Subject: Re: payment aggregator service?
From: adam@ADAM.YGGDRASIL.COM (Adam J. Richter)
Date: Tue, 8 Feb 94 06:59 PST


	I would like to see some sort of conduit for connecting
linux (and other free OS) developers to commercial outfits that would
like to be confident in their ability to exchange money for tech support
at a reasonable rate.

	I have considered schemes similar to yours in the past, but
the devil is in the details.

	$5 of revenue for the typical tech support call will not be
profitable under the scenario you propose.  Everybody's transaction
costs are too high even if your operation is as automated as you could
realistically hope it to be.  I recall from an issue of _Computer Reseller
News_ (?) Philippe Kahn saying that providing tech support costs Borland
an average of $25 per call.  Allowing every one of your individual support
providers to set up their own pricing scheme also makes the customer spend
a lot of time on research (which is the sort of activity that the customer
is trying to avoid by calling you) and may put you in the middle of
payment disputes.

	We have a 900 number at Yggdrasil.  We charge $2.95/minute, of
which, we get $1.50/minute.  The industry standard for payment in the
900 business seems to be net 90.  That's right.  Three months after
we've provided the service, we finally get paid.  I'm told that our first
payment check is on its way.  The 900 number is a money loser, but
it eliminates most of the support calls from people who find it more
convenient to call us than to read a man page.  (BTW, we do provide
a small amount of free tech support, but that's another matter.)
On the other hand, if we were to market the 900 number harder, it might
be profitable.