This fall, students flocking to Harvard’s Technology Product Center (TPC) to purchase computers and other high-tech accessories won’t find Dell among the variety of brands available.
As of May 18, TPC is no longer authorized to sell Dell computer products. According to Frank Urzo, director of technology services for University Information Systems (UIS), the break with Dell came after the company said it would no longer be able to guarantee its best prices to all members of the Harvard community regardless of how they purchased their computers.
“Even if they’re selling directly, they can’t assure us that anyone who calls at any given time would get the lowest price available,” Urzo said.
He explained that Dell’s inability to provide best price assurance has to do with the structure of its marketing division. The company is divided into marketing groups, each of which is run by a general manager who has the freedom to set prices within his or her own group. As a result, Harvard students, faculty and staff members would have been offered different prices depending on which marketing group they contacted.
“Depending on who’s calling, they might have access to more than one of those [marketing] groups,” Urzo said. “Prices might vary based on the marketing group people call.”
Representatives from Dell were unavailable for comment.
Urzo said that UIS Repair Operations will continue to service those Dell machines purchased before May 18, but is no longer authorized to service any Dell computer purchased after that date.
Though faculty and staff may still purchase Dell products independently, they, like students, will have to seek service elsewhere.