Users dump vendors over warranty quibbles

Australian IT managers are refusing to deal with vendors that quibble over warranties.

The issue gained momentum this week after Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP) in the U.S. went to court to chisel out of servicing 200 printers it sold three years ago to a government agency.

HP claims the warranty ended in August when the purchase order was cut, rather than October when the equipment arrived.

Similar issues have arisen in Australia and all the IT managers Computerworld spoke to had developed strategies to deal with the problem.

Territory Health Services IT manager, Francis Kong, said that before his department was outsourced to CSC it was not an uncommon problem, and in the past he had ceased dealing with vendors that quibbled over warranties.

“It always tends to be just after the warranty expires (that problems arise).

Then it becomes an issue of we hadn’t got (the equipment) at that stage yet so the warranty actually expires two months after that. It is not easy (to prove when the warranty should start) unless you have actually documented everything, when it is delivered, time delivered; most people don’t keep that kind of information,” he said.

“Therefore it always tends to be in favour of the vendors or the suppliers. I have had cases-this is way back in Compaq days-I had to go high up in the chain, but on the whole, multinationals in Australia-they don’t care. Quite often all you can say is that I’ll never buy one of those any more and I’ve done exactly that; it is the only way you can penalize them.”

TMP Worldwide IT operations manager George Curtis, prevents the issue from arising by shipping the equipment directly to the site, but he echoed Kong’s view regarding vendors who get antsy over warranty dates.

“We normally ship our equipment direct to the site, thereby saving the double handling of that equipment. And I have found with large companies, because we spend a considerable amount of money with them, they tend to be a bit more flexible. So if something is a bit out, chances are if you speak to the account manager, they’ll still repair it. But if someone is quibbling over a month’s warranty, I don’t think I would want to be dealing with them in the future,” Curtis said.

Spotlight Stores IT manager, Carl Giadini, said there is a big difference between taking possession of the goods and putting the goods to work.

“We may very well have equipment sitting in storage sometimes for more than a month. We buy a large quantity; we get good prices for buying in bulk and then there actually is a delay between that point and installing the system,” Giadini said.

“Vendors usually take the position that the warranty starts when the equipment is shipped. What I normally do is, depending on the length of the warranty, negotiate in one big order and stage the delivery.”