Tripp Lite vacates Australia -- again

Tripp Lite vacates Australia -- again

Uninterruptible power supply (UPS) vendor Tripp Lite is skulking away from the Australian market again after its Asia-Pacific manager, Don Seaton, dumped the product due to lack of commitment from US headquarters.

Seaton, who assumed responsibility for boosting the Tripp Lite brand locally in May 2000, said the vendor refused to sign service contracts with any systems integrator, despite seven months of furious negotiations.

"Australia is a sophisticated country that won't accept product if you don't support it properly. I had good deals ready to go down but couldn't get them across the line because of the service element," said Seaton. "It would have been far too costly to do it myself."

Resellers should have no concerns about warranties and getting stock replaced, according to Seaton. However, if Tripp Lite decides to close down its Sydney-based warehouse in Botany, all faulty stock will have to make a trip to the US.

"It won't be a matter of whether or not [Tripp Lite] will replace it; the concern is how long it's going to take," he said.

Seaton speculated that Tripp Lite could go one of two ways: either courier product from the US using DHL or Federal Express, which would mean about a week's wait on orders; or redirect resellers to its distributor in New Zealand, Ultimate Power Solutions.

Despite the kerfuffle, Seaton still believes in the technical ability of the brand. "They just wouldn't put and time and energy into it," he said. Having been manufactured for the northern hemisphere, stock arrived reverse-polarised and it was impossible to get the full range of products available to US buyers.

Still, Tripp Lite Asia-Pacific raked in $US150,000 revenue in the last 12 months, $US90,000 more than the year before, according to Seaton.

"Tripp Lite was trying to set up on the cheap and was hoping to find a distributor that would take it on. The problem is that most [distributors] have a UPS product on board already and they're never going to take on a new one unless they're offered infrastructure to do so," he said.

"I approached Ingram Micro and Digiland and the first question they asked was, ‘what marketing funds do I have?', a question that Tripp Lite would never answer, and ‘what service infrastructure have you got?'."

The vendor has developed something of a reputation for sporadically abandoning marketplaces that don't perform according to plan. Its last venture in the Australian market ended abruptly in 1993-94 and it pulled the plug on its Singapore operation eight years ago virtually overnight.

Tripp Lite competitors expressed mild reaction at the news, with most saying the brand had not been big locally.

Tripp Lite did not respond to ARN's enquiries by press time.

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