Icon View Thread

The following is the text of the current message along with any replies.
Messages 1 to 10 of 24 total
Thread Upcoming Price Increases and Support Plan Changes
Sat, Feb 23 2013 11:11 AMPermanent Link

Tim Young [Elevate Software]

Elevate Software, Inc.

Avatar

Email timyoung@elevatesoft.com

Beginning Monday, April 1, 2013, two major changes will be instituted at
Elevate Software, and this email is to notify you in advance of these
changes so that you can plan accordingly.

Price Increases for Products
============================

The price for our DBISAM and ElevateDB products will increase slightly.  The
following are the price increases that will go into effect on April 1, 2013:

Products
-----------

ElevateDB VCL Standard - $299.00
ElevateDB VCL Standard with Source Code - $429.00
ElevateDB VCL Client-Server - $579.00
ElevateDB VCL Client-Server with Source Code - $749.00

ElevateDB LCL Standard with Source Code - $159.00

ElevateDB DAC Standard - $299.00
ElevateDB DAC Standard with Source Code - $619.00
ElevateDB DAC Client-Server - $579.00
ElevateDB DAC Client-Server with Source Code - $849.00

DBISAM VCL Standard - $269.00
DBISAM VCL Standard with Source Code - $399.00
DBISAM VCL Client-Server - $549.00
DBISAM VCL Client-Server with Source Code - $719.00

DBISAM ODBC Standard - $269.00
DBISAM OCBC Standard with Source Code - $619.00
DBISAM ODBC Client-Server - $549.00
DBISAM ODBC Client-Server with Source Code - $849.00

DBISAM CLX Standard - $269.00
DBISAM CLX Standard with Source Code - $399.00
DBISAM CLX Client-Server - $549.00
DBISAM CLX Client-Server with Source Code - $719.00


New Support Plan Policies
=========================

Our existing support plan policy has served our customers well, and we have
been very hesitant about changing it, but we have encountered some major
issues with the existing policy since it was instituted in early 2008:

1) The unlimited nature of the existing support plan policy has led to
over-use by some customers, and this is causing us to lose significant
amounts of money in terms of developer time that is not covered by the costs
of the support plans themselves.  We have spent a lot of time recently
analyzing the support usage by customers and found that in some extreme
cases customers are requiring 60+ hours of support (email, phone, and Skype)
in a year and paying $159 for it.  This leaves us "in the hole" by thousands
of dollars.

2) The over-use by some customers is also mirrored by under-use, or non-use,
by other customers.  These customers tend to be developers that are fairly
proficient and rely primarily on the manuals and documentation for finding
answers to issues.  Because of this, these customers are more interested in
getting new features and bug fixes as quickly as possible.  However, due to
the issue of over-usage, these customers are also being short-changed as the
number of minor releases and bug fixes that they would normally get are
reduced greatly due to the fact that development time is being consumed by
support time.  This is extremely unfair to these customers who are, in
effect, subsidizing the other customers that are using up the majority of
the support time.

3) We are receiving a lot of support questions that would normally be
considered general programming questions instead of questions that directly
relate to our products.  We are happy to provide consulting to those that
need such assistance, but we cannot do so free of charge and you will need
to get a quote from us for such services.

4) In many cases, we are receiving emails from customers that have obviously
not taken the time to refer to the introductory portions of the manual or
the FAQ section of the web site.  There is sufficient documentation and
online help available for our products, so you will be able to answer most
of your basic questions without needing to contact us for support.

5) We are receiving support inquiries from customers of customers.  These
aren't particularly frequent, but it happens often enough to be an issue
since many times these customers are calling us on the phone or chatting
with us on Skype.

Please do not misunderstand, we are not trying to place blame on our
customers for utilizing the support that we have agreed to provide based
upon our existing support plan policy.  It is just a simple fact that we
need to implement the following changes in order to make our support systems
more efficient, cost-effective, and fair to all customers:

1) What is currently referred to as a support plan will now be known as a
subscription.  The cost will stay the same, but the actual support portion
will be split out as a separate charge for what we are now calling a
"support session".  A support session is comprised of an initial point of
contact via email, phone, or Skype, and any subsequent follow-up that is
necessary to resolve the issue to the customer's satisfaction.  Each initial
point of contact will require the following information:

Customer #
Customer Name
Contact Name of Person Requesting Support
Brief description of issue/question

If any of this information is not provided, then you will not receive
support, period.  The only exception to this will be a prospective customer
that has not purchased yet.

At the initial point of contact, the customer contact will receive a support
acknowledgement that will include a unique support session number.  This
number will be required for all follow-up correspondence with our support
staff, and you will be required to keep all correspondence limited to the
initial subject.

Note:
This initial point of contact will not be with an actual developer, but
rather a customer support person.  Once everything is in order and you have
received a support acknowledgement, then you will be contacted by a
developer to continue the support session.

Each support session will cost $19, and you will be able to purchase as many
support sessions as you need.  The support sessions are not time-limited
like the yearly subscriptions, so they will be valid until you use them.  At
any time, you will be able to view both your existing subscription and
support session information on our web site, just as you can now with the
existing support plans.

2) Any support sessions that are the result of a product defect or bug will
be credited to the customer.  However, we expect customers that are aware of
a bug up-front to use the incident report submittal form on our web site to
submit the bug.  This saves us the time of manually entering incident
reports into our incident report database.

3) All current, valid support plans (now subscriptions) will be
grandfathered with a number of support sessions equal to the value (rounded)
of your current support plan(s), and these will automatically be credited to
your customer records.  For example, if you have a current ElevateDB
Client-Server support plan that cost $159, then you will be credited with 8
support sessions.

4) Any new subscription purchases will entitle the customer to bug fixes and
minor releases only, for a year starting from the date of the subscription
purchase.

5) All new product purchases will include the first year's subscription and
a specific number of support sessions that will vary by product.

6) The support forums will continue to be free and primarily peer support.
We will still be checking in occasionally to answer questions, but the
primary method of direct support will be via email, phone, or Skype (support
sessions).

We feel that these changes will accomplish our goals of allowing those that
don't require a large amount of support to forego bearing any extra cost,
while those that do require more support to be able to purchase such support
in a cost-effective manner that isn't limited by a time period.  It will
also allow us to concentrate more on our development efforts and get out
minor releases and bug fixes in a more timely manner.

We will be sending out emails with more information on the implementation of
these changes before they go into effect on April 1, 2013.

As always, we are grateful for each and every one of our customers, and look
forward to continuing our relationships with you all.
Sat, Feb 23 2013 11:38 AMPermanent Link

Arthur Williams

Zarksoft

Avatar

While I have no issue with increasing prices, the upcoming support policy change is simply intolerable. So for $159 I don't actually get support, what I get is the chance to pay $20 per single question about things that aren't documented. If I'm lucky and it turns out to be a bug, I don't get my $20 back, but I get a free question.

What I think would have been a better solution would have been to go to a tiered support plan. $159 gets you an email response within a couple of days. $750 gets you 48 hours of telephone/Skype time and 100 emails. Something like that, actual numbers to be determined. That lets me choose how much support I get rather than this lame $20 per question.

I'll be passing on this generous offer and switching database products starting today.
Sat, Feb 23 2013 1:38 PMPermanent Link

Tim Young [Elevate Software]

Elevate Software, Inc.

Avatar

Email timyoung@elevatesoft.com

<< While I have no issue with increasing prices, the upcoming support policy
change is simply intolerable. So for $159 I don't actually get support, what
I get is the chance to pay $20 per single question about things that aren't
documented. If I'm lucky and it turns out to be a bug, I don't get my $20
back, but I get a free question. >>

This is false. As I stated in my email response to you:

"The support forums will still be available as a completely free option for
quick questions, and we will be monitoring the support forums on a daily
basis to help answer such questions.  One of the casualties of the
over-usage that was described in the email has been our ability to answer
questions on the support forums in a timely manner, and this change is
designed to help correct that.  We are trying to structure things so that
direct support sessions are rare and are reserved for situations where the
customer definitely needs one-on-one support with the
developer.  We imagine this to be scenarios such as a customer has a
customer that is experiencing performance problems due to their particular
configuration, and needs help analyzing/fixing the problem via remote
desktop, etc."

If you contact us for a support session and the question/issue is simple and
could be answered for free on the support forums, we will direct you there
instead and not charge you for a support session.  You will only be charged
for a support session if the problem is a) not a bug and b) something that
needs to be handled by an extended conversation with a developer.  IOW, if
you paid in advance for support sessions, then you will be credited a
support session.  If you need to pay for the current session, then you will
only be charged if the problem is not a bug.  Obviously we would prefer that
customers buy support sessions in bulk to save on processing fees, but
that's completely up to you.

Also, the existing support plans expire - the new support sessions do *not*
expire.  So, if you buy 10 support sessions, then you've got them forever.

<< What I think would have been a better solution would have been to go to a
tiered support plan. $159 gets you an email response within a couple of
days. $750 gets you 48 hours of telephone/Skype time and 100 emails.
Something like that, actual numbers to be determined. That lets me choose
how much support I get rather than this lame $20 per question. >>

That's exactly what we're doing - you choose how much support you want to
purchase, and then you purchase it.  It's not, as you say, "charging $20 per
question".  Furthermore, we are charging per session/issue, which is more
cost effective for the customer.  And, frankly, trying to keep track of
"time used" would be a nightmare, to say the least.

One of the problems with the existing support plan policy was that the cost
of providing support was wrapped up together with the cost of providing new
minor releases.  We had hoped that things would balance out in the end, but
it has become obvious over the course of the last 5 years that the cost
distribution is way out of whack and the support costs are overwhelming our
ability to provide timely minor releases.  So, we broke them out separately
and increased the pricing to reflect the actual costs more accurately.

In summary:

General questions/How do I do... ? -> Support forums (free)
Issues with deployed applications in the field that require extended
developer support -> Support sessions (cost)

If you have any other questions, please let me know.

Tim Young
Elevate Software
www.elevatesoft.com
Sat, Feb 23 2013 2:21 PMPermanent Link

Arthur Williams

Zarksoft

Avatar

Email must be slow today because I have not received any reply.

What the Sales email said was :

"    The support forums will continue to be free and primarily peer support.
We will still be checking in occasionally to answer questions, but the primary
method of direct support will be via email, phone, or Skype (support sessions).
"

"occasionally" did not imply "daily" to me. When I am stuck and I need an answer, waiting a day or two is very frustrating. There is no guarantee that peer support will reply, or that they will know the answer. How is it possible for me, or even you really, to know if someone on the forum can answer my question ? The first time I open a session and get told "go ask on the forum, someone there should be able to answer it for you" would be the last time I ever opened a session. Answer or don't, but please don't waste my time.

I'm not against paying for support, but this nonsensical nickel and dime approach is of no worth. I open a ticket and instead of an answer what I will get is either:

1. Told to ask on the forum, maybe someone can answer it there because you think they can.

2. Pay $20 to get the answer. If it's an actual bug, then it's free.

Why would I pay $160 to be told I should have gone to the forum ? There's no value in that.

Really, it's not the $20 that is pissing me off, it's the deliberate wasting of my time. If you think talking to a dev is worth $20 a pop, that's fine. Charge me $200 for ten answers a year. I'll happily pay the charge and decide for myself which ten questions to ask. But when I ask them, -answer- them. Don't say "oh, you could have asked that on the forum". If I wanted to ask on the forum, or if I thought they could answer it, I would have. But maybe I don't want to wait two days, or have to explain my whole system to some guy before he'll answer the question. I just want the answer.

What you're planning on doing is charging me money to waste my time and that's what makes me angry. When I need an answer, I just want an answer; I don't want to be jerked around. If that costs $50 a ticket, then charge $50 a ticket to provide straight-up answers. Just don't waste my time.

"Tim Young [Elevate Software]" wrote:

"The support forums will still be available as a completely free option for
quick questions, and we will be monitoring the support forums on a daily
basis to help answer such questions."


If you contact us for a support session and the question/issue is simple and
could be answered for free on the support forums, we will direct you there
instead and not charge you for a support session.  You will only be charged
for a support session if the problem is a) not a bug and b) something that
needs to be handled by an extended conversation with a developer.  IOW, if
you paid in advance for support sessions, then you will be credited a
support session.  If you need to pay for the current session, then you will
only be charged if the problem is not a bug.  Obviously we would prefer that
customers buy support sessions in bulk to save on processing fees, but
that's completely up to you.
Sat, Feb 23 2013 2:52 PMPermanent Link

Tim Young [Elevate Software]

Elevate Software, Inc.

Avatar

Email timyoung@elevatesoft.com

Arthur,

<< Email must be slow today because I have not received any reply. >>

Yes, sorry, I forgot about that - when bulk emails go out our mail server
gets backed up a bit.

<< "occasionally" did not imply "daily" to me. When I am stuck and I need an
answer, waiting a day or two is very frustrating. >>

Sorry, that should have been more clear.  "Occasionally" was used to imply
that it would not be a direct answer within the hour, like it is with
email/phone/Skype.

<< I'm not against paying for support, but this nonsensical nickel and dime
approach is of no worth.>>

It is absolutely not "nickel and dime".  All it is is the freedom for the
customer to choose how much support they want/need, and when they pay for it
(in advance or on-demand).  Given the situation, we thought that it was
imperative that the customer be able to separate out direct support costs
from the cost of ongoing access to minor releases, or opt out of direct
support altogether, if they so choose.

<< Really, it's not the $20 that is pissing me off, it's the deliberate
wasting of my time. If you think talking to a dev is worth $20 a pop, that's
fine. Charge me $200 for ten answers a year. I'll happily pay the charge and
decide for myself which ten questions to ask. But when I ask them, -answer-
them. Don't say "oh, you could have asked that on the forum". If I wanted to
ask on the forum, or if I thought they could answer it, I would have. But
maybe I don't want to wait two days, or have to explain my whole system to
some guy before he'll answer the question. I just want the answer. >>

Now we're bouncing back and forth.  Originally, you gave the impression that
the $20 is the problem, which is why I indicated that there is a free option
for simple questions and that we would direct people to the support forums
as an option in such cases.

Let's see if I can make it clear: if you *want* to pay $20 to ask a
question, then we will not stop you from doing so.  We are simply going to
advise you that the answer can be had for free in the support forums.  If
you insist on paying for a support session or using one from those that
you've already purchased in advance, then we will be happy to assist you.

Tim Young
Elevate Software
www.elevatesoft.com
Sat, Feb 23 2013 3:12 PMPermanent Link

Arthur Williams

Zarksoft

Avatar

>>
"Tim Young [Elevate Software]" wrote:

Let's see if I can make it clear: if you *want* to pay $20 to ask a
question, then we will not stop you from doing so.  We are simply going to
advise you that the answer can be had for free in the support forums.  If
you insist on paying for a support session or using one from those that
you've already purchased in advance, then we will be happy to assist you.
>>

Instead, how much would it cost to just get the answer upfront and skip the part where you tell me I could ask for free on the forum instead of incurring a support charge. $30 ? $40 ? $100 ?

Offer me a plan where I can email my question and just get an answer. That's what I want. Tell me how much it will cost and then I can decide for which issues I want to invoke it. What I don't want to is to email my question and after waiting for however many hours, just get a reply back saying "This is a simple question, you could ask it on the forum, save the support cost".  I already know that asking Support directly rather than the forum is going to cost, I don't need my time wasted to be reminded of this. Maybe it is a dumb question that could be answered on the forum, but I don't care or I want it answered faster, so I'm willing to use my support credits Tell me up front that for say $50 per issue, any issue will get a reply with the answer within six hours or so.

Oh btw, your email from 12:39pm just showed up here at 15:09pm.
Sat, Feb 23 2013 7:37 PMPermanent Link

Arthur Williams

Zarksoft

Avatar

Just to clarify: what I meant by nickel and dime is that $20 for a ticket is insignificant. Maybe it's different where you are but here steak and eggs for breakfast is $20. So the idea that paying $20 for a support issue would cause someone to reconsider phoning you and using the forum instead I find...preposterous. It's like saying "I'll answer your support question for the spare change in your pocket.".

When I call Computer Associates with a Sev 1 issue for a particular software product, I'm talking to the guy who wrote the code in less than 5 minutes (during business hours) or less than 30 minutes on Easter Sunday. Sure it costs $10,000 per month for support, but CA doesn't tell me I could have read the manual. They wake the guy up and they get him on the phone and he answers my questions.

You can't provide that support for $20 a ticket; you'll be buried which is the problem. You are seriously undervaluing your time. Now I have no idea about your company, but my impression is it's you and your wife maybe. If you're really the only developer, you can't be wasting hours talking to people like me for $20 a pop.

As per my email, I really think you should reconsider your pricing. $50 for every email. $200 per 30 minute call for Samantha to read the manual out loud. $400 for each 30 minute block to talk to you.

Think about it. Then sign me up.







>>
"Tim Young [Elevate Software]" wrote:

Arthur,

<< Email must be slow today because I have not received any reply. >>

It is absolutely not "nickel and dime".  All it is is the freedom for the
>>
Sun, Feb 24 2013 6:11 AMPermanent Link

Jose Pascoa

Avatar

Hello Tim,

I understand you product price increases and I understand as well your
need to charge separately for personal assistance outside the forum.
We all know a small number of customers ask too much assistance and
most times the required assistance is for no-brainer problems.
So can only be fair to charge for technical support and your price of
19.00 per session is really inexpensive. It is also noteworthy that
your $159.00 yearly support plan already includes 8 free support
sessions.
So far so good, but I feel I am at a disadvantage here. I don't
remember ever contacting Support for a technical problem. Very rarely
I come to the forum, last time it was even to report bugs. I don't
have plans to request personalized support in the future, probably
because my requirements are not too complicated and at this stage I
know enough to fix all problems myself. All I want is to receive
updates for bug fixes. For that part I still have to pay $159.00 per
year. And for that part the price appears a bit too high. Probabaly,
you can think about a support option for people like me, a small base
price and then if personalized assistance becomes required this would
have to be paid separately.
Regards then,
Jose
Sun, Feb 24 2013 5:09 PMPermanent Link

Adam H.

Hi Tim,

Firstly, I must say that I have always found you to be fair, always
trying to err on the side that benefits your customers.

As others have mentioned previous... $20 per support question is
definitely on the cheaper side of things, but somehow I think that it's
probably more designed as a deterrent to people who use your support /
time constantly for simple things that they can work on themselves, or
get from the forums, etc.

A wise person once pointed out to me that 80% of my time is most likely
taken up by 20% of their customers, and in may cases these are the
customers that do like to penny pinch. The solution to free up my time
is to increase my charges slighty. This doesn't impact on real
customers, but those who want something for nothing normally get deterred.

As such, I wouldn't be surprised if your plans will work quite
effectively to cut down on a lot of support you get directly whilst not
really hurting those who really do need dedicated support.

And I think you need to do this. You now have 3 products, DBISam, EDB,
and WebBuilder (who knows what you're dreaming up of next... an
operating system? <vbg>) and I am very impressed (and releaved) that you
are still putting time into ye old DBISam with support, maintenance
changes and tweaks, and if this is what it takes to be able to continue
to be able to support like that - I'm behind you 100%!

One thing that has been raised here by Arthur that I can understand is
the ability to get answers as quickly as possible without having to
bounce back and forth to confirm that one is willing to spend the cash
for ASAP answers.

As a suggestion, maybe customers wishing to get those could tag their
emails as High Importance, or do something else that basically confirms
that they're happy to pay for support regardless of whether it's a
newsgroup question to get the answer ASAP.

(Personally, I find in the majority of situations I get quicker replies
from the newsgroup from time to time considering I'm over the other half
of the world and you're normally in bed when I'm dreaming up questions
Smileand it's only those where I'm really needing specialist help, or
have had no response on the NG, or sometimes have found a bug (or think
I've found a bug that's not a bug <vbg>) that I contact directly, but I
can understand where he may be coming from).

As for the price increase - I've always believed your products have
always been pretty reasonably priced too and a small increase in price
is quite probably due.

You have a lot of customers that are small developers with small
clients, that need to keep their overheads down - and it seems obvious
that you are very considerate of them with this support structure, which
I think is fantastic!

(Either that, or maybe I'm just in a good mood as I'm about to take a
couple of weeks holidays shortly Smiley

Cheers

Adam.
Mon, Feb 25 2013 9:58 AMPermanent Link

Fernando Dias

Team Elevate Team Elevate

Arthur,

I know it's not my business, but if you wanted it to be a private conversation, you would have emailed Tim directly instead of posting it here, so I think it can't be considered rude to add a comment...

<< When I call Computer Associates with a Sev 1 issue for a particular software product, I'm talking to the guy who wrote the code in less than 5 minutes (during business hours) or less than 30 minutes on Easter Sunday. Sure it costs $10,000 per month for support, but CA doesn't tell me I could have read the manual. They wake the guy up and they get him on the phone and he answers my questions.>>

Have you asked Elevate if they are willing to answer your questions for the same price range, in the same time frame?
I can't speak for them, of course, but if you have needs that don't fit in the announced support plan, you should consider asking Elevate for a customized support plan instead of posting here, where as you already know, the peers can't give you a timely or reliable answer.

--
Fernando Dias
[Team Elevate]
Page 1 of 3Next Page
Jump to Page:  1 2 3
Image