Former Epson distributor MBM Computer Supplies has been left wondering whether long-term relationships are worth the paper they are printed on, after the company was served a termination notice for failing to meet performance targets.
Managing director of the Queensland-based distributor Bruce Currie has been distributing Epson consumables for more than five years. He finds it hard to believe that companies such as Digiland get a slap over the wrists for breaching its distribution agreement, while he has been dumped all together.
"What they've done is perfectly legal but morally they don't have a leg to stand on," he told ARN.
"It is so contrary to what they did to Digiland. Everyone's hot to trot on grey marketing but there are a lot of fakes in the market and that has the biggest impact on OEMs."
In March last year, MBM Computer Supplies helped expose a piracy ring dealing in Epson consumables. Currie said he contacted Epson and was given the goahead to purchase the fake product to establish intent - an expense which the company wore half of.
"This (counterfeiting) is the scourge of the industry. Yet we stick by our guns and work to build a rapport with the vendor and this is how we get treated.
"There is still another dealer in Queensland so why have we been singled out? Epson claim it was a commercial decision, but I was a dealer before the others even existed. I've bought a whole heap of stock from Epson, and now I am not even allowed to tell customers who I bought it from."
Epson marketing director Mike Pleasants said the company had been given a number of months to bring its sales figures up to target.
"MBM were with us as a consumables distributor and their figures were at such a level that couldn't continue looking at them as a distributor. We talked to them on several occasions about their performance, but nothing improved."
Pleasants said its other distributors such as Tech Pacific and IT Wholesale had been doing very well.
"We had to ask why were maintaining the relationship when their business was so small. One never likes to terminate agreements but you have to draw a line in the sand sometime."
Currie said MBM Computer Supplies had operated without rebates, or marketing funds.
"The only communication we received (about the termination) was by mail," he said. "They sent a letter giving me four week's notice, but the Epson office is just down the road. We eventually managed to get some dialogue by not paying our bill!"
Epson said it had been reviewing MBM Computer Supplies' arrangement for the past few months. The termination is a one-off and not part of a channel review, said Pleasants.
"We are looking at our distribution on a regular basis and we certainly haven't had any reason to change those partners. Everyone else is hitting their targets."