Ayende @ Rahien

Refunds available at head office

The other side of build vs. buy decisions

This is one of the most common arguments in the software world. I am usually firmly in the “just buy this stuff” party. Yes, I know that it looks like I am the guy that the “build it ourselves” party threw out because he was too radical, but do not let the misconception fool you.

I firmly believe that if you can get what you want by just buying something off the shelve, I think you should do it. The only qualification to that whatever you buy should be able to meet your needs.

What we have here is an email I just sent to a company I bought a 2,000$ component from. I did that after doing a fair amount of study on the topic, understanding what I need and what is the cost of trying to build that. I think that I’ll let the email stand on its own.

It has been 3 business days since I first indicated that I had critical issues with [product name].

Up to this point, I have had no further communication from you.

To repeat, I cannot [description of the problem]. Rendering the entire purchase unusable to me.
At this point in time, this issue is stopping me from releasing my software.
I am deeply disturbed by this lack of communication from you. I do not expect an immediate resolution, but I believe that three business days for a critical failure in the software is more than a reasonable time to respond to my issue.

This indicate a general problem with your support option, and is a cause for grave concern with regards to the level of trust that I can put in any component that I buy from you.

I expect to hear from you by Monday with regards to this issue, and I hope we will be able to reach a speedy resolution of this issue.

Assuming that we don't, I would like to remind you of Section 7 and 8 of our contract. [relating to warranty and refunds]

And no, I do not intend to disclose who that company is.

Comments

Dario Solera
01/17/2009 04:30 PM by
Dario Solera

The funny thing is that you often get the same type of behavior from companies that make industrial hardware sold for €6,000 a piece.

josh
01/17/2009 05:21 PM by
josh

hope you hear back from them. it's not fun when you're stuck and have no control.. unless you break down and write your own over the weekend; which wouldn't surprise me about you.

Steve Bohlen
01/17/2009 09:10 PM by
Steve Bohlen

Build vs Buy is often better framed in terms of what the true trade-offs are, of course, which more often than not end up being...

Control Over Your Own Destiny vs. No Control Over Your Own Destiny

-or-

Responsibility For It Working vs. No Responsibility For It Working

FWIW, I agree with your estimation that BUY is the default action to select and BUILD is the position that you need to be convinced of after finding nothing worth BUYing that solves the problem, but this is certainly one of the very real downsides to this approach as you quite correctly point out.

alwin
01/17/2009 09:29 PM by
alwin

OSS FTW!1!!!1

But seriously, this is really annoying, and one of the reasons I try to look at an OSS solution first. Support is often just as good, and you can always fix it yourself. Sure, fixing it yourself costs time, but so does being dependent on an other company. Then again, sometimes there isn't a good OSS alternative.

@Steve,

Regarding the 'No Responsibility For It Working', I can say to my customer it isn't my fault all day, but he still expects me to fix it.

Mr_Their_Programmers_Suck_Too
01/18/2009 03:23 PM by
Mr_Their_Programmers_Suck_Too

People have to remember programmers at these shrinkwrap houses suck too.

They are simply scrambling to fix your problem and have no idea how.

I cant tell you how many times my last statement to tech support is, "Am I the first guy to ask for this feature?" And of course the feature is something common sense related and the product is rev 8 or something ridiculous.

Dont even get me started on product revving. Programmers seem to think it's macho or something to rev, rev. Just keep your product at v1.0 and make sure it runs. Your customers will be much happier. When it's rev 8 and sucks, they know YOU suck.

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