What was the scope of their involvement?
I was looking for a developer to design and also provide some consulting services, as far as the app layout, features, and functionalities that should be included. I was looking for them to design the front-end user interface, and take on the coding (the piece between the front-end and the backend database). I made it clear that I wanted a simple-to-use and very intuitive app. I also made it clear that, for anything that a person was looking to do in the app, I didn't want them to have to click around and figure it out. I wanted them to be able to get to whatever it is they're trying to do within 2-3 clicks.
The app did not turn out well. It didn't fulfill the requirements that I gave them. They coded and produced an app that fulfilled the basic core requests that were in our contract. The problem was that if I said "a user should be able to upload a comic, or this particular picture, or something called pluhg-cards", they would code the abilities for a user to upload a comic, but not the ability for them to delete it. For me, this sounds like a complementary functionality. They said that I didn't ask for that in my documents, that it was another feature, and that they were going to charge more money.
Additionally, if I asked for something specific in the contract, like a checkbox on the profile page which said "do you want to do X, Y, Z?” they would code and include the checkbox, but there was no logic behind it. I would go back to them and say "You can check the box, but nothing happens. If I'm asking you ‘Would you like to stop this process?’ I would think you would include the coding for the process to stop." They said "No, you just asked us to put a checkbox there. We didn't put the logic behind it. If you want the logic, we're going to charge more money."
Those are the types of issues I've had with them. Not only that, the app that they produced for me most recently continues to crash, the login button does not work, and I have about 50 beta testers that have been testing it out with me. They are saying that they don't know what the problem is, they don't know how to fix it, and they're saying that they don't see the issue on their side. However, I was able to login to my iTunes account and confirm that they were actually receiving crash reports.
Another thing that they couldn't get working properly on the app are the notifications. iOS apps have little red indicators on the outside which say "something new has happened, click on the app". They couldn't get the notifications working properly, and couldn't get the right number to appear on the outside of the app. The only thing that they could get to appear was the number 1. On the app, I could've had 4-5 people send me a comment and multiple activities, but I wouldn't know. When I talked to them about it, they said that they couldn't figure out how to fix it. The only thing they could do was to put a "1" indicator on the outside of the app.
Overall, it was very poor work. Not only that, I've just ended a call this morning with my new developer that I've transferred the project to; they have gone through the code and have found several issues outside of what I identified. If I want those issues fixed, I've got to pay them. Overall, it was a very bad experience with Applaudo.
They have constantly said "we're going to fix it", but they never delivered. I have missed so many deadlines, and I've waited. They'd send me an email saying "we're working on this issue", and put out a new release that fixes a few of the things that I didn't even know about, but it doesn't fix the core issues: the crashing, the login functionality, and the notifications - all of them being big issues. Not only that, but the only way that I've been able to communicate with them is through Basecamp and email. Their phone numbers that are listed on Google, their website, and on Facebook don't link to their company. They ring and they disconnect. I don't know what's going on there, but I've tried for several days. At one point, they stopped communicating with me altogether. I was asking them for my code up until this point because I paid for it. They refused to give it to me. For 2 weeks straight, I sent them 4 requests, and I said to them "it's in our contract that you're supposed to provide me my code". They just stopped responding, so I started calling them. Every number I found for them did not work. Finally, they released the code, but they said they're only giving me the part that I paid for.
How did you come to work with Applaudo Studios?
I was referred to Applaudo by a professional connection. They said they had done a few projects with Applaudo and recommended that I work with them on my project. That's how we ended up hiring them.
How much have you invested with Applaudo Studios?
Up until this point, it's been about $33,000. We set up a fixed-price agreement and outlined everything in the contract that I was requesting. We broke it up into 5 stages and 5 payments. After they delivered each stage, I would make a payment and an advance payment for the next stage. I paid them before they did any work; they delivered on that, and once I signed off on that, I would make another payment in advance on the next stage. The problem was that I think I was a little too nice. When we started reaching stages where things weren't completely working, they would say "we have to go to the next stage to get that fully-functional". I'm not an app developer, so I believed them. When we reached stage 4 and were almost done, nothing was working. It's all falling apart, so I shouldn't have been so trusting and continued to pay them more money.
What is the status of this engagement?
We started working together about a year ago. We started the contract negotiations around January or February [of 2016]. I have discontinued the relationship with them. They did not submit the app because the quality that they produced was very bad, and they were trying to resolve issues but they didn't know how. The relationship ceased just recently.