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CONSUMER ALERT M&M Distributors

Discussion in 'The Grumble' started by FrameMakers, Jan 29, 2009.

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  1. Jim Miller

    Jim Miller SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    Web-based commerce has blurred the lines between manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers, and consumers. It is a fact of life in commerce today.

    Both of these are major suppliers in our industry. They have served our wholesale framing needs for decades, and at competitive prices. I believe history favors their intentions.

    Their sales policies, web-based catalogs, and posted prices do not cause alarm for me. If my customers are so interested in learning what I pay for materials, I am not concerned, because I still provide value they can not duplicate by misrepresenting themselves in order to buy the framing materials.

    Mr. Butwinski and Mr. Ackerman both made pretty good arguments for their policies. Competition is a good thing, and nothing here has reduced my opinion of these major suppliers. I wish them prosperity in this difficult market.
     
  2. Joe B

    Joe B SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    j Paul - it's not that I don't care, I just have more important things to worry about. Customers finding out what I pay for a mat board or glass, or foam core, etc. is by far way down my list of priority concerns. If a customer brings it up then we will have a discussion, if they don't bring it up then there won't be anyting to discussion. How many of your customers look up material cost on the web to see if they can get better prices from you? I would be willing to bet not many, and yes, I have told a couple of my customers, when asked, about my mark-ups. They understood because they know that I'm in business to make a profit and if I weren't making a profit I wouldn't be in the business - plain & simple. I too believe that Mr. Butwinski & Mr. Ackerman both were very straight forward and had excellent arguments. They too are in business to make a living and though I have not purchased much from either supplier the product I did purchase was good quality and price - I will continue to purchase from them in the future.
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2009
  3. Beveled

    Beveled SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Seems like framers are taking issue with suppliers INTENTIONS to intercept our business by selling wholesale to public, when this probably isn't the case at all. I followed this whole thread too, because I was interested to see if we were being undercut. But I don't think that is the case. Both companies explained that they simply can't screen out those who lie to them and present themselves as legitimate retailers.

    Those suppliers who do sell intentionally to public, thereby undercutting the legitimate framer, will eventually lose business. The smart ones know that.

    If a customer digs hard enough, they will eventually be able to find out what we purchase supplies for. You could do that with anything you purchase. If you wanted to find out what your mechanic purchases parts for, you could. Or if you wanted to find out what your hair stylist purchases her supplies for, you could. Or your grocery store, or your home supply store, furniture store, etc. I think only an idiot would take that information, however, to a retailer and try to negotiate based on that.

    To the suppliers, however, we do appreciate it if you continue to make effort to sell only wholesale legitimately.
     
  4. Beveled

    Beveled SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Seems like framers are taking issue with suppliers INTENTIONS to intercept our business by selling wholesale to public, when this probably isn't the case at all. I followed this whole thread too, because I was interested to see if we were being undercut. But I don't think that is the case. Both companies explained that they simply can't screen out those who lie to them and present themselves as legitimate retailers.

    Those suppliers who do sell intentionally to public, thereby undercutting the legitimate framer, will eventually lose business. The smart ones know that.

    If a customer digs hard enough, they will eventually be able to find out what we purchase supplies for. You could do that with anything you purchase. If you wanted to find out what your mechanic purchases parts for, you could. Or if you wanted to find out what your hair stylist purchases her supplies for, you could. Or your grocery store, or your home supply store, furniture store, etc. I think only an idiot would take that information, however, to a retailer and try to negotiate based on that.

    To the suppliers, however, we do appreciate it if you continue to make effort to sell only wholesale legitimately.
     
  5. janetj1968

    janetj1968 PFG, Picture Framing God

    I honestly can see both sides of the problem.

    I do buy from some suppliers who also sell (at a retail, not a wholesale value) to the general public. However, of those...only one of those is considered local. The others are from out of state.

    I continue to buy from the local supplier because #1 They were here before I was and #2 They don't sell it wholesale ...they sell retail to the general public...so I can usually compete with it and #3 The more I sell the less they sell and my retail profit beats their wholesale profit. (In other words, I'm aware that they make less money by selling to me than by just taking my customer). I know they've never advertised their retail sales. Unless it had to do with an artist's release or a human interest story, I don't think I've ever seen them advertising anywhere locally, period. So I give them some credit.

    I love seeing products on the internet that I can look at...and yes...even do shopping carts. If a retail customer told me "they could get it from United" for xx, I'd tell them "United won't sell to you unless you're a business". To me, its irrelevant that they've seen a price, they can't buy it.

    Wholesale suppliers do get audited for tax numbers; if its a local (in-state) purchase, they do require that you have one on file. To my knowledge, they only require tax numbers on out of state customers as a trade courteousy--to make sure they're selling to a retailer rather than the public. This isn't regulated by the state; only in-state sales are regulated by requiring a resellers certificate. I don't think many wholesalers would risk getting hit by the state to sell to a consumer locally.

    This one is touchy and I know I could get a lot of roar over it, but here goes:

    If you KNOW a wholesaler is selling at wholesale levels locally to retail consumers and not requiring a tax resale number (not just thinking it or wanting to cause them a mess of problems...because I'm NOT encouraging it), call in a tip to the state. Businesses can be classified as wholesale and retail at the same time; however, selling items at a wholesale price instead of a retail price and not requiring a tax number is fraud to the state. Wholesale prices are printed, even on the internet now. The state collects more tax on larger sales. The state WILL know the difference.

    People can sell anything for what they want to sell things, this is true. However, the difference between wholesale and retail isn't just who you charge tax or from whom you get a resale certificate. You have to validate that a sale is wholesale in order to not collect tax.

    If a customer can make a purchase out of state and somehow only pay wholesale for it, by the time they pay the shipping and go through the headache...they'll realize they're no better off than by buying from their local framer.

    That being said...I don't like wholesalers competing with retailers. And the line does have to be drawn somewhere. I made an exception with good reason..and sometimes there just isn't one to make an exception for.
     
  6. Bob Carter

    Bob Carter SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    As usual, Jim makes a concise argument that is rational and understndable that won't change a single opinion

    Several oppossing factors are at play

    If you have ever met either Peter or Mark, you know they are good decent people that care about the trade. I will promise neither is out to compete with you. They just are honest brokers

    Do some overly slick "customers" work the system? Sure, they do. Do som eget through? Sure, they do. Is it more than once in a "blue moon"? I doubt it

    The key is should they make policy and site revisions to "cure" the once in a while anomaly or make those policies that work for the overwhelming majority of users

    The problem is I also know Dave-another hard working decent guy struggling for every sale

    Some will not like the answers given and like Jerry, may choose to deal with someone else-that's biz

    I just think that these two men are not out to compete directly. Unintended consequences do crop up and I certainly don't have a problem with anyone having a "philosophical" difference.

    But, let's not make them villains. That, they are not
     
  7. Kirstie

    Kirstie PFG, Picture Framing God

    Yes, I agree Jim. And it is now our job to appeal to our customers in a way that brings them into our stores for products and services that they need our help with. Whether that is by offering top-notch elaborate custom framing or at the other end of the spectrum, lower end ready mades or DIY, or both, it is our job to promote and perform in our businesses in a way that lets our customers know what value they are getting for their money.

    Gone are the days, in the 70s, when we could open our doors and make money. Competition from the Internet is a fact of life that has changed each and every one of our businesses. Our job is to make the personal transaction worthwhile for the customer. This includes the price conscious customer, whom I believe we will all see more of in the years to come. It's all about convenience, service, quality, and price, and I don't believe the Internet can compete head on with all of those important factors.

    And let's face it, customers can easily go to Dick Blick online and find an $8. piece of acid-free mat board or buy cut mats from Ready Mat. And yes, some price driven customers like artists who need to resell thier work, will go to any number of sites to buy materials. But you know what? We service a good number of artists and very few bring in materials from these suppliers. Instead they rely on our great prices and excellent service to help them get ready for thier shows.

    However, for items like very expensive acrylics that are easily searched online, I can see a potential problem with price comparisons. I say potential because I have never had this problem occur. OTOH, I sell more to the lower end, and rarely sell items like Museum Acrylic.

    As Bob says, these hardware suppliers who are trying to do business are not villians. But as every story has three sides (your side, my side, and the right side) how would we feel is all of our suppliers started selling everything readily available online at wholesale?

    A stickey wicket indeed.
     
  8. nikfrz

    nikfrz SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I do a lot of work for several of the area arts organizations. Several years ago,one decided that they were going to do all the matting themselves. They ordered a mat cutter, couple boxes of mats, couple boxes of fc. These were bought from United. Many brought their art to complete the framing. Most mats were pitiful to say the least. Several months after that, the mat cutter broke. Someone was able to fix it. Several months after that, it was destroyed. Suffice to say that they will never go in that biz again.
     
  9. DTWDSM

    DTWDSM SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Both United and M&M are good companies and have the right to conduct business in the way that they want to. If you don't like the way they do it you can do 2 things, 1. Buy somewhere else or 2. Contact the company, voice your concerns and deal with it privately.

    Other than that, some people just need to calm down and get a life.

    Thank you to both United and M&M for representing yourself here, both of you could have ignored this thread and chalked it up as another person just trying to stir the pot but you didn't. You both replied with class, not attacking each other or anyone here.
     
  10. Luddite

    Luddite PFG, Picture Framing God

    Just curious,what did they do to that poor cutter? Hard to destroy one,even a low volume model! L.
     
  11. nikfrz

    nikfrz SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    They bought what I would call a hobbyist mat cutter from United, and yes they destroyed it to the point that they didnt want to deal with the hasell anymore. Imagine 200 artists that dont know what they are doing. Yeah, it was destroyed.
     
  12. johnny

    johnny SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Why on earth would you single me out and post those things?

    I've never disparaged or abused you, your company, or any other distributor or manufacturer. I've also never posted lies.

    What I did post was what I believe is the effect of the business practices of you and other industry suppliers. If you are upset that I posted that I don't currently buy from you, I didn't bring that up either. I was responding to someone else who proposed that idea.

    When you came out with your new website I posted my opinion then, along with others, and you replied. I was disappointed in your reply but I didn't say a word or try to argue. I never gave my opinion on your reasons. I stated my opinion and you stated your policy. You made a decision on how to run your business and I made a decision on how to run mine.

    Now it comes up again. I state my opinion of the effects and this time, in reply to the other poster, affirm that I have already done what he proposed. I also said that I don't understand why manufacturers aren't upset that wholesale prices of their products are posted on the web, because I believe it hurts them just as much.

    How you think this is abuse is beyond me. I am anonymous in my posts although apparently lots of people know who I am. Which is nobody. I'm a small businessman who has been at this for a long time but is just a plain vanilla framer. There is a reason I am anonymous and it has nothing to do with anyone else who posts here or wanting to spread lies and abuse like you insinuate. It's because I would never have these conversations in front of my customers. Why on earth would I want to do that? The Grumble pages are pretty highly ranked in Google searches. Contrary to your accusations, not posting my business identity along with my statements allows me the freedom to be perfectly honest and never couch anything I say. My statements can be taken on their own merit. I do not have industry companies paying me to be a rep or talking head. I don't have to worry about my customers reading my statements. I can be perfectly honest about my thoughts and do not have to modify any statements because of who might be reading.

    Really, why anyone would post on serious topics like this with their full company name on the thread is beyond me.

    But, like you say, you sponsor the forum. If you think that I'm abusive to you then just ask Framer to ban me. I don't think you would get a single complaint. No reason to punish everyone who doesn't wish to put their company name on a internet messageboard.

    For what it's worth then, I'm disappointed in your reply and M&Ms. But you made your policies known and people will continue to make their own decisions based on them. You have the right to run your business as you wish. Please respect my right to openly discuss the matter at hand.
     
  13. janetj1968

    janetj1968 PFG, Picture Framing God

    Here's a little reinforcement for my post and is just one case of an audit for wholesale versus retail sales. This one is within the state of Virginia.

    Cost, as I have said...IS one of the things they look at.

    http://www.policylibrary.tax.virgin...d4a4f137cecdc18985256e860048af21?OpenDocument

    Specifically:
    "Factors used to discern the difference between a retail and wholesale sale are the characteristics of the purchaser and the purchaser's use of the merchandise and, to a lesser degree, the price and quantity of the product sold."

    I'd recommend any wholesalers who are selling at wholesale levels to consumers to just think "you know...maybe it isn't worth it".

    I have no hard feelings for any wholesaler as long as they require proof of business before selling at wholesale levels....especially if they've given out a price unknowingly to a consumer.
     
  14. Karen

    Karen CGF, Certified Grumble Framer

    Not that anyone cares about my opinion except me. . . I hate that fact that the wholesale prices are on the net for the public to see. And for those of you who don't think alot of customers go on the net to see our cost is just stupid, your kidding yourselves, they do do it and they do come in and use it to try and get the cost down. They don't care about hardware and the like, it's the matboard, glass and chopped frames their after. They want a cheaper price that they can get on the net but they don't feel that your time and labor are worth anything. They see the price on the net and think thats the way it should be. The younger generation is internet savy and will find anything they want to on the internet.

    I had a customer just yesterday come in and didn't want to pay my price for a mat board. He knew he could get it cheaper off the net. He wanted to know that if he paid my price would he get the fall out to use at another time. I said no. He then asked that if he got a mat from someplace else would I cut it for him. I again said no. Just for info I do not allow or cut anything a customer brings in if it wasn't purchased in my store. My policy, right or wrong. He did storm out of the store really p***ed! I lost a potential customer. And with todays economy it really bothered me but not enough to give in. My hope is that after he attempts to do this himself and has to pay shipping cost and the price for another matboard that he will see the light and come back. It would have been done right the first time and quicker to just let me do it instead of trying to get me to do it his way in front of other customers in my store. If he doesn't come back I can curse the the suppliers for posting wholesale prices on the internet that makes my job harder.

    All of that said, I have and do purchase from United and M&M on a regular basis (they can check their records if they want to) I will continued to order from them until I can find a suitable business that can meet my needs and my standards, at which time I will stop ordering from them. I do feel that if they want to that they can screen customers before they get to the pricing page by having a potential customer call then sending an email that will allow that true customer access to the pricing guide. I have no problem with people seeing what items are available just the posting of prices to use against us. I order from some suppliers that are more expensive then others simply because they represent good business practices to our industry. For me personally cost is a factor but not the only one I use to decide who I will buy from.

    I am glad to say that I do not and have not gone into someone elses business and tried to talk them down on a price. If it is a sale price I pay it, if it's normal price and I need it, I pay it. The American public has this stupid notion that everything is negotiable. It only is if you let it be. Just once I would like to see someone go to Walmart and have a cashier run all of their groceries through the register then try to barter them down without putting anything back. Even discount Wally World would laugh.
     
  15. Joe B

    Joe B SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Karen - I don't believe that anyone that disagrees with you is "stupid", we just have a difference of opinion.
     
  16. Jerry Ervin

    Jerry Ervin PFG, Picture Framing God


    WOW! I agree with your entire post.

    Maybe we are just an anomaly and only people from NC do that.
     
  17. Pat Murphey

    Pat Murphey SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I'll say it one more time! Is anyone here naive enough to think that retail customers don't know that wholesale prices are a lot less than retail? After reading all of this thread, I believe that this represents a great deal of hoopla over one erroneous sale.
     
  18. Ylva

    Ylva SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    AMEN!
     
  19. dougj

    dougj SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Ditto Double that
     
  20. JbNormandog

    JbNormandog SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    One thing that can easily clear up the website situation is to have the site show regular retail prices unless you log in with a password account that has been verified. When you have a logon account you should already have been checked out with a tax id number so mere mortals won't get in, then we would be able to see the wholesale prices.

    Either way, United and M+M are both companies I need to stay around, Peter is a stand up guy and backs his products (I bad mouthed one product a while ago so many times he called and said send it back for a full refund, I didn't, just fixed it, but it was nice to get the offer)

    M+M has bailed me out a couple of times.

    Both of them protected their prices from me until just before opening when I gave them my number. Then I got pricing supplements.

    Some customers will look for a deal, that is their job, we have ours and so do our suppliers.

    Bob
     
  21. JFeig

    JFeig SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    [green] We are griping about nothing new to many industries... When you go to a restaurant and order a steak or anything else.... do we go to the owner and complain that "I can get that steak for $5.00 at (fill in the blank of your local supermarket)... can I get my dinner for less than your asking price of $25.00?"

    Its the value added that we framers add to the cost, not the actual cost that makes out products sell for more. [/green]
     
  22. JFeig

    JFeig SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    We are griping about nothing new to many industries... When you go to a restaurant and order a steak or anything else.... do we go to the owner and complain that "I can get that steak for $5.00 at (fill in the blank of your local supermarket)... can I get my dinner for less than your asking price of $25.00?"

    Its the value added that we framers add to the cost, not the actual cost that makes out products sell for more.
     
  23. UzZx32QU

    UzZx32QU Administrator Staff Member

    I just read through this tread and got a headache.
    I'm going to close this one but if anyone really wants to beat a dead horse please start a new thread with your twist.

    framer
     
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