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IT suppliers are trying to tempt UK customers to maintain spending with a range of flexible payment schemes, but the special offers lag behind those around in the US. IBM, Hewlett-Packard and Sun are among the suppliers offering special purchasing schemes in the US.
In the UK, however, the deals appear to depend on individual relationships between users and suppliers and their relative bargaining strength.
IBM Global Financing is offering qualified US customers 90-day payment deferrals and interest rates as low as 5.1%.
HP in the US will undercut competitors' trade-in deals by 10%, to tempt buyers from IBM s80 and Sun E10000 servers to its high-end Superdome Unix server.
Chris Jones, analyst for channel research specialist Canalys, said, "I have not heard of anything like that in Europe. While the market is flat [suppliers] need incentives to boost sales."
Thomas Ullrich, Unix server manager, for HP Europe, admitted that there was no equivalent of the US scheme for UK customers.
"People are investing very carefully, especially since 11 September," he said. "We have a number of financing programmes such as not paying interest for the first year, and a number of points where we can become more flexible." But he said there is no "special standard programme".
Stephen Way, director of communications, IBM User Group, said, "There is always a certain amount of flexibility in the UK for big-ticket purchases at the end of the financial year. That way [suppliers] can meet sales targets and customers needs for staggered payments."
But he said, "The UK is a much smaller market than the US and deals are more likely to be done on a personal basis."