2 Dog Digital

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A dog's eye view of the modern world and the technology that surrounds us.

Is Extortion the New Business Model in IT?

I have been in the Information Technology (IT) service industry for over 35 years now.  During that time, I have seen many changes, some good, some bad.  Now, for the first time, I am starting to see that extortion and overcharging are becoming the norm in the industry. No longer is it about providing a fair service for a fair price but rather it has become an industry where we need to get the most money possible and hold the customer ransom for THEIR data.

Last year, we listened as company after company came to us and wanted us to raise our prices in the range of $150-$250 per computer per month for service (of course we refused to do this).  When I spoke about out desire to continue to help small businesses who still need service but can’t afford that kind of money (basically paying the price of a new computer every few months), we were told we were being naïve and wasting our time on dead-end customers.

We recently acquired some other customers as another local IT company decided to change their pricing.  Now, in order for them to service you, your company is required to pay $275/month (that is just the payment to let you have the privilege of calling them).  Any work done is an additional fee.  Also, their minimum contract is now $3000/month regardless of the size of your organization. 

Today I met with a customer who is moving their IMAP email accounts to Office 365.  Both their IMAP and their Office 365 accounts will be hosted by the same provider.  The cost to move over the 20 mailboxes?  $4000.  That was not for the migration, but rather just for the transfer of the domain from IMAP to Office 365.  Moving the old email into the new mailboxes?  Oh, that was the customer’s responsibility. 

And of course, the best of all.  We recently picked up a new customer who wanted to leave their old IT company because their service just was not up to par.  For 10 computers he charged them $600 to “offboard”.  This was needed to happen to move the customer to our systems (these are just the top-level bullet points):

  1. Migrate their domain to our their GoDaddy account from the IT company’s GoDaddy account.
  2. Removal of their remote access software.
  3. Move their G-Suite to another hosting company.
  4. Move their website to another hosting company.
  5. Setup anti-virus (which was not installed).
  6. Update computers to fully patched (not done by prior company)
  7. Install remote monitoring software.
  8. Document the entire network (not done previously).

What was done for the $600?  The transfer of the GoDaddy account (it took almost a month).  Now, it was discovered that there was another domain name that they had and it was used to forward to their website.  Now the other IT company wants $700 to transfer that one for the client. 

If the tone of this blog seems a bit harsh, I do apologize.  The only way I can describe how I feel is angry at this behavior.   This type of mentality is only going to make it harder to find good service and will erode the trust of the entire industry. 

I really fear where this profession is going in the next few years.  With Covid, more people than ever are working at home and remotely.  IT is becoming more and more important to customers, especially small businesses that are just trying to stay afloat.  IT is a service.  If you are not getting the service, find someone who will give it to you.  Before you enter into any agreements, we recommend these three rules:

  1. Research the company – check reviews, court cases, news articles, press releases, talk to new and old customers
  2. Get everything in writing – Stop relying on verbal agreements and get everything in writing on what they will do, when they will do it and how often.
  3. You are the hunter, not the prey – They want YOUR business, make them earn it. There are plenty of fish in the sea…do not settle.

 

Like any other service industries, IT companies should be earning your business every day.  You hold all the cards.  Do not be afraid to change service providers…in many cases while you may go through a bit of pain during the changeover, you can get better service at a better price.  

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