There's plenty of help online ranging in price from free to $100 per hour (and more for assistance 'after hours', on weekends and holidays), so here's where to get support for as little as nothing, and whom to avoid when reaching out for computer, hardware and software assistance.
Saving on Service
Somewhere between getting fleeced for service or laying unreasonable demands upon others for free help, there's a whole spectrum of assistance to be had for consignment store owners and employees.
By all means, before getting locked into any consignment software, ask for the details about support that are buried on some sub-sub-sub webpage, or the 'end-user's license agreement' - or not at all. Here are some of the things you will find, that you should ask about before buying the sale pitch:
P.S. You will get locked in, especially if you chose a program that pushes a specific credit-card processor. You're not going to want to give up the money you spent on the consignment software to switch to an honest vendor. You're not going to want to learn another program all over again - when you come to the realization that you were misled.
What You Will Find:
- "Free Support for 60 Days" - So what? How much does 'service' cost after that very short period of time and what are the exclusions and limitations?
- "Free Demo for 60-90 Days" - Again, so what? Eventually sometime in the very near future the software must be purchased or it will cease to function. The scheme here is to get you to enter lots of data and locked into the software so at the end of the 'free demo period' you'll be completely reluctant to try another demo, transfer the data and attempt to learn another program. Vendors providing longer-term demos bank on it. We can also expect the vendor to be keenly accommodating during the demo period but what about paying attention to your needs after the demo period?
- "Exclusions" - Press hard on this issue. Ask to be lead to the vendor's webpage where those deviled details are disclosed. Guess what: Be prepared to find 'full disclosure' after purchase - not before, and expect to have to work hard at rounding up every piece of information that will be important to you!
- "Limitations" - Read the fine print and listen to others' experiences. In some situations, if you ask too many questions, your access to service will get cut off. Get this one: You way over pay for a thermal label printer and are limited to 30 days of support from the source that sold the printer to you. Day 31? Problem? Support is $100 per hour.
- "Free Software Updates with Paid Annual Support" - More accurately: "Software updates denied if annual-support fees are not paid." No, you won't be able to skip software updates because updates are the way any software developer keeps the program current and fixes 'bugs'. When you call for help, the first question will be, "Did you pay the annual support fee?".
- Rate Increases: Once you are locked into a software program, you are also trapped into rising costs for help - increases that are way way beyond the rate of inflation. As new programs enter the market, the providers of the older programs hike rates on existing users, leaning on them to maintain their profit margins. This has been true of almost every software vendor who uses 'service' as a source of income.
- Fee Increases for Multiple Computers: Getting the idea? Lock software users in then start the procession of money from the consignment store to the software-vendors bank account. It's not uncommon to see vendors charging more for service as you place more copies of their software in use on additional stations at the store.
- Extreme Policies: Slightly outside the realm of 'software service' but nonetheless a pricing trap is charging full price for additional copies of the software for other store locations.
- Ridiculous Arguments: Of course 'no annual service fee' is a big plus. At least one provider of consignment software proclaims that he doesn't assess annual fees and doesn't have 'hidden fees' but turns around and demands $99/month for the software. He could just as well say that he is selling the software for $400 and charging $99/month thereafter for service - for ever! This same individual advertises his program as "Lowest Startup Costs. Free Tech Support."
- Add-On Fees: In addition to charging a ridiculous amount ($1295) for his software, one vendor adds $50 for setup help:
- Misleading Advertising: A typical website is used to display the most important information - first and foremost. The leading question on our minds is, "How much is your software with all its add-on fees really going to cost me?".
- Phone Charges: Is there a toll-free number to call or are the minutes on your nickel?
- Patronization and Insults: Some vendors stretch the envelope by referring to their service-for-income scams as "insurance', perhaps hoping to make paying endlessly for the software more palatable by labeling a fee by a more friendly moniker:
Actually 'peace of mind' would be paying once for a program and not having to share store revenues with a software vendor running a service-for-income ruse. (Seriously? $50.95 per month x 12 months = $611.40 per year for what again? Service? "Insurance?")
- Monthly Payment Plans: Vendors attempt to shroud high costs by offering monthly payment plans but how much will the software cost over 12 months? 5 years? One vendor offering software for $1295 dangles a 'lease option' for $129 per month, or $1,548 for just one year, or $7,740 for five years - for the very same program!
- Opportunists: At least one individual (claiming to be an expert in consignment software and help for consignment stores) proposes that he be paid $80 per month (with a limit of 2 hours per month) - or $100 per hour - to be 'on call' during the narrow time range of Monday-Friday, 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. EST. Undisclosed 'emergency rates' prevail outside his banking hours and store owners should know that in the past he has been unavailable for two weeks during the Christmas-New Year holiday period, "on vacation".
We at BCSS could say that we will match any offer out there, but doing so would mean that we would have to raise our prices and start charging service fees.
- Our software can be purchased for a one-time cost of $295 to $795, depending upon the edition (number of features).
- Support for the software is provided for free via email.
- A free help session is included with purchase and can be utilized during the demo period of after purchase.
- Phone and remote-PC support are not priced in, so our customers are not forced to pay for something they may not need (personal phone and remote-PC help).
- After the free introductory session, phone and remote help are available at a reasonable rate ($25/30 minutes).