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  #101  
Old 02-15-2018, 09:47 AM
running coach running coach is online now
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Originally Posted by guizot View Post
Okay, then maybe you can answer something for me about this thread that I'm trying to understand WRT Amazon and electronics.

Suppose there is a particular model of a name brand product, such as the Sony ABC-33Ax camcorder, which is sold both directly by Sony and various retailers. It has been on the market for a few months, and consumer magazines have reviewed, ect, and its specs are well-known.

Does Amazon then come along and start selling it at a lower price by exactly the same product number ("Sony ABC-33Ax"), but alter the specs, without making that known? Or do they they change the number slightly?

IOW, can a person know the difference by viewing the Amazon listing, or do you have to buy the thing first, and then discover that it's not quite the same product that has been on the market?
We bought a Samsung TV some months ago, it's the same model number as on Samsung's website and all the features, etc. match up.
  #102  
Old 02-15-2018, 10:42 AM
Turble Turble is offline
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Originally Posted by guizot View Post
Does Amazon then come along and start selling it at a lower price by exactly the same product number ("Sony ABC-33Ax"), but alter the specs, without making that known? Or do they they change the number slightly?
I haven't seen that happen on Amazon; generally retailers use a different model number for items with different features. The only exception I have found is Best Buy (the bastards). See post #4 in this thread.
  #103  
Old 02-16-2018, 01:01 AM
INFOSEEKER II INFOSEEKER II is offline
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Lower price items than mfg suggest

I think what you are questioning is VOLUME SELLING. Yes, Amazon sells cheaper including shipping in some cases. It is because they negotiate with the seller to be able to sell at a lower price. Same thing the medical providers like Amana, Senior Dimensions, etc. They negotiate with the doctors, hospitals etc. for a lower volume price. This is normal practice. I am a member of Amazon and pay the yearly fee for Prime conditions. The free shipping makes up for the fee up front if you use their services quite a lot as I do and the lower prices on some items help also.
  #104  
Old 02-16-2018, 08:35 AM
ftg ftg is offline
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What I know about Amazon specific products.

Amazon has it's own line of Amazon Basics products. Batteries, cables, etc. No other branding is applied. Not really the topic of the OP. Ditto their tablets, Kindles, etc.

Amazon sells versions of "name brand" products under it's own label. E.g., the Fire television sets are listed as made by Element (not exactly a big company). Getting closer.

There's also "Amazon Prime Exclusive" phones. Some seem to be basically sold elsewhere under the same name, some seem to be Amazon alone. It would take some time to see if any are covered by the OP's question.
  #105  
Old 02-16-2018, 09:09 AM
md2000 md2000 is offline
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Originally Posted by Corry El View Post
... That was manifest in the US car business for example for a long time. The lower cost base of the foreign brands (whether they produce outside the US or at non-union plants in the US) tended to manifest in the US brands giving less car (less reliable, cheaper materials, genuinely new models less often, etc) for about the same money not the same car for more money or a better car for lots more money. The legacy UAW costs tended to manifest itself in corner cutting. That was eventually washed away to some extent by the bankruptcies but not entirely. ...
Not altogether true.

A company I worked for a few decades ago wanted us to learn about "Japanese Quality Management" so we sat through quite a few quality control videos at the time, bombarded with magazine articles contrasting US and Japanese manufacturing methods, etc.

The problems with the USA were not so much expensive bad front line workers - it was management and engineering. The same transmission made by US and Japanese subcontractors - the US one failed far more frequently. A teardown revealed that while both were manufactured to spec, the Japanese one was much closer to design while the US one shoed a greater variation on range. This suggested to me that tolerances for parts specified by the (US) engineers were too lax - probably OK in the early days of automatic transmissions but now production machines were capable of much more. accumulated tolerance variations added up.

Japanese manufacturers treated their employees (back then) as lifetime employees, so took the time and expense to show them the business - an engineer would spend a few months in production, then in accounting, etc. before engineering anything. American companies had a social hierarchy that isolated the engineers from real world production, and where the Japanese valued feedback from the front-line workers, US car makers did not. Another note - while many older US factories and mills looked like a dirty mess, our bosses visited a steel mill in Japan so clean they said you could eat off the floor. And of course, the Japanese paid much more attention to quality control numbers and analysis to ensure they did not miss problems.

Another problem, more germane to the OP, was that US car makers (and other manufacturers) switch suppliers for the cost savings - so slightly different materials went into the process, resulting in wider variation with each batch. Japanese manufacturers "got into bed" with their suppliers and collaborated to ensure consistency, the key to reliable production. The downside, of course, which our bosses glossed over, is that the Japanese started what Wal-Mart today has perfected and many retailers copy; they would become a bigger and bigger part of the suppliers' business, until the supplier could not afford to lose them; then they'd start squeezing on price.

While your Toyota from 30 years ago may have been assembled by happy(?) well-paid workers with a lifetime job, the dirty secret was that many of the smaller components, such as headlight assemblies, were made in tiny factories where the big buyer squeezed the company so hard it verged on sweatshop, with a gestapo-like enforcement of quality of the supplied product. To top it off, the big auto company would often twist arms to buy half the stock in the smaller company to cement the relationship and recoup some of the money.
  #106  
Old 02-16-2018, 10:23 AM
krondys krondys is offline
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Originally Posted by Dewey Finn View Post
I don't know if the practice is common, but Walmart definitely does this. Here is a link to a Fast Company article on The Wayback Machine about Walmart's relentless cost cutting. In particular, it describes how it wanted to sell a one-gallon jar of Vlasic pickles for three bucks, aka the pickle story. The price was so low that Vlasic and Walmart made only a cent or two on each jar. And that many pickles was more than people could eat before they spoiled, so much of the product was wasted.


A one-gallon jar of pickles is lucky to last 2 days at my house...
  #107  
Old 02-16-2018, 10:47 AM
rbroome rbroome is online now
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Originally Posted by md2000 View Post
Not altogether true.

A company I worked for a few decades ago wanted us to learn about "Japanese Quality Management" so we sat through quite a few quality control videos at the time, bombarded with magazine articles contrasting US and Japanese manufacturing methods, etc.

The problems with the USA were not so much expensive bad front line workers - it was management and engineering. The same transmission made by US and Japanese subcontractors - the US one failed far more frequently. A teardown revealed that while both were manufactured to spec, the Japanese one was much closer to design while the US one shoed a greater variation on range. This suggested to me that tolerances for parts specified by the (US) engineers were too lax - probably OK in the early days of automatic transmissions but now production machines were capable of much more. accumulated tolerance variations added up.

Japanese manufacturers treated their employees (back then) as lifetime employees, so took the time and expense to show them the business - an engineer would spend a few months in production, then in accounting, etc. before engineering anything. American companies had a social hierarchy that isolated the engineers from real world production, and where the Japanese valued feedback from the front-line workers, US car makers did not. Another note - while many older US factories and mills looked like a dirty mess, our bosses visited a steel mill in Japan so clean they said you could eat off the floor. And of course, the Japanese paid much more attention to quality control numbers and analysis to ensure they did not miss problems.

Another problem, more germane to the OP, was that US car makers (and other manufacturers) switch suppliers for the cost savings - so slightly different materials went into the process, resulting in wider variation with each batch. Japanese manufacturers "got into bed" with their suppliers and collaborated to ensure consistency, the key to reliable production. The downside, of course, which our bosses glossed over, is that the Japanese started what Wal-Mart today has perfected and many retailers copy; they would become a bigger and bigger part of the suppliers' business, until the supplier could not afford to lose them; then they'd start squeezing on price.

While your Toyota from 30 years ago may have been assembled by happy(?) well-paid workers with a lifetime job, the dirty secret was that many of the smaller components, such as headlight assemblies, were made in tiny factories where the big buyer squeezed the company so hard it verged on sweatshop, with a gestapo-like enforcement of quality of the supplied product. To top it off, the big auto company would often twist arms to buy half the stock in the smaller company to cement the relationship and recoup some of the money.

thanks for this insight. It agrees with what I have read over the last 20 years.

I talked to a former Gov't employee who was sent to the far east 1999-2001 to study (among other things) Asian shipbuilding to see how the US could match their productivity and quality. It came down to what you talked about. The US ship construction just had lower quality standards and less well-maintained shipyards. If your equipment is older and looser, no worker is going to do as well as one in with newer well-maintained equipment. If your design isn't well done up front, then each ship is built a little differently as problems arise and are fixed on the fly*. The result was/is stark: no US built ship meets the quality standards of a Korean or Japanese built ship.
I don't know about how subcontractors are treated in the US, but I have read about how they are treated in Japan.

*funny story. I personally knew someone who worked in a regional shipyard in the US who reported solely to the head of the shipyard. His sole (and unofficial) job was to be the valve guy. As you can imagine valves are a significant cost in any ship construction. They are very expensive and have long lead times and there are a LOT of them on any ship. This guy's job was to go around the ships under construction and swap out valves whenever it would help the schedule or bottom line. Since he reported only to the boss, no one could stop him by pointing to the plans and saying that valve isn't the correct one. This guy had decades of experience and mostly didn't compromise performance, but he was able to take a cheaper valve from one ship (or stock) and use it on another ship and make it fit. It kept the schedule and cost on track. It must be hell on the maintenance people on the ship after the ship is delivered, but the ship owners got their schedule and cost and apparently were willing to put up with their engineer's complaints. When the shipyard got a big military oder, this guy (and the boss) retired....
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