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BIG letdown: SDL kills complimentary support!
Thread poster: Jan Sundström

Jan Sundström  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 09:01
English to Swedish
+ ...
Jan 17, 2008

Hi all,

For several years now, SDL has graciously been upholding a support web portal, which has actually been quite useful at times.

But when I tried to log in after New year, I was met with this message:

"If you wish to use the online support portal and be able to interact with our team of experienced support engineers you need to have a valid support agreement. If you do not have one you will only be able to use the Knowledge Base."

Without a paid "premium support agreement", I can't even report a bug to SDL anymore!

What a letdown. I think that SDL will lose a lot of valuable feedback from it's users, which will ultimately hamper the development and harm shareholder value. Very shortsighted of them to cut the ties with the user community.

Even an agency rep would resent this business decision by SDL. This means that more freelancers are prone to "dump trouble in the lap of the agency" when the software doesn't perform.

Sad news indeed...

/Jan


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Mónica Algazi  Identity Verified
Uruguay
Local time: 04:01
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
THOROUGHLY AGREE Jan 17, 2008

It's not only unfair, but also strategically incorrect of SDL to refuse to provide support free of charge.

Bear in mind that a renowned competitor is even pleased to answer enquiries himself!

This near-sighted approach may prove harmful for SDL in the medium to long term.

Why not consider a change?


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Jerzy Czopik  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 09:01
Member (2003)
Polish to German
+ ...
Support pages are in beta phase... Jan 17, 2008

as I was told recently and will be back later on.
So just let us speak about in some near future.

Jerzy


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Claudia Digel  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 09:01
English to German
+ ...
still available Jan 17, 2008

Hi Jan,

Actually, the Support Knowledge Base is still available, it has just been moved (and it is indeed in a Beta Phase as Jerzy mentioned).

You can now access it via your Account or via this link: http://talisma.sdl.com

However, it seems that you really cannot report bugs there any more. There is a different platform where you can suggest ideas for future releases though, not sure if you are aware of this one: http://ideas.sdltrados.com

Hope this helps.

Best regards,
Claudia


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SDL Community  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:01
English
SDL Improves Complimentary Support..! Jan 17, 2008

Hi ProZ users..!

At the risk of starting a war I thought it would be appropriate for me to post a response to this thread.

It is true that we at SDL have made some changes to our support policy, but actually the changes we have implemented have all been made with the intention of improving support and not killing it.

Over the last few years we have regularly been accused of not getting back to our customers fast enough, and often of not getting back at all... particularly if they didn't have a support contract. I would have to say that there is some truth in this and as a result we have spent last year trying to do something about this. The result is this;

We had two support portals, one for our desktop customers (the one referred to in this thread) and one for our Enterprise customers. We have merged them into one so we can maximise our resource and skills for the benefit of our customers.

We used to allow any customer to ask a question in the desktop support centre, but as we were focused on trying to meet the service level agreements of our paying customers this is where our efforts went and so we never guaranteed a response. We only had the knowledgebase available for people to search for an answer.

In the newly merged support portal, that is accessible to all of our customers, as long as they have purchased product at some time, we only provide support from a support engineer in two cases.

1. If you have a support contract, and
2. If you have a licensing or Installation problem

This means we can focus our resources on customers who have paid for support and can actively spend this year making this a service that will be second to none. All supported customers are guaranteed a response, and I hope a timely one.

For all other enquiries we have invested in a new Knowledgebase and are in the process of building that up with all the articles we had in the past so that we have only good quality and accurate information. This KB is available through the "My Account" area to all SDL customers now. You will find two in there, the Beta one Jerzy referred to and the old Enterprise one. Once we have completed the migration from the old Enterprise KB we will only have one comprehensive KB.

This new KB also has a lot of other functionality that we will be releasing over the next few months to improve the experience and ability to get help for all customers, not just supported. But, we will be maintaining our approach to only provide contact with an engineer in the two cases mentioned earlier (supported or licensing/installation).

We will also promote our involvement with the user forums like this one where unsupported customers, and supported customers, can find some great advice for best practices, common problems etc. and can share their views as you are doing here. We actively monitor these forums and whilst we won't be providing support in an active way we will step in when the user community gets stuck, or where the answer is something only we could know, and help out.

You will probably already be aware of the ideas.sdltrados.com website that we launched last year. This site has been undergoing a revision and will be launched very soon with many improvements. This is still available now and is the route you should be taking to report anything you think is a bug, or is something you believe would help to improve the software. Bug reports are not always bugs, but in here you will have the opportunity to see whether they have been reported previously and a number of other features that will help to make our roadmap more visible to you in the future.

I think these are all improvements and not a "killing of support". With the intention of trying to improve what we do can I ask, "Am I wrong?"

Regards

Paul Filkin
SDLTrados Support





[Edited at 2008-01-17 17:42]


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Jabberwock  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 09:01
Member (2004)
English to Polish
Not for the better... Jan 17, 2008

SDL Support wrote:

We will also promote our involvement with the user forums like this one where unsupported customers, and supported customers, can find some great advice for best practices, common problems etc. and can share their views as you are doing here. We actively monitor these forums and whilst we won't be providing support in an active way we will step in when the user community gets stuck, or where the answer is something only we could know, and help out.



Don't get me wrong, but it sounds like you're leaving most of technical questions and problems your paying customers might have to be answered by ProZ members (and members of similar forums). However, I am suddenly less willing to answer such questions.

I do believe it will damage the image of your company even further, but, of course, this is your decision.


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Antoní­n Otáhal
Local time: 09:01
Member (2005)
English to Czech
+ ...
Is software really that specific goods? Jan 17, 2008

I mean, if I need assistance with a procedure or standard features of software, I can understand I have to pay for it.

But if there is a bug, the software does not do what it claims to do, or does it only under conditions not mentioned in the documentation, I think the vendor is legally obliged to solve such claims for at least two years from the purchase date.

I believe no vendor is able to get relieved of this obligation by a unilateral statement.

On the other hand, I have to observe that any attempts of mine to get help from Trados I have ever made were answered in a way lacking of actual expertise; they never really helped and I do mean it. I have always, without a single exception, had to find answers on forums or by trial and error anyway. So why bother and lose time on asking (or even money on the support contract)?

IMHO, the only reason to buy Trados and the upgrades is pressure from agencies. Niether the software quality nor the support (or that much I have seen of it) represent strong incentive to buy or use it.

The situation on the translation market is such that, despite all these problems, investments into Trados upgrades still get paid back, but it is simply a consequence of marketing policies.

Antonin


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Jerzy Czopik  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 09:01
Member (2003)
Polish to German
+ ...
Is there any free support by Microsoft for example? Jan 17, 2008

Paul, thank you very much for stepping in and clarifying the status quo.

As far I remember, when buying a genuine, non-OEM Microsoft product I've got a limited 90 days free support for this software, where the 90 days period was counted from the first time I approached the support desk.
As my Office 2003 installation (Word particulary) stopped to work, I had to pay for the support, because my product is an OEM one and Dell (the manufacturer of my PC) was not able to fix the problem.
Same case with Symantec products - would I need support, I would have to pay on case basis. And I don't think someone here will say Symantec or Microsoft products do not have any bugs...

Coming back to SDL and its support, please allow me my very personal summarization of what were my experiences with it in the past. Until Trados was an independent company, I was able to call in Stuttgart and get some help there even not having a support contract. Also I have been sending cases to the support via email and even got some answers, maybe because the people at the support desk were very kind. I do not know the reason, however I was often told I shall buy a support contract, what I didn't - simply because it was very expensive from my point of view. After SDL has purchased Trados this was over - calling was no more possible. And at the same time new products were released, the Tageditor (XML) workflow for Word introduced... And problems arised, as you may imagine. In this time, short after the merge, I've got the feeling the new company is not paying any attention to freelancer anymore, just concentrating on marketing the product. However, I was then aproached with an offer for a support contract, level two - PSMAII - for a price, which was not much higher than the half of what Trados previously wanted! I've signed the contract - it will be prolonged this year for the third time. I don't know if this was an individual offer or a general pricing.
Since then the attitude of SDL continued chaning in my eyes. Not only because I had the PSMA. The launch of Ideas last year and my personal contacts with some of SDL staff do confirm that - SDL is paying much attention to what a freelancer has to say about the software.
From my point of view the amount I'm paying now yearly for the PSMA is good invested money. PSMAII includes all updates and upgrades which are released within the year when PSMAII is active. So seen, I do not pay that much at all, as otherwise I would be paying for upgrades - maybe not every yeary, but every two or three years for sure. Having PSMAII I can rely on the software better and have always the latest stand of it. I do not want to say this makes the software work perfectly, but what is really perfect in this world?

Just my 2 cents
Jerzy


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lexical  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 09:01
Portuguese to English
Just another reason not to upgrade Jan 17, 2008

Paul Filkin's 'apologia' for Trados is the biggest and blandest load of waffle it's been my misfortune to read in a long time. It doesn't reassure me in the slightest about the company's intentions towards its customers. When it was first launched (and I bought Trados 2.0) it was a useful piece of productivity-enhancing software. Since then, it has just been a constant financial bleed to keep up with updates and training in order to be able to handle file formats that one has never heard of and is almost never offered (if I hear the word 'functionalities' one more time, I'll scream).

SDL Trados has changed from a productivity-enhancing tool for freelancers into an expensive trap in which freelancers are forced to run like crazy to keep up with the latest, expensive updates, each of which works less well than the previous version. The last version to work reliably almost all the time was Trados 2.0 - the latest versions appear to be a disaster, judging by the number of complaints.

I'm surprised, Jerzy, at the alacrity with which you leap to Trados's defence. Your analogy with Microsoft and Symantec is misleading because, for all their faults, they do work nearly all the time. It would be a bold person who would claim the same of the recent versions of SDL Trados.

Finally, it's interesting how clients are beginning to say to me that they would understand if I don't wish to use Trados because they themselves have found problems with it. From being the clear market leader, it is now being ranked by my customers at least below Wordfast and other CAT tools.


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Jabberwock  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 09:01
Member (2004)
English to Polish
Let's see... Jan 17, 2008



Is there any free support by Microsoft for example?


There is - "E-mail Support - Response Time: 1 Business Day - No-charge: 2 support requests".



Same case with Symantec products - would I need support, I would have to pay on case basis.


Not really...

"Contact a Symantec Support Representative

Instant Online Chat FREE

The fastest and easiest way to resolve your issue

* One-on-one troubleshooting
* Expert assistance
* Little or no wait time
* Available 24 x 7

Email FREE
Solutions delivered to your inbox
Estimated response time: 96 hours"

It does sound a little bit better than what SDL is offering, does it not?


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 03:01
English to French
+ ...
Communication Jan 17, 2008

I agree that it would be a tremendous waste of resources to have free support for all users. I do know a couple of translators who are not exactly computer savvy and whose computers are in such a state of mess that they end up having problems even when they shouldn't - these are the kind of people who would literally flood SDL support with irrelevant questions if it were free. In all honesty, even though SDL should make sure that everybody can use their product, it is not their job to teach people to use their computers. That said, I do feel a bit left down, not because I'd prefer to have more direct support for the use of the software (that isn't my case because I am a fast and autonomous learner and managed to learn to use the software quite well), but because I find that whenever there are major problems, these problems are not communicated to the community in an efficient manner and it is very difficult to find the solution to our problems.

There have been many, many major problems with the latest version, especially for those of us who were upgrading. Yet, I didn't receive any communications about these except for one e-mail on a patch, which I have used and which turned out to be a total waste of time - I bought my upgrade almost a year ago and I still never even got to try it. In contrast, there is a huge list of improvements displayed on the website, which clearly mean to convince people to upgrade. The patch ain't working and the new installer ain't working either. I'm stuck. When I looked for a solution to my problem, I couldn't find any. I did learn a few things accidentally in the KB while looking for a solution, so the KB is not entirely useless - I just feel as though the important questions and solutions were intentionally left out so as not to allow for the product to look bad in the eyes of those preparing to buy it. There seems to be a rather heavy communication problem there.

If SDL is interested in user feedback, I'd recommend they clean up the KB and add clear instructions for fixing important problems. I'd also like to be kept aware of all bugs, not by being allowed to look them up in the KB but by getting notifications about them. I already get tons of communications from SDL - upgrades, special offers, webinars, etc. - I don't think it would be so much of a hassle to add support messages to the bunch. It would cost them a tiny bit more to write those messages, but otherwise, there would probably be no additional costs since they already have tech support and e-mail messaging systems in place.

In short, SDL has had problems with their product and it seems they tried to sweep them under the rug - this isn't helping any of the parties. How about admitting that the product was not ready to be launched and making a point of fixing the issues without trying to hide the facts? I, for one, wouldn't be mad at them for lauching a product that doesn't live up to our expectations, as long as they show interest in helping us making it work correctly. In the end, people just want the thing to work. If I get help for that, I wouldn't mind that there was a problem in the first place.


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Giles Watson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 09:01
Italian to English
Well, yes but... Jan 17, 2008

lexical wrote:

SDL Trados has changed from a productivity-enhancing tool for freelancers into an expensive trap in which freelancers are forced to run like crazy to keep up with the latest, expensive updates, each of which works less well than the previous version. The last version to work reliably almost all the time was Trados 2.0 - the latest versions appear to be a disaster, judging by the number of complaints.



... it also has to be said that most of the disasters have been caused by non-Trados-related developments, such as new Microsoft programs or operating systems, and other CAT tools have had similar problems.

I've used Trados very profitably since version 2, and Déjà Vu for almost as long, but have never felt the need to take out a support contract for either. In the case of Trados, if you wait for a while before adopting a new release, and follow developments on the Trados KB, Proz and the TW_users Yahoo group, it's not that difficult to sort out when it's safe to install the new version and what the possible problems might be. The Atril site and the dejavu-l Yahoo group provide similar information for DV.

When I started using Trados, there was no point in attempting to speak to support if you were a freelancer. Nowadays, though, they recognise we exist and are actually quite a profitable market. As it happens, I have had satisfactory responses from Trados/SDL on the few occasions I have contacted them in the past couple of years so I'm quite willing to give them the benefit of the doubt until they fine-tune their new support format.

FWIW

Giles


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Trans-Marie
Local time: 08:01
English to German
+ ...
8 out of 20 posts on Proz homepage about Trados problems… Jan 18, 2008

…that was two days ago. This does not look like “they are listening to freelancers” to me. If they did, you would not have to press 3 (three !!!!!?????) keys (Ctrl, Num, and +) to perform the (presumably) most frequently needed task, i. e. moving to the next segment. This combination of three keys is arranged on the keyboard in a way that I am sometimes wondering whether the developer has ever worked with this software. For the hefty sum you are paying for the software you should get a product requiring very little troubleshooting, resorting to support lines, posting in forums, etc. and you should not have to pay for support.

I don’t have the software myself but I have to use it frequently on my client’s Portal. The trouble it is giving me is dismaying. I have been using other CAT tools for years and they give me no trouble at all.

Someone mentioned Microsoft. Indeed, there are so many similarities…


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Antoní­n Otáhal
Local time: 09:01
Member (2005)
English to Czech
+ ...
To LegalTrans: EZ macros Jan 18, 2008

I use EZ macros to translate "Alt+Ins" (used for that purpose in Transit, which I use most of the time) into the "go on" instruction of TagEditor. There are no problems in changing the shortcuts in Word, of course.

I still insist good software developers should enable users to customise keyboard shortcuts, but if they do not feel like complying, you have to find your ways...

Antonin


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Stefan Keller  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 09:01
English to German
Alt+ Jan 18, 2008

LegalTrans_ wrote:

This combination of three keys is arranged on the keyboard in a way that I am sometimes wondering whether the developer has ever worked with this software.


The actual shortcut is "Alt" plus the "+" on the numeric keypad (therefore referred to as "Num+"). Makes two keys according to my maths.

Stefan


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