The contrast between the channel model and direct selling will be sharply outlined next week when Dell cuts the terms of its maintenance agreement on 4 November, to match arch-rival Compaq?s.
Chris Norton, customer services manager at Dell UK, said that his company is to change the service offering on its Optiplex range from next day to two days onsite service, because of the competitive nature of the market.
Competition was one of the reasons Dell had changed its policy, he said. "Third party maintenance does form part of the real estate [of a PC] and we wanted to keep our prices competitive. Two days onsite is now standard in the industry."
He said: "This only applies to customers in corporate accounts. Our feedback is that customers often upgrade their service to well beyond service offerings. It was next business day and now it?s two days". He said the changes will coincide with the introduction of a fresh range of Optiplex PCs.
Paul Gardiner, Compaq's UK service director, said: "We're headed in the other direction. We don?t publish fix-in times because we prefer our partners to have a pay-for-performance agreement. If they beat these times they get bonuses."
He said that Compaq?s TPM is handled through over 50 of its resellers and other partners and they often seek to make incremental money from offering extended warranties. Gardiner said that meant Compaq had seen "significant reductions" in corporate customers? wait time because it used the channel.
But Norton said Dell is closer to corporate users. "We work with just two maintainers, unlike Compaq," he said. "We always take the first call because it gives us better feedback on what?s happening with the customers."
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