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Vendor traps: Oracle's matching service levels policy

Generally, in business, you expect a supplier to honour the terms of its contracts.

You might not be happy with the terms of those contracts—you might even think they’re unreasonable—but you do expect the supplier to stick to them.

With the big ERP providers, there’s no such guarantee.

In this series of blogs, we’re taking a look at some of the most common traps Oracle and SAP set. We will also explain what (if anything) customers can do about them.

Today, we’re covering a sneaky tactic Oracle uses to keep its support customers paying over the odds for support they don’t even need: the matching service levels policy.

Is it bending the truth or lying? Does it even matter?

Oracle’s matching service levels policy has long been a source of discontent among customers. Here’s what Oracle’s official policy document says on the matter:

“All licences in any given licence set must be supported under the same technical support service level. […] You may not support a subset of licences within a licence set; the licence set must be reduced by terminating any unsupported licences.”

Source: Oracle Software Technical Support Policies

In other words, if you have licences for both Oracle Database Enterprise Edition and a related product such as Partitioning, both products must have the same level of support from Oracle. For example, you could support both products with Premier Support, Extended Support… or no support at all.

Oracle has used its matching service levels policy to force customers into expensive support contracts that are only partially necessary. Combine this with Oracle’s unwillingness to “take back” unnecessary licences, and then many customers are left paying for support contracts that go well beyond their actual needs.

Oracle’s confusion tactic

And it gets worse. Oracle sales reps tell their customers that they cannot terminate support on one contract if they want to continue being supported for any Oracle software at all. Their justification? Oracle’s matching service levels policy.

This is a clear misrepresentation of Oracle’s own policy. The matching service levels policy only applies to licences in the same product family. It does not mean customers must maintain the same level of support across all Oracle products.

This is one of many confusion tactics Oracle uses to lock customers into expensive support contracts.

What can you do about it?

First, make sure you fully understand the terms of your support contract. Oracle sales reps may try to confuse you, but ultimately the terms of your contract are written in black and white.

Second, if you’re told something over the phone that doesn’t sound right, always ask for it in writing. If what they’ve told you doesn’t match what’s written in your support contract, then Oracle naturally won’t be able to comply. Then you’ll know where you really stand.

Don’t fall for the matching service levels policy

If you’ve had enough of this trap and the others Oracle (and SAP) set up to keep you paying over the odds for poor quality support, we can help. Recently, we published a report on their most common traps, also featuring what customers can do to protect themselves.

In the report, we cover:

  • How SAP uses the promise of new features to entice customers to remain in its official support program, but don’t quite deliver when it counts
  • Why Oracle’s own investors sued the vendor for making “false and misleading statements” and using “coercive sales tactics” (yes, those are direct quotes from the lawsuit)
  • What customers can do to protect their interests against the barrage of traps employed by Oracle and SAP, including how to save at least 50% on annual support contracts while also getting a higher level of service.

And much more.

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