Is Free Really Worth It?

We love competitive markets, and we love the competitive market in which we operate, customers and prospects have a wide range of options that they can choose from, options to suit their budget, but sometimes their choice on the face of it isn't the right one to take.

We have this story to relay from one customer that we were pleased to be able to help recently, and we wanted to pass on what they learnt as a lesson to all other businesses out there.

The large financial business (name withheld to protect them) recently needed a vast amount of data out of one of their biggest databases, and they needed it urgently, the project that they were working on was to migrate some business critical data to a new application; they did the usual round of due-diligence and they found a number of ODBC vendors whose products were suitable (we were lucky enough to be part of that process), but it transpired that budgets were cut and whilst they loved our solution when they trialled it, the opportunity of a free version from their database vendor was too good of an opportunity after their funding had disappeared.

On the launch date, their data transfer well until they were about two hours in; then things started to go wrong; they quickly determined that their free ODBC driver was failing, so they went to contact their supplier that's where a new set of problems started.

Being "free" meant that their vendor has no dedicated support on tap for them to discuss their problem, they started communicating with the active online user community but no-one could come up with a fix for them and calls to the vendor didn't yield a response; in desperation they contacted us again.

Within half an hour they had our driver up and running, and our support staff were there for them throughout the process, luckily though our solution ran smoothly and they had no real need for us, but were incredibly appreciative that we were there for them and like many other customers of ours they now realise that FREE really isn't worth it when you are talking about critical data.