Backlash as O2 expands Approved


O2 said last week it was always its intention to extend its new Approved dealer programme to all five of its Centre of Excellence (COE) distributors in the face of claims among the scheme’s original members they have been misled.

O2 has opened up the Approved accreditation to distributors HSC, Redstone and MoCo in the past few weeks, and a total of 50 dealer partners. Dealers of O2’s original Approved distributor partners Avenir and Fone Logistics, signed up two weeks beforehand, complain however they joined under false pretences, promising 80 per cent of their connections to the network, among other KPIs, in the process. They claim to have understood the scheme to grant immediate and considerably exclusive accreditation.

But O2 head of indirect partners David Plumb told Mobile News: “Nothing has changed. We never said how many dealers would be on it, or anything like that. We have been working on this for six-months and the strategy from day one was always we would only work with COE distributors. We have five. I can assure you we never mentioned numbers and the strategy hasn’t changed.

“Perhaps we didn’t explain things as clearly as we might have. We said to all the partners, you have six months to prove that you can achieve our stretching KPIs. So that’s from July until the end of the year, at that point in time we will give them a letter that they can give to customers, they will go on our website, we will do training courses for them; that is when all those things will happen.

“I felt we were always very clear, all those things will happen in January 2010. Until that point they are not an Approved Partner. They are on the scheme, but they haven’t achieved the accreditation. If we gave them these things now, before they achieved anything, they wouldn’t need to achieve the stretching KPIs. Nothing is delayed. I expect them all to get there and will help them to.

“There are four million mobiles in business in SME, we have approved 50 partners, so if anyone is feeling there is a partner on every street corner, and no longer special, it’s not the case and unlikely they will ever trip over each other.”

Dealers claimed in meetings in June they were instructed by Plumb and head of indirect sales Maggie Kennedy that partners of only two distributors would be put forward, and that numbers would be limited to 20-24. They also claim they were promisedaccess to O2’s e-systems back office to action requests by August, and would be listed ‘Approved’ on the O2 website.

One dealer said: “We were told specifically there would only be two approved distributors and up to 24 dealers. It was a badge of exclusivity. Now it’s five and between 50-60 dealers. Everyone seems to have it. We have been sold a dream, and so has virtually everyone with a credible business.”

Another dealer said: “Nothing was ever mentioned about January 2010. That goes against what we were told when we joined.”