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By | Gavin Clarke 2nd September 2013 14:54

Sage 50 activation blackout: Shops sent back to paper age

Micro compensation payments for accounting software ballsup?

New and existing retail customers of the Sage 50 online accounting service were left in the lurch following a “massive” server outage last week.

Shops installing new versions of the Sage 50 accounts software or upgrading their existing accounts were unable to register their serial numbers or activation keys for the new systems they'd paid for.

This left the retailers writing receipts for customers by hand and writing down invoices in the books instead of using the new software they'd bought.

Also affected were those running payroll servers with Sage 50. Sage takes a yearly licence fee for its payroll tax service, so users must enter a registration key to activate another year of updates. If a payroll tax update is available but has not been applied, Sage 50 will refuse to run the payroll.

The Sage 50 registration service went dark between Tuesday morning and Wednesday evening last week.

Reg reader Daniel Sydnes, a principal with Austin, Texas-based IT Builders, a firm which works with affected customers, got in touch to say: “In my client's case, they have lost point-of-sale, inventory, payroll, accounting and reporting across three locations.”

He reckoned Sage had not contacted customers to alert them that there was a problem, but rather informed them there was an issue only after they got in touch.

Sydnes added that a Sage rep in the US had blamed the outage on a “massive crash” in the Sage 50 product activation servers from service provider Actian. The company runs the cloud-based Pervasive Database that Sage uses for their registration data.

He reckoned another Sage customer support representative told him personally that "hundreds of Sage customers were affected".

A spokesperson for the British SME accounting software firm confirmed to The Reg its activation service had been hit by an outage that started Tuesday last week. Sage 50 customers who were prompted to activate or register their product during the timeframe were unable to do so, the company said.

The spokesperson claimed the number of customers impacted "was fairly small".

She added Sage is "using this situation to further improve our communications process with our customers going forward, based on feedback we have received from them".

Sage is understood to have offered customers compensation of five per cent off their next renewal fee.

The company itself did not comment on the amount or nature of the compensation it had offered. ®

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