Warning About the SDL Trados PSMA (Premium Software Maintenance Agreement)

OPENING NOTE: The following post is a little long-winded. To get the key warning, simply scroll down to the red text below.

Several years ago, I signed a premium software maintenance agreement (PSMA) with SDL so that I would always have the latest version of Trados for the licenses I carry for my team and to get helpful and prompt answers to my questions about using the software. 

Here is the how SDL described the value of the PSMA in an email to me this year.

Software Maintenance agreement entitles you to the following benefits:

  1. Free upgrades to the latest version of our
  2. Access to our support infrastructure for
    immediate response to your technical enquires through “My Account>My
    Support” area on our website.
  3. Access to software releases before the rest of
    the market.
  4. Peace of mind of new product releases without
    administrative hassle.

I would
like to highlight the fact that we have considerably improved
our services over the years. You are able to follow
an support escalation path if in any way you are unhappy with the
service you receive. Our services are accessible in local languages
both via email and on the telephone. In addition we offer a
comprehensive Knowledgebase that is a result of more than 10 years
experience in the industry. 

The product
that you received within your PSMA this year, Studio 2009
is unique and revolutionary on the market and has amazing new features such as
real time preview, auto suggest, new PDF filter and many more. 

However, I have felt that the value I’m getting from the PSMA is not commensurate with the price for the following reasons.

  1. Perhaps this is because we work in Korean which doesn’t get the attention other languages get, but it seems that SDL keeps releasing new versions of Trados before properly fixing the bugs in the previous versions and the new versions have so many problems that we aren’t able to use them without feeling we are beta testers. In fact, in the past when I really tried to figure things out deeply in the software, I came across multiple bugs in relation to handling Korean which were apparently unknown to SDL. Unbelievably, MultiTerm has never been fixed to work with Korean properly! Now that SDL has come our with yet another version this year, not only is there the prospect of new problems, but the entire interface has been redesigned and so far, I’m not sensing market pressure to upgrade and my translation teams are hostile to the very idea of changing, anyway. Thus, the constant software upgrades that the PSMA provides are not worth all that much to me. In fact, I often feel they are upgrading simply to push sales and not in ways that actually improve very much for the customer.
  2. The quality of answers I get from SDL tech support has been horrible and they are not prompt. Perhaps SDL tech support is just so used to dumb questions from others that they don’t bother to carefully read my messages, but the first answer I get back seldom answers my question (or even addresses the question correctly). And even after I start getting proper answers, they are often incomplete and require days of back and forth. It means that SDL tech support provided by the PSMA is not useful for working on actual jobs; I generally have to just solve things myself… and besides, by now, we’ve pretty much figured it all out anyway with the current version.
  3. The cost of the PSMA took a huge jump last year! It went up by about 50%… 

So, taking these factors into account, I decided this year to discontinue my PSMA and to just upgrade in the future when it becomes necessary. And so when SDL sent me the PSMA invoice, I replied that I didn’t want to renew… 

HOWEVER, these are the exact words of the answer I got back from SDL:

“For you to terminate we need notice
at least 60 days before the expiry date and I am not aware that we received a
termination request from you. You may terminate for next

Well… gee. I’d forgotten about that provision in the contract (honestly, I never noticed it). So sorry… I ponied up another $1,500 this year to SDL as a result.

But I’ve marked my calendar for next year to make sure I don’t miss the 60-day period. I also noted that I received SDLs email notification of upcoming invoicing just 65 days before the contract period ending.

Thus, if you have an SDL PSMA and feel that you are spending too much money for too little value, I encourage you to check the ending date of your PSMA and make sure you send your termination request in time. If you receive an email from SDL that they are planning to invoice you for your next PSMA contract and if they send it out on the same schedule as they sent mine, keep in mind that you have just a few days to take action before it’ll be too late.

To be fair and to share the story in full, I should mention that I put up a huge stink after getting that reply from SDL reminding me of my contractual requirements. I was quite unpleasant and they did relent after I escalated the matter. I still renewed though.

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