Mon, Oct 30, 2000 10:23 AM
Subject: High-Tech Warranty Project -- Comment, P994413
As a savvy and long-time consumer of computer software, I would like to bring to your attention a disturbing trend: that software publishers, for some time have been modifying the terms and conditions of their support policies without notice to prospective purchasers and without consideration for those who have already purchased with the expectation of a certain level of support.. Two examples come to mind:
Symantec Corporation packages and included instructions clearly state that one-year of free telephone support is included in the purchase price. Yet, Symantec, earlier this year chose to withdraw that offer without notice, replacing it with a "fee per incident" charge. Even though retailers and wholesalers routinely sticker product already in the supply chain with notifications of new versions, purchase rebates and the like, Symantec claims they have no vehicle or means of marking their products with words to the effect, "Note- support is no longer free for this product but is available for a charge".
Microsoft, whose Office suite is one of the most expensive software packages sold for general consumption has gradually devalued their support offerings:
Four years ago their support offerings were:
Three years ago their support offerings were:
Two years ago, their support offerings were:
Four months ago, their support policy was further modified to allow for a maximum of two no-charge telephone support calls on any issue relating to Microsoft Office. Additional calls would be $35.
At no time was any consideration given to those who had purchased prior to their policy changes- something that their serial number tracking system would have allowed for with ease.
Since a publisher's willingness to support their products is generally the only remedy available to a consumer who purchased product that doesn't work (the EULA effectively indemnifies the publisher in entirety) I fail to see the distinction between these scenarios I described and that of a VCR manufacturer who would retroactively reduce the duration of their warranty from one year to 90 days for all units sold to consumers. I believe that publishers should be required to prominently describe their support policies including costs and length of time on the package and barring cessation of business, should be required to deliver that level of support for the consumer who purchases that product.