The contrast between the channel model and direct selling was sharply outlined this week when Dell cut the terms of its maintenance agreement to match that of its arch-rival Compaq.
Chris Norton, customer services manager at Dell UK, said his company is to change the service offering on its Optiplex range from next day to two days onsite service owing to the competitive nature of the market.
Competition was one of the reasons why Dell changed its policy, he said.
'Third-party maintenance does form part of the real estate (of a PC) and we wanted to keep our prices competitive. Two days onsite is standard in the industry,' he said.
'This only applies to customers in corporate accounts. Our feedback is that customers often upgrade their service to well beyond service offerings. It was next business day and now it's two days.'
The change will coincide with the introduction of a fresh range of Optiplex PCs.
Paul Gardiner, director of services at Compaq UK, said: 'We are headed in the other direction. We don't publish fix-in times because we want our partners to have pay-for-performance agreements. If they beat these times they get bonuses.'
He said that Compaq's TPM is handled through more than 50 of its resellers and other partners and they often seek to make incremental money from offering extended warranties.
Gardiner said that meant Compaq had seen 'significant reductions' in corporate customers' wait time because it used the channel.
But Norton said Dell is closer to corporate users. 'We work with just two maintainers, unlike Compaq,' he said. 'We always take the first call because it gives us better feed-back on what is happening with the customers.'
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