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Who Will Clean the DoA Mess?

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DQW Bureau
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DoA and warranty replacements are issues that dealers and partners across the country have now accepted as part and parcel of the IT business. Either they take them into their stride and move on or they completely move out of the IT business altogether. Most of them complain that the vendors are not defining clear policies on either of the above issues. To add to it, distributors insist that they can act only in accordance to vendor policies, which means that the partners are left in a lurch as far as finding amicable solutions are concerned. There are associations who often take up cudgel on behalf of their member partners, but in the face of complete non-cooperation from the vendor side, it's not much that they can do.

The DQ Week is currently getting a first-hand experience of the situation. We recently embarked on a joint initiative with COMPASS, the association from Kolkata, on bringing clarity to the DoA policies of the vendors. The problems here are multiple-most vendors do not have any clearly enunciated policies or frameworks on this aspect; so there is no clarity in communication with the partners. In case of principals where some sort of framework is in place, there seems to be particular lack of intent and in some cases brazen indifference and nonchalance to honor the words of these policies.

Take for instance the current DQ Week campaign where we decided to examine the vendor DoA policies in a particular category every week. We started with motherboards and moved to monitors with plans to embark on notebooks next. However, in the first week itself biggies like Intel and AMD refused to share any details despite repeated attempts from our side. Ditto in case of monitors-there have been no responses from vendors like Samsung, LG or AOC. Things do not look much rosier next week when notebooks will be taken up. We have to make do in some cases with sketchy information available on the vendor websites. And in many cases, without any information at all.

So what should be done to alleviate the situation and make vendors see a reason behind adopting well-defined policies and making them clear to the channel partners as well as honoring them in both words and spirit. For one, the distributors have an important role to play here. Most partners accuse the distributors of not undertaking replacement of DoA goods and not helping them enough to deliver on customer requirements quickly.

Distributors feel that most dealers are not aware of the correct vendor policies as far as DoA and warranty replacements are concerned, and therefore find fault with the distributors. Though they agree that there are no clear-cut policies on DoA and warranty from the vendor's side, but still aver that it is the responsibility of the partner to find out and know the vendor policies. Since distributors also have targets and stocks to deal with, they feel they cannot keep track of all DoA and warranty concerns. Distributors believe they only serve as a bridge between the channel and vendors and cannot be blamed for everything.

While this mutual blame game would not lead to any concrete results, it is time that some strong actions are taken. For one, vendors need to be more accountable and should put right policies in place. And to ensure that this does not remain only a lip service, even drastic options like 'stop payment' envisaged by certain partners should not be ruled out if it proves to be the best option. Perhaps this would make vendors and even distributors treat the channel as customers and work to find amicable solutions. And distributors, perhaps instead of totally washing their hands off the matter, should rather sit with the association and vendors, and clarify all doubts as regards DoA and warranty. But the biggest mindset change has to come from vendors; and they should take this seriously, before it seriously jeopardizes their businesses in the Indian marketplace.

(rajneeshd@cybermedia.co.in)

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