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Jetbrains messed up our license: Jetbrains still rocks!

Jetbrains messed up our license: Jetbrains still rocks!

It is story time today. We are a small startup, by small I mean like 4 people on the team and we established barely a couple months ago. It was time to start development and like all good Java developers depend on their IDE for their life, we did too. Too soon to go off-topic, but I wonder sometimes how large a program can I write without an IDE.

There is no better IDE for Java or Javascript than Intellij Idea from Jetbrains, and like all developers who know this, we went ahead and bought the Idea license. Lucky for us, being a startup, we were eligible for a 50% off offer. Jetbrains’s sales team was kind enough to approve it and we did get the license without much of a problem. My CTO asked me to get it set-up for myself, it was easy. There was a link in the email, I clicked, logged in and I got the license added in my Jetbrains account. It was almost smooth, except for a short to and fro on email to get the offer to reflect on the checkout page. All said and done, we loved the experience. Who would not love to get Idea at 50% off!??

So, done with the story? Why would I write it up if it was all so smooth? Read on..

A week went by without a problem and all of a sudden one morning my Idea closed on me complaining that I had no license! This was a shocker, we bought it, I had seen in it in my account and it was working for a week! I wondered if my CTO could have accidentally reallocated it, but of course he has better things to do than poke around in Jetbrains account configuration. I logged in to my account and turns out there was actually no license!

Since the CTO and I work in different time-zones, it was almost end of the day when we could chat and I could request him to check the matter. (A day saved by sublime-text.) Like I thought, he told me he had better things to do but we decided to have a look at the account anyway. Since it was a single link click for me to setup the account, he had not even created a Jetbrains account till then. We created the account and logged in, and were shocked to see some 31 licenses in our name. Something was certainly wrong.

Clicking through a couple of menus revealed that we were actually seeing the licenses/account of a different company! And our CTO, had become an admin for them. We had complete control over all the licenses, our as well as their licenses, and we could even decide who becomes an admin. We could remove their admin. While it was all fascinating (the devil!), we needed to know what happened to our license and we found it. This company’s admin had revoked my license and allocated to someone on their team! This company had a name similar to ours (Ours is one word, their was two), it was obvious that the person creating our license mistook us as them and instead of creating a new customer account amended theirs.

What do we do now? I contemplated our options and risks, contacting Jetbrains sale and support team and asking them to fix this was the best and the obvious option, but I had no idea how long it would take. What would AI do till then, being locked out of my own license, and when Idea keeps shutting down spontaneously. Can they even track it? Will they do it? Or would they ask us to buy a new one? There were a lot of unknowns, even when I knew Jetbrains would not leave us in the lurch. What if we wrote an email to this company’s admin and explain what has happened and request them to free up our license in good faith. But then they had their chance, they chose to to re-allocate a license they had not paid for to someone in their team, their admin would of course know this! They had their chance to see where the license came from, why it was allocated to someone outside, but they just revoked and used it, can we trust them to act on good faith? What if they just kicked our admin out, we would have no visibility into what was happening. Scary!

We quickly wrote an email to jetbrains, basically responded on the previous mail chain explaining this and requesting a resolution. Also attached a couple of screenshots showing what exactly had gone wrong, one showing the list of unrelated licenses and one showing our license being reallocated to someone else. Also tweated at Jetbrains to help us out, a good fellow working with Jetbrains responded and asked us to write to support email as well. We forwarded the email to support address and waited.

It was not long before we heard back from the sales team, some 4 hours or so. They quickly separated our company account, moved our license, assigned our admin and responded with a new link to claim license. We could now see a single un-allocated license in our account and allocate it. What they did great was that they also looped in this second company’s admin and wrote to them explaining the situation and offering a discount for one license. In my view, it was a good gesture at amending a mistake.

Mistakes happen, how you fix them is what decides if you retain your customers. And Jetbrains you certainly have retained us.


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