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Firefox and Safari Syncing + iCloud

Hi

I use Firefox as my browser. I would like to sync my Firefox bookmarks to my iPhone.

In the past I managed to achieve this (when it was MobileMe) by doing the following :-

1. Install Xmarks for Firefox on All Computers (this syncs bookmarks between Firefox on all computers)

2. Install Xmarks for Safari on one computer (my main desktop as this is on all the time). This then syncs my Firefox bookmarks to Safari on that computer. In turn them bookmarks would then upload to MobileMe's cloud, and then to my iPhone. Adding and deleting bookmarks on any device (computer/iPhone) would reflect on all my devices. This worked well.

Now with iCloud this doesn't seem to be the case. Adding/Deleting bookmarks either using Safari on my desktop/Macbook or Safari on iPhone does reflect the changes on said browsers - but not on Firefox. Likewise, if you add a new bookmark in Firefox, even though Xmarks syncs it to other browsers where Xmarks is installed on, it will not sync the new bookmark to iCloud.

I hope that makes sense. If not - here is how to replicate the problem.

Make sure iCloud is set up on all devices.
1. Install Xmarks for Firefox on 1 computer (call it Computer A)
2. Install Xmarks for Safari on another computer (Computer B)
3. On Computer A through Firefox, add a new bookmark and sync Xmarks
4. On Computer B, sync Xmarks for Safari. The bookmark will show up in Safari.

At this point - in theory this bookmark should then sync to iCloud - but it does not.

As I said, if you add/delete a bookmark in Safari itself - it does sync with iCloud and all other devices.

Is there a fix coming for this?

Cheers
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  • 1
    Firstly my apology to XMarks for posting this here, I have been a long time paid supporter from it's FoxMarks days and did what I could to help it from going under; however this issue with Safari and iCloud and a lack of support and response has left me extremely frustrated so I do feel the need to use an alternative and help others in the same situation. I am starting to think that XMarks has decided to ignore this issue as once it's fixed, there is no need for users to keep paying for it's Premium Subscription as they can sync their iOS devices through iCloud.

    To bheinz:

    Many Mac users have found success with Bookmacster, a powerful bookmark syncing app working locally to sync amongst your browsers without having to use the cloud(although you can sync amongst different computers by using Dropbox)
    http://www.sheepsystems.com/

    Make sure you watch the tutorial for syncing Firefox, Chrome and Safari(it can sync with a lot of other browsers too), or it can be quite daunting to get started due to it's many powerful functions:
    http://www.sheepsystems.com/products/...

    There is a bit of a learning curve and there is a good chance of stuffing things up, so I would recommend the following:
    1) remove XMarks from Safari
    2) do a full sync to XMarks on Firefox(use as a backup)
    3) disable XMarks on all browsers
    4) Install and run Bookmacster until you are happy with the result
    (if problem happens, re-enable XMarks to restore)
    5) enable XMarks on Firefox again to use as a cloud backup and to sync with Windows machine

    Simple concept with BookMacster:
    -BM installs addons and imports all bookmarks from the various browsers and create a Bookmarkshelf document on your mac
    -User can sort through all their bookmakrs and utilize various functions on the integrated BookMarkshelf
    -BM then export all bookmarks to all the browsers so all of them are identical
    -User can then set up "Agents" to monitor for changes and sync as needed

    I did find the BookMacster information a bit overwhelming at first and so hopefully the short info above would help somewhat. You may stuff up a few times setting it up like I did and so the backup to XMarks from Firefox initially is highly recommended. I would still keep XMarks on my Firefox and other computers as a continual historical backup.

    I have found the BookMacster developer extremely responsive and helpful in the forum. Most posts are replied within 1-2 days(often sooner) with good information. Unlike many other developers whom you have to wait for days to get a generic and often irrelevant answer asking you for information which you have already supplied! You have to pay for the full license(which I have purchased) but you can use it's 3 Days licenses and have it renewed indefinitely though I am a firm believer in supporting the developers if you feel their service provided is valuable. :)

    Note to Windows user:
    I have read that XMarks + iCloud combination works quite well within Windows after you have downloaded and installed the iCloud controller/manager. For user with both Mac and Windows maybe one can disable XMarks or iCloud on their Mac Safari and just use Windows as a bridge between their OS. Windows can be in a sepertate system or within a VM environment(parallel or otherwise)

    Hope the above helps.
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  • I’m sad but hopeful
    Note to XMarks:

    Please offer a fix to this issue as soon as you can, otherwise even long term users like myself will start to look into alternatives and may eventually leave XMarks permanently.

    As I have said in my previous post, I have been a long time supporter of XMarks from it's FoxMarks days and XMarks feels very personal to us all as we had gone through it's ordeal last year together and when we heard that XMarks was to live we all just about jumped up in joy! ;) We very much want to see it continue to go from strength to strength.

    If it is a business decision to not fix this issue as it may negate the need to subscribe to your premium service, this would be a most erroneous decision as rather than encouraging users to subscribe, you would be turning established users away all together. Be creative and offer a different value added service for the paying subscriber(maybe combining Lastpass and XMarks?) and I think most of us would still be happy to keep supporting XMarks.

    There is still nothing that can match XMarks in term of it's simple and elegant design and interface, and it has such a loyal and dedicated client base. However, once you have lost the confidence of the users, it maybe for good.
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  • We are still working the issue -- we have some working code to read and write bookmarks from iCloud, but it is not ready for public consumption. Please note we have not made any business decision to abandon Safari -- lack of resources, not desire, is the overriding factor. We apologize for the long wait and thank you all for your patience.
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  • Can't wait to see this fixed. I'm using 1.4.1 and now the bookmark folders on my iCloud-synchronized iPad are empty (correct folders are here, but no bookmarks in them)
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  • I’m cheeky
    Hey, the poke worked! LOL Good to see some response from the team. It can get a bit disheartening when your last response was from 4 months ago and not a word since. Even just a two liner progress report every couple of weeks would be good.

    This brought to mind another favorite app of mine when I was on my iPaq: Listpro by iliumsoft, an amazing list app. They said that they had plan to port it to iPhone and thousands(?) of users were waiting eagerly for months and even years on end. The lack of communication from the developer was so frustrating that eventually by the time they finally brought out the iPhone app, most users have migrated to another app. Once that has happened it can be hard to switch back.
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  • I am surprised to see all these replies, even from xmarks team, that ́s great and should motivate xmarks to change their attitude.

    My problem is:
    I want to continue using xmarks (I have been using it for many many years back in Foxmarks times) including sync of my iDevices (got an iphone plus 2 iPads). Before the icloud times this was possible with just syncing the iDevices via iTunes, today its nogo.

    Regarding Premium:
    I interpret from one of the threats above that there is also a problem with premium service and iCloud. Besides, I am very reluctant to sign up for something causing regular costs. For me a 25$ once would be ok, but 12$ a year is a nogo...

    Regarding Alternatives:
    The alternative mentioned are nogo ́s for me.
    Regarding the Windows Workaround: Sorry, but I have stopped using my windows laptop at all after the iPad came out. And for desktop I have been on MAC since 1986 - I am too old and inflexible to ever go back to Windows.
    I tried to shift around Bookmarks within Safari as recommended by one of the threats above, taht also didn ́t work. Besides: I don ́t want to fiddle around with Safari Bookmarks every time I changed a bookmark in Firefox...

    Recommendation to the xmarks Team:
    I understand that applying pressure or writing nasty comments is just ignored by you. So a very polite hint to the xmarks strategists from my side:
    Fix the problem, charge a one time fee in a reasonable amount (< 25$), I am sure the business case would work.

    Greetings from Germany
    Bernie
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  • Hi Bernie,

    Until the Xmarks team is able to fix the problem for us, I think there are two alternatives for you:

    1) If you just want to sync your Mac/iOS devices with iTune, you can DISABLE iCloud bookmarks syncing both on your Mac and iOS devices(so XMarks will sync Firefox and Safari properly), and then itune can sync your Safari bookmarks with your IOS devices everytime you do an iOS sync. Just like the good old days. :)

    2) If you want to sync your IOS devices wirelessly and automatically with Firefox, you would have to use BookMacster as I had sugguested above. (iCloud will sync your iOS devices with Mac Safari, and then BookMacster will sync your Mac Safari with Firefox)

    With either of the above alternatives, once you have gotten them set up, you shouldn't have to do anything manually to keep them in sync.

    3) Ok, I know I said 2 alternatives, but you can always use the iPhone app Firefox Sync(or XMarks Premium App) to assess your desktop bookmarks, but it is only one way. You cannot send bookmarks from your iOS devices to your Mac Firefox easily, that's why this doesn't count :(

    Don't mean to pick on your mis-spelling(I have plenty myself I'm sure!), but your "threat" instead of "thread" really cracked me up! LOL! Were we really that nasty towards XMarks? (or was that a deliberate mis-spell?)

    Good luck!
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  • Regarding the Premium subscription for Xmarks:
    -no, it does NOT solve the Xmarks/iCloud/Safari problem
    -it allows you to use the Xmarks app on iOS devices to assess your desktop bookmarks(once again, it's only one way)

    I could have achieved the same functionalities with the free Firefox app, however I pledged to keep paying for the premium more as a support to the developer of XMarks to keep it from going under. That is also why I am more than a little sorely disappointed with the situation now. :(
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  • I have to say, it's a positive sign that they at least acknowledge the issue now. Will this erase the sour taste in their paying customers' mouths? We'll see. I definitely won't be renewing unless they fix the iCloud issue (or provide a sensible workaround), and also fix the constant error messages concerning the number of bookmarks synced.
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  • I’m amused
    @ Kwan Chan

    Thanks a lot for all of your comments.

    referring to your no 1)
    That is exactly what I successfully used to do until iCloud came out. But since then I am getting the same scrambled Bookmarks syncing with cable and iTunes as with iCloud. I assume Apple now applies identical (malfunctioning) SW logic/module for the iTunes cable sync and iCloud sync. Maybe the structure of my Bookmarks is a bit complicated (3 levels of folders) but it used to work before.

    referring to your no 2)
    I am going to follow your recommendation and try BookMacster. Sounds good. I ́ll keep you informed on the results

    referring to your no 3)
    I tried Firefox Sync when it came out (over a year ago??) but found that it wasn ́t helpful exactly for the reasons you mentioned

    Your spelling comment ("threat" vs "thread") is really justified (sorry, English is not my mother tongue...). But I hope the xmarks folks consider some of the threads above as threats... - there is the danger that long term customers are leaving...

    Besides, I like your idea of suppporting developers or small development teams. I am following a similar principle - if a freeware is usefull I donate something. We need enthusiastc programmers in our finance driven world.

    Greetings
    Bernie
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  • Hi Bernie,

    With regards to option 1), that is using iTune to sync bookmarks instead of iCloud: I haven't tried it again recently, but have you TURNED OFF iCLOUD BOOKMARK SYNCING on both your Mac and iOS devices? Maybe iCloud has stuffed up the ordering and structures but once you have turned it off and fixed it up properly in Firefox again(possibly from a restore in XMarks), it will transfer across to Safari, and then thru iTune to your iOS devices again?

    All the best
    Kwan
    • view 11 more comments
    • Please smalltalk somewhere else!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    • @bruno: I ́d love to return to techtalk again if there was some tech progress by the xmarks folks....
      Seriously: Why do you think I am mentioning Facebook above - yes, correct - to do the smalltalk there...
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  • So the error messages with the number of bookmarks being sync is not just me then. I thought that was from my heavy tinckering. Just like Bernie and probably a lot of users here, I have a rather complicated folder structure as well(otherwise I probably can just use Delicious but I can never really get into it).
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  • I’m annoyed but hopeful
    I'd like this fixed as well.
    iCloud launched October 12, 2011, and it is now April 5, 2012. That's an absurdly long time to have broken software, guys. Glad to hear a fix is finally allegedly almost ready, it's about time.
    Then again, it's hard to complain given the price (free), but I'd gladly pay to have this issue fixed.
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  • I’m frustrated
    xmarks goodbye,

    thanks for your great support over many years (foxmarks included).
    But half a year is long enough to wait for an essential update.
    I have deleted xmarks now and I am working with iCloud Sync (which happens to work fine after a while and a few attempts with empty bookmark folders).

    I now import my Firefox Bookmarks every once and a while to Safari - those imported Bookmarks are perfectly synched via iCloud. I know this is only one way, but thats the one which counts most for me.
    I stopped working with Safari and Chrome on my Mac, Firefox is great. On my iDevices I look up things most of the time and do not gernerate that many new bookmarks. If there is a new important bookmark I manually copy that to the Homecscreen and/or do manual updates in Firefox to keep Firefox and Safari/iCloud/iDevices somehow aligned.

    By the way, Bookmacster is not an alternative for me, I usually don ́t buy regular licences.

    Greetings
    Bernie
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  • Hello,

    Reading a post above, someone was saying that in Mobile me the sync between Xmarks and IOS devices was working properly when changing the update interval from push to 15 min. iCloud has no direct option to configure this inside its own interface, but you can set an interval of 15 min update on each different IOS device... And it works!!

    In any IOS device you own you have to go to (please, be aware that my IOS devices are in Spanish and probably my translation is not exact):

    ->Settings->Mail, contacts, calendar->Fetch New Data->Select "Each 15 mins"->Advanced->iCloud->Select "Fetch" (I guess this is the option, not push or manual)

    Good luck!
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  • Hello all,

    I've been plagued by the same problem and I tried all and everything out there I could. Then I did this one small thing and everything worked perfect for me. In Firefox I used dividing lines to separate out certain folders or bookmarks from one another.

    So i turned off all the icloud bookmark sharing on all devices and computers. I deleted all the separation lines and then updated all my browsers with xmarks, after checking that no browser had the dividing marks anymore, I turned on the icloud book mark share on my mac. Waited a couple minutes and then turned them on on my devices too, it worked perfect for me after that.

    Don't know if that will help anyone, but it did it for me.

    Thanks all!
    • I also got lots of separators - it would just be fantastic if they were causing the problems.
      But before I am doing another time consuming experiment (I have already wasted too much time for this), I would like to know from you if the sync still works after a couple of days and with updates made to bookmarks on each side - i.e. on Firefox, on Safari Mac, on Safari iphone or iPad (new bookmarks, changed bookmarks, deleted bookmarks...).
      Greetings and thanks for your feedback.
      Bernie
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  • I've got something working, to an extent. Set up icloud to sync to Internet Explorer. Set up Internet Explorer and Chrome to Sync with Xmarks. On my Mac, Safir syncs with icloud. Internet Explorer and Safari stay in sync over iCloud. Internet Explorer and Chrome stay in sync of Xmarks.
    • It doesn't sound like you're on a Mac. That's where we're seeing problems.
    • Ye - that's why I moved the Xmarks stuff from the Mac to the PC - iCloud picks up IE bookmark changes that were created via Xmarks fine. Whilst iCloud doesn't pick up same changes from Safari on the Mac. So I let the PC end deal with the syncing to Chrome via an iCloud sync to IE. To be honest, on the Mac I use Safari anyway - so the Mac already has my bookmarks, they get to my phone and iPad just fine, and on my PC at work I get the bookmarks into Chrome via IE.
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  • The answer is this:

    iCloud sync from safari uses a Safari triggered event when you add or remove a bookmark. Xmarks cannot use said event, because the trigger is built into Safari itself, as a monitoring service.

    Basically, the situation is this: iCloud control panel doesn't watch the bookmarks.xml/plist file on your computer for changes. Instead, it waits for Safari to tell it 'I made a change'. Since XMarks is making sync changes to the bookmarks.xml.plist file directly, Safari has no way to know it has changed, and doesn't notify iCloud that there was a change made.

    Hope that makes sense.
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  • Mac users: for the last couple of months, I've been using my own solution that syncs Firefox/Xmarks over-the-air. Think of it as a D.I.Y. iCloud for bookmarks. You'll need:

    1) a Mac (sorry PC users)
    2) Hazel http://www.noodlesoft.com/hazel.php
    3) Xmarks setup to sync between Firefox and Safari
    4) Wi-fi syncing to be enabled for your iPhone/iPad/iPod touch
    5) iTunes to remain running on your Mac

    It works like this: Hazel (which is automation software for Mac) watches for changes to the "bookmarks.plist" file (where Safari stores its bookmarks), and when it sees a change, initiates an AppleScript that will sync your iOS device over-the-air. I have the AppleScript set up to sync my iPad and iPhone simultaneously (don't worry, if you don't have all of these devices the script will still work for you). Basically, you're looking at this sequence of events:

    Firefox Bookmarks changed -> Xmarks syncs to Safari -> Hazel sees the change to Safari Bookmarks -> AppleScript launches -> iTunes syncs your devices

    ---------------------------------------

    You will need these files:

    1) the "rule" for Hazel, which enables it to watch for changes to your "bookmarks.plist" file. Download the file here:

    http://cl.ly/422T241e0V421x3L3I1E

    2) the AppleScript that initiates the Wi-fi sync via iTunes. The AppleScript runs as a regular app, so I would suggest that you save it to your "Applications" folder. Download the file here:

    http://cl.ly/431a1V2o223k1E3W3q1D

    ---------------------------------------

    Once you've downloaded the files, the first thing you'll need to do is set up Hazel to watch for Safari bookmark changes. To do so, follow these steps:

    1) open the Hazel system preference pane
    2) click on the "+" button to add a folder
    3) navigate to ~/Library/Safari
    -> in Lion the Library folder is hidden by default. To access it, follow this guide: http://goo.gl/RSAbL
    4) once the "Safari" folder has been added to Hazel, right-click on it and select "Import Rule"; navigate to the "Safari.hazelrules" file that you downloaded in the previous steps. Once you've added the rule to Hazel, you can delete the downloaded file.
    5) ensure that the rule is active within Hazel, by clicking the checkmark box next to "iPhone/iPad/iPod Bookmark Sync" under the "Rules" pane

    You should be ready-to-go at this point.

    ---------------------------------------

    A couple of caveats:

    1) you may be able to replicate the Hazel capability with the launchd process (if you don't know what that is already, Google it). I didn't try doing that, since I already owned Hazel and it made for a simpler setup.
    2) if you make a change to bookmarks directly on your device, you'll need to initiate a wi-fi sync to have those changes reflected on your desktop (either by running the AppleScript or starting a sync from within Settings on your device itself).
    3) if iTunes isn't running on your Mac (or if your Mac is sleeping), the whole operation fails silently (i.e. with no error... you could modify the AppleScript to toss up an error dialog if you're so inclined).
    4) the AppleScript will only work if your iPhone contains the word "iPhone" in its name; if you've named it something like "My Sexy Smartphone", you're out-of-luck, unless you modify the AppleScript to look for that device name. The same concept applies to other devices.

    Finally, I cannot take credit for the AppleScript. I downloaded it from the excellent "Doug's AppleScripts for iTunes" site; you can see the original context here: http://dougscripts.com/itunes/2012/01...

    I hope that this helps some of you out; I've found this solution to be stable, and a reasonable substitute for true Xmarks/iCloud syncing. Please let me know if you have any questions and I'll be glad to help. You can email me at xmark_sync@cogeco.ca
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    • I think that doing that (creating a "fake" bookmark, then deleting it) would create a never-ending loop. Since the routine depends on changes to bookmarks.plist, it would continually get triggered by the "fake bookmark" creation/deletion (since that create/delete operation would itself modify bookmarks.plist).
    • Good point... shame, this whole syncing thing is rather bothersome...
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  • Thanks to anyone sharing their workarounds, but they are just too tricky ... Xmarks should fix this if they still take a bit of care of their customers' satisfaction, but it looks like they're ignoring us.
    At this point I am confident that I will not renew my Xmarks annual fee and I wish to encourage anyone else having this Firefox+iCloud problem to do so.
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  • I’m frustrated
    How many years should we wait for a working Xmarks Version who runs with iCloud? I am so frustrated and I will not renew my Xmarks and Lastpass annual fee.

    I DON'T USE XMARKS AT THE MOMENT! YOU LOSE YOUR CUSTOMERS!

    but it doesn't matter ..... Customers are stupid ???
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  • 1
    I wonder if XMarks realizes that it is their lack of communication, more than any technical issues, that is causing their users to cancel the service. It's really sad...
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  • oh, they're aware. they just don't give a rip.

    os x 10.8 mountain lion just hit gm today. if xmarks hasn't even been updated to support iCloud which first became available to developers *over a year ago*, we may as well consider xmarks for Mac totally dead. what a shame.
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  • I’m happy
    I got over all this, I installed Chrome for iOS, then did the jailbreak on the device and set Chrome as default browser and trashed both Safari and xmarks. Now I am happily using Chrome sync amongs all my mobile and desktop devices.
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  • It was Xmarks cross browser support that made it cool.
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  • 1
    I use Safari, Firefox and Chrome, all synced with XMarks. I turn off XMarks for Safari (under Settings). When needed I turn it on, sync manually, and then turn it off again. Safari is synced with iCloud (always on) and keeps me iOS devices up to date.

    It works.
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  • Has anyone tried the latest XMarks for OSX version 1.4.2?
    It says that OSX versions 10.5 and greater are supported.

    https://download.xmarks.com/download/...
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  • I’m frustrated
    1.4.2 still can't trigger safari icloud sync, so any bookmark xmarks updates won't be synced through iCloud. Because it is an essential need when using a mac + iphone and various browsers, I demand Xmarks to fix this issue or have a statement saying it won't be fixed. Lack of communication is far the worst thing could happen. I'm really considering leaving Xmarks premium subscription.
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  • I’m frustrated
    Got the same problem. If this is not fixed soon, I'm looking for other solutions. Shame, as xmarks has gone a great job for so long.
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  • I’m frustrated
    I just paid for another year for this service, but not satisfied at all, I desperately need this issue to be fixed! It would be a great xmas present...
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  • I’m frustrated
    Another customer lost to BookMacster here after a year with a couple of communications. This is a lesson is poor customer service.
    Ironically more regular communication on the issue could have kept some good will but i for one will never put my trust in any of the company's products after this debacle.
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  • I canceled them 3 years ago..Nasty and mean folks there!
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