"When you point at someone, there are 3 fingers pointing back at you."
A Bit of Consignment-Software History
Back in the day there were only a handful of consignment-software programs and the providers of those programs conspired to keep prices high and annual service fees intact.
In 2001 the first real threat to their oligopoly appeared in the form of Best Consignment Shop Software which was priced substantially less and did away with fee bilking (aka "annual service fees").
At the time existing programs were selling for $695 to $995. BCSS came in at $295, so naturally those vendors who were gleefully ripping off resale shops were 'alarmed', to say the least, to see a good bit of their market share disappear.
In most industries when new competition enters the market, reputable companies respond with product and service improvements and possibly lower pricing (to maintain market share). Not consignment-software vendors! Quite the opposite. Instead they launched a smear campaign against the newcomer and after seeing some success, ramped up the intensity as years passed and even pushed prices and yearly service fees higher. Moreover, they continued to invent new ways of increasing the cost of doing business with them with a plethora of schemes to hide cost.
Current Software Marketing Practices
The unscrupulous in consignment software have had some success at confusing the public by creating an environment of "Whom to believe?" as though there were some valid argument as to why any store owner should pay twice as much for software and over pay for things like hardware and service.
The simple solution for separating facts from sales hype is two fold:
Demand a written disclosure of every possible fee that could be levied by the vendor. If you're refused, then you'll know you're in the fox's lair. If you are provided with a list, forward it to firstname.lastname@example.org to see if the vendor is still having a hard time being open and honest.
Give the accused a rightful opportunity to respond. Every business has its share of unhappy customers and that includes the vendors who point their fingers at their competitors.
Get The Best For You!
There is some truth to the fact that vendors who trash their competition will also be treating you the same way. These are some of the common threads that run through the business practices of those who stoop to mud slinging:
Compare the initial cost of the software. Those hoping to rip you for $1,000 and more will be the same individuals who will attempt to eliminate the competition with their slander.
While in one breath he or she is trying to convince you how terrible the lower-priced competition is, he or she at the same time will be knowingly withholding the very important reasons why you should be avoiding his or her software! If you're feeling there is something inherently wrong about this, you're instincts are spot on. 'Deceiving someone for financial gain' is the true definition of FRAUD.
An individual who attempts to convince you that you are dealing with a multi-national software conglomerate is misleading you - fraud again. Every software developer has an obligation (which is always ignored) to disclose WHO wrote the program and WHO is going to be around in the future to SUPPORT the program. Now, you would think that some guy proffering his home-grown software would be priced well under more reputable offerings, but in consignment software, the most expensive program at $1,300+ was written by and is maintained by one person!
You're not going to hear a disclosure of past practices, namely the situation you'll find yourself in if you get locked into a relationship with a vendor that insists on 'annual services fees'. Most vendors with yearly fees have found ways of using annual fees as a tool for increasing their take of shop profits, by increasing the amount of the fee itself and by increasing the fee under a condition like basing the fee on the number of computers in use.
Unless you know to ask, such vendors will not only skip over the details of the provisions regarding yearly fees, they'll purposely lie to you, saying that the repetitive fee is optional without disclosing the penalties for refusing to pay the fee. Here are some of the dastardly consequences for opting out of the 'support plan':
Service in any personal form will be denied and you'll be sent to a forum where you can post your problem and wait (days) for a response.
You will be charged substantially more for services that are priced separately.
'Training' is excluded from the service plan and may be priced at $100 per hour.
MOST IMPORTANTLY: Software updates are essential if only to keep any software program current with changes in technology! If you do not pay the annual fee, software updates will be denied and when you do need an 'update' the first thing that will be asked is "Did you pay up?"
If you pay and stop using the program, you won't get the unused portion back.
You can count on history repeating itself by being subjected to consistent and large increases in the fee itself. (This has become more likely with such vendors losing more and more business to more reputable and fairly-priced vendors.)
If you make the mistake of buying software from the vendor in Miami, 'he' reserves the undisclosed right to 'fire you' (as he put it in a public forum not long ago) for asking too many questions. Apparently after you're 'fired' you will not get your money back and you'll be stuck with a program that you can't use. This charlatan in the past has demanded that those who are 'fired' pay another $1300 to buy the program again (before he'll agree to support 'his' software).
The same person offered an update to a group of his users who had not paid the annual fee for a number of years. He presented the update as an act of generosity and good will. Those who took him up on it found their software disabled not long after and when confronted with the ruse, 'he' refused to remove the bug he planted in the 'update' until each user agreed to starting paying the annual fee. His rationale: "I have to make a living."