Software Support and Warranty Are Not The Same

Why do you need a support agreement when you have a nice warranty? This is a common issue where a customer wants support to start after the warranty ends. That extends the time the seller gets paid for support. The story is while the software is in warranty there is no need for support.

Not so. Look at a standard software warranty: “Licensor agrees that the Software will conform to the Documentation for a period of 90 days after delivery.” You can bicker over the length of the warranty or that it should start on acceptance and not delivery. The seller will explain the problems that accountants give them under the revenue recognition rules. But focus on what the warranty covers: the software will do what the documentation says it will. If you do not read the manual and want to know how to use the software, you do not have a warranty problem.

Support folks often talk about RTFM. That is “Read The F%$&%#$ Manual.” But users may be lazy or, to be fair, the manual may not solve the issue in crystal clear terms. The point is, when users first get the software, they are most likely to have a learning curve problem and need to call support. 

The failure of the user to understand how to do something is not a warranty issue. In fact, the warranty is rarely called into question for most seasoned software products. The real need is for a support phone or email to solve those pressing user issues. So do not treat a helping hand as a warranty claim because support and warranty are not the same.