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What to do when your outsourced service provider isn't up to scratch

By Tom_geraghty ·
About 6 months ago, I convinced the directors of the company to invest in migrating to Exchange. We have about 75 users, in 3 offices, and a lot of out-of-office and home working activity. Considering the cost of leased lines, and wanting to outsource risk, I decided to use someone else to host and manage our exchange server. Rackspace were too expensive, so i went hunting and found this company who were able to do it at 2/3 the price. They were relatively local, smallish, but with a decent sized tech team.
When instructed, they set to with purchasing the server, configuration and setup - this took twice as long as expected, and we had a couple of non-specific setbacks.
Basically, even now that we're up and running, they take days to respond to email support requests, take over a month to install updates, never apologise for doing something late, or badly, and they haven't done a number of things that they said they would do (like help us set up mobile email on palm treos). They haven't actually broken anything in the SLA or contract, but they've gone against what they said verbally at the sales meetings, and they're generally under-performing.
Plus, when all my other suppliers send me a bottle of wine or something at Christmas, this company send me a card with some sprout seeds in.
What can we do?

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My suggestion

by Kjell_Andorsen In reply to What to do when your outs ...

Is to make it abundantly clear to them that you have no intention of renewing your contract and let them know you will be going with a different vendor if they do not improve their service. It may cost more, but it will most likely be worth it.

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Well obvioulsy before

by Tony Hopkinson In reply to What to do when your outs ...

you look at the next set of bids, you need to review your SLA.

Who ever you get are going to do the minimum they can, that is after all how you reduce costs and make a bigger profit.

How good a deal you can get depends basically on the number of suppliers and the value of the contract.

I recommend you employ a systems admin, but I'm biased.

Remember the price of all gifts to customers is added to the bill.

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The price of gifts ...

by stress junkie In reply to Well obvioulsy before

I'm glad that you mentioned the gifts. Frankly when a vendor provides personal gifts to a client representative that is called a kickback and it is unethical. It may be widespread but it is still a kickback and it is still unethical. I remember one episode of the Friends tv show where a food vendor made a gift of some steaks to Cortney Cox's character, who was a chef in a restaurant. Cortney Cox's character was fired. The reason for this is the same as when it happens in the public sector; it creates the appearance of a bribe being given. This is also the reason that employees should never give a gift to their hiring manager.

I occasionally provide a gift to clients but it is never a personal gift. I may give a copy of Norton Ghost to the business when they have to back up a workstation, for example, but I would never give a personal gift to the manager employed by the client.

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I got into a bit of trouble myself once

by Tony Hopkinson In reply to The price of gifts ...

Filled in a registration / survey card that came with some boxes we bought.

I liked them and recommended we buy some more.

The survey thing had a free entry to a prize draw to encourage you to fill it in. F'ing won ?100 didn't I, instant ****** exam for Tony...

Nobody wins those things.

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It's easy to make a mistake.

by stress junkie In reply to I got into a bit of troub ...

Most people don't know about these rules. The vendor that sponsored the drawing probably had no idea that they could cause trouble for you.

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After a thorough inspection

by Tony Hopkinson In reply to It's easy to make a mista ...

It was decided that seeing as I didn't have purchasing authority, all would be OK.
The servers were quality anyway and I got my ?100 of book vouchers.
I never really though of them as a bribe anyway, I cost a lot more than that

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I am systems admin...

by Tom_geraghty In reply to Well obvioulsy before

And manager, and support, etc etc. Which is why I could never have realistically taken on so management of an exchange server too.
I'm certainly not going to renew with them at the end of the contract, though it's unfortunately 2 years away. And i'll definitely put a fine toothed comb through the SLA next time too.

To be honest, with the attitude they're presenting, they really don't seem to care that we won't renew with them, and of course i've been telling everyone i know in the industry to steer clear.

As for the gifts - we all know they're included in the cost of the service, but it's still nice to get them, and they just go into the pot for Friday afternoon staff drinks :)

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