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Have the good folk of Compaq UK finally gone mad? In an uncharacteristic outburst of pugilism, Compaq has blasted Dell for its ‘cut out the middleman’ ad campaign. It even went as far as projecting its own ads on the Dell UK headquarters in Bracknell on Tuesday evening, demanding that Dell comes clean about its attitude toward the channel. Dell has turned round and denied the stunt even took place, according to reports on VNU Newswire. Brian McBride, vice president of Dell UK & Ireland is reported to have said: “We had a security alert in the middle of the night, but that was it.” A Compaq representative laughed at Dell’s response. “We’ve got the photos,” she told The Register. Compaq’s beef with the direct-selling demon is that while it advises customers to cut out the middleman (ie the channel), it actually relies heavily on third parties to provide installation and support services. So much so, Compaq claims, that Dell is actively courting the UK channel. Another claim that Dell is quick to stomp on. Some people in the UK channel may find a not-so-subtle irony in Compaq’s latest stance. Compaq has been inching closer and closer toward establishing direct links with its customers for the last two years. A move which led some Compaq resellers to accuse the PC giant of deserting the very partners that helped it grow. Perhaps the silly season has come early this year. ®

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