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SAP defends forced price hike against user anger

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SAP today rejected claims by British customers that its new support pricing scheme will unfairly slap small and medium-sized businesses with extra costs for services they won't use.

The UK SAP users group released a statement on Friday urging the German software giant to rethink a compulsory hike in support costs from 17 per cent to 22 per cent of contract value. Over the next four years all customers will be shunted from Standard support to the Enterprise package, which includes cover for non-SAP software.

Company spokesman Bill Wohl denied the enforced changes are aimed at swelling SAP coffers. "Our motivation here is not the bottom line," he said. "They [user groups] have their perspective, and customers never want to pay more."

There may be a few tea>>>keyboard support call outs as a result of that denial. The real terms costs increase will be about 30 per cent, and analysts have estimated that the migration will be worth €1bn annually to SAP by the time it is complete in 2012.

Alan Bowling, chairman of the UK SAP users group, said on Friday: "Many of our members may not want or need this extra level of support."

Wohl argued that the existing support package is outdated, and that smaller outfits whose IT systems do not yet require the higher-specced offering will grow into it. "What we're bringing to customers is what they've been telling us they want," he said. "We don't think the standard support package has kept pace with today's IT environments."

SAP said that its own contact with customers over the price increases had been "quite positive", but that it had made some minor changes in response to criticisms. Complaints from German customers led to the timetable being relaxed to allow outfits running legacy systems to catch up. Further tweaks are possible, Wohl said.

Conceding that the move is bound to upset some customers, he challenged the gripers to examine the competition. "The increased value justifies the additional expense... when you make comparisons between SAP and Oracle and SAP and Microsoft, our offering has significantly more value."

That's fighting talk. ®

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