CRM software maker Siebel Systems said it has asked the US Federal Bureau of Investigation to look into the leak of internal documents.
The company has gone on the offensive to quash rumours that portray its customer service in a negative light.
The rumours stem from data contained in a confidential, Siebel-sponsored customer survey, which the company says was unlawfully leaked to traders, analysts and reporters.
Siebel scheduled a press conference after Briefing.com posted a note on its investment research site. The posting read, "We are hearing chatter that an internal SEBL memo citing negative customer satisfaction reviews is floating around trading desks; however, we have not seen this memo and cannot confirm that it exists."
Steve Mankoff, Siebel's senior vice-president of technical services, said excerpts from its third-quarter 2002 customer satisfaction survey had been stolen and sent to select parties. The intent was malicious, he said.
"Someone has taken, selectively, eight pages of the 75-page report, clearly marked 'confidential', and over the past month systematically leaked it to members of the financial community, press and analyst community," said Nitsa Zuppas, senior director of public relations at Siebel.
"It is confidential, proprietary information. It was clearly stolen and leaked. It was a violation of the law, and the FBI is looking into it," Zuppas said.
The software maker did not dispute the authenticity of the leaked data but said it was taken out of context. "We're not perfect. No company is perfect. In any given survey, what we've seen is a couple of problem areas," Mankoff said.
He stressed that overall, Siebel's third-quarter 2002 customer satisfaction scores were positive. "What's happened is that some of the negative slides - the only negative slides - are the ones that were basically stolen and leaked out," he said.
Mankoff has released other information from the report to show positive feedback from Siebel customers.