IBM is putting relations with its resellers at risk, followingial customer information. changes in its Ts&Cs which ask for confidential customer information to be handed over to the manufacturer.
In a move that has caused outrage in the channel, the vendor has requested that under its IBM Business Partner Agreement, resellers must make available details of their companies, along with contacts and revenue data for whatever purposes IBM sees fit.
A letter, seen by PC Dealer, was issued by IBM to its business partners informing them of the changes. It was signed by Alan Lattimer, IBM finance and operations manager, distribution channels Northern region.
According to the letter, the additional provision to the general terms of the agreement demanded that IBM be able to pass on such information to related companies and third parties. The Ts&Cs also stated that the related companies could in turn use the information or transfer it to others (see box).
One reseller expressed fear that any information he passed to the vendor could be used against his company if it was passed on to a third party.
He said: 'When I got the letter, I said (to IBM): "If you were me would you sign such a deal, that would allow anyone to use any of your information?" I don't think so. I don't think that is fair.'
Another reseller commented: 'For a start, there are three words missing from that amendment: with your permission.'
According to the dealers, when they challenged IBM's revision, the vendor claimed it was being forced to make such changes because of an unspecified European Union directive.
Kevin Drew, managing director of Triangle Computer Services, speculated that European law was to blame. 'IBM is only doing what European Law is demanding of it. It is crass European Union law all over again,' he remarked.
Steve O'Mara, marketing manager at Cranborn Computers, which only deals in IBM hardware, commented: 'To us, it really doesn't matter. But I can see how other resellers could be concerned.'
IBM refused to comment.
WHAT THE LETTER SAID
'You agree: that we may use data about your organisation, including your addresses, contact names, revenue data and any other types of data you provide under this agreement, other related purposes including the marketing of, and provisors about information about, products, offerings and other activities, for any other business purpose.
Additionally, you agree that for the above purposes we may disclose or transfer your data to any of our related companies and third parties, including sub-contractors and consultants. You agree that your data may be transferred to such related company or third party in any country, whether or not a member of the European Union.'
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