Cold calling gets cold shoulder

There's some guy from Microsoft who keeps calling me and wanting to discuss whether or not I'm comfortable with the licensing changes happening when Software Assurance kicks in properly this month. So far I haven't been bothered with calling him back. There are three reasons.

There’s some guy from Microsoft who keeps calling me and wanting to discuss whether or not I’m comfortable with the licensing changes happening when Software Assurance kicks in properly this month.

So far – and I know this won’t surprise my regular readers – I haven’t been bothered with calling him back. Why? There are three reasons.

The first reason is that I don’t typically return cold calls. Yeah, I know … I know who Microsoft is so it’s not really a cold call, but I don’t know this particular guy from a bar of soap. So that, in my book, makes him a cold caller. I feel the same about people that I don’t know but are from other companies I already do business with who are phoning me on the off-chance of an up-sell. Ditto with people who I used to work with or do business with who are now working for another company and want me to make the switch with them. I know this sounds terribly rude but, seriously, the cold calling thing is even worse than the survey takers I bleated about the other week (see Now that’s more like it …). I get, like, dozens of cold calls some days and they seriously eat into my working day. Life’s just too short.

The second reason is that I don’t ever actually buy anything from Microsoft – I purchase all my Microsoft products through a reseller. I have an excellent relationship with this reseller who knows me and understands my business. Microsoft simply doesn’t know me, nor does it understand my business.

As a wee aside, maybe this is about to change. Steve Ballmer was quoted in Computerworld last week (Microsoft wants to tap community feeling) as saying he wants Microsoft to develop a “broad customer connection”. I’m personally just hoping that doesn’t mean more surveys and sales calls.

This leads to my third reason, which is that I’m actually extremely comfortable with the licensing changes that are about to happen. I know I’ve banged on about this before, but I’m not even slightly interested in Software Assurance. We got something like five or six years of good service out of Office 4.3. Last year we upgraded to Office 2000. Why did we do this? Not because we wanted to. Not because there was a compelling business case. And especially not because there was a whole bunch of new functionality we wanted. We did it because everyone else already had.

Apparently, the Software Assurance model will save your business money if you upgrade more frequently then once every three or four years. Since we only upgrade every five or six years, it won’t do anything for us. Now, if there was some actual support bundled with it, that might make some difference.

Speaking of which, and as another aside, support was the other thing that Ballmer commented interestingly on. My interpretation might be way off here, but he seems to want to see Microsoft’s user community emulate the kind of self-sufficient grass roots support network that the Linux community has evolved for itself. That’s all well and good and I can understand why Steve might get all misty-eyed at the prospect of global peace, love and understanding between Windows-philes, but I’d rather see Microsoft accepting responsibility for supporting its products.

Swanson is IT manager at W Stevenson & Sons in South Auckland. Send letters for publication to Computerworld Letters.

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