Vendors are not being scrutinised enough when it comes to software support and maintenance contracts, according to the Campaign for Clear Licensing (CCL).
The not-for-profit group claims that customers are paying for expensive support from vendors, without knowing what is included.
It said that in some cases, customers are paying an extra 20 per cent a year on top of the cost of the actual software licence.
CCL came to these conclusions after attempting to carry out research on the software licensing market.
Martin Thompson, founder of the CCL, said: "The ideal outcome for this research was to generate a ranking table of which software vendors provided the best and worst support, with whom organisations logged a call most often, and so on.
"However, the results were completely unexpected. The typical respondent had no idea of support volumes, support quality or the strategic value of software maintenance renewals at all. In short, software maintenance renewals are not facing enough scrutiny.
"With the average support and maintenance contract costing the equivalent of 20 per cent of the licence fee each year, it is high time that customers held their software vendors to account."
CCL claims that "the vast majority" of respondents to its survey did not have enough information about their firm's licensing activity to make informed decisions.
Thompson added that there is an opportunity for customers to negotiate a cheaper price for their maintenance contracts.
"Software publishers are benefiting from the lack of scrutiny over what is included in their maintenance contracts, particularly when it comes to the inclusion of security patches," he said.
"By bringing greater scrutiny of the software maintenance market, those in ITAM (IT asset management) can bring considerable leverage to the negotiation table during renewal discussions.
"With historically very little scrutiny of this expensive and often unavoidable expense, we will be keeping a close eye on changes in customer and vendor behaviour in this industry over the coming years."
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