One of the strongest sentiments to emerge from ARN's reader survey earlier this year was that the channel wanted to see more coverage from us uncovering the practices of disreputable distributors and dealers.
In asking our readers "What type of information would you like to see more/less of in ARN?" a staggering 71 per cent of respondents said they wanted "more" coverage of "dodgy dealers exposed".
A further 25 per cent indicated they wanted the same amount of coverage. This was at a time when we were publishing at least one story every week regarding the questionable practices of organisations such as the infamous Z-Tek group of companies and Centronics.
Just 4 per cent indicated they wanted to see less exposure by ARN of dodgy dealers.
No other subject matter drew such a strong response from those who completed our survey. Clearly, cleaning up the channel is a bandwagon our readers want us to jump aboard. There is a seedy underbelly to the channel community and we can genuinely help to expunge it with sustained editorial pressure.
It's a kick in the guts to shonky players that we are quite prepared to give. ARN's mission statement is to make our readers more successful. The denial of an opportunity for them to compete on an even playing field because of illegal activities by a minority affects their ability to achieve that success.
We operate in an industry that still has a large component of cash sales and where razor-thin margins mean even just a 1 per cent price advantage can be the difference between winning and losing a deal. Tax evasion, import/export scams and other dodgy practices pose a big problem to the whole industry.
Nobody is looking for a handout here. All the legitimate channel really wants is to be able to compete in a fair market.
Therefore, following on from last week's evidence of vendors closing in on a piracy ring, we at ARN are again happy to be able to bring more bad news this week to those who flirt with the law and cheat the system.
While it is hard to imagine they will ever be eliminated totally, a recent technology upgrade at the Australian Customs Service means these blights on the channel are under further scrutiny.
As our page one story shows, the unfair advantage some less-reputable companies have been giving themselves is well and truly under threat as a new X-ray scanning technology is deployed. This will allow Customs to look at the contents of shipping containers in transit without opening them.
Anyone that has seen how comprehensive this technology has become in airport security applications will appreciate the implications it will have for Customs. Suddenly, many of those import/export scams that have been hampering those who act responsibly will be that much harder and riskier to pull off.
It will no longer be simply a matter of falsifying some documents to easily ship some old obsolete stock offshore marked as expensive new technology to earn export tax credits. Bringing in fully assembled PCs but declaring them as bare cases will also now be a practice fraught with danger.
The technology allows for Customs to be very precise about what is inside containers. The ease with which they can do it means that Customs will be able to scrutinise much more freight than ever before.
Now we just have to hope that the penalties are increased to a level where they become a genuine disincentive to those who want to dodge the system.