Since biblical times, mankind has been instructed not to covet things. Whether it's a £27m flat in Chelsea, a shiny new Mercedes CLK or just the goat nibbling in your neighbour's front garden, coveting is generally verboten. (And as for the 23 year-old wife from Sao Paulo, forget it.)
So it's small wonder that resellers get a bit agitated when vendors start coveting their hard-won, long-standing customers. And it's even less surprising that they become furious when coveting turns into blatant theft.
Most galling of all is when a vendor takes away a reseller's business and, sin of sins, puts it out to its own direct business arm.
When this happens the fur really starts flying. In the printer channel recently there has been enough of it to make someone a very non-politically correct coat.
Although it's easy to point the finger in these instances and apportion blame, I would suggest that all vendors which deal in the channel should look at their own houses before they start slinging mud and casting stones, because the question of who owns the customer is as old as the Bible itself.
Although vendors are loath to admit it happens and will always deny any wrong-doing - or have their spin doctors present it as just 'channel conflict' - it does occur, and will probably happen again in the future.
But it is not always a vendor's fault when it takes business direct. OK, so vendors are not always the best at communicating why they need to do this, but they do sometimes have a legitimate business reason.
Take entry-level printers, for example. In this market resellers can perhaps add only slight value. They are generally plug-and-play, USB-based machines, and the set-up is easy. So vendors sometimes have a point.
Like everything, though, it's about communication, and if there is mistrust about how resellers' customers could be targeted for commodity or entry-level direct sales, will there be the same mistrust when it comes to customers that might be interested in higher-margin, higher-value products such as multifunction printers?
The answer is probably yes.
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