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Arcam price level

Discussion in 'Arcam Owners' Forum' started by Barend, Jun 9, 2004.

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  1. Barend

    Barend
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    Arcam is usually great stuff, although their fascias are difficult to read and many remotes are next to unusuble.
    But the sound is sound.
    But I've been rather disappointed by the ways they impose fixed pricing on their kit:
    1) Nobody's allowed to sell by mailorder;
    2) Dealers are bound by contract to sell for the recommended prices;
    3) No dealer is allowed to sell abroad.
    Now I suppose they can sum up good reasons for all this, like expertise (although I talked to several UK, Dutch and German retailers and found some pretty ignorant ones among them), but this doesn't prevent my feeling of paying thru the nose: 2385 hard earned euro's (which equals 2955 USD) is just too much for an AVR-300 for instance.
    And I don't want to be obliged to visit some hifi palace where they try to lure me into something with coffee-and-cookies...
    Consider the Denon AVR-3805- OK, the sound may be just a tad less (dunno) but it DOES have auto speaker setup incl. equalizing, full video upscaling (which as I understood Arcam's rather difficult to understand descriptions the AVR300 has only in part), and several other features, but costs only 1179 Euro's here in Holland!
    That is half the price!
    I feel that if Arcam continues on this path in this day and age, it will end up as one of the many obscure snob brands that only sell their gear to people that don't care about money and are prepared to pay enormous sums for just a brand name, or a tiny improvement if you will.
    Sorry hi-enders if you feel offended in your religion, but that's how I see it.

    So I will wait until some time has lapsed, and dealers are prepared to sell Arcam as "ex-demo" or the first used kit are available.
    Barend
     
  2. John Dawson

    John Dawson
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    I have absolutely no intention of getting involved in a public debate about prices or marketing policies but Barend raises a few points which I feel need commenting upon. In particular:

    It is completely illegal under European Law to have dealer contracts enforcing retail price maintenance. Arcam therefore cannot and in practice absolutely does not insist on its retailers selling at any particular price - they are free to sell at lower or higher prices as they see fit.

    It is legal to suggest a retail price - for the AVR 300 this is £1300 in the UK. European distributors are free to set their own recommended retail prices - I am told these are 2150 Euros in Holland and 2000 Euros in Germany. All include local VAT. The US suggested price is $1995 which does not include tax.

    An authorised Arcam dealer is free to sell to any consumer who visits his shop or showroom, even if the customer in the shop is from a different area or country; however the dealer is expected to undertake both pre and post sales support work and this tends to mitigate against them supplying customers who live a long distance away.

    I try not comment on others' products even in a factual way; however with regard to your post I believe the AVR300's video upconversion circuitry does everything the Denon 3805's does and more (in particular the 300 also supports RGB video for SCART equipped displays).

    With best wishes,

    John Dawson (Arcam)
     
  3. Barend

    Barend
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    The main reason I posted was I felt it would be a pity if, someday, a fine manufacturer like Arcam would be marginalized, just because of stringent price control schemes.
    I and many with me certainly appreciate your valuable postings in this forum.
    That said, I must disagree:
    In theory- you're right. In practice- several UK retailers told me Arcam forbids them them to supply out of the country. The same retailers insisted charging less than Arcam's proposed pricing would be considered a breach of contract by Arcam, ultimately endangering the dealership.
    I understand you don't want to go into a price/quality debate, but I feel the high price level is partly due to artificial price control- one Dutch dealer explained to me he was a) only allowed to sell IN the shop and b) he was expected to charge the RRP. Both as set by the Dutch agent.
    I checked again in Holland, some charged 2150 Euro's, some 2350 Euro's.
    As you point out, in theory it is not allowed within the EU to impose intra-EU price control, however this does not seem to stop your UK reps to inflict this.

    The world is changing, and so are many traditional end user/dealer relationships; IMO it's better to offer one's products thru a dealer net (for buyers that need advice, listening sessions etc.) and internet based mailorder-with-discount (for people that don't want any of that).
    I don't think there's any mailorder company doing Arcam, and if I was Arcam that would worry me...however many highend manufacturers seem to be so arrogant and selfrighteous they don't seem to listen to any outsider nor hear the wind picking up before the storm...
    Of course I don't mean you personally, you strike me as a techie that really loves "his" products - a good thing!

    Barend
     
  4. Ed Selley

    Ed Selley
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    From the point of view of another manufacturer (please note I have no idea what Arcam feel about this), dealers selling internationally is such a problem with warranties and aftersales, we would certainly like to keep it limited. Dealers who are presented with a product, they had nothing to do with in the first place don't feel any real compunction to assist the customer so it always falls to us to try and pick up the pieces. Personal export is the bane of my life.
    FWIW we are happy to allow the sale of our product online and I am generally happy with the performance of our e-retailers but I could just as easily understand not using them- especially for some of the really tweaky Arcam products where the full benefit/support of them could not be carried out any other way than by dealer.

    My 2 pence worth.
     
  5. Barend

    Barend
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    Well, actually no dealer would have to worry about his warranty obligations for goods sold to a different country: IMO (almost?) every piece of kit comes with international warranty, to be covered by reps in that country.
    How else would somebody moving to (say) China have to present a faulty piece of equipment?
    Barend
     
  6. Ed Selley

    Ed Selley
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    Not going to delve into the details, but this is entirely dependant on how the offered warranty is enforced. Also when you aren't a hulking Japanese monolith of a company, you generally have several distributors- for instance ours is Marantz in Europe and North America but not in other parts of the world. With each distributor on a seperate account, they feel no compulsion (nor are they legally obliged) to deal with each others warranties. I don't believe that we're unique in this regard either.
     
  7. Barend

    Barend
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    Depends on the contract they have with the manufacturer. If they won't help a buyer, surely the manufacturer is responsible for having to find a solution for a problem...what else is international warranty good for?
    Barend
     
  8. warrj

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    Hi,

    My personal opinion is that Arcam have begun to change the price profile of their gear. Namely, they're going upmarket. They seem to have traditionally been about getting great back for your buck. I think that they have realised that in the new AV-driven world if they stay at the low to middle-end they'll be commoditised out of existence by Japanese and Chinese manufacturers. It's only by moving up-market that they can survive. Even five years ago I believe that it would have been inconceivable for Arcam to sell an AV pre-power for 5.5K. Now, no-one bats an eye.

    The customer proposition that Arcam (and few others) offer is that when you buy their gear you're getting AV performance which is at least as good as the mass-market and you're also getting hi-fi performance which is a good deal better. IMHO there's still a significant market for that sort of approach. It's the sub-500 GBP per component killing fields which are more of a danger for niche AV manufacturers. I guess the biggest threat to smaller companies like Arcam is the R&D budgets which you need allocate in order just to stay in the game.

    Regards,

    Jules.
     
  9. Jim_R

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    Well, I purchased my AVR300 in the United States. My dealer, who also sells $30,000 separates manufactured by high end "snob" brands, sold me on the Arcam product line, because of sound quality, manufacturer support and value. He also told me that Arcam has always made high quality products, and that the company was now trying to appeal to a broader base of consumers. If he is correct on that point, that certainly doesn't sound elitist to me. The folks from Arcam who regularly visit this site seem to be genuinely sincere and highly responsive to their customers. After having lived with my AVR300 for almost a week now, I could not be happier with my purchase. The sound is everything that I could have hoped for (i.e. outstanding), and well worth the price I paid. BTW, I run my own small business and understand what it takes to be successful when competing with larger companies. Because the larger companies can normally beat a smaller company when only price is an issue, the smaller company has to produce a better product and give its customers quality service. Loving your work, makes it easier to accomplish this. I think that Arcam is right on the money in their approach.
     
  10. BLACK_MAGIC

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    I have to completely disagree with this. Before i purchased my av8/p7 i went shopping around to several retail outlets. Every single one offered me a discount on the rrp ranging from 10% to 18% and even throwing in stuff such as free cables and heavily discounted interconnects etc.
    Dealers are not bound by any contract for selling there items below the rrp. There is only a recommended retail price that outlets need to not exceed (i even doubt if that is a legal binding) . They can sell it at any price they want below this and as a general rule do.
     
  11. sticker

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    Same here, as competitive as any other brand

    John
     
  12. raven219

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    Interesting set of issues.

    Barend - you accuse Arcam of European wide price fixing, ("..in theory it is not allowed within the EU to impose intra-EU price control, however this does not seem to stop your UK reps to inflict this") so if you have a case take it to the appropriate authorities. Of course that won't make you any friends in this forum.

    Jules - Spot on ("..when you buy their gear you're getting AV performance which is at least as good as the mass-market and you're also getting hi-fi performance which is a good deal better")

    Plus a small company has to work harder on customer satisfaction. You try getting the head of Denon to be personally involved in a customer issue. Larger companies don't care about the individual, as there are always a 100 more to replace them.

    Larger companies can use the economy of scale to their advantage and afford to utilise loss leaders to drive the market.

    At the end of day, its your money, you make your own mind up. That's the beauty of living in a democracy!

    Raven
     
  13. Barend

    Barend
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    But can you justify such a high price?
    I certainly can't, since the AVR200 costs 1269 Euro's in my country (now below 1000) and the 300 costs 1000 more...
    And I wonder who really had a chance to listen to the "great sound" in their own home, comparing 1:1 to a competition model, playing for instance a stereo source switching quickly 1:1...?
    Well, the total lack of support for my point shows that either I'm completely wrong (and I insist I'm right for 100% as far as the situation in Holland is) or all posters here are real aficionados who resent any criticism...
    And I uphold my opinion that either are Arcam imposing price levels to their foreign reps, or these are at fault and Arcam shouldn't want them..
    There are many other UK companies that do likewise (KEF for one), and I would suggest you keep paying their prices, at least it's good for British (and Chinese?) economy...
    Make no mistake, I do love Arcam kit (had a nice A85 amp and still have a very good CD82 cd player).

    Barend
     
  14. mjn

    mjn
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    Rubbish.......
     
  15. Jim_R

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    I paid less than full price for my AVR300, and had some interconnects thrown in as a bonus. Another store with whom I dealt was willing to price match my best deal. I have no complaints.
     
  16. Barend

    Barend
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    Well that's what 3 British retailers told me on the phone, all 3 stipulating it would be a breach of contract if they sold abroad instead of referring to the local agent.
    If that's not true draw your own conclusions.
    Barend
     
  17. sticker

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    Barend, come over to the UK to buy, after all its not a long trip form Holland. It seems to be the concensus that people here are getting discounts off of RRP.

    Having said that, I would be alarmed if Arcam equipment was viewed as commodity items in the same way as certain Japanese items are viewed. I personally believe that Arcam is value for money in that the performance you get is superior to that of cheaper items. The same goes for a lot of other premium brands Tag, Meridain, Parasound, Krell etc they are all far superior to your every day "high street" brand.

    Just my pennys worth

    John
     
  18. Barend

    Barend
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    Sticker, I may just do that next time around...
    Today visited one of the few Dutch dealers I trust: normal, friendly guy that didn't act like he was Saruman himself, and bought a Denon AVR-3805 for 1270 Euro's: discounted from 1445, a decent price level in my book although not super low as some Germans offer it (1130-1190), .
    He also had the AVR-300 for 2245 Euro's, and confirmed he was NOT allowed to discount it; however he offered to throw in some extras- couldn't really think of anything I would've wanted if I were to order it...
    So next weekend I'm going to put the mike on as tripod and start it all up, must look rather silly from outside...

    Barend
     

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