Climbing is dangerous! Every year many climbers are broken, maimed, and killed. Don't be so foolish as to trust your life to what you see here. I'm not a guide and neither is this web site. If you don't know what you are doing or where you are going, please take a course or hire a guide!
Why do we pay so much more??
As some of you know, I'm more than a little pissed about the pricing "model" that most distributors are using in the United States market. As promised, I am documenting my effort to change the system here.
If you want to communicate your feelings to the distributors, here is a list of contacts (it will grow...):
An email to Chris Grover, Sales Manager at Black Diamond:
I did get a somewhat thoughtful response back from BD. Unfortunately for them, they specifically asked that I not publish it on the Internet. As a reasonably scrupulous person, I will do as requested. But I didn't agree to not publish my response, so here it is:
Subj: RE: Your forum post on pricing
My letter to Peter Metcalf
December 30, 2000
Mr. Peter Metcalf
My name is Loren Campbell. Though you probably do not remember me, I wrote to you two years ago seeking advice as I contemplated a career change. Though I wrote to many leaders in the outdoor industry, only you took the time to respond. That you did, and the way you did was impactful to me in many ways, including my continued staunch support of your company.
I am, unfortunately, writing to you today to express grave concerns. I am sure that you are now aware of the rapidly growing frustration in the U.S. market over pricing discrepancies between the U.S and European countries. I recently became aware of the scope of this discrepancy through an Internet based bulletin board for climbers.
Additionally, there seems to be evidence that Black Diamond has pressured some retailers to cease shipping to customers in the United States, or to charge artificial prices equal to those in the United States.I am not upset that there is a price differential. I am very upset at the scope of the differential, which seems to range as high as 100%. And to threaten or coerce retailers seems unconscionable to me.
I initially raised these concerns via email to Chris Grover. His explanation that the costs of sales and marketing in the United States justify the differential is unsatisfactory. As an astute businessperson, Iím sure you recognize that the market determines the price of a product, not direct and overhead costs. This market is learning what has been going on and isnít very happy about it.
Black Diamond, resurrected from the bankrupt ashes of Chouinard by you and your employees, is a well-respected and trusted name in the outdoor industry. Your commitment to quality, and willingness to stand behind your product has resulted in a large, dedicated customer base. I urge you and your company to take a position of openness and leadership on this issue. And I ask, as a loyal customer, that you do something quickly.
I understand that this is an industry-wide practice and, as such, I will be sending similar letters to other suppliers. I am also writing to retailers to tell them that, due to unsatisfactory pricing practices, I am shifting my major purchases overseas until such time as this issue is addressed.
Sadly, at this time, I am no longer willing to purchase Black Diamond products. I simply cannot support a company that aggressively works to limit the purchasing choices of its customers through intimidation and coercion. I will gladly become a happy customer again, after these issues are addressed.
December 2001 Update
I never received a response of any kind from Mr. Metcalf.
I've been told recently that Black Diamond reduced their wholesale prices in the U.S. significantly, but I'm not sure what that means. I did notice that the retail price of a Cobra ice tool is 10% less this year ($269 from $299).
I recently ordered a pair of LaSportiva Nepal Top Extreme boots from Telemark-Pyrenees. The price before shipping and duty was $190. Compare to $420 (before tax) locally.
This page was last edited on
Saturday, July 03, 2004