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  • How VSL treat their customers!

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    Anyone considering VSL products ought to read this before going ahead! I had a dead dongle on Saturday meaning I had to stop work on an urgent project. It contained both Steinberg and VSL licenses.

    Steinberg just asked me for my account name and said they'd email a new Activation Code. Great! Back up and running quickly.  VSL - well, they *did* give an 180hr demo license which is very helpful. But THEN I got an email saying they had to see the broken key in Vienna before getting new full codes.  Hmm, a bit of a hassle but ok.  BUT - they also said they need €70 because my key was over 10 years old. Er, what? They don't want the €70 for a new USB key - I already have one - but just for their 'work' looking mistrustfully at my broken key and sending me a new code.  I can't believe this!  The cheek of it!  

    Here's the emails, my reply first:

    haha you seriously want to charge me €70 for the inconvenience of losing work and having to send the dongle back to you? That's hilarious.

    Steinberg by comparison just agreed to send me new activation codes by email. Maybe you want to consider copying their policy. Activation codes can't be re-used so you have very little to lose just by trusting your customers and sending them new codes quickly by email, let alone making them send you the key and THEN actually CHARGING me.
    I find this almost impossible to believe!  And yet, my system is reliant on VE PRO so I have no choice. I can only take it that the world economic downturn has hit you so hard that you have to scrape little bits of money from your loyal customers, without worrying about losing their loyalty.
    Enjoy your €70, I won't forget this!
    All the best for 2012 

    On 2 Jan 2012, at 18:31, VSL Support wrote:

    @Another User said:

    As the broken key is a very old key already (almost 10 years old), the 2 year warranty will not apply, so I'm afraid that you won't get the permanent replacement licenses for your VSL products for free. After we've received and checked the key you can purchase replacement licenses for EUR 20 per VSL license and a handling fee of EUR 30. In your case I see that two VSL licenses are on the key (Vienna Ensemble PRO 5 and Vienna Instruments PRO), this would result in a total of EUR 70 (EUR 40 for the two replacement licenses + EUR 30 handling fee).
    I'll get back to you once we've received your broken key. Let me know if you decide to send it to Steinberg instead, and I'll connect with them regarding the replacement licenses for your VSL licenses.

    I hope that you find this information helpful.
    Please don't hesitate to contact me if you've got any questions!

    Kind regards from Vienna,

    Stefan Steinbauer

    Vienna Symphonic Library
    Sales Manager
    Visit us at 

  •  At first €20 per license sounds reasonable, but then I looked at my Vienna Key which has 64 VSL licenses on there. So that would cost me €1310 to replace a key (plus the cost of a new key, and the high costs of very securely sending a key to Austria as the key would have to be insured for at least €10,000 - and most courier companies probably wouldn't even do that).

    It does seem that as you buy more products, you get penalised more.

    It seems fair that VSL charge something for reinstating a faulty key, but we buy the license with software, not the medium that the license is on. So once proven that the existing licenses are lost (with a faulty key), we should not have to pay for something we already own. 

    It seems to be getting more regular on forums, that users are reporting faulty keys. I was always confident that the keys generally don't fail,  but they do seem to be nowadays, so now I am becoming concerned about my key. I could buy a new key every 2 years, but transferring 64 licenses form one key to another, is something I don't want to or should not need to be doing.

  • OMG yeh I never even thought about what would happen if my other (main) key went with almost the entire VI library on it. Yeah - the only way to avoid this miserly, mean, money-grabbing, mistrustful, small-minded policy is to transfer all your licenses every 2 years.

    I'm going to protest by making sure every new collection of samples I buy is from a different company. This way:

    (a) If my USB key breaks again I won't need new codes, and

    (b) VSL will lose as much money as I do. It's only fair for them to be penalised.

    Well, I think it's time to spread the news! People on all the other music forums need to be warned about the danger of buying into this bullsh*t.

  • In the VSL T&C it just says a 'handling fee' will be charged for replacing the licenses, without saying that it could be €2,000 for a customer with the whole collection.

    This sounds to me like it's in breach of the "Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999"

    I'm going to make a complaint to Consumer Direct (UK consumer protection agency), see if they can do anything about this. (EDIT: I see I have to make a formal complaint to VSL first, ok).

    Does anyone agree with me here that VSLs customer-punishment policy is scandalous?

  • Ah a peaceful resolution.  The pain, the joy, the pain, the joy.

    So here's what happened - I WASTED £7 sending my broken USB Key to VSL this morning, because just now Steinberg sent me, free of charge, as a matter of policy, all the lost licenses, INCLUDING the lost VSL licenses.

    The moral of this story? Make sure you put a Steinberg product on every USB key you have, then you get free activation codes, DON'T send it back to those money-grubbing fiends in Vienna.  ESPECIALLY if you have a lot of VSL products - their cheating policy could cost you over a thousand £, $ or €.

    Actually, maybe Steinberg did this because the broken key was theirs, not a Vienna Key. In which case, the moral is that you need to transfer your VSL library onto a Steinberg USB eLicenser instead of the Vienna Key. So, without knowing, it's hard to know exactly *what* the moral is, except Steinberg = hooray, VSL = boo, hiss!


  • Dan, have you actually even thought about why Steinberg can provide free licences, but VSL can't? Could it be something to do with the fact that Steinberg owns the copy protection system, and therefore doesn't have to pay a 3rd party to supply licences?


  • DG - have you thought about the fact that if VSL knew this they could have told me to contact Steinberg instead of offering to waste my time and take my money?

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    @dagmarpiano said:

    DG - have you thought about the fact that if VSL knew this they could have told me to contact Steinberg instead of offering to waste my time and take my money?


    I have no idea whether VSL "knew this", or if it is indeed an official policy of Steinberg. All I was trying to do was offer some explanation as to why VSL can't provide free licence replacement.

    However, to describe the VSL team as money-grubbing (don't you mean grabbing?) is very unfair in my view. You might also like to consider that this policy from Steinberg (if it is a policy) has only been in force since they bought Syncrosoft, for exactly the same reasons I outlined above.


  • Just a thought:

    Doesn't the eLicenser Control Center synchronize and backup all your licences?

    Maybe there's some way to restore from their database?

    I don't like the harsh words directed above to VSL. They are incredibly helpful and supportive in general, particularly when compared to other companies like EastWest and Native Instruments. This suggestion of a huge cost of replacement does disturb me though.....

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    @Another User said:

    I don't like the harsh words directed above to VSL. They are incredibly helpful and supportive in general, particularly when compared to other companies like EastWest and Native Instruments. This suggestion of a huge cost of replacement does disturb me though.....


    The only current solution is to make sure tat your keys are less than 2 years old, and make sure that you have insurance. This way you are covered for loss, theft, and breakage.


  • Yeh I know, it's easy to throw out harsh words when you're annoyed.  I think though if *you* got an unexpected obstacle while under work pressure, then charged money with no justification offered, and then a different company solved it quickly without asking for money, you'd be annoyed at the policy of the first company.

    As for this not being Steinberg policy DG, you might be right. Maybe I just got a trainee who did something generous without realising it, who knows.  

    SO anyway yeh I'll calm down and shut up and get on with my work now.  But before you blindly worship VSL, you'd better cross your fingers and hope you don't lose your whole VSL collection on a dead USB Key - it might be a pricey fix if you have to pay their generous 'handling fees'.

    As for Money Grubbing DG, it's American for Money Grabbing. Don't ask me why I said that, I'm from the UK. Perhaps, it's the 'grubby' implication.

  • Is it really true that this very high €20 per license fee is just something which Steinberg charges VSL, and so they are only passing on their cost?

    Even if so then the whole system could still be improved.  They should send out email warnings after two years for example, that the warranty has expired, with the option to buy a replacement or purchase an extended warranty. Also, the actual potential costs should be specified as a clear warning when buying, not just a very vague 'a handling fee will be charged' hidden in the T&C.

    How likely is it that typical composers will be keeping track of how old their USB keys are, remembering to replace them every two years and then transferring all the licenses across?  Does anyone reading this do that? Only people burned by a key failure I bet.

  • Ooh, good info. I now have almost the entire DVD collection and lots of download licenses I got along the way on one 5 year old VSL dongle. I also have a spare Steinberg dongle sitting around so it looks like I should spend some time moving house.

    So... I'm sorry about your struggle, Dan, but thanks for calling attention to it for the complacent like me, especially the fact that Steinberg replaced it all.

  • Update and warning for you didger -

    I asked Steinberg their policy and they said that because most of the licenses on this USB Key were Steinberg, they made an exception and provided the VSL activation codes, whereas if it was all VSL licenses the request would have to go through VSL.

    My advice, which I've just done now, is to buy a new Vienna Key every 2 years and transfer all your VSL licenses onto that. It's a PITA but at least it beats pulling your eyes out with anger at the extreme cost of lots of replacement codes.  With your spare dongles, you could make a nice necklace. Or use them for temporary demo licenses.

    Anyway surely in a few years everything will be in the cloud... no more USB pains, we can hope....!

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    This page seems to contain useful information about this topic:

    Accordingly it sounds like as long as you have a registered device then the codes can be downloaded from the elicenser software. See section 2 last paragraph where it states:

    "I broke my USB-eLicenser!

    • You need to buy a new empty USB-eLicenser.
      Please make sure that the defective key has been registered in MySteinberg before contacting us for any license replacement.
      The new activation code(s) can then be downloaded to the new USB-eLicenser using the License Control Center."

  • What I find kind of irritating is the fact that you can - if you have registered the Special Edition - you can buy the standard library of many instruments at a reduced price, e.g. the french oboe for as little as EUR31. You get a licence for every single DL-Instrument. If the "handling fee" was just a 1:1 passover from Steinberg, this would be a very bad deal for VSL.

    I even wonder more where VSL gets all those demo licences from. Does Steinberg NOT charge for demo licences? Does it take tem less effort to provide a demo licence than a permanent one?

  • hmmm, do not think it does matter here what Steinberg charges. VSL chose this copy protection so they are responsible for pricings, not Steinberg IMHO. They are not a victim, but a customer. (which in case of Steinberg -in my past experience -really seem to make not much difference -but again, thats VSL's problem. they are free to quit )

    personally I consider this fee insulting. eLicenser is the key with the worsed convenience for the customer -compared to iLok online license storage etc. -and on Mac it is troublesome anyways.

    knowing this I might really have to think over which products I license in the future. there are companies that have ways more customer friendly licensing policies.


  • For your further information, it's interesting to note that VSL wanted to charge me two fees to replace my license - one (€20 per license) for each activation code, and then a €20 Handling Fee.

    However, in their own terms and conditions they only mention the Handling Fee. Does that mean the €20/license fee is actually a breach of their own terms of conditions?  It looks like it.  Buyers beware!  It turns out that VSL is an internet Scam Site! Seriously though, I would recommend that anyone in this situation should refuse to pay.

    Here's their T&C again (my bold emphasis)

    5. Defect of the ViennaKey

    In the case of a defect or damage to the ViennaKey Vienna Symphonic Library GmbH or a third party authorized by Vienna Symphonic Library GmbH (e.g., distributor) will check the ViennaKey. In the case of a legitimate claim the ViennaKey and the Vienna Symphonic Library Licenses included shall be replaced in return for a handling fee. The Licenses will only be replaced provided that they are licenses issued by Vienna
    Symphonic Library GmbH. Further claims against Vienna Symphonic Library GmbH are excluded.

    I think maybe it's time for an official response to this, who agrees with me?

  • I think it would be fair if they made an official statement - of course 20 € per license is also some kind of handling fee, however, it pretty fast gets really expensive. calculating how much that was for my current key with vienna licenses is not encouraging. Also, a span of two years warranty for the key seems quite -also considered the time it takes syncrosoft to transfer licenses from one key to another -which I would describe as painfully slow. and of course there is also risk with that super management software, to ruin something.

    just my thoughts


  • Well I love VSL. But I too would be furious if I had to go through all the above and if I understand correctly - pay €20 per licence. Furious.