State of the Art Pulls the Plug on Its Marketing Deal With Businessland : SCIENCE/TECHNOLOGY

Compiled by David Olmos, Times Staff Writer

If David S. Samuels has a favorite movie line, it might well be Howard Beale's battle cry from the 1970s film "Network": "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore!"

Samuels, president of a small Costa Mesa software company called State of the Art, got mad last week. So mad, in fact, that he issued a strongly worded news release in which he served notice on computer retailing giant Businessland that he wasn't going to take it anymore.

State of the Art is pulling out of a 7-month-old joint marketing program with the San Jose-based retailer because, Samuels said, Businessland "does not even know the meaning of the word 'partner.' "

The Businessland marketing program is a "one-sided sham," Samuels complained, and the retailer showed "a level of corporate arrogance and ego not welcomed at State of the Art."

This David vs. Goliath story began last April, when State of the Art, a developer of accounting software, joined Businessland's "marketing assistance partner" program. Under the plan, when a Businessland store sells a computer system, it passes on business leads to software firms participating in the MAP program. The software companies, in turn, are supposed to direct new business to Businessland.

Samuels claims that Businessland initially put a cap on the number of software companies that an individual store could do business with, but then repeatedly raised the number. As a result, he said, when the business leads were divided up, there were fewer to go around.

"When there are 15 MAPs and only 10 leads, somebody loses," Samuels asserted. "Does Businessland care? I don't think so."

A Businessland official said the company was surprised to learn of Samuels' criticism. "We had not heard of any complaints from our MAP dealers," said spokeswoman Suzanne Crocker.

Crocker disputed Samuels' claim that Businessland has sharply increased the number of MAP companies at its 93 U.S. stores. She said each Businessland store limits to four the number of MAP vendors serving a particular market, such as accounting or law offices.

She said Businessland officials have discussed the problem with Samuels and are "trying to work this through with them to resolve the misunderstanding."

Samuels, who said Businessland officials repeatedly refused to return his phone calls before he issued his news release, noted: "We have gotten their attention, to say the least."

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