Mudslinging in the voice channel

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A senior staffer at Alcatel distributor VExpress claimed the company is poised to poach voice data resellers from vendors Avaya, Samsung, LG and competing distributor LAN Systems, following alleged conversations he has had with its partners.

A senior staffer at Alcatel distributor VExpress claimed the company is poised to poach voice data resellers from vendors Avaya, Samsung, LG and competing distributor LAN Systems, following alleged conversations he has had with its partners.

Grant Morrison, operations manager at VExpress claimed the distributor had taken on five Avaya partners over the past two months and those partners were not happy with what he termed Avaya's 'predatory' behaviour in the channel.

'What they are not doing is pushing Avaya solutions, but they won't walk away from their customers,' he said.
Morrison said the resellers, who had declined to be named, were promoting other products over Avaya's when opportunities came up due to their displeasure that the vendor was taking too much business direct.

'Most are working through IPL as a distributor for these guys. Naming them is very hard but ... they are getting a very clear vibe [from Avaya] that the customers are Avaya's, not theirs,' Morrison said.

'They're not walking away from Avaya but they want to drive the people across to new technology next time,' he added.
Morrison claimed that the Avaya resellers he had spoken to were 'seriously looking for a better option' and that VExpress - the distribution arm of Australian voice-and-data reseller VoIP - was poised to benefit.

'The situation has greatly accelerated our business ... We make it easy for the channel to win new business, and help them make more money by distributing value-added voice, data, security services and training,' he said.

A spokesperson for Avaya said Morrison's claims against the company were 'rubbish'.
'We work very closely with our channel partners. This is just sour grapes - [VExpress] is just trying to get a bit of free media,' she said.

Morrison also claimed that VExpress was also receiving interest from disgruntled resellers of other vendors, especially LG [Electronics] and Samsung. 'We're getting more people coming across from other vendors, including LG and Samsung - which seems to have delusions of grandeur. They are appointing channels on channels with channels. I've probably got two or three people a week who say 'I'm working with so-and-so and [not happy]',' he said.

Morrison said Samsung and LG Electronics had been guilty of 'drive-by shootings', where a reseller worked hard to set up a deal only to have the vendor swoop in at the end and make the customer a better offer.

'To go and spend two to three months and invest really heavily ... only to find [the customers] ring the vendor and do the deal with them at the last minute, that's the type of activity we're talking about,' Morrison said.

A spokesperson for Samsung said that the Korean company doesn't itself operate in the voice-and-data communications space in Australia, but LSP Communications is the agent which deals direct with Samsung Electronics in Korea to bring that vendor's voice-and-data range here.

Chris Lynch, sales and marketing director at LSP Communications, said he was 'really surprised' by the allegations. 'The first point is that we really primarily focus on the reseller channel to go to market. We do have some people who sell direct but more larger customers, like ANZ Bank and people like that,' Lynch said.

He said that LSP Communications did about 10 percent of its business direct but had a good, strong relationship with its indirect channel resellers. 'There's no question that, in our business, if there's a problem, they come to us and talk about it ... And we haven't got a large number of dealers that we try to work with,' Lynch said.

LG Electronics' communications department was contacted for comment Wednesday morning but the vendor had not replied at the time of going to press. A spokesperson, however, said that as far as she could tell there was no substance to Morrison's 'drive-by shootings' allegations. 'If you are referring to IT monitors, then I would have to deny any negative claims. I am checking our other product categories,' she said.

Morrison also claimed to be boosting VExpress reseller ranks to 60 in the near future with the addition of 30 resellers which had until now worked with LAN Systems to shift Alcatel voice-and-data gear, specifically the OmniPCX range which VExpress most relies on.

'LAN Systems has sent a letter to all its channel partners suggesting they will no longer be selling the Alcatel product,' Morrison alleged.

Morrison forwarded to CRN what he claimed to be the email memo in question, which he said 'someone in the channel' had given him. The plain text message sighted by CRN reads: 'ATTN:  OmniPCX Partners, Unfortunately, LAN Systems is not able to process new orders (eg. software keys, new chassis) on Alcatel at this time.

LAN Systems still has a range of OmniPCX equipment in warehouse - see attached list of current quantities and SPECIAL PRICING.  You can continue ordering these items from LAN Systems while stocks last.

Please contact your local LAN Sales Representative for further details...' An Excel format LAN Systems price list for Alcatel's OmniPCX range was attached.

Nick Verykios, MD at LAN Systems, said the distributor was certainly not withdrawing either from its Alcatel relationship or from its convergence business, which had grown to 23 percent of the company's $150 million revenue.

'Our fastest growing business is voice ... why would we pull out?' he said. Verykios said the memo referred to a temporary supply issue which had since been resolved. LAN Systems itself had referred its resellers to VExpress in the meantime, he said. 'This is a bit of a low blow,' Verykios said.


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