What rights do we have to our data? When we sign up with a vendor and go over contracts, do we really drill down into the specifics of this question?
At the discontinuation of software services, do you have access to your data in a readable, ready to use format? It’s important to ask that question. You “don’t know what you don’t know” and one day, you may be parting ways with your provider only to find that the data you're left with is either encrypted or provided in such a raw format that it is unreadable or unusable without using a program that may be proprietary to the vendor who provided it.
Vendors will do this in an effort to keep you bolted in place. They figure that if you can’t use the data anywhere else, you’ll have no other choice but to stay put. Furthermore, they can approach this from a more malicious mindset which is, “If I can’t have your business, no one can.” and set out to make it very difficult for a competitor to convert your data. The important thing to note is these vendors have the ability to provide the data in a readable, usable format—they just choose not to.
Another question to ask is whether you'll be charged for a data file, should you ever need one. You should never be charged for your data. It is your data. You should have access to it any time in a readable, usable format.
At the end of the day, these tactics are designed to hinder the competition but they really only end up hurting the end user—keeping you from your historical transaction and customer database can be detrimental to any business. If your livelihood depended on getting up and running quickly with a new provider, or if you decided to convert the data yourself into a custom program, you would be held hostage to these circumstances.
Here at Data Age we always take the high road with everything we do. One example is how we handle a departing customer. We hate to see you go, but we have always cared about you and your business. Your success is paramount to us and we don’t hesitate to help out with providing answers to data questions and/or providing access to your old program and database on a temporary basis to collect the data you need. Your data of course, belongs to you and it can be stored locally on your premises with PawnMaster's flagship product. You'll have access to it any time and never even have to request it from us.
We feel when you treat the customer with respect and continue to provide world-class support even if we are parting ways, that they’ll strongly consider returning one day. That’s why we don’t say "Goodbye," we say, "Until next time!"