Should software bugs be fixed for free?

Bugs! The sheer mention of this word is enough to bring sleepless nights to software developers and customers alike.

To what extent should bugs be fixed for free? As a customer, how justified are you in claiming fixes for no extra charge? Let’s explore a bit.

First off, we need to classify bugs based on priority, something that matters to customers.

Priority Description
Highest These type of bugs involve serious security issues or block normal use. They must be dealt with urgently.
High Such bugs cause specific requirements to break, but are not instantly manifest in the software like the highest priority bugs. These too are usually dealt with urgently by us.
Normal Normal priority bugs can cause annoyances, but users can get by with workarounds. These are added to our bug-fixing queue based on support requests.
Low Low priority bugs are rarely sighted by average users, and can show up only after unusual use. Such bug fixes can be safely rolled into new releases.
Lowest These are issues that cause minor annoyances to users, but never hinder normal operations.

Is zero-bug software possible?

Unfortunately, the answer is no.

Image by Martin Maciaszek

Even NASA, which is reputed to come up with near-complete freedom from software bugs, has to deal with a handful of them in a few hundred thousand lines of code.

We wish we could write web software NASA-style, but given the means that we have and the productivity we want to achieve, the trickle of bugs is inevitable.

The best we can do is act swiftly whenever a bug is reported, and learn from our troubleshooting experiences.

What should you expect as a customer?

Usually, there are clauses in project agreements to address bug fixing. For instance, some software providers may agree to fix bugs for free only if they are reported within three months of going live. Others may charge a flat maintenance fee for a year or longer.

We at rtCamp are different, with our promise of free support for a lifetime. This approach prompts us to take extra care from day one of each project.

If bugs belong to the first three categories of highest, high and normal, we won’t mind spending that extra hour or weekend to make sure your website is running smoothly. For the rest, we can update our to-do list for new releases.

Web software is seldom a done-job, and your understanding is what helps us continue polishing it as we march ahead!

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