Partners of failed antivirus company, Leprechaun Software, are reeling from another blow following an attempt by the developer to hold on to clients still using its flagship product.
Leprechaun managing director, Jack Kenyon, sent an email last week to previous users of Leprechaun's VirusBuster (VB) with news that it had merged with the Zondex Guard product produced by Australian Projects. The email urged customers to install Zondex Guard as an upgrade.
"As a continuing loyal user of VB, you will upgrade now to the new Zondex Guard product, continue using Zondex to the end of your old VB licence, and then have the option to renew with Zondex Guard," the email said.
"You need to convert from VB. The VB website will be closing and updates for VB will no longer be issued."
The email conflicts with original information sent to customers by Leprechaun upon its exit from the Australian market three months ago.
On June 8, Kenyon, sent an email to partners stating the company had ceased trading. Two subsequent emails alerted them to the deal with Sydney-based systems integrator, Lanrex, which offered use of Trend Micro antivirus to customers for the remainder of their licence period.
The recent email, resellers claim, has resulted in confusion across its former user base because 90 per cent had chosen to stick with their local dealer and migrate to alternative products.
Previous Leprechaun priority dealer, AXLSoft, said customers in the middle of the migration process to an alternative product had received the latest email from Leprechaun.
"When the first email went out it was phone mayhem," AXLSoft managing director, Tony Lohrey, said. "We were surprised as we'd always had a good relationship with Leprechaun. Many of our customers were unhappy and it initially damaged our reputation. They left me in the lurch."
Lohrey chose to migrate to the Sophos antivirus product as an alternative to VB, incurring additional costs on research and training.
Other resellers also claimed to be out of pocket as a result of Leprechaun's abrupt departure.
Proprietor of Brisbane-based ACZ Computers, Tony Zegenhagan, said he was shocked at the closure and had lost significant revenue from software and licence sales.
"I was most upset at what happened - I'd been a very loyal reseller and deserved more warning," he said. "Our customers were irate and the whole process could have been done a million times better. The way it was done left a bad taste in my mouth. It was an attack on his customers and a kick in the teeth for resellers."
Hervey Bay network support specialist, Two Tone Electronics Computer Systems (TTECS), had to work hard to rebuild customer loyalty following Leprechaun's demise, according to information systems analyst, Tony McRae.
"Leprechaun burned their bridges with us - we have no time to put up with their behaviour," he said. "The IT industry runs on credibility and once that goes you're finished."
One reseller is considering legal action against Leprechaun, citing the loss of multiple large contracts and tens of thousands of dollars.
"We were given no notice at all and our licences wouldn't work as they were OEM," the owner, who preferred not to be named, told ARN.
"Leprechaun's actions have reflected extremely badly on resellers, especially those like us who had been strongly marketing VirusBuster. It makes us look like liars and fools."
Other small regional resellers, which made up the majority of Leprechaun's channel, said they heard of the Zondex deal only when customers called to ask about the recent message they had received.
Australian Projects founder, Chris Joscelyne, said Jack Kenyon was now contracting for his company as chief architect and was trying to do the right thing by his customers.
"He approached us and said 'I am worried about the people who haven't uploaded Trend [Micro] - I'm concerned about the individuals'," he said. "We agreed to help out and honour the remaining time on any VirusBuster licences.
"We have not been proactive in approaching Leprechaun customers, we have acted in a reactive way as good corporate citizens. We're getting on with business."
Joscelyne said four resellers had contacted Australian Projects and applied to become partners since the latest email was sent.
Lanrex director, Neville Mundy, said the news of the latest offer was also a surprise.
"I'm shocked - we always acted in good faith," Mundy said. "We've worked with the customer base as well as we possibly could."
Trend Micro channel director, Graeme Burt, said he had heard no news from Leprechaun regarding the merger with Zondex and subsequent offer.
Kenyon was unavailable for comment at the time of going to press.