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Oh gosh! A return to vinyl seats and rubber mats

Malcolm Pitcher - Wednesday, January 14, 2015



Millions of tech-savvy consumers across the world wait with baited breath. Apple’s CEO is about to take the stage to launch the latest incarnation of the iPhone.


Moments later, excitement turns to horror as the realisation dawns that the specification has been reduced and the price has been increased.


The only people smiling right now are the employees of Samsung. They are already gearing up to do to Apple what Apple did to Nokia … destroy them!


Except of course this is not going to happen!


Apple can’t de-spec and raise their price because the smart-phone market is full of knowledgeable consumers who have access to millions of pages of information on the likes of Google, let alone on the websites of their favoured suppliers.


If only house building were the same?


House building is not a perfect market and house builders can play by a different set of rules

Recently, it has been brought to my attention that a major house builder is significantly reducing the specification levels of its products whilst raising its prices.


It is clearly taking advantage of the current mini boom in housing demand as well as the fact that homebuyers are nowhere near as knowledgeable as their tech-savvy smartphone counterparts.


Which means that post and wire fences are back

Yippee! I’m sure the eager home buyers will be delighted, and equally delighted with their flimsy doors that are one step up from stiff cardboard.


Back in 2001 I wrote an article condemning builders that didn't fit mixer taps as standard to enable their customer to take a shower, despite all consumer trends showing that showering was a preference. At the rate some are going I may have to dust off that article and re-publish it! 


Doesn't Caveat emptor come into this? 

Yes, you could say that, but we all know how emotional buying a new home is. We have buyers who are not knowledgeable, they buy off plan and they don’t realise fully what they’ve bought until it’s delivered.


So why don’t other builders attack their down-speccing competitors? 

Therein lies a mystery. If I was the competitor of a down-speccer I would teach my sales team to trash his poor product and big-up my own. In the same way that Samsung would attack Apple. 


Or perhaps they don’t want to? Perhaps they are watching what happens to their competitor’s sales with a view to emulating them. Please No! 


But am I being too sensitive?

Maybe. But I do live in the same world as you, a world where products continually improve and value continually rises. And if I were a house builder I would constantly strive for continuous improvement in these areas. My conscience wouldn’t allow me to do it any other way.


But what about you?


If you are a down-speccer, perhaps the only thing that will help will be a dose of your own medicine?

I have a dream that the next new Mercedes Benz delivered to you will be equipped with “luxurious” vinyl seats and rubber mats. Something akin to a 1984 Ford Escort. 


I’d love to see your face. Why not text me a picture on your state-of-the-art smart-phone.

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