Questia.com experience

In January I decided that I would like to be able to do a better job of being able to provide research here, and be able to more fully research content here, so spent money to get full access for a year on Questia.com which reports itself to be a “research tool” which also provides access to a number of academic publications.

After having waded through their tools for searching, failing to find any way to “save searches” except off site, or as a series of instructions to re-create the search, I commented to them that I would really like this option (no response of any value).  Then I decided that for “saved searches” Google Scholar does an excellent job, so I just stuck with that “old tool” which actually provided enough of a resource for myself, and then when I found something that I was willing to go through a number of hoops to actually see if I can find papers, I went to look for them on Questia…

This is where things broke down even more.  Most of what I was paying for in my mind, was access to such resources (knowing that there was a good chance that specific ones wouldn’t actually be there, but hoping full well that if it wasn’t or wasn’t ever going to be available I would be able to get answers to that).  So after having failed to find about 3 different papers, or finding a good way to search for them again I sent them a message…

At that point, again, I basically got a non-response.  I decided to leave it aside for a while.  As it wasn’t actively helping in the sense that it was making anything any easier for me, and I had mostly ended up forgetting about it.  Then yesterday I found a paper that I really wanted to read more than I was able to find access to online, and I decided that “I have a tool that gives me access to this kind of content” so decided to look again at it.

I wrote a full explanation of what I was doing.  I got a 1 sentence response saying essentially “We don’t do what you’re wanting to do,” with what it seems no idea what I’m doing.  So I wrote back, and got another single sentence saying “sorry for the misunderstanding” and not anything else.

That was more than enough for me to decide they clearly do not wish to have me as their customer (which as far as I can tell is about their exact target audience, those who don’t have access through their work for what they are providing) which got me to try to try to cancel my account.

The cancelling procedure requires 4 steps of “please let me actually leave” which quite honestly seems like they have run into too many cases where they lost customers for “no apparent reason”.  As far as I can tell, their business model is “over sell our product, get people to sign up to a subscription, and hope they don’t care when they get charged after having decided that they don’t want our service.”

Thank you Questia for showing that the academic world as it exists doesn’t want anyone who doesn’t have access through work, or whatever to actually know what you are doing.  Much much appreciated.  I gave you a try.  I wanted to be able to say to various people “Please use this service, it’s great, it’s reasonably affordable, and it really does what you want.”  The only thing I can recommend for them now in terms of people trying to use it is, “don’t spend any more money than you genuinely feel you would be willing to pay for a single paper access to them.”

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