Handset manufacturer HTC has been accused of favouring its carrier partners over resellers in the UK during the release of one of its latest Android-powered smartphones.
HTC resellers report that they have only just begun receiving stock of the HTC Desire smartphone - almost one week behind HTC's carrier partners, which made the devices available to consumers from April 7.
Retailers had expected to also have the devices available by April 7, and had been processing orders (ie drawing money from customer accounts) earlier this week, according to customer's posting on the XDA bulletin board.
But the day before the devices were due to ship to customers, retailers informed buyers that the devices had been delayed.
"HTC UK has informed us today that all HTC Desires have been delayed until the 12-13 of April - affects all retailers," said one retailer, Handtec, on its website. Similar delays were reported across retailers across the United Kingdom and Europe.
Customers who cancelled their orders with these retailers have since reported that they were able to purchase SIM-locked HTC Desire's from the manufacturer's UK carrier partners T-Mobile, Orange and Vodafone, plus its carrier distribution partner, Carphones Warehouse.
Retailers and their customers were furious.
One customer claimed to receive a letter from Handtec in which the retailer confirmed said "the most likely reason for any delays to HTC official online partners may be a logistical problem, with Network providers being preferred over the Online Partners.
"We are finding it very hard to substantiate such a delay without any valid reasons and can completely understand what you mean here, we will put any info we have on the site immediately but whilst we too are in the dark we can only apologise and ask for your patience," the Handtec customer service representative reportedly wrote to a disgruntled customer.
HTC UK was unable to comment prior to deadline.
The move has also angered HTC fans in Australia that have ordered a Desire without a SIM-lock from UK retailers to use it on their choice of carrier. (Telstra has three-month exclusivity with the device in Australia as of April 27.)
A representative for HTC Australia warned that Australian customers would not be wise to jump the gun and buy from a UK reseller.
"HTC Australia does not provide local warranty for HTC phones purchased overseas, or for grey imports," a spokesman for HTC Australia said.
"Any phone presented for service or repair at any HTC-authorised service centre in Australia will be checked to see which country they originate from, before customers are advised to send their phones there for service, at their own expense.
"HTC strongly advises customers to check local device compliance and compatibility before purchase, and only to buy phones from authorised local distributors and partners."
Telstra: no delays in Australia
Telstra has reported that it expects to receive stock soon and will launch the device locally on April 27 as planned.
"The devices are in production, the software is locked down, we should have them onshore ahead of the sales date," a Telstra spokesman said.