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Holiday Pricing Games

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Danny Grizzle
Holiday Pricing Games
on Nov 25, 2011 at 6:30:19 am

I find it curious that Sennheiser has a big $50 holiday rebate program on the Evolution Wireless system I had my eye on, then simultaneously all,the retailers boost pricing by exactly $100. This has every appearance of being dishonest and perhaps illegal.


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Eric Toline
Re: Holiday Pricing Games
on Nov 25, 2011 at 2:05:11 pm

Details please. Where is this happening?

Eric


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Danny Grizzle
Re: Holiday Pricing Games
on Nov 25, 2011 at 4:25:28 pm

I'm not a lawyer, but I have spent 30+ years in advertising, including major retail clients.

On a few rare occasions, I have received letters from legal authorities warning of specific instances where ads I placed on behalf of my clients were challenged based on specific issues.

In general, it is illegal to increase a selling price in order to misrepresent a discount.

For instance, a retail store may not retag all $20 blue jeans to $25 and at the same time run an ad stating "$5 Off".

This is exactly what appears to be happening with Sennheiser wireless microphones. First, they advertise a $50 mail in rebate, but they raise the retail price $100.

==========

There are a lot of games played at retail. Some are old school, others are new technology.

Old school methods -- think brick and mortar like Sears, Kmart, Lowes, Home Depot, and Walmart -- can do stunts like price guarantees - "We will meet or beat any price on this model" knowing that they have contractually bound consumer product manufacturers into creating custom model numbers and SKUs. It is not hard to claim "meet or beat" when you know for certain you have a unique item.

Going forward, I am highly suspect of current trends in profiling and electronic tracking. You see this at grocery stores with shopper rewards cards that must be swiped before the store will honor advertised pricing.

eCommerce has customer profiling built-in, as do membership wholesalers like Sam's Club. I'm an Amazon Prime customer, and most everything I buy these days comes from Amazon. It is too easy because they sell everything on earth, it only takes a minute, and merchandise is delivered. When I switched from a broadcast camera to DSLR, I was amazed to find a Gitzo service kit at Amazon to respring my fluid head for the lighter load.

Even if you wipe browser cookies and avoid logging onto an account, I'm not sure that larger eCommerce vendors like Amazon cannot individually identify customers based on IP address localization, thanks to static broadband internet connections.

Profiling might not work to consumer advantage. Amazon already recognizes the patterns in my purchasing behavior well enough to send highly targeted offers. That's fine. My concern is highly targeted pricing, because unlike a brick and mortar store, it is easy for Amazon to price merchandise on the fly in a customer-specific way. Amazon has a a proven power to recognize buyer behavior. Besides my preference to buy specific pro audio and video products, I'm sure they also calculate I am not likely to shop around much. It is all too easy and all too tempting for them to selectively price gouge.

I'm not saying they do this. But I have heard that Amazon.com pricing varies according to affiliate program. For instance, you may have seen buttons on some websites, "Please support this website by using these links to buy from Amazon." Amazon has an affinity program whereby they promise to give a small commission for such referrals. Fine, so long as Amazon does not tack on an upcharge to pay the commission. The only real world instance of customers being charged extra for commission are situations where gratuities are expected and demanded, like restaurants. If I go on, I'll start to sound like an "occupier" but it would be too easy for Amazon to promise affiliates a 2% commission, and wind up adding a 5% or 10% upcharge in pricing to cover "administrative" costs.

As always, buyer beware.


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Eric Toline
Re: Holiday Pricing Games
on Nov 25, 2011 at 6:07:36 pm

You've said nothing specific about Sennheiser or offered any details about a retailer.


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Danny Grizzle
Re: Holiday Pricing Games
on Nov 25, 2011 at 8:27:02 pm

Short of giving you my logon at B&H Photo, this is as specific as I am going to get:

Sennheiser Evolution G3 100 Series - Wireless Microphone Combo (B / 626 - 6...

List price today: $799.95

Actual selling price today at B&H: $784.95*

Actual selling price Monday of this week at B&H: $679.96

The $50 off mail in Sennheiser rebate can be seen at this link.

It is bad form bordering on dishonesty to induce sales by covering up a big price increase with a fake discount. It can also be illegal. This despite any verbiage on the rebate coupon about "participating retailers." If the retailer increases price to compensate for an advertised discount, that is fraud.

I happened to have two units of this item in my shopping cart and entered in a separate budget spreadsheet, or else I would not have caught the slight of hand price increase.

To be clean of the accusation I am making at Sennheiser, their company should not combine discounts and price increases in a concurrent time frame. And no retailer should be a party to raising prices simultaneous to participating in a manufacturer discount or rebate program.

* I would be greatly interested if anyone putting this specific wireless mic in a B&H shopping cart today got a different price, because that would indicate further dirty tricks in using a sophisticated eCommerce system to profile buyers and manipulate pricing based on an assessment of what a particular buyer might pay.


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Eric Toline
Re: Holiday Pricing Games
on Nov 25, 2011 at 11:48:05 pm

If you're so bent out of shape about the B&H prices then buy it someplace else. A G3 2 piece set (tx & rx)is $600 and the 3 piece set with the plug on tx is $700 from just about everyplace.

Eric


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Craig Alan
Re: Holiday Pricing Games
on Nov 27, 2011 at 6:32:23 am

not today it ain't. bh 800 sweetwater 800. markertek 800 adorama 800 evsonline 800 filmtools 800 amazon 800.

mail in rebate $75.

OSX 10.5.8; MacBookPro4,1 Intel Core 2 Duo 2.5 GHz MacPro4,1 2.66GHz 8 core 12gigs of ram. GPU: Nvidia Geoforce GT120 with Vram 512. OS X 10.6.x; Camcorders: Sony Z7U, Canon HV30/40, Sony vx2000/PD170; FCP 6 certified; write professionally for a variety of media; teach video production in L.A.


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Eric Toline
Re: Holiday Pricing Games
on Nov 27, 2011 at 9:08:30 am

You're correct. Sennheiser obviously raised the price to $799 for the 3 pc set fairly recently.

Eric


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