IBM VARs are up in arms after the vendor changed Ts and Cs under its Software Value Incentive (SVI) programme to cut out a huge swathe of rebates.
Partners accredited under the SVI scheme register each deal with IBM and rebate levels are agreed before a contract is carried out.
But from last week, Business Partners were being told that customers with a government stakeholder – such as financial organisations and banks that received bailout money during the global economic crisis – are now classed as a public sector company under IBM rules, and therefore no pre-agreed rebates will be paid out.
The diktat has come from IBM US which CRN understands raised concerns that rebates in connection with a 'government entity' could be linked to bribery.
One partner, who asked to remain anonymous, said he is considering legal action against IBM.
“We all love the SVI programme – it is a fantastic initiative and works really well for us Business Partners. We register each deal into the system and claim the agreed rebates,” he said.
“But suddenly IBM is saying no rebates are payable because companies that are still NASDAQ-registered private companies have suddenly been classed as public sector firms. “I am hoping other partners will get in touch with me because I think we need to take this further,” he said.
Another unnamed partner said: “Just because government owns a share of a company which is publicly listed, does not make it a public sector company. All government has done is put in an equity share, which anybody could do.”
The partner added: “We have just completed a deal with a company which had all the rebates agreed under SVI, but now we have effectively done a six-figure piece of business for free.
“There are many partners that will be relying on the money from these rebates to make a living and who have put a lot of money and effort into SVI. This could send some of them out of business. It is not only legally wrong, it is morally wrong.”
He said the move is all the more surprising because IBM has always been a great company to deal with and has "never done anything like this before". “You cannot retrospectively change a contract,” he added.
IBM declined to comment.
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