Another day, another hard lesson learned on how Azure billing works. Today’s special: You can’t purchase just one Windows Azure paid support support help ticket, you are obligated to a six month contract to initiate a question to paid support! Yeah…
Anyways, my story started about 5 months ago when I opened a Developer Support ticket for $29. When I opened it I honestly don’t remember anything about “agreeing to a six month minimum contract” but there is a separate section on the Azure website that explains how the support billing works found here: http://www.windowsazure.com/en-us/support/plans/. The issue I had was not actually resolved by Azure support and was temporarily fixed via help from someone else. I closed the ticket out mentioning this and was willing to pay the first $29 thinking it wasn’t that big of a deal. Fast forward 5 months, I was looking at a credit card statement and noticed a bill for $29 from MSFT recently. I remember thinking before that this probably my Office 365 account enterprise plan and didn’t think much of it. This time I decided to look again at all of the actual invoices inside my Azure portal and noticed that I have been billed monthly for $29 of Developer Support for the past 5 months. Since I have already lost so much of my own money by forgetting to turn my VMs off with Azure, I was not happy. I emailed support to ask about this and asked for a credit for all of the months of support except the first one which I used. I did not use any technical support for any of the other months billed. I was informed that I had agreed to a six month commitment for support and decided to ask a lot of questions for clarification, please see my transcript from Azure support below:
Q: If someone needs paid technical support for just one incident one time only, is there such an option from Azure?
A: There is no single incident option. You can purchase only the monthly plan.
Q: Is the only way to receive paid technical support for Azure by committing to a six month contract?
A: Yes that by default but you can cancel it anytime if you don’t need support and later repurchase it again when you need it.
Q: If the only way to receive paid support for Azure is by agreeing to a six month contract, is there any guarantee that there will be answers and solutions provided to the questions that are asked?
A: Any ticket with Azure we guarantee a resolution as long as the issue is from our side and within the scope of support.
Q: If there is no guarantee that a solution to any technical issues will be solved and there is still a commitment of six months needed just to be able to ask a question, is it then possible that a customer is obligated to pay for six months of Azure support that will have absolutely no value due to no technical solutions being provided?
Q: With a six month support agreement, is there a limit to how many technical questions you can ask per month or per six month period?
A: Its unlimited break fix within the month with a response time of 8 hours
Q: What is the exact scope of the technical support from Azure? What questions can be asked specifically regarding Azure services and artifacts vs. Microsoft software running on the IaaS vs. other technical issues?
A: Anything Technical queries on Azure services
Q: If someone signs up for paid Azure support, and then is told that the question is not within scope of Azure paid support, are they still obligated to a six month contract of paying for Azure support?
A: Yes since you might have future queries but you can always cancel anytime.
Q: If a customer uses Azure paid support for a technical issue that is completely the fault of Microsoft/Azure, due to, for example, a bug, glitch or some other issue that is caused from Azure, would a customer still be obligated to pay for a six month support subscription?
A: For any Issues from our side we provide a refund to our customer.
My first thought is that the website states there is no refund for cancelling your support subscription before the six months is up which conflicts with these answers. Of course if you get a refund take it, but I am not sure about this topic in general.
Other Notes Regarding Azure Paid Support
- You can upgrade to a higher plan of support, but I do not believe you can downgrade.
- MSDN & Trial offers do not offer a paid support option. I am not sure if you would have to convert to a paid subscription first to even open a paid support ticket if you have these types of accounts.
Lessons to Learn
- Try this list of free support options first unless it is an emergency.
- As much of a pain as it is, always check your Azure invoice every single month.
- It never hurts to email support and try to “negotiate” even though I wish it was just a simple, straight forward process that didn’t involve so much vague, hard to find information about how billing works until you have something bad happen.
Once again, I am not trying to “bash” Microsoft here, I just hope to help others learn from my mistakes. If you have any other stories or information to share about Azure paid support, feel free to comment below.