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www.undertowsoftware.com • View topic - The story behind the data

The story behind the data

Discussion and information about RV Plan 'N' Go 2013, the RV Trip Planning program from UnderTow

The story behind the data

Postby Marich » Sat Jul 27, 2013 1:11 am

I emailed Undertow telling them how disappointing the RV Plan 'N' Go 2013 product was and how the quality of the data compared poorly with their previous versions. I also told them I was contemplating returning the product for a refund. Here is the response I received a few minutes ago. I am posting their complete email response here, so that I wouldn't quote it out of context. I hope that doesn't violate any privacy or anything. I just thought it might interest others here. Btw, I followed up with a quaetion asking what would be new in this update they said they are preparing to release in the next few days. If they respond, I'll post those details here, as well. Enjoy!

---

From: Undertow Support <support@undertowsoftware.com>
To: 'Mark ...'
Cc: support@undertowsoftware.com
Sent: Saturday, July 27, 2013 12:42 AM
Subject: RE: Your 2013 Release - Disappointing!

Mark:

- The old Navigator (TLDCN) was the product developed by Undertow for Trailer Life (using Undertow’s existing technology, which was really an adaptation of Undertow’s Precision Mapping product) and Trailer Life’s proprietary campgrounds data info.

- Mid-2012, Trailer Life decided they were no longer interested in publishing a "Navigator-type" program and discontinued it, terminating their agreement with Undertow

- Based on Feedback by users, Undertow decided to create and publish our own RV Trip Planning software.

- Undertow and Trailer Life could not reach an agreement to license Trailer Life’s *very good* campground information database

- So, the company spent the last year independently creating our own database, which has many more locations and is continuously updated (though it doesn’t yet have all the detail that the Trailer Life database had - that was collected over a ~20 year period).

- RV Plan ‘N’ Go 2013 is the name of the new program by Undertow Software (having nothing to do with Trailer Life), based on the same Undertow technology that was used in the old Navigator and the new database compiled by Undertow.

- The plan is to issue *free data* updates to RV Plan ‘N’ Go 2013 every few weeks till at least the end of the year, since the goal is to end up with the best RV Trip Planning software. The updates will be frequent, the first one expected to be available to users in the next 2-3 days. When you start the program, it will automatically detect the update and after asking for confirmation, it will automatically download it and install it for you.

That may have been a more detail explanation than you wanted, but it may give you a better idea of what to expect.

However, the last thing we want is an unhappy customer. If you prefer, you could return the product. Let us know and we’ll send you an RMA form for the return. On the other hand, if you decide to keep it and want to provide even more feedback regarding data, features, etc. we’d be more than happy to listen.

Thank you very much for your support,
UnderTow Software Corp.

* Please, quote original message in your replies *
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Re: The story behind the data

Postby Camper22 » Sat Jul 27, 2013 8:55 am

Thanks for the info, Marich. Although I am not so sure about posting personal communication (email) with someone. I thought that was considered private. What's really the proper etiquette here? Asking, so that *I* will know what to do in similar situations :-)

Anyway, it seems that there is an update coming up soon, that sounds great. Let's see what it's all about.
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Re: The story behind the data

Postby xavier » Mon Jul 29, 2013 11:19 pm

Camper22,I don't think there is anything wrong with sharing an email message that you are the recipient of. I mean that's not a legal opinion, I a not a lawyer, but that's my take.

Marich, thank you for sharing. That's consistent with other posts here, but it does provide additional detail.
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Re: The story behind the data

Postby artmart » Tue Jul 30, 2013 7:16 pm

I have received emails from UnderTow in the past and they have not had an issue if I wanted to forward or repost what they communicate. I'll admit they were in response to technical issues or plans being discussed in this public forum.

In this case, since it pertains to many of the concerns users of the new RVPNG2013 are having, I think it's allowable in this case.

Camper22, I agree that very personal emails should not be forwarded, but in this case, it was probably okay. It turns out, the explanation sure cleared a bunch of things up.
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Re: The story behind the data

Postby Camper22 » Tue Jul 30, 2013 7:44 pm

You are right Art, I was mostly talking in general. In this case, posting a personal email is probably O.K. And it did shed additional light.
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Re: The story behind the data

Postby Budd » Mon Jul 20, 2015 12:38 pm

Yes, this is old but the foundation is still valid. Now that RVing popularity is back on a meteoric rise maybe it is time to reinvestigate this whole issue. Perhaps GoodSams would be more friendly towards an arrangement that provides current access to some of their data with a cooperative link back into their sources from RBPNG? Their own front end is worse than nothing because it only works with a reasonably good internet connection and those are still seriously lacking in most RV parks and non-existent in just camping grounds and state and federal parks and recreation faciities.

Nevermind that the GS does not actually help anyone plan anything unless one already knows the parks/campgrounds that they want to stay in and would like a road map. It does nothing to help with scheduling reservations nor showing how to change them when plans have to change mid stream.

RVPNG could use some helpful linking into RVPark Reviews and All Stays to help with developing perspective. It would also be very helpful to hook to Google Maps and Google Earth to see what one might be getting into when trying to get to or maneuver within a particular campground/Park.
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Re: The story behind the data

Postby xavier » Sat Sep 26, 2015 7:58 am

Budd, you are right on. Now that RVing is picking up even more steam, a product like the undertow one, with a few enhancements in the areas it was lacking, would be great. Not sure undertow can be convinced to get into the fray again, but may be we should start emailing them and letting them know, since they don't frequent these forums.
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Re: The story behind the data

Postby Moderator » Fri Oct 23, 2015 2:56 pm

I usually stay out of the conversations between members, but since these forums are reaching their End-Of-Life, and since I *am* close to the company and its history, I figured out I could chime in here and offer me perspective, from the company/support side. Of course, these are just *my* opinions and some of you may consider them bias, because I am close to the company, but so be it. If you don't think what I post here is worth reading, then just ignore it and go on to the next message/thread/board.

When Trailer Life no longer wanted to be part of a "Campground Software Package", the company spent over a year individually contacting RV Parks, manually collecting location information, getting Park descriptions, features, capabilities, etc. because they realized that there was a need for a program like this and they wanted to keep offering this tool to their customers. On hindsite, this may not have been the best business decision on their part. They misjudged the cost and level of effort and they totally misjudged their audience. The job they undertook was huge, it probably took TL 20 years of collecting data to get to the point where they had one of the best and most complete databases available. Only part of that could be achieved in a year and a half. They admitted it up front and promised to continue the effort until they had compiled a complete, detailed database, they never hid the incompleteness of the database from the customer. They hoped that customers would recognize the level of effort needed and be supportive as the company tried to build-up the database. Well, may be a dozen or so were. The rest were of the mindset, "I paid my $39, or whatever the price was at the time, and I expect the program to have all the information, and all the maps and all bypass and bridge heights, and tech support, and free updates for ever, and,...". Yup, for $39, which probably buys those same customers 4 value meals at McDonalds, what a big investment!

I'm sure the company could share hundreds of emails from customers that displayed the attitude above, but there is really no need for it. Certain posts here convey the "typical" user sentiments.

Needless to say, it was not long before the company realized that this was not a viable venture. They had to eventually abandon the whole Campground/Traveler program. Now some customers are complaining that they were left with no other program that does the same thing. How could the company do that to them? But, as they say, the customer is always right, so they were right when they complained about park data missing and they are right complaining that there is no other program like it in the market. And, the company was right to get out of it, since it was no longer viable.

It's interesting to note that the company is still,

Contacted almost on a daily basis by users who want (demand) support for the Trailer Life series of programs. They don't realize that TL and Undertow had an agreement to develop and support the TL product line, for a certain re-numeration. TL terminated that agreement 3+ years ago, there is no longer support for that product line.

Contacted by some users (may be a couple a month) telling them how supportive they are (and would be) if the company was to revive the program.

Contacted by some users (4-5 a month) who provide updates to the database that is no longer active

Contacted by irate users (5-6 a month) who cannot understand why they paid their $29 (to TL, they didn't even buy anything from Undertow!) 6,7,8 years ago and now Undertow the program will no longer run and the company will no longer provide support to them.

To close, no, I wouldn't say the users cause the demise of the Campground program, market conditions and inability to secure a full dataset probably did. However, users (well, some/many users) did not help at all with their attitude.

I'll go back and see if I can answer more specific questions, in older posts, but this probably gives everyone here a pretty good picture.
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