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BOFH: Dear Valuable VIP Customer

Licence renewal

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Application security programs and practises

Episode 14 "Have you read the memo from those software people?" the Boss asks, tapping some paper on my desk.

"It's in my In Tray, I just haven't got round to reading it yet."

"It's on your DESK!"

"Yes, and my desk is my In Tray."

>Sigh< "Well can you read it now please?"

"Sure."

"RIGHT now please?"

"It's that urgent?"

"It wasn't two weeks ago when I put it.. on your.. In Tray, but it's urgent now."

"Why?"

"Because it's a special offer which expires today and they've just rung me about it and are going to call back in 10 minutes."

"Oh really. Well how's about we have a gander at it then while we wander back to your office for the call.. Blah, blah, secret weapon, blah, blah German spies, blah, blah."

"What the hell are you reading?" the Boss blurts, snatching the paper off me. "Secret weapons!?"

"It's just something I say to myself when wading through weasel words," I say, wresting the paper back from the Boss.

"What does it mean?"

"It means they're trying to shaft us."

"What? You haven't even read it all yet - there's more than one page!"

"Yes, but it starts 'Dear Valuable VIP Customer'. They may as well say 'Please drop your pants and bend over the table by that unnecessarily large hammer action masonry drill'."

"They're one of our software vendors, it's just a renewal notice."

"That remains to be seen," I say, flipping the page. "Blah, blah, blah, royal shafting."

"Where?"

"There," I say, pointing to the last page of the renewal invoice.

"It's just the bill!"

"Yes, but see the little boxes for you to tick the products you want to renew with larger boxes for the number of licenses that you wish to renew?"

"Yes."

"And all the boxes are empty?"

"Yes."

"How do they get filled in?"

"I suppose I fill them in."

"With what?"

"I tick the Boxes and enter the numbers."

"Which boxes and which numbers?" I ask.

"I DON'T BLOODY KNOW!" the Boss snaps, getting a little tired of the interrogation.

"And there's my point. We don't even USE some of this software, so suddenly you'd start paying maintenance on software we don't have. More importantly, after we've been paying for... I dunno... three years, they'll say there's a major release and we need to pay for that, which we we'll do because we're paying maintenance on it so we must be using it somewhere. The best bit though, is the number of licenses. We're a Valuable VIP Customer..."

"What does that mean?"

"It means they think we're stupid and have lots of money to spend. If we're that valuable surely they'd REMEMBER the number of licenses we had and just prefill in the form for us."

"So they're... ... ...?"

"Wanting us to do one of two things - mistakenly fill in the form with an overly large number so they make a bit more cash. OR, mistakenly fill in the form with a low number so they wait a couple of months before saying that a routine license review noticed we underestimated our licenses by a certain amount and that because the expiry period has passed these licenses now cost an extortionate amount. 'Which would still be cheaper than involving the legal representatives of our two companies'..."

"So how many licenses do we use?"

"Who knows? The larger the company the more obscure the number of licenses held. When it's completely impossible you become a Valuable VIP customer."

"So what are we going to do?"

"Well you could go from room to room counting licenses."

"I don't thi..."

"Or we could force an application out to every desktop to report licenses - which would upset the civil libertarians who'd think we were spying on them."

"I..."

"Or you could let me talk to the vendor when they call."

"I.. why don't I talk to them?"

"Because you'll get flustered and sign up for 100 of everything."

"I don't think that I'm tha..."

"So you think that you're capable of talking to them without losing your rag?"

"Yes I think I'm qu..."

"And you won't get thrown off by technical speak?"

"No, I thin..."

"Even if they offer you confusing options which actually amount to exactly the same offer reworded?"

"Yes, I'm.."

"Even when you can't get a single question or statement out because they keep interrupting you?"

"I CAN BLOODY DEAL WITH THEM!!!"

"And that, your honour, concludes the case for the prosecution," the PFY mumbles.

So it's decided that I'll talk to them - and not a moment too soon...

>Ring<

"Hi Simon here. Yes, he's here, but I handle our license renewals... Uh huh... Mmm Hmmm... Yes... Well how's about you people come back with the number of licenses you think we've got - you must have them in a database somewhere.... . .

You don't? Well in that case we're not using any of your products anymore....

. .

Oh, you think you might have found some 'historic' documentation of our license purchases... ... Uh-huh... ...

Well I think we both know that those numbers are slightly inflated... Uh-huh...

I still think were it to involve our legal representatives we might find that you're charging us for licenses... Oh, you think there might have been a 'spreadsheet error'?... . . .Yes, that's a much more realistic number..

Though it's just occurred to me that if it's happened now it's probably happened in the past - which would mean our legal representatives might.... a credit? Yes, that's probably a good idea.... ... Yes, made out to CASH, as in Johnny...

And if you could just send the documentation to me in an email with a new invoice... Bye now."

"How did it go?" the Boss asks.

"They're sending us a revised license estimate and reducing our maintenance fee."

"Did you mention a credit?" the Boss asks.

"No."

"I'm sure you said something about it."

"Please! Would I rip off a Valuable VIP employer like you?" ®

Eight steps to building an HP BladeSystem

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