Manufaktur Waldhoff October 2020 Update
In September 2020 we wrote to Manufaktur Waldhoff informing them that we would not be ordering any new Waldhoff stock in future, and that once we've sold all of our existing Waldhoff stock, at that time we'd then cease being their Authorized Dealer. It's never a nice thing firing a vendor, and is the last resort for us when a vendor becomes too problematic, so we we kept things professional and communicated quietly and directly with Waldhoff. We didn't use any expletives or profane language, but we also didn't mince words explaining the issues that led us to the decision to fire them, so they could clearly understand.
Our Primary Reasons for Firing Waldhoff
This is a brief summary of the top 3 reasons. Each one has it's own section on this page with full details.
- We'd just learnt directly from Waldhoff that they were going to assemble their Waldhoff Imperial tourbillon model for us in Hong Kong. This watch retails for $2,230 USD and has Made in Germany on the dial and a Chinese movement, but would never have been anywhere near Germany.
- We'd recently discovered via third-party advertising that Waldhoff were trying to sell our store exclusive Ultramatic model to other dealers. This was precisely at the time Waldhoff had just ceased being able to sell the non-mother-of-pearl Ultramatics due to maxing out the standard Ultramatic limited edition size, and when they were also unable to source a decent supply of reliable movements for their Vanguard and Imperial models, so had trouble producing those for dealers. In other words, they likely couldn't supply new tourbillon watches and decided to break their exclusive model agreement with us so they had something they could immediately retail. (This is not the first time they've acted like this on an exclusive, and we had an issue with them a year earlier when they realized our idea for our model would do well and also tried to "steal" it then.) Most importantly, Waldhoff had just told us point blank that they would not honor their agreement with us.
- Waldhoff were persistently trying to insist that we list our Waldhoff models at a particular price while underhandedly selling them with a public discount on their own site for everyone at an even lower price. We were also seeing other authorized dealers selling for less including a major retailer with another public discount and another authorized dealer offering over 50% off in total savings (plus free shipping of course.) We'd carefully made sure our list prices met Waldhoff's request when they asked (without entering into an agreement on that) and when Waldhoff had come back to us later asking us not to give discounts to those who asked for them, we strictly accommodated that with the caveat that we would not be undersold, so it was particularly exacerbating to at the same time see Waldhoff offering month-long sales publicly on their web site at an even lower price and having to keep working in situations where several other authorized dealers were discounting.
Why We're Publicly Sharing This Page
The Microbrand Store was established specifically to look out for watch collectors interests and provide them with some financial protection on pre-orders and backup on warranty issues, after the owner of the corporation behind the store had had some bad experiences as a customer himself. As such, it would be very unethical not to share our assembly location concerns with our customers, since we still have approximately $25k to $30k USD worth of Waldhoff stock in our inventory which we are still retailing as a Waldhoff authorized dealer. We've therefore already pointed out just our "Made in Germany" thoughts publicly on our Manufaktur Waldhoff brand page, in a very respectful manner under the circumstances.
With regard to all of our other issues with Waldhoff, since those were business-to-business and didn't impact customers, we had intended to keep them private, as indeed we did so a year ago when Waldhoff first tried to "steal" our exclusive. (No public mention of that has ever been made before now.) However, Waldhoff's reaction when hearing we had fired them as a vendor was unfortunately less than professional:
- Waldhoff's Hong Kong staff came on to our store's Facebook page to troll, posting expletives and insults, to the point where we had to block them from just the store page.
- Nicolas Lehotzsky from Waldhoff then deliberately blocked the store's owner account so he wouldn't be aware or able to respond, before posting misinformation about the store in several large microbrand watch groups. This misinformation also went on to suddenly state that Waldhoff (illegally) wouldn't honor their manufacturer's warranty for our store in a deliberate attempt to hurt our remaining Waldhoff sales. Full details of that and the truth of the matter is below.
- Nicolas then started individually contacting many other microbrands we do business with, as well as others including our existing customers they were aware of, to spread the same misinformation.
- Finally we received an email from Nicolas threatening our business, the last sentence of which we can only interpret as a thinly veiled threat to the health and safety of our corporation's owner.
Because Waldhoff are publicly maligning us directly to our other vendors and customer base, plus making certain false warranty claims that does impact our business relationships and sales unless refuted, we now feel we have no choice but to provide a full disclosure here. We're grateful for the private messages of support from vendors who have worked with us for years now to let us know the situation, and from past customers too with their kind comments who have kindly made us aware of these posts from Waldhoff, that Waldhoff have deliberately tried to keep hidden from us. Thank you for your support.
Unlike most other stores, we always pay 100% for all of our stock immediately on the spot upon receiving a valid invoice from our vendors, so we never drop ship or take on consignment but buy all of our watches as an Authorized Dealer at AD wholesale prices prior to any shipment to us by our vendors. All of Waldhoff's invoices to us have been from Starck Uhren, (the business that owns the Waldhoff brand,) in Pforzheim, Germany and have been very formally laid out with their gold logo and address header in Pforzheim at the top and signature from Nicolas Lehotzky, a Co-Director at Waldhoff below.
As such, since we're buying goods from a German business, per EU law, Waldhoff are obliged to provide a 2 year manufacturer's warranty against manufacturing defects. Unlike other countries, this warranty can't be abridged or removed via wording in an agreement. It's the law for all goods being sold from the EU, which includes Germany, and equally applies to watches sold to overseas customers where the sale originates in the EU. It doesn't matter what Waldhoff say, they have no choice in the matter. If you want to know why all EU microbrands offer at least a 2 year warranty vs microbrands in some other countries who only offer a 1 year warranty, it isn't necessarily because they believe in the quality of their product or are adding value, it is because it is a legal requirement.
Although the above is already enough for enforcement of a warranty, if push comes to shove, in addition we purchased all of our Waldhoff watches as an authorized dealer on the understanding that Waldhoff would extend their warranty to our customers just as if they purchased from Waldhoff. For all of our existing stock, we understand we have paid the same dealer wholesale price as all of the other authorized dealers who also have the same understanding. Thus our paid purchases from Waldhoff include this warranty extension to our customers and us such, we'll continue to sell to our customers what we've purchased from Waldhoff, which includes this warranty extension.
Further, Waldhoff have provided us with blank warranty guarantee cards for our customers which we correctly fill out for every one of our Waldhoff sales and provide to our customers. This card guarantees to the customer from Waldhoff that "This product is under warranty for a period of two years from the date of purchase." "In the event of a claim while your watch is under warranty, please get in touch with us by visiting www.manufaktur-waldhoff.de". Both quotes are verbatim from the Waldhoff badged card which Waldhoff have provided as proof of their warranty and also included as an authenticity certification.
In fact, to date, even after Waldhoff's announcements, Waldhoff have never actually denied any of our customers warranty claims on manufacturing defects. They're threatening to try and impact our sales and drive down our pricing, but so far this has just been bluster. Actually going ahead would firstly likely be suicidal for the brand, as more than anything no other store will want to carry a brand when they hear that the brand tried to evade its warranty obligations, especially for a brand that focuses on tourbillon models. Ditto for their customer base. Other stores are watching Waldhoff's actions closely right now.
Second, if that does occur, we will not hesitate to take the appropriate legal action and have managed to track down a good lawyer in Germany who specializes in warranty claims issues. We really don't want to go there, and the owner of our business is in his 50s and has never sued or been sued, or run any business that has sued or been sued either. Normally it isn't worth pursuing a legal remedy, and bad players in this industry know that and rely on it. However, we've sold literally hundreds of Ultramatics to customers over the last couple of years, and have probably purchased around $250,000 USD worth of Waldhoff stock with a large number of Waldhoff goods still remaining in stock, (roughly $25,000 to $30,000 worth of goods.) So with what we see as a guaranteed win, and potentially high damages involved, plus how much it would help all of our existing and future Waldhoff customers, this would financially be the best option for us.
Waldhoff have also falsely stated how they're entitled to "void" our customers' Waldhoff manufacturers warranties because we've broken a Distributor Agreement to do with pricing. Aside from the fact they have no choice per EU law in providing us with a 2 year warranty, and also we purchased with the warranty extension (at the standard wholesale price so Waldhoff have already profited from our purchases of watches including our customers' warranty extension,) the fact is there is no distributor agreement, which is a pure fabrication of convenience for Waldhoff:
- We are not a Waldhoff distributor, have never been asked or agreed to be one, and we've never acted as a distributor for Waldhoff. (Distributors are businesses that sell to authorized dealers and act as middle men between a brand and it's dealerships. Typically there is only one distributor per region, which may be a national or continental region.)
- We've never even seen let alone signed this mythical Distributor Agreement.
- In fact we've never signed any type of agreement ever regarding pricing with Waldhoff.
- In case you're thinking maybe some loose spoken (or via online chat or email) agreement has been arranged where in return (as a consideration) for certain pricing including the warranty, we agreed to stick to particular list prices? Nope. There has never been a quid pro quo agreement on pricing.
- We understand that it is also illegal in the EU for manufacturers to require particular retail pricing from dealers who resell their products, which makes Waldhoff's claim here even crazier!
Waldhoff have already sadly proven their lack of consideration for their brand's customers by arbitrarily trying to deny already paid-for coverage to consumers. Even worse though is deliberately not telling us and trying to hide this from us, so our customers would not be aware when buying a watch. We find this utterly despicable. A microbrand that clearly doesn't care for their end consumers at all.
If I buy a Waldhoff watch from you, will I still have warranty coverage?
Yes. You purchased a watch which includes Waldhoff's 2 year manufacturer's warranty that Starck-Uhren are legally obliged to provide to you. Starck-Uhren have been in business for many years and are well established and are capable of taking care of warranty issues.
Additionally, since we test every watch right before shipping, including running on a timegrapher, we do make sure that every watch that goes out of our door is running well and has no issues.
If Waldhoff refuse to honor their warranty on your Waldhoff purchase from us, please immediately contact us to let us know, and forward the email or screenshots etc. All of our watches have always come with our supplemental store warranty. If you contact us during our own warranty period and Waldhoff are not stepping up as they should and you can provide us with evidence of that, you can return the watch to us for a replacement (if we have one) or a refund, and we'll handle things from there with Waldhoff
If you do have an issue that should be covered under Waldhoff's 2 year warranty and Waldhoff refuse to cover it or are giving you the run-around, we also recommend posting about your experience on Trust Pilot, as an independent review platform that is not particularly biased towards retailers, which may help:
Waldhoff's Pricing Issues
Given how we've treated all our vendors, including Waldhoff, not to mention the countless hours we've put in trying to help Waldhoff with advice on many of their day-to-day operational issues that have nothing to do with us, we're more than disappointed in how Waldhoff have decided to play this. We've spent far more hours helping out microbrands than actually doing business with them and have always been happy to do so. For Waldhoff, we were the first store to carry them when they were only selling direct or on funding platforms and actively have helped them grow, even giving positive recommendations to our competition (other stores) when they asked! We doubt other retailers would go to such lengths to assist this business.
For the record, we do not have any legal obligation to maintain particular list pricing. We've naturally gone along with the list pricing Waldhoff wanted us to use as a matter of course until we kept finding other vendors undercutting that (sometimes excessively) and Waldhoff themselves selling to everyone at a lower price than the price they wanted us to list for. That combined with the issues of Waldhoff trying to sell our exclusive model to other stores again and offering to assemble the Waldhoff Imperial in Hong Kong, which all came up at the same time, were why we had to fire this brand.
Waldhoff have claimed that they're surprised about our recent pricing drop on our Ultramatics for a short-term sale and how it is a slap in the face to their other retailers. We only lowered our Ultramatic pricing after firing Waldhoff, and we wrote to them that we'd be adjusting our pricing in advance when we gave notice, so there were absolutely no surprises at all. We feel no remaining moral necessity to follow their list pricing requests since they undercut their own pricing, other vendors we compete with have too, and most importantly, Waldhoff told us they would not honor the agreement we did have with them that was more directly spelled out regarding our exclusive model, which removed the last of our goodwill towards this brand. On top of all that we want to be done with Waldhoff and move our stock, and needed to adjust the pricing to what we perceived as a fair level to compete with other Chinese tourbillon offerings, given that we feel we are now on a powder keg regarding where Waldhoff watches are actually made.
We made sure to be considerate to other Waldhoff dealers and told retailers in advance of our sale, an almost unheard of courtesy, and offered to inform them when we were done. We were especially careful and respectful with our pricing. Waldhoff already have their profit as we paid them the same wholesale price as all the other retailers, but we were concerned about respecting other retailers. Accordingly we picked a price that still gave us (and other retailers) a very decent margin that is the norm for microbrand watches sold around these prices, both by dollar amount and percentage. Hardly a slap in the face.
If we really wanted to dump this stock, we can lower the price much further, but that might be problematic for other retailers so we will try to avoid that. Waldhoff themselves mostly sell on their main web site at full retail (they have sold cheaper elsewhere) so usually don't compete with any of their retailers' lower pricing, which they encouraged. There is actually a two level pricing structure, the main site Waldhoff have to present their RRP, (only taken up by customers who do not shop around,) and a lower pricing range that both Waldhoff and retailers sell at elsewhere. Thus not only have we been respectful to other retailers, but any pricing improvement on our discounts would typically have no impact on Waldhoff's own web site.
Now, ironically, because Waldhoff have tried hard to slow down our sales by trying to put customers off with false claims about the warranty situation, we are planning on extending our sale pricing indefinitely until we're sold out. Originally this sale was only for a couple of weeks until the end of September.
You can see all of our current discounted Waldhoff listings here:
Waldhoff's Two "Thefts" of our Exclusive Edition
The 1st Time Waldhoff Tried to Run Off with Our Exclusive
Although Waldhoff are not our best selling brand, when the Waldhoff Ultramatic first came out in late 2018/early 2019, it was for a while our best seller, so we approached Waldhoff about the possibility of producing a store exclusive edition for us when things started to cool off later in 2019. At the time we were the only retailer carrying Waldhoff, so they were open to the idea. We then told them we wanted to do a mother-of-pearl version of the Ultramatic, but Waldhoff were not keen on that, and thought it would not do well at all. Eventually we persuaded them (with some effort) by explaining about other campaigns such as the Arcturus LC-1 where the mother-of-pearl versions were a huge hit, more so than the solid dial colors. We explained that we liked all the light colors from white to sky blue and Waldhoff said they would investigate and work out pricing for us.
Fast forward probably a couple of months and we were shocked to hear that Waldhoff were going to launch a mother-of-pearl Ultramatic. We reminded them they were going to do that as an exclusive for us and we had a very aggressive response from Waldhoff about how they came up with the idea on their own, it was a very common and popular option, and we wouldn't be allowed to carry it. We then reminded them that we have the entire conversation with them on Facebook Messenger and had to persuade them to do a mother-of-pearl. Obviously we'd persuaded them too well, and they were being greedy trying to cut us out of our own exclusive edition. (Not the first time a microbrand has done this to us, but we normally don't share these kinds of business-to-business details unless customers are directly affected.)
When they realized how annoyed we were, and that yes, it was our idea and we had to persuade them it was a good one, (and no doubt potentially it could be a public relations nightmare, although we never threatened them with that,) then they offered us a compromise, one that we were not happy with. However we still wanted to keep selling Waldhoff, so we went along with it.
The deal was this: We'd sell a certain number of mother-of-pearl Ultramatics first as our exclusive, after which they could then also sell it. We accepted and then hit our next roadblock as they were producing black mother-of-pearl too, although we'd told them we only wanted lighter colors, and we were forced to accept that they could sell the darker mother-of-pearl alongside our exclusive lighter mother-of-pearl.
The 2nd Time Waldhoff Tried to Run Off with Our Exclusive
In August 2020 we'd sold 80% of our exclusive edition over about a 1 year period, but had continual issues with Waldhoff never being able to supply the quantities we kept requesting, so we were often sold out, with fewer customers wanting to back order, which really inhibited our sales. Possibly this was because Waldhoff wanted to sell more non-exclusive Ultramatics, which used the same movement. Waldhoff too had a chip on their shoulders about us having an exclusive and only ever promoted the black mother of pearl and other retailers carrying it, never ours, and also came out with a new tourbillon model, the Vanguard, which they deliberately priced at almost the same street price, which also ate into sales. Still we were selling more than they could produce for us.
We were therefore very shocked and upset to find out from another retailer's Instagram advertisement that they'd offered our exclusive (while it was still exclusive to us) to another retailer as their exclusive, a huge embarrassment for both retailers. We're glad that the retailer removed their listing when informed. We actually had a few in stock and were actively selling our exclusive at the same time.
So why had Waldhoff suddenly done this? At precisely the same time, Waldhoff had just announced that they could no longer sell the standard Ultramatic because the limited edition size was now maxed out, and we'd heard from them how they were only able to produce only a very few Vanguards and Imperials due to having to reject the majority of the movements. Thus at that precise time, Waldhoff likely didn't have any tourbillon models to sell to retailers, got greedy again, and went after our exclusive model instead of waiting for that final 20%, which we'd have been fine with.
Again we had a very aggressive response from Waldhoff. First they claimed that the watches were oxidizing and they couldn't wait and needed to sell them before they looked bad. Our BS meter hit the roof there as the same month we'd requested a large quantity, and they couldn't fulfill our order, eventually providing only a few (10) later in September. We pointed out they consistently couldn't supply us with the quantities we requested, including right now, so no-one would buy the oxidization excuse.
As further proof that Waldhoff were fishing for an excuse, Waldhoff dropped the oxidization excuse when they realized they couldn't sell anyone on it, and started saying it was because we were breaking a pricing agreement, a totally new direction. (Basically keep inventing excuses until you come up with one you think you can get away with.) This was while our list price was exactly what they wanted and while we were declining requests from customers for additional discounts and losing sales, but Waldhoff were undercutting us with their own pricing discounts available to everyone in August.
We told them in no uncertain terms to cease and desist as we still had an exclusive (with terms worked out and agreed to via email) and Waldhoff's final response was that they were going to go ahead break our exclusive agreement anyway. We really don't understand why Waldhoff think they can break a clearly documented agreement with us and expect us to voluntarily follow their pricing requests moving forwards. Perhaps it was because they got away with what they wanted to do the first time.
At this time, the light mother-of-pearl Ultramatic which we carry in our store is in stock, is still exclusive to us per our contract with Waldhoff, and no retailer that we know of has put up a listing for it. If other retailers got wind of the situation and decided to back down, (probably not worth the bad press,) then our thanks for looking out for us. We do run a Facebook self-help group for microbrand stores, and are always willing to privately discuss these types of issues there. Needless to say, if we do have to go nuclear on Waldhoff for their warranty games, then their behavior on our exclusive will also be part of the equation.
Why We Believe Waldhoff Watches are Made in China
We originally took Waldhoff at their word when they've stated that all of their watches are made in Germany, with "Made in Germany" on every dial. This made sense to us since Manufaktur Waldhoff is a brand owned by Starck-Uhren, a German business run by Manfred Starck out of Pforzheim, Germany, where he has his own workshop. As such, in the past, we've often gone out on a limb helping and supporting Waldhoff when customers incorrectly assumed that a Chinese tourbillon movement must also mean the watch is made in China. (If you think about it, you wouldn't say a watch with a Swiss movement but assembled in China is made in Switzerland. Just the movement comes from there. The same is true of watches with Chinese movements assembled elsewhere.) Being made in Germany has always been an important differentiator for Waldhoff vs. other microbrands with affordable tourbillons.
All of this changed in September 2020, when we were flabbergasted to hear on Facebook Messenger from Nicolas Lehotzky, a Co-Director at Waldhoff, that he would have the Waldhoff Imperial tourbillon model assembled for us in Hong Kong to "save time". Please think about this for a second. He wanted to let his official authorized dealer sell a watch listed at $2,230.00 USD to their customers with a Chinese movement, assembled in China, and has never been near Germany, but has "Made in Germany" on the dial.
When we weighed up what to do with this shocking news that had set off huge alarm bells with us, it became one of the primary reasons why a few days later we pulled the plug and quietly told Waldhoff that we'd no longer be buying any more stock from them, and once we've sold all of our existing Waldhoff stock, we'd then at that time cease acting as an authorized dealer for them. Of course the next thing to happen (and equally unexpected) was Waldhoff's response right after, by attempting to put customers off buying our remaining stock with false information regarding warranties, and actively misinforming other brands we carry and do business with and various watch collecting groups too.
Perhaps most telling of all, at the time of writing this, Waldhoff have never responded at all to these points when we privately expressed our concerns about the manufacture location, and we've given them weeks to do so. We normally keep business-to-business issues private between the businesses concerned but this information directly affects customers, and as a retailer of these goods, (we have roughly $25,000 to $30,000 worth of Waldhoff stock remaining,) we have an obligation to share this with our customers.
In our opinion, after weighing things up after the Facebook Messenger revelation, we find it not very believable that Waldhoff's latest tourbillon offerings are generally assembled in Germany. This is because:
- Waldhoff were willing to assemble their Imperial model in Hong Kong for us, which has a Chinese movement, and still have it state Made in Germany on the dial and sold to customers as such.
- We obviously can no longer trust Waldhoff's word on matters. (See all the times they've broken their agreements with us such as trying to "steal" our exclusive both last year and this year, twice now.)
- 100% of our Waldhoff orders have shipped from Hong Kong. (That's several years, and probably something like $250,000 USD worth of stock in 20x different orders/shipments.) In all fairness, we didn't suspect this at first since many brands use fulfillment companies in Hong Kong as often packaging such as presentation boxes and straps come from China for final assembly. However, combined with everything else, this is also very compelling circumstantial evidence.
- 100% of our Waldhoff warranty repairs actually take place in Hong Kong. Waldhoff have told us they use a watchmaker there to save time/free up resources. All of our warranty shipments have been to there then typically back to us a few days later from there, not enough time to go anywhere else. Waldhoff also have agents elsewhere, such as in the US that folks in the US can ship warranty repair watches to, so as to save on overseas shipments, then those agents send the watches to Waldhoff in Hong Kong. In hindsight, this is possibly to obfuscate where watches are going for repairs.
- Starck-Uhren, the business that owns the Waldhoff brand per the legal statement on Waldhoff's web site, state on their own web site that (excerpt verbatim from their history/about us page) "STARCK-UHREN forms only three years later a joint venture with EUROPE WATCH DESIGN COMPANY in Hong Kong. The philosophy of Starck remains also in this alliance the ultimate benchmark of all affairs. Combined with the dynamics and energy of the rising Asian market, this concept guarantees wristwatches from a high quality at a competitive price." So this business has had a partnership in Hong Kong for a long time, and the primary direction they're still going in is to focus most of all on this Hong Kong partnership to produce "competitively priced" watches.
- Further, Manufaktur Waldhoff have recently admitted on their web site in an About Us update that they've added a Chinese partner and shareholder, so the majority of the stakeholders in this business are now based in Hong Kong.
- Nicolas Lehotzky, who seems to be the sole individual acting as the face of Waldhoff in both social media, and handling dealer orders, and customer enquiries, (we've never heard a peep from Manfred Starck in Germany,) currently resides in Hong Kong these days, where he's been effectively all year, and has rented an apartment in Hong Kong, as well as launching another Chinese microbrand on Kickstarter this last month where he clearly lists himself as being in central Hong Kong.
- Nicolas' brand, Omnicor, is producing cheap quartz drum roll style Chinese watches, the likes of which you can also see on Ali-Express. So he is closely involved with watches assembled in China.
- Nicolas' past history includes working as a product manager over a couple of years for one Hong Kong wholesaler between 2012 and 2013, and as a regional sales manager for another Hong Kong wholesaler between 2014 and 2018, showing a lengthy history of employment by Hong Kong businesses up, which even overlaps with his work with Waldhoff during the first year.
To clarify, we don't have an issue with watches assembled in China, since many great microbrands have had their watches made there. What we do have an issue with is misrepresenting where to customers, as it does matter to many customers, and a watch that has a lot of work on it in China can be assembled much more cheaply than one with the same amount of work undertaken in Germany due to differing labor costs, and this should, to some extent, be reflected in the pricing when comparing with other tourbillons.
How we Treat Our Microbrands
We're always really careful to look after our vendors, never listing while they're on Kickstarter pre-orders for example so as to give them a free run to maximize their pre-orders, and when we're invited on board in time, pre-paying for our stock even before the Kickstarter backers so the brand has all the funds necessary when their campaign is successful to pay their factory in full. The risk is often on us for quite a large sum with bulk orders that may or may not get delivered, and that is why many customers come to us for pre-orders after Kickstarter ends, as we guarantee an immediate full customer refund any time right up until we receive the pre-order watches.
Our own pre-orders are carefully priced to be respectful and are a higher price than the brand's Kickstarter offerings. The bottom line is we are respectful of our vendors but also try to offer the best current pricing for our customers (something we're also well known for) who missed or decided to pass on crowdfunding, plus an easy full refund guarantee that you don't get from crowdfunding platforms. Our corporation, which is involved in other business areas too, is always run in the black with a substantial positive balance, and we never rely on any pre-order customer payments to cover our bulk purchases, so we can always instantly refund on request.
Customers know we look out for them as has been evidenced in several campaigns where the microbrand unfortunately didn't deliver what was expected, including paying for missing parts, fixes and servicing ourselves (at a significant loss) and in one case issuing mass refunds on a certain GMT model from a Venice-area microbrand. We state all this and the above to paint a picture that we hope shows we try and do right by everyone we do business with. It's simply good business. We're here for the long term.
Typically, when a vendor wants us to publicly list at not less than a certain price, we acquiesce (without entering an agreement) if the request is reasonable with a caveat that if that pricing is undercut by the brand or other dealers then we adjust to ensure we have the lowest current pricing. We would invite any microbrand considering partnering with us to actively ping our many other long-term vendors that are well known, such as Straton or Zelos, and ask them how we've treated them.