A year ago: US Var alleges heavy-handed treatment by Intel

Company censored from Intel Usenet

A US value added reseller is claiming sinister goings on following what appears to have been the irretrievable breakdown of its relations with Intel. Ken Catto, general manager at Select Micro Systems (SMS), has been barred from Intel newsgroups, says he has been leaned on by anonymous individuals "purportedly from Intel," and alleges that "two very long time and large suppliers (both authorised Intel distributors) took it upon themselves to inform us that it had been suggested in a phone call from Intel that they 'lose' a few of our shipments." And another anonymous visitor to his offices, he says, has been asking if other individuals still posting to Intel newsgroups work for SMS. The row started in the middle of last year over Pentium Classic supplies. Catto then complained to Intel that his company, like many other dealers, was told to continue selling the so-called Pentium Classic throughout the whole of last year to home and to small business customers. But when SMS approached its authorised distributors for supplies of the chips, it was told that they were unavailable as Intel had discontinued the range. Catto posted messages in the Intel newsgroups complaining about the problem after he claimed he was told there were "spot shortages" on the parts. After the postings, Catto met Intel executives but later learnt that the chip giant had ceased producing the products of the "Classic" range last June. Said Catto: "If this indeed was the case, why were we presented with information telling us to base our home and small business marketing on this processor in July? Why, after doing as instructed at this dealer meeting, and writing proposals and taking orders for systems based upon this process would Intel not reply to our questions regarding the virtually total lack of availability." Catto claimed that it took "extraordinary means" to get a response from Intel. But, he added: "That response was virtually too little and too late to save any of the outstanding and virtually undeliverable contracts we had in hand. Intel's unethical handling of this cost us both business and clients. If those extraordinary means required going outside the Intel newsgroup Guidelines, so be it, but don't fault me for it, fault Intel for creating the situation that made it necessary to do so." He said that at a lunch meeting he purportedly had with Intel executives, he agreed that he would cease the postings in the Intel newsgroups if they stopped "playing these kind of games" with the dealer base. But, said Catto: "I also warned them that if we saw this same chain of events repeat itself, we would do whatever was necessary to resolve any new issues with Intel." He claims that during this period, SMS's Intel representative still maintained the parts were in production. "Since the matter had been cleared up with Intel finally admitting to the truth that the Pentium Classic had indeed ceased wafer fab in June, we accepted our losses and moved forward expecting and hoping that such action on our part would not be necessary again," said Catto. But Catto said that a similar issue occurred with Intel later in the year over supplies of the Pentium Pro. (This delay was exclusively reported in The Register, passim.) He said his company had outstanding orders to deliver NT and SQL servers using the Pro but the only way to procure parts was through the grey and black markets. "We became rather irate," said Catto. "At some point in time, Intel responded with their no infamous "spot shortages" once again and that did it for us. Once again we would not accept our availability question going unanswered, so we began again with exactly the same and only approach that historically works." Catto said his company then had a visit from two executives, purportedly from Intel, who would not say who they were and refused to give their business cards to him. "They did not at any time answer even one single question we asked about availability of any processor products. Their purpose was singular and obvious, get us to shut up or else," he said. Later, Catto received an unsigned letter, again purportedly from Intel, which, he claimed, chastised his company for the attitude SMS was showing. Catto then said a series of personal attacks started on the Intel newsgroups. When he replied to the attacks, he found himself "chastised" by Intel in every case. Catto claimed that other issues with Intel emerged more recently. "We have had a significant number of people being referred to us by other resellers, since we are (were) an Authorized Intel Processor Dealers and they expected us to deal with their new Pentium II's shutting down due to excessive heat and or lack of proper thermal design in the ATX case/ATX Power Supply/Pentium II package. I might add that this included an equal number of clones and brand name systems. When we attempted to broach this problem with the newsgroup reps all we got were references to the PII thermal specs and the ATX specs." Catto admitted that he became angry over these issues. "But when an industry leader like Intel chooses to ignore and then silence any person attempting to carry the market's message to them, rather than deal with the problems that are causing the messages to be generated in the first place, what can we expect next," he said. Any postings from Intel newsgroups he makes are now removed, Catto alleged, including articles he has posted from previous issues of The Register. Another unsigned letter, again purportedly from Intel, has claimed that Catto has infringed another's copyright, trademark or trade secret. He has said to Intel: "This is a very serious charge, and I take it very seriously, and I now demand that you provide undeniable proof or retract this slanderous statement immediately." Catto ended: "Since Intel is so obviously continuing in the typically unprofessional manner that has been associated with Intel in the past by others, at this time, we wish to take this opportunity to state that should any Intel employee, representative, or anybody connected with Intel in any way set foot within any of our offices, shop space, or exhibit space at any trade show, uninvited, we will immediately pursue trespassing charges. "Should any further attempts at intimidation occur in person, by phone or by email, either directly or indirectly through suppliers or other industry contacts we will pursue harassment and restraint of trade charges. This is not a threat, it is a response that is intended to protect our employees, our suppliers, and our customers." In the middle of last week and again on Friday, The Register put some of these allegations to Intel but at press time we have not so far received an answer. According to Catto, an Intel representative, has, however, replied in the newsgroups from which he is now barred. ®

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