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Tough Times

© May 2009 Anthony Lawrence

I've had a few support contract cancellations this week. These were third parties - companies that themselves support the end customer but turn to me for help with Linux and Unix. They want to switch to a "per incident model" because their customers are experiencing difficulties and of course that just flows right along.

That's fine with me. They need to understand that I charge much more per incident, but of course if they can keep the "incidents" low enough, they may actually come out ahead, though they do have to understand that "incidents" outside of support contracts carry low priority in my mind. I lose the comfort of a monthly or yearly check, they lose my rapt attention and alacrity of response. I'm not saying I deliberately delay responding, but those who maintain their contracts come first. After that, "interesting" problems will take priority over boring stuff.

I've also turned down a few people this week. One wanted help with Samba on SCO - just running SCO nowadays is an idea I discourage; running Samba there is just way too much. I told them as much and referred them to the Consultants page if they insist upon pursuing this folly.

Another wanted to dicker price. Now certainly I'm in the same boat as everyone else - business is off and I'm willing to be creative on costs. But I need something offered in return. For example, my minimum charge for telephone support is $100.00. If you want that for less, there will have to be something in it for me - something like paying for three incidents in advance or agreeing that I'll schedule the call at my utmost convenience or that at the end of fifteen minutes we are done, problem solved or not. Without something coming back to me, I'm sticking at $100.00 minimum. Otherwise, feel free to browse that Consultants List for someone who might be less stubborn than I am.

Business is tough right now. I have a neighbor here forced to sell their home because they just aren't bringing in enough to pay expenses. I don't know where they are going - rents aren't cheap anywhere except in places I can't imagine them wanting to live, but apparently they feel they have to leave. I'm just squeaking by myself, but lowering rates isn't going to help that - in fact, I may raise rates for some services. There's the matter of SCO going into bankruptcy - why should I offer low rates for SCO support when it's plain that the customer should be moving off that platform as quickly as possible? I'm seriously thinking about bumping up my "per incident" charges for anything SCO related for just that reason.

So for those seeking to cut costs, yeah, I get it: times are tough all over. I feel I already offer extremely good value with my monthly and yearly support plans but if that's too much, well, it's too much. No hard feelings: we all have to do what we have to do, right?

Got something to add? Send me email.

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Wed May 27 21:04:49 2009: 6416   MikeHostetler

Samba on SCO? <shudder>

Actually you *should* charge more for SCO -- they are going bankrupt, not much support before that, etc. etc. It's hard to find a SCO consultant, but if they are stuck with it, they are stuck with it. That said, if you are busy with other things then maybe you don't want to do any SCO work, but I think that it's hard to turn down $$$ right now.

I'm waiting until I see a press release or something like that, and then send an email to my SCO customers and say, "See what I have been telling you?" Though it's not really their fault (the company they franchise with forced SCO on them) but at least it could be a rally cry.

Wed May 27 21:18:12 2009: 6417   MikeHostetler

It's all but officially Chapter 7:


Thu May 28 10:24:25 2009: 6419   anonymous

Often when customers switch to "per incident mode" its not call anymore, is a "pretty mode" to say goodbye. i have a lot of these cases..

I think that SCO support charges maybe higer than $ 100 for 15 min telephone support, i prefer telnet into server costumer and solve directly the problem. has more value than only words..


Thu May 28 14:17:07 2009: 6423   BigDumbDinosaur

There's the matter of SCO going into bankruptcy - why should I offer low rates for SCO support when it's plain that the customer should be moving off that platform as quickly as possible? I'm seriously thinking about bumping up my "per incident" charges for anything SCO related for just that reason.

I have two clients still running OSR5, both of whom are reluctant to switch to Linux because they would have to replace their middleware (Thoroughbred Dictionary-IV) with a new version. I've kept these clients informed on SCO legal developments, reminding them that once SCO goes belly-up (soon, it would appear) OSR5 will be an orphaned operating system.

I'll continue to offer SCO support to anyone who calls and is willing to pay on a per-incident rate. However, I won't offer them a support agreement. That would be too much like offering an extended warranty on a 10 year old car with 200,000 miles on the clock.

As for running Samba on SCO, it works okay on OSR5 (I use it here on our office file and print server). However, good luck trying to compile the current source tree on anything but OSR6. Last I checked (well over a year ago), the latest version of Samba available for OSR5 was 3.0.14, which is about five years behind the times. Dunno what is available for OSR6, and I really don't care. All servers coming out of BCS Technology Limited are either powered by Linux or are bare metal for those who like to roll their own. We haven't shipped a SCO-powered machine in some five years.

Wed Jun 3 13:19:40 2009: 6436   BrettLegree

Like when I used to work in sales, we'd say about clients, "Pay now, or pay later", as some of them would buy the cheapest stuff we offered, or refuse to buy spares.

And then the phone would ring, they'd need something yesterday, and end up paying three times as much...

Never changes. :)


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