M$ Bribes Sellers

Bribe – A price, reward, gift, or favor bestowed or promised with a view to prevent the judgment or corrupt the conduct of a judge, witness, voter, or other person in a position of trust.
[1913 Webster]

M$’s scheme to mess with competition in 2012? If sellers persuade consumers in their best judgment that Android/Linux smartphones are the best choice, M$ will bribe them $10-$15 a copy to persuade consumers that smartphones running “phoney 7” are the best choice. M$ plans to spend hundreds of millions for these bribes in 2012. I don’t know what legal fiction this scheme will cloak itself in but if you run a retail business would you want a third party bribing your employees? I suspect M$ will have to sign up retail businesses to subscribe to this mode of compensating salespeople. M$ agreed not to do exclusive dealing but now the creative department at M$ is trying “persuasive dealing” instead, anything to mess with competition.

BTW, a lot of consumers consider themselves, rightly, technologically impaired and do trust what salespeople tell them about tech products.

see Business Insider – Microsoft Will Pay AT&T Staff Who Recommend Windows Phones Over iPhone And Android

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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7 Responses to M$ Bribes Sellers

  1. Clarence Moon says:

    I don’t think that there is any ethical issue at all. The stereotype salesman is not a trusted advisor. “You can tell that a salesman is lying if you see his lips move!”, is a worn-out joke heard by everyone.

    “Caveat Emptor” is another saying. To be unethical, an act must violate some code of conduct accepted by or for the violator and no such code exists for sales clerks. Power of persuasion is the weapon used.

  2. In a salesman’s world, such payments from suppliers or distributors are called “spiffs”—it’s a common practice, prevalent when I was a stereo salesman over 40 years ago. I’m sure it’s legal, but I agree it’s not ethical.

  3. Clarence Moon says:

    I don’t think that the offer from Microsoft is some sort of all-skate for anyone to take advantage of. It was for AT&T salespeople, you know, the people who man the kiosks at the malls and call you if you leave your phone number on various websites touting AT&T services. The cold callers who want you to switch your cable service to their DSL stuff. The annoying twits who call when you are in the middle of something interesting. Those guys.

  4. Thanks for the info, Clarence. Now I will know how much to charge my wife for the crazy planting scheme she has for next year…

    That may take care of the minimum legal requirements but it will surely whack morale at a retailer if the memo comes down to push an unpopular product. It could also hurt sales. What will happen if a retailer loses on the deal?

  5. Clarence Moon says:

    This hardly any sort of under the table deal, Mr. Pogson. It is right out in the open as far as AT&T’s sales callers/clerks are concerned, that is AT&T is very much aware and presumably participative in the offer. Big companies, like Microsoft, often have sales promotions. That is what competition is all about, isn’t it?

    I think that just about everyone around here pays their gardners a piecework deal, the same as I do. Someone comes out and creates a plan for the work and then gets a percentage, about 50% of the plant price, to do the planting. For continued maintenance, they get a flat fee per week for the overall work to cut and edge the lawn, weed the flower beds, prune the bushes and trees, and so on. No problem with me if they cut next door, too. (Actually they do.)

  6. Clarence Moon wrote, “Since when is paying a sales commission to the selling agent a “bribe”? “

    In law, an employee has a duty to perform for the employer. Working for a third party could be a conflict of interest, causing harm to the employer. That’s why I think M$ will try to sucker in the employers somehow.

    The kind of harm a retail business could suffer if employees work for M$ include losing business to other retailers not being bribed by M$. Clearly, consumers prefer Android/Linux smartphones. If a retailer has employees pushing “phoney 7”, a retailer could lose business. Would you be happy if your gardener did a little work for your neighbours, “on the side”, while you paid him by the hour?

  7. Clarence Moon says:

    Good grief, Mr. Pogson! Since when is paying a sales commission to the selling agent a “bribe”? It would be a bribe if the customer was, say, a purchasing agent for a company and received the money personally to sway his selection, but it does not matter whether the employee doing the sales job is a direct Microsoft employee or an employee of a distributor company. A deal is a deal and a commission is a commission.

    Get on your soapbox and rail against the so-called “financial planners” who steer old folks into life insurance or annuities that they do not need but pay good commissions to the agents selling them. Those are not bribes either, but they are much more egregious examples of a “trusted salesman” leading gullible folk astray. Or the magazine peddlers who load up the old folks with subscriptions that were alleged to surely result in sweepstakes riches. Or useless merchandise that they cannot really afford being peddled in the same way.

    There really is no phone that is clearly any better than the next, Mr. Pogson. They all look alike, work alike, and, pretty much, cost alike.

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