What a mess: After finally deciding that spending money on the latest EMC-1 parts mod, I contacted Electrocompaniet's distributor back in October to arrange to bring my EMC-1 MkII to him directly in PA so as to avoid RT shipping risks and expense for this 50 pounder. All was set for a Christmas week mod, as I was to be in NJ visiting my relatives that last week. I called on Christmas eve to arrange a drop-off time, and was told that Christmas Day noon would be fine, but that I had to arrange the deal through a dealer! Yikes! So I remembered Fathers & Sons and called them, arranging for the paperwork and profit to be credited through/to them. Fine. So I drove 2 hours through a nasty winter storm to arrive at Warshaw's house, where he said he'd NOT perform the mod if my EMC-1 didn't have a serial number on it, as there was a grey-market guy in New York who sold a few of these this year. I assured him that mine indeed had a serial number, was produced in spring '01, and bought used by me in summer '01. He said OK, and lugged the player into his house, saying he'd call me in a couple of days to pick it up. Great!.............. I returned to NJ and watched the storm intensify.... Two days later I called to arrange a pick-up hour, and Alan told me that he did NOT perform the mod because the player had been originally sold by a Danish dealer, and NOT through him, so he had made a decision to NOT support any players not originally sold thorough him. No warranty repars, parts, nor mods!.............. I was stunned, couldn't convince him to make an exception since he had never asked me to provide a serial number beforehand, and I went through a total of a half-day of driving through a storm to accomplish this mod. He just told me to come pick it up at my convenience. I glumly arrived on Saturday and retrieved my untouched puppy, where Alan said that unfortunately I had to share the victimization of the gray-market. I asked if I should contact a Danish dealer to see if a board-swap could be done (of course thinking he didn't really know the answer), but he thought that Electrocompaniet wouldn't support my player either! I asked with some incredulity what was going to happen with all the players that people have when they move from one country to another (!), but he said that this policy was the only way they have of penalyzing the gray market.... I suggested that in THIS CASE he should have installed the mod because of his lack of due diligence in assessing the production/sales history of this particular CDP, ESPECIALLY given my enormous effort in delivering it to his doorstep on Christmas Day.... I left sadly but gracefully. WHAT SHOULD I DO? I contacted the Danish dealer but he's not responded. Should I contact Electrocompaniet directly and try to arrange a board swap or purchase the parts mod "kit" and instakllation directions (I'm pretty familiar with boards and soldering)? Should Alan have acted differently? Isn't the world getting small enough so that internationally-sold products should have protected lives independent of sales point? PLEASE HELP! A Happy and safe New Year to all! Ernie
I think it is time you give up on that player and Electrocompaniet in general. Any company that has policies such as this is asking for trouble. What is kinda amusing is that I am told in Scandanavian countries Electrocompaniet is really looked down upon as midfi gear.
Anyway, I think there are better players out there that surpass the EMC-1 mk2 that cost significantly less than $5k. I would whole heartedly recommend the Ayre CX-7.
As a company Ayre is one of the best I have ever dealt with. Their support is outstanding. And they warrant their products from original date of purchase no matter who owns them.
The problem with Electro products is that they sell for a lot cheaper retail in Scandinavian countries. I think an EMC-1 mk2 over there sells for around $3k US. A couple of years ago, this player sold for around $2k US over there. This dramatic price difference does nothing for the Electro grey market in the US. The Nemos are even a bigger differential selling for around $9k US over there and close to twice that amount in the US.
One thing I would do is never deal with that Electro dealer again. If they told you they would do the mod if you had a seriel number on your CDP, and you had a seriel number of your CDP, they SHOULD do the mod. Backing out of the deal is... well... bad business as I will probably never do business with them as well.
So my advice is: Start demoing other CDPs starting with the Ayre CX-7. If you do not have an Ayre dealer in your area, I can suggest one that is good to work with that I bought my player from.
I know you love the EMC-1 mk2, but there is a time that you have to let go of a product because the manufacturer of that product is not supporting you.
Always remember that there is close to a 75% markup on all Electro gear RETAIL from the retail price they sell it in Scandanavian countries. This is why there are not too many Electro dealers in the US. The markup from parts to retail on Electro products in the US is far more than most Hi Fi products in the US market.
If you wanted to push the issue, you could try to email Electro directly, and email more dealers in the US. I am willing to bet one would do the mod for you. However, in my eyes, a manufacturer is only as good as his distributors and retailers.
I absolutely agree with Tok2000, Electrocompanient does not deserve your business. Their actions stand in stark contrast to manufacturers who support their product no matter what, no questions asked (i.e. Bryston, Madrigal). A bad business move and an even worse PR move, I'm glad that you posted it here and I will be very curious to read the responses from Electrocompanient dealers.
Ernie, it took me a couple of reads, but I think I got it. It seems like you asked the US or NA distributor to perform a service on a cdp that the original owner bought from a European dealer. The distributor is within his rights, even if it is a paid service. I don't know of a distributor who would touch a product that wasnt imported by him or a predecessor. This is one of the risks of buying second hand imported goods.
Of course, he was a jerk to not make sure he would take care of it before you left it with him. (But, maybe he was in the middle of Christmas dinner - or a football game?) And after he discovered the problem, he might have called you. Did he know that you weren't the original buyer? Hifi component distributors are often really nice guys, but some of them are real jerks.
If you want the mod, it seems to me you should ask a local dealer to sell it to you and refer you to a service center that will perform the work. If you have to buy the parts and do it yourself (if that's even possible), again, I would buy from a local dealer. I don't think the issue of the manufacturer providing service comes up, because all they can do is refer you to their contractual partner in the US or one of his dealers. If the distributor has told the dealers they cant sell the mods to you either, then you just can't have it, and you have to make a decision about keeping the unit.
Otoh, you havent spent the money on the mod yet. Mods are generally just a way to get more money out of you unless there was something wrong in the first place.
I share your pain. I have had occasion to have conversation with Alan over a design issue on an electrocompaniet product and let me just say that he is not a warm and friendly guy.
My suggestion would be to contact Stewart at Sanctuary of Sound. He is an electrocompaniet dealer and a great guy. He might be able to suggest some resolution to your problem. I do know that he will be gone to the CES and then on vacation after January 3 so you will need to contact him asap if you choose to ask for his advice.
Ernie, did you buy this player used from an Electrocompaniet dealer in this country? If so, that dealer should handle this situation.
If you had this player sent over here from Denmark as a demo, or whatever, in order to circumvent the markup that happens here in the US, then you didn't want to pay for their services, and thus you don't have them.
If you bought this player used, and the owner didn't tell you that this was a grey market player, then he did you wrong, and I would take it up with him.
The fault for this lies with someone. Either the dealer, or the seller, or you, depending upon who prompted this trans-shipment of product outside of the normal channels. Electrocompaniet makes the product and establishes dealer rules. When these rules are broken, then these things occur.
I sympathize with your distress, and hope you can get it straightened out. If I were in Electrocompaniet's shoes, I would find out which dealer sold this product, and where it was shipped. When I found out that they trans-shipped it to the US,I would demand that they pay the US importer his normal fee for handling a unit. Then I would revoke their dealership. Then I would inform the US service center that the fee for your serial # unit had been paid, and that you could bring your unit in for modding.
If you bought it second-hand, and the seller didn't tell you about it, then you are pretty well S-O-L. The seller will just tell you he didn't know about it. Find a good private modding service, and have them do the mods. Don't deal with that seller again.
Twl- All of your points are certainly valid, if the unit was brought into the US with the intention of circumventing the US/NA importer. However, as Subaru pointed out, what if the unit were legitimately brought into the US by the original owner because of, say, relocation due to work. Is it the position of Electro that any item that leaves the original country of sale is now devoid of warranty and further support? Sadly, this may be one of those times when the best approach is a very vocal one. If Electro believes that sales can be hurt by maintaining this position or that of the US/NA importer, then some resolution may be presented that will be satisfactory to you. I would be very interested to know how Electro responds to your situation, Subaruguru. Please keep us informed, and good luck.
What a crock of s**t. Who cares whether you're the first or fifth owner, or where it was orginally bought. I've sold semiconductors for 20 years, if a device fails it's replaced and NO ONE ever asks where it originally came from. These are the very same chips companies like EC use and would expect service on, yet they themselves are selective about repairs? EC has an obligation as the manufacturer of the unit to look after you, the owner of one of their products. This "protection" of their dealer/distributor network is called price fixing; it's a global village and businesses would be wise to recognize this rather obvious fact. They should take a page from Bryston and show some repsonsiblity for their wares.
I'd sell the unit and buy something that is equivalent (or better) from a manufacturer who provides service to their customers. Glad you worte about your experince, I can cross EC off my list of gear to own (new or used).
Just so that everyone is aware, we are the dealer that Ernie went through to have the upgrade done. I WANT TO BE PERFECTLY CLEAR: ALAN'S DECISION TO NOT DO THE UPGRADE HAD ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH FATHER & SON AUDIO. IT WAS HIS DECISION AND AS THE US DISTRIBUTOR, HE HAS THE RIGHT TO MAKE THIS DECISION.
Keep in mind that regardless of which dealer Ernie would have gone through, the EXACT same scenario would have occured as this upgrade MUST be done by the US distributor, dealers are only a contact/middleman.
Please don't let this reflect upon us, Father & Son Audio, as we have NO control over what Alan decides to do. Given what Ernie went through to get his player to Alan, maybe Alan should have done the upgrade, I don't know, at this point, I am not sure what the right answer is. However, Alan has to draw the line somewhere.
This is really a sucky situation, and I feel terrible about the whole thing. I am VERY sorry that this happened.
Paulwp and TWL are 100% correct in their summary/explanation of this situation, and I couldn't have said it better myself (except for TWL's statement that mods are simply a way to get more money out of folks, true sometimes, but NOT in this case).
Give me a call Ernie and maybe we can figure something out. I don't know what yet, but we can work on it together ;-)
P.S. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, ALWAYS be 100% certain as to exactly what you are getting when you purchase a product on the used market!
Just out of curiosity, if the unit was bought new in Europe and then moved here with the buyer's household, how do you get around the voltage issue? Do these things just have a little switch? If the manufacturer is supplying US spec components to European dealers, that maybe looks a little sleazy, but, otoh, maybe he has no distributor in other parts of the world where they use the same electricity we use? (That stuff is all very confusing to me, so speakers are the only things I would buy from abroad.)
What if the unit was purchased new in Denmark and shipped to an American as a Christmas present? What if you're on vacation and go into a hi-fi store in Denmark and spend a lot of time and the dealer does a real good job with you and you buy the unit from him there to be shipped back home? There are a lot of legitmate ways to acquire a new component from abroad without cheating the US distributor, so maybe the manufacturer will be helpful. I just wouldnt expect the distributor to help service a product he didnt sell in the first place.
This does not surprise me much many of the international companies have policies like this- including Accuphase and audio aero. I guess electro. is the same way- its kind of a shame but I can't say I blame them. The way the fellow who was going to do the mods handled things was not very polite, but everyone has bad days. I would try again, through different circles, I have found that being nice often gets you A LOT further then yelling and such- when all else fails point them towards this thread and let them know you can post your story on every audio site, in fact it would be your great pleasure to do so- if you are not taken care of. If they won't help you let the world know about it, sell the player and get something else- there is nothing wrong with the elctro. unit but if your having problems with something small like this- there are other great sounding players in that price range. The Audio Mecca Mephisto II comes to mind :) Good luck!
Keep in mind, Mike, that the US distributor has made cetain that a small group of mostly US purchasers never consider buying from EC. Sadly, stuff like this is what grows into negative rumors of epic proportions.... Furthermore, why would anyone (read: dealers) really want to be associated with a distributor that takes the ABSOLUTE low road when it is not necessary? At worst he could have called and said he would do the work at cost, especially given the huge effort the EC CUSTOMER made to get to him. The point is the customer purchased EC, as such he deserves the full support of EC. If a grey market exists for EC products, then EC is the blame.
This is a realy lousy situation, but it is entirely emblematic of how much of the "high end" audio industry operates. I have seen many instances in which an importer massively inflates the retail price of an item compared to its' country of origin. In most cases, the mark-up is difficult or impossible to justify based upon import duties, distribution costs and advertising fees. Certainly, we live in country with a free market, but such "aggressive" pricing policies smack of opportunism and profiteering. I personally have passed on certain brands due to the U.S. importer's high mark-up. It's the only way to fight them. Alas, it's a shame that many importers and companies simply don't understand that the "high end ripoff" drives away many potential customers.
As for the manufacturer, there should be no excuse for not supporting the product, no matter where it was purchased! You might not expect the imported to help you, but the manufacturer should. You should post frequently about this problem here and on other audio sites so that others will learn about how you were treated. I bet that won't help Electrocompanient's sales, and they might look for a new importer.
EMC and or the distributor should support the product irrespective of its origins.I would not support a compnay that does not support its products. I would sell it and move on. There are other very good players out there from more reputable manufacturers. I cannot imagine being treated like that especially with how well some companies like Conrad Johnson and Thiel support their customers (personnel experience). I was prety serious about buying one of these players at one time; I am glad I didn't. Ernie I hope you get your issue resolved. Maybe we (audiogon community) can give you some support by sending a nasty gram to that distributor
Ernie made clear to the individual that was going to do the work that the unit was purchased second-hand and did have a serial number. From that point on, it was up to the individual doing the labor to do their homework to verify if the unit was eligible for said service / upgrades under their specific policies PRIOR to Ernie making arrangements to have said unit delivered. As far as Ernie is concerned, he did what was within his power and knowledge to produce what should have been an easy-going transaction.
FS Audio was a dealer that got stuck in the middle of a transaction that lacked good communications. No fault or blame should be put on them for anything and i don't think that anybody has pointed fingers at them at this point in time. Their offer to try and work with Ernie is quite valiant given the fact that they are now fully aware of the up-hill battle that they face.
The distributor of EC or "Alan" as Ernie referred to him lacks customer skills and is a "jag". He did not follow through on the information that was presented to him, HIGHLY inconvenienced an owner of the product from the company that he represents and gave said customer nothing but grief. As such, he is a poor company representative and quite lacking as a "human". If all EC products are delivered, guaranteed and upgraded via "Alan" within the USA, i would avoid buying an EC product in the future. That is, so long as Alan is involved with the transaction and maintains the same attitude towards customer support. This is sad though, as i personally like and have recommended the EC player to several others. I will stop doing so immediately.
With all of the above in mind, Ernie has yet to contact EC directly and should do so immediately. I would NOT take the "vocal" approach as this would put EC on the defensive. Ernie should contact EC and explain that he owns one of their products that he purchased second hand. I would tell them that you were basically happy with the unit but were looking for ways to improve the performance of your system. As such, you had found out that there was an upgrade that could be done to this unit and you would like to do so. At the same time, you might want to mention that you had no reason to purchase another product from another company so long as EC was willing to offer good customer and product support. Doing such would allow you as a customer to continue to support a company and product that you had been quite happy with in the past. You should ask them how you can go about having the upgrade installed and who to contact. If they mention Alan, it is time to explain the situation while highlighting the fact that he was a truly poor representative of their company and that you simply wanted to continue to enjoy your EC product in upgraded form and he left you hanging. That is the high and low of the situation in a nutshell.
If EC truly is a "good company", it should not matter where the product was purchased if one of their customers is willing to pay for service and / or upgrades. Things would be different if it were a stolen item or the work was being submitted under the guise of a warranty claim, but since that does not come into the equation and the US distributor has already confirmed that the unit is not stolen, they should be able to make arrangements with a US dealer to satisfy Ernie's desires.
Needless to say, I will be curious to see where this goes. Sean >
Yeah, Mike, Tom (Twl) believes in tweaks and mods. I am the one who said, and believes, that mods are just a way to get more money out of consumers, unless there was something wrong with the design in the first place. But, let's not detract from the purpose of Ernie's thread. It's hard to disagree with anyone here.
Ernie, I agree with Jeffloistarca that you got hosed. As Sean eloquently stated, it was up to the distributor to save you the time and energy up front. To simply not work on these units (especially after their failure to state their policy) is inexcusable since, as others have stated, there are those who move and are not trying to "get around" the US distributor. I hate the bureauratic "no" -- at minimum, why not offer to do the mod at a higher price to recover some of the lost import fees? Thanks for pointing this out. I was unaware of these kinds of risks. And, I was unaware that EC was so customer unfriendly -- I was going to go that route, but not now. Good luck. Please keep us posted.
Initially my take was everyone involved got the short end of the stick in this deal. The importer, the dealer and double short for Ernie. Then a new twist to the issue struck me while following the discussion.
But before sharing my take on this, the importer has a valid position on gray market goods. Declining to deal with them is a tool that helps protect the importer's position in the market. An old one that is quickly becoming antiquated and untenable in a global economy, but a tool nonetheless. I would not fault them for using it judiciously.
In this case, Ernie apparently did everything right by not being assumptive, making arrangements in advance, etc. He even jumped through every hoop as instructed. Most of us who sell for a living appreciate customers of this ilk. So, the paperwork done the unit was delivered to the importer with an expectation that everything was OK and the upgrade would be done.
Here, in my book, is where things fell apart. At the last minute the importer discovered the unit hadn't passed through his warehouse which means he didn't make anything off its original sale. Unfortunately, and regardless of their policies, the importer had already made a commitment to do the upgrade. So, while he had every reason to be disappointed, the importer should have followed through and done the work.
If this led to a change whereby in the future the importer checked serial numbers BEFORE committing to do an upgrade, so be it. That would be acceptable in my book. Also, given the circumstances, if somehow the upgrade is not a profitable item, (which I doubt) then it would be reasonable to ask for the difference. Note that I said "ask", not "demand". A commitment was made and should have been delivered on. The whole end result reeks of a combination of poor business sense and sour grapes.
This is all sad to hear as I have been planning an upgrade to the digital source in my system. EC's DAC (at very least) was in the running. I'll certainly be looking elsewhere as how a vendor treats their customers is *very* important to me. The only thing worse than having a problem with a purchase is having it compounded by a short-sighted, inflexible vendor.
Ernie, I bought a used emc-1 this year and am very happy with it. Mine is the 24-96 version and when I heard that only the distributor can do the UP version upgrade I decided to forget the whole upgrade thing all together. At least you have the 24-196 upgrade. Be happy with it the way you have it, and enjoy it. Electrocompaniet has always had trouble with their Distributors over here. This person seems that he will not play the game unless he makes the rules, very childish behavior. If you want to promote good will you have to extend yourself, this does nothing for Electrocompaniet as a company and maybe they need a change over here.
To heck with the middlemen. The dealer and distributor didn't provide any initial service to be compensated for. Here's a chance to make some money that would otherwise be lost. Do you mean to say that if I drive a car purchased in the USA to Canada and it breaks down I can't get it repaired? Ernie asked specific questions. Ernie answered specific questions. Ernie gets screwed. EC has had a bad reputation in the past, looks like they don't learn. I for one won't buy or recommend anything from them unless they do the right thing. Furthermore, I will think twice about doing business with any dealers who represent companies with such bad customer service. It's not just out of patriotism that I say buy American. Ernie, good luck
Hello All, I too will not purchase any products from Electrocompanient. As some posters have said, the distributer has the right to do what he is doing. I agree. We as consumers have the right not to buy from them. I remember reading a post here a few months ago about how Krell handled a similar situation. The poster as I recall, said he purchased a used Krell amp and something went wrong with it. He shipped it to Krell and they discovered it was a gray market good and therefore didn't have a seriel number. Their response was to give it a valid seriel number and repair the unit under warranty. I gather Krell has transferable warrantys. Because of that story, I will definitely look at Krell equipment next time I am purchasing equipment. The most relevant comment I read in this thread was by one of the earlier poster's. What will our response be if we drive our car to Canada, it breaks down and the Canadian auto dealer refuses to repair it because of its country of origin. I fail to see how electronics manufacturers are any different. Good luck Ernie.
How many potential customers has EC lost because of a bad short sighted decision by the distributer. This story will be repeated and embellished thousands of times with the conclusion being that you shouldn't buy EC. Imagine what a great story this is for dealers to use to convince potential buyers to buy a competitors product and not to take a chance on EC. Who wants to buy something that you might have to depend on this guy to fix. I know Alan didn't sell it, but I think he blew a great chance to generate lots of good word of mouth and maybe even create more devoted customers.
Who knows what percentage of the audiophile population visits this site ? ( At Avs Forum you can read how many views a post has attracted -- They have a thread that has had 200,000 hits---with 3,000 contributors ) Point being this product new or used will be harder to sell,from this site.--- While an owner of the product may not be aware of this "global" problem-----A distributor should be. (and was) Why the serial # wasn't asked for before hand shows a slight lack of careing. I'm sure F&S will be more careful acting as the middle man for another upgrade.
A man named Heinz Preiss located in Florida may be able to help you. He can be contacted at www.angelfire.com/biz/grundig or phone 941-776-9158.
I too have had my Alan stories being the owner of a CD player, phono preamp and at one time an amp that took almost a year to fix. I was about to buy the new DAC and called Alan to check on something about a dealer. I than remembered the horror of "him"and just changed my mind and went in another direction. During the amp incident I got a reply that EC stood behind the dealer and the distributor. Too bad they didn't stand behind the customer.
I am speechless. Have you contacted Audiogon directly? We live in times when international trade is what makes the world go round. The electrocompaniet policy sounds like an issue for litigation under international trade law. How would someone like to buy my new mercedes that noone in the world will agree to repair...
No more electrocompaniet gear for me. I usually inquire where a unit was purchased when I buy Audiogon, but apparently this is not enough.
Have you considered contacting the Danish dealer identified as the point of origin for this unit?
As a side note here, for as much as i have "bad-mouthed" Bryston amps, i have to state that their warranty and customer service under ANY circumstances are quite excellent. Too bad other companies can't / won't / don't follow their lead. Sean >
Maybe I am missing the big picture here, but for those of you that are claiming you are no longer going to buy an EC product, you may be the real loser of this deal.
Generally when a post like this comes up, we have some pretty intelligent people play both sides to try to get the full story. From what I see, every one has crucified EC and we haven't even heard their side!
Is it possible this Danish dealer has been investigated and been dropped by EC? There are more questions that could be asked. In the end, somehow this player should be able to be upgraded and I would think there is a way regardless.
Why have we not heard back from Ernie?
EC has been around since the 1970's, we have this one post and now there is a "revelation" the company is questionable?
Come on. Again, maybe I am over looking something, but lets get both sides. Ernie himself stated the question, "Should I contact Electrocompaniet directly...?", implying he hasn't even conferred with them to find out their policy and yet everyone has blasted EC as if they have rejected him.
I couln't disagree with you more. I think you have overlooked the fact that Ernie is not a stranger here.
However, if you think that EC has been misunderstood, you might be able to help Ernie out. Ernie loves his EMC-1 and would probably love nothing more than to find out he can get the upgrade he desires.
Judit, I fully respect that Ernie is well known and knew this when I posted, I am simply saying that we have one side of the story, his! If EC is wrong, so be it, I am just amazed at the fact nobody questions anything on this, member or not.
Brian, you raise a good point but I believe F S Audio's response confirmed the story. Of course Alan has his reasons for what he did and he undoubtedly believes he did the right thing. Ernie and F S Audio stated those reasons very objectively. Many of us simply don't agree with Alan's rationale (especially in this particular circumstance) nor desire to add more money to his pocket.
Based upon the supplied info it's clear that the distributor is not the smoothest of businessmen. If grey market goods are such a problem, then he should have very clearly and at the beginning of the mod inquiry stated his restrictive policy. That being said, I'm not sure that Ernie has anything legit to complain about. He purchased a used item and presumably got it at a good price. As the purchaser should he not be responsible for knowing which manufacturers support purchasers outside authorized channels (used and grey market) and which do not? It's an added hassle finding this info out, but as this thread shows, it's worth doing.
Guess I'll be taking the EMC off the CD player shopping list... Thanks for the heads up. Even if the case is that this was a grey market item, the importer is asking you to share in the pain of the grey market problem. What he really is saying is that he is marking up prices excessively to import them to the US Market here. So who created the "grey market problem"? The excessively greedy, non service orientated, clearly heartless individual. If this is such a huge problem for him, the price differential from the US to Scandinavia must also be "huge" -enough to create a clear problem he is flailing about wildly trying to stomp. Clearly a grinch move, especially considering your sincere and honest and heroic efforts to get the unit to him. The appropriate thing would have been to look the other way, and even charge you more due to the grey market nature of the unit, not to "punish" you. Some of the treachery, gouging and deceipt I have recently seen has become truly disgusting to me-enough to personally bail out of this already frustrating hobby.
Whether its a gray market product or not,good business would dictate for the distributor to take care of the upgrade.Let me give you the reasons why! #1 Good service will make people come back to the product the next time they are ready to make a purchase! #2In this day and age of dwindling hi-end sales nobody can afford to lose a customer! #3HI-end is a niche market you have to retain your customers or you will be out of business!
P.S. Everybody who responded to this thread should e-mail the distributor and the manufacter!
Sorry to hear that EC and their distributor do not seem capable of forming linear business policies.
As far as Gray market items (out of territory purchases) go this should only relate to warranty repairs (though some manufacturers cover this as well for such items), not general repairs and/or upgrades which are not done gratis.
I'm not certain who created such a "bent" policy (EC or the rep), but as both seem to be adhering to it, they are both off my list.
There are a lot of technical details that I have no experience with. However, I know Ernie to be a person of character. I've dealt with him, even sent money to him, and he's got integrity. Which in a nutshell means that I believe him. Audiogon should put out a list of products to avoid, regardless of quality. Put Electrocompanient at the top.
First, I have an EMC-1 CD player, the latest version, and it's a great player. I also purchased it from a dealer I really trust and I know he can take care of any problems. Try to seperate the player from the distributor.
I agree that the distributor should have gone ahead and made the modification. It's just how good business is done. If you're not absolutely clear up front (and the guy drove out of his way to deliver it), you should just cut the loss (rather than lose a customer). But I've had a bad experience buying a used product and was shunned by the manufacturer when it needed a repair. In a similar analogy, just imagine a world where used cars were not accepted or supported! Get real and take pride in your products. Doesn't companies like Lexus and BMW proudly market their own used cars!
It would be interesting to hear from some dealers about this. Also, I don't know that there is another side to this story. Alan told Ernie he would do the upgrade and did not ask about serial numbers or anything else. Ernie went out of his way to get it to Alan. If things happened as Ernie described the only reasonable thing to do is to follow through with installing the upgrade. I'm sure Alan wants to protect himself but think of the fall out from this. The high end audio community is small enough so that something like this can really hurt. I have an EC dac which sounds great but I get real concerned about anything less than great service. If I had read this thread a few months ago I would have probably purchased something else.
The distributor is mainly at fault here; EC only provisionally and by extension until Ernie contacts them and gets some sort of response. The distributor blatantly reneged on his stated arrangement with the customer, much to Ernie's inconvenience and expense. A distributor in a foreign country ought to function as a local representative of the manufacturer as far as possible. To US EC customers, this importer/distributor should *be* EC, to the extent of his and their capabilities to function in that capacity, and this upgrade is clearly within those capabilities.
This distributor has no real way of knowing whether Ernie's unit was gray-market or not, and it shouldn't matter anyway. Ernie is a second-hand owner, and is not responsible for the unit's prior history. For all anyone knows, the piece was originally bought at retail by the first owner in Scandinavia, and later sold used overseas via Audiogon. So what? Unless the thing was stolen off some loading dock while awaiting shipment from the factory, EC and one of their resellers have made their money on this unit. The US distributor now needs to function as EC's local representative, and earn some more money for the both of them by performing the paid upgrade. If EC needs to kick a little more back the distributor's way to get it done when he wasn't the original importer, then this is what they have to do, rather than leave owners in the lurch or make them ship their gear to Norway for updates. If they can't present a unified US front to *all* their owners and potential customers here - used and new - then EC either needs to pack it up or find a distributor who can get it done for and with them.
The distributor has already let his end down, but EC needs to take the lead and the ultimate responsibility for issues like this. Particularly if the US distributor is charging the high mark-up alluded to above, failing to support the second-hand market will obviously have serious consequences for EC's primary market US sales in the long run. This distributor apparently needs to ask himself whether it is his pricing policies, and not his service policies, which need to be more conservative if he is suffering from a gray-market problem as implied. Deflating EC's US used market desirability by refusing to perform upgrades on many second-hand units will only serve to further increase his vulnerability to current-spec product brought in through other channels at lower prices. None of this is good for EC, and they should do what it takes to keep Ernie the happy owner he wants and deserves to be. In his case, that would now begin with comping him the shipping expenses to get done the work he should already have been enjoying for his efforts.
I hope Stewart from SOS will respond to this thread. One of the truly great audio dealers. His word is good as gold. i think he could shed as much light on this subject with truth more than anyone else. Hope things work out for you Ernie. I won't forget your kindness.
With all due respect Brulee, I think this is one topic that Stewart or any other Electro dealer would want to avoid. It is the position of the Electro importer that is of concern, and quite possible that no dealer is going to sway the importers decision. As FS Audio stated correctly, they were unfortunately caught in the middle. I doubt that any dealer(s) would want to try to defend Alan's policy, let alone his actions in this particular situation, and risk the ire of the audio public, or publicly conflict with Alan's policy and risk his potential anger. It is no mean feat for a dealer to develope a positive product line image and recognition. It isn't really fair to ask a dealer to risk a poor relationship with the importer at this point. It would be best if EC and the importer were to develope a cogent policy to include situations like this (and it will happen again given the current dogmatic approach that the importer has adopted), rather than ask a dealer to "fall on his sword," so to speak. Then again, I've certainly been wrong in the past, and this could simply be another instance. Ciao.
Jcbtubes, once again you have made a valid point. I didn't mean to put anyone on the spot. Thanks for your input and not putting the hammer to my head. Though i know it was hard for you to resist. I am still hearing those voices. Need some more of help. At least i am not seeing what you say isn't there. i thank you for correcting me in one of your more gentle ways. What's the matter, ya getting soft in your old age?
Since it seems that many people want me to respond to this issue I will but only as an overview of what has been stated to date. I have not been able to reach Alan to get his reasons although some are obvious and I feel that I have no right to speak for Alan without us discussing the issue.
Before going into this delicate issue I do hope that everyone had a great holiday season and that 2003 is wonderful for us all.
I am a little surprised by some of the comments, "I was thinking of a dac but I have taken them off my lists", "I know not to purchase a Electrocompaniet product", how is it that a company can be so easily dismissed for one minor issue. We are talking about an upgrade here not a unit that is not working.
Some points I would like to make in the very beginning. Alan Warshaw has always proven to be a wonderful distributor and has always gone out of his way for customers in my dealings with him over the last 4 years.
I cannot recall of a single customer that he has ever refused to help except for those with the "grey market units."
One other point that I would like to make is that many distributors and manufactures rather not deal with the public and that is why they are not dealers. Everyone does not excel at interpersonal relationships.
Now there have been some things stated on these posts that are absolutely ludicrous so let me deal with those first of all.
Someone mentioned that if you purchased a Mercedes "grey market" that you would still have a warranty that is absolutely not true. The term "grey market" came about because of the practice years ago of high end European luxury cars coming into the states and not a one of those had a warranty and many dealerships would not touch them. But you know what they were alot cheaper! Any time you circumvent the system you initially pay less you just lose it on the back end if you resell the item.
It was mentioned that Electrocompaniet is Mid Fi gear. I would highly recommend that you listen to some of their latest offerings and compare it to any gear at any price point. The EMC CD player is as good as anything out there and the DAC, Integrated amp and AW 220 amps are stunning.
I continually hear that the distributors over charge for products in the US. I have looked into the issue because there are a couple of lines that I love without US distribution at this time and I have considered importing the lines. When you look at all the costs involved no one is getting rich distributing audio products in this country. Also it works both ways US products in Europe and Asia are alot more money. The Exchange rate dictates what your profit margin will be week to week. The distributor normally pays for the warranty work the manufacture supplies the parts. So there are added costs besides shipping, duties, storage etc. Almost all products go through distributors that is just the way business is done. A global economy does not mean that you find a back door to purchase a product and then expect that the distributor has a responsibility to you.
Many of you state that Alan at Electrocompaniet has a duty to take care of the customer regardless of the situation and that is being very short sighted. If a distributors costs get too high normally the first thing that goes is the warranties. Look how many companies in audio do not offer warranties to the second owner. Many are US manufactures that do not even go through a distributor network. Alan does honor the transferring of Electrocompaniet warranties to the second and third owners tell me how does he benefit from that?
This has all come about because there has been someone in the US who has purchased EMC's and Audio Aero's and resold them in this country for a significant discount on Audiogon. Many customers purchased them. Some had problems which I find amazing since I have never experienced problems with the players. Somehow Electrocompaniet got a lists of the players of the Danish dealer that broke protocol and sold them to a consumer in New York who resold them. These units from my understanding are not to be covered by anyone but the Danish dealer at his expense. (That maybe why no one can contact him) I placed a posting months ago warning those of you on Audiogon - - that was about all that one could do.
I just talked to Alan and when he talked to the customer he tells me that he was not given a serial number. Upon realizing that it was one of the banished units he refused to do the upgrade. I find it unfortunate for the customer but Hopefully this can be a learning experience for everyone that when purchasing used audio gear it never hurts to get the serial number and check before you purchase.
Let me reverse the situation a minute and lets say that Ernie purchased a corvette and it came with a 36,000 mile bumper to bumper warranty. The vehicle is purchased used and at 33,000 miles it needs some warranty work and the customer calls a dealership and makes an appointment. Upon arriving at the dealership they find that the car was last serviced at 48,000 miles and the speedo had been rolled back by the previous owner. The dealership refuses to cover or even work on the vehicle as does GM are they in the wrong? Is it the fault of the dealership, GM, or the fraudulant previous owner.
To most of us including me audio is a hobby. But it is also a business first and foremost to many and all business decisions are not always popular.
I just ask each of you who have responded to this post to put yourself in Alan's shoes. You make your living importing a product this is how you exist. You have a huge investment in product that you have purchased, in years of getting dealers to believe in Electrocompaniet, in consumers who depend on you to service and repair the product. Now there is an invasion of a renegade European dealer that could destroy all that you have spent years to build. WHAT WOULD YOU DO? If you take care of one "grey market" unit you give validity to the future forces that could overwhelm you.
Someone mentioned that Electrocompaniet should get a new distributor. Why for protecting what he has worked years to build? Also for those of you that do not know this when a distributor goes away and a new one comes in all the product previously sold no longer has a warranty in this country because the new distributor is not going to cover the expense of repairs. He has no obligations to the past in which he was not involved.
I know that on the surface Ernie's upgrade seems a simple OOPs how cruel and heartless by the distributor but there are many issues involved.
And I will repeat we are not talking about a player that is defective or not working. But about one that the customer wants upgraded.
I know one of the things that makes Ernie's situation more appealing is that he drove to Alan and brought him the unit. In my opinion the only mistake Alan made was not opening the unit then and there seeing what it was and returning the unit. But I must admit I never open units when they are first brought over because you do not expect them to be "grey market."
As to my taking care of Ernie I cannot because the only person doing this upgrade is the distributor. Furthermore I would not go against Alan on this I do not have the right.
But there are alot of other CD upgrades available aftermarket.
The dealer is really, really, REALLY stupid for not perfoming the work because his profit margin has to be amazingly high. I know this because I have friends in Scandanavia and EMC gear is consistantly 50% to 70% of what it costs retail in the US.
Electro really needs a way to remedy this disparity in price. Electro (and Electro distributors) should punish dealers that sell grey market and NOT customers.
Electro and it's distributors should realize that it is not the distributors or dealers that keep them in business, but it is ultimately the customers that do.
You piss off one customer and have the possibility of the effect snow balling. And boy is this one snow balling!
I do agree, however, that Alan was well within his rights to not perform the upgrade. Heck, up until not too many years ago, many retail stores (of all types) did not allow returns on merchandise. And it is well within the rights of stores not to allow returns. HOWEVER, very few retail stores today do not have return policy (at least for cash). Heck Costco, a superstore warehouse, will let you return things INDEFINITELY if you have the receipt for any reason at all. These return policies GET CUSTOMER BUSINESS.
The ELectro's distributor's policy stinks (though it is in his legal rights), so WE DO NOT HAVE TO BUY ELECTRO GEAR.
Pardon me Sos, but here are my thoughts about Electro gear: 1 - It is way overpriced in the US. 2 - Their equipment is middle of the road in hi-end audio at best. 3 - If you think the newest Electro CDP is any good at all for $5500 or so, please try the Ayre CX-7 or GamuT CDP or Musical Fidelty CDP (both sell for $3k in the US new). You will wonder why the Electro costs so much. 4 - Electro amps are powerful, but dark. There are many other amps that are LOTS HIGHER SOUND QUALITY. The list goes on and on.... starting with Ayre, GamuT, Monarchy, Audio Research, McCormick, Bel Canto... too many amp brands to list. 5 - Electro preamps are a joke. Just ask someone who has lived with one a while.
In the Hifi world there are so many choices of electronics. Dealers and distributors need to be almost extra sensative to customers needs. ESPECIALLY WHEN A CUSTOMER WILL PAY GOOD MONEY ($800) TO DO AN UPGRADE THAT I IMAGINE HAS A PART AND LABOR COST OF MAYBE $300 to $400 MAX.
But hey, it is the Distributors perogative.
It is our perogative to buy or not buy Electro gear.
Sos, many of your points are well-taken. But I still contend that:
A) The distributor in this case was responsible for agreeing to the initial criteria - laid down by him - under which the customer was to bring his unit in for upgrading, and he should have followed through on that agreement as did Ernie.
B) It is ultimately EC's problem about the gray-market goods. The manufacturer and distributor must find a way to accomodate US customers who wound up with these units unknowingly, without making them into the fall guys. Remember, we aren't talking about warranty service here, but a paid upgrade. EC was never out anything for those units, and they and Mr. Warshaw are going about protecting his distributor's franchise in the wrong manner, IMO. Penalizing the Danish dealer is one thing, but penalizing US market second-hand owners is unconscionable, and I think the members' displeasure on display above is understandable.
Well, now we know the 2 sides to this story. It seems to me that those who say that EC (and the overall high-end community) needs a way to deal with the global used market) are correct. And SOS has certainly pointed out the distribution issues that the consumer does not usually know about. I guess the moral is to always check the s/n before purchasing an expensive item to verify provenance. In addition to grey market, could also be stolen. Certainly distributor should have noted that the s/n needed to be verified as legitimate import if that was his policy. Although asking does it have an s/n seems to suggest that there are issues the consumer should be aware of. Definatelly a bummer all around.