Software – Customers rage at Sage fees

Accountancy software house Sage, which last week reported a 48% leap in pre-tax profits to £35.5m on a turnover of £132.5m, is under fire from users who claim the company’s financial success is driven by excessive maintenance fees.

One Accountancy Age reader said the annual support fee for Sage’s Financial Controller package was £240 in 1996, but by December 1998 upgrade and support costs had increased to £375 – well above the rate of inflation.

Another accountant, who buys Sage software on behalf of clients in the South-East, said his company had stopped using the annual service and instead would buy a new package. Rival Pegasus charges £300 to support its Capital Gold package, while Tas Software charges £90 a year maintenance for its Tas Books program.

Sage executives countered that Sage cover was optional and that the 160,000 UK customers who use the service would not do so unless they felt it was worth the money.

Gavin May, head of the company’s professional accountants division, added: ‘For many businesses their accounting software is the heart of the business.

‘If this fails the business could fail, therefore the ongoing support is vital.’

Sage internet launch, page 16.

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