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The pitfalls of SDL service agreement and small print
Thread poster: Burrell

Burrell  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:21
Member (2004)
English to Latvian
+ ...
Jul 14, 2011

The pitfalls of SDL service agreement and small print

First of all I will admit that this is a rant but I would also like to warn all those thinking about purchasing this service so that you know what exactly you are buying.

The day before yesterday I had to deliver a project at 5pm. For various reasons (see my post http://www.proz.com/forum/sdl_trados_support/203140-segments_not_saved_in_studio_help.html) the ttx files I translated did not display the target translation once converted back from Studio format to ttx which I only discovered a couple of hours before deadline. The client does not work with Studio so the only acceptable delivery format was bilingual ttx files. And I could not produce them.

I was lucky - the client very graciously extended the deadline till 2pm the next day. At 4.20pm I filed a support request with SDL explaining my problem and marking it as critical, since I could not deliver the translation at all.

According to my agreement the response time was supposed to be 3 hours max. Obviously SDL does not work after 5pm so I figured I will get help by 11.20am giving me plenty of time to finalise the project and send it off on time.

When 11.20am passed without any message from SDL, I tried calling them. A very “helpful” recorded message explained that they, unfortunately, had other things to do and could not care less. I called for half an hour with the same success. I checked my Support request page – my support request was staged and still marked as Critical.

By 12pm I was in full fledged panic, it looked like I would not be able to deliver the files back even by the extended deadline. I received some suggestions from Jerzy but unfortunately they did not help.

I finally received a call from SDL at 2.50pm. And guess what – apparently they did not get in touch with me earlier because they did not consider my problem critical. I mean – how much more critical can it get? By that time I had missed already two deadlines because the files did not display the target segments and it was not critical enough? Apparently no... I was told only cases where Trados cannot be used at all or where licensing problems were present were supposed to be critical. Everything else is kind of on a hobby level. Obviously nobody bothered to downgrade the status of my support request to tell me not to wait for their help, that would require actual customer service which SDL unfortunately lacks completely.

I was incredibly lucky – my PM was very supportive but even she was gobsmacked when she heard about SDL opinion on the criticality of my Trados inflicted problem.

I have had trouble with support request response time before, once I had to wait for almost two weeks before I got a reply. But I never actually imagined that a situation where the translation could not be delivered on time and was overdue because SDL’s software issues, could be considered non-critical. It is like saying – hey, we are the professionals her, not you, and we do what we want and when we want and there is not a damn thing you can do about it, we know better whether you have a problem or not, you are just blowing it out of proportion, calm down – what’s a deadline or two, just keep paying us the money.

So apart from simply wanting to get it off my chest, I also wanted to warn people thinking of buying this over-inflated self-important so called “support agreement” to read the small print before they decide to pay money for a substandard service they might get too late. There is great help around in various forums (Jerzy alone is a walking an talking Trados encyclopaedia). You might be in trouble, if you have an urgent problem, but, hey, it is not like SDL will help you with an urgent problem anyhow, if you are capable of simply opening Trados. Why pay for “support” you will not receive when you actually need it? After all SDL will judge if your livelihood is threatened or not. I, for one, do not intend to renew this “helpful” service agreement.

Hm... I feel much better getting it all out. Thanks to those who managed to read this to the end and apologies to those whom I managed to annoy!

Ines


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Katalin Horváth McClure  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:21
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
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Gee... Service agreement, huh? Jul 14, 2011

It is incredible.

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Bernard Lieber  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:21
English to French
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Glad you brought it up Jul 14, 2011

I would never subscribe to a Trados service agreement, after all most issues are either bugs or shortcomings and as a S/W editor these should be fixed. Most other editors like Alchemy and Atril, to name of few, are a lot more responsive at no cost.

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Erik Freitag  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 10:21
Member (2006)
Dutch to German
+ ...
Indeed Jul 14, 2011

I just want to chime in and say that I sympathize. The service levels are chosen in a way that in urgent cases, you usually get quicker and better help from Jerzy. It seems indeed that as long as the program starts, SDL doesn't consider the case urgent.

In defense of SDL though, I have to say that I've always found staff to be very helpful, competent and friendly.



[Bearbeitet am 2011-07-14 18:36 GMT]


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Laura Bissio CT  Identity Verified
Uruguay
Local time: 05:21
Member (2008)
English to Spanish
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thank you for bringing this up Jul 14, 2011

It's important to be aware of this lack of commitment.

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Tansy  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:21
German to English
Opposite experience Jul 15, 2011

Just to say that my experience was different. I used to have a service agreement with SDL and I was very satisfied. I contacted them several times during the period of my agreement and always received prompt support.

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Burrell  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:21
Member (2004)
English to Latvian
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TOPIC STARTER
Maybe it is linked to specific country Jul 15, 2011

Maybe German office treats customers better which cannot be said about the UK one. Once you have managed to attract their attention, they are very helpful but what's the point of getting this very helpful assistance once you have already lost the client who just was not willing to wait for an extra day. Do not forget that even though we, translators, usually work past 5pm, SDL office does not and the response time is counted only in working hours, so, for example, if you detect an urgent problem (urgent to you ony, not SDL) on Friday at around noon, the earliest you will get help is sometime on Monday morning, if you are really lucky and if they have not downgraded your request even more. Unfortunately, when you enquire about the service, you will be told how quickly you will get the help, not letting you know that the help will be there only if you cannot open Trados at all, everything else is consideret to be not urgent.

Oh, another thing not to fall for are the promised upgrades, or rather assurances that there would be free upgrades while your agreement lasts that year. Initially I was not sure if I wanted to start the agreement just yet (thinking that if I start it later I will get the next update included), so I was told there would definitely be an upgrade that year. Needless to say, it did not happen. But that's the usual sales drill really.


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Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:21
Member (2004)
English to Italian
OT... Jul 15, 2011

very simple solution to your problem: export the memory from Studio, load it in Workbench and use Tag Editor to re-translate the files, using translate to fuzzy... it would have taken you 10 minutes....

EDIT: I can see from your other thread that your problem was slightly more complex...

[Edited at 2011-07-15 11:59 GMT]


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Burrell  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:21
Member (2004)
English to Latvian
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Yup, it was more involved Jul 15, 2011

I did think of moving to TE but since my TM was not updating this option would not have worked.

Actually, I am now thinking that on the days when I have to work on complex files with Studio, I will just file a support request each morning just in case and modify it along the way so that if I really end up having a problem, by the time SDL finally get back to me, it can be resolved on time. Reporting a problem when it actually happens obviously does not work, it seems premeditated action is required.


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Jerzy Czopik  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 10:21
Member (2003)
Polish to German
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Support experiences may really vary Jul 15, 2011

In my case a quick call brings a solution in most cases.
And when I really need to log a case, because the software does not deliver what it should, the response time is always within the contract. However it is also true, that you will not always get a satisfactory solution. Sometimes indeed there is a problem which can't be solved and needs workarounds. In such case however the support will try to help to find a workaround.
I am talking here about PSMA level 2.


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Burrell  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:21
Member (2004)
English to Latvian
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I should probably move to Germany Jul 15, 2011

It looks like you are getting better service there. I too have a PSMA level 2 but I could not reach them on the phone as I only got a recorded message telling me to file a support request. On another occasion when I called, I was told off for calling too early because the response time had not expired yet. And since they usually do not inform you if they have downgraded the urgency of the request, you simply have no idea when you are supposed to call.

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SDL Community  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:21
English
On your Support Case Jul 15, 2011

Hello Ines,

I'm indeed sorry to hear you are having problems again with getting timely support for your issues. I won't go through all the explanations on what constitutes a "critical" case as we have done that before here:

http://www.proz.com/forum/sdl_trados_support/195931-sdl_support_agreement_problems.html#1718461

However, I would like comment on your recent post because I am interested in the process you followed.

At SDL we have a lot of customers, and so have a queueing system for managing the support requests that come in. As I explained in the other post the first part of this should be that the support teams review every request that comes in and make sure that the priority the customer has set is in line with the contractual requirement we have to meet. It isn't always. If the priority is changed then the support team should contact the customer and inform them of the change.

Clearly this did not happen in your case, and we apologise for that.

You should know there is an escalation process you can follow at any time where you can email an address you have been provided with as part of your support agreement and this sends an email to all support managers and several senior members within the SDL management team. So you should be able to elicit a response if you follow this process and have your issue reviewed. In this case, I think it would have been acceptable to ensure that the team were aware of the business urgency for you, and whilst it may still not have fallen within our definition of what constitutes a "critical" case we might have been able to do something to help.

If you did send in an escalation like this please let me know, because I have been unable to track it down this afternoon as we investigated the issues you have raised.

I mentioned we have a lot of customers at SDL and fortunately I believe the majority are very satisfied with the level of support we provide, formally and informally, but with this sort of volume there will always be some problems. There is always room for improvement of course and we have taken your post seriously and used it as a lesson to try and prevent this from occurring again.

Kind regards

Paul


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Burrell  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:21
Member (2004)
English to Latvian
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I was not aware of the escalation process Jul 15, 2011

Hi Paul,

I was not aware of escalation process so I did not do it. However, I did file another three or four support requests asking SDL to help me with the matter I reported the day before thinking that they would see this when they stage the requests. OK, if one person would not see the new post and would not realise my business was going down the drain, you would suppose the next three support requests should reach somebody with a conscience. It was obvious I was frantic with panic and did the only thing I could think of.

You cannot imagine what it felt like when I finally was contacted and was told my problem was not critical. I felt totally powerless, one of those situations where you know you are right but there is not a darn thing you can do about it because the system just does not care little people since it is the law to itself.

As it is, your service description or sales tactics are misleading. Clients should be actively advised that only cases were Trados does not work at all will be considered critical. Now we have to learn it the hard way with possible consequences to our business.

If I was informed that my problem would not be taken seriously, I might have had enough time to start everything from scratch in Tag Editor even though I had almost finished the whole project. But my request stayed on critical the entire time and that is just not acceptable. I know you have to wade through loads of support requests but the thing is – if you take the money for the service, it is up to you to make sure you have enough staff to deal with all the requests. I should not pay addiotional price to get this help by losing clients. You take the money, you should provide the service. I paid the money and did not receive the service.


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SDL Community  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:21
English
Understandable frustration Jul 15, 2011

Hi Ines,

I can understand your frustration. But it really is important to use the system the way it is designed to be used in order to get results. I mentioned this excalation process the last time you posted in the thread I linked to, specifically to make sure you knew how to escalate if you needed to.

The support engineers are all tasked with dealing with support cases, all day, every day and do this based on priorities normally even without reading the case until they get to it. Only the first line support read them immediately and make a decision of where it should be prioritised. This is why it is important to use the escalation process if you want to have something handled that is critical to you, but not based on our guidelines.

Unfortunately, as I said earlier, we are certainly at fault on this occasion for not advising you that the priority had been changed.

Whilst I am sure you are not exaggerating at all, I can assure you that we do see this happen and if everyone sending in a case and calling it Critical caused us to react to it then we would definitely fail to meet our obligations a lot more than we do now.

The escalation process can be found here in the Support Section of your My Account and using this will get you proper attention if you have a situation like this again:


Regards

Paul


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