Important questions are posed throughout this website.
Example: What if annual service fees are not paid? Possible answers:
- "There are no annual service fees." (Best answer!)
- "Nothing happens. There's no penalty." ('No fees' was better.)
- "Support requests are referred to a 'forum'." (You're kidding, right?)
- "Software updates are denied." (OMG! A vendor would actually do this?!)
Have some fun. Test your Consignment Software Awareness to see what you know now, then skim over it again later to measure your software IQ improvement.
The All-Important Questions:
Is Web-Based Software for Me?
First, why web based? If you only want to work remotely (from home, an auction, estate sale, coffee shop or anywhere with an Internet connection), that can be done now with free software that doesn't require an endless monthly fee (as web-based software does). Second, who wants software with an endless monthly fee? Get the job done with a one-time cost and no annual fees? Read Cost of Operating in the Cloud.
What Does Consignment Software Really Cost?
Displayed prices are often well below the amount you will pay up front and over time for software, hardware and service. Add-on fees range from excessive hardware markups, cables and shipping, to fees for services (craftily) excluded from annual fees like help with hardware after just 30 days (then $100), simple help learning the program ($100/hour!) and per-incident fees ($45) if you opted out of the dastardly 'annual support plan'. Read True Startup Costs.
Are There Annual Service Fees?
There are annual service fees, persistent increases in annual fees, 'per-incident' fees (if annual fees aren't paid), and increased annual fees for multiple computers. It doesn't take long for 'fees' to exceed the original cost of the software, and there's arm twisting to force payment of annual fees. Read No Annual Fees for Me!
What Are Fees for Related Services?
We can't expect a software vendor to become the call center for everything that goes bump on the computer, but when they do offer to help with issues beyond their software, or when they refer us to a 3rd-party service for help, we can expect the vendor to act in our best interests by either charging nominal fees or referring us to someone who is reasonable and capable. Read Service for Profit.
Are Software Updates Free and Unconditional?
Software updates are essential. They provide important 'bug fixes' and software improvements. It's vitally important to pay attention to this seemingly insignificant detail before deciding upon a program. Updates are often denied if annual service fees aren't paid. Read Consignment Software Updates.
How Much Are Additional Copies of the Software?
Additional computers will be needed to handle your growing business. Ask now about the cost of additional software copies later. New store owners are often full steam ahead and can't know to look for these submerged expenses. read on.
Do I Own the Software and Can I Resell It?
"How is anyone supposed to be aware of this?" If you own the software you can resell it anytime and recover a good bit of your cost. Most software is 'user license' only allowing the use of the software. You don't own it and can not resell it. To complicate matters, a vendor might say "Yes!" when asked if his software can be resold and avoid mentioning provisions which make it nearly impossible to do so. (more)
How Much for Hardware and Add-Ons for Cables and Shipping?
A couple of mistaken certainties are: Software vendors are largely alike, and hardware costs are about the same. Knowing the best sources for hardware will help to avoid excessive markups, add-on fees for cables, shipping and service, and help to keep start-up costs down. Read Hardware for Consignment Stores.
What Is Credit-Card Processing Going to Cost?
Consignment software 'integrated' with credit-card processing is not a good choice:
- The cost of processing is higher, partly because the software vendor gets a kickback on every one of your sales for recommending the card processor (and not surprisingly this important fact is often not disclosed).
- You get locked in. 'What if' you wanted to change card processors later on? You're not about to spend another $1,000+ on another resale software program (and have to learn another program) just so you can make the change.
- What about PCI compliance? Is the consignment software accessing or storing your customers' credit-card information unbeknownst to you? If not, are you absolutely sure?
The simple solution is to choose a consignment software that doesn't force you to use their recommended processor, that allows you the freedom to select any processor you wish, and allows you to change processors at any time without adverse consequences.
If the software is not 'integrated' then you can be absolutely certain that the software is not accessing or storing your customers' card information.
Who is 'The Company'?
Most consignment software programs have been produced by and are largely dependent upon one person. It's fairly common to see a website, a toll-free number, a company name and a business presented in first-person plural ("We") - all designed to create the illusion of plurality, when in fact the longevity of the software dangles precariously from a thin lifeline from one person. In the past 10 years a half dozen such individuals have come and gone. Buyers from such sources lost their money and were sent shopping for another program to purchase and learn along with the added expenses of data conversion and down time.
Who Are the Software Vendor's Business Associates?
You can tell a lot about a software vendor by the company he keeps and the people to whom he refers you (for things outside his purview, like labels, computer help, etc.):
- A software vendor with reasonable prices who refers you to free and fairly-priced services is acting in your best interest.
- A vendor with sky-high prices (and annual fees!) who refers you to his buddies charging $100/hour is definitely NOT acting in your best interest.
- A good example is a software vendor asking $1300+ up front for his software promoting a 'computer peep' who charges twice ($100/hour) the industry rate ($50/hour) for computer help.
Ironically, those extra dollars demanded of you provide you with nothing 'extra'. You won't get a better software program and you won't get better service. Overpaying is nothing more than a waste of money lost to sales hype.
Adding to the irony, in most cases those with the highest prices for software, hardware and 'service' are not companies at all, but just individuals out to fleece members (like you) of the consignment community.
Purchase a low-cost program now with basic essential features. There will be less start-up cost, less to learn and less invested. As needs, computer skills and store profits grow, add more features. Take a look at some additional features, what they are, what they do, how much they cost and how they are marketed.
Epilogue: Who and What Is in Your Best Interest?
Software is available for as little as $200 net and with free support.
Hardware is available at reasonable cost, with full 3-5-year warranties, free 2-day shipping, free 2-day replacement and free help.
Assistance with computers, Windows, networking and all other issues are available from professional services for way under $100/hour.
To overstate the obvious, $1,000+ software, annual support fees, add-on fees and $100+/hour for 'services' are not in your best interest.
Of course the fox in the chicken coup will try to convince you otherwise, so expect unsavory individuals to pose ridiculous arguments and bash competitors in their attempts to prey upon your hurried schedule and confusion.
Put Up Your Dukes
Tell each and every sales person to reiterate in writing everything he or she has to say about anything and everything. Make it a condition to consider doing business with him or her. That will get you past the lies and 'he said she said' dodge. Insist on a complete list of any and all possible fees that could be paid, then, when you get hit with unexpected undisclosed fees and truisms, you'll have grounds for contesting your credit-card payment.
Possession is 9/10ths of the law.
Deception for financial gain is 100% against the law.
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