At the very end of last week, I started a one-month free trial with Zendesk, a web-based help desk a la FogBugz. I chose it for its simplicity and am so far happy with the system itself, even with a minor technical hiccup. It’s the crazy-girlfriend-like sales tactics that bug me a little (a lot).

I started the trial five days ago. Within a day or so, Heidi (we’ll call her) e-mailed me asking me how things were going. I honestly couldn’t answer – I’d only used it for a grand total of twenty minutes or so, spread out over a one-to-two-day period. I also wasn’t interested in conversing at the moment, so I ignored the e-mail.

In an all-too-frequent moment of customer service prescience, I was concerned that I’d be hounded, so I was happy to see an “opt out of further communications” link at the bottom of her e-mail. I clicked it and opted out, then deleted the message.

Yesterday – four days after starting my one month trial – I received a phone call from an unidentified number. I always screen unknown numbers, so I waited for the voice mail notification and listened. Who was it but Heidi, explaining she tried e-mailing me but hadn’t heard back. She reiterated her desire to know how I liked Zendesk.

As I’m listening to this voice mail with a mild bit of annoyance, I get an e-mail. From Heidi. She wanted to make sure I got her e-mail and voice mail … and wanted to know how I liked Zendesk.


I’ll tell you my first impressions but I want you to think about it from my perspective as you read. But first, a tale of young love.

When I was in junior high school, I did the unthinkable: I got myself a girlfriend. Well, really, the girlfriend got me. We’ll call her Betsie. “Will you go with me?” Betsie asked, using the common phrase (at least in my part of the world). Oh, if only I had said no …

You see, Betsie was known to be “out there”. Didn’t bother me at the time; I like “out there”. She wrote me three notes a day. Long ones. Every evening she would keep me on the phone for hours. Being the typical teenage boy, I found this a bit excessive, but I did my best to keep up with the sheer volume. It was normal, right? To my credit, this went on for three weeks – practically a lifetime for a young romance. Several times, though, I’d have a bad day and just be content to talk a bit. Of course I would try to tell her this, but to Betsie, it was always taken as a prelude to a breakup.

At first, I would tell her I still loved her and nothing was wrong; I was just having a bad day. After awhile, the little things I did or didn’t do would trigger this insecurity. I began to feel like a captive, a slave to reply note writing, return phone calls, and constant reassurances.

Then it happened. When she asked me if I was going to break up with her for the 5143746253745th time, I hesitated. After all, by this time her fear was becoming a self-fulfilling prophesy. It was only the briefest of hesitations but it was enough for Betsie.

Her tone changed immediately. Suddenly she was deathly serious. Despite this she managed to make it sound almost nonchalant – perhaps it was her sigh – when she said, “I think if you would ever break up with me I’d kill myself.”

Wait, what?

I was thirteen … what would I do? Tell my parents? Tell hers? Yeah, right: “I made my girlfriend/your daughter want to kill herself. Thought you should know.” So I did the only thing sensible to a teenage boy: I kept it to myself.

This went on for awhile (a few days) until I finally realized she was doing it for attention. More to the point, she was doing it in a desparate attempt to keep her boyfriend. Ultimately I broke up with her. She’s still alive and well and now married to a man I must assume enjoys her quirks. She even invited me to her wedding a few years ago. I politely made an excuse and declined.

My point?

Nothing makes people want to break up more than an insane girlfriend/boyfriend.

I just started using Zendesk at the end of last week. I ignored your email partly because I had no opinion yet and partly because – and please don’t take this the wrong way – I just want to use the application and would like you guys to stay the hell out of my way unless I need you.

Like Betsie, however, you emailed, then you called (!!!), then emailed immediately thereafter to make sure I got your voice mail. All in less than a week of my starting the trial. That’s a bit … much.

So, there you have it: The jury is still out on Zendesk as a product, but I have to say, the insistent, voluminous “do-you-love-me?!?!” notes and calls are scaring me little. Especially after I opted out of your first email.


Simply put: Could you dial it back, please?

Photo by Valeria Boltneva

Now, if you don’t know me well, it may shock you to hear I become annoyed easily and am quite vocal about it. I had to resist the urge to call her back and bitch her out for the incessant intrusion. She reminded me of a crazy ex-girlfriend I had in junior high school … when I had girlfriends.

Then I had another idea. Rather than lash out when asked what I thought, I related a relevant story. Here’s what I ended up sending Heidi (modified somewhat for clarity).

Now I’ll say I’m pretty sure I’ll convert to a paid account and stick with Zendesk. Unless something drastic happens to piss me off, I have no real complaints. It’s reasonably quick for a Ruby on Rails web app and it has the features I need without all the “our-way-or-no-way” required fields that annoyed me about FogBugz.

Rest assured, however, if they keep nagging me to tell them I love them, I’ll drop them like a Betsie.

Update: The saga continues here: Zendesk Second Impressions

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