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Old May 7, 2011, 01:45 PM   #1
Silentarmy
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Join Date: August 13, 2007
Location: Bountiful, Utah
Posts: 355
Heads up on Premier optics business integrity ( or lack of)

Letter from a loyal distributor of Premier optics:

We've gotten inquiries as to why we don't have Premier scopes on our website anymore. Here's why.

Problem:

As of April 29, Armament Technology Inc (ATI) suspended our Dealer Account and we were no longer able to purchase the Premier Heritage line of riflescopes. The suspension letter, signed by E.J. (Ted) Milner, Vice President of ATI and CC’d to Chris Thomas, President of Premier Reticles Ltd, reads in part:

“Dear Mr. Berish,

It has been presented to us that your company has been offering Premier Reticles ‘Heritage’ Tactical riflescopes directly to consumers at pricing significantly below Minimum Advertised Price (MAP).

This behavior seriously undermines the value of the product in the eyes of the market and is particularly disruptive and damaging to the market distribution structure of Dealer and Stocking Dealer pricing.......

Please therefore be advised that your Dealer Account with Armament Technology Incorporated, sole Master Distributor for the Premier ‘Heritage’ Tactical line of products, is hereby immediately suspended.....”


This came as a complete surprise, as we have been extra careful in not putting any Hide member discount pricing in writing, either via email or PM. All deals were made strictly over the telephone, presumably in full compliance with MAP policy as commonly interpreted as industry standard practice.

The pretext for this suspension was that a customer at the Premier Reticles booth at the recent NRA show unveiled a scope with an invoice from us that “shocked and embarrassed” Premier Reticles staff and another Premier Reticles dealer at the show. The offending invoice was then sent to ATI and upon obtaining it Ted Milner said everyone got “mad as <deleted> there and shortly thereafter the hammer came down. This was on the same day the suspension letter was dated, April 29.

Fortunately, Ted Milner volunteered the name of the offending customer, and a little internet searching revealed the contact info for same. The gentleman is identified as the President of G.B. Stumpp & Associates, Terry L. Dean. From their website, GB Stumpp :

“G.B. Stumpp & Associates, Inc. is a leading manufacturer's representative for the outdoor market, including hunting, fishing, camping and marine products.

The firm aggressively markets products for ATI, Badger, Fobus, FoodSaver, Ithaca Gun, Lyman Products, Mag-Lite, PARA, Pachmayr, Pentax and VXI.

G.B. Stumpp & Associates is a carefully chosen group of electronic and sporting goods sales professionals, united under one business philosophy and committed to the success of the products they represent.

Each member of the sales force is a self-starter, armed with the integrity, experience and knowledge of territory that helps guarantee sales success.”

The address on the website matched the shipping address on our files, so we got our man. I remembered Mr. Dean, as I initially quoted him a full MAP price and he pressed the issue asking if “there was any additional discounts available for Hide members”. So we took care of him, and I specifically told him not to post that price anywhere, haha the joke’s on me.

So, I called Mr. Dean on his cell phone, and to his credit after introducing myself and explaining the problem, he stayed on the line long enough to have this conversation with me:

Me: “Terry, why would you take a scope and invoice from us and get it in the hands of Armament Technology?

TD: “Because I work for Premier”

Me: “What? What are you doing for Premier?”

TD:” Checking MAP pricing on their dealers”

Me: “So you set me up??”

TD: “Yes”

Me: “OK. Let me ask you a question...ATI claims that they obtained a copy of the invoice today “hot off the press”. When did you turn in the invoice?”

TD: “About a month ago”

Our conversation ended shortly thereafter.


Afterward, I called Chris Thomas from Premier on his cell phone five separate times and left him five messages, asking him to explain what he knew. To date, he has never responded.

In summary, we had a rep for Premier order a scope from us at Hide pricing, forward the evidence to ATI, which prompted a 90 day suspension, a nice little sting operation, if you will.


Discussion:

There are three issues here...

First, we never violated MAP nor any other dealer agreement with ATI, and when I explained this to Ted Milner, he stated they were well aware of that, but “they aren’t obligated to provide Liberty Optics with any product, either”. Ted also agreed that what happened was a sting operation, but that didn't impede the suspension.

Second, the issue emerges that when it comes to pricing Premier products, MAP is really Minimum Selling Price, as discounts in any shape or form seem to conflict with ATI’s marketing strategy. When a recent Hide vendor attempted to do a Group Buy here with Premier scopes, we received a rather stern email, as copied here (emphasis added is mine)

April 13, 2011

Dear Premier Heritage Tactical line Dealer:

You are receiving this email to inform you about a recent situation in the marketplace involving a serious breach of pricing protocol surrounding Premier Heritage Tactical riflescopes.


Specifically, a major national optics dealer engaged in a marketing endeavor they advertised as a “group buy” whereby they implied that participating individuals would be able to purchase Premier Tactical products at below Minimum Advertised Pricing. This type of practice is strictly prohibited as contravening the spirit of Minimum Advertised Pricing policy under the terms of Distributor and Dealer pricing. As such, the offending Dealer’s account with ATI has been suspended and their outstanding Purchase Orders will remain unfilled.

Please let us remind all Dealers that:

1) Minimum Advertised Price is not a benchmark by which to offer a discounted price; it is the price the consumer should expect to pay. We expect Premier Dealers to foster that concept by exhibiting a price on their advertising and marketing materials and websites, and that price should be not less than MAP. The practice of displaying statements such as “call for price” or “call for best price” is not deemed to be acceptable.

2) Any program or endeavor that offers implied discounts for those participating in a “group buy” will not be tolerated.

3) Dealers are fully responsible for updating price lists on their websites to reflect current Minimum Advertised Pricing.

The goal of this correspondence is to serve as a reminder that Premier Reticles Ltd. and Armament Technology Incorporated are very serious about the financial success of the products we distribute as well as the financial success of the Dealers we serve. Premier products are ‘top of the market’ products that are fully capable of generating premium pricing in the market and consequently healthy profit margins for Dealers. Companies that do not see the value in this business model can expect the same consequence as that experienced by the national Dealer referenced above.

Please take some time to ensure your full compliance with this policy; your continued success with Premier Heritage Tactical products is dependent upon it.

If you have any questions about the aforementioned, please contact us.

Best regards,


Andrew Webber President Armament Technology Incorporated

Chris Thomas
President
Premier Reticles Limited


There you have it. As a “consumer”, expect to pay the MAP/MSP price on Premier products. I heard after our suspension an even more aggressive email was circulated by ATI warning of the consequences of discounting these scopes to you guys, and I bet finding a deal will be increasingly difficult, if not impossible.


Finally, there is the human element here. Business is business, but in the not too distant past we fully backed and aggressively marketed and sold the Premier Heritage as a viable premium alternative in the tactical scope market, in every effort to ensure the success of the product’s introduction in the marketplace, at a time when few others would. We thought we had a good relationship with Premier and had earned it through hard work and loyalty. Apparently such means nothing as we were never contacted or warned directly that we were engaging in “damaging and disruptive behavior” when it came to selling Premier scopes to Hide members. In other words, there was no desire to take corrective action, just a desire to obtain evidence that would justify eliminating us from the dealer network.

Conclusion:Avoid spending your money with Greedy Hacks on an overpriced mediocre product.
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Last edited by JohnKSa; May 7, 2011 at 01:54 PM. Reason: Language
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Old May 7, 2011, 04:37 PM   #2
Bud Helms
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Join Date: December 31, 1999
Location: Middle Georgia
Posts: 13,000
Read, understood and acknowledged.

Best of luck.

Since this is about the politics of distributor/dealer sales and marketing agreements and the business conduct of same, but NOT the actual equipment, I will close this as off topic, leaving it to be read.

This forum is for the discussion of gear & accessories.

Closed.
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