puzzle Pack is 40 pages! I asked that he make a note on the site stating that the games can be downloaded for free, but there may be people who are still interested in ordering those games in order to get the materials that come with them.
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Re: Pop Software is not fulfilling orders

Post by ThreeHeadedMonkey » January 24th, 2008, 6:53 am

Thanks for looking into it. I was thinking about ordering from them, but I was afraid it might turn out they were out of business or something like that.
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I am from a far away land called Gametalk

Post by SoApBoX » January 26th, 2008, 4:32 pm

Excuse me if this is off-topic, but I was given a link and a recommendation to this site from someone known as 'Mike' who runs the site that I came from. This was what was written:

"Some quick news about a certain video game called Invasion of the Mutant Space Bats of Doom. Our good friends at:

Classic Dos Games

Have been saying nice things about it, and we would like to both thank them and invite everyone to check them out. More info may be found at our own revived Space Bats Forum."

The whole 'Space Bats' kinda made me wonder what why he posted this, but if I could ask, who is the guy who says nice things to Mike in particular? And what else is there to know about this? I kindly appreciate it, thank you!

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Re: I am from a far away land called Gametalk

Post by DOSGuy » January 26th, 2008, 5:12 pm

Hi Soapbox.

Apparently I'm the villain who said those nice things. That is, I've tried very hard to support the authors of classic DOS games, including Mike (the author of the Space Bats games). Unfortunately, I recently had to issue a warning about orders going unfulfilled, and I made a scene about it on GameTalk. I see that Mike has promised to contact everyone who ordered within the next few days, for which I am truly grateful.

Thank you for drawing my attention to the news.
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Re: I am from a far away land called Gametalk

Post by SoApBoX » January 26th, 2008, 7:58 pm

Hey, no problem. If I'm not mistaken, did you say that you were the one that wrote that there? And what were the orders that went wrong, that is, if it's my buisness? Because I don't think the message came across very clear because I had no idea that he made that Space Bats game nor did he say why he had to make a link to this place. Alot of other GTers(Gametalk users) were confused about this too, so maybe I could give some kind of an announcement about it on there. Again, thanks

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Re: I am from a far away land called Gametalk

Post by DOSGuy » January 26th, 2008, 9:09 pm

Certainly.

Before GameTalk, Mike Pooler wrote games for a company he called Elven Software Company, which later became Pop Software. He is probably best known for Invasion of the Mutant Space Bats of Doom, which led to a sequel called Return of the Mutant Space Bats of Doom. Due to the long names, those games are usually referred to as Space Bats 1 and Space Bats 2.

In 2006, Mr. Pooler created spacebats.net, and sold the games as a bundle for $24. The deal was that he would send the games as an email attachment, and payments were sent via PayPal. Unfortunately, it turns out that Mr. Pooler suffered a heart attack shortly after he started taking orders (I have his permission to discuss this). He forgot about his efforts to revive the Space Bats franchise during his medical crisis, and he moved across the country to live with family during his "complicated recovery". The address that was receiving payments, help@gametalk.com, was also getting bombarded with spam, so he was unaware that there were orders waiting in his PayPal account.

Spacebats.net linked to a Space Bats forum on GameTalk, which quickly filled with complaints from customers who had sent payments but hadn't received the games. I made attempts to contact Mr. Pooler through a helpful GameTalk moderator for over a year, with no success. Finally, I got tired of the situation (and of receiving emails from visitors to my site who had followed my links to spacebats.net and sent in payments), so I made a post in GameTalk's Complaint forum to try to draw attention to the situation. I created this thread to inform my visitors of the situation, and update them about what was going on.

Soon afterwards, I was contacted by Mike Pooler, who is very sorry for the order fulfillment situation. He explained what happened, and is working to get all orders fulfilled. We are discussing the situation, and possible remedies, right now.

I think Mike posted that link to Classic DOS Games as a way to recognize my efforts, and to apologize to customers who didn't get their games. I am satisfied that Mike had a good reason for what happened, and I'm happy to have been able to help resolve the situation. There are no hard feelings on either side, and I look forward to co-operating with Pop Software to continue to promote the Space Bats games.

I'd also like to share this excerpt from one of Mike's emails:
Mike Pooler wrote:When Pop Software first released the game, from 94 on, I filled every order by hand and was mailing things all over the world. We never had complaints even though we were dealing with credit-card numbers, cash, money orders, and sending things to physical addresses. You know, all the usual Shareware stuff before the web- using the bubble-wrap envelopes, figuring out the postage, printing the diskette labels. It was a lot of fun to get orders from places like Japan, Australia, etc, and I saved all the envelopes. Anyway, I'd like to think that Pop Software and Mike Pooler have a good reputation from that- the prices were low, the service was good, and Bats runs on any PC even with its original speed and power. I think the game made a lot of people happy especially the ones with old PCs. So in any complete history of me and/or Pop Software, please let that be known.
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Re: Pop Software is not fulfilling orders *UPDATED*

Post by soenidu » February 5th, 2008, 4:22 am

DOSGuy : have you received the games ? if no, have you filled a dispute with Paypal ? Is spacebats.net always down ? There is a lot of spam messages on the forum since the latest news of Mike.
Last edited by soenidu on February 5th, 2008, 4:38 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Pop Software is not fulfilling orders *UPDATED*

Post by DOSGuy » February 5th, 2008, 4:37 am

Mike contacted me on January 26. He gave me permission to share any of his replies with my visitors. Here are some of the important points:
Mike Pooler wrote:Anyway, it seems like I took a stab at supporting it again just before I got sick, and then forgot about it during that health crisis. I'm surprised that I finished and release a 3.0 version with PayPal info... it has not even been advertised at GT since. But obviously it was up long enough to get out, and of course you were doing what you were supposed to be doing with shareware, sharing it. There's no excuse for me taking this long to understand things, only that my recovery has been complicated and have been taking things one step at a time.

...

There are two main things I have to do- work with PayPal and get in touch with everyone who ordered, and the other thing is this- all the versions before 3.0 have a bug, at least in DosBOX, where they crash at one of the higher rounds. There is a nice little end-game sequence, and I know I had it working in 3.0. In my move a lot things got rearranged and I have to find the 3.0 build of the registered version so that I can send it to people. If I can't find the build (as in the source-code) perhaps I can at least find a copy of the finished version... so I'll keep you informed.

...

I will now be working with PayPal to recover all orders and to fill and/or refund as appropriate. Anyone who isn't happy for any reason will get a full refund with no questions asked.
So, the story was that he hadn't yet located the source code for v3.0, which he didn't even remember finishing. The original forum posts have been deleted, but there were a lot of posts the day that it was created, and he promised to send out copies the next day. If he did, hopefully there is someone out there who has a copy of v3.0. If he didn't, and if he can't find the source code or finished product, he may not be able to fulfill the orders. If he can't do that, he'll have to issue a refund to everyone.

I have emailed him on a couple of occasions since then, and I have forwarded the email that you sent me to him. I haven't had a response since January 26. He is known on GameTalk for disappearing for days or weeks at a time with health problems, so communication may be difficult. If he responds to your email, please let me know. In the meantime, I have asked my contact at GameTalk to watch the moderator forums for any posts by Mike Pooler so that I can see if he's well enough to be working.
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Re: Pop Software is not fulfilling orders *UPDATED*

Post by DOSGuy » September 5th, 2008, 5:21 am

I've just gotten another message from a fan of the Space Bats games who sent in a payment and didn't receive the games. He asked me about the situation, and I'd like to share my answer with everyone.

As you may recall, I wrote a post on Mike Pooler's website, GameTalk, in which I called for a boycott of the site until Mike started fulfilling orders. Some people thought that it was crossing a line to use his own website to call for a boycott of his website, but I had been trying to reach Mr. Pooler for over a year and was tired of it. Quite simply, it is not okay to take people's money and not give them what they paid for.

Shortly afterwards, on 26 January 2008, Mike emailed me and explained that he had a heart attack in February 2006, after which he moved across the country to be closer to family. He said that he didn't remember setting up the site to take orders for Space Bats and had no idea that orders were waiting to be fulfilled. That seemed like a very reasonable explanation. He seemed genuinely concerned about the situation and promised that everyone would get a copy of the game or their money back. Given his circumstances, I'm a bit sorry about what I had to do, but I'm glad that it brought the issue to his attention, and he promised to fix it.

I have received a total of three emails from Mike Pooler, all on January 26. I have emailed him many times since then and have not gotten a response. I have proposed a number of solutions. Since he's very busy with GameTalk, and may or may not be in the best of health, I offered to fulfill orders for him and become his distributor. I eventually offered to buy the rights to the games off of him. I wrote seven emails to him between January and April before giving up. I continued to write emails to a moderator on GameTalk who had taken up the cause and promised to keep me in the loop about Mike's plans. Indeed he did: he advised me that moderators were staying on him about the issue, and he had promised to make it a priority.

On February 22 Mike posted this in the moderators' forum:
Mike Pooler wrote:I finally found the registered version of Space Bats to send people, and looking forward to getting that out of the way.
On March 20 Mike posted:
Mike Pooler wrote:Yes, I've been having trouble both PayPal related things and they are urgent. I will focus on it next. Tomorrow I only have to activate the list of games, then I will finish dealing with that "paperwork" so I can get Bats and TGT in order.

In late April, Mike posted:
Mike Pooler wrote:So SPACE BATS... I pledge before the end of this month- will be sent out, many with refunds... and I'll keep up after that. That's Wednesday or earlier.
Wednesday came and went, and I didn't receive a copy of the game.

The situation is that I'm in the same boat as the rest of you. I paid $24 like everyone else, and I haven't received the games or a refund. My contact at GameTalk didn't respond to my most recent email of June 4th, and I gave up on the whole thing in disgust.

Now another visitor tells me that he has paid for the game and received nothing. I can't tell you how angry that makes me. I have, once again, emailed Mike Pooler at the only email address I have for him, and I will contact my friend from GameTalk. I would post another complaint on GameTalk, but the site is currently offline while "GameTalk 2.0" is being set up. Rest assured, as soon as I have the ability, I will write something that will get attention. In the meantime, I have edited the information on Invasion of the Mutant Space Bats of Doom to make it clear that no one should pay for this game until this issue is resolved.

I sincerely apologize to anyone who was led to Mike Pooler's site through Classic DOS Games and sent in money to buy the games. I link to every author's website so that they can be paid for their hard work, and this is one occasion where it has cost many honest people their money. People should be rewarded for supporting the shareware concept and sending payments to the authors. This is a very regrettable incident.
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Re: Pop Software is not fulfilling orders *UPDATED*

Post by DOSGuy » September 5th, 2008, 7:05 am

I've decided how I'm going to deal with this. Please bear with me for a quick bit of history to give some perspective. Pop Software launched spacebats.com in 2001 and began selling Space Bats 1 and 2 for $14.95 each or both for $19.95 by PayPal. There was briefly a special where they were $12 each or $14.99 for both until October 31, 2001. The site promised to fulfill orders within 24 hours, and it looks like some people received their games. After 2001, it looks like they let the domain name expire and it was grabbed by cybersquatters starting in 2003 or earlier. On 8 January 2002, someone posted in the official Space Bats forum on GameTalk that he paid for the game and did not receive it. On 12 January, someone else said that they had tried to send a payment, but that "the mail was returned", which hopefully means that PayPal didn't process his payment. It's possible that the one fellow who didn't receive his game eventually did receive a copy, or a refund.

In 2006, Mike Pooler started hosting spacebats.net. I can no longer read the messages from the official Space Bats forum from that time, but I recall the first few posts being thank you messages to Mike Pooler, indicating that the orders had been speedily fulfilled. Mike Pooler posted at least one friendly response. Within a few days, posts started to appear saying that orders were not being fulfilled, and Mike Pooler never responded to any of the posts.

When I got the attention of GameTalk moderators, and Mr. Pooler, in January 2008, all of the posts from the official Space Bats forum were deleted and everything started fresh, since Mike intended to fulfull all of the orders. Messages soon began to appear saying that orders were still going unfulfilled. The forum is currently inaccessible while the entire site is down for maintenance.

Mike Pooler is clearly busy with the relaunch of Gametalk as Gametalk 2.0, but I have received absolutely no response from him since January, so I have no indication of if and when he will be fulfilling orders. It's unacceptable to take people's payments and give them nothing in return. Therefor, I have decided to fulfill the orders myself as best I can.

If you have paid for the Space Bats games and not received them, I will send you the full versions of both games. I don't have v3.0 that you paid for. I don't know how many people, if any, received a copy of the game during the few days between the spacebats.net launch and Mr. Pooler's heart attack, so I can't say for certain that anyone in the world has a copy of v3.0. If I can find someone who does, I'll ask them to send me a copy so that I can distribute them. I do, however, have a registered copy of Space Bats 1 v2.7, and a registered copy of Space Bats 2 v1.1. Bats 2 v1.1 is from 2001, indicating that Mike Pooler updated the game for the 2001 launch of spacebats.com. Bats 1 v2.7 is from 1995, and is said to crash in DOSBox at Round 21.

I acquired these games illegally, but I believe that I have a right to them because I paid $24 to Mike Pooler using the link on spacebats.net. Anyone else who paid for those games, email me a copy of your PayPal receipt and I will send you the registered versions of both games. I will not make them available to anyone who hasn't paid for them. Classic DOS Games is not a warez site. I do not condone making registered versions of games available on the internet and, despite Pop Software's failure to meet its obligations, I will not break the law by adding the registered versions to the website under a contrived "abandonware" rationale. If you've paid for the games, you have a right to them. Prove that you've paid for them and I'll send them to you. I'm sorry that I can't send you the latest version, which you have a right to, but hopefully having registered copies of an older version of the games will be some consolation until this issue is resolved.
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Re: Pop Software is not fulfilling orders *UPDATED*

Post by soenidu » September 6th, 2008, 7:12 pm

Mike Pooler is died !

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Re: Pop Software is not fulfilling orders *UPDATED*

Post by DOSGuy » September 7th, 2008, 9:05 am

Do you have a source for that, or are you being facetious?
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