While I must agree with Dean Street's comments in his letter (PC Dealer, 23 June) and in particular with the salient point concerning distribution as the foundation of the channel, I think one important point is left out of his argument. Price is not the key factor and delivery problems are in the past as most distributors will guarantee next-day delivery.
But the standard of service and technical support is vital.
The movement of manufacturing bases and rapid technical developments have undoubtedly led to failing quality control in manufacture and design, while the result - component failure or compatibility - is a real problem. The latter particularly affecting upgrades. Our choice of distributor depends on the technical competence of the account manager or technical department, and not least the policy of the distributor in dealing with the component faults.
Our main distributor, based in Cheshire, is comparatively small by today's standards, and although we may pay slightly more, I doubt that our standard of support and reputation could survive without its excellent service and immediate, no cost, swap out of problem components.
We cannot pretend to compete with the high street and this is likely to become ever more severe (reference your comment on Wal-Mart), but on the other hand, the high street will never be able to compete with the small dealer or Var on service.
The growth of a distributor is normally accompanied by a depreciation in the standard of service. For this reason, we return to Mr Street's conclusion - we are more concerned about the scale margins available to distributors, than our own.
Geoffrey Holmes, Assist Computer Services, Saltash, Cornwall
CHARITY BEGINS AT HOME
I was most interested to read Paul Bray's feature about charity donations (PC Dealer, 23 June), but I was surprised to see that no mention was made of the liabilities associated with donations.
Computer donations can bite back on two counts. First, employer and product liability laws preclude you from disclaiming against accidents or injury caused by your old computer, whoever now owns it technically. Second, the issue of ridding computers of information before cascading them within the organisation is another potential minefield. You must ensure that sensitive information, such as personnel or payroll files, are eradicated from the PC's hard drive to comply with the stringent forthcoming data protection legislation.
Kevin Riches, Managing director, Technical Asset Management
TO CHANNEL OR NOT TO CHANNEL
Can someone please tell me when Compaq will actually grow up and realise that it can't be many things at once. Once again we have to read an article (PC Dealer, 14 July), telling us that Compaq is getting even closer to its customers by selling its Prosignias direct. Nice that Compaq informed us. While I understand that journalists have a task to perform - namely digging out the stories that companies don't want to read - it does astound me that no one at Compaq even had the courtesy to ring the channel to tell us what it was planning to do.
Compaq should decide one way or the other whether it wants to purely sell direct or have a channel. At the moment, the loyalty towards Compaq is at an all-time low. I know of a number of resellers that will push any other brand other than Compaq because of the way it has treated its channel. Other manufacturers are not hell bent on driving its channel to the wall, so I don't see why Compaq has to.
Maybe it's time PC Dealer took Compaq to task and demanded to know exactly what its channel policy is. I for one would be very interested to know.
Name and address supplied
INTERNET FASHION FAUX PAS
I completely agree with Tony Bond when he stated in a feature (PC Dealer, 7 July), that internet stocks will go out of fashion. If you look at the value that has been placed on Dixons' Freeserve, it would appear that the market has not got any idea of what the internet is about. As an editor of one of the Sunday newspapers put it: "The prospectus was pure fiction." Now I know it was the first ISP that gave away access for free, but surely the City must look at the long-term strategy of this. No business model can survive forever by giving away its core business away.
Alan Boardman, TOTM Computers, Liverpool.
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