A Surface Authorised Device Reseller (ADR) has had its wrist slapped by Microsoft for selling Surfaces on to a non-authorised partner, according to a source who did not wish to be named.
Last year Microsoft appointed 13 UK ADRs which could sell the Surface and its authorised device distributors (ADDs) Ingram Micro and Tech Data then appointed two batches of Distributor Managed Partners (DMPs).
ADRs and DMPs are not allowed to sell the Surface on to non-authorised Microsoft partners. But one of the original appointed ADRs has been "told off" by Microsoft for selling the devices to a non-authorised partner, CRN understands.
The reseller, which was previously buying from an ADR, was informed earlier this week that it was no longer able to buy Surfaces from the ADR because Microsoft had intervened.
"We bought from them [the ADR] originally and yesterday he phoned me but he said Microsoft has told them off and told them they are not allowed to resell to the channel," he said. "They can only sell direct so he said they had to disappoint quite a few partner clients in the channel who were buying from them and they have had to cut that out."
The reseller said he thought Microsoft had tried to limit the product to authorised partners only to keep its value high.
"We suspect they are following the Apple model," he said. "They don't want to devalue the product by having it resold in the channel."
But he said this tactic was not channel-friendly.
"It's really circumventing the channel," he said. "I think it's bad of Microsoft when they are heavily reliant on channel sales to deliver most of their business. As a trusted adviser to our clients, whenever they need to purchase something they will come to us.
"When they see the Surface advertised we then almost have to actively encourage them to purchase something else from which we can make margin. But now we can't purchase them at all, it makes it even more difficult. It's neglecting the smaller partners and feeding all the big boys, the ADRs, and [it means they can] potentially steal clients from the smaller resellers."
A Microsoft representative sent CRN a statement which said the decision to restrict channel sales to end users was for the benefit of customers.
"Microsoft recently increased the number of partners authorised to sell Surface," it said. "In order to provide customers with the best possible experience, our policy is to only allow sales of Surface to commercial and public sector organisations and educational institutions via our 13 ADRs and 180 DMPs."
Conor Callanan, chief executive of Core Technology Systems, a recently appointed DMP, said the decision by Microsoft was fair.
"Most companies have some sort of authorisation," he said. "If you put the time in getting to know the product and putting all that investment in, and then if [the vendor] throws it wide open it's not really fair. I'm not surprised it [reseller-to-reseller selling] goes on, and I'm not surprised Microsoft has told someone off."
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