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Miscellaneous rumblings and grumblings--I just had a long telephone conversation with a friend who has been in the television sales and service business for about 25 years in a small town--ever since he and I finished school together. His current complaint about manufacturer--or perhaps more properly distributor/dealer--relations, regards non servicing dealers. The brand he sells and has sold for 20 years, now is sold by non-servicing dealers in most of the nearby towns. At times they will actually tell potential sales, as they underbid the servicing dealers, "XYZ TV in the next town will take care of service," when no agreement for such service has ever been made between them.
The real complaint is that these furniture stores and such, will sell for $35 or $50 less than the servicing dealers feel they can and then exist as parasites on another's service. To complicate matters further, because this brand's manufacturer refuses to pay the dealer's going rate for warranty service, recently several of the furniture and appliance stores which previously did maintain service departments have closed them. Recently my dealer friend submitted revised rates to his manufacturer, many months after he had found it necessary to raise his charges generally, only to have them sent back slashed significantly--to below his cost of making a service call, for example-and even though his rates are, by most reasonable standards, rather low. I guess I was under the mistaken impression that this was not presently such a big problem, at least with the major manufacturers. I am sorry to see it appears as much a problem as ever.
What can be done about the situation? Given the "independence" of the average service/dealer, probably nothing. What will happen is: a few more of you will be forced out of business-and perhaps you should be. What could happen is: if all of you would resolve to make a decent wage from your labor and a reasonable return on your investment, you would simply increase your charges enough to stop subsidizing the parasite dealer and the manufacturer. I know that some service/dealers require purchase sales receipts for all warranty work. They then refuse to service those sets sold by discount houses and other sources of what they regard as unfair competition. If everyone does this, it works; if only a few do, it fails. Another tactic would be to look around at the other manufacturers / distributors and try to find one which emphasizes service, if any do. The long term result may be that there will be very little warranty service outside of large cities--as there is now with some of the imported brands. In a sense you small town dealers will then be getting even with your customers who always look for a "deal", but at what a price? Your comments are welcome.
Sincerely, Walter H. Schwartz, Editor (Duluth)
(source: Electronic Technician/Dealer)