EE needs to show it cares for its dealers

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EE may be close to rectifying its commission issues – but emotions from its (at the time of writing) out-of-pocket partners are running high

It was shocking to hear that dealers are still owed hundreds of thousands of pounds if not millions in commissions from EE since it launched as its own brand in October 2012.

Dealers are not happy at all. One told us the extent of the problems had led him to believe that EE may never be able to fix this and accused the mobile operator of lying to them.

Another slammed EE for not having the structures and mechanisms in place to pay commissions in the first place and doubted the relationship between the two, saying dealers are feeling “pretty beaten and unloved”.

Based on the problems they have experienced for more than a year-and-a-half, these are all extremely valid points. Who can blame them?

Dealers claim that EE has continuously assured them of fixes being implemented to clear up the problem. Last July, then-director of indirect sales Nathan Vautier had promised dealers that revenue share for new business would be paid on a monthly basis starting from that month, but dealers claim the problems persisted.

The same month, EE chief executive Olaf Swantee told Mobile News the operator was ramping up its focus on B2B connections made through the indirect dealer channel, after the launch of its 4G network sparked a six-month high for sales.

“We recognise the importance of indirect partners in this area, particularly in SMB but also medium-sized accounts,” he had said. “We want to work even closer with the indirect channel and strengthen our relationship to drive this forward.”

If this is the case, why aren’t some dealers getting paid? The problem is that just under a year on from those comments, the relationship between EE and its indirect dealer channel appears to be more strained than ever.

Imagine working 200 hours in a month and realising on the 31st of that month that you’re not getting paid for all your hard work. That is exactly what the dealers have been going through.

It’s just not acceptable. When EE officially launched in October 2012, it became the first network to launch 4G services in the UK – 10 months ahead of rivals O2 and Vodafone. It made a big fuss about its rollout plans and the various benefits of 4G. It said it was investing £1.5 billion in its network in order to achieve this, as well as having the biggest 3G network.

In addition, it also rebranded its entire 700-plus retail estate, consisting of the Everything Everywhere, Orange and T-Mobile stores, as EE.

There was no mention about the indirect dealer channel, its plans for that and how important it could prove to be in the coming months and years.

I’m not saying EE forgot about this channel but it perhaps took its eye off the ball and got wrapped up around the excitement of 4G and its rebranding plans, something that would catch the eye of the general public more.

The payment structure and systems to pay dealers correctly and on time should have been tested months in advance and ready to go on launch date, but it appears the new SAP payments platform began failing from day one. Dealers claim they haven’t been given specific reasons as to why this has happened, which doesn’t help matters.

Vodafone has had problems paying its dealers in recent months but after persistent pressure, these issues appear to have been resolved. To think that EE dealers have been complaining about this for almost 20 months is inexcusable.

Hopefully the upgrade that EE is currently rolling out to larger dealers and to its smaller partners over the coming few months works, or else we could see relations between the two hit rock bottom. If it wants dealers to help them become the partner of choice, it had better start paying more attention to them.

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