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  • Kevin

Why you don't want a "free trial"

It may seem counterintuitive but in software it takes more effort to give something away for free than to charge for it. In this case, a free trial period.


There are three sides that have to be considered: the payment side; the software side; and the human interaction side.


On the payment side it is a straightforward mechanism. A credit card is required and it only gets charged once the trial period ends - unless the charge gets cancelled within the trial time period. Albeit simple, that’s a lot of logic to implement and, thankfully, most modern payment gateways (like the one we use) let you do this easily. So far so good. 


On the software side, the mechanism is similar. Once the trial period starts, a new access point into the software is created with all of its features. At some point within the trial period the access point into the software and any data collected has to become ‘un-created’ if the customer using the software decides to cancel. The two ways of doing this are to automate it or use tools to have a tech resource do it manually. The first task is not trivial from a software development and testing standpoint. The second is prone to human error and costs in resources.


The amount of effort a businessperson has to expend in order to setup a retail point of sale system is not trivial. Even to test out the basics of the software and give it a proper field-test takes concentration and time. One person, either the owner or the manager, has to get the data into the system correctly, set up the hardware, print or enter barcodes, customers info and myriad other things in order to have stem-to-stern operations happening. This cost is always much more than the cost of the software itself if you add up the value of time. This becomes a sunken cost: resources spent and permanently lost. 


Businesses that offer free trials where there is no sunk cost, like Netflix or an online newspaper, are hoping that their product alone will captivate you into retaining the customer-business relationship - or that the customer will simply forget to cancel the subscription!

However, when sunk costs are involved, a deeper psychological ploy is at work. Often referred to the sunk cost fallacy, people make irrational and harmful decisions based on past expenditures that can no longer be recouped. In this case its reasoning goes: “since we’ve already spent the time and resources to acquire this junky piece of awkward technology, we might as well use it”. And even if the software is good, this fallacy is still in play in the decision making process.


At Quetzal we believe that there is no such thing as a free trial. A retailer is going to decide which new POS system to use and go with it. The minor monthly or annual cost of any software is a pittance compared to the culture of the entire business that has to adopt and use it over the long term.


We’re happy to give you a personal screen-casted demonstration of the software and answer all of your questions up front. On such occasions we also want to talk to you and see what your vision for your business is and whether we believe Quetzal would be right. Quetzal is perfect for the independent retailer selling shoes, clothing, fashion or other specialty items to an appreciative customer base. If you do decide it isn’t right for you, we will give you a full refund - much easier to do than implementing the logic above!


And when it’s time to make the decision about which point of sale to adopt, we want you to make a rational decision and go all in.

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