CATALOG MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE

Wizard parent goes poof Haven Corp., publisher of Mail Order Wizard, suddenly closes Haven Corp., which published the catalog management software programs Mail Order Wizard and newer, Windows-based Castle, abruptly went out of business in mid-August when its owner reportedly ran out of funds.

Having already disconnected its toll-free customer support phone line, Haven posted a notice on its Website on Aug. 18 stating it had ceased operations. In an e-mail sent to the 1,000-plus users of Wizard and Castle just prior to the shutdown, Haven owner Bruce Holmes wrote, “The pressure had reached the point where I felt like I was losing it. My lawyer asked me what our assets were. He thought there wasn’t anything to liquidate, and said, `You’re finished, shut off the phones and go home.'” Holmes could not be reached by press time.

Longtime Wizard user Charley Kehoe, president of firefighting-theme gifts cataloger Tonquish Creek, contends that Haven was a victim of its own success. The software was so stable that users rarely had to go back for service or upgrades – which presumably hurt Haven’s business. After the initial set-up, a lot of catalog customers didn’t need to pay for annual technical support that Haven offered, Kehoe says: “You never had to go fool with Wizard.”

Self-help group Haven Corp.’s unexpected closing left hundreds of customers in the lurch. But within a week of receiving word of the company’s demise, Tom Danner, president/CEO of media equipment cataloger Advanced Multimedia Concepts (AMC), formed an online user group (www.egroups.com/group/ HavenWizards).

“When Bruce sent out his e-mail, I thought the best thing I could do to help was create an easy way for the users to communicate, exchange ideas, and potentially help each other,” Danner says. “I had suggested a forum like this to Bruce before, as other software companies in the same market space [such as CoLinear Systems and Smith-Gardner] use this kind of forum as a powerful tool in communicating with their customers.”

Within a week of the e-group’s launch, 240 users had signed on. One was Kelly Hall, an administrative assistant for Oklahoma City, OK-based Cusack Meats, a $450,000 food cataloger. Hall says she signed on to keep on top of developments concerning Wizard rather than for advice. “Right now we don’t have a problem – the software works the same as it did last year,” she says. “But we are a small company and have no designated computer staff. A lot of people in the user group are computer savvy.” Hall says Cusack Meats can probably get by with its existing Wizard software for another year. “As our business grows, however, we’ll have to look for different software.”

Another long-term solution for the software users may be the formation of a new limited liability company. Danner says he plans to meet with former Haven Corp. staff and customers, potential investors, and legal advisers “in an attempt to create a stronger company that can take Wizard and Castle into the future. A lot happened in just one week, and I expect that pace to continue.”

In search of online privacy policies Despite continued legislative and media focus on privacy issues, 30% of the 34 e-commerce sites visited by the Secret Shopper on Aug. 27 did not have apparent privacy policies. Of the 24 sites with privacy policies, 17 provided a link to the privacy page directly on the home page. The other seven sites required visitors to work a bit to find the privacy page.

Privacy policy one click from home page: Atomic Living, BabyStripes.com, Ballard Designs, Borders, Brainstorms, Chiasso, Edmund Scientific, eToys, Glowdog, Illuminations, Northern Tools, Parrot Mountain, Paul Fredrick, PC Connection, PetSmart, Sephora, Tower Hobbies

Privacy policy two clicks from home page: Athleta, Boston Proper, Golfsmith, Pottery Barn, Stork Avenue, Time Motion Tools, VarsityBooks.com

Privacy policy missing (or very well hidden): Bra Smyth, Colorado Cyclist, Graham Kracker, Jessica’s Biscuit, K Bella Fine Lingerie, Lark in the Morning, Paper Direct, Planet Natural, Rowena’s, The Sycamore Tree

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