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"Software providers charging annual and add-on fees for services often derive more income from service than they did from the sale of the software. In other words, you can pay more for 'service' than you did for software."

Service for Profit

There's certainly nothing wrong with a software vendor providing computer-related services (Windows, networking, hardware, troubleshooting) and of course the vendor is free to charge whatever rate he pleases. You however might want to take umbrage with the transparent attempts to insult your intelligence.

These are the prices quoted by one vendor for ancillary services. These prices include a $25 surcharge if you avoided the 'Annual Support Plan':

Service Price

Install Antivirus Software
Computer Diagnostics
Data Repack
Data Services
Windows Support
Networking Support
Networking Licenses (each)
Phone Assistance
Printer Setup
QuickBooks Help
Shipping/Cables
Transfer to Another PC
$ 150
$ 100
$ 150
$ 200
$ 150
$ 175
$ 295
$ 100 / Hour
$ 125
$ 150
$   30
$ 150

The insults? This particular vendor suggests that we compare these lofty prices to some they found that were even higher at 'Geek Squad':

 
Other Vendors' Quoted Services Ten-Year Cost

Database 'Tune up' (1/year)
Online Data Storage
Networking Licenses (each)
Phone Tutoring (10 hours)
$ 690
$ 720
$ 295 to $395
$ 1,000

Need help 'after hours' or on the weekend? You're advised to call for pricing.

Finally there's the shock of being told that even though you purchased the 'Support Plan' it does not include phone training and you're insulted further by comparing $100/hour phone support to your flying to Orlando for training:


CCE ('Consignment Success', 'Consignment Ease') and Wilson at refer their software users to Casey at the Computer Peeps at a rate of $100 per hour during the narrow time range of 10-5 M-F. 'Emergency rates' apply at all other times and those rates are undisclosed. Take a moment to read about their contrivances.

Add-on fees are in addition to annual service fees. Buying software from vendors with these pricing gimmicks can easily make software cost exceed $5,000 over time.


Conclusion

The amount of money paid in the first year (software cost + annual support fee) is only a down payment toward the ultimate cost of using some software programs. The simplest way to make sure you won't be gouged in the future is to purchase software from a vendor that doesn't charge annual service fees or add-on fees. It is in your best interest to get each vendor to provide written disclosure of all possible fees.


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