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Horror Story: Jon from Tea Lounge Ltd

Monday, August 22, 2011

Visual FoxPro. Anything but foxy.


“Never mind the huge initial costs, how about some Add-Ons!?”

When we purchased a point of sale system for our first retail store, we really didn’t know what we were doing. As we’d taken the local franchise for an Australian retail chain, we trusted their advice to go with the same system as them. They said it would make it easy to create all the same products, prices, and then re-order when stock became low.

What bad advice that turned out to be.

By the time we’d signed over $12,000 worth of software costs for just 1 store (with 2 registers), our parent retail chain had already moved on to SAP. We were lumped with an expensive, bug-riddled system, written in a software language that had stopped being updated 10 years ago (Visual Fox Pro??!). Even though we tried to save money setting up the IT infrastructure ourselves, on top of the software costs, for 1 store we still had to install:

  • $4000 worth of point of sale hardware for each register (touchscreens, receipt printer, cash drawers, scanners)
  • A $2000 Windows 2003 head office server (we didn’t even have a head office)
  • A VPN (virtual private network) to link it all together

Training was an extra couple of grand, and required us to fly to Melbourne, stay in a hotel for 3 nights, rent a car to drive to the suburbs and attend 2 morning sessions with some school leaver who had no notes and taught us nothing about the software we had just purchased. They even charged us for the sandwiches.

Then, of course, came the “Add-Ons”…

We were promised that integrated EFTPOS with Payment Express would be included in the price and ready for the launch of our store. It wasn’t ready till 12 months after we had begun trading. And they tried to charge us for the time they spent developing the integration – even though they were already offering it to other customers as a paid upgrade.

Backups had to be done nightly to a hard disk and weekly to a DVD. And because we opted out of their ridiculously high maintenance contract, for any support work they did for us they tried to charge $400/hour. If we wanted data polled even near to real-time, we would have to buy another add-on module. Their expensive ‘integrated ecommerce’ module looked like it came straight out of the Internet WayBack Machine archives.

So all in all, an awful lot of time, money and stress for an ugly, boxy, bloated piece of software that would have looked out of date running on Windows 95, let alone a computer in 2010.

Never, ever again.

Jon Holdsworth
Tealounge Ltd



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