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We've mentioned that there are over 200 companies covered in Oencyclopedia. No matter how crowded the market might seem with consumers and purveyors, there are actually no more than 15 folks running the show nationwide. 6% of owners control 97% of all web sites, products and revenues that a lay consumer will come across in any "research" or due diligence.
We do encourage the effort. Any responsible consumer should gather as much information as possible - accurate or not. Oencyclopedia can eventually verify, or disprove, or clarify whatever information or claims that you may have come across. "The good, the bad, or the ugly", Oencyclopedia has the documentation.
The significant majority of competitors actually do communicate among themselves on a routine basis. When a potential customer makes an initial contact, their representatives can readily identify with whom you have already spoken, whom you will likely contact afterwards and about what products (or equivalents) you will inquire. Subtle, informal, arrangements are often made behind the scenes to keep pricing levels high enough for commissions and profits to be split between / among the companies. Otherwise, odds are, you are talking to to the same outfit @ a different phone number or through one of their multiple web sites.
Additionally, these people have the same (more) Internet access as do consumers - and a lot more experience. Any individual's "research" of a few hours, over a couple of days or weeks has been a full time job, for a long time, among sales consultants and management. Their livelihoods depend on it. They have every web site bookmarked, if not memorized. They all know what current market offerings and pricing are. As often as not, any negotiations, "deals", "discounts" are predetermined to be minimal and the various parties share smaller %'s of higher costs among themselves and their companies.
As well, public comments, reviews and forum posts are monitored on a regular basis. The information is likewise shared and it's really very easy to compare and identify the many of those that are produced by company shills or an actual customer. Consumers who are considered to be problematic quickly end up on the network's list of "Plonkers". Aggravation costs are factored into higher pricing for that individual and service levels decline.
Company names, product lines and ownership are as about as stable as Head Coaching positions in the NFL. There are many claims of longevity (e.g., Le Cache), but no more than 11 of 200 companies have actually been in business for more than 5 years - only 9 for more than 8 years ... only 6 under the same ownership @ the same location for more than 10 years. 70% of current offerings have been in production for less than 2 years - the models that they replaced lasted about as long.
Some companies go broke, change addresses, names. Operations are simply resurrected through new web sites. (Grotto, United Wine Cellars, Apex, as random examples). Customers, employees and investors are left holding the bag. Others change horses on the merry-go-round, merging and re-organizing when credit lines and cash flows are depleted. (IWA, "Wine & All That Jazz", e.g., have been "sold" 6 times in 8 years.)
And there are too many outfits that defy the laws of capitalism and common sense. There are purveyors such as Vintage Keeper, "Koolspace", "ChillR" that continue to survive, despite inferior service and quality.
Fortunately there are manufacturers that can produce reasonably reliable products, re-sellers who sincerely attempt to inform and service their clientele. Of course, their primary motivation remains - to sell what they have to sell. Their technical expertise, product knowledge and objectivity is limited to their "passion" to meet sales quotas and earn commissions on their own products.
"If (that customer) was in this room right now, I'd break his head with a baseball bat!" So testified, under oath, the owner of a company who had sued a previous customer for simply mentioning the company name on a public forum. Oencyclopedia is replete with anecdotes and insight that are equally humorous, equally sad, and at least as as odd.
This industry has grown exponentially, yet remains a relatively small community. There are more characters than a Star Wars trilogy ... more intrigue than an Ian Fleming novel ... more gossip than in any tabloid. Alliances, friendships and partnerships are as transient as any 3d world government.
And so, while the focus of Oencyclopedia is information, the editors and contributors have worked diligently to keep things entertaining and interesting throughout.
(Batman eventually incurred over $100,000 in legal fees. All of the customer's expenses were fully reimbursed.)