cisco TAC

I assume most of you know of this:

>In  an  effort   to  improve  our  responsiveness to service  requests
>forwarded    via electronic mail,   we will    be  making  a series of
>improvements  over  the coming  months.  We   ask your cooperation and
>assistance in implementing  these changes and enhancements.  With  few
>exceptions they  will  not require action  on  your part.   They will,
>however, make  available  to  you options that  improve the  speed and
>accuracy of our response.
>EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY  Cisco  Maintenance customers wishing to  open a
>case  with the Technical Assistance Center  (TAC) should forward their
>requests to TAC@localhost.
>Beginning January 1st, 1993,  we cannot guarantee responsiveness to
>other channels, i.e. cs@localhost.
>Electronic mail requests received by TAC@localhost between 8am and 5pm
>Pacific USA will be handled  with the same responsiveness as telephone
>requests.  Please note that Priority 1  - Network Down requests should
>be telephoned into the TAC for immediate action.
>FORMATTING  your email with  your service contract number,  your name,
>telephone number, a brief one line problem/question description, and a
>case  priority as  the  first 5   lines in your  electronic mail  will
>improve our responsiveness. For example:
>Cisco service contract number       92snt1234a
>First and last name                 Jane Doe
>Best number to contact you          415-555-1234
>Problem/question description        Cannot see Appletalk zones
>Case Priority                       3
>CASE PRIORITIES are defined as one of the following:
>Pri 1           Production network down, critical business impact
>Pri 2           Production net seriously degraded, serious impact
>Pri 3           Network degraded, noticeable impact to business
>Pri 4           General information, non production problems

So we contacted our cisco distributor to get the official TAC number.
They then spoke to a person named Chapman in cisco who informed them
that we can't get one.  Overseas customers have to first contact
their distributor/dealer and only through them can the TAC be approached.
This is because in order to speak to the TAC you not only need a
service contract number but also to be something they call
"TAC certified" - which means you know how to report problems to cisco
properly.  In order to become TAC certified you have to undertake a cisco
course.  My questions are:

- do all USA companies go thru this TAC certification process or is this
  just a European requirement?
- Has any European cisco user encountered this problem and what have
  you done to be able to speak to the TAC directly?

Hank Nussbacher