Let me just get this out of the way first. Minelab, in my opinion, make some of the best metal detectors in the world today. I personally use the Equinox 600 and can say without doubt it is the best machine I have owned over the past 40 years or so. I also have absolutely nothing against Dicks Sporting Goods. With that said, let’s get down to what this is all about.
It is one thing to like the products a company produces and quite another to like the company themselves. Minelab produce brilliant detectors but are fast getting a reputation for botched product launches, the last one being the Equinox. The company stoked our enthusiasm with the usual marketing hype, pre-orders were taken and then it began, the long slow slog toward any of us actually seeing the machines. I think we ended up waiting 6 months after we had pre-ordered to the first retail machines to start appearing. It was painful to watch. Happily the machine was everything they said it would be so it was eventually worth the wait.
We now have the Vanquish. Plenty of hype and buzz on social media. Very short teaser videos which actually told us precious little. Then the big reveal at Detectival UK at the end of Summer 2019. Actually we all pretty much knew the details before that but it was the first opportunity for people to get a “hands on” with the prototypes.
It was unfortunate that Nokta Makro happened to be showing their new Simplex+ at the same time and many initially thought the spec of the Vanquish was not good enough to compete. But 4 months on and it is clear that the Vanquish with its ‘Multi-IQ’ detection technology was far more of a contender than people had initially thought. And as you drill into the specs the only thing the Simplex+ has over the Vanquish is that is it fully waterproof. The Vanquish..when we finally get our hands on it will dominate the sub £400/$400 market.
Which leads me nicely onto the reason for that quite dramatic headline. You see as far as we all knew the Vanquish was not due to be released to dealers until around Feb 2020. That’s fine, bit of a wait but still less than for the Equinox. However, just recently videos have been popping up on YouTube with people using the Vanquish 540 on the beach.
I had initially assumed like everyone else that these youtube reviews were by Minelab ambassadors, youtube influencers who were given pre retail units to test and no doubt keep. This is not the case!
Over the Black Friday period “special deals” on the Vanquish 540 started to appear online but these deals were not from Minelab dealers. In fact most if not all dealers were completely unaware of them. No, these one off specials were through a company called ‘Dicks Sporting Goods’. Not a name that will be familiar to anyone outside the USA but they are a pretty well known chain across the country. How can this be happening? Why is it that none of Minelab’s loyal dealers knew anything about this? And why is a non specialist metal detector dealer getting first bite of the cherry?
Apparently Minelab’s North America rep did a special deal with Dicks Sporting Goods but no one knows why. Minelab are saying nothing and their dealers have been kept completely in the dark.
Is this really the way to treat your prized dealer network? These dealers go to great efforts to always stock not just Minelab detectors but the Minelab spares and accessories too. They also provide invaluable support and information to Minelab users in their area and further afield. Surely the first people you should be supplying new machines to would be your established dealer network?
We now have a situation where a lucky few who were aware of the deal through Dicks Sporting Goods not only got their hands on a machine the rest of us have all been waiting for and won’t get for at least two more months but they got it at a discount when we will be paying full price! The Vanquish 540 Pro Pack and the 340 are still for sale at Dicks Sporting Goods by the way, although at the time of writing I couldn’t confirm on their website whether they were actually in stock or not. It says “available for delivery” so one must assume they still have them.
Will I stop buying Minelab? Of course not. Will I cancel my Vanquish pre order? Not at all. But people do need to be aware that behind the glossy image seen in the adverts and on social media the Minelab we see today is perhaps not the Minelab we knew from years past.
There are some very questionable deals being done and not to the benefit of us as consumers or the specialist Metal Detecting dealers many of us prefer to buy from.
Suggestion! Email Minelab or contact them on Twitter or Facebook and ask them why they have seen fit to go behind their loyal dealers backs in this way. I doubt they will respond but always worth a try.
Interested in the Vanquish? Why not head over to the Minelab Vanquish UK Users Group and share your thoughts.