Full Article Attached Mozilla End User Telephone Support Available Soon

Friday September 26th, 2003

In a message to the Mozilla marketing mailing list, Bart Decrem has announced that the Mozilla Foundation will soon begin offering telephone support to end users of Mozilla. The service, which will cost $39.95 per incident, will be provided by DecisionOne, who currently offer telephone and email support for Netscape. The Mozilla Foundation hopes to offer email support soon and is actively looking for an appropriate vendor to partner with.

#1 What?!

by nilson

Friday September 26th, 2003 4:32 PM

$39.95? That's outrageuos. They could just go buy Opera and solve their question.

#5 um...

by joschi

Friday September 26th, 2003 4:45 PM

how does buying opera fix any troubles you have? all it would do for a person in need of support would be to make their situation much more complex by making them deal with both A) the trouble they were already having, AND B) migrating to a new browser. what a great answer!

but you are probably just a troll.

#8 Re: um...

by nilson

Friday September 26th, 2003 5:31 PM

Umm.. No, I am not a fucking troll. Ask in the forums if I'm a troll. Neither am I an Opera-lover. I love Mozilla and even write documentation for the project.

I am using Opera as an example. $39.95 is a lot of money to spend to try and figure out a simple problem. If you need tech support, you are probably sorta new to the browser anyway, so switching browsers shouldn't be too hard, and chances are, for about that same amout of money, you could buy Opera, or maybe switch to nother free browser. People don't usually spend $35.95 on something they don't know if they'll like and probably don't have too much trust in because of their problems.

#10 Re: Re: um...

by tack

Friday September 26th, 2003 6:42 PM

I fail to see why you would be upset by this new support option which was not available before and is not detracting from existing free support options. If you don't like it, don't use it. If the service is not profitable, it will go away. If it is profitable, good for them. Free support options will always be available for those of us who have no problem spending some time digging around or waiting for a good samaritan to reply. But for those who feel their time is worth the $40, they now have this option to have a company buy their problem. Plus, it gives credibility to using Mozilla in a corporate environment.


#22 Re: Re: um...

by joschi

Saturday September 27th, 2003 10:50 AM

good, i'm glad you aren't a troll.

$40 is really not a lot of money to spend to get support if you need it, its FAR from "outrageuos". Have you ever looked into how much it costs in the real world? I've worked for non profits doing tech support and I've seen the fax's that come in advertising support, $80/hour is pretty reasonable (see my other comment about how moz's support pricing is based on an average call time of 30 minutes). Budget IT support companies charge $70/hour. sure, its a rediculous amount for a well informed geek/poweruser, but obviously that isnt the target audience here. I've had people pay me $40 to stick a modem in their computer and reboot. ever check how much it costs to take your computer in to compusa?

#12 Re: um...

by vfwlkr

Friday September 26th, 2003 9:26 PM

nilson's not a troll.

#11 Read the fabulous fucking manual

by coocoocachoo

Friday September 26th, 2003 8:21 PM

End users don't use this sort of service. Large corporations, who standardise on one piece of software will standardise on Mozilla then sign a yearly, flat rate contract with the company providing support.

As for "technical support". Technical support isn't a tutoring service, but some people treat it that way. The fact remains that if you want to learn how to use a piece of software, read the fucking fabulous manual! It is really that hard?

#21 Re: Read the fabulous fucking manual

by bzbarsky

Saturday September 27th, 2003 10:44 AM

In the case of Mozilla, it really is that hard, since the help content is not quite up to snuff yet (though getting there).

#28 What manual?

by Gunnar

Sunday September 28th, 2003 3:26 PM

You have to be kidding. As much as I like Mozilla - the documentation sucks.

#20 Re: What?!

by FattMattP

Saturday September 27th, 2003 9:13 AM

And when they have a problem in Opera, what do they do?

#2 Who on earth would pay that much?

by alanjstr

Friday September 26th, 2003 4:33 PM

Unless you're a corporation, that price is way too high.

#4 Re: Who on earth would pay that much?

by joschi

Friday September 26th, 2003 4:43 PM

"There's a reason why this is so expensive: a typical telephone support call takes almost 30 minutes."

i would imagine 99% of people who use the call in support are indeed corperate users.

#6 Re: Re: Who on earth would pay that much?

by marnanel

Friday September 26th, 2003 4:46 PM

Indeed. There are corporations who won't buy something *unless* they can get a support contract. For these places, this even more than ease of use, standards compliance, security or speed can mean the difference between trying Mozilla and sticking with Explorer.

Besides, as the article says, this is a good first step. Someone else is free to undercut them, and may well do if they see that there's a market here.

#3 Damn

by jedbro

Friday September 26th, 2003 4:40 PM

Great news... but what does this cost Mozilla? 39.95 is WAAAAYYY too much. But if this costs Moz. Foundation NOTHING, than I can understand the outrageous pricing.

#7 Hah.

by wvh

Friday September 26th, 2003 4:55 PM

- Who needs support for Mozilla? - Who will pay $39.95 per 'incident'?

I can't see which problems could be solved by emailing (Help! I can't email!) or by phone. Define such a 'problem'. How do I write an email? My browser doesn't open? What is "404 File Not Found"? What means "out of disk space"?

People with such questions will never find their way into the mozilla helpline, because they define the problem as "my computer is fucking up". If they are smart enough to call anybody, it will be their local it department... or Micro$oft.

Sounds like milking the pointy haired one with the empty head. Couldn't care less.

#29 Re: Hah

by Gunnar

Sunday September 28th, 2003 3:31 PM

Problems can be solved by email. Some standard problems only take a short reply to fix, others can take several emails and a lot of time. If this is professional support, the $40 are very well warranted, but OTOH, I doubt there are too many takers.

I do wish them success, however, since Mozilla will profit, both from having support (there is a real demand, I know that for a fact), and making money off of it.

#9 Not for end users.

by nosebleed

Friday September 26th, 2003 5:53 PM

This is obviously not targetted towards single end-users, they can use the forum, newsgroups, or IRC for support. Business users who need one-on-one support woul probably benefit.

#13 Some perspective

by robdogg

Friday September 26th, 2003 11:13 PM

I see bunch of people screaming that $39.95 is too much. 99% of the people that call tech support will be from corporations. Compared to other vendors $39.95 is really (no, really) cheap. Just for comparison, discussing a Visual Basic problem with Microsoft is $245. Discussing anything with Oracle is a lot more expensive (they have a multitude of various options, all expensive).

Just think of this. I have a problem that needs to be solved asap and this problem is preventing me from moving on with my work. What's cheaper: posting a question on the mozillazine forum and waiting a hour (at best) for an answer or ponying up $39.95 for a solution. That's right: my hourly rate is much higher than the tech support fee, thus it is cheaper to call tech support.

#14 Well, in that case

by nilson

Friday September 26th, 2003 11:16 PM

It should be stated in the story that it's not for end-users.

#24 Re: Well, in that case

by mlefevre

Saturday September 27th, 2003 1:36 PM

As Doron (who worked at Netscape, and therefore knows about this stuff) points out in another comment, this _is_ for end users. Your $40 will get you support from call centre staff who will work through a script and give you an answer out of their support database. Having someone who knows what they're talking about doing support costs more (as someone mentioned - Microsoft VB support calls are hundreds of dollars, not $40).

I do know people that would use this kind of thing - the same kind of people that will pay me GBP60 ($100) to pop over to their house and remove the blaster worm. There's also several small businesses that have either paid me to pop in and sort something out, or phoned me up to ask how to do something. I'm sure I'm not alone here in being called on for some technical knowledge... For those (well-off) people or businesses who don't know someone who knows someone who can help, they might do this.

#15 Stock answers?

by kepardue

Friday September 26th, 2003 11:56 PM

I'm just wondering if when someone pays $40 for a support call for a usability problem or annoying glitch that's been there for years (we all have our pet favorites), they'll get a very expensive clone of the answer, "If it bothers you, learn to code and fix it yourself, or pay someone who can! You've paid me? Nope, that's your problem, bud. I'm just here to give you advice."

#17 Re: Stock answers?

by rkl

Saturday September 27th, 2003 3:21 AM

Actually, I think the stock answer will be "thank you for the bug report...[taps away on Bugzilla to search for it]..." followed by either "that problem has already been reported - it's Bugzilla bug #X and if you register on Bugzilla, you can vote for it" or "that problem has been fixed as of <some date> - you can either download a nightly build of Mozilla or wait for the next milestone release of Mozilla which is due in <some rough guess>" or "this is a new bug report, we'll report it to the developers via Bugzilla, thank you" (the $40 would therefore save you having to enter it in Bugzilla yourself).

Of course, if you have the spare time (corporate tech staff probably don't), you can investigate Bugzilla yourself and save $40 - that's the swings and roundabouts of charging users support.

#19 Re: Re: Stock answers?

by Undertoad

Saturday September 27th, 2003 8:19 AM

I worked for a big vendor doing real live Unix tech support in the early 90s. Most tech support calls that were about bugs were addressed by known patches, even then. If they were not, they were entered into the corporate then-equivalent of Bugzilla. But this was no guarantee WHATSOEVER that they would be fixed to the customer's expectations. All it meant was that it was an issue "out there", and problems with weak ownership or bad politics might well wind up ignored.

#16 re:

by auburn

Saturday September 27th, 2003 12:10 AM

I guess it is a start. Hopefully as mozilla becomes more of an end user product, more tech support options will surface.

#18 Cost of telephone support

by bcwright

Saturday September 27th, 2003 8:11 AM

$39.95 per incident really is pretty cheap given support costs, though I suppose that you could also charge something like $1.95/minute and get about the same effect given average support call durations; it might also be perceived as "fairer" since the questions that could be handled quickly wouldn't cost as much as the harder ones. It costs money to be able to talk to a live person! Cheaper plans could also be offered that allowed e.g. email only support.

Other plans could also be possible such as fixed-price support contracts - $x/year and you get up to N support calls -- sort of an insurance plan.

In the case of paid software the price for some limited amount of support is often built into the price - hence the perception that support is "free." It isn't - telephone support is one of the major expenses of many (most?) software houses. Obviously that model won't work for software that's downloaded for free.


#23 Its for end users only

by doron

Saturday September 27th, 2003 11:05 AM

I worked with DecisionOne back at Netscape, and they are for end users only. Anything more complex than "what happened to my bookmarks" confuses them. These are minumum wage paid people, not Mozilla experts.

#25 Re: Its for end users only

by tseelee

Saturday September 27th, 2003 6:38 PM

Hey, that's good money! At least they don't live in India, or they'll be paid even less.

#26 Re: Re: Its for end users only

by doron

Saturday September 27th, 2003 8:46 PM

Not saying anything against the people at DecisionOne, just that they are not mozilla experts. They do a good job for basic support, but that is it.

#27 Don't they friends, family members and co-workers?

by bugs4hj

Sunday September 28th, 2003 1:54 PM

Man, I wonder about people that call in for $40 They must be:

a) rich b) real stupid c) missed out on school d) even more stupid when they pay for shitty Opera e) a social, lonely people without friends family and co-workers to ask anything technical related

Is that the average mozilla user? This is *so* sad...

#30 look for support on Newsgroups or Compuserve Forum

by ndebord

Monday September 29th, 2003 7:50 PM

Giggle. Forty bucks for one support call. Goodbye AOL, Netscape, commercial gougers, welcome Mozilla, commercial at last.

If you want support, wait 24 hours or less for a response and use newsgroups or the Compuserve (free) Netscape Forum or something comparable.

This is a reall hoot.


#31 Re: look for support on Newsgroups or Compuserve F

by bcwright

Monday September 29th, 2003 11:27 PM

As I said, I don't think $40 for a support call is unreasonable - it can often take quite a bit of time to play 20 questions with a clueless user and figure out what's happening (and most likely what they're doing wrong). You could also meter it by time rather than by call but that complicates things slightly. For many paid products, the reason that some limited amount of support appears cheaper than that is either because it isn't telephone support (much more expensive than email support for example) or because the price is predicated on most users never needing the service, so that it appears much like an insurance policy (most people who buy it never actually use it).

As to who would use such a service, probably rather few technical users. As you say, there are other alternatives available if you have a lot of technical contacts or a bit of time and technical resourcefulness. Those are precisely what a lot of end-users don't have - they may not be stupid, but their specialty is not in computers and they just don't have a lot of contacts and resources. Perhaps their time is limited.

I don't know if such a service could make a go of it or not - the biggest problem would be that many of the people who would need it the most would have no easy way to find out about it. I don't think it's absurd on its face though. Probably the main way the service providers could make money would be with support contracts from businesses; however many of the larger businesses have in-house support personnel who might be able to handle many of those kinds of questions. (It's hard for any service bureau to support every piece of software that's out there however - so some businesses with internal service desks might still find such a contract worthwhile).

We shall see. However I think the people who think this is an absurd idea are showing their ignorance of the general user population and of business in general.


#32 What if the problem isn't resolved?

by maniac

Tuesday September 30th, 2003 12:19 AM

Let's say my mom calls and wants to know why a Java game on some web site won't work (let's say it works fine with IE), but the tech support guy doesn't know what's wrong and isn't able to give her a solution. Is she out $40 for trying, does she get a refund, or what? Can the incident be escalated to some higher power? Or would that just be treated as a bug report?

#33 Oh, cool!

by flacco

Tuesday September 30th, 2003 5:06 PM

so i can finally call someone and for $39.95 find out how to get roaming profiles to work?

#34 Mozilla Telephone Tech Support

by baj

Tuesday September 30th, 2003 7:21 PM

I gotta chime in here... Don't get so uptight about it! If you don't wanna pay, DON'T!

Look - if you know how to use it and fix it, don't be upset. I used to do Netscape Tech Support for Decision One and the vast majority of the end users calling us (99.9%) fit into one of three categories:

1) they don't want to read anything to help them fix it, 2) they don't have time to read anything to help them fix it, 3) they were stupid and it wouldn't have done any good to read anything to help them fix it...

As an example we had ZERO Linux tech support calls because Linux users know how to deal with issues... OK? Little old grannies that wanted to keep in touch with the grand-kids at college or people looking for an alternative to the megacorporations running everything are the ones that called us. $39.95 is a small amount to pay when the product itself is free and something is either not working right, or you just don't want to mess with researching it for yourself, or you don't know where to start! The techs don't know everything about the software, but do any of you know everything about Mozilla? If they don't know the answer they'll look for it, but in the end if they help you out, you get charged because it's a service, not a product... If it's something they obviously won't be able to help with right up front, you get a refund. But if it takes 45 minutes to determine your Temp folder was full of garbage and that's the reason you couldn't send email, then yes, they helped you and you get the bill.

And as a last note, companies usually did not call us. It was individuals that wanted help. Netscape users are fiercely loyal to Netscape, and hated both Microsoft and AOL, but they hated Microsoft more so they stuck with Netscape, and indirectly AOL. I would highly recommend telling all those users about the alternative to Netscape - MOZILLA! It doesn't have all the AOL stuff included in the installer so they'll probably love it even more.

Besides, the company that will be supporting it has to charge to pay the grunts on the phones. Don't hate them because they want a job...


#35 The cost os $39.95 is ridiculous

by 1HappyLady

Thursday November 29th, 2007 9:26 AM

The cost of $39.95 is ridiculous for ordinary home users when only rarely does a question come up because the information is not dealt with in the Help Menu

Everytime I open Mozilla, a mail page comes up and I cannot find out how to stop it. I use another mail service, Apple Mail that came with iMac and I like it, and it has all my save folders on it. So I don't need another mail service show up every time I invoke Mozilla browser. Can anyone here answer the question of how to disable the Mozilla Mail? Thank you.