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I have several very good customers. Each of them have several sites. Their IT dept has the programming software and they dabble in their own programming. Fortunately (or not) they haven't hosed their systems. Other customers will call and need programming and I will charge them for it. Lately the good customer is needing quite a bit of hand holding in programming. I have not charged this customer. Have any of you gotten into this situation? What do you do? Suck it up and chalk it up to good relations? Or do you start to draw a line? I don't want to alienate the good customer but still, I need to get paid for some of the knowledge I have of our systems.

Thanks for any comments

Ed


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First let them know if they go into the programming it voids all your warranties. I would also let them know that if they do hose it your only option is to default it and start from scratch to reprogram at their cost. After that if they still insist in doing it themselves I would setup a support rate and charge for your time and knowledge.


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I would charge for telephone support and remote programming...your time is obviously worth money...


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At the very least send an invoice that shows the value of the work they've done, with a 100% discount. Hopefully that will help them to register that they are getting something of value for nothing. After that, either charge full price or lower the discount to something you can live with.

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You should never gotten into this situation to begin with. Because you gave them free support it's going to be hard to break the habit. Good customers understand that your time is money. I would write them a letter stating that going forward they will be charged regular rates for your services, you will no longer be able to provide support for free. If they are as good as you think they will understand. If not, at least you will find out that they were only being good because you were giving them something for nothing.

-Hal


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Remember Godfather I? Let me quote Don Barzini:

"OF course Don Corleone will be allowed to submit a bill for his services. After all, we are not Communists."

You are in business to make a living. You are not a charity.

Charge for your services. I agree with Hal, it's going to be tougher now to get started, but a letter stating that due to economic conditions you're going to have to start charging for these services is not a bad place to start. Offer them a discount off your regular prices of you're feeling generous.

But remember you've got to eat and feed your family.

After all, we're not Communists.

Sam


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I agree totally, charge them for remote work. Our clients know that we are NOT a philanthropic organization, our goal is to make a profit. That goal is reached by charging for services, whether on site or remotely.

You might want to establish a rate structure for remotes that is slightly different than onsite work, like a minimum charge of 15 minutes as opposed to a one hour minimum, etc.

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Oy Vey!!! I make a profit selling a system and I give a lot of tech support as cheerful as I can.

My happy customers are my best referrals for new business. I can't buy advertising as cheap as a bit of my time and no one abuses it.

EDIT by justbill: Let's keep politics out of it. Thanks


I help them over the phone and I tell them I am always happy to help them. IF you have so much business you can afford to tell people to pay you for little bits of talking, well wonderful for you.

Buy low, sell high and give lots of service.


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Ed, I got into that jam with a customer that was buying a new system about every quarter, privately held motel chain. That was OK until they started buying systems from someone else and then wanted help fixing the mess so that the programming was the same as the ones we had put in. That gave me the opening to start charging for every bit of 'phone help'. And when we started charging 2-3 days of 'phone help' on everynew system, they started having us do the installs, even though they were still buying from the same guy, who had been farming out the install to whoever. Then we would not honor any warranty, or give any assistance beyond programming, on the 'other' guy systems.
Anyhow, i'm with the majority, send a letter that outlines why you need to start charging. If the systems are capable of remote, you might offer to do a backup each time you help them with their program changes, before they make the changes, and after they make the changes. John C.


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If I had a penny for everytime a new customer said

"give us a break on this new system, I know loads of companies I will refer you too"

Never happens, all you end up doing is giving your blood, sweat & tears away for free.....

Same with service, hit every customer with a full invoice, if they try to get out of paying they are actually doing you a favour as you can now drop them from your base................


Avalon Services
New Jersey Voip Telephone systems voice & Data Cabling
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