Miele accused of selling direct to consumers

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Miele UK’s chief executive officer Simon Grantham has spoken out about the company’s strategy after a small number of retailers claimed to have anecdotal evidence of direct selling from Miele’s London showroom.

Speaking to kbbreview, Grantham assured independent kitchen specialists that the company does not, and will not, sell complete packages of appliances direct to consumers from its London Gallery or its Experience Centre in Abingdon.

However, one retailer, who wishes to remain anonymous, said: “A few months ago, we quoted prices for a number of Miele appliances as part of a kitchen project. That client went down to the Miele Gallery and after their visit they called to tell us that they had been quoted prices for a complete range of products. We were shocked, as it’s never happened before.”

The same retailer told kbbreview that the situation had put them in a position where they were ‘forced’ to discount appliances in order to compete against Miele and give consumers an incentive to buy from them rather than direct from the manufacturer.

“I want to make it absolutely clear that Miele does not quote to sell any of our products,” explained Grantham. “We manage our staff in the Gallery and the Experience Centre very carefully. Without fail, staff would first establish if the customer is working with a Miele partner. If they are not working with a partner, they would advise them to find one through our dealer locator on miele.co.uk.”

“We have not and do not sell complete packages of appliances. If someone wants to buy a single oven or a replacement dishwasher, for example, and they’re not working with a kitchen company, we would sell them the product they want at RRP. This is completely different than saying we’re selling direct to the public. I think we’re really clear about that. Our job is to send our retail partners genuine consumer leads and encourage them to close the sale, it is not to sell to the consumer.”

Grantham also explained that Miele had made significant investments in its London showroom and Experience Centre in order to strengthen its support for retail partners. Part of the programme includes its regular ‘Let’s Do Lunch’ events, which the company hosts on behalf of dealers. Consumers get to spend the day cooking with the appliances and, Grantham insists, in the vast majority of cases attendees will upgrade their appliance wish list or add in additional appliances, such as steam ovens or coffee machines, as a result of attending the course.

Defending the company’s decision to advertise products at RRP in its Gallery and Experience Centre, Grantham said: “All Miele subsidiaries advertise an RRP. We do this because we want to establish a retail value for Miele in a dynamic retail environment. This in fact supports dealers in two ways – maximising revenue or allowing them to show a discount from a brand RRP.”

Grantham added that he had followed up the claims with Miele’s showroom staff to ensure that Miele’s direct selling position is being correctly maintained and insisted that he was “confident that it is”.

“Should dealers require further reassurance I invite them to mystery shop the Miele Gallery or speak to their business development manager or indeed give me a call,” Grantham concluded.

Kitchens Kitchens Editor Jeff Russell on this, as reported in kbbreview:

Playing Devils Advocate here in a subject that is the proverbial ‘hot potato’ at the moment, we must think about one thing here, in that a word of one consumer is not evidence and until proven, and until then it is just rumour.

Furthermore, some consumers will engage in questionable tactics in order to elicit a better deal for themselves so if it is proven (backed up by evidence) that some consumers across all sectors of commerce have blackmailed businesses for a discount or better deal, in using the threat of leaving negative online comments [if a better deal isn’t forthcoming], is it not also possible that a consumer might play one business off, over another in the classic ‘price match’ tactic?

Miele UK’s chief executive officer Simon Grantham was very clear in his answers that the London Gallery and the Abingdon Experience Centre do not sell complete packages of appliances but only sell single appliances at RRP, which does make a clear statement that if there is proof that this actual consumer transaction (as alleged) was true, (and it came to light) it would undermine the trust in Miele so much that it is hard to see him going down this route in the first place.

Furthermore, with Grantham also stating that if any consumer said they weren’t working with a partner that they would be encouraged to do so, only leaves one real possibility if it were to come to light, namely that this was a ‘staff error’.

It would be easy, in todays conspiracy theory charged world to uncover such practices as there would likely be more than just one alleged consumer who bought direct from Miele and until consumers start to come forward, perhaps Miele should be given the benefit of the doubt?

There is enough anger around this subject at the moment already to start clutching at unproven accusations based on hearsay and treating them as fact and until evidence comes to light, if it ever does, then as suggested perhaps the benefit of the doubt should be given?