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If a customer asks me a support question that takes 10 minutes just to listen to (that's $1 right there), it's "game over": unless they go on a massive buying spree to get maybe a hundred programs from my store (unlikely), I have now permanently lost money on their account.

Support is part of the cost of sales and needs to be factored in. So if you get a lot of support calls, you need to either raise the price to accommodate or you need to eliminate the need for support somehow. Either way, making the support experience worse for the customer is a terrible support cost cutting tactic.

Support is also part of the cost of the product and customers need to take that into account: this is a two-way street, and you can't just blindly assume that support is somehow the most important factor in deciding whether something will be purchased; I will even say it is downright naive (although popular in the entitled Web 2.0 culture) to claim that it is part of the "sales" process: some people just can't afford to pay that much money to get the product with the better support, so it is actually anti-sales.

In fact, it is actually quite often that people don't want to pay that, even if they can: many of my friends do not actually use customer service on their computers and they know enough not to call our ISP about stupid issues that have nothing to do with them. They therefore tend to optimize their purchases of these kinds of products based on other factors, like price, and if someone says "Verizon has terrible customer support" they don't care if it saves them money they can spend on other things.

What you are seriously saying is that the price of gum at the gas station should be higher so that the gas station attendant can have the time to hear every single complaint you might have about it: I'm sorry, but most people just want a cheap pack of gum. It is entirely market-dependent whether people are willing to shell out more money for better support. Would it be cool if everyone everywhere had great support? Maybe, but it certainly wouldn't be efficient, and people would have to buy a lot less.

As a sad logical conclusion of this, my business model simply doesn't work if you have to provide world-class support. You cay say it is part of "sales", but honestly, in the end, you paid $1 for something: maybe all you need right now is a refund. People think it could work as a business, though, because they see Apple doing just that, but Apple makes their money on hardware with multi-hundred dollar margins, and then breaks even selling apps for those devices only because it is an interesting way for them to sell more hardware.

Yet, people want businesses like mine to exist. People go to thrift stores, they buy stuff at $1 stores, they purposely get Dell laptops (and wait until they are on sale with a special offer code), and PriceLine.com finally slumped, but it did so slower than the highly price-competitive airline industry that people complain about bitterly. Some people just don't feel that support is something they are willing to pay for: it is a form of insurance against the future that doesn't harm anyone else if you choose not to buy it, and so often you just don't and live with the consequences.


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