Reseller News

Netgear vacancy sours customer experience

  • Chris Bell (Unknown Publication)
  • 03 May, 2009 22:00

A complaint received by Reseller News suggests Netgear may be struggling to fulfil New Zealand orders and service requests while it seeks to replace its country manager.

A person who called herself “Mary”, whose employer is a customer of the vendor, works for a company in the entertainment industry and requested anonymity. Her employer bought a high-end Netgear ReadyNAS Pro server earlier this year. She says the company had ongoing backup problems with the server until it failed completely in mid-April.

“It seems Netgear has closed up in New Zealand, leaving it to its distributors to support the product,” Mary claims. “None of them know what the procedures are to get our unit replaced. There is no stock — new or warranty — in New Zealand. Our reseller tells us there is no stock in Australia, either.”

Mary’s company has been dealing with ExpressNet and says her company has received excellent service from the reseller. Her contact there is James Caldwell, who was Netgear’s New Zealand country manager between March 2003 and January 2008, prior to Phil Presnall. In late March, RN reported that Presnall had left Netgear after just a year in the role; returning to Express Data, where he had been a product manager around 10 years previously.

At the time Mary contacted us, she said her company’s best hope was for a new server to be delivered from Netgear’s Hong Kong factory, but said that was still weeks away. She had not been able to get an answer from Netgear Australia about the best alternative course of action. “No one there seems to care about us Kiwis. So we’re left in limbo.”

Caldwell of ExpressNet says as an online retailer, his company doesn’t hold stock. “When we get an order we place it with distribution.” He says ExpressNet doesn’t have further orders pending for high-end Netgear products, but doesn’t think he would be able to fulfil them easily if he did. “There would be a delay,” he says.

Caldwell says he would appreciate it if Netgear were to appoint a successor to Presnall. “But in these times, as people leave they’re not getting replaced. The whole industry at the moment is a bit fraught, when numbers are down and the pressure’s on.”

However, Ryan Parker, country manager of Netgear Australia, says that although the company has yet to make a hire, Presnall will be replaced and there’s no risk to the business as a result of the vacancy. “We’re pretty much able to bridge that because we have a well-established team here in Australia able to support both businesses. I get over once every five weeks and am in constant contact with my distributors over there.

“It’s just a matter of a bit more workload for me to cover, while we go through the recruiting process.”

That process is well underway, Parker claims. “We appointed a country manager, of course, with the hope that things would settle down and the business would grow. One of the things about finding country managers is that you want them to have the skill-set and the ability to grow your business. [Presnall’s departure] was as much of a surprise to me as when our previous country manager resigned.”

In New Zealand, Netgear’s primary distribution partners are Ingram Micro and Synnex. It appointed the latter last year to bring the New Zealand channel in line with Australia and for “ease of operation” says Parker. The vendor also works with eXceed to service the SME market.

Caldwell says eXceed is ExpressNet’s Netgear distributor, and says he is happy with what it has done for ‘Mary’s’ company. “As I understand it, they sub-distribute from Synnex, so Synnex holds the stock.”

Parker says he is generally happy with the distributors’ ability to fulfil Netgear orders. “They do a good job for us. Sometimes the distributors don’t carry all the SKUs that we’d like them to, but that’s the nature of the beast.”

He attributes the reticence of distributors to carry more stock to the economic climate. “It’s a symptom of the fact that everyone’s concerned about the slowing down of the economy on a global basis, so everyone’s looking at their inventory levels and the way they conduct business.”

Just before we went to press, Mary got in touch with Reseller News again. “I just got a call from my reseller who said a new ReadyNAS turned up from Sydney yesterday,” she says. “The data is being reloaded and it will be with us shortly.”

Reseller News approached Synnex country manager, Richard Harri, and Ingram Micro’s New Zealand managing director, Gary Bigwood, for comment, but neither responded in the time available.