Friday, October 14, 2011

Proliferation of racks of mass destruction

At the moment, there are 5 items on my desk that should rather be placed in a rack cabinet. These include an Itanium 2 server, a couple of UltraSPARC workstations, a monitor and a pair of Sun 5 and 6 keyboards. I therefore started to actively search for a fitting rack. I figured out that I need at least a 32U, 600mm-x-900mm cabinet with a couple of shelves.

After some searching I found a Czech company which manufactures these cabinets. I noticed there were no prices on their web, only a decent PDF catalog and a configurator form for inquiries. After having filled in the form, I was expecting to receive a quotation.

To my surprise, this was not going to be the case. So far, I have received the total of 5 emails from them - none containing the desired piece of information. The conversation went like this:
  • Me: Hi, I'm interested in the rack cabinet model RMA-32-A69-BAX-A1.
  • First Triton sales: Please let us know what is the country of residence of the company which is making the inquiry.
(The inquiry form only asked for name and e-mail address.)
  • Me: I live in Beroun, the same country as you are in and I need the rack cabinet for personal purposes.  What is the price?
  • First Triton sales: We don't have the black one in the stock, but can sell you the grey one which we have. If you are not a company, please contact our distributor using the following telephone number.
I did not feel like using a phone. I don't remember myself using a phone for the
sake of buying something computer-related for ages. Since they did not provide the URL of their distributor, I had to find it myself. It was not difficult at all, but to my further surprise, there were no prices on their web either.

  • Me: The color does not really matter to me. Can you just tell me the price?
  • First Triton sales: The black unit and the grey unit both have the same price. As an end customer, you need to contact the distributor to buy them.
  • Me: I found the distributor's web, but they don't list the prices either. At the moment, I just need the price. Is the price secret?
  • Second Triton sales: The price is not a secret, but it is a common practice for both us and the distributor not to list the prices on the web. I am sure they will tell you what the price is if you call them or write them an e-mail with your phone number.
  • Me: I probably underestimated the complexity of my inquiry as I was expecting a simple answer just as if I was looking for a price of e.g. a laptop. FYI, some of your competition are not that secretive about their rack cabinets.
  • Second Triton sales: Well, you see it. If you included your phone number in your e-mail signature as is appropriate, I would have already told you what was the price. I am not sure how I can further help you. You really should contact the distributor.
WTF? Turns out that I have been using my e-mail inappropriately for years! I am not sure how this is going to end. I suspect that Triton might be in a need for a brand new sales team, because the sales lady and the gentleman with whom I have spoken won't recognize a customer even if the custmer wore a label "I am a customer."


Martin Děcký said...

Yeah, this attitude "We don't care for customers, we actually don't want your money or make business with you, go away" is so typical for many businesses, especially in Czech Republic.

But it's always sad to hear about it once again.

Jan Friedel said...

I see it's the same practice even after 6+ years. IMO the thing here is, that they (still?) don't publish written prices as customers might use that "against" them. The price vary quite significantly based on your relation ship with the salesman. So they apparently strive to build a semi-strong relationship with the customer (email is probably perceived as a not sufficiently strong tool), almost every time make a business/profit, and don't sell the racks as rolls.. In other words, if you really want the rack, you would call - they have a higher chance to make a business. If I remember it correctly, it was almost every time question of weeks to get the rack (in your case just the color didn't match). For the price they were almost the only manufacturer/vendor on our market and they know they don't need to fight that much for every single customer.. (niche?)