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One-sided Contracts make for Unhappy Customers

You can tell that SaleForce.com is run by hunters, not gatherers.  The stereotypical "hunter" salesperson is unlike the stereotypical "gatherer" customer service and/or marketing person.  The hunter is focused on finding new business and closing the sale, not on making sure that customers are happy, and not in making sure that even those customers who want to downsize their involvement with SalesForce.com because their own needs have changed still have good things to say about SaleForce.com.

Take a look at their contracts: for example, if you sign up twenty five (25) users and need to go down to fifteen (15) users because sales are slow in your market, tough luck: you still have to pay at the rate of 25 users for your entire contract.  If you have ten (10) user licneses and up your contract  by two (2) licenses because you’ve hired two new sales people but a month later those two don’t work out then tough; you’ll still have to pay for all twelve (12) licenses even though you don’t need them all

So Buyer Beware: Saleforce is more interested in taking your money for services you no longer need (so they can make their quarterly numbers as I was told by a person in their billing dept.) than they are in making sure you are a happy customer. 

8 Responses to “One-sided Contracts make for Unhappy Customers”

  • jack alexander responded:

    It’s not just locking in customers for 12 months -
    the one sided “contract?” is much worse.

    We signed up for a 12 month salesforce.com contract and at the end of the contract period wanted to renew a reduced number of licenses. In January 2007 we started getting notices that they were trying to charge our credit card for all of the licenses we had originally signed up for. Around the same time, a new salesforce.com sales rep started calling us trying to sell us additional services. We explained that we have been receiving strange renewal e-mails that salesforce.com is trying to charge our credit card for renewal of all the original licenses. (we no longer use that particular credit card so the charges did not go through). We explained that while we did want to renew, it would be for a reduced number of licenses as we never used some of them during the previous year. The new rep looked up our account and said we had signed up for a 2 year contract and there was nothing he could do - to call billing. (so much for Customer Relationship Management). Then we then started receiving threatening e-mails that our company was going to be reported to credit bureaus which could severely impact our future credit. We finally did call billing and they told us there us an automatic renewal that we could have cancelled within 60 days and this is all spelled out in their terms online! The only documents we received was an Order Form that clearly stated the Order Term was for 12 months. No where on this document did it say a 2 year contract. Nor did it say “Automatic Renewal” unless you cancel within 60 days. Nor did it say “Be warned, there are hidden terms and language to this contract and you need to go somewhere on our web site to figure out what those are”.

    So now we have three stories:
    1. The original order form clearly states that the Order Term was for 12 months.
    2. The new rep story that we actually signed up for a 2 year contract.
    3. The Billing Dept. story that there was an automatic renewal that we could cancel within 60 days - and it’s all online - didn’t we see it?

    The strange thing about this whole thing is that we have repeatedly stated that we like the product and want to renew - that’s right we want to give them our money. And, someday when we’re a big company, we will contract for A LOT of licenses. What’s also strange is that for a company peddling CRM, they do not practice Customer Relationship Management - their reps are merely product salesmen trying to close a deal as fast as they can. Long term revenue streams are the result of Relationships. If anyone, salesforce.com should know this. (Other examples - when we first signed up we asked our rep a question about the product and he replied - go online it’s all there. He also was trying to close before the end of last year - so we got a lot of “here’s your special deal - but only if you sign up before the end of the year” etc. etc.

    We’re waiting to hear back from salesforce.com - we sent to them documents and our issues this week. We’ll see what happens.

  • S Busch responded:

    We wanted to renew the same number of licenses but we had some questions about pricing and also we had asked them repeatedly to not just try charging a credit card but to send us an invoice ahead of time that we can pay with a check. After many emails back and forth they finally agreed to this procedure, which should be a standard in any industry. But then just now we realized they did charge our company credit card without authorization, and they charged it for twice the amount we authorized.

    I agree that their sales persons are just sharks who try to close a deal without stopping to think, and their billing department seems more like a collections department. I regret that the otherwise good product experience is tainted by this behavior, and we are seriously evaluating other options now.

  • Mike Schinkel responded:

    S. Busch: Exactly; I had the same experience almost to a letter. When my credit card declined because it was at its limit while I was out of the country for a week I came back to what felt like threats from a collections agency. They really don’t make you feel like a valued customer.

  • Michael Stroud responded:

    So are we for sure locked into a one-year contract? Anyone know of cases when they’ve been able to lower the number of users? We got snookered in 16 users when we were growing and now need only 8.

  • Dennis M responded:

    Wow - we’re trapped too. We did not know of or approve automatic renewal. When we contested it, their legal department sent an e-mail notice that when we signed up for our free trial 2 YEARS BEFORE we purchased 10 seats, that we clicked on the “I Agree” button which states that renewals are automatic if you read the EULA (fine print). We were a start-up when we got the free trial as we were exploring software options. As soon as we had customers and a sales team, we purchased the service. Sharks - that is correct. Stay Away from salesforce.com

  • Kristin T responded:

    Hey, They are trying to stick it to me for another year. When I was told that it was a year to year contract and the only reason it shows 24 months is for pricing on their end. Well I pay by check and they will not be getting any of my $$$$. HEY ALL OF YOU SHOULD CHECK OUT LONGJUMP.COM its going to save me over $ 10,000.00 a year and you get billed month to month.. I looks and feels very much like STICK IT TO YOU SALES FORCE. KT

  • Craig Klein responded:

    I was a salesforce user and had the same problem - we were locked into a contract that we couldn’t change or get out of - plus we had problems with support when we tried to customized it.

    I got so mad, I started SalesNexus.com!

  • Paul Midgley responded:

    We had 60 users and had the same problems, when we tried to migrate from them it was a nightmare. Eventually we left them and managed to locate a company called www.WiredContact.co.uk we now pay less than half of what we were paying and have pretty much the same features, what we really like is that our IT team were able to integrate our website, accounts, outlook, phone system and more. the wonder of google is that we do have other options.

    Our system is still hosted but now we get the backup we needed, can speak with real people.

    Restrictive contracts are never going to win friends in the longterm.

    PM

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