Staff at outlets such as PC World, Tiny and Gateway can stop trembling in their shoes because it appears Intel may well pull the plug on its Mystery Shopping programme.
But an insider at Intel has spilled the beans about how the programme, which has run for quite a while, actually works.
In the UK, for example, the chip giant has a team of between ten and 15 people who pop into shops selling PCs, "train" the sales team, and promote whatever microprocessor is flavour of the month.
He adds: "The aim of the Mystery Shopping campaign is to make sure that the reps are doing their job properly and brainwashing the PC sales guys into promoting PIII/P4 in every scenario. And the riot act is read to the rep whose area performs poorly."
The situation is similar throughout Europe, and to keep the Intel reps on their toes, they only have 12 month contracts with Chipzilla, without nary a chance of a full time job unless they abandon their company cars, take wage cuts, and move into some desperately small cubicle in an Intel office.
He said: "One thing the top bods at Intel seem to forget that PC sales staff promote products according to what spiffs are available at the time. As Intel don't provide spiffs, it's no wonder they don't always get recommended."
A spiff, for our readers unfamiliar with this term, is an incentive to sell a particular product. Distributor sales forces are always being wooed with this type of incentive. If, for example, company X which produces a hard drive, wants the distie to sell this product, it might go so far as offering holidays in the Seychelles or a bright shiny car, for the sales rep who sells the mostest.
This, dear readers, is what makes an otherwise hellish job at a distributorship, almost worth living. ®