Over the year, Tabloid has received some of the most valuable news tips from gagged reseller readers, many of whom feel that they risk retribution from vendors, distributors and customers for attracting the unwelcome attention of Tabloid's glare.

Two more anonymous letters came into the Tabloid office this week, and, well, investigation has proved fruitless so far. Vendor spokespeople are `unavailable for comment'.

Here are the (alleged) facts:

A large telecommunications company (Telstra) orders a large number of desktop PCs with a specification to suit its standard operating environment (SOE).

The specifications for the SOE include 440 BX mainboard, Pentium III 450MHz, 4MB onboard video memory, 128MB RAM, 6.4GB IDE HDD, Intel 10/100 Network Interface Card, Windows NT loaded (with licence) and a three-year on-site warranty.

A large multinational vendor, with a (we are told) commitment to its channel, contracts for the direct supply, while another meets the contract and price fulfilled by one of its resellers.

Calls to the vendors concerned were met with a deafening silence last week.

The customer prices quoted by the two resellers who wrote to Tabloid tallied up, and are substantially below anything ever seen on any channel buy prices.

In one letter it was even claimed that a vendor was supplying Telstra at a price below that which it supplies the government of its country of origin.

The vendors will claim they are gagged by their customers. The resellers are gagged by their suppliers.

On the discounted direct-selling issue, one veteran reseller said `a big customer like Telstra is entitled to a price commensurate with the size of the order. But in the long term it's not good for vendors' partnerships, but they're always looking short term.'

Everyone seems to know about it, but as to whether it is best practice to leverage such prices from computer vendors, Tabloid invites your comment.

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