Change to our digital product policy
We’re looking for some feedback from those of you who have purchased digital patterns.
As you know, most people are good and honest. But every so often there’s a bad apple. Processes need to be designed to be easy to use for the good people but to limit the potential damage that can be done by bad people.
What we currently do on digital patterns is keep the download link alive for seven days. That way people have ample time to download and save their patterns after purchase, but it limits the damage that can be done if someone who is dishonest, for example, would post the download link in an online discussion forum with a heading, “Hey friends, get your free pattern here!” (And yes, this sort of thing happens….)
The issue is that almost daily we get emails from people who purchased digital patterns months or even a year or more ago who have lost them. The file got deleted, a hard drive crashed, etc. They still have the email with the download link, but the link has expired. Servicing these requests is taking more and more time.
What would you think if we changed how the site worked and instead of having the download link expire after seven days, having it expire after three download attempts? That would allow someone who lost a pattern to download it again in the future, and it would protect against posting and rampant sharing of download links.
The downside of this is that I’m not sure it would reduce the number of help requests we get. I think people may download but not save a file immediately. They’ll download and look at it once. Download it a second time to check fabric requirements. Download it to print it. Etc.
For those of you who use digital patterns frequently, what would be the easiest and most convenient approach to this issue for you–limited time to download a file or a limited number of download attempts?Maggie @Maggie
I prefer the limited time. If I have a week, I know I have to save it in those 7 days. If I only have three attempts, I would be concerned that if I can’t get it downloaded or my home printer is not working, I only have those three attempts to get it working.
I understand that lost files do happen, but that is life with computers. We all have to find ways to back up. I email the files to myself because I know my emails are saved forever remotely and are searchable.aprilshowers @aprilshowers
I know this would take more changes than you might be prepared to make but is there a way to force users to log in to download? I am thinking of ravelry.com, which lets you store your purchases in an online library. They’re always available for download (which is nice when you forget your pattern on vacation – maybe more of an issue for knitters than sewists) but you can only download them if you’re logged in to your account.sarahb @sarahb
If you could switch to a system where you download off your account rather than from an emailed link you could say just that: download link expires on ____ (in 1 week) with ___ downloads remaining. The terms of purchasing a digital pattern would be made clear before purchase, and you can include a reminder for people to back up their digital downloads in case of computer malfunction.
As for the people asking for a new link, it would still happen, but at some point you would just need to take a stance of “I’m sorry, we cannot reset the download link after ___.” (A month or so.) If someone lost or accidentally destroyed their paper pattern no one should expect you or any company to replace it, it would simply need to be purchased again. The same should apply to digital purchases too.Sarvi @Sarvi
I pretty much agree with SarahB. There was an unreported (to me) spill of juice or something onto my Sketchbook pattern, which has gotten rather ugly. I understand that I need to buy another copy, not ask O+S to replace it.
I think the issue is that people want the convenience of PDFs, but the reality of digital files is that they are just less robust than physical files.* Education will go a certain way toward ameliorating this issue — explaining that customers need to download, save, backup, and make sure they can print in a timely fashion. If you mailed a paper copy and somebody didn’t get the package, but didn’t report that to you for a month — or a year! — certainly the onus would be on the customer to purchase a replacement copy.
A combination of time limit and download limit seems entirely reasonable.
*[My husband is CTO of a tech company and I’ve been using computers since I saw War Games (in the theater!) — and trying to understand why one file will print effortlessly while another gets corrupted and unusable every time I blink STILL kept me from my Roller Skate printout for three days].Rebecca W @craftalittle
I do like Aprilshowers suggestion of an online library where I can log into download the patterns that I have already purchased.
However, given the choices that you have given, I prefer the limited number of downloads. I usually am good about downloading and saving right away, but sometimes things happen (like when I was sent a link to download a corrected pattern that I had purchased…) and I don’t get to it right away and my link expires.beachmom @beachmom
Paper patterns will always be my first choice (please don’t get rid of those!) but if I purchased a PDF, I’d prefer a limited number of downloads vs. a time limit.
btw, Thank you Sarvi for teaching me a new word (ameliorating).;)bren5kids @bren5kids
Hmm…i guess I really don’t have a preference between the two options. I don’t buy a pfd pattern unles I know that I will be able to go to the computer right away and download it. So the seven day link expiration seems more than sufficient to me. Also, I always use our office business computer to download, save, and print patterns, and it is always in tip-top shape so never any any problems downloading.(As compared to the laptop, which is constantly being plagued by all manner of bugs and problems because of various small children……sigh) So I would be perfectly fine with three download attempts too.
But I’ll have to admit that I’ve wished O&S ptterns could be permanantly stored on your site, and accessible by a password, like Craftsy.com or Burdastyle.com. In fact, if I want to buy a pdf pattern of any kind I will first go to Craftsy or youcanmakethis.com to see if it’s available there, before purchasing elsewhere. Because I love knowing that even if my husband is cleaning out files and deletes my pattern, they are not lost. And they (including instructions) are accessible from any computer, or my phone. Also, if there are changes to the pattern, such as added sizes,( which has happened with one of my craftsy.com patterns) or corrections, it is easy for the designer to do that.Nicole @motherof5
The limited time works well for me because then I do it!Tamara @justsewit
Log in to download is a very good idea. That way you have sole access to it and are responsible for logging in to access it and if it is expired after seven days then you know you have to purchase it again.
As to saving the file, the kids use thumb drives at school to save their computer work, it maybe ideal to have such an inexpensive thingamebob handy to save pattern files onto and that way they can be accessed regardless of the computer crashing.pippi @pippi
Whenever I get a digital pattern I save it immediately in a couple places AND email it to myself to be sure it doesn’t get lost (and as someone mentioned, makes it accessible when travelling!) If the limited downloads option will help you keep the pirates at bay, then I bet everyone will be able to work with it. It seems like a very reasonable policy to me.ilovebeam @ilovebeam
I think you already do a great job and I’m not sure I would make changes. You already explain that the file needs to be downloaded and saved within a few days. If I lose my paper pattern I purchase, I’m not going to think about requesting a new one. Same thing for my PDF’s.with love Heidi @with love Heidi
I don’t have a problem with the limited download time, as I always download at the time of purchase. But being in the situation where my main laptop has just about died on me unexpectedly with 6 new patterns I got for christmas on it that I haven’t printed. 🙁 [It looks like I will get most of them off :)] I very much like the idea of somewhere you can log onto and all the digial patterns you have bought are there. Maybe also some way of recording what we have bought off the Oliver and S site( paper patterns) and a way of allowing us to also add to the list other Oliver and S patterns we own to keep a running record? Maybe it could be linked to our forum login?juliamom2009 @juliamom2009
I think the same as a lot of folks – if I bought a paper pattern from you and it got destroyed, I wouldn’t ask for a new one. I always feel secure with stuff on my computer because we subscribe to Carbonite…certainly a good investment in case of a crash – which has happened to us, and we lost nothing – no document, images, software – nothing. I think it’s like $50/year…totally worth it. I think of it kind of like having AAA for the car….LucyM @LucyM
I much prefer a limited time to download. However, consider a five or six download limit. This would minimize your exposure but offer ample access to legitimate users.
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