Acer strengthens channel and services

Acer strengthens channel and services

PC vendor Acer last week revealed it was in the process of strengthening its channel ties with the imminent appointment of Prion as a distributor.

Patrick Lin, Acer's managing director, admitted to being in negotiations with the distributor but was unable to elaborate.

A Prion spokesperson confirmed that discussions were underway and expected confirmation of the deal to occur sometime in the next couple of weeks.

Acer also launched a new warranty service program that promises two-hour turnaround repair services for its entire notebook range. Later in the month, it will launch an on-site service with a response time of less than four hours for troublesome Altos servers.

"This is a revolutionary service in Australia," said Yaron Kozminski, marketing manager for Acer reseller Histar Invotech Group.

The only problem he can envisage is whether or not Acer will be able to sustain the service. "It will be difficult to maintain this," he said.

Apart from this, Kozminski believes the new arrangements will help the reseller-cum-repair centre sell more Acer product. "In the long term people's perception of the product will be better."

He expects it might affect the company's revenue slightly, especially in terms of income lost through gen-eric server hardware services, but in general Acer will only touch upon basic problems, leaving more difficult issues to its partners.

"The majority of customers have problems with the software rather than the hardware. Acer will not take over this element of the service," said Kosminski.

Resellers involved directly in the project are CPMS in Adelaide and Telefex in Canberra, with Acer's favourite partner, Getronics, focused on the server side of business.

"It costs a lot of money to do a job like this and you need the economies of scale and a lot of skill. You don't want the customer to suffer," explained Lin of the nominal reseller presence.

Even services to regional areas will be direct, with Lin suggesting that any faulty equipment will be couriered to an Acer centre, which will then guarantee to repair the notebook within 48 hours.

"If resellers want to become Acer repair centres they can but it's not easy. They have to know how to take care of a customer and know all the technical questions and answers, as well as stock a lot of spare parts and be ready to go. We think Acer can do this better," explained Lin.

Lin generally restricts his belief that Acer can do business better directly to the high end of its business, about 20 per cent, where the user is "not willing to pay extra for the reseller".

He said it is Acer's ability to give these customers a "very good price" that was the key to its success in deals such as the recent notebook and PC contract the vendor signed with Telstra.

"The client can do all the services themselves, and if we include the reseller in our package we will lose the business," said Lin.

He assured partners that the other 80 per cent of Acer's business would continue to go through its channel.

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