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Getting Down & Dirty

4:00 PM -- The winner of the vendors' dirty tricks poll is... Network Appliance.

Of the more than 430 respondents to our poll, 40 percent identified NetApp as a vendor that played a dirty trick on them. EMC was second with 24 percent, and Hewlett-Packard was the only other vendor to pick up double figures with 10 percent.

While it's impossible to pin specific actions to any of these vendors, the dirty tricks experienced by readers were roughly evenly split: 31 percent of respondents said they'd been the targets of bait-and-switch (selling a cheaper, stripped-down version of a product in order to hook you into buying the more expensive full version); 30 percent had experienced vendor shoulder climbing (going to the boss behind your back); and 25 percent were ambushed by hidden software licensing costs from their suppliers.

Perhaps the most surprising result of our poll was the sentiment that small companies are just as culpable as large ones. When asked if large companies were more likely to play dirty tricks, 52 said no and 48 percent said yes.

Victims of dirty tricks often get the last laugh, though. Forty-seven percent said the best response to a vendor dirty trick was to bar the supplier from bidding for future business. Another 14 percent said customers should band together to fight vendors who hit below the belt.

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