As XP is so firmly established, we all know that (apart from games requiring DirectX 10) everything customers buy new or reuse from their old PC installation will simply work fine.
The machine I bought was a Lenovo Thinkpad R61i and it was on offer at Ingram Micro. Nothing else at the price came close to the spec and I was very impressed, so yesterday I recommended the same machine to another customer who had similar requirements.
I took their order and rang Ingram, who told me it had been on special, but the offer had run out. Very kindly though, the sales rep said there was one left and he let me have it at the previous price. So I was very happy until today when it turned up without any discs, even though XP got a specific mention on the delivery note.
For over a year now we've been getting various Downgrade Rights laptops by different manufacturers. They always have the discs and we always get asked to do the XP installation so I'm familiar with the arrangement.
When I queried the order, I was directed to Lenovo themselves where I was told that the discs would take up to 10 working days. Later they rang me back and said I had to pay £40 for a deal that Microsoft set up for free!
So where do I go now? Well, if I was someone else, maybe I'd ring my Trade Association. I would expect them to contact Ingram Micro, Lenovo and Microsoft to resolve the issue and I might expect them to highlight the problem to other indies so they know to watch out for similar issues themselves.
This is an intangible benefit of being a member of a Trade Association - by that I mean it isn't easily shown on the list of special deals arranged for members, but it is something where you really need some extra support.
However, as the buck stops here, I am sorting through all these issues myself. And, as all this is happening at the same time that I have to meet the PC Retail deadline, I can't tell you what the outcome is yet. What I can tell you is that I will keep on top of it and I know that I can rely on the support of the rest of the management team just like any other member – and this is what being in NASCR is all about.