I have entertained several end-user client inquiries recently on the subject of a vendor that is aggressively working to move customers off a legacy product line. The feedback on what was communicated varies – some customers were told that regular support is ending on June 30th; others were told that they must commit to upgrade by June 30th or face significant increases in support. The net effect is a fair number of upset companies.
Clearly the vendor could have done a much better job handling this situation. The changes weren’t clearly communicated until recently, giving many organizations less than 90 days to make some important decisions. Moreover, today’s economic conditions make it extremely unlikely that most organizations would have the spare money to fund a sudden upgraded, even if they wanted to. I suspect this bungled attempt to sunset a product line will haunt this vendor for many years to come.
At the end of the day, if a vendor wants to be nasty and force some very unpleasant consequences on its customers, it will often be able to get away with it, particularly if it commands a lead role in its market. However, I do have suggestions on how to get more time, more support, more yada yada. (Yes, yada yada is a technical term, Seinfeld says so.)
1. DON’T sign a software license agreement unless it requires the vendor to gives you ample notice, and I mean they need to send a registered letter to your legal contact, not post a “notice” on their website, 180 days ahead minimum, to contemplate an upgrade. Same thing for support reduction notices.
2. Negotiate hard. Call them every day. Escalate to the executive team if you have to. Go to the vendor’s office and refuse to leave until they negotiate with you.
3. Expose it. Make noise. Secrecy allows vendors to get away with things they shouldn’t.
4. Build an alliance. Find out if others have the same issue, and if so, work together to get a better deal for all.
5. Most importantly – if the policy is really unfair, then search your heart (and your contract) to make sure it really isn’t fair, then don’t let this be painless for your vendor.