Reynolds and Reynolds Co. has told about 120 auto dealerships that the aging server for their ERA dealership management system has become too costly to support and must be replaced.
In letters, Reynolds told dealers it will end support for the LP1000r ERA server on Dec. 31.
The dealers with the server are on month-to-month contracts, but Reynolds is asking at least some of them to sign long-term contracts of as long as seven years with their new servers. Some dealers would prefer to stick with the server they have. Others question the cost of a new server.
"They are trying to put me in a long-term contract, and that's what I don't want to do," says Patricia Sofia, office manager at Becker Motors Inc., a Lincoln-Mercury dealership in Canandaigua, N.Y.
For some dealers, the letter revived memories of a dispute between scores of dealers and Universal Computer Systems Inc. over replacing aging servers. Universal Computer Systems purchased Reynolds in 2006.
Reynolds spokesman Tom Schwartz said the company is working with a small number of customers on a server upgrade. Reynolds has an estimated 6,000 servers in U.S. dealerships.
The group of servers in question is no more than 2.5 percent of the entire server base that Reynolds supports in the field, Schwartz says. That implies about 150 servers.
"This has been an ongoing practice at Reynolds for decades — server life cycle management," Schwartz says. "We're approaching this set of upgrades the same way Reynolds has always done business."