VARs Not Ruffled By Lenovo's Deal With Office Depot


Solution providers said ThinkPads are already widely available via the Web from direct marketers such as CDW and Insight. A greater concern to some, however, is the slow pace at which Lenovo appears to be authorizing VARs as warranty service providers.

Pat Walsh, owner of The Computer Station of Orlando, Fla., said he was disappointed Lenovo decided to put high-end systems such as the titanium-encased ThinkPad Z60T and the integrated fingerprint reader T43 through Office Depot. That said, Walsh noted he could live with that scenario if Lenovo drives authorized services opportunities on those systems through VARs like him. "They are not doing service at Office Depot, Best Buy or Staples," he said. "If I can do the service, I can live with that. Otherwise, they are really sending me a message."

Lenovo executives declined to comment on the distribution deal with Office Depot. A Lenovo spokeswoman also declined to comment on any other distribution deals it might have in the works with other retail chains. When asked if pricing for solution providers would be the same as Office Depot pricing, she said that Office Depot was free to run specials and set its own pricing.

Walsh said he has pursued information about becoming an authorized service center for Lenovo systems at the XChange conference, which is run by CRN parent CMP Media, but has yet to hear from Lenovo executives. "It is one thing to go to XChange as a vendor. It is another thing to follow through with VARs after the event. I have been disappointed in their follow-through." In sharp contrast, Walsh said he's been pleased with Hewlett-Packard's authorized service program. "Authorized warranty service is crucial to places like us," he said.

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But some VARs said the Office Depot deal may help them. "These announcements scare the dealers who are mostly retail," said Joe Vaught, COO of PCPC, a solution provider in Houston. "I may lose a couple of sales, but I gain in the fact that if an individual calls me for a ThinkPad, I now have a place to send them without hurting their feelings."