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Compaq Direct UK plans wobble

Compaq UK's plans to sell direct appear to be up in the air and covered in mist.

The company has realised it cannot fix pricing if it uses a third party to fulfil orders, and using a third party means it's not quite a direct sales policy anyway.

The company has yet to appoint a fulfilment partner but denies rumours it has abandoned its original policy in favour of appointing five fulfilment houses. The direct policy, which Compaq spokesman David Hargreaves defines as a "lead management" scheme, will be handled by Compaq's recently developed call centre in Scotland.

"Compaq is slowly trying to put the pieces in place," said Hargreaves, who added the market would start to see implementation of the policy over the next six months. The call centre will act as a sales lead filter, ensuring companies of more than nine employees are not directed to "the micro market fulfilment house," he said.

Companies of more than nine employees will not get access to systems which are to be tailored to the micro market, and Hargreaves denies Compaq would accept large orders from customers who do not fit the micro market category. "Companies of more than 12 employees have different objectives," said Hargreaves and the call centre would point such customers to suitable dealers, depending on size of order and geographical location."

Jed Dandy, marketing manager of leading Compaq dealer Fraser Associates said he had not heard of the price fixing dilemma but described Compaq's plans as "quasi-direct", and added that "almost everyone else has a quasi-direct route to market, whether they say they are direct or not. Maybe Compaq is just being honest."

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