We (being Capulet and Northern Voice) have been using the project management app Basecamp for a couple of years, and I’ve been extremely happy with it. I’ve sung its praises to a bunch of people, and am responsible for sending them several customers.
Lately, though, we haven’t been using it very much at Capulet. I’m not sure why exactly (more instant messaging? Remember the Milk?) but we decided to cancel our Basecamp subscription. It’s only CAN $30 a month, but there’s no point in spending the money if we’re not using the tool.
But what happens to your data if you cancel? I emailed 37signals to ask, and here’s their terse reply:
If you cancel your account your data is deleted.
I see that there was export functionality, but “this feature is currently unavailable”. I’ve asked for a timeline on when this might be available again.
Regardless, this raises an interesting question. What obligations do web-based applications like Basecamp have in terms of their customer data? Should they store it indefinitely or delete it when I stop paying them? I think Hotmail (a free service, obviously) ‘hibernates’ your email for a number of months of non-use. The same goes for characters in games like World of Warcraft or Star Wars: Galaxies–they may in fact store them indefinitely.
In Basecamp’s case, the amount of data involved is pretty small-it’s only text. Surely the cost to store that data for, say, two years, is minute compared to the CAN $720 I’ve paid them over the past two years? It’d be nice customer service and a differentiator, if nothing else.