Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Someone enlighten me. I keep running into this idea with certain people I talk to.

"Why are you charging me for this custom program? It has already been written for another bank. All of the work is already done."

I've tried explaining that programs are like books. Even though you only wrote it once you charge it multiple times.

I've tried explaining that custom programs are like our software product. You have to pay for YOUR copy, even though we've already written and sold copies to other people.

The last person I tried to explain this to told me that I "shouldn't argue with the customer".


This isn't a complex idea.


eustashius said...

Hey there,
We have a client that likes to modify the business logic behind the GUI two days before demonstration and ALWAYS says something like "That shouldn't take too long. I mean all you're doing is making a button look different!"

I sometimes tell clients that what we are selling is a physical asset: it's not easy to see (without an electron microscope) the 1's and 0's on the hard drive, but that is what we are selling. What those 1's and 0's do when loaded in memory is free ;-).

klaki said...

Thats funny how some people just don't get it. You can also refer to them as cars. Just because you like that persons Vette doesn't mean you get one for free. :) Also, when you add modifications, you will be charged more :)

I love how when you tell someone that what they want isn't feasible, they still insist. Just call them a n00b next time.

Leiandra said...

Nah... just charge them double if they ask again. Then when they ask why they're being charged double, double it again. They'll get the picture eventually.

Ratshag said...

Tell them buggers ta be grateful what they's allowed to buy it, intead of havings to pay an annual lease.

Stale said...

We sell users a Company account with 10 user licences for a certain amount each year... I get people saying "but I only want 1 account" and I just say the other 9 are free whether you use them or not... the first account is the one worth the fee...

What I would do is, "If you don't pay for your licence to use our product, I will cancel your subscription. If you happen to find a way around our code to allow paying users only to use it, I will sue you for violating the terms and condions that we have."

That way, you are going to get money as they will "need" to use your software sooner or later... thats why they asked you for it in the first place.

Gwaendar said...

Been there done that. They're paying for custom code to be maintained even if the original customer no longer needs it. They're paying for it being adapted to new legislative requirements. They're paying for it to evolve should the core banking package's API change. They're paying because if the custom code isn't worth anything to them, they don't need it, and it can't be business critical if it stops working, right?
They're paying to ensure that even if the original customer's environment changes and the custom code gets adapted for them on their money, a fork will be developed to ensure all paying customers retain functionality.

It's a finance guy asking, no? :)

Cynra said...

Have you tried comparing it to music? That might be a poor analogy given how frequently people download it for free -- and illegally -- on the internet, but the same goes for software.

Think about it: you can listen to a song on the radio, maybe it's on a commercial on the television, and your friend might have a copy of the song, but you don't own a copy yourself. You can purchase a copy and then play it all you want within specifically created parameters.

The idea is that it's an asset, whether or not you can put your hands on it. It's like a book, or a car, or anything else you buy; the effort into designing it and making a physical copy was some time ago, but you still need to buy it. The music analogy is probably the best one to go with, however, because that's a non-tangible product that you pay for.

Dammerung said...

@gwaender yeah its a finance-sort

@everyone thanks for the examples/support hehe. As my supervisor said "well, tell them they're paying anyways". It just boggles me that in today's world someone wouldn't understand how programming is sold.

Gwaendar said...

Actually, I expect they know pretty well how programming is sold. They probably also play dumb every time they buy some.

Dagashai said...

While working at the store from hell, I was occasionally hit with the line... "the customer is always right!"

To which I would respond... "No, here, we hire people with half a brain who aren't wrong all the time. We aren't that selective with whoever walks in the door, however..."

Anonymous said...

One of the ways that I explained it in the past, was to explain that they were not paying for the program but for the licensing and for the right to be able to use the program legally. Most (but not all) of them understood that. Just a thought.