The fact that resellers are still willing to even consider Dell as a partner despite its reputation for infidelity should worry vendors and distributors used to loyal channel relationships.
The vendor's revelation that it plans to poach 'best-of-breed' Vars from rivals, having dismissing 450 resellers only five weeks earlier, has aroused interest.
But some dealers seem confused about whether Dell actually has a channel policy, and accused it of being either naive or machiavellian in its approach.
Suspicions that Dell only uses its dealers for as long as it can steal their user contacts were mixed with scornful assertions from its competitors that the vendor simply does not understand resellers' needs.
Mark McCarthy, Dell partner sales manager, denies this. He said: 'We have 78 resellers that are extremely happy with our relationship.
Selling Dell hardware helps dealers, as it minimises their cost of sale. Fundamentally we are offering them a piece of tin which gets their software and services in the customer's door.'
Fraser Associates chairman Harry Thuillier said last week he did not regard Dell as trustworthy. 'I have to admit that Dell has extremely good and competitive products. Because of that, while I am sceptical about them, I would be interested to talk, to give them a chance to prove me wrong.'
John Yelland, PC and peripherals marketing manager at HP, said: 'There is neither rhyme nor reason to Dell's channel policy. It's about as strategic as deciding what to have for lunch. Our dealers need to operate in an atmosphere of trust, and I don't believe they'll throw that over to deal with Dell.'
In June, Dell said it was recruiting 25 high-profile Vars to sell its Poweredge servers, but two months later bluntly dismissed 450 resellers from its partner programme.
Duncan Wilkes, sales and marketing director at Action Computer Supplies - which sells Compaq, HP and IBM - said he would not rule out a relationship with Dell. 'Nothing I've seen so far suggests Dell is interested in the dealer channel, but if they were offering to set up a sensible business relationship, of course I would talk.'
Dell had a 1996 turnover of $5.3 billion and profit of $272 million, and it seems many resellers, despite their fear of dealing with a vendor that sells 90 per cent of product direct, are eager for a chunk of this success.
The vendor has built its success on selling direct, but there are still those resellers, at least 78, prepared to put up with the threat of channel conflict for the advantages of cheap product and fast access to it.
Those with established two-tier distribution models would do well to remember that long term marriages are often the triumph of habit over hatred.
Highlander MD Steve Brown tells CRN about the skills he learned on the pitch and brought to the boardroom
Reports suggest Dell is pursuing a straightforward IPO, contradicting existing plans to buy out tracking stock holders
Analysts predict upturn in PC market next year, but 2018 to remain plagued by components shortages
Neil Sawyer claims he has 'never seen so many conversations about a new method of investing in workplace technology'