As we head into the Channel Partners Expo in Vegas, we get the story of an agent being played by a carrier. Now it's not that unusual for agents to have carrier commission collection issues. There have been many stories about it in the last 18 months. What makes this unusual is that the carrier is a cable company.
At the Channel Partners Expo in Boston in August of 2008, there was a panel of MSO channel chiefs. The audience of agents was worried about one thing: Commissions. Typical.
I questioned the MSO commit to the Channel. It sounded as if it was an experiment. Short term view. Market grab tactics. No long term view. That spells disaster.
The story goes that our Master Agent signed up direct with TW Cable. Here's Sam's own words:
"I reached out to Time Warner Cable August of 2008 about becoming an agent with them. At the time Brian Snorthheim, Director of Marketing, interview me over the phone and set up a conference call with Greg Iuzzolino, Director of Alternate Channels. We negotiated an agent agreement. We received training on intranet tools and pricing thereafter."
"From September 2008 until August 2009 we found packages offered with bandwidth and pricing not to be in line with regional Time Warner Cable offerings. [Editor: In other words, direct pricing was cheaper than agent pricing.] When Greg and Brian visited our office the end of Feb. 2009, they confirmed the problems with regional offers versus national packages, but said they would be updating future packages to compete in-region. Not until I received new rate card with higher bandwidth offerings in September 2009 did NCG finally get traction with customers. During Sept 2008 thru August 2009, I felt it was a waste to time to send pricing because we didn't want to advertize TWBC and have customers call directly to regional office and receive better offerings."
"The support was limited to questions on pricing of opportunities we weren't able to price from the rate card. The Time Warner channel team never once called to see how things were going."
After selling 2 accounts via sub-agents, no commission payments were forth-coming. When Sam called to follow up on the commissions, TWBC told him that he needed to move under a Master Agent (Intelsys), since NCG's contract was being canceled. No notice was given. No 30 day out clause. No payment for the 2 accounts sold by the sub-agents. A bunch of phone calls and emails by Sam went largely unanswered.
"Were you going to let me know we were dropped, if I didn't ask where my commissions were?", asks Sam.
This is an example of a carrier handling a situation poorly. Moreover, it demonstrates that the Channel Management doesn't understand that Agents make their very living from commissions.