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User Services Introduction

Helix User Services exist to help you get the most from Helix.

Depending upon your particular problem, you might need education, technical support or you might even benefit from professional assistance beyond what we can offer.

The diversity of Helix users makes it impractical to create specific plans tailored for each type of Helix usage. Instead, we offer two simple alternatives: Pay-As-You-Go and Prepaid support.

User services are provided via blocks of time we refer to as User Support Units (USUs). Each USU is a 15 minute block of time. Four (4) USUs equals one hour of support.

You are always welcome to contact us for any reason at all. Just keep in mind that some services require that we charge for the time involved in supporting you.

Complementary Support Services

Every new or upgrade purchase comes with complementary USUs as follows: two (2) for Helix RADE or Engine, four (4) for Helix Server. USUs can be used for any support need, from basic installation support to collection repair to advanced design assistance.

We have chosen this policy because experience has shown that the typical ‘90 days of complementary support’ does not work well for software. It means you need to put your new Helix to use right away or you lose your complementary support. This is often less than ideal. For us it means that during the time immediately after a new version comes out, we can be swamped with 90 days of non-stop service requests. Nobody wins with this type of service.

Instead, giving each customer who purchases or upgrades a fixed amount of time (in the form of complimentary USUs) takes you ‘off the clock.’ You have the freedom to use our support at any time and in a way that most helps. At the same time it allows us to distribute our support resources evenly and fairly to all our users.

Don‘t know if you have any complementary support on your account? Please feel free to contact us anyway; we’ll check your current account status and let you know where you stand.

Paid Support Services & USU Pricing

Apart from the complimentary USUs (support time) received with each purchase, additional USUs may be purchased at any time. We offer pay-as-you-go plans as well as advanced purchase plans that offer steep discounts.

USUs are available for purchase according to this schedule…

Pay-As-You-Go $40.00 US per USU
Prepaid 10 USU Package $30.00 US per USU A $400 value for $300
Prepaid 20 USU Package $25.00 US per USU A $800 value for $500
Prepaid 40 USU Package $20.00 US per USU A $1600 value for $800

If you’re starting a large project and anticipate needing a significant level of support, a prepaid package provides an attractive option because it provides the same service at a lower total cost. Advance purchase gives you the freedom to pick up the phone and call for help without having to worry about arranging payment when time is of the essence.

Should your needs suggest a different level of support, or if you have some custom array of requirements and you’d like us to provide the service, we will need to discuss with you directly. Contact us to discuss your needs.

QSA ToolWorks reserves the right to revise this policy without notice.

Converting USUs to Purchasing Credit

Purchased User Service Units (USUs) are eligible for direct dollar-for-dollar conversion for subsequent product purchases, including upgrades. The conversion rate is calculated at the rate you paid for those USUs.

This policy is explained in detail on this policy page.

Complimentary USUs are not eligible for conversion to purchase credit.

Service Details

To see details on the various types of complementary and paid support services we offer, click the Services link at the top of the page.

Overview and Frequently Asked Questions…
Where Did This Policy Come From?

As noted in the July 14, 2003 installment of The Latest Word, we requested feedback from the Helix community on some ideas we had for paid user service plans. In reviewing the resulting discussion, we found that those who responded to our call for comments generally agreed with the notion that some services should require payment.

The Helix user base includes everybody from the ‘hobbyist’ who uses Helix RADE purely for personal needs to the business professional who relies on Helix to run their business or provide a robust client/server environment that cannot accept more than a minimal amount of downtime. In between are the small business users that use Helix primarily to manage and maintain their own business and the professional developers who create databases for others. Within the developer community are ‘contract developers’ who work directly with their client base to create customized solutions and ‘package developers’ who create off-the-shelf solutions.

This diversity makes it impractical to create specific plans tailored for each type of Helix usage, which is why we ultimately chose to go with a simple time-based support policy. Simply put: we need to charge for our time in order to survive, and this plan appears to be the best way to ensure that goal. In the long term, this will help us keep the actual price of Helix lower, as we will not have to build in a certain amount to cover the average user’s technical support requirements.

Self-Serve Support Options

Self-Serve support is and will continue to be available at no charge. It does not require any time on our part (beyond adding to the online support content) so we do not charge for it.

Email Support

Email support comes with no promised turnaround time, but we will — as always — strive to answer questions in a timely manner. We reserve the right to charge for email support.

Aren’t We Competing with Helix Developers?

QSA ToolWorks does not intend to replace developers as the high level support source for our mutual customers. While we will entertain design questions, we are not looking to go into the consultation or development business. We emphatically prefer that customers who need this level of support connect with a professional Helix developer and our first option is always to try to provide you with a good connection in this regard.

Unfortunately there are many instances where using a developer is not a workable solution and the only reasonable answer is for QSA ToolWorks to provide the necessary service. Previously we simply told these customers that we could not help them if they were unable to work with a local developer.

Presently, we do not have a formal Developer Program in place. Still, the need for design assistance persists and our preference is to recommend a developer. Our purpose is to supplement, not supplant, the professional developer.

How Does This Work in Practice?

When you contact us, be prepared to purchase USUs if you do not already have any. Please don’t begin by saying ‘I just have a quick question;’ we won’t be able to help until your support status is established. Having your customer number (and credit card, if needed) ready saves valuable time right up front.

When we answer your call, or begin writing a reply to a deeply technical email inquiry, the clock starts running, and 1 USU is charged to your account. If the call goes over 15 minutes, an additional USU is charged. Every additional 15 minute block requires an additional USU.

If you have prepaid USUs, they are deducted automatically. If you do not, your credit card is charged at the end of the call. Should your call turn out to be about something we should not reasonably be expected to charge for, the charges can be waived. QSA ToolWorks reserves final judgment on whether or not a call should be charged.

Thanks in advance…

Fielding service calls and deciding which ones are chargeable is always going be a judgment call. The best we can do is try to be consistent and to strive to administer this program in a fair and balanced manner. The discipline engendered by this process will hopefully result in better service and lower prices for those who do not requires extensive after-sale support.

Thank you in advance for your cooperation, and a special thank you once again to everybody who participated in the open discussion that helped us refine this policy.