Free technical support and printed manuals are becoming a thing of the past at many software and computer companies. Quicken, the popular financial software manufactured by Intuit, began charging support fees in 1999 and currently charges $1.95 U.S. per minute for live telephone support. Symantec, which makes Norton’s antivirus and diagnostic software, automatically bills its customers $29.95 for live technical support from its 800 telephone number, or at per minute rates of $2.95 to $4.95 for support from its “priority treatment” 900 live support telephone number. Dantz, a manufacturer of backup computer programs, for many years provided free, unlimited technical support. It now charges from $39.95 to $69.95 per support incident for live technical support. While promising free unlimited support for its computer games and up to “two support incidents,” Microsoft charges $35.00 per call for customers who license individual Office programs and have support problems beyond program installation.
And just because a customer is paying for technical support does not mean that the support will be meaningful and accurate. Consumer Reports recent survey indicated a growing dissatisfaction with the quality of support received, even though a fee was paid for the support. An average customer support call is reported to cost a company anywhere from $45 to $60, based on employee salaries and the length of the call.