Salesforce.com customer lodges lawsuit for "unacceptable" support

Salesforce.com customer lodges lawsuit for "unacceptable" support

“Salesforce.com's operations are anything but global!”

CRM provider Salesforce.com seems to be having trouble managing its own customer relationships after the news that the Cloud giant is being sued by a customer.

As first reported by Computerworld.com, Houston-based manufacturer Bray International is suing Salesforce.com after an upgrade to a Premier Support licence allegedly “proved unworkable”.

In 2009, the manufacturing firm purchased certain basic CRM licences to provide support for its customer service operations in the US for an initial monthly fee of $88.75 per licence, according to Bray's original petition, before deciding to buy more CRM licences for its worldwide operations in China, Brazil and elsewhere. 

The firm also took out a Premier Support with Administration (PS&A) deal which cost the firm an additional $21.875 per licence, according to the court filing.

Bray claimed that prior to ordering the software revision, Salesforce.com “represented its PS&A services would significantly upgrade the various services provided by Salesforce under the existing CRM licences, including technical support, enhanced training tools, reduced response time for requests for technical support from two days to two hours, and annual on-site reviews on how to use the Salesforce system and better utilise all of its features.” 

But according to Bray, which filed its complaint on 13 December 2012, “The 'upgrade' to the [support] program turned out to be anything but an upgrade” and service issues arose almost immediately regarding the extra services Salesforce.com promised it would provide over and above the basic licence. 

The client argues that whilst Salesforce.com assured the company via an automated response email that service issues would be dealt with within two hours, they were were not addressed for at least two weeks.

Bray also claims that it did not receive its on-site health check for two years after its upgrade – compared with the bi-annually check Salesforce.com said it would provide – and has faced additional customer service problems relating to localisation.

The manufacturer, which operates in 16 different countries across five different continents, also claims Salesforce.com's operations are "anything but global" when it alleges its users in Brazil were forced to call Portugal for support in Portugese, something it describes in legal documents as an "unacceptable solution". Bray also claims the enterprise firm has failed to support its Chinese operations.

On 30 May, Bray requested the Cloud giant return all of the money paid for the upgraded PS&A service in May last year but Salesforce.com responded with three options for the firm: renew its current licences with 5% discount, to drop the extra support before the contract end date in exchange for buying other Salesforce.com products of equal value or to renew its licenses without Premier Support.

Salesforce.com, which is yet to file a formal response to Bray’s complaint, declined to provide comment to MyCustomer.com.

Frank Jennings, who is head of commercial at law firm DMH Stallard, said of the case: "Bray alleges that Salesforce has failed to to respond to support queries within the agreed time, has not adequately provided worldwide support due to use dialects different to the customer and that it failed to provide 6-monthly health checks.  Bray alleges that each of these is a breach of contract, fraud, negligent misrepresentation and as a result Bray should be entitled to a refund and compensation.

He added: "Without Salesforce's defence, we have only heard one side of the story and, until a judge rules, it is not appropriate to comment in detail. However, it is possible to comment generally.  The key in any claim is for a customer to show that, as a result of the alleged breaches, it has suffered loss and therefore the supplier should compensate it. Breach of contract / SLA is a common ground for complaint. Also, BSkyB recently brought a successful claim in the UK against EDS for a number of grounds including fraudulent misrepresentation. 

"Customers and suppliers may have different views and each will argue as to what was promised, what this means in practice and whether or not those promises were fulfilled.  Obviously, response and resolution times are different and it should be relatively straightforward to identify what was promised and whether it was fulfilled.  A claim based on a different dialect is not as straightforward and will depend upon whether the cover was appropriate in the circumstances and whether the problem was adequately resolved."

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