The Signal Collection -- Thu, 06/04/2009 - 09:59

I've read with interest the promotion for The Golden Ear Club.
As it now reads, it would seem that TGEC will be an organization (in part) that circumvents the traditional retail path of a component and service, providing direct access between the consumer and the manufacturer. While there are plenty of companies that do business direct (nothing wrong with that) - most the companies you've listed so far as participating manufacturers maintain bricks-and-mortar dealership relationships, and these dealers may see the program as an encroachment.
Allow me to explain: Often times B-Stock and Close Out products are offered to dealers at an accelerated discount. This helps the manufacturer clear inventory while giving the dealer an opportunity to offer a great price on a component of value. Also - by offering "hot rod" versions of products, review units, et al to consumers - the dealer (who, by far, has shoulder the most risk in this equation) is not only being circumvented, but a consumer who may have been the dealer's customer is no longer shopping for Hi Fi. The ecosystem we rely upon has a significant player removed from the board.
And the issue seems two-fold:
1) The dealer, who - like Atlas - rests the burden of the industry on his shoulders, is denied the opportunity to serve the customer.
2) The customer - upon having a problem with his product - cannot reasonably ask or expect the dealer of that brand for help.
While I applaud the idea of special TAS events, access to Editors, review previews and quarterly updates - creating a commercial bazaar for product (B-Tock, Hot Rod, or otherwise) seems to me as if it might be crushing the toes of the retailers who maintain the health of our industry by representing and demonstrating good products, and by servicing the needs of their local clients.
Your TGEC page cites the support of dealers, so perhaps I'm off base in my assessment of the idea. As well, it may be too early to tell given that you've only laid out a general overview of the program.
Which leaves me curious to know what sorts of conversations evolved as the merits and pitfalls of TGEC were being presented - not only amongst the editorial staff, but with your manufacturer, distributor, and dealer partners. Any insight into these sorts of discussions would be appreciated (and educational).
Best regards,
Chris Sommovigo

Elliot Goldman -- Thu, 06/04/2009 - 14:50

 Dear Mr. Martin,
Let me be the first dealer to pull all my advertising and cancel my subscription if you are going to offer gear for sale. IMO this is a direct conflict of interest.  It  seems the magazine and website could care less about the dealers who have supported the magazine since its inception.
If you cross this line I believe you are making a very big mistake.

sheepherder -- Fri, 06/05/2009 - 05:47

Mr Goodman,
My suggestion is contact your 2 senators and member of the House of Representatives and maybe you can get a congressional hearing on the issue like GM and Chrysler dealers! Now I would never compare a fine member of the audio dealer community to the stealers that appeared before the Senate crying and moaning. Nothing worse than a bunch fo whiners whose business model is still to rip off customers coming before a bunch of crooked politicians asking their comrades for relief from Fiat and Government Motors. 

Shenandoah Valley, VA

Elliot Goldman -- Fri, 06/05/2009 - 08:44

Dear Sheep,
As usual your comments are right on target. I just don't have any idea what that target is. I still believe that America is a country where you can speak freely and give your thoughts and concerns I guess you have forgotten that with all your rhetoric. It seems you can't even read my name correctly.

Jim Hannon -- Fri, 06/05/2009 - 12:19

These are still early days in the formulation of special benefits for Golden Ear Club members. However, in these troubled economic times, I can see why any dealer might be concerned if they thought sales were being siphoned away from them, but I would encourage you not to overreact.
We are working with many enlightened manufacturers to help support their dealers through special incentives to GEC members for retail purchases. These “offers” are meant to spur sales through dealers and can take the form of: extended warranties, manufacturer rebates, bonus product “throw- ins” at retail, discount coupons for purchases of select products, incentives for system purchases, and more. Many participating manufacturers are limiting their offers to retail offers only. Additionally, in order to “get” some of these offers, members may also be required to: write on-line commentary about their product purchases, participate in dealer events, agree not to re-sell them for a year, etc. Each offer will be carefully crafted with the manufacturer, who has the ultimate choice in what is offered to GEC members.
In the case of “B Stock” and  “Special Golden Ear editions of products,” several manufacturers are already devising mechanisms to take these through their dealers, or compensate the local authorized dealer for these “limited” sales. It’s their choice on how they want to do it. (Please note that some dealers do not want to carry B stock because they are afraid it will cannibalize sales of new units.). The GEC product lending library should encourage audiophiles to try new gear and write about their findings on the AVguide/TAS site, hopefully encouraging other audiophiles to seek these units out at retail.
We hope that these offers will stimulate more frequent purchases by audiophiles, raise the visibility of new products, and help improve the financial health of manufacturers and their authorized dealers. This should be a win-win for everyone. We believe it’s a pretty enlightened marketing solution to deal with these tough times.
Hopefully, this helps clarify the member offers, and you will encourage other manufacturers and audiophiles to participate in the Golden Ear Club program.
All the best,

Elliot Goldman -- Fri, 06/05/2009 - 12:26

Dear Jim,
Thank you for clarifing the position and I think that wehn this is ready a complete disclsure of what the purpose and rules are would be nice to read. I am all in favor for anything to help the industry and to inform, educate and grow the marketplace for audio I just want to make sure that this is actually what is going to happen.
Thanks for your letter,

Jim Hannon -- Fri, 06/05/2009 - 12:44

Thanks, Elliot.
I would love to discuss other ideas for the Golden Ear Club program that would be attractive to members, manufacturers, and dealers. We're all in this together.

The Signal Coll... -- Sat, 06/06/2009 - 00:18

Hi Jim,
Thanks for the clarification. As with Elliot, I would support efforts that serve to strengthen and grow our industry through the support of bricks and mortar dealers. Using dealers as loci for events seems like a nice idea.
Best regards,

The Signal Collection, LLC
North American Distributors
of Connoisseur-Grade Hi-Fi

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