Canon billing problems cause reseller angst

A reseller group has expressed grave concerns with Canon's internal billing systems, claiming persistent issues are fuelling credit management problems.

Leading Edge Group (LEG) credit manager, Bruce Cook, said he had experienced problems receiving invoices from Canon since its transition to its new software platform on December 31.

While stock and supplies were being delivered, customer invoices had been infrequent, he said. Because of this, many of those members in the Leading Edge Group were chalking up rising bills with the vendor that were not being paid.

"There are transactions going through, but not all - it's not a normal working system," Cook said. "We have been experiencing problems with invoicing for months."

The biggest concern was how resellers would fare when the bills arrived, he said.

"That's the big issue: what will they do when the bills all come through," Cook said.

LEG had not been given any indication from the vendor on when the issues would be resolved, he said.

Canon spent $40 million transitioning to a new billing system on December 31. The platform is based on Oracle's 11i software and includes about 150 modules including CRM, HR and payroll.

Since the move, the vendor has experienced ongoing problems with its billing procedures. In February, it was forced to send out written apologies to customers over due date errors made in its accounts receivable system. At the time, a spokesperson for Canon Australia claimed the glitches were the result of fine-tuning and configuring the new system to suit its business model.

A company spokesperson said the majority of software problems had now been fixed.

"The transition phase is now nearing completion and most customer issues have been substantially resolved," he said.

"As is normal with any major implementation of this nature, the transition phase involved a period of fine-tuning and system configuration. This resulted in some delays in the issuing of invoices to customers and we apologise for any inconvenience this may have caused."

However, computer dealers at last week's LEG conference in Auckland claimed they were still receiving minimal paperwork from the vendor.

In his opening speech, Leading Edge Computers (LEC) general manager, Ross Whitelaw, said communications between the two parties continued to be plagued by problems. Sales made by LEC and Canon had actually dropped by nine per cent over the past year, he added.

"They have still not been able to deliver the services we need," he said.

Whitelaw said there was a great deal of member dissatisfaction about dealings with the vendor.

As a result, LEG would be taking concerns raised at the conference and setting up a meeting with Canon to discuss them, he said.

The Canon spokesperson said it would be happy to sit down with LEG to discuss any lingering concerns.

"Leading Edge stores should be receiving invoices on a regular basis, while Leading Edge head office is receiving regular monthly statements," the spokesperson said. "If any resellers continue to experience invoicing issues, they should contact their Canon representative immediately and we will address any remaining concerns."

The spokesperson refused to be drawn on whether Canon would offer any extensions on invoice payments.

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