Clearly in this day and age of internet shops, buying (and selling) locally is becoming less and less logical. For a company to “enforce” a buy local policy is becoming hard to maintain imho.
Especially with the EU being an open market with an official policy of FREE traffic of people, products and services.
This means I can, without any limitation, buy in any EU country to have good shipped to me.
The modern company will acknowledge that the market place has changed.
I know (having worked at distributors for many years) that many time the right to distribute comes with the duty to handle warranty issues. If someone sends you a unit that they didn’t buy from you, clearly you will incur costs for a unit you never made any money on.
Yet this is the old model, where manufacturers still had some form of control over the market. Nowadays that model is shot I believe. Every distributor should be obliged to take warranty for products regardless of where they were bought. And then the manufacturer should reimburse the distributor for their cost (either along fixed price or flexible pricing guidelines). That way it does not matter where the customer bought their unit.
This would clearly mean that the distributor discount/margin would go down to pay for overall warranty.
It’s up to the distributor and his dealer channel to bind customers, be it by price, by reputation, by stock levels, by technical support and/or by great online presence. Customers will buy wherever they want. The internet facilitates that. If I buy outside the EU, I will have long delivery times (up to 6 weeks or more), have to pay import taxes and VAT (often serious money) and generally have more problems communicating with the seller if he is half-way around the world.
I too have bought a camera (Nikon) once in New York at the start of my holiday. Bought it at an official Nikon outlet. When I got home there was a problem with the mirror reflex mechanism. It took me about 8 calls to get it repaired in Holland. This made no sense to me then and it would make even less sense to me now.
Disruptive business models will save the day, sticking (against better judgement or because of wearing blinders) to the “old ways” will not help a company forward in this world of very rapid change.
On-topic: No matter how you spin it, waiting 1 year for a customer-response is not good service. The hurdle would still be there but the customer could have tackled it 1 year sooner. It being “grey” import (another relic from the olden days) should not be the customers problem.
An example of shitty service:
Working as a company director one of my suppliers gave me an engraved fountain pen for a christmas present. After a little over 2 years the cap started just falling off. Not good with fountain pens, they can really ruin your shirt pockets (experience talking). I went to a shop and got told that a) since I had not receipt (it was a gift after all) it was out of warranty automatically, also there would be costs involved. The cost would be so high, the sales-person told me, that it was easier to buy a new pen. Since mine was engraved with my name on it and there was no new one that matched the color exactly (I could have just swapped the new cap for the old one otherwise), I would have to get a new one and have it engraved again. Needless to say, too much hassle, I tossed a 125,00 euro fountain pen into the trash can outside the store.
And here is an example of “golden” service:
I was given a golden Cross pencil (refillable) while DJ-ing in Baghdad (don’t ask - long story). So I had no purchase receipt or anything. After a couple of years (well over 10) the cap started to slip off too easily, causing me to fear losing it.
I went to the nearest shop that sold Cross pens and explained my situation, fully expecting a long discussion on my rights and such and facing a big repair bill as things were clearly a) not bought locally and b) way out of warranty.
To my suprise none of that happened. The sales-person took a nice sturdy box from behind the counter, put my pencil in it, asked me for my contact details, told me it would be 7,50 euro for shipping and handling and they would call me when it was ready.
I still have no clue where they sent it, could be anywhere in the world, but no need for me to know.
Less than 2 weeks later I get a call to pick up the pencil. It has been buffed to a high gloss shine, the refilled it with new leads and put on a new eraser. Oh, and the cap was on tight as new. With it was a note thanking me for being a Cross customer and hoping I would enjoy this product for many years to come.
The point here, if I am gonna buy a new high-end pencil, fountain pen or something, which company will I go to and will I not mind spending a little more?
It’s easy to be a great company if you are willing to provide your customer with the best possible service.
An old employer of mine in the hospitality business once told me “The customer is always right, even when he is wrong. So don’t argue, apologize and fix it. It’s the least hassle and the easiest way out of any nasty situation”.
And I apologize for the wall of text. I have the best intentions for Denon at heart, I love the company and it’s products and have for many, many years. Nothing I’d like to see better than Denon taking it’s rightful place in the industry. Great (technical) products are a major part of that equation. Fixing what is wrong in a customer-friendly and prompt manner is another.