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Doug Nebeker ("Doug")
I sell a software product that is nearly ten years old.
For most of its life, I made about 10 new releases a year and the functionality has slowly grown over the last decade.
In the last couple of years, the updates I make to the software have really slowed down. I added two new areas of functionality (one medium and one tiny) and about 5 - 10 fixes for clients with troublesome data in the past two years.
Due to problems with early releases of Windows 7 and 8, I had to rebuild with software with later versions of Visual Studio just to keep the software working. However it looks like more mature releases of Windows 7 and 8 can run old versions of my software okay now.
One customer (who incidentally bought a copy in a sale) updated to a new version of the software four years after his original purchase.
He insisted again and again on having a free upgrade. He completely ignored my argument that software maintenance costs money and no software company can afford to give updates 4 years after the original purchase.
In the end I caved in and gave him a free upgrade. It looks like he works for a sizable company which owns dozens of businesses. The cost of the upgrade is about the price of a meal for one in chain restaurant.
My question is that is it right to insist that customers pay for upgrades.
The last time I looked my only competitor now charges for his software at a yearly rate and offers no permanent registration keys.
We do minor upgrades for free, but major upgrades require either a new purchase, or an active maintenance contract. Over the years, maintenance contracts have turned into more than 30% of revenue and it keeps growing every year.
So I wouldn't have caved unless there was a serious bug keeping the customer from using the product, and it was easier to upgrade them than fix the bug in the older version.
>He completely ignored my argument
I don't argue with my customers. I have a policy that I think is fair and I stick to it. I might make the occasional exception, but that is at my discretion and not based on nagging or bullying from the customer.
Friday, October 02, 2015
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