So the Boss had sensed a touch of animosity between us and one of our main software vendors after a recent bill and decided to grab the bull by the horns and invite them in to press-the-flesh and explain the new charging model they applied to us - without notice.
Apparently, their reasoning ends up being that the new licensing model is one that's both fair to us and fair to other lower-use sites by applying a model which truly reflects the use their application's being put to, number of concurrent users, CPUs it's running on, the potential benefits to an organisation our size, blah, blah, blah.
"Cup of coffee?" the PFY asks, stepping over to the espresso machine once the presentation is over.
"I... don't know," the Rep #1 chuckles. "Are you going to charge me for it?"
"Of course not," the PFY says. "It's on the house!"
"Well in that case, sure."
"Me too," Rep #2 says.
"How would you like it?"
"I... can you make a Café Latte?"
"Sure - I can even make a Mocha if you want."
"A Mocha would be great!"
"Yes, I'll have one as well," Rep #2 says again.
"Thanks," #1 says, taking his steaming mug of chocolate infused caffeine and sipping vigorously.
"Ta," #2 adds, following #1's lead and sucking down several steaming mouthfuls.
"Okay, so all up that'll be £47, uhh... 83p" the PFY says, thinking hard.
"You said they were free!"
"No, I said the coffee was free, but there's the chocolate to consider, cup licensing, cup hardware maintenance, cup support line subscription."
"What do you mean cup licensing?"
"It's our cup and you're making use of it. Obviously, it will be returned to us, at which time it'll probably need some preventative hardware maintenance."
"You mean you have to wash it?"
"We prefer to think of it as a total maintenance solution aimed at providing the best possible cup experience for the user."
"So what's the support line subscription about then? I hardly think we'd want to be paying that!"
"Cup support line subscription is a compulsory product - you can't elect not to take it."
"So what do we get for the support line subscription?"
"You get the ability to call our support line 24 hours a day."
"And what, you'll give us help if the drink has... made us ill?"
"Possibly - if you ring us during work hours."
"You said it was a 24 hour line!"
"The phone will ring any time of the day or night."
"So we'd have to leave a message then?"
"Leaving messages would require an update to our Gold plan."
"So say I got ill tonight, if I'm on your Gold plan you'd sort me out with a medical attention?"
"We'd sort you out with a doctor's phone number. From the Yellow Pages. On Monday morning."
"So we're not really getting much for Gold support then are we?"
"No, you're right, Platinum is the best option" the PFY responds. "With Gold support we can probably help you with phone numbers, but Platinum support would get you my cellphone number and my firsthand knowledge of the way the coffee was made and what potential problems might arise - determined from our extensive logs of previous coffee drinkers. We also have an in depth knowledge of the various mocha ingredients - which may have contained traces of nut, I'm not sure."
"Neither of us has a nut allergy," #2 blurts.
"And we welcome coffee clients with a proactive attitude to their own maintenance programs! As I've said, neither the Gold nor Platinum support models are compulsory by any means - because we like to be fair to all our coffee clients, big and small, and try to tailor our coffee support model to truly reflect the use the coffee's being put to, the number of cups the user has a day, the size of the cup and the individual blend choices which each client may desire."
"So what if we choose not to buy your coffee in the first place?"
"As you've already had about a third of the coffee you've pretty much already committed to the coffee experience - what with the restocking fee of £50 and all - and to be brutally frank the cups you're drinking from were washed in a porcelain device not normally associated with food hygiene so I doubt that finishing the cup would have much difference at this stage. I would, however, stress that we would strongly recommend your upgrade to the Platinum support model so that we can aid in the 'debugging' exercise should you become violently ill in say... six or seven hours time..."
"I know what you're going to say - you like the cut of our licensing gib?"
"No," #1 responds. "I was just wondering what your manager will think about this extortion?"
"Not a lot I shouldn't think", I respond. "Given that the muffins he had at the beginning of your presentation was made in a certain porcelain mixing bowl."
"I had one of those muffins!" #2 gasps.
"Then I would suggest an immediate upgrade to Platinum support line subscription, uptake of our return-to-hospital user support and the additional no-questions-asked trouser replacement option."
"How much?" #2 gasps, feeling the burn and half doubling over.
"Call it an even hundred," the PFY says, grabbing the proffered wallet while it's still touchable. "Or one fifty for a two client pack..." he adds as #1 starts greening up a bit...