Most people are aware of the concept of being blackmailed, but I recently heard someone say “their business model is to greenmail their customers into vendor lock-in” and I had no idea what he meant by “greenmail”. I asked, and as it turns out, the company he was talking about was a competitor to his and he wanted to hire me to help a client migrate their data OUT of there. It didn’t sound like a big deal, and in fact it’s right up our alley. However, when I looked into how I would get the data out, I found there was no export feature.
I asked the client to request a full export from the vendor in whatever format they normally use, and they replied…
“We asked, and they want us to pay dearly for it. Apparently it’s in the contract.”
Hard to believe, but yes, there are unscrupulous vendors out there who offer a free trial and even a very low-cost per-user fee but will not provide your data should you choose to move on. Ironically, the client I was working with (30,000+ users!) was based in Australia and apparently this is a violation of their country’s laws.
So…cue the lawyers.
Begrudgingly, the vendor DID provide an undocumented and very scattered data export that I was going to have to make sense of. After analyzing the data for a couple of hours I had it figured out and we were able to move on.
The moral of the story is this: When you sign up to evaluate a tool for your company, make sure you have a “we own the data” clause in your contract, or DON’T sign up. You’ll be glad you did.