Cloud computing provider sued for ‘unworkable’ IT support

Any time a company contracts with a cloud computing provider, there’s a risk that the services won’t live up to the company’s expectations. But in one recent case, things were bad enough that the customer filed a lawsuit claiming the vendor misrepresented itself. 

The lawsuit was filed in Texas against cloud-based CRM vendor Salesforce.com by its customer, Houston company Bray International, ComputerWorld reports.

According to Bray’s complaint, the cloud computing provider claimed it had global operations that could support the company in Asia and South America. However, that support required a complex system of call routing, and Bray often ran into language barriers. For example, calls placed by offices in China were routed to Singapore, and calls from Brazil went to Portugal, even though the two countries speak different dialects of Portuguese.

Also, Bray paid extra for an upgraded support package, but the suit claims it saw none of the promised benefits. For example, the package was supposed to lower tech support response times from two days to two hours. However, Bray says the company merely sent automated email responses after two hours, while issues weren’t actually resolved until more than two weeks later, in some cases.

After Bray complained and asked for its money back, Salesforce.com offered the options of renewing the current contract at a 5% discount or canceling the upgraded support option. That’s when Bray filed its lawsuit seeking the $290,000 in support costs it had paid, plus interest and legal fees.

Vet cloud computing providers properly

We’ll keep you posted on how the lawsuit proceeds, and how Salesforce.com responds to the complaints. In the meantime, here are some steps companies can take to avoid incidents like this and other unpleasant surprises after signing up for a cloud computing service:

  1. Check vendor references – Of course it’s important to ask cloud computing vendors about their service and support, but it’s also critical to check with other companies using the vendor’s services. One key question for cloud computing provider references: How quickly and how well have support issues been resolved?
  2. Verify vendors’ locations – For companies with offices around the world, it’s important to know if global support is available from the cloud computing vendor if it’s needed. That means actually verifying the provider’s help desk locations and language capabilities of the staff.
  3. Be clear about guarantees – Cloud computing contracts typically include up-time guarantees, promises about support response times, and other items. But it’s important that companies are clear about what exactly is being promised — for example, help desk response time is a totally different issue from issue resolution time.

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