Acer Computer has pulled the plug on its distributorship with the New Zealand branch of IT Wholesale less than a week before the relationship was due to kick off.
IT Wholesale told ReselIDG in June that it had won the sole agency for the vendor’s handheld (PDA) products. And Acer’s New Zealand channel manager, Charles Innes, announced the news to the channel in a June 23 email: “Acer is pleased to announce that from 1 July 2003 it is appointing IT
Wholesale/Cellect of Auckland, as sole distributor of its range of handheld Palm and Windows-based products.”
But three days later, Innes informed ITW by email that Acer had done an about face.
“Acer has decided to change direction with regard to Acer handheld product in New Zealand with immediate effect," innes said. "Acer will now not be entering into any distribution agreements with ITW.”
This came despite Acer having provided ITW with product training and sales material, and asking the distributor to place an order.
Acer country manager, Rod Bassi, said there wasn’t a contract even though ITW had signed one.
“[Acer] hadn’t actually got to the point of signing an agreement," Bassi said. "We hadn’t locked down in writing [any sales targets].”
He said the vendor “reserves the right to have a change of mind”, which it did after feedback from its three laptop distributors, Tech Pacific, Ingram Micro and Dove Electronics.
They will now share the PDA distribution.
“It’s taken us the best part of six months to get our existing distribution up and running," Bassi said. "We felt that introducing a small, albeit exclusive, [product] wasn’t going to be in the best interest of those relationships. These things are not exactly revenue-enhancing pieces of product.”
But ITW sales manager, Tracey Condie, said she was amazed at Acer’s decision, especially since nothing was awry in the relationship and ITW’s Australian operation distributes Acer PDAs and laptops.
“We are absolutely dumbfounded," condie said. "We’ve got a contract and credit application. It was all signed from our end. We are very disappointed with Acer’s approach in handling of communications.”
She realised that PDAs weren’t a money-spinner for Acer but ITW was looking to boost sales through the telecommunications channel, with which the Cellect part of its business deals.
“We were looking at other prospects," she said. "This was a door, which is now shut.”
ITW does not intend to take legal action.