We are long standing members of Sage Accountants Club and have recommended and sold their software for many years. Increasingly we find that clients are looking for an online solution and as a result we decided to actively look for client with whom we could trial Sage Online.
All was going well until we approached Sage to make our first purchase, their sales proposal is just unworkable....
Massive future price increases
The Accountants Club web site (as at 10th July 2012) clearly shows a price of £75 plus VAT per month against which we would receive a 20% discount. We sold to our client on this basis only to be told by Sage that they had increased the price by 56% but had forgotten to update the website. We look very silly now having told the client that it was £75 plus VAT yesterday but its £117 plus VAT today!
Ok, Sage agreed to honour he £75 plus VAT price but said it would increase to £117 plus any increase for 2013 in twelve months times, unsurprisingly our client has decided not to proceed. How can accountants confidently sign up clients to Sage Online if they know that they will be putting their clients at the mercy of Sage's pricing policy.... 56% in one year can never be fair or reasonable even with a major upgrade.
I feel sorry for accountants who have already signed up clients to Sage Online at £75 per month, they are now faced with breaking the bad news of the 56% price increase, a sure fire way to lose clients and destroy your business... not a good reason to join Sage Accountants Club is it?
Surely, the deal ought to be £75 plus VAT per month with a guarantee of no increase for say three years, that way we can sell the product with confidence.
The direct debit catch
The proposal on sage's website if £75 per month (well it should be £117 per month) but this is also not quite what it seems. What actually happens is...
Your practice buys the software from Sage (clients can't buy direct) which is invoiced at £1400 plus VAT, less the 20% club discount = £1,344. The client then pays Sage £116 plus VAT per month by direct debit which is credited to your account, if they pay 12 installments you end up 20% in credit. Sounds good but the catch is that if the client cancels or stops paying the direct debit then you become liable to Sage for the remaining balance!!
Join Sage Accountants Club and end up personally guaranteeing your client's debts! Surely, Sage ought to collect the fee direct from the client and rebate 20% to the Accountant partner as a credit to their account? The accountant can then decide to either rebate the discount to the client or use to it to subsidise the cost of club membership.
I really hope that I have misunderstood what Sage have told me but we spoke to two different sales advisers and each confirmed the same thing. We really want to sell Sage Online to our clients, we think that Sage is a fantastic product but the reasons above prevent us from promoting this particular product.
Has anyone had experience of selling the Sage Online software and could anyone recommend an alternative with a fairly pricing policy?