UP THE CHANNEL: Too good to be true

UP THE CHANNEL: Too good to be true

I noted Microsoft was awarded $720,000 in damages in July against Queensland reseller, Magic Computers, after it was found to have loaded unlicensed Microsoft software onto hard drives between 1998 and 2004.

I had a stint managing a retail computer store in Brisbane during the 90s and bought memory, CPUs, operating systems and parts from Magic Computers' former directors, Rosalind Summer (also known as Pee Loo Tan) and Wayne Summer. I have to say that I found them to be genuine, pleasant, reliable and helpful people who offered prices that nobody else could come near.

Let's just say that my cognitive dissonance at the time helped me to dispel industry gossip that they were selling remarked and counterfeit products, they were avoiding sales tax and were involved in import scams. But I learnt quickly and stopped dealing with them before too much damage was done.

Then along came Edge. They conquered the cheap distribution channel but history now reveals they did this by similarly murky methods. My honeymoon with Edge ended abruptly when I discovered that some 40 systems supplied to me for a local school had remarked processors that were burning out. We settled on the steps of the local court house but the experience left a bitter taste.

Most Queenslanders will also recall the massive scam in the mid-90s with a company called Dataquip, which was caught selling remarked CPUs and pirate software. Managing director, Greig Heilbronn, received two years jail in February 1998 for dishonest conduct after allegedly selling more than $1 million in remarked CPUs from a single suburban store in Brisbane. And I used to wonder why people would queue 10-deep to get into the door.

Finally, let me remind you of the scams and issues with Fairstair, Wallies, Softcomp, Brisbane Computer Company, Empire and Sunlit - to name but a few. Creditors are typically owed millions of dollars and, worse still, many of the culprits rise like a phoenix from the flames. I vowed never to deal with shonkies again and, despite paying higher prices via legitimate channels and losing business because we were too expensive, I found there were clients who respected that we sold genuine products with manufacturer warranties. Having said that, I am glad I got out of the business.

Where there is smoke there is bound to be fire and I bet that all you legitimate resellers and disties have your suspicions about some competitors or suppliers. Guys like these are ruining what is left of your market and, worse still, getting away with it because the powers that be are too busy going after bigger fish such as HIH and One-Tel. Be sure that CPU and memory chip remarking are alive and well; counterfeit motherboards are readily available; remanufactured seconds are being sold as new; and some cash-only goods are evading GST. It is not just the computer markets and fairs you have to worry about any more.

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