A Rockhampton-based reseller has challenged Microsoft's commitment to product support despite reassurances the software giant stands by its promise of unlimited free support for resellers under the Direct Access program.
XGT Computer Services claims support for resellers under Microsoft's new product support program is still limited and inadequate.
Microsoft's new product support program classes support calls according to customer type rather than product type. Resellers now get unlimited free support when their clients are suffering a business-critical problem, as well as two free general support calls per year.
"We don't want to be too prescriptive," said Hugh Jones, Microsoft's director of product support services. "If there is a business out there that is hurting because of a Microsoft product, it's in our interest to fix that."
But Mehran Rad, IT manager at XGT Computer Services, told ARN that Microsoft employees have directly contradicted this position.
"I haven't been dealing with Microsoft for a year or so, because I didn't have any free support left," Rad said. "When I saw ARN and read that resellers in the Direct Access program would get unlimited free support, I rang Microsoft. But the people at Direct Access told me that was wrong and the limit of two free support calls still stands."
Microsoft's Jones said he stands by the original support claims, as reported in ARN, and he believes the confusion may lie in the fact that the unlimited support is only for business-critical situations.
The wording in Microsoft's support contract defines a business-critical situation as one where "a customer is experiencing problems related to the availability of a system or application that is having a significant current impact on their ability to do business. This may include a high impact problem where operations are proceeding now, but production will be severely impacted within several days if corrective action is not taken."
"It's essentially the reseller's call," Jones explained. "Sometimes the situation may not really be business-critical but we are happy to talk to and educate the reseller in those cases. If he (Rad) has called the Direct Access and they've told him there's only two free calls per year then he has been misinformed."
Jones said the philosophy was to manage demand rather than restrict access. The fact that the service is via the reseller not direct to the customer would limit demand because in "99 per cent of cases" the reseller could fix the problem.
XGT's Rad said his experience with Microsoft has been "good overall" but the amount of support offered is too limited. "Every time I ring them they have been helpful and resolved the situation, but I haven't called in the last year or so because I used up my two free calls too quickly," Rad said.
"We are dealing with businesses and anything that is a problem with a business system is critical. How do you define critical? It's hard for resellers to determine. They are a big company and I don't know why they shouldn't provide support to everyone with Microsoft's products."