Back in approximately 2006, Microsoft decided to make a push into the small business accounting world. They decided the best way to do so would be to ensure CPAs would take a look at it by offering the ability to join the Microsoft Professional Accounting Network or MPAN program. You could sign up for MPAN and then be eligible to purchase the Action pack software offering. $399 (approx) and you got a bunch of software in exchange for taking a look at Office Accounting.
Fast forward a few years and Microsoft decided that Office Accounting was going no where fast and so they killed the software. In June of 2010 they made the generous decision to grandfather in anyone in the MPAN program as long as the CPA firm maintained their Action pack subscription and took an exam every two years.
Now fast forward to the last couple of weeks when I started getting emails from people that were getting close to their annual renewal. (Note I said CLOSE, not that they had expired).
Microsoft has decided to start reviewing closely the firms that signed up for the Action pack program. Many will say about time. What I'm objecting to here is how badly they are doing this. And how in turn it is impacting how people feel about the Company of Microsoft.
They are sending out threatening emails to firms that haven't yet had their action pack subscription expire.
"Thank you for your interest in the Microsoft Action Pack Subscription.
We have received your application, order 2002846252 for the Microsoft Action Pack Subscription; however, after reviewing your company's web site and your company's business focus, it does not appear that your company is eligible to be a member of the Microsoft Partner Network (MPN) and to subscribe to Microsoft Action Pack Subscription
We ask that you please also answer a few questions for us,
Is the primary focus (75%) of your business to provide IT solutions?
If yes, please explain what percentage of your business provides IT solutions, and how you see your company as a Microsoft partner?
Were you previously enrolled in the Microsoft Professional Accountants Network (MPAN)? If so, we ask that you please respond with the supporting information proving your enrollment. (i.e. email and or letter)
When you joined the program you agreed to the terms of the MPN Agreement and MPN web site.
The Microsoft Partner Network is designed only for businesses whose primary function is to sell, service, support, or build solutions on the Microsoft platform, or to provide solutions based on Microsoft products and technologies to independent third-party customers. Examples of qualifying businesses are consulting services providers, independent software vendors (ISVs), independent hardware vendors, large account resellers, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), support providers, system integrators, system builders, training providers, value-added resellers, and value-added providers that sell more than 75 percent of their IT solutions and services to customers outside their own company. Examples of non-qualifying entities are non-profit organizations, academic institutions, students, government offices, businesses whose primary focus is non-IT-related activities and internal IT departments of non-qualifying entities. Examples of qualifying companies include:
IT consulting services provider
Independent hardware vendor (IHV)
Independent software vendor (ISV)
Large account reseller (LAR)
Original equipment manufacturer (OEM)
Software support provider
Software training provider
Value-added IT provider (VAP)
Value-added reseller (VAR)
Web marketing agency
If there are any extenuating circumstances that may justify having the Action Packs for you company, we ask that you reply to this email providing us with your justification.
We apologize for the inconvenience this may cause you.
If we can provide further assistance, please let us know.
Thank you for choosing Microsoft."
I don't remember receiving letters indicating my firm's MPAN membership. I do have some old emails in my hotmail account, but it seems ridiculous that if Microsoft was the one that sent me an email asking me to sell/install and try Office Accounting, that they would know who was a MPAN member.
Well one would think that..... and one would be wrong..
"We apologize for any inconvenience that this may have caused, and appreciate your patience during this process. However, we are attempting to retrieve the MPAN list but are unable to because of the length of time that has lapsed. We are asking that partners provide us with proof of their previous enrollment of MPAN as many of our partners have kept information dated that far back and have used it to support their enrollment. We appreciate your continued participation in the Microsoft Partner Network and apologize for any inconvenience this issue may be causing"
So because we lost the database, we're asking you to prove your membership. How lame is that? And given that YOU emailed as late as June of 2010 with the final word of the resolution of the MPAN program, you are saying that in little more than a year you LOST the database? You don't keep backups? You require people that were part of a database to prove their memberships? Come on. Last I check you guys claim to write database programs.
If that wasn't bad enough it gets worse.
I called the Action pack phone number and was told that no CPA that maintained their membership in the action pack and did not let it lapse would get these emails. It was stated over the phone that they were making an effort to crack down on those firms that didn't belong in the Action pack offering. (This is a good thing). But that anyone in the MPAN program currently should not be getting correspondence like this.
In the case of one firm, in the process of renewing their action pack subscription they were called by Microsoft. They were asked questions and asked to prove their MPAN membership. Because they couldn't readily dig up any old emails (as I'd probably do in the same instance in the heat of the moment being called by Microsoft). As a result they got this email back and were not allowed to renew their action pack subscription that was currently processed and that the credit card charge underway would be reversed.
"This email is in regards to our conversation today regarding your eligibility for your Microsoft Action pack Subscription order for Business Development Group .
We appreciate your continued participation in the Microsoft Partner Network; however, we regret to inform you that we have determined that your organization does not qualify for the Microsoft Action Pack Subscription at this time. Please note that we will be canceling your MAPS order and your payment will not be processed."
Microsoft, be true to your word. You said to a group of professionals that as long as they maintained membership and took the exams that they would still be eligible. You indicate over the phone that if the CPAs are still in compliance that they shouldn't be getting these emails. But they are.
All this is doing it making professionals on a listserve compare you to IBM and it's decline. Way to go Microsoft.
So I ask you, be true to your word. Don't treat honest people like crooks. You agreed to these terms, be true to your word. We followed them. You should abide by the terms you set forth.
Doing business with you is always hard. Microsoft, you are making it impossible these days.