Story image for Software from Pune Mirror
The Microsoft office at Bund Garden Road; (Inset) Pranav Ganbote has alleged harassment at the hands of an agent; (PIC: MAHENDRA KOLHE)
Salesmen barge into private offices to compel businessmen to buy their goods; complaints lodged with cops

Several businessmen in the city have been complaining about Microsoft’s high handedness in dealing with clients — the sub-text of this imperiousness, it would seem, stems from the company’s move to weed out pirated copies of Microsoft software from the market.

A complaint against one of the company’s staff was recently lodged at Prabhat police chowky by land developer Pranav Ganbote. Ganbote alleged that the third party staff hired by Microsoft for their software deals was brash in his approach with him as he was trying to market his wares. And, as if this were not enough, he also threatened to take legal action if one declined to buy the software from them. Claiming to be harassed by the calls since April this year, Ganbote finally filed the complaint on May 25.

One Raj Sharma, an agent appointed by software giant, contacted the developer on April 7 at his office, Prabhavi Developers on Prabhat Road, informing him that he was calling from the software company and that he had knowledge of the fact that there was a need to purchase licensed Microsoft software at the earliest. A couple of days later, Sharma reached the Prabhavi office to meet with Ganbote, without seeking an appointment, to talk shop.

“When we met in my office, I told Sharma that I would need some time to confirm the purchase order as I needed to do some research. He responded by saying that I need to buy at the earliest and that I needed to buy it from their company itself, else they would file a law suit against me,” said Ganbote. Since this meeting, Sharma has been constantly calling the developer at the office, threatening to file a law suit if the company did not confirm buying bulk from them soon. “I had never once in my conversation with Sharma ever declined to buy the software from the company that he wanted me to buy from. I just needed time to do my research and there is nothing wrong with that. I can only imagine the kind of language and tone that he would be using with someone who has absolutely no knowledge about the licenses or someone who does not have the right people to go to for advice,” added Ganbote.

A similar plight awaited yet another businessman from the city — Rakesh Sharma, the owner of Bit Mapper Integration Technologies Pvt. Ltd, a systems company in Kothrud. Sharma complained of an equally bitter experience from a third party salesman for Microsoft. “Last year, the agents barged into my office to check the systems and licences that we were using. After their inspection, they furnished us with a list of software that the company needed to buy, which I eventually conceded to,” said Sharma.

But, that was not to be the end of the story.

“In February this year, they once again barged into my office and gave me a new list of software, claiming that the old ones which were bought less than six months ago, were not up to mark. I have spent more than Rs 20 lakh buying the goods. While this is unpardonable, an equally big issue is the manner in which these people interact with you. They are extremely rude and continuously try to corner you. They even threatened to lock us out of our own office and take away all the hard-disks if we did not comply,” said Sharma. Driven by fear and the fact that he had been given just 24 hours, he bought the software immediately.

Sharma underscored how the lack of awareness of customers’ rights often render people in such situations extremely vulnerable.