How should ACT! resellers/VARs deal with Microsoft install issues?

I'm sure this must be a question concerning every ACT! consultant/reseller ... but, which a number of them have asked my opinion on this, I've not seen any public discussion on it. I'd also be interested in the views of end-users as to what they believe would be fair.

windowsThe last time I was shown the figures, around 80% of install support incidents by Sage North America were not due to ACT! code, but were related to Microsoft issues - in the operating system, .Net Framework, SQL Server or Office. Note: If someone at Sage has a more current figure, please let me know

I’m not sure how long ago this happened, but I recently noticed that Sage Australia (and I assume similar in other regions) excludes many areas that fail from their install warranty. While the box says that install issues are covered under a 30-day warranty, it then refers you to the website for Getting Started Support – Free for 30 Days where you can see the majority of install issues that sometimes plague users are specifically exempted.

On one level, this is understandable, because it is sort of unfair that Sage should be responsible for supporting and repairing issues with products and components produced by Microsoft. On the other hand, it could be argued that Sage chose to use those technologies as a basis of the product and that they should provide that support.

The big problem that this raises is how should a Consultant/VAR handle this support? If you are installing a product that costs $300-500 and an OS, SQL or .Net issue requires 4-8 hours of work to resolve, how can you justify charging the user for this time?

  • If the installer doesn’t charge, then they lose money to sell the product
  • To charge may make a user feel less than happy at having to pay 4x the cost of the product
  • Telling a non-technical user to deal with Microsoft, may also not be the best for customer satisfaction

Is a notice to users, in advance, that such a charge may be necessary the right choice? Would this tend to scare off some potential users?

Obviously this would be different for larger user sites where they would be more aware of the complexities of commercial software as well as being able to spread the cost over a larger number of seats.

As I’ve said, I’d really like the thoughts of users, resellers and even Sage staff on this topic. Please post any thoughts you might have to the comments as I think the sharing of ideas is likely to help everyone come to an amicable solution to this problem.

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