Hardware giant Dell has been urged to rethink its warranty stance on products sold through distribution, as VARs complain it has left them with kit they cannot shift.
Dell products sold directly come with 12-month warranties as standard, but this is extended to 14 months when units are sold via distribution.
In a statement to ChannelWeb, Kathy Schneider, executive director of channel marketing and programmes for Europe at Dell, explained: "We add a two-month stocking extension on to [the standard 12-month warranty], giving a 14-month warranty in total. For partners, a one-month extension is [also] added."
The warranty period starts when Dell ships the products and "[This time] is normally longer than needed," added Schneider.
However, some VARs have argued that the sales window offered by Dell is too short, especially if end users change their minds about orders and the kit is left unused.
In these cases, it is claimed VARs have been forced to sell these goods at a loss because customers expect a full-year warranty on new items.
Therefore, partners are calling for an overhaul of the system so that warranties start either the day end users get their orders or are registered as sold by the reseller.
Several Dell partners ChannelWeb spoke to claimed this has prompted them to bypass distribution and deal with the vendor direct.
"The current system is not particularly channel-friendly, and fails to take into account that resellers sometimes like to hold stock," explained one.
That being said, another VAR, who spoke to ChannelWeb on condition of anonymity, said he thinks the onus to fix this should be on distribution.
"I believe the obligation is on the distributor to make sure purchased stock does not commence warranty until sold," he explained.
Teddington-based Dell Registered Partner Westborne is another VAR backing calls for a revamp after finding itself embroiled in a protracted warranty dispute with the vendor.
Westborne purchased nine PCs to order from Dell distributor Micro Peripherals back in January, but a change in customer requirements meant the firm ended up having to hold on to several machines.
This left the VAR unable to offer a full-year warranty on them – a situation the firm's director, Garry Aikin, has been trying to rectify with Dell's internal sales team ever since.
"People will not buy products without a full-year warranty unless you discount it massively," Aikin told ChannelWeb. "But you should not have to do that when you're selling new products."
After ChannelWeb approached Dell for comment on the Westborne case, the vendor said it has now agreed to extend the warranty on all the PCs the firm purchased until June 2013.
Even so, Aikin said the vendor needs to urgently review its warranty system, claiming it puts VARs under too much pressure to push through stock.
"I will not be buying Dell products to stock through distribution until they change this," he said.
"I think part of the problem is that Dell's relationship with distribution is still in its infancy, and this is an area that they need to review. I don't know of any other vendors that do things this way."
In response, Schneider said: "Dell is committed to its channel programme and we regularly review policy and procedure to ensure we offer the best programme for our partners, and our customers receive the best service."
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