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Obviously badly shaken by the flak it has received from distributors and dealers as it emulates the Dell direct model, Compaq has introduced full details of how much it cares for the channel. Tomorrow, according to US reports, distributors will be told that they can get an extra few points of margin if they sell ProSignia boxes. But over at You are Part of the Plan, Compaq is rolling out its SMB Advisory Council. This gives small and medium sized businesses a clear option: buy direct from Compaq or use its channel. Given that Hobson's Choice, which method will they use? According to the Web pages, which have snuck in under the usual PR flak, part of the "Plan" is to address inequities in the sale of ProSignias. Needless to say, these inequities (iniquities) are caused by Compaq itself. The evidence for this is a particularly coy statement on the site which quotes an unnamed value added reseller as saying: "PartnerDirect seemed to be a move by Compaq to diffuse the argument that Compaq was going around the distributors with DirectPlus, said one VAR not yet briefed on the program." This source is made to say this so that Compaq can knock down the arguments to PartnerDirect. Evidently, Compaq has had its entire dealer community up in arms. And who can blame them? ®

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