Accommodation pricing for the industry reviewer's ...your opinion?

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DaveyF

Active Member
Aug 1, 2010
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#1
In another thread, Steve Williams and I have a true 'meeting of the minds' in regards to the ongoing practice of "Accommodation pricing" for industry reviewers. IMHO, I feel and I believe Steve agrees, that this issue of 'accommodation' is a VERY bad practice for our hobby that may well lead to dishonesty and if nothing else, a 'glowing' review that may or may not be warranted. :(
I have said before in this forum and others that, again IMHO, there needs to be more discrimination by the reviewers in regards to the abilities of the various pieces of gear that are subjected to review in the 'high-end' industry. The practice of 'accommodation' would seem to me to lead to the antithesis of this idea.:(
The practice of giving your reviewer a discount ( of any amount) off of the price of a piece of gear that is presented to be reviewed should, again IMHO, be immediately discontinued in the industry.
Do we have any other thoughts on this matter.....:D
 

Jay_S

WBF Founding Member
Apr 20, 2010
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#2
I have always found this practice troubling. Most companies over a very small size have strict compliance policies that forbid employees from receiving benefits or compensation from third parties. The reason for these policies is to avoid a potential conflict of interest. In my mind, accomodation pricing is a deep discount, and deep discounts are economically equivalent to compensation. It's simply a bad policy for a manufacturer to compensate an independent reviewer. The fact that particular reviewers can remain honest and impartial while receiving this benefit is a good thing but it doesn't change my view that the practice is inappropriate.
 
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Steve Williams

Site Founder, Co-Owner, Administrator
#3
Jay

I agree 100%

Jay. you are an attorney. Are they any legal issues or are they just moral and ethical (to me at least)?
 
Jul 1, 2010
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#4
In another thread, Steve Williams and I have a true 'meeting of the minds' in regards to the ongoing practice of "Accommodation pricing" for industry reviewers. IMHO, I feel and I believe Steve agrees, that this issue of 'accommodation' is a VERY bad practice for our hobby that may well lead to dishonesty and if nothing else, a 'glowing' review that may or may not be warranted.
It sounds bad, but I doubt it is much of a problem in practice. Imagine you're a busy audiophile journalist reviewing a component a month or more. Are you going to want to buy one that doesn't deserve glowing review in your opinion? Even at a discount? I think there are quite a few things ahead of accommodation pricing on the worried for our hobby list.

Tim
 

Steve Williams

Site Founder, Co-Owner, Administrator
#5
It sounds bad, but I doubt it is much of a problem in practice. Imagine you're a busy audiophile journalist reviewing a component a month or more. Are you going to want to buy one that doesn't deserve glowing review in your opinion? Even at a discount? I think there are quite a few things ahead of accommodation pricing on the worried for our hobby list.

Tim
Of course they won't buy it Tim, they only buy the ones they like. I also agree that there are other things further ahead of accommodation pricing

Following along what Jay posted, IMO it amounts to nothing more than compensation. Imagine reviewing a product for $$$ megabucks MSRP and the reviewer gets this for 50% off. Heck that could amount to a review being worth many,many thousands of dollars. Tim,if you don't think that is compensation, tell me what is.

Perhaps to even the field the manufacturer should issue them a 1099 for the monies not paid.
 

DaveyF

Active Member
Aug 1, 2010
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#6
Tim, it's not always the case that the reviewer won't buy the piece under review unless he/she likes it. I used to have a friend ( who happened to be a reviewer for one of the two Big US audio mags) who bought the piece under review using his accommodation price even though he thought ( and told me) it was a POS. What does he do...he gives the piece ( in this instance an amp) a glowing review, then proceeds to sell it at a nice profit as soon as possible thereafter. You tell me if you think this is a problem?:eek:
 

Bruce B

WBF Founding Member, Pro Audio Production Member
Apr 26, 2010
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www.pugetsoundstudios.com
#7
Too bad Consumer Reports can't give a decent review of high-end audio. I also just think there are too many variables in reviewing. Some of these reviewers rooms are hideous. One prerequisite should be a decent room.
I don't have a problem with accomodation pricing. Where the problem arises is at the end of the review. What happens then? Hell... if it's their business, they can take a tax write off.
 

mep

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
Apr 21, 2010
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#8
I think some points are being missed here. First of all, reviewers are able to buy pretty much any piece of gear at accommodation prices whether they ever review it or not. The manufacturers aren't losing any money by selling the gear to reviewers at accommodation prices because the accommodation price is the same as dealers pay. So the point to this is that a reviewer isn't only going to get to buy something at an accommodation price if he reviews it first and gives it a rave review. As for reviewers, why in the hell would anyone want to be a reviewer if the job didn't have some perks? The pay sucks and you can't live on it unless you are Ted Kaczynski-like and live in a cabin in the woods but happen to be the Mennonite equivalent of the Amish and have electricity. The majority of reviewers have real jobs during the day that pays their bills. So, I guess I don't begrudge them the privilege of being able to buy things at 50% of what the rest of us are probably paying. And I would love to have that deal too of course.

And the real dirty truth is that some smaller companies will sell directly to you at steeply discounted prices (can you say accommodation prices?) as long as you don't have a dealer in your immediate area and I know that from recent personal experience.
 

mep

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
Apr 21, 2010
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#9
And here is something else to think about. If brick and mortar stores went away along with their distribution channel for high-end manufacturers and we (consumers) could all buy their gear at dealer price/accommodation price (same thing me thinks), would there be enough increase in the manufacture’s sales that they could off-set the losses they would incur by not moving product through the distribution channel? If the answer is yes, they could dump the present dealer model and just sell direct to all of us at the price point they need to make a profit and succeed and we would all by paying half of what we currently pay.
 
Jul 1, 2010
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#10
Given the right tools and a couple of people who know how to use them, I think Consumer Reports might be great at audiophile reviews. Those of us in the hobby and the industry might be the most experienced listeners, but we are the least objective ones. The problem is the industry isn't big enough to be on Consumer Reports' radar.

Tim
 
May 30, 2010
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#11
I understand the sentiment of this thread and even agree with it to an extent. But, just because a reviewer has the option of purchasing gear at accommodation prices, that doesn't necessarily mean that something unethical will take place. In fact, if you do in fact feel that way, then perhaps you should all stop reading reviews. Reviewers have personal opinions and individual preferences that affect their appreciation and understanding of an audio product. If you do not agree with the person reviewing a product, either he doesn't know what he is talking about or he is a crook, right? Of course there are reviewers out there that do take advantage of situations like this. I know for a fact that Jeff is very aware of these unethical practices and does what he can to keep them from occurring with our reviewers. I know a couple of instances when a purchase was setup before the company sent the product for review. Jeff fired the reviewer and either sent the product to another reviewer or canceled the review all together. Point is, you can find fault with anything and anyone if you look hard enough. Perhaps looking at a reviewer who doesn't spend a dime for their reference system would be more beneficial? These guys get long-term loans that stay with them until the next model comes out. Then their model is upgraded or replaced. Would this reviewer be able to afford this reference grade product at accommodation? Maybe, maybe not. Would this product make it in his reference grade system on its own merits if it wasn't given to him? There are lots of questions one could ask about lots of different things, but attacking the option of industry accommodation for reviewers seems like misplaced frustration to me. If the reviewer and the publication are honest and forthcoming in the review, then who gets hurt?
 

garylkoh

WBF Technical Expert (Speakers & Audio Equipment)
#12
And here is something else to think about. If brick and mortar stores went away along with their distribution channel for high-end manufacturers and we (consumers) could all buy their gear at dealer price/accommodation price (same thing me thinks), would there be enough increase in the manufacture’s sales that they could off-set the losses they would incur by not moving product through the distribution channel? If the answer is yes, they could dump the present dealer model and just sell direct to all of us at the price point they need to make a profit and succeed and we would all by paying half of what we currently pay.
That's a forum all in itself! Unfortunately, I don't think that there are enough manufacturers here to discuss this.

I have two typical customers - the audiophile and the rich music lover. With the audiophile, my products are unlikely to be the first loudspeaker that they have bought. Which means that they will need to trade in their old loudspeakers. Without the dealer, they will have to sell their old speakers themselves - the manufacturer is unlikely to be able to take in trade-ins. In the days of easy credit, they could probably but the new, and then take their time to sell off the old. But nowadays, it is down to the dealer to sell the traded-in loudspeakers, and he is likely to only make a profit when he manages to sell off the old speakers (which may be a dog and may have to sit in his warehouse taking up space for years.)

The second customer is the rich music lover (probably not on this forum). All he wants is to have lovely music in his home when he hits the PLAY button. This customer needs the service and set-up that the dealer typically will provide but the manufacturer can't.

With both cases, without dealers I don't think that sales will increase, and may even fall. International sales (which I rely on) would go to ZERO.

Back on-topic, as a manufacturer, I could write off the accommodation pricing or gift" to marketing costs - not that I can afford to provide the reviewer with a pair of Genesis 1.2's. A full page ad costs in the region of $18k, a multiple page review would be worth at least that. I've been told by many of my dealers that they wish I would get a review in one of the major magazines, but like many of you on this forum, the practice troubles me.
 
May 30, 2010
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#13
"I would like ANY of our professional reviewers who are members here tell me that when they wrote the article knowing that they were getting the equipment at such a reduction that they had no bias or motivation in writing a glowing review about the equipment. Sorry but I just don't agree with this in any way whatsoever."

Steve Williams asked the above question in the other thread and I feel it should be answered here.


First, if every reviewer can purchase any product at accommodation, regardless if they are reviewing it or not, then why would it make a difference in the review? And to your other question, you want a review written by someone who already owns the piece and you think it will be more informative why? Someone who already owns the product is going to give that product a rave review, correct? There is your bias. Do you see your hypocrisy? Will there be any objectivity? Maybe, maybe not. I would rather read a review written by someone who has a lot of experience with many different audio products and who is also someone who has proven to be objective and well reasoned. I think you are assuming the worst in every reviewer and willing to give a forum member the benefit of the doubt. You are obviously sour on audio publications, why?
 

mep

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
Apr 21, 2010
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#15
Good points Gary. Do you really have a feel for the percentage of customers who trade-in their speakers at the dealer vice selling them outright on Audiogon or Ebay? Trading in a pair of speakers to the dealer is tantamount to trading in your car. The dealer pays you wholesale (maybe) for your old speakers and then sells for retail. Depending on the value of the speakers, this is money the customer is throwing away because they don’t want to be bothered selling them on Audiogon.

I think the better point you bring up is that some speaker manufacturers are entirely dependent on having a competent dealer deliver and setup their speakers and Wilson would be another fine example of this model. However, are even the rich so lazy that if they could buy a pair of speakers for 50% off but had to be responsible for getting them into their house and setting them up (even if it meant hiring someone to do it) that they would rather pay 50% more and have the dealer provide the service?
 

Bruce B

WBF Founding Member, Pro Audio Production Member
Apr 26, 2010
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#16
And to your other question, you want a review written by someone who already owns the piece and you think it will be more informative why? Someone who already owns the product is going to give that product a rave review, correct?
Not necessarily. I have equipment in here I'm not particurlarly fond over (converters, cables, workstations..etc). I have to have them here if someone prefers the sound or want that piece in the chain. Plus I'm sure many of us have equipment around just because it's a PITA to sell/ship.
 
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rbbert

Active Member
Dec 12, 2010
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#17
I there ANY hobby/industry where some people (often reviewers, often just people involved in the industry) don't get "accomodation" pricing? Even where review samples are loaned to the reviewers (like the auto mags), until recently at least (and probably still) those reviewers can buy any industry product they want at huge discounts. Look at athletic/sporting equipment, cameras, computers, whatever.
 

Steve Williams

Site Founder, Co-Owner, Administrator
#18
Someone who already owns the product is going to give that product a rave review, correct?
actually not always. I bet there are many of us, myself included, who have purchased a piece of gear that was an absolute loser and dumped it. But then I suppose Randall, you can call that bias as well :confused:
 

Steve Williams

Site Founder, Co-Owner, Administrator
#19
I there ANY hobby/industry where some people (often reviewers, often just people involved in the industry) don't get "accomodation" pricing? Even where review samples are loaned to the reviewers (like the auto mags), until recently at least (and probably still) those reviewers can buy any industry product they want at huge discounts. Look at athletic/sporting equipment, cameras, computers, whatever.
so because everyone does it, that makes it OK?
 

Robert

New Member
Nov 10, 2010
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#20
Do people take reviews that seriously? I consider them as pure entertainment, and an extension of advertising.

Doesn't the manufacturer provide 90% of the copy for the review, anyway? The reviewer just adds an intro paragraph to describe his 'skepticism' and a concluding paragraph to let us know that Diana Krall was in the room.

Every American, regardless of age, is paying $28 per year to keep the post office open. Talk about indignation!
 
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