Cisco's global channel boss has pledged to clamp down on grey market dealers, which are reportedly shifting billions of dollars' worth of counterfeit goods each year.
Speaking on stage on day two of Cisco's Partner Summit, global channel boss Oliver Tuszik said that a surge in counterfeit goods being sold through unauthorised channels is a problem that Cisco takes "very, very seriously".
He urged the 3,000 channel partners in attendance to contact Cisco immediately if they come across any evidence of counterfeit or grey market dealers undercutting their deals.
In his keynote, Tuszik drew from personal experience during his tenure as CEO of Computacenter Germany.
"This is something I personally experienced before… This happened to me when I was running a systems integrator. I was running a big deal to create an incredible value to the customer. We were 100 per cent aligned with the Cisco team, and the customer loved us. Then, for some reason, in the last minute we receive a call from the sourcing department. This gentleman says ‘hi, Mr. Tuszik, we love your offer and you've got all the approvals, but there is a company…' then he comes up with a name I've never heard before, ‘that offers all the great Cisco products 20 per cent cheaper than you do'.
"The first thing I do is call my Cisco colleague and say, ‘why did you give him a much better discount? I thought we were aligned.' Cisco says they've never heard of this company. Then we find out this is one of the companies that does not play by the rules. Grey market, counterfeit… these kind of companies can destroy your profits."
Tuszik acknowledged that grey market trading has become a problem for Cisco's partners. Last year, Cisco was awarded a "seven-figure sum" in a case with defunct Manchester-based reseller Gen-X, which was found to be selling counterfeit Cisco products to customers.
In 2017, police in the UK seized 1,000 counterfeit Cisco products from a property in Kent as part of a joint investigation with the vendor.
"We take this very, very seriously," said Tuszik. "I lost a big amount of money in my story. We're going to go after this to protect your investments. Ninety-nine per cent of our partners play by the rules; they fight hard to compete, but they stick to the rules. We will go after these people and we will continue to go after these people.
"My team was saved by the brand protection team at Cisco that goes to your customers and explains the risk of taking these fake products. If you should have any case in this area - don't wait. Contact these people or contact me. We're going to protect your investments."
The pledge by Cisco comes after a trade body called the Alliance for Grey Market and Counterfeit Abatement (AGMA) recently claimed that the counterfeit goods market is only growing. Billions of dollars' worth of tech products are sold through the grey market each year, it claims.
The trade body claims that counterfeit goods will continue to "raise costs, erode margins and damage brand reputations".
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