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CONSUMER ALERT M&M Distributors

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B. Newman

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
The best way to "cure" someone of doing something, is to let them do it a while...

If someone (non framer) takes the time to hunt materials, order them, get tools together, move "stuff" and find a place to work on the piece (garage, basement, kitchen table) realize they don't have everything they need, move stuff back, get what they need, re"find" a work space, and then finally finish the piece - one of two things will happen:

Either they'll love doing it and create a dedicated place to work, thus becoming a legitimate competitor, or they'll be so frustrated with the whole mess, that they'll be a loyal customer from now on.

If they become a competitor, it won't be long until they understand why the prices must be what they are.

If they become a customer, they'll understand why the prices must be what they are.

BUT, if they never have access to the materials in the first place - they will continue to complain that you're making money "hand over fist."

It's a "win/win" as I see it.
 

Mrs.B

CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2
I agree with Ylva and others, I would not cut the acylic for them either. I had people buying mats at M or HL and then bringing them to me to cut at a nominal fee. After a couple of mistakes and having to replace with my on stock, I won't do that anymore. My price is what it is with (or without) the product.
 

Rick Granick

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Betty, I think your analysis is both valid and sane. If this scenario became a regular or constant phenomenon I might change my attitude. However, the fact that it happens so rarely bears out your reasoning, insofar as suppliers selling practices. As to using customer-provided materials, I would not guarantee the outcome on materials I was not supplying (with its herent risk of replacement cost). And, in a case like this where the sheer size entails extra effort, space, and time for handling, I would take care to make sure the price charged covered those extras. This tends to have the effect of reducing the hoped-for savings of "bringing in your own eggs for frying".
:cool: Rick
 

FrameMakers

PFG, Picture Framing God
First off, I don't blame the customer for shopping for price. When the wholesale prices are out for the public to see with a minimum of google searching I do have a problem.

This customer has indicated that they would change the glazing themselves. I also informed them that the price I quoted was for the acrylic only and that if I were going to fit the job that the total would be higher.

I just got off of the phone with Felice and she assured me that they do require a vendors number and that they do qualify their customers. I told her that I could not find those requirements on their site and that I have serious issues with them putting unprotected wholesale prices on their site. She responded with a comment that United does the same thing. I informed her that I would be contacting Peter to complain about this but in the mean time M&M took money out of my pocket.

I requested that they change their site to require an account number before being able to access pricing information. She told me that she would take that to the General Manager.
 

johnny

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
First off, I don't blame the customer for shopping for price. When the wholesale prices are out for the public to see with a minimum of google searching I do have a problem.

This customer has indicated that they would change the glazing themselves. I also informed them that the price I quoted was for the acrylic only and that if I were going to fit the job that the total would be higher.

I just got off of the phone with Felice and she assured me that they do require a vendors number and that they do qualify their customers. I told her that I could not find those requirements on their site and that I have serious issues with them putting unprotected wholesale prices on their site. She responded with a comment that United does the same thing. I informed her that I would be contacting Peter to complain about this but in the mean time M&M took money out of my pocket.

I requested that they change their site to require an account number before being able to access pricing information. She told me that she would take that to the General Manager.
I've been Peter's customer for ages, decades, used to redistribute their stuff actually... anyway I turned my business off when they put the prices out on the web. Peter mentioned on here that they let anyone go through the checkout process and pay and then qualify them before shipping. That seems a little backwards and well... convenient? Unfortunately, I just haven't been able to bring myself to order since he made the prices public and instituted the post-verification policy. I voiced my opposition at the time but no one else seemed to care.

So, anyway, I'll stand with you.
 

Larry Peterson

PFG, Picture Framing God
At least the moulding vendors I use don't do this. LJ, Decor and Studio all require a login to see prices.

When one of my online customers wants something different, I can show them the moulding online without worrying about the price being shown.
 

Jay H

PFG, Picture Framing God
I buy often from International Moulding. They have one of the best websites as far as moulding suppliers go. Anybody can search their site with one exception. To see prices you have to register and log in. As it should be.

Carry on.
 

Artifacts Gal

CGF, Certified Grumble Framer
Wait Until Monday

I, too, spoke to Felice, who got pretty defensive ("United does it too" isn't good enough.) Whenever I call Don Mar for a price, their first question is "What's your account number?" To let the general public have access to wholesale prices is just bad business. She said that at the end of the transaction online, you'd have to provide a resale number. This should be step one to access the prices. She also said that Mark and Marty (one of the owners) will be looking over this issue and will respond on Monday.
 

Kirstie

PFG, Picture Framing God
I buy often from International Moulding. They have one of the best websites as far as moulding suppliers go. Anybody can search their site with one exception. To see prices you have to register and log in. As it should be.

Carry on.
Of course. LJ and other professional web sites do the same. The public can view the photos but not the prices.

At one time I thought of adding framing hardware add-ons to a shopping cart on my web site. I quickly realized that I could never beat wholesale prices already on the web.
 

j Paul

PFG, Picture Framing God
First off, I don't blame the customer for shopping for price. When the wholesale prices are out for the public to see with a minimum of google searching I do have a problem.

Absolutely, I am in the process of setting up a wholesale site for an artist that I represent, and that is the very first thing I told my web designer, that customer login was required to see pricing. Those customers will have to be approved by me first, after giving evidence that they are in the art business. No wholesale prices from me, just because you happen to have a tax ID for a non-related business.

Why would a wholesale company want retail customers to see such prices. That is just stupid.
 

Kirstie

PFG, Picture Framing God
I agree jPaul. We recently added a PDF download at the bottom of this page for wholesale accounts. Without seeming too prohibitive, they must prove their status and earn thier discounts. Sound familiar?
 

couture's gallery

PFG, Picture Framing God
SO..has anone herad from M&M on this yet????
 

Ylva

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
I am completely with Betty on this (she explained it much better than I ever could!)

Also, I don't see my regular customers surfing the web to find all the wholesale prices. In fact, most of the customers wouldn't even know where to start.

I do agree that it is shady business that both M&M and United post their pricing for everyone to see. It does not seem right that we as framers would pay the same price as the public.

On the other hand, how many of that same 'public' would want the quantities offered or are able to handle the material correctly.

Am very curious to hear responds from M&M and United.
 

Jay H

PFG, Picture Framing God
I wonder how they would feel if we were able to go to TruVue's website and see what they pay for this product?
 

Thedra

CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2
Bottom line here is we can all find out what a pound of clay costs but that does not tell us how much the sculpture costs. :shrug: Most of us see ourselves as artists of framing. Our raw costs are not completely indicative of our finished prices. In computers it is called VAR Value Added Resellers. Anyone can get on New Egg and find the costs of components, but can they put the parts together and come out with a working computer? We need to market our TRADE and SKILLS along with cost of goods. Otherwise we are only cutting out a piece of paper, nailing 4 sticks of wood and cutting a piece of glass and none of us want that image. All the arguments about usinf that customer's piece of glass need to be presented in a positive manner. We offer warranties, if something goes wrong WE are there to take care of it. In my POS I put Price of glass and fee for cutting, cleaning and fitting in the price of the glass. Tell the customer that! They want to see value for the price they pay. They are not just going to buy a starter at Auto Zone, they are getting installation and tune up and warranty! Many other occupations put up with this every day. As I said Automotive mechanics, want to go to Home Depot and buy a house package versus having that carpenter build the house?

It would be nice and I hope that it happens that customers can not find our Wholesale costs, but it is not the end of the world if they do! As it was stated good luck to the customer who has the space, tools, knowhow and patience to do what we do. We are wierd, we are perfectionists, OCD, ADHD and about every other acronymn out there but we need to be proud of our work and not be ashamed as to what we mark up this product.

When I got into consulting for computers, I was told about the engineer that after years of work ahd decided to retire. After some time a problem came up that noone could figure out came up and he was asked to come out of retirement. He aggreed and checked out the machine running, checked out the machine off, checked out parts and finally put a chalk mark on the machine and said replace this. They replaced it and happily it worked! He sent them a bill for $10,000 and even though they had spent hundreds of manhours before this they saw how easy it LOOKED and wanted a breakdown on the bill. He Sent back to them;

$1 Chalk
$9,999 for knowing where to use it


They paid the bill!



Have this attitude and it won't make a difference if our customer knows the prices.



Tom
 

SportShots

CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2
Ah yes, the 'professional discount' deal once again. Try photography where anyone can buy a camera, pay their $$ to the town or whomever and they are 'A Professional Photographer'. No training, no experience but they have a camera and go after people and give those who really know what they are doing a bad name when they book jobs and don't show up or fail to produce a professional product.

Framing is similar. The big difference is that anything I buy for my photography you an buy at the same prices from the same vendors. Very few will offer a professional discount of any type. Some will offer volume discounts. Used to get this when buying Kodachrome by the case.(300 rolls at a time) Most of the time I get no better deal than the guy in off the street.

Anyone can do it, photography or framing. To do it well is the trick. Professional is more than charging money as many know and understand.

Home Framers and Home based Photographers can do just fine but the prejudice still lingers. I don't do studio photography. I go on location and work with people, products, sports, photojournalism where things happen. I can do studio work, I just don't like it. I find it more challenging to be on site with the 8x10 and produce what is needed. More of a challenge to be on the sideline of a football game or shooting a theatre performance and produce good results, reliably, every time. It is what I do and if I had to sit in a studio a lot I would go nuts.

Framing is different. I got into it after a friend worked with me on framing some gallery shows. I do mainly photography, a lot of historical processes. I understand the media and frame accordingly. I push conservation framing. No sense in ruining a piece going cheap because the only thing the customer will be saying later is 'it is ruined', not 'I chose to frame it cheap and it is ruined'.

If M&M wants to post their pricing for everyone that is their right. Most who try framing quickly realize it is more than a ten minute job tacking wood together. Some good jobs have come from those who attempted to frame their work themselves and found it a bit more of a challenge than they realized. Specialized tools and experience really help here and they don't have them. Makes them more willing to pay to have it done right.
 

tedh

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
I actually think that Mark may have good reasons, whatever they may be. Perhaps the pressures of competition, the desire to pick up or steal new customers, I don't know.

But M&M is a middleman, and does not want anyone to know what they are paying for the inventory they sell to us.

So why not cut out the middleman and buy straight from manufacturers' reps? If M&M isn't behaving as it should, and we all think it is not acting in the best interests of its retail customers, then let's cut M&M out.

The reason I say this is that here in Ottawa the exact same thing happened: our regional distributor started selling direct to the public, distributed its wholesale prices, delivered to artists down the street, and did end runs around its retail buyers. So what did we do? Go right to the source. Now we buy from N&B. My purchase history dropped from over $30K to less than $10k.

If M&M is doing the same, they deserve the same.
 

johnny

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
There isn't a good reason to publish a wholesale price schedule on the internet. I hope I never have to write those words in that order again...

publish a wholesale price schedule on the internet.

What purpose does it serve?

If you are a supplier or distributor you have an interest in your customers doing as well as possible with your product. If you tell the end customer the cost of an item or of components in a larger item you artificially lower the price ceiling of your customer. Why would anyone do that?

If your behavior lowers the prices of your customers it's only going to be more difficult for you to raise prices yourself.

End customers won't appreciate what's needed to run a bespoke manufacturing business. It's a very unique kind of business. Keystoning won't get you there, and if your costs are published you might find customers will begin to become intolerant of even that.

I just had a customer borrow 5 Larson Juhl samples yesterday to take home and view in their living room. He may very well google the item numbers. He can get others retail price. He won't get my costs. If he did, he would no doubt come back in the mood to haggle. If I engaged him my price would drop and I would be less able to tolerate future price increases, which would weaken Larson Juhl just as much as stores like mine. As a matter of fact I did have a group of customers get a price list from one of my suppliers and it cost me not only those artists as customers but a bunch who they told. They immediately became intolerant of so much as a keystoned price, wanting to allow me maybe 1/2 of that based on chop/thumbnail or whatever. Many years later they still buy direct from distributors that I won't deal with, but who will ship to their homes. It has cost me hundreds of thousands over the years. Once in a while one will come in for an emergency mat or piece of glass and it's clear they hate me. And I was giving artists 20% off my normal prices before.

So why would a manufacturer or a distributor publish their wholesale schedule on the internet? It weakens their customers and weakens themselves. Unless they are looking to sell direct to the end customer, in which case they are rather dumb for not raising their prices.

We retailers should not only scream about the publishing of wholesale prices, but also the manufacturers whose products are distributed as they depend on retailers being able to charge for their product to keep it's value up.

After being a customer of United's for decades I stopped buying while they have their prices published. I won't buy from M&M either. Times are far to difficult to leave go all the "even-thoughs" that might otherwise pass.

I'll buy from this supplier even though they will tell my customers my cost.

I'll buy from this supplier even though they will sell to my customer.

I'll buy from this supplier even though they freaking undercut sell on eBay.

I'll buy from this supplier even though they will set up my customer-list armed employees out of their house.

And on and on..... we can't afford too many of these "even-thoughs."

I buy from suppliers who are happy for my success and work with me to make their product strong in the marketplace.
 

Luddite

PFG, Picture Framing God
Bitter much?...............L.
 

DVieau2

PFG, Picture Framing God
There are a lot of challenges to running a small business and unfair things happen all the time.

But I think trying to make M & M and United a scapegoat is unfair.

A determined customer will scheme and search and use the information to get a lower price and I don’t believe there’s anything anyone can do about it.

The prices on the web site don’t bother me .

As far as the price of Museum Acrylic goes …….I get the lowest price by purchasing from a local Plastic company. There are three plastic suppliers in my area and any one of them would sell direct to anyone . Business license or not.

Imagine Larson Juhl complaining about Plastic Suppliers selling direct to framers. After all aren’t they entitled somehow??? How much sympathy would they get from the Plastic Suppliers or Framers.

Doug
 

Steph

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Those are probably some of the wisest words of all on this thread. We are a sensitive group because we are a shrinking industry and many of us are concerned, and have been for a long time. I don't like situations like this. I like to think there is loyalty just to us and we are protected from our customers buying and doing for themselves. But maybe we need to ask ourselves a few questions.
If we were them, what would we do?
You have 2 companies that are competitors of each other vying for the business of a shrinking industry.
We also have the WWW added into the equation. Remember when it was just catalogs and price lists?
We are in a recession. Wouldn't we grab every bit of business we could get too?
Are we as loyal to them as we expect them to be to us as a group?

I like to think I am loyal......and I am to a degree. But Doug had a good point. personally I get all my acrylic and mirror from a local glass shop. When I wanted a roll of "Mylar" I did not get it from a framer supplier, I got it from a Plastics manufacturer, because it was a 60% savings and the same #### stuff.

Like I said before I'm not happy the prices are right out there but in retrospect I guess I don't find this nearly as upsetting as I would if our moulding suppliers had their prices out there for the world to see.
 

Jeff Rodier

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Imagine Larson Juhl complaining about Plastic Suppliers selling direct to framers. After all aren’t they entitled somehow??? How much sympathy would they get from the Plastic Suppliers or Framers.

Doug
If the plastic supplier were the primary supplier to larson then Larson would raise holy He!!.
 

tedh

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Hold on a minute, Steph and Doug: those plastics suppliers are selling to you at their "retail". Just like I could go to a plumbing supply house and buy a toilet, paying "retail".

The plastics company sells to its regular trade buyers - sign companies, fabricators, - at a discounted price, which you will never see, because you are not trade. You also won't get terms.

Big bulk buyers (the sign companies, say) get the discounts and the terms, and couldn't care less about you buying from the plastics company, because you would never buy a sign from them.

M&M's charter, or mission, is to wholesale to the picture framing trade.

Anyone see this any different?
 

DVieau2

PFG, Picture Framing God
Well the plastic companies "retail" is less than my framing distributors wholesale and I believe I get the same price as any sign shop buying at my sales level.

Part of our problem is that we all would like to believe in the definition of wholesale. Time to change that.

Wholesale is nothing but a marketing term.

Is Sam’s Club really a wholesale Club? ….. Do you suppose those guys with convenience stores are worried because I know what they pay for a case of candy bars ?

Doug
 

tedh

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
OK OK you got me. But what will a casual customer pay for a sheet of plastic?


And I agree that the definition of wholesale is skewed. There's nothing wholesale about Costco.

So let's see what M&M says tomorrow.
 

Jeff Rodier

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
The plastics company sells to its regular trade buyers - sign companies, fabricators, - at a discounted price, which you will never see, because you are not trade. You also won't get terms.
I buy a lot of items such as plex, Gator and coroplast from sign supply houses because they work on much smaller margins than framing suppliers because they sell huge quantities of these items. They have stated quantity discounts and stick to them. They are not like framing suppliers that charge one shop 40% more for single item purchases than they charge another.

I get insane discounts on framing materials from framing suppliers whether I buy 10 matboards or 300 because they know I'm going to buy it from them or somebody else. The same supplier gives me no discount on moulding unless I buy 300' because they know they can not match the prices I pay and make a dime. I have purchased over 100,000' of moulding from the manufacturer in the last year and I'm set up on distributor pricing so I pay what they pay. Now the distributor could complain that I am not technically a distrubtor even though I resell to local frame shops and home based bona fide businesses. Still 100,000' feet in a year qualifies me for distributor pricing. If I only bought 1 stick at a time it would be counter productive to give me distributor pricing.
 

Kirstie

PFG, Picture Framing God
I am completely with Betty on this (she explained it much better than I ever could!)

Also, I don't see my regular customers surfing the web to find all the wholesale prices. In fact, most of the customers wouldn't even know where to start.

I do agree that it is shady business that both M&M and United post their pricing for everyone to see. It does not seem right that we as framers would pay the same price as the public.

On the other hand, how many of that same 'public' would want the quantities offered or are able to handle the material correctly.

Am very curious to hear responds from M&M and United.
Aftr thinking about this, I have to agree with Yiva. Of course we buy plastics locally anyway. The rest of what we might buy from these companies is hardware and my customers are not scopingout the cost of strap hangers. However, I fully recognize that we have lost a fair share of business from artists and other resale customers who buy thier mats and frames (and posters) online at discounted prices. OTOH, we are still selling quite a bit of low end framing in multiples, so we are doing OK.

Ethically, I feel this is another matter. If a company states that they are wholesale to the trade, they should be just that so there are no surprises.

I still would not take in a piece of MG or MAcrylic and fit it into a customer's frame. Just too much risk for "damaging" thier merchandise.
 

Luddite

PFG, Picture Framing God
That's a pretty odd response.
No,it really isn`t....If you don`t like the policy,don`t buy from the company,that`s a no-brainer. But stop being so PO`d if someone works and lives in the same venue. Not everyone that works from their house is a knuckle dragging,slobbering,poor work quality/ethics cretin.They aren`t all going to up and grab your customers away.I admit(actually many times here) that this is a small part of my business,but it`s important.NO one gets upset with me buying all the sculpting/wood finishing supplies wholesale,don`t know why this is so different! I agree that its maybe unfair to show prices up front,but how many customers would hold it against you? Let them buy the stuff and try to do what you do with it,they`ll be back.I share all my art sources with anyone who asks ,including techniques....Guess what? I get MORE customers that way,because they realize they can`t/won`t do it! L.
 

Jeff Rodier

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Laura, I think you are being oversensitive to Johnny's position. You are an artist that is set up as a business. You make a living doing this as a professional displaying at the gift marts and a studio. You hold a vendors license and collect and pay sales taxes. Most so called artists do not fit in the same category as you.

The typical artist is a painter that sells their art through consignment deals where they hold no vendors license but rely on a bona fide business to handle the sales taxes. This same artist sells works directly to the public outside of any business setting.

It all comes down to a person conducting a legitimate business versus a guy on the streets of New York City selling jewelry hanging from the inside of a trench coat and running when he sees a cop.
 

FrameMakers

PFG, Picture Framing God
Laura, it makes a difference when through actions like this that someone has taken $$$ out of your pocket. While we are all struggling to survive dealing with this is like a punch in the gut. It happens more often that you might think.
 

Peter Ackerman

CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2
passwords or not

I will now post my opinions regarding this debate and am prepared to take one on the chin. Here we go:

The debate over showing wholesale prices on the internet is a no-win situation. We originally put our site up as a password protected site. All customers were screened to qualify for wholesale. Customers complained about having to use a password, passwords were lost and the logistics of continuing as a protected site were getting out of hand. Also we soon discovered that we were pretty much alone in this. Most of our competitors have sites without any passwords and prices in plain view. Our new site does not require a password and yes our prices are available for anyone with an internet connection to view.

United has always tried to weed out customers who are not in the trade. It is fairly easy to do and we do refuse orders on a regular basis. Other than mat board I can see no way for a customer to use our prices to try to haggle in the retail environment. Do they add up the cost of ½ roll of atg tape and 16 framers points as well as paper towels and glass cleaner? By the way mats and all types of framing supplies are available from thousands of web sites as well as Ebay at hard to beat prices. Some suppliers have Ebay shops and sell to the public directly. We do not. After a study done by myself for internet sales I have the following statistics: 97+ % of our web sales are to existing accounts. Approximately 2+ % are new sales. All new accounts are screened to make sure they are in business. Tax numbers, etc. We are pretty good at spotting the fakes.

By the way we send out catalogs with prices everyday. Please tell me the difference between putting prices on web and sending it out in print. Like I said we screen as best we can but some will still get through.

We also do not make any efforts to get high in the search engines. I have a separate company that sells high-end halogen light bulbs and lamp parts. I am always number 1 or 2 in the search engines using my specified key words. Search engine optimization and manipulation is fairly easy once you understand how Google works. At United we do not optimize and we try not to make it easy for people to find the site. However in the real world some searches will still find United. However most searches bring up Picture Frame Supply Co. as they have definitely optimized for easy search.

I am sorry to those who feel we should hide our prices but the nature of competition in our industry makes this impossible. Most customers will purchase from the supplier with the best pricing and service but also do not want to jump through hoops to place an order.

Now back to the Grumble. Johnny, you have a lot of very long comments and I see you are a Supreme Grumbler. How about posting who you are. It does not take big cahones to post anonymously. I support the Grumble and take a lot of abuse now and then. I would just like to know from whom. Perhaps the Grumble should not allow anonymous postings, as this is license to post anything true or false.
 

j Paul

PFG, Picture Framing God
Customers complained about having to use a password, passwords were lost and the logistics of continuing as a protected site were getting out of hand.

Also we soon discovered that we were pretty much alone in this. Most of our competitors have sites without any passwords and prices in plain view. Our new site does not require a password and yes our prices are available for anyone with an internet connection to view.

Peter, I admit I don't understand the programming behind a password protected site, however I also don't understand how it is a logistics problem. Whenever I am on a password protected site and forget my password and click the button that says "I forgot my password" I seem to get an immediate response sent to my registered email account. That seems to be done via automatic software as it is almost instantaneous, not done by some human looking up that info and then emailing it to me.

As far as point #2, that sounds like the old argument that we used to have with our parents when we wanted to do something all of our friends were doing. Remember the oft quoted response from parents? "So if all of your friends were jumping off of a bridge, would you do it to?" Just because everyone else is doing it, doesn't make it the right thing to do.

That's how I feel about it. I wouldn't leave my catalog laying out on the counter where my customers could see. I also don't leave PFM or Decor laying around for the same reason.

PS Although, I am not a big purchaser, I do purchase through United not the other guy
 

Artifacts Gal

CGF, Certified Grumble Framer
Lame

Let's see if M&M comes up with the same lame excuse as United did about passwords. Anyone who can't handle password protected sites shouldn't be allowed access to a computer.
 

Pat Murphey

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Peter's explanation of their procedures and the vetting of customer's orders seems perfectly reasonable to me. Is there anybody out there naive enough not to have figured out that retail customers know that wholesale prices are a lot less than retail? As far as United goes - Get over it! - They are doing fine.
 

Peter Ackerman

CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2
We can handle password protected sites just fine. The problem comes in when the customer does not remember the password, or the required info to get from the site when forgotten. Most of the reason to eliminate passwords has to with being competitive. This is a business and we must remain competitive. A majority of comments sent to the site requested we remove the password and we followed our customers wishes. Please address how our prices being public affect your business in a way that makes sense to me. As I stated before, how is a customer going to use my wholesale prices to negotiate with you? I just do not see it.
 

Rob Markoff

PFG, Picture Framing God
I think that having wholesale prices available for the "public" to see may have more to do with the perception of our suppliers "protecting/supporting" us than with the practicality of whether or not they (the public) will "use" this information.

The psychological barrier of having a password to gain information is a "validation" that you are "entitled" to this information by being a member of a class of users-which it seems that some may not comprehend. That comprehension (or lack of) may be evident in the culture of an organization and is further evidenced by how that company runs the rest of the company.

Some may feel it is "no big deal" while others may find it will keep them from patronizing a particular company. If enough people do feel it is a big deal, they can exercise their opinion by electing not to do business with that company (and as others have seen, make their colleagues aware of their dissatisfaction on a bulletin board like this one.)

If enough people share in that perception, the company in question should feel it in their sales. We have heard from one company, hopefully we will hear from the other.
 

Paul Cascio

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
I can see both side of this issue. On the one hand, framers, like most small business owners, are a somewhat paranoid lot, sensitive to any issue where there is even a perception that a supplier is biting the hand that feeds it. Current economic conditions increase that sensitivity.

On the other side, and I should mention, that Peter and I have long competed with one another, I hate seeing a grievance being aired on a public forum even against a competitor, at least until all other methods have been exhausted.

Afterall, how would any retail framer like it if a customer put up a billboard or similar signage in front of your place of bsuiness, airing a complaint that is either real or simply perceived? And what happens that billboard wre to remain long after the complaint is resolved? The Grumble is not the parking lot of your storefront if you're a retailer. Your customers aren't here. However, it is the parking lot of businesses that serve and supply the industry.

Suppliers do have a right to sell to whomever they want. If you disagree, you can express your ultimate displeasure by buying from a different supplier. We've seen this happen throughout history in our industry and usually it resolves itself via the marketplace.

Also, and I'm not sure if it's the case here, but most problems with passwords stem from site-imposed user names and passwords. Letting the user create their own, eliminates most memory lapses.

Bottom line is these threads can turn into a witch hunt if we're not careful. I suggest we all try to be sensitive to this when starting or particpating in such a discussion.
 

j Paul

PFG, Picture Framing God
Please address how our prices being public affect your business in a way that makes sense to me. As I stated before, how is a customer going to use my wholesale prices to negotiate with you? I just do not see it.

Do I care or think it makes a difference if a customer can see how much I pay for sandpaper / nailpunch / sander or even a 2-hole hanger or a spool of wire, not really!

(Even though I don't purchase mats through United) Do I care if they see that the wholesale price of a particular matboard is $8.00, (to quote Sarah) "you betcha"!

Why the difference? They don't care about the cost of a 2-hole hanger, they don't even think about it, unless they are just trying to buy that part. When they see the price of a project increase by $20-25. for each mat layer they add and they know it isn't even a full sheet of matboard that does make an impression on them. (Then they can draw the conclusion that everything that goes into the package is similarly marked up those "ridiculous" amount)

With that said, I believe that the majority of my customers don't search out my prices. Probably the ones that would, would end up being PIA, anyhow. I also realize that they aren't actually going to be able to buy one sheet of matboard from you? It still just doesn't sit right. However you're saying that the majority of your wholesale customers don't care, even requested you remove the password. OK! majority rule, however that doesn't seem to be the majority of those responding here.
:soapbox: I think I'm done now :eek:


I've got to also add, that I think that this particular thread is going to come up on search engines and make it even easier for potential customers to al least now find these suppliers mentioned in this thread.
 

tedh

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
I'd accept United's rationale for two reasons: they are not actively soliciting retail business on the Internet, and they actually do filter non-business purchasers.

Big difference between United and the regional distributor here, who delivers to artists down the street.
 

Tech Guy

Grumbler in Training
M&M Response

Hello All,

I am posting this for Mark at M&M due to a sign on problem. Please read carfully.

Thanks
Tech Guy

Sent: Sunday, February 01, 2009 6:06 PM
Subject: consumer alert on the grumble


Hello Framers,
I am responding to the "Consumer Alert" on the Grumble simply because the record needs to be set straight.

Dave, I'm sorry that your customer wanted to get a better price from you but isn't this something we all deal with on a daily basis ? Obviously she researched who has the capability to cut to size Optium Museum Acrylic and had her husband call as if he had a business and perhaps he does. Don't you also seek the best price, especially when making a sizeable purchase ? That's just good business.

M&M sells to picture framers,display manufacturers, museums, photographers, conservators, advertising agencies, glass shops,sign shops,etc. We do not sell to the general public. This does not mean that someone cannot represent themselves as a business when contacting us. We don't set up an account when we get an inquiry until the customer is ready to place an order. I can tell you that if you do not have a tax exempt number, or provide us with your social security number which is used if you have applied for the tax exempt or business resale number then we will not sell to you. Customers in New Jersey and the surrounding states must fill out the appropriate forms. A tax number can be obtained from the state for a $25 application fee and the state will tell you to use your social security number until your number is assigned.

M&M's website shows the wholesale prices because having to "log in" to a site is not a deterrent. It is very simple to create a name, get an account number, and gain access to most sites and "logging in" does not guarantee that the that person represents a business. We are unable to give account numbers until a new customer is entered into our system. When an order is placed on the website the customer is contacted to verify they are a business either by phone or e-mail and yes, some are home based businesses. How many of you started in this business from your home or have closed your retail location because you couldn't market your business to cover overhead. I have had local home based customers say they will continue to buy from Larson when I refuse to take off the residential delivery charge of $7.50 but most of you believe that they only sell to store fronts.

Some of my suppliers compete with M&M by selling direct to the framer and have prices and discounts on their website as well. Some don't sell to the framer but will sell to photographers and craft stores thus bypassing the distributor who has the large inventory and should be getting this business. I still need to carry their products due to quality and demand.

On certain products M&M does have quantity discounts that are not shown on the website. If you purchase that quantity you will automatically get the discounted price. Three rolls of various mounting tissues or 10 boxes of framers points come to mind.

I have also found manufacturers selling the framer at prices lower than I pay although I have $100,000 of their product inventoried and spend $750,000 annually with them. These orders have been for as little as $1500 in matboard, or a few pallets of glass, or 20 boxes of foam board. I have to buy trailer loads of some these items. When framers represent themselves as OEM"s and bypass the distributor who generally supports them where do I go to find this lost business ? When framers represent themselves as big buyers then who's doing the end around? For this I hold responsible both the manufacturers and the general competitive business climate we must exist in.

I spent some time this weekend and found at least 12 websites of suppliers that had pricing readily visible on them. In fact some of them also do custom and/or contract framing. Many of you continue to buy from suppliers, some of whom were mentioned in your postings, who compete with you. There is an account in New Jersey who lost a 50 frame order to Decor Moulding but still continues to buy from them. Don-mar started as a framer and I believe still does large contract jobs. Larson supports JoAnnes Fabrics by cutting mats, joining frames, and delivery. Why do you support your competition ? M&M does not compete with our customers. Aren't you, the custome framer selling your design,skils and services ? I thought that was your business model.

As I read through the postings on this thread I find a few who regularly purchase from M&M and I sincerely thank them for their business. Please be assured that M&M has no intention of competing with you.

Most of you on this thread have not bought from us in a few years, if at all, so I can't really gauge how many orders M&M will loose. We offer exemplary service and coupons, not gift certificates, to entice you to buy from us and if you are a new customer and want a hard copy catalog, we ask for a $10 deposit which is put on your account as a credit towards your first order. There are an additional $40 worth of coupons in the catalog towards future orders. We want and will welcome your business.

If you wish to discuss this further I can be reached at 1-800-526-2302 ext. 215. Leave a message and I will get back to you if I am unable to answer when you call.

Thank you for your time.
Mark Butwinski
General Manager
M&M Distributors

PS. We used the word "photography" instead of photographer because it is used 25% more in a google search.
 

Pat Murphey

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Maybe a little more discretion and less jumping to conclusions over a weekend would be in order?
 

Joe B

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
I have to agree with Peter from United. I don't care if my customers see what I pay for a product or not. I have customers try to negociate prices because of the prices they found on a web site or eBay - big deal, it is in human nature to try to get the best prices & it is up to me to give a price break or not; generally I don't negociate the price of my services. If my customers think that my prices are to high I tell them to shop my competitors, some come back some don't. No matter, prices on someone's web site doesn't bother me because when I tell my customers that I'm paying, heat, electricty, equipment cost/maintanence and I cannot pay those bills by giving them product at my cost. Generally my customers understand but if they don't they are more than welcome to go to a a different framer.
 
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