The Colstons have been reeled in

The torrid flow of lavish lunches and frequent flying has receded to a trickle for many IT professionals as tough times result in a tightening of the corporate belt.

Vendor's sales staff, otherwise known as BDMs (business development managers), have been hardest hit following a slow start to the year, with many fearing that if the situation doesn't improve soon they may be forced to actually sell stuff for a living.

The follow-on effect has also been felt across the food/beverage and travel sectors, with a sharp decline in long lunches and Gold Coast conferences being reported across the country, Tabloid has learned.

One networking vendor who wished to remain nameless has conceded to market pressure and imposed a travel ban on all its senior sales staff. The shock has been almost unbearable for some BDMs trying to finance washing machines and fridges under frequent flyer programs.

"I can't believe it," said one BDM in contact with Tabloid. "The only reason my girlfriend lets me travel three days a week is because I'm letting her use my frequent flyer points to buy a microwave."

"I would have preferred a new Ping driver, but hey, what can you do?," he said.

Meanwhile, another hardware vendor has fallen on hard times, announcing a freeze on all staff expenses. The announcement was met with hostility from a number of its BDMs that cited outlandish examples of upper management misspending.

"Last year they set up a whole R&D team in this country - a whole bloody team of them," said one outraged BDM. "I can't even use the Coke machine without tripping over one of these white-coated, pimple-faced kids. And they have the gall to say they're not paying my expense cheques anymore.

"Who needs R&D anyway? We've got more products than I can bloody remember as it is," he added.

But some industry pundits, namely accountants, claim sales personnel should "quit their whining" and count their lucky stars they haven't joined many of their colleagues in the December dump of last year. The last calendar quarter of 2000 was an unhappy time for a lot of IT staff who received the more gregarious of corporate gifts - retrenchment.

Integrator Logical Networks sacked over 50 staff as Praxa pushed another 63 staff into the dole queue. Meanwhile, in the US, a raft of IT companies told thousands of employees to please piss off.