Mailout misleads resellers

A number of resellers contacted ARN last week concerned that Symantec and Intuit were bypassing the channel and selling direct through a mailout to their customers.

The concerns rose from a mailout that was sent to 10,000 registered Symantec and Intuit customers. It gives the impression that the companies are offering products for direct sale at "special" prices. However, the vendors assure us this isn't the case.

The deal was initiated by a Sydney upgrade supplier, New Version, in an attempt to drum up business and access both Symantec and Intuit's customer bases. New Version manager Robyn Beattie said the concept was designed for the company to get involved with Intuit's products.

Symantec marketing manager Cath Hodgson said the deal allowed her company to "cross-pollinate" with Intuit's customers. Intuit managing director Greg Wilkinson agreed with Hodgson and said New Version's prices weren't particularly competitive. He said new Version's margin was 22 per cent, where the normal dealer margin is closer to 27 per cent.

"This pricing wasn't very special at all and I think that could be part of the reason for it not being overly successful because we have to incorporate additional fees, especially with outgoing freight.

And that can hurt," Beattie said. In fact, she said it's unlikely New Version would make much money on the whole deal.

Both Hodgson and Wilkinson were concerned that the channel was receiving the wrong message from the mailout.

"We have a real problem where we have a user base of customers who we really don't want to be contacted by anybody," Wilkinson said.

"So New Version comes over, knowing this is the case, and we said: 'There's no way we can give you our database to contact these people. And there's no way that we can sell any other product directly to them, because of course that's going to really peeve our dealer base.'"New Version said this to Intuit: "Here's the solution. We'll do the mailing and make it look, as far as the user's concerned, like the mailing is coming from you (Intuit and Symantec)."

Wilkinson emphasised that Intuit doesn't sell direct except for product upgrades.