MYOB's decision to offer $100 worth of free IT phone support with Sensis-owned services outfit Invizage Technology has left at least one reseller miffed.
David Norris, managing director at MYOB reseller Nortec IT Solutions, has branded the practice as "unethical" because it took business away from other dealers.
The accounting software company recently issued a promotional mail-out to subscribers of its support service "MYOB Cover" that offered an hour of free consultation time with Invizage.
Norris has expressed his displeasure over the promotion. "[MYOB] has now introduced a direct competitior to our customers as well as removing income we could have earned through MYOB support," he said.
"There were no advanced warnings or explanations – just a straight introduction of a direct competitor into our client sites. The Invizage website homepage makes no mention of the deal, instead pushing the fact that they do outsourced IT support.
"What they have done is unethical. All MYOB dealers should rise up and express their dissatisfaction," he said.
Norris claimed MYOB was "bypassing all dealers" with the offer and providing free network support for which Nortec would normally charge. "There's not a lot I can do because the damage has been done," Norris said.
"I just don't think [MYOB] has done it fairly and that's to the disadvantage of other resellers."
Andrew Fiori-Dea, business division general manager at MYOB Australia, said the Invizage service was in response to MYOB market research that suggested customers needed access to IT support, over the telephone and on site.
"We found many of our customers do not have dedicated IT resources and do not know how to access credible options quickly. In many instances, customers were calling MYOB Technical Support for queries that related to IT issues rather than queries about MYOB software."
"Often these IT issues were preventing them from working on their MYOB software and needed to be resolved immediately. In most instances, the need is for a quick 'helpdesk style' solution - perhaps a printer not working or a cabling problem - rather than the instigation of an ongoing supplier relationship," Fiori-Dea said.
Invizage approached MYOB at a time when it was considering how to implement IT services as part of its MYOB Cover offering. "After appropriate due diligence, MYOB and Invizage have entered into a trial relationship to offer these services to our customers," Fiori-Dea said.
MYOB had "hundreds of thousands" of customers across Australia so Invizage had to provide national coverage to all customers, he claimed.
"If a customer has an existing relationship with an IT provider, we of course advise that they seek their assistance in the first instance. The relationships resellers have already built and will continue to build should not be impacted, as they have personal, local and industry knowledge," he added.
MYOB held a soft launch for the pilot two weeks ago and had been "overwhelmed" by the positive customer feedback.
"The trial is initially for three months and during this time we will be continually evaluating its success. At the end of the trial the decision to continue with the service will be based on customer feedback," Fiori-Dea said.
MYOB welcomed proposals from any reseller or MYOB consultant, he added.