We received the following piece from Keith Warburton at the Personal Computer Association (PCA). It reminded us of two things; one that Viewpoint is an open forum for readers of PC Dealer so if you have anything to say about the industry get in touch (details below). And secondly it made us think ? what do you think of the European market and how do you think it will affect the UK computer market? Even if you don?t care about the EC tell us why. Over the next couple of months we will be running a series of features about the European market ? if you don?t have an opinion now, you soon will.
Last week?s PC Dealer (26 February) had a front page story about credit card fraud; inside there was a feature on scams perpetrated against computer companies. The magazine also carried a feature about upcoming European legislation that is set to increase PC prices by 50 per cent.
With the same certainty there is that the sun will rise tomorrow, we can expect to hear over the coming months more stories that this computer dealer or that system integrator is browned off about European legislation, or about some swine of a fraudster who has ripped him off, or how he gets messed about by key vendors. How can we be so sure of this? Because the industry is constantly being hit by such issues.
Traders frequently feel that they are besieged, either by thieves, officialdom or customers whose idea of reasonableness translates into ?do what I demand or I?ll take you to court ? and don?t even suggest that I should read the manual?. How can you be expected to run a business when you get all this hassle? Let?s look at it another way. The hassle is there. What are you going to do about it?
I recently spoke with the MD of a company who had been ripped off by a credit card scam gang. When I told him that the PCA runs a fraud alert scheme which has proven an invaluable help in warning computer companies about cards, names and addresses which are being used fraudulently, and invited him to join us, his reaction was ?it?s like shutting the door after the horse has bolted?. By allowing ourselves such short sighted views, we are virtually colluding in our own downfall.
We?ve seen various comments from industry players complaining about the EMC regulations and no doubt we?ll continue to see them. But where were these aggrieved parties when the DTI was asking for comments about the proposals; what were the system builders doing when the draft documents were circulated to industry?
What about the latest piece of Euro insanity. Under the guise of opening up the internal markets, the draft consumer guarantees directive contains provisions, the implications of which are enough to turn your hair white. By comparison, the EMC regulations are a doddle. The proposed directive means that consumers can claim a full refund up to 12 months after purchase. The onus is on the supplier to prove that there?s nothing wrong with the kit. But what is the industry doing about it? Judging by past performance, the industry ? and that effectively means everyone who is reading this ? will wait until the directive becomes law and then complain about it. It seems to occur to a very few ? less than 0.5 per cent ? to do something about it.
How many have written to their MPs, their Euro MPs, the consumer affairs minister or the science and technology minister to protest. The number could be counted on the fingers of one foot. How many, on the other hand, think that it?s someone else?s job to do the protesting.
Where did that 0.5 per cent figure come from? That?s about how many of the companies in the PC industry have joined the PCA, and it?s the PCA that the DTI turns to for advice and information about this market.
The impression gained is that the sharp end of the personal computer business is characterised by short-termism. But the real players, those who want to do more than carve themselves a slice and retire, who recognise that they are part of an industry, are the ones who will survive.
- If you want to write a Viewpoint about anything that bothers you or you want to tell us what you think call us on 0171 316 9513 or email to [email protected] . You can even write to us at PC Dealer, VNU Business Publications, London, W1A 2HG.
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