Quite honestly, life is sometimes a living nightmare for resellers.
Not only do they have to operate on lower and lower margins, and compete madly against each other just to keep treading water. Resellers also have to force their way through a paper mountain, although there's one piece of paper likely to inspire more fear than most.
I'm talking about Ts&Cs, those desperate things in small print which vendors seem to inflict on the channel with ever increasing frequency.
Some vendors are worse than others. Last year Digital seemed to produce a fresh set every month and although things seem to have abated, IBM and Microsoft now seem to have taken up the cudgels. It must tie up endless amounts of channel managers' time devising new wheezes The latest fad, inspired by the vendor equivalent of a Eurocrat, is cross-boundary Ts&Cs. Does this work? No one knows yet. It's an interesting idea which demands a mastery of Serbo-Croat, Hungarian, French and Polish.
What vendors forget is that every time some bright channel manager, whether at a local or international level, comes up with something to improve a company's bottom line and instructs its minions to start producing acres of small print, resellers quake.
Picture this scene. Most medium-sized resellers have agreements with several PC manufacturers, perhaps a clutch of networking companies and other assorted vendors. If all of them, at the same time, decided to deluge the channel with their new terms and conditions, it would probably bring everything to a total standstill.
You can see why vendors think they need to play the Ts&Cs paper shuffling game. They want to perform a balancing act between selling loads of kit at the lowest possible price while still giving incentives to dealers to stay with them. Credit, naturally, is a useful weapon in the armoury of conditions. Everyone wants to get paid.
What about a little bit of rationalisation? Vendors are always talking about partnerships and synergy. If you take these laudable statements at face value, surely it wouldn't be beyond the bounds of reason for them to all get together and work out a common set of Ts&Cs.
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Results, reaction and pictures from last night's CRN Fight Night