for April 2018
Here is a quick run-down on what you will find in this bulletin:
These topics will be dealt with in more detail throughout this
NOTE: This is a copy of the bulletin that was provided to U.S. customers in April. Some of the changes, such as the reduction in the number of term4sale results, do not yet apply in Canada.
Compulife received the judge's decision on March 12, 2018. To say it wasn't good would be an understatement; we lost. Words cannot express my deep disappointment. We are all bewildered by the decision. Our lawyer, who specializes in IP law, tells me that he is also bewildered.
We can only conclude from this decision that for all practical intents and purposes the copyright and trade secret laws of the United States are insufficient to protect the rights that we have in our software product.
As a result we have decided that we will have to take significant steps to protect our product and our database ourselves. Steps will be taken to block unauthorized access and use. Further functions will be designed to inform us of any licensed subscriber providing unlicensed or unauthorized access to any of our software products by unlicensed third parties. In the event that we discover a subscriber engaging in or participating in such activity we will take immediate steps to terminate our service to that customer; NO EXCEPTIONS. Some of the initial steps we are taking will be discussed further in this bulletin.
Changes To Internet Engine Offerings
Once again, now that we know we have no tangible protection by law, we are going to be directing our attention to protecting ourselves. Changes to our products are being made to give us better control. The days of simple "trust" are behind us. As Ronald Reagan use to say, "trust but verify".
The problems that led to the lawsuit all eminated from unauthorized access to our internet engine on the internet. The attractive aspect of the internet engine is that the licensee has the opportunity to have a completely autonomous quoting solution with full control of the interface around that engine. The problem is that if the user provides inadequate security then those who do not have a license or permission can obtain access to that engine, use the engine to produce quotes and/or scrape the Compulife database without authorization. Given that our own term4sale.com website was a victim in the matters related to one of the two lawsuits we know that it is easy to be victimized by that. We will need to take steps to build security around the software. Internet engine users who use the software autonomously on their own servers will also be responsible to safeguard it.
Our solution to the problem will be to push customers who need the ability to customize the use of our software to doing that on a server that Compulife controls and safeguards. In that regard we will be introducing a new product called "Compulife Web Quotes Plus". This product will offer access to our engine, just as we now do with the "Compulife Web Quotes Option" ($96 per year) but the new "Plus" version will give the user FTP or SSH access to their own user account with the ability to change and modify the template files that display quote results. The two big benefits for the customers will be a reduction in price, from $1,200 per year to $960 per year. This will be in addition to the normal $300 standard license.
In addition to a reduction in price, Compulife will take full responsibility for maintenance of the data files meaning that there will be no more updating from the PC version to the server for that customer. We think the majority of internet engine users will find that attractive and opt for that version.
The disadvantage for customers will be loss of some autonomy although they will still retain control of how the software looks and functions. You will still be able to obtain your own domain names and continue to hide the system behind your own brand.
The other disadvantage is that Compulife will not permit remarketing of the new "Web Quotes Plus" service to third parties. Anyone wishing to offer such services to individual agents will need the internet engine (read on).
For Web Quotes Plus users we will likely substitute this with a referral system that permits you to remarket Compulife's web quote solution to agents, and where you can have some control of that, and obtain discounts from our retail prices. That is still being contemplated.
Once again, the big advantage for Compulife with the Web Quotes Plus option will be the ability to monitor and track use because it will be on our server. We intend to monitor much more closely who is accessing the server, which user accounts and the volume. Suspicious activity will be reported to the user and if there is inadequate explanation for what is going on we will be in a position to block it.
What If You Want the Old Deal?
The internet engine will remain available to those that want or need it but the price for that option will be going up significantly.
Given the price increase, those that want will be able to pay the engine on a monthly basis. To qualify for that the licensee will need to place a credit card on file with Compulife (this will not be in a database accessible by internet) and each month our staff will use that credit card to pay the monthly invoice. If a payment fails, the licensee will have a 30 day grace period to rectify the problem after which the service will be terminated.
IMPORTANT: The price increase will be introduced at your next renewal of the internet engine. Those who have paid ahead for more than one year will continue to be grandfathered with the old deal and pricing until the end of that subscription. However, any renewal invoiced for April 15th and on, will be at the new price.
NOTE: Special consideration will be given for cost of the internet engine to those internet engine users who are using the engine to remarket Compulife's product to other agents, where the number of sub-users is 200 and where the customer is paying the $5 per month for each of their sub-users.
We expect the price increase will dramatically thin the herd. Those who want to can still customize and control the system and will have access to the new $960 "Web Quotes Plus" option. On the other hand, if internet engine users absolutely have to have autonomy (and we expect there is group who will) then the only software company offering an autonomous solution is Compulife.
Further Changes Are Being Made
The changes we are making to our software do not end there, but for security reasons we will not be disclosing the changes being made. Suffice it to say that we are going to be developing new ways to control use of our software and attempt to find those using our software outside the permission granted by our license. When they are found there will be no hesitation, we will terminate services to those customers. I want absolutely nothing to do with individuals and operations that do not function in a reasonable or ethical manner. Those who are willing to distribute or give access to our product to others, without our agreement or permission, are also the type of folks who engage in other unacceptable behavior. I have no interest in dealing with such people.
Improvements To Compulife Basic
"Compulife Basic" is the term that we use to describe the web based version of our software. That version of our softare gives the user the ability to run our software on any device that has internet access and a browser. Every subscriber to the Windows PC version of Compulife can have access to Compulife Basic for free. Those who want ONLY the Compulife Basic product, and not the Windows PC version, can get Compulife Basic for $96 per year. Compulife Basic allows access to the account for up to 3 devices. A 4th device is rejected.
Standard Licensse subscribers ($300 per year) can have Compulife Basic on up to 12 devices, and those devices can be outside the locations. A standard license limits use of the PC software on up to 5 machines in one location but those 5 machines must be in that location. This is what a typical agency needs, with the agency then sending quotes by email to its agent customers. They can give quotes to other agents, but may not give the software to other agents. The personal use edition restricts use of the software to a single life insurance agent, and quotes may not be given to other agents.
Two things that have previously limited Compulife Basic are the selection of face amounts and the inability to enter ages rather than birthdates. We know that agents need the ability to enter any face amount and sometimes need a quote for a given age, not knowing the exact birthday. These two issues have now been addressed. You can see a test version of that result here:
Modified Client Entry Screen
We are asking that all subscribers visit this page, and try out the new look, feel and functionality. If you have concerns or comments, we need to hear from you as soon as possible.
Give us a call at (888) 798-3488 or (800) 798-3488 if you have further questions. You can also email your comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Assuming that we hear no serious complaints during April, we will move to update ALL Compulife Basic accounts with the new features. The upgrade is free and part of the annual service fee you pay for our software.
WARNING: This means that your Compulife Basic version, if it has been in some way customized (such as changing the default state) will be reset to the new default page. We will be happy to modify the page following that, should that be required. For example, if you want a default state other than California, that is a change that can be made but one we have to make for you. On the other hand, those who have in the past asked for additional face amounts to be added to the list will no longer need that modification simply because ANY face amount can be entered in the new version. Once again, check it out at the link:
Modified Client Entry Screen
Those Improvements Available For Web Quotes
For agents offering our web quote options on their web sites, for their consumer visitors, the new changes are redundant and unnecessary. A consumer running a quote for themself already knows their birthday. Further, there is a rare need to be able to enter a face amount not on the list. When offering a quoting service to consumers, less is more. You want the consumer to have the simplest interface possible, so that they can see a multiple company quote and realize that you are the insurance agent they need to do business with.
On the flip side we do have some customers who set up quote systems that are intended for their agents' use. There is no doubt that the new features would be greatly appreciated by those agents. In that regard we have decided that Complife customers who have the "Standard" license to Compulife (paying $300 per year) can upgrade to the new client entry page for their web quote option, in additiion to the upgrade to their Compulife Basic option. There will be no charge for the upgrade to the webquote option.
Compulife subscribers who are personal use (paying $180 per year) cannot upgrade to the new page for their Web Quote option unless they are willing to upgrade their personal use license to a standard license. Once again, if your site exists for consumer use then you will be better off sticking with the current version of the webpage which is the simplest and easiest to use.
Term4Sale Results Clipped
In order to deter those mining our term4sale website for data we have now reduced the number of company/product results at term4sale.com. Previously we were showing 50 results; that has been dramatically trimmed to 10. We have been operating this way since March 13th, the day after the disappointing court decision.
So far the only calls we have received are from agents taking a free roll at term4sale. We have explained that they can get access to a far superior quoting tool than term4sale by purchasing Compulife Basic for only $96 per year. And they can get 4 months of that service for FREE if they will try our Windows PC software and do the tutorial. I like to point out on the phone that an agent who can't afford $96 per year can listen carefully, they will hear violins playing behind me. Frankly, all our prices have been ridiculously low and the value of our product greatly exceeds what we charge; and we know it.
For consumers using the site the "Top 10" results by premium is plenty. No one was going to be buying number 14 on the list. I did hear from one agent who used term4sale to get a quote, find the company she was selling on the list, just to get that company's premium. She explained that she did that beause term4sale was easier to use than the company's quoting tool; go figure.
Cutting from 50 to 10 means we lose some of the wow factor, but if the visitor checks our quotes against others on the web, they will realize that no other site provides lower premium quotes than term4sale because most other quote sites restrict results to only those companies sold by those offering the quotes. Term4sale remains the best site for a consumer.
And finally, we do expect a number of agents who used the site to take a "free roll" will not be too happy with the change and in truth we are not too happy either. But bad court decisions have consequences and we need to do things to protect the fruits of our labor.
Further Term4Sale Changes
Once again, an agent not happy with the change to term4sale can get Compulife Basic for a mere $96 per year, and gain access to more product categories, results, features and options than we offer at term4sale.com.
To further make that point at term4sale.com we will be introducing a new feature that will pop up a new page when a vistor attempts to run a quote after their 4th visit in a set period of time. The new page will simply ask the question, "are you an agent?" and extol the virtues of our agent software offerings. The vistor will be given a link to get the 30 day free trial or can click a button to continue to obtain the quote as before.
Work Delayed on the Database Update
With all the new efforts being directed at increased security and protection for our software, the database upgrade will likely be further delayed for a number of months, until the other security work is completed.
This is a sad and expensive diversion but one we need to preserve our existence. If people can ripoff what we have worked hard to put together, then competing with us by giving it away to others for free, then our future existence is threatened. If Compulife ceased to exist, that would be bad for Compulife but just as bad or worse for legitimate customers of Compulife who profit from the use of our software.