Chapter 2 - Service Contracts

Two solid knocks on the doors woke Garly. He pursed and licked his lips to remove any drool that had dripped out during his nap. Tilting his head a little he chanced a glance to Eft, the other goblin had his head resting against the stone floor.

“You may now enter.” A guard said.

Garly was slow to get up and he stretched his muscles before he stood up. As he reached his hands out he tapped Eft. The other goblin almost jumped as he woke up. The sword was not sticking between them. Briefly Garly wondered if it was magically retrieved or if they had been so asleep they didn’t notice the guard retrieving it.

Once Eft sat up, Garly rose shakily to his feet. While he wasn’t that old, kneeling on the stone floor for any length was never good. Once he was standing however, he reached a hand over to Eft to help him stand. Garly has to visit the boss at least once a week, he was much more used to it. Eft, without his cane and age, will probably be sore for a few days.

“Once we are done, I’ll find you some Numi juice to help with the pain.” Garly said.

“Isn’t that a poison we use?” Eft said his eyes a little wide. Briefly Eft glanced towards the exit.

“Only in large amounts and if directly introduced to the blood. If consumed in a small amount its a muscle relaxer.” Garly said. He paused and tilted his head to the side as if there was water in his ear. “You’ll probably want to take it after you get to your room though.” 

“If we make it,” Eft said as he reached a lifted a hand and rested it on Garly’s shoulder.

“It’ll be fine, your idea is a stroke a genius.” Garly said placing his arm under Eft to help support the older Goblin. Together they hobbled between the guards and through the opened door.

The other side of the door was the opposite of the entrance. Bright light filled every corner. Millions of faint shadows darted around on the floor. Two guards, almost identical to the first two, stood near the door.

Clop, clop, clop, the sounds of a hoofed foot walking towards them echo’ed in the room of light. A human with small horns and cloven feet stepped in front of Eft and Garly.

“Francis,” Garly said with a little bow of his head.

“The budget meeting is in two days,” Francis said. “If you’ve come to beg, you should have waited until after dinner.”

“Eft has an idea on how to avoid a recall.” Garly said. After he finished speaking he mentally cheered himself that he said it without his voice breaking.

Francis shrugged and beckoned the two goblins to follow him. The white light from every angle hide the dimensions of the room. Garly mentally noted the location of each light, the room design was one he was familiar with.

Garly sighed a little as he did each time he walked through IL-OR9260. Signs of his mentor’s work still hung everywhere. Tobias always knew how to draw the eye with careful placement of light orbs. A little tear formed in the well of Garly’s eye as he thought about his long dead mentor.

The trip down memory lane distracted Garly from the journey across the room. Eft had to turn them as Francis took a circuitous route through the room of light. Finally after five minutes of walking, they arrived at a glowing ball of light. All three of them closed their eyes as they walked into the light.

When the glow of light disappeared from their eye lids, they opened their eyes. The room in front of them had several goblin sized piles of gold and gems. Laying in the middle of it all on a bed of pillows was a dragon.

Ventus Mattias Stormbringer lay on his bed as he reviewed figures. A pen hovered in the air nearby waiting for him to direct it. When he found something, the pen darted in swiftly and crossed out or changed the figures on the paper. He did not look up when two goblins and a demon appeared in the room.

“Don’t worry, you’ll keep your jobs. However we may have to negotiate one of the wizard’s pay.” Ventus said between scribbling out some lines.

“Great one, forgive the intrusion, these two wished for 5 minutes of your time.” Francis said. He bowed deeply and slowly backed away from the two goblins. Just far enough that a lightning bolt wouldn’t accidentally fork into him.

“Boss, Eft has a really good idea about UL-DR2142.” Garly said quickly. He also took a step to the side as a precautionary measure. This left Eft standing there without any support and looking like he was going to fall at any moment.

“I’ve always maintained an open door policy,” Ventus said and with a glance at Eft, he waved a hand towards the old goblin. Carefully the dragon also lowered the papers and set them carefully to the side.

A golden throne, encrusted with rubies, a fine silk pillow atop the seat, rose from a pile of coins. As it rose in the air it tilted a little so coins and other objects fell from it. Once it was free of additional treasure, it floated over to behind Eft. With a pause once it was behind Eft, it moved forward until the goblin fell into the seat.

“Francis, what does the warranty of UL-DR2142 state?” Eft said after taking a moment to steady himself on the throne. He tried hard to focus on the matter at hand and not think about which king was killed for his chair.

“In the event of error due to manufacturing defect, this item holds not warranty or implied warranty beyond repair to restore to original condition. After 12 months repair will be handled at current market rates.” Francis said from his safe place.

“Sir,” Eft looked towards the dragon. “The warranty   does not cover updating or modifying the object. In the past where we would have released a new version or revision we would typically only upgrade customers as a courtesy. In this case we do not have to upgrade or update them.  The doors still work. If an adventuring group started carrying ten foot poles to avoid our pitfalls, we do not widen the holes for customers at no charge.” Eft paused to make sure he still had an audience.

Ventus nodded his head as Eft spoke. He had already reviewed the terms and conditions for their product. He knew they didn’t have to update if they didn’t want to, but how to you tell a minor god no? While he was a powerful dragon, he was a young dragon still and there were many older and more powerful than he was. In addition some beings that rival deities in power.

“I wrote the rules with Tobias a decade ago, I know the wording.” Ventus said.

“Easy, we start selling longer warranty terms, and versions with an update clause. At the same time we increase the cost of out of warranty visits.” Eft said and he carefully pulled out a piece of paper from within his vest. Slowly he unfolded it and hung it in the air. When an unseen force pulled on it he released his grip. The paper floated over towards Ventus.

“As you can see, currently its 100g per day for a technician visit. If we increase the rates to 200g per day we could sell warranty plans for 500g. These plans would offer lower rates and discounts on repairs. Along the same lines, we can sell 1000g and higher plans offering either unlimited or even more discounted repairs.” Eft paused to take a breath.

“And the point?” Ventus interrupted.

“Why, we will also include in the terms, that a single revision update for the item will be included. All those with UL-DR2142 will buy the new plan to get the updated pattern. Instead of losing 50 gold on each we stand to make 250 or more gold per.”

“So we are covered now, but what about in a year when the new pattern is discovered?” Venus said. Mentally he knew where Eft was going, but he did like a show.

“Thats where we get them. The service contract only lasts 1 year. We could have cases where a customer will pay the service contract for 5 years but only receive one update. It has the possibility of bringing in more money than the initial sale.” Eft was almost standing as renewed energy flowed through him.

“What if we have multiple updates in a single year?” Ventus said.

“Why would we though? Once we have 2 patterns for UL-DR2142 in the wild, adventuring groups won’t know which one to use. Some people may skip an update to wait for the next.” Eft said, he was now standing with one hand holding onto the chair for support. “If you look at my figures, there is enough profit to hire a team exclusively for maintenance of UL-DR2142 and still generate revenue.”

“I see,” Ventus said. He had looked over the paper as soon as it was within reading distance. Eft’s figured did appear correct. “Good job, Eft. You’ve turned a possible 15% loss in revenue to an additional 10% revenue.”

“I live to serve.” Eft said as he bowed deeply. “The service contract can also be applied to other products as well, monetizing even the smallest changes.”

Ventus opened his mouth and a horrifying sound came out. The goblins and the demon cowered in fear, Garly fell to his backside and scrambled backwards. Francis ducked behind a pile of coins and weapons. Eft cowered in front of the chair, silently pleading for his life.

The dragon laughed, halfway between a roar, a chuckle, and a growl. The many spiked teeth in his massive mouth were visible as his jaw opened with each chuckle. When he saw his underlings cowering, he laughed even harder.

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