Dell has launched a new wiki, PartnerStorm, that is already fielding reseller complaints about the fledgling Dell channel program.
On PartnerStorm, the channel version of Dell’s popular IdeaStorm forum, users can post their ideas about the channel program, which is called PartnerDirect. They can also comment on each others’ ideas and vote on which are the best.
Profit margins — or the lack thereof — seem to be the biggest concern among users who have posted on PartnerStorm so far. One user, “nathan13,” writes:
I would love to sell Dell hardware but I can only purchase it at the same price as my customers can buy it. Why? … If the customer buys Dell I make no money.
Another user, “colinharris,” voices a similar complaint:
We are treated like corporate customers and get allocated an account manager who knows that we are buying on behalf of our customers. We have no idea what our margin will be on any purchase or if there will be any margin. Often, customers phone in and get as good, if not better deals than we get.
And “earlra” shares a problem encountered when trying to buy RAM and an internal hard drive from Dell:
When i looked on the Dell site, I could find only ‘reconditioned’ hard drives. To add insult to injury, I found I could get new drives at a better cost/capacity ratio from other online vendors. Why in the world would I then buy from Dell?
PartnerStorm is the latest social media initiative from Dell’s channel program. There is also the Dell Channel Blog and the PartnerDirect forum, which features its fair share of partner complaints as well.
These sites are both a blessing and a curse for Dell. On one hand, they’re terrible for publicity, magnifying every bump on Dell’s road from a direct-sales giant to a channel-friendly company. But on the other hand, they give Dell a chance to confront problems immediately and openly.
Now, the big question is: Will Dell’s transparency help win over partners, or will the complaints become too loud and blow up in Dell’s face?