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Software development charges for error fix ?

Discussion in 'Programming & Software Development' started by coderx, Dec 19, 2014.

  1. coderx

    coderx Member

    Aug 27, 2007
    I work for a company that has some software developed for us, as an example we were quoted $43,000, the charge was actually over $100,000 (which we are ok with but a little put off).
    I notice that in the invoices there are a lot of "bug fix" / "error fix" charges that amount to tens of thousands of dollars.
    My question is to any software developers out there, is this 'normal' ? the GM here doesn't feel we should be paying for them to fix problems with the software as it wasn't fit for our purpose (it would crash / many functions simply didn't work) and it's an ongoing thing.

    It runs on custom hardware (an embedded linux system) which they provide also for a huge cost (about $1200 per unit - which is fine but seems a lot).
    I am unsure if paying for fixes is appropriate as the software development I was involved in was on a small scale and if our software didn't work we had to fix it without being paid by the customer, this is a very different type of software (it runs industrial machinery with actuators / sensors etc) - but in my mind if they say they will provide software that does x y and z and when we get it, it only does x then we shouldn't pay for them to fix it to get y and z working.

    Am I correct in this or is it just the normal run of things ? (I don't want to start an argument with them unless I'm very sure we are in the right).
    It's blown out from a 43k quote to close to $200K since and still climbing, for instance there was a fault in the screen provided and we were charged for a replacement and the time for them to come out and give us the new one.
  2. Ashpool

    Ashpool Member

    Feb 24, 2003
    Ye Olde Melbourne Town
    It depends on the nature of your contract. If you do not have a contract then your're most likely paying for time and materials and being billed for effort, even if its not working.

    If you have a fixed price contract then your paying based on the delivered functionality and you should not be paying for bug fixes within a reasonable warranty period.

    This is the exact reason why most software should be on a fixed basis as costs can blow out immensely.
  3. miguel_sanchez

    miguel_sanchez Member

    Jul 29, 2003
    I've dealt with this situation a bit being a Software Consultant, PM, Support Engineer and developer during my life.

    The short answer is: it depends on what is agreed in any contract/documentation you've got. I've worked within a variety of agreements and have had to deal with bug fixing that's chargeable and non-chargeable as a result.

    Morally it's a tough one too, as a lot of the bug fixing I've had to do is because of prior developers working for other companies stuffing up the software, customers not thinking things though (or other consultants/analysts) and quite regularly because people insist on doing things quickly/cheaply (despite me regularly objecting knowing that it causes bugs) and then refusing to put effort into testing the software is fit for purpose whilst in the development phase, as things are quite often harder to fix after putting into production.

    If you're being changed for them fixing crappy code that has no "reasonable" excuse for being done incorrectly in the first place then i'd say that's morally wrong and you shouldn't be charged for it. To prove this, you need documentation saying the software was developed as per what you requested, and the responsibility should be with them to deliver what was agreed at the quoted cost.

    So review what you've agreed to in writing, if it's clear that they haven't delivered a working solution to your document in the cost they've quoted (assuming it was fixed price), then you should be complaining. If what was agreed was loosely documented (or *gasp* not documented at all!) then you can complain and hope they reverse some of the charges, but you probably don't have much of a grounds to stand on. If you have a Time & Materials agreement, then that money is gone, and you should probably get on top of managing the vendor a bit closer to make sure they deliver what you want for the cost you expect.
  4. Foliage

    Foliage Member

    Jan 22, 2002
    Yes and no. Normally you would pay them a yearly support contract and they would fix it for "Free" during that period. Custom products are never bug free from day one, the need lots of testing in produciton and no doubt it would have had some scope creep which was not possible to test during development.

    If you aren't paying a support contract then I would say it is fair you pay something for any work done even if it is considered a "bug". If the software was unfinished or completely non working then I would agree it is unfair to charge. Some companies will charge their break even hourly rate to fix bugs, eg they make no profit but they cover their own costs.

    If there are hundreds and hundreds of bugs that really should have been found during development then you might negotiate for them to waive some of the costs, things like this really have to be treated on a case by case basis though.

    Consider offering to go on a support contract, it might work in your favour if you want continued development and you foresee more of these bugs/teething problems.

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