Posted on: Tuesday October 09th, 2012

Author: Connie

Every now and again, we get a query from a client asking why they are being charged for support when the issue was a “bug” in the software. It’s a hard question to answer, because on the surface, it looks unfair.

We ask our clients to think about it this way:

Kilimanjaro Consulting is an IT consulting business – we are not part of MYOB. Our core business is to implement and support the MYOB EXO suite of products. Our main source of revenue is from billing time much like any other services based business.

When you purchased a license from MYOB, you will have signed an End User License Agreement. In this agreement, MYOB does not warrant that the software is bug or error free. When MYOB is made aware of a bug, they include it to be fixed in a later version of the product.

The issue here is that we, as consultants, sometimes need to spend time fixing errors or in some cases identifying ‘bugs’. MYOB does not reimburse us for time spent on such issues as we are also subject to their EULA. The question then becomes who pays for our time? Our clients have engaged us as consultants to service their MYOB EXO needs and as such we charge for the time we spend. Our liability does not extend to the product, only our workmanship, which we guarantee without question. Where our services have been found to be lacking, we have no problem rectifying this.

Where we have identified a system error, we log this with MYOB and follow up at no charge to the client.

As an analogy, let’s say you take your car to be serviced. You have noticed that when you are driving slowly, a red warning light comes on, on the dash. The mechanic calls you some hours later to say that he has located the cause. The alternator is faulty and he suggests it should be  replaced, as those alternators were troublesome. You elect to keep driving the car with the warning light on, rather than buy a new alternator. Most people would feel it is fair for the mechanic to charge for identifying the fault.

Or perhaps the mechanic says he could try temporarily fixing the alternator. He does this, and it takes him 3 minutes to replace a diode. He sends you an invoice for 2 hours labour. Logically, it is fair for the mechanic to charge you  1hr 57 minutes to identify the fault even though it was only a 3 minute fix?

A similar analogy can be applied to a visit to your doctor. You go to your GP and explain your symptoms, only to be informed that you have a cold. Your doctor tells you what medication you need to take and you are charged for the appointment. A different scenario would have occurred had you visited your local pharmacy and been directed as to what medication to take. In this instance, all you would be paying for is the solution, not the pharmacist’s time to identify the problem AND provide a solution.

At Kilimanjaro, we understand that sometimes clients feel aggrieved at being charged for our time in identifying an error. Especially if it is a quick fix, once identified. We ask that you think about this in the context of the analogies above. We are providing a service, and if you have engaged us to identify an issue, we charge for that service.

If you are in a situation where you feel unfairly treated, please talk to us so we can investigate if this relates to our workmanship, or relates to the principle of Kilimanjaro charging for our time as all professional service organisations do.