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Have you tried the Stone Edge website's discussion group? Zillions of posts by hundreds of very experienced users.
*Now* they want to charge $250 for 3 hours of phone support
Are you referring to their "Express Setup Service" which I believe includes a lot of custom installation and configuration.
As for your use of the word "Now," StoneEdge prominently discusses the $250 set up option and recommends it to most users. There's no trickery.
We don't use SE but plan to use it eventually...and pay for the Express Setup.
I would get everything prepared and then let them do thier thing, that's not an unfair price for 3 hours of work.
I repeat: you should inquire at their users' forum or their Knowledge Base.
I know that SE also offers annual support contracts for about $350 dollars. They are bringing out a new version of SE in January and their prices are going up.
Stone Edge has a very active Users Forum. You can get to it from a link on our home page. It's open to the public, and there is an Ask Other Users section. If you ask there, I'm sure some of our users will be glad to talk to you about it.
This is from feedback from experienced solid retailers.
Can they offer this type of support to everyone including those new to online sales?
The level of support needed to new ecom sites leans more toward consulting services rather than product support.
They talk of 10 sales a day as being the minimum level for a business to consider implementing their system. Maybe $200,000 absolute minimum annual sales.
If you're worried about $250 then you ought to buy a few file folders and Excel (you can actually handle a ton of orders with pen and paper)