A US value added reseller claims Intel has been using heavy tactics against it following a breakdown in relations over the chip giant's product roadmap.
Ken Catto, general manager at Select Micro Systems (SMS), says he has been barred from Intel newsgroups and leaned on by anonymous individuals "purportedly from Intel".
Another anonymous visitor to his offices, he said, had asked whether other individuals still posting to Intel newsgroups worked for SMS.
The row started in the middle of last year over supplies of the Pentium Classic processor. At that time, Catto complained to Intel that his company, like many other dealers, was told to continue selling the Classic throughout last year to home and small business customers.
But when SMS approached its authorised distributors for supplies of the chips, it was told that they were unavailable as Intel had discontinued the range. Catto posted messages in the Intel newsgroups complaining about the problem after he claimed he was told there were "spot shortages" on the parts.
After the postings, Catto met Intel executives but later learnt that the chip giant had ceased producing the Classic that June.
Said Catto: "If this indeed was the case, why were we presented with information telling us to base our home and small business marketing on this processor in July? Why, after doing as instructed at this dealer meeting, and writing proposals and taking orders for systems based upon this process would Intel not reply to our questions regarding the virtually total lack of availability?"
Catto claimed that it took "extraordinary means" to get a response from Intel. But he added: "That response was virtually too little and too late to save any of the outstanding and virtually undeliverable contracts we had in hand. Intel's unethical handling of this cost us both business and clients. If those extraordinary means required going outside the Intel newsgroup guidelines, so be it, but don't fault me for it, fault Intel for creating the situation that made it necessary to do so."
He claims that during this period, SMS's Intel representative still maintained the parts were in production.
"Since the matter had been cleared up with Intel finally admitting to the truth that the Pentium Classic had indeed ceased wafer fab in June, we accepted our losses and moved forward expecting and hoping that such action on our part would not be necessary again," said Catto.
But Catto said that a similar issue occurred with Intel later in the year over supplies of the Pentium Pro.
He said his company had outstanding orders to deliver NT and SQL servers using the Pro but the only way to procure parts was through the grey and black markets.
"We became rather irate," said Catto. "At some point in time, Intel responded with their infamous 'spot shortages' once again and that did it for us. Once again we would not accept our availability question going unanswered, so we began again with exactly the same and only approach that historically works."
Catto said his company then had a visit from two executives, purportedly from Intel, who would not say who they were and refused to give their business cards to him. "They did not at any time answer even one single question we asked about availability of any processor products. Their purpose was singular and obvious, get us to shut up or else," he said.
Later, Catto received an unsigned letter, again purportedly from Intel, which, he claimed, chastised his company for the attitude SMS was showing.
Catto then said a series of personal attacks started on the Intel newsgroups. When he replied to the attacks, he found himself "chastised" by Intel in every case.
Catto claimed that other issues with Intel emerged more recently. "We have had a significant number of people being referred to us by other resellers, since we are (were) an Authorized Intel Processor Dealer (IPD) and they expected us to deal with their new Pentium IIs shutting down due to excessive heat or lack of proper thermal design in the ATX case/ATX Power Supply/Pentium II package. I might add that this included an equal number of clones and brand name systems. When we attempted to broach this problem with the newsgroup reps all we got were references to the PII thermal specs and the ATX specs."
Catto admitted that he became angry over these issues. "But when an industry leader like Intel chooses to ignore and then silence any person attempting to carry the market's message to them, rather than deal with the problems that are causing the messages to be generated in the first place, what can we expect next?" he said.
An Intel representative said: "Select Micro Systems has been removed from the IPD proramme as a result of their continued use of abusive language when posting to Intel moderated newsgroups and dealing with Intel personnel."
He continued: "These types of actions are repeated violations of both the Posting Guidelines and the Intel Newsgroup Agreement.
In October 1997, IPD programme management informed Ken and Jackie Catto that if they continued to use abusive language (such as swearing) when dealing with Intel employees, then Select Micro Systems would be removed from the IPD programme.
"Intel would be doing our employees a disservice if they felt they were being abused by anyone, even customers, and we allowed it to continue," said the representative. "Select Micro Systems has not been removed because Mr Catto has been critical of Intel in his past newsgroup postings. We welcome feedback from members of the IPD programme as well as customers of Intel's products. However, it is reasonable to request that feedback, even harsh criticism, be delivered in a constructive, professional manner.
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