Synaxon UK MD Derek Jones on how the IT industry can still do much more to protect customers and the reputation of legitimate channel organisations.
We hear about trade associations all the time. The Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) does a tremendous job in providing holiday-makers with a guarantee that they will be looked after should their agent go out of business.
However, ABTA is not only there to protect customers. It safeguards the reputation of the industry as a whole. When people buy their holiday they have an effective, respected trade body to which they can turn should something go awry or they are treated unfairly.
Customers who buy technology products have no such reassurance. That’s why the IT channel needs decent representation in the form of its own trade association.
When a technology supplier goes bust, treats them unfairly, or leaves them without service or support for some reason, they have no-one to whom they can turn, no guarantees, no recourse – other than those enshrined in statutory laws.
Although it is unlikely that a technology channel trade association could offer the serious consumer guarantees expected from an organisation like ABTA, our industry can still do much more to protect customers and the reputation of legitimate channel organisations.
Most recognised trades in the UK have their own association that sets standards and a code of professional behaviour to which its members are expected to adhere. The bare minimum that we should expect from our technology trade association is that they operate a very strict joining and monitoring procedure, so that only legitimate businesses can join the association. Credit checks, background checks on directors and a visit to the prospective applicant’s place of work before joining should be the absolute minimum.
Wearing the badge of our trade association should have some real meaning – it is not a qualification. The association logo has to be a badge of honour, the mark of an ethical organisation that abides by a strict and enforceable code of practice. A badge that tells customers and their suppliers that they have a point of recourse, a professional body to which they may turn if required.
The principle objective of a technology channel association must be to protect our industry, keeping the technology channel as strong as possible for as long as possible. A trade association would protect all of us whilst enhancing the reputation of legitimate technology companies.
The channel association has a responsibility to its members and to the industry to expose those organisations that potentially damage the reputation of the legitimate, hardworking and genuine trader.