It happens all the bleeding time! It thus seemed... well, high time to put it out there once again as a type of preventative action. Consider this recent email. "Could you please change the price of the XYZ in your review to +ç*%? I way underestimated EU and US distributor/dealer margins.
They are much higher than we expected."
It baffles me to no end—open baffle, no crossover filter—that new manufacturers don't do due diligence before they go into business. They pursue reviews to have pricing published that turns out dead in the water. Depending on just how off they were, their amended pricing might well have altered reviewer opinion relative to value. It might even have influenced an award which wouldn't have been granted at the new higher pricing.
I remember living in Santa Rosa/California for a few years. It was long enough to observe the comings and goings of restaurants in a certain location. Without fail, ownership would change every nine months or so. This involved costly redecorations, new signage and a major cuisine/menu change. Clearly the location was jinxed. All it really had going for itself were a pre-installed kitchen and sufficient restroom facilities to be commercially zoned for x number of seats. What my wife and I couldn't fathom? Just what sweet-talkin' devil possessed the revolving teams of characters to think that they could do better than their growing list of predecessors? Hope springs eternal? Pure self delusion? To us, it smacked of a simple lack of due diligence.
If new hifi makers did their due diligence, they'd know full well that today's dealers in the US/Canada and Europe want 50 points. They mean to double their investment (and perhaps have some wiggle room for discounts to close a deal). Good distributors who inventory, handle warranty repairs and pursue reviews in their markets need up to 35 points. In markets too large for distributors to manage, another 10 to 12 points go to so-called rep firms which manage specific territories, say the American West Coast or the Four Corners. There it's these rep firms which handle dealer visits/demos/training and restock hardware inventories and ancillary materials. In Europe, value-added tax aka VAT can range from below 10% to nearly 30% depending on country. Don't underestimate VAT's influence on final sell price. For cash flow, manufacturers often offer prompt-pay discounts to incentivize and decommission 90-day payment terms. When opening new dealers, manufacturers are often also expected to discount display models which—due to sunlight discolouration, dings, scratches and so forth—may become unsellable. Flooring companies will take 10%. Etc.
All of this creates a situation which conflicts directly with wanting to offer the best value to the consumer who, after all, is the one who actually uses this stuff. That's because a manufacturer's customer isn't the end user at all. It's his domestic dealers plus the foreign importers. It is they who pay his bills. Hence it's their needs and requirements he must match. Crassly put, their demands are easy sells (heavily advertised, heavily reviewed, from established companies with a good reputation), high profits and extended payment terms. The more a manufacturer plays to that, the more the end user has to pay to accommodate the necessary margins.
To come back to the beginning, what happens all of the bleeding time is that new manufacturers come to us for their first review. Everything is peachy until they receive their first inquiries from abroad. "I'm a dealer from Germany interested in your product. Please email us your price sheet."
Once they do, all interest disappears. With the price published and embedded in the review, the product is dead in the water. Nobody can make enough money on it. That now requires a MkII makeover to inject the missing margins. Bolt on a thicker fascia? Insert a 5mm steel plate in the bottom to make it heavier? Whatever the manufacturer decides, it could involve retooling, a new PCB, something. It nearly invariably involves dead inventory which, at the published price, can only be moved in the domestic market.
In the end, too many audio newbs want to save the world from bad sound. The capitalist truth is no different from what greets most Jehova's Witnesses who ring your door bell clutching bibles to offer you personal salvation. The world at large gives a shit about being saved. Business isn't about better sound. It's about profits, pure and simple. If newcomers aren't as profitable to their would-be business partners as their established competitors are right now, they're dead ducks in the water. End of story, period, exclamation mark. Don't shoot the messenger. Do your own due diligence upfront and you'd know all of this before you ever start out. It's no rocket science. It's painfully basic. So no, we won't change our published pricing after a review hits. That's why our reviews are so visibly dated right above the first header. On X date, your product sold for so much. That's it. Whatever happens after is none of our concern. If it were otherwise—and accounting also for inflation, currency exchange fluctuations, rising costs of materials and the lot— we'd have to change nearly every review we ever wrote. We can all agree how that wouldn't be on. So please, learn the rules of this game before you start playing! How else could you ever hope to win?