- Compare 10-year cost
- Uncover hidden charges
- Understand policy provisions
- Discover future suppost costs
- Avoid price manipulation
The first-year cost of most software is just a fraction of what software cost will add up to over time but that is not true of all programs.
You might have been hoping that with all else there is to do, choosing a software program would take just a few minutes to uncover the best program at the best price, and now you're faced with at least 20 choices.
Read on if you like, but the lowest up front and 10-year costs with no hidden or ongoing fees after purchase is from Best Consignment Shop Software - in business since 2001 with a stellar reputation for fair pricing and honest practices - one payment for lifetime use with no repeating fees. Free software updates. (The highest edition of the software (Virtual) does require a monthly server rental for dealer online viewing.)
Vendors escalate cost after year 1 by charging for:
Charges for support are the primary means of increasing the amount of money flowing from your bank account to the vendor's bank account.
A favorite ploy is to charge a relatively small amount for 'one user' or 'one station' and escalate the cost as the number of users/stations increases. Liberty (Resaleworld.com) charges $21/month for 1 user, $51/month for 5 users, yes, $612 per year for support - whether it's used or not. (They actually refer to this as "insurance".)
Anyone getting locked into a software program must certainly be away that the amount of the monthly or annual payment for support will increase. Picking on Liberty again, the monthly fee for one user in 2013 was $17.
Some vendors (like Best Consignment Shop Software) don't have monthly or annual support plans so going that route assures that the software user won't be trapped into support fees that increase every year. Neither need there be a concern that shop owners will be forced into enrolling in the 'support plan'. Using the same vendor as an example, when software clients call for help, they are asked, "Are you enrolled in the support plan?". If not, the client is offered only two options: 1) Pay to enroll or 2) pay more for the service call ($150 vs $100).
Be wary of any vendor claiming that the support plan is 'optional'. It exists for a reason: to get people to pay for it, so when a vendor makes such a claim, pause long enough for him or her to disclose the consequences of not enrolling in the plan and when that information is not forthcoming, know to ask, "What are the consequences if I don't elect to enroll?".
This prank is obvious but still deserves mention: A vendor charging endless monthly payments for the use of his software proclaims "Free support!". The software and support ends when payment ends.
Software 'updates' are changes made in the software code to keep the program current with changes in technology (and make software improvements). When updates are included in the price of the software (as with Best Consignment Shop Software) there are no games being played. Many vendors will espouse, "Free software updates with paid annual support!" which is another way of saying 'No paid annual support, no updates' so when (not if) an update is needed to resolve an issue, the person who opted out of the support plan will be either forced to enroll in the support plan or pay extra for the update.
A cheeky way of blind siding software clients with big increases in cost - charge a nominal amount for one user or station and escalate the cost with each additional user or station.
The ploy here of course is to make it as painless as possible to lure the client into the software at a lower cost and double up when limits are reached. Yes, store owners may not be thinking of additional users/stations when shopping for software, and vendors are very aware of that, which is why this tactic is practiced routinely.
Even if you're in a hurry, find out know what it will cost to open another store. When you're successful beyond your wildest dreams and get to that point, you'll be locked into the software and you will get clobbered with a big price tag for doubling up.
This is one area where it makes sense for a software developer to allow software purchasers to buy a lesser edition of the software (if the lesser edition fulfills current requirements) with the ability to upgrade to a higher edition for needed additional features and functions. The thing to know at the outset is how much upgrades will cost and what the 'catches' are.
This strategy is a twist on the vendor setting some contrived limit to the number of records the program will allow. That 'limit' is set by the vendor, so bypass this by going with a program that doesn't have such limits.
Schemes that exploit you after purchase are indications that your relationship with the software provider will be adversarial. As one vendor put it, "We would rather get $1,300 from one customer that get $130 from 10 customers - nine fewer shops requiring support."
Here's a list of software vendors purporting to offer 'Antique Mall Software':
Anteq (out of business?)
Antique Mall Accounting System
Data Management System
Homestead Mall Sales Manager
Visual Mall Manager