I just saw a press release announcing a new head of the Home and Health Company at Panasonic. This division of Panasonic includes the massage chair division. A fellow named Dan Silver is moving up from the Home Appliances Group to head the Home and Health Company.
You may ask why I say “Thank Goodness” and why I say “I hope!”. Well here are my reasons:
1. Panasonic is notorious for pricing their “new” models high and then letting retailers butcher the pricing to where their is little to no profit margin. Why is this a concern? Let me explain…
When we carry a new model for Panasonic, we are told that we have to charge the Minimum Advertised Price (MAP) or else we can’t carry the model. So, we price it accordingly. For example, when the new Panasonic 30007 massage chair came out we were told that we had to charge $5999 for this massage chair. Obediently, we charged that amount (Panasonic still charges that amount on their website). Well, before long I get calls from folks around the country telling me that they can get the 30007 on another website for $5499…then, a little later, $4999…then, $4499, then $3999, etc. As a matter of fact, now you can get this $5999 massage chair for about $3300 – 3400!! It is laughable. It cheapens the image of the chair, it makes retailers who are obediently charging the MAP look like money-grubbing idiots, and it builds distrust in the mind of the consumer. They wonder, “What is wrong with this chair that it keeps dropping in price?”. I just tell them that Panasonic is terrible at price-integrity and, eventually, they will discontinue such-and-such model, and come out with some new super-duper chair that will be priced high and then butchered again. I have seen this happen already to the Panasonic 30003 and 30004, which were just introduced 2 years ago! They are already discontinued. Unbelievable. It won’t be long before the 30007, the top of the line Panasonic massage chair, is discontinued. Then I will get the same old questions, like “What is wrong with this chair?”, “Will I be able to get parts for this model now that it is discontinued?”, etc.
Needless to say, I have dropped my price and I STILL honor our 110% low price match on even these low priced chairs (I have actually LOST money on some of these price matches!). Inada and Human Touch have had many of their models around for years and their prices remain consistent. Hhhhmmmm…I wonder if there is a correlation between price integrity and longevity of a product in the market.
2. I had a very disturbing experience with a customer of mine, named Lou. Lou is a wonderful client who was great to work with every step of the way. Well, she ordered a Panasonic 30007. It was delivered on time, as promised. When she opened up her box and pulled out her new massage chair (which was a Christmas gift, by the way), she noticed that it was warped when she first sat on it. It didn’t sit level on her floor. The box it was delivered in was in perfect condition…no holes, no dented sides, no sign of abuse by the shippers. When she called Panasonic customer support they told her it was not their problem. She called me about this issue. I called my Panasonic rep. He provided two companies in her state who dealt with Panasonic warranty work. Lou called them both…only one would help her. They came out and, after working on the chair for awhile, determined that it could not be fixed. She would have to call Panasonic back.
So, Lou called Panasonic back and they said that there was nothing they could do about it. After some complaining and pleading, Panasonic agreed to replace her chair but that SHE had to ship it back…at her expense or at my expense!! Neither of us could believe it. Again, I called my Panasonic rep and told him what Panasonic was suggesting. He said he was aware of this situation and, when I said that it was ludicrous that myself or the client should be held responsible for the return shipping, he simply said, and these are his words, “They (Panasonic) just don’t care!” Unbelievable. Here is a chair that my customer ordered from me, that I ordered through Panasonic, and that Panasonic delivered. Yet, with a structural problem that neither of us had anything to do with, Panasonic would not replace their chair with a new one AT THEIR EXPENSE. Every single other massage chair manufacturer who I represent on my website would have changed out that chair in an instant, without a murmur of complaint or resistance. That is why I carry their chairs…because I love their customer service. This incident of customer service by Panasonic was atrocious. I shudder to think how many other innocent customers have gone through a similar experience.By the way, Lou is now thinking about exchanging her Panasonic for an Inada or Human Touch massage chair.
Don’t get me wrong…I love the chairs; I just can’t stand for customer service like this.
I sure “hope” Mr. Dan Silver can make a change for the better for his retailers and his product consumers!
Dr. Alan Weidner