The Magical Thinking of “Unlimited IT Support” Plans

It doesn’t matter if an “Unlimited IT Support Plan” works for you or not, they are – to quote George Orwell – “Doublethink”.

The Limitations of “Unlimited” Support

In the realm of Managed Service Providers the concept of “Unlimited IT Support” is often used to portray the idea that their customers will get all the support they need alongside a consistent charging model.

I’ve thought long and hard about offering this model but – to be frank – it doesn’t sit well with me. After what I’ve seen, jumping on that particular bandwagon is not going to work for our business.

I am sure these All You Can Eat or Unlimited IT Support models do work for some people, but I also know they can lead to misaligned expectations, surprise invoices, and difficult conversations between the customer and IT service provider.

The Large Print Giveth, the Small Print Taketh Away.

Examine many modern IT support contracts and you’ll find a long list of things that aren’t included when you sign up to an “Unlimited Support” plan. That – in and of itself – should start ringing alarm bells – but lets look at the typical exclusions you’ll come across:

Limited On-Site Support: Despite the “unlimited” label, many of these plans significantly limit or exclude on-site support. This means when complex issues arise that require a physical presence, businesses might find themselves either without the needed assistance, or paying extra.

Software Limitations: Quite often an Unlimited support plan will cover only specific software types or versions, leaving businesses with specialised software that is either unsupported, or they’ll pay extra to get help with.

Hardware Age Limitations: The age of your hardware can also be a limiting factor. Many unlimited plans will support only hardware that is say 5 years old. We understand the motive. We’ll even recommend a replacement cycle, but we’ll still support older equipment if you really want us to.

Exclusion of Projects and Major Changes: Significant changes, like onboarding or off-boarding a new user, installing a new wireless system, or even installing new software is often not covered under these plans. Change requests either attract extra charges or require quotations that you are contractually or logically obliged to accept the costs for from the incumbent IT provider. It’s a significant “gotcha!”.

It doesn’t matter if an “Unlimited IT Support Plan” works for you or not, they are – to quote George Orwell – “Doublethink”.

The Win-Lose of Unlimited Support

Unlimited IT Support plans – in return for a fixed fee monthly fee – are reasonably well established and really took off after after the COVID-19 pandemic. This model is often pegged to the number of users and devices you have and – though it might be attractive – there will always be a winner and a loser every month the agreement is in force.

In a month where your IT needs are minimal, you are probably being overcharged. Conversely, when IT demands spike, the IT provider is going to be under pressure to provide a service and lose out at the same time. If this fluctuates month to month its not too bad, but if this happens in the longer term then it could be a problem.

These models probably work for some of the people some of the time, and the consistency in charging is attractive, but when you consider their limitations I think there might be a better, fairer solution. Even the “consistent charging” model falls by the wayside when you need something not included done.

Block Hours Plans – A Grown Up Solution?

A block hours plan is a pricing model that offers a middle ground. These plans allow customers purchase a block of service hours on a regular basis providing clarity and predictability in budgeting. The hours purchased are either accrued or used up over time and can be used for any IT support related matter – we even use them for planned maintenance.

Predictability and Flexibility: Customers know exactly what they’re getting and can flexibly use their hours as needed, without the worry of hidden costs or restrictions.

Addressing the Unlimited Myths: Block hours plans are truly unlimited in the sense that, when you have a problem, it will be dealt with as part of the agreement. As long as customers have accrued time available, there will be no surprise invoices at the end of the month.

Real-World Examples: Many businesses have found that block hours strike the perfect balance between cost, flexibility, and coverage, leading to more predictable IT spending and better-aligned services.

Start Win-Win-Winning Today…!

Now that you understanding these limitations, why not seek out a win-win partnership with an IT provider? Block hours plans are a clear, flexible, and fair alternative, aligning the interests of both parties.

Please think carefully about your approach to paying for IT support and maintenance, and reflect on how fixed fee unlimited support offers neither a fixed fee or unlimited support.

If you’re interested in exploring how a Block Hours Agreement can benefit your organisation, we’re here to help. Contact us now for a no obligation callback.

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