Tuesday, December 04, 2007

This Christmas [Shopping] Season: Caveat Emptor

Now that we have entered the high-season for shopping for driving safety tools such as radar detectors, laser jammers, and related accessories, I think it is important to point out to the unsuspecting shopper looking to make a purchasing decision primarily on price alone that your purchasing decision which may save you a little on the front-end may cost you big-time on the back-end.

All of the leading radar detector manufacturers (which sell through retail channels) such as Beltronics, Escort, and Whistler have established MAP pricing and an authorized dealer program.

Purchasing a product online [below MAP] means that you are purchasing your products from unauthorized dealers who either may be selling "gray market products" or outright counterfeits.

Beltronics' and Escort's Official Statement:

Please be aware of the following risks if you purchase [Escort or Beltronics] products from an unauthorized reseller:
  • Possible exclusion of [Escort/Beltronics] warranty due to:
  • Purchase of stolen merchandise
  • Inability to validate the original purchase date and ownership with the original sales receipt AND the transfer of ownership with any subsequent bill of sale
  • Item shipped to you may be counterfeit, forged, or refurbished goods
  • Item may ship with serial numbers removed or modified
  • Item may appear new but contain internal water damage or damage from improper use
  • Item may never ship - contact with the seller may be difficult or impossible
  • Price may be inflated, incorrect, or changed after you place your order
  • Inferior product may be substituted for the advertised [Escort/Beltronics] product
The list is the same for both companies, but may not be complete: Unauthorized Dealer List

Whistler Group takes a similar position:

BUYER BEWARE! Please be aware of the following risks if you purchase Whistler products from an unauthorized reseller: Subject to exclusion of Whistler warranty due to:
  • Purchase of stolen merchandise
  • Inability to validate the original purchase date and ownership with the original sales receipt
  • Item shipped to you may be counterfeit, or refurbished goods
  • Item may ship with serial numbers removed
  • Item may appear new but contain damage from improper use
  • Price may be incorrect, or changed after you place your order
A partial list of unauthorized dealers is provided on their site, as well.

Unlike other consumer electronics, radar detectors and laser jammers are specialty niche products which require competent sales and service organizations to enable you as the consumer to make informed purchasing decisions.

Organizations which must resort to discounting and/or competing solely on price are likely the least adept at either (sales or service).

Furthermore since they are often "profit-through-sales-volume" driven, your interests are not likely high on their list of priorities. Oftentimes at such retailers/web-sites I see products for sale (to the unsuspecting consumer) which have demonstrated or been proven to be completely ineffective at meeting their stated/advertised claims (such as radar jammers/radar scramblers).

Sticking with authorized retailers ensures that you will have the most updated and fresh products.

Some retailers of "bulk" or "overstock" items likely have made bulk purchases that may be a year (or more)
old so that product that you may receive, while technically "new", is actually old/stale inventory that may be outdated and is not updateable from the manufacturer given the nature of your purchase.

In just a year's time Beltronics has updated their STi Driver with a "33.8" fix, Escort has updated their Passport 9500i with a "signal ramp" fix, and Whistler has provided a Rev C update to their Pro 78 and XTR 690 radar detectors.

Only the highest quality dealers would even be knowledgeable of such nuances which have a big impact on performance and your ultimate ownership experience.

Be wary of sites which link to such retailers as your interests are certainly not theirs.

At the end of the day, your driving record [or that of the recipient of your gift] is not worth the risk of "saving" a few bucks.

Of course you can purchase the products directly from some of these manufacturers which provide direct online sales (as does Valentine Research), but if you are considering enhancing your purchase with appropriate bundling or getting some independent and experienced advice from those who actually live with selling and using these products, there are two stand-outs of online dealers in the U.S. worth noting:
Each of these dealers gives something back to our industry, by providing quality purchasing guidance and support of products only demonstrated to work as advertised.

They have resisted the temptation to selling products which either don't work as advertised or are being sold in this country illegally or in violation of patents or trademarks, merely for making a quick profit (at your expense).

Their selling proposition is NOT price alone. On the contrary, unlike quick-buck artists, these guys are in it for the long haul.

Happy [and safe] shopping this Holiday Season.

Veil Guy
Post a Comment