Support and things to come
Antonie has asked me to start contributing to the blog. In this, my first post, I want to deal with a number of pressing issues:
Firstly support has become a problem. The following will be implemented to improve matters.
- I will be dealing with support queries.
- A support ticket system is to be implemented. Tribulant has grown to the point where the many of the forum posts are falling through the cracks and Antonie cannot handle both the development and support.
- The forum will be cleaned up any we ask any customers to lodge a proper support ticket for any outstanding issue. The change over will be phased in between now and the end of the year. In the meantime, I will attempt to track and coordinate support via email.
- The use of the forum will be more strictly controlled and negative posts, slurs, un-warranted comments will be removed.
- The forum is to be changed to a place of general discussion, requests for features in future releases and positive interaction between the user base.
At the moment, a charge of $5.00 USD per product is levied every 3 months for those who want to keep their products up to date. It is under review to introduce a structured fee whereby a user may elect to buy support for a 3, 6, 12, or 24 month period. This is upgrade support. We are not charging for support on installation queries, problems or installation, however customers who have issues will be able to open a support ticket and these will be dealt with on a ad hoc basis. Tribulant stands by its customers and we will do all we can to assist. This support should be seen as “road side assistance” very much like one received from the Automobile Association when your car breaks down. More serious issues will be categorised and those involving installation will give you the client the choice of purchasing an offsite installation assist. This is not a new concept and many service companies such as Sky, Virgin etc charge for an engineer to come out to do a site visit.
A new page will be put up with a table showing which product works with the different versions of WordPress. A version will state – 2.5 to 2.7, or 2.7 only etc. This is the client’s responsibility to check. While every effort is made to keep progress with WordPress, Tribulant has several products and it takes time to upgrade all of them when a change in WordPress means we have to do a major upgrade. It is now strictly part of the purchase conditions that customers who upgrade their core WordPress, do so at their risk. We state which product works with which version. There is a perception amongst users that once they have bought a product they should be entitled to very and all future upgrades. Why this is I don’t know? When Microsoft, Kaspersky, McAfee launch a new version, one has to pay for it. Customers are given the first 3 months as part of their initial purchase and we feel that, that is more than fair.
Many of our competitors charge far more than we do. For the moment, we want to stay competitive. No price increases are envisaged this year (2009) but what we hope to implement is a tiered structure for developers who use our products for their commercial clients. A developer’s support package will become an annual fee which will entitle developers to their queries being dealt with first, 12 month upgrades and if necessary telephone support via Skype. The pricing for this is not confirmed but we estimate a price of *$900 USD for developers.
Initially, Tribulant considered it a matter of trust that a purchased product would not be used on more than one site if only a single licence was purchased. This has not been the case in some instances and we will be introducing a check system in the New Year. This has been an unnecessary step and expense but, due to a few, it has now become necessary.
Custom development and deadlines
Those who run other peoples webs and blogs can request custom development which could include an emergency patch/upgrade or mod. What does this mean? You pay for what you get. Both myself and Antoine, together with the development team will take on work at an agreed hourly rate. The customer will be asked to signed and accept a contract for work to be done against a specification document and a delivery date agreed to between you the client. Charges will be based on an hourly rate and will be negotiated on a project by project basis. Hourly rates may vary anywhere between $45 per Hour – $150 depending on the complexity and the skill level of staff to which this work will be assigned. Clients will be able to track their projects online in a secured member’s area.
In simply terms if you promise your client something that you cannot deliver or need something urgently then pay for it. This is basic project management and good business for all those concerned.
These will be released when ready and at Tribulant’s discretion. No upgrade to a later version of WordPress is guaranteed. While it is our policy to keep pace with the WordPress core as far as possibly please remember that we reserve the right to not take a product past a particular version.
On a positive note
We will be working to improve the products, service and over all experience. If you take the time to work with us, keep to the guidelines and put forward suggestions then we all benefit and all our blogs and businesses will grow from strength to strength.