You’ve done it, I’ve done it. For years. Almost everyone we know over the age of 18 has at one time or another. After you’ve been married for a while it becomes less frequent, but it still happens. Sometimes it’s the best you’ve ever had, others, it’s not very rewarding for either party. Often, you’re fumbling around in the dark, not knowing what to say or do. Sometimes it makes you feel good, others, angry.

We’re talking calling IBM about your billing. This problem has been going on literally for decades. Even when the bill is correct, you’ll not receive one one month, and then receive two the next. Plays havoc upon the old budget process, doesn’t it?

But a correct bill seems to be the exception rather than the rule. Your odds for a proper bill from IBM improve if you’ve had the same hardware and software for a while along with a comprehensive services agreement, but quickly go down hill if you change hardware or software or have service performed outside the services agreement. If you’ve never had an incorrect invoice from IBM, you’ve either never done business with them for more than one transaction, or aren’t looking closely at your invoices. Or have never called for OS/400 support that was supposed to be free.

What are you to do? You call IBM. Sometimes, you get a helpful person who straightens things out right away. More often, you get a surly person bent on making you pay your incorrect invoice. In the latter case, you then call your IBM representative, who apologizes all over themselves and promises to take care of things. You feel good about the situation — until next month’s bill arrives with the same unpaid (and unearned) charges upon it.

So ensues the “30 day dance”. With the arrival of your bill each month, you again point out the inappropriate charges. You are again promised that they will be “taken care of”, and then you wait another thirty days to dispute them. If you do not finally cave in and pay just to eliminate the madness or because you just forgot, your problem should be taken care of within 90 days (although anecdotal evidence suggests that it can take longer).

IBM’s inability to control one of the most basic computer applications, Accounts Receivable, stands in stark contrast to its message of handling e-business for dinky businesses overseas. Would YOU want to sell olive oil from Italy using systems from a company that overbills you every single month? I certainly wouldn’t.

This problem has been ongoing since before the AS/400 was introduced. If IBM cannot get its own house in order, how are they supposed to do the same for the rest of us? A business computer company that cannot perform the most basic of all business functions on its computers? Ridiculous.

Set your own example, and speak for yourself, IBM. Fix this billing problem NOW. Set an example for your customers, and your potential customers. Do it.


Dean Asmussen

About Dean Asmussen:
Dean Asmussen was a frequent contributor to mailing lists and the moderator of the BPCS-L list. Dean passed away in the spring of 2003.