Saturday, October 07, 2017

Cedar Electronics' Escort/Beltronics/Cobra/WASP Companies Crackdown on Unscrupulous & Unauthorized Dealers

Escort Finally Crackdowns on Unscrupulous & UnAuthorized Dealers





Cedar Electronics Holdings is finally lowering the boom in a big way on unscrupulous & unauthorized dealers selling "gray" market products often below MAP pricing.

This activity has been rampant on sites like Amazon and eBay as well as on some independent dealers websites for years.

How it hurts consumers, like yourself

When you buy an Escort/Cobra/Beltronics/WASP product from one of these sources--sometimes at heavily discounted prices--you are actually buying a product that has no warranty.  If the products fail at any point, you are out of luck.

You may also be getting outfight counterfeit, refurbished, used (and repackaged shrinked wrap and all) product.  To make matters worse, the companies (online "stores") that choose to have Amazon fulfill their product offerings can their products pooled into other models that are offered by legitimate authorized dealers.  While it may appear like you are getting a deal in pricing or the benefits of Amazon Prime, you may be in fact, subjecting yourself to getting a gray market detector.

Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) for multiple stores has made it difficult on Cedar/Escort to crackdown on this activity. In fact, it has been taking them years to get their arms around this rampant problem.

The problem gets compounded even further because of Amazon's pricing mechanisms.

What happens is this.  A new store briefly pops up or long time offending unauthorized dealer (such as JB Tools) offers an Escort Max 360 for $509 ($140 below MAP), other stores, including Amazon, cascade down in pricing automatically.

So what happens is just one bad actor can undermine the whole pricing mechanism, even the outright fraudulent "fake" listings.  As a result, product pricing sometimes rapidly fluctuates (like the price of gasoline) with no stability.  The fraudulent stores quickly appear and disappear after taking your money, not delivering product, but harvesting your consumer information for potentially nefarious purposes.

That hurts the consumers who buy from legitimate dealers who paid the proper pricing. Imagine purchasing an Escort Max 360 or Escort Redline EX at their MAP pricing only to see that that same unit is now selling for $500 just a day later!  This sort of price instability also hurts your ability to sell your used high quality detector when you look to purchase a newer more capable detector.

What even more despicable are bottom-feeder sites pretending they are authorized dealers but in reality are not.  These fraudulent sites can also have sales affiliate relationships with other seemingly independent sites that are front-ending their sales.

Beware of sites that on the surface appear to be legitimate review sites but are in reality affiliate marketers masquerading as "independent reviewers."  These sites generally either have little useful or outdated information (often recommending products that have been discontinued) and direct to you to other faceless store sites on Amazon so they can get their sales commissions up-front.

Even social media platform sites (such as online forums) that do offer useful information but direct you to either unauthorized dealers/stores or to dealers who are masquerading as authorized but are not--are actually doing you a HUGE disservice, because they are directing you to gray market products and dealers that have no quality control or warranty support.

These sites often have embedded "real-time" pricing which favor the lowest priced products, which means you are being directed to the worst offenders and the most unscrupulous dealers!  Others' product ratings and their associated affiliate links are driven strictly by how high a commission they are getting paid, without regard to the quality or the legitimacy of their selection or that of the seller they direct you to.

These affiliate marketing sites basically have no vested interest in the legitimacy of your purchase because they have zero skin in the game and got their money upfront without concern of consequences to you.

You can easily spot these activities when your click gets redirected (sometimes multiple times) and then lands you on some buy page.  If you look at the URL address in your browser, you will generally see a string of text that may include something like "affid=" followed by some numbers or letters.

If you see this type of behavior when you are researching product, you may want to clear your cookies or at least browse in incognito mode so your subsequent browsing activity isn't being tracked by these and other sites.  

Bottom line, learn what you can from these sites, but avoid the click-bait and instead go to an authorized dealer to make your purchase.  You'll be happier and more protected in the long-run.

How it hurts the legitimate dealers and manufacturers

Authorized dealers, such as RadarBusters.com and it's sister companies PowerSports US Amazon and PowerSports US eBay, invest a tremendous amount of time, capital, and resources into providing real product education and class-leading pre and post sales support.

When sales are made by unauthorized dealers who offer no value other than the appearance of "good pricing," that undermines the ability of these companies to maintain the same level of support year after year.

And it even comes back to the manufacturer, Cedar.  They have to spend a lot of time and resources tracking down these gray-market products through blind product purchases and when customers--who attempt to get post purchase support--find out their purchases are fraudulent.  It also diminishes the sense of quality of the Cedar brands long-term, namely Escort.


What Cedar (Escort) is doing to combat this

Cedar recently retained a law-firm which is now actively engaged in sending cease-and-desist letters to all gray marketers with the very real threat of litigation and with the legal precedent to back it up.

They have also been more vocal and public in making announcements--both on their company websites and official support forum--of these unscrupulous dealers. (click on sample image below of one such recent announcement). 



Cracking down on patent infringing products

Cedar is also in the early stages of cracking down on patent infringing companies engaged in marketing competing countermeasures using Escort's (and their associaties) intellectual property without license.  This includes certain remote-installed detectors and laser jammers.

Cedar is not alone in in this effort, either.  Other manufacturers who's IP have been infringed are also beginning taking steps in this regard.  So it's imperative as a consumer to be aware of the changes that are happening in the background and so you are not trapped with a purchase of a product that may no longer be permitted to be sold and supported in the marketplace.

For those that have been around in the industry long enough, remember companies like Laser Pro Park, Drive Smart, to name a couple.  Ultimately, the consumers of their products were left holding the bag with no product support or hope of product updates or replacements.

As a side note, you may eventually see a lot of such products being "dumped" on sites like eBay or Craigslist.  Just know if and when this happens, while the deals may look to be enticing, they may not actually turn out that way.

Cedar provides an online list of unauthorized dealers, but be aware of the risks, the list is far from complete.  A good rule of thumb to follow is, if the products are heavily discounted or the store names look like they have nothing to do with the specialty industry, they're gray-market.

I'm pleased to see this development because it is in the long-term interests of the Cedar Holdings brands, especially Escort and ensures that their customers will continue to have the highest levels of customer satisfaction that Escort has long been known for since the days when it was first known as Cincinnati Microwave, nearly four decades ago.

It's also healthy long-term to this industry I have known and loved for so many years!

If I get permission from their law-firm, I will post the specifics of the cease-and-desist letter that is being sent out, in a subsequent post.

As the holiday season approaches, shop wisely...

Veil Guy





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