Must admit I do like a good detective story, a case to crack and a mystery to solve. But I never thought to be seeing one coming from Metal Detector maker, Minelab!
It would appear that they have decided to do an Agatha Christie and tease us all with a bit of a “who done it”.
The case revolves around who ordered what? When did they order it? And who was the contact? One main suspect and some red herrings thrown in for good measure. Enough intrigues to keep even Miss Marple befuddled and confused for many a day.
Where to begin? The beginning is always a good place so we’ll start there. Way back in the mists of time…or early 2019 to be precise. There were rumours of a new metal detector from Minelab. Not only that but this was going to be a simultaneous multi-frequency machine like the Equinox but at a much cheaper price point. So far so good. The world was on the edge of its collective seat…ok we were mildly interested.
Then photos started to appear, only this surely could not be a Minelab? It was a red plastic thing. Not only that but it looked very much like a certain other plastic detector thing made in the USA, only that one was bright yellow. Still, beauty is only skin deep they say and after a while it sort of grows on you. In any case you can always use a control box cover.
Ahh yes a control box cover. This brings us to another mystery. The company proudly stated that the new machine was “shower proof” yay!…Only it wasn’t. If you read the small print they were referring to “with the included cover” and which they mysteriously decided was too good for buyers of the base 340 model because they don’t get one…or a coil cover for that matter but, I digress.
September rolled around and Detectival 2019. The Minelab team were out in full force, complete with a huge blow up Vanquish coil and a box the size of my apartment. I’m sure they could have stuck windows in it and rented it out after the festival.
The machines we were told would be out at the beginning of 2020 and in October the pre-orders opened. Many of us ordered through the UK distributor but some had the good sense…as it turns out, to order through other stores.
The months rolled by. Autumn turned to winter and expectations grew. Where was this new machine? Was it really arriving in January? Would it ever arrive at all? All pertinent questions given Minelab’s history with the somewhat less than stellar launch of the Equinox.
Christmas was approaching and some of us were told that there was a possibility of the machines arriving before the big day. Others were told no, that is not the case and they would arrive in mid January. Yet others were told Feb…or perhaps March.
Then news started to filter through of people doing youtube videos showing the Vanquish 540 in use. Only these were not “Minelab People” These were ordinary joes who had purchased their machines from ‘Dicks Sporting Goods’ USA. But how? The machine was not released yet. Why would Minelab give the machines to a general sporting goods store before their own loyal specialist dealers?
Minelab? Well, they were keeping very quiet indeed. So quiet you sometimes wondered if the whole thing was just a figment of ones imagination or some cruel joke.
But no! Wait…it wasn’t a joke. It was real. There was activity in the dark corners of the internet. Things were stirring. Vanquish was appearing in Australia, South Africa, France and yes the UK! Oh…wait a minute. The UK? Well,…yes, sort of and stick with me hear because this is where things get even more mysterious.
The UK distributor for Minelab is CMD…the prime suspect! The one many of us put our faith in when we pre-ordered back in October 2019.
We figured that if you were going to stand a chance of getting a Vanquish as early as possible then the UK distributor would be a safe bet? Unfortunately as we are finding out, this is not actually the case. In fact we are technically at the bottom of the waiting list.
CMD did the right thing as a distributor by putting their dealers first, however. As a distributor they should not have taken pre-orders at all. They should have left that activity to their dealers.
The dealers started sending out emails to customers saying the Vanquish was now in stock and available to purchase…even though they didn’t actually have stock on the shelves. CMD on the other hand we not saying anything. Not even an email to their pre-order customers.
When I spoke to CMD about all this they told me that they had just 7, Vanquish 440’s to share amongst their 7 dealers!
They knew from their own pre-orders..which lets not forget started back in October 2019, as well as the orders from their 7 dealers that the 440 was going to be the most popular of the machines, yet they only had 7 of them? The UK distributor of a major brand and in one of metal detecting’s most active countries get’s just 7 Vanquish 440’s?
Ok so let’s wrap this up. Who is the culprit here? Do we know “who done it”?
If CMD are to be believed..and we have no reason to doubt them, then Minelab, with their large manufacturing plant in the far east are apparently not capable of scaling production of what is essentially a very simple design. Can that really be true? Yes. We have the roll out of the Equinox as evidence. It is of course a more complex machine in some ways but mostly in terms of the software. They had big problems getting it out in the sort of numbers that would satisfy demand.
So taking all the evidence in hand I would conclude that CMD are not the guilty party here. Minelab however must have a lot to answer for. The fact that they will not discuss any of this with their customers combined with a total ban on social media comments tells us a lot about how the company is run. They are relying on their brand name and the good will of decades past to carry them through.
Times have changed though. Minelab are not the only game in town. Nokta Makro cleaned up in the entry level market when they introduced the Simplex+. It’s true they had their own supply and delivery issues but they are not as large as Minelab so we can cut them some slack. We also know that Nokta Makro are working on a simultaneous multi-frequency machine of their own. That could spell big trouble for Minelab!
New machines are also on the way from Quest and although I am not entirely convinced they have got the pricing right they do produce some really nice and well specced metal detectors.
There is also a rumour that Garrett may have a new machine in the offing. Given that they dominate the North American market and are really strong in all territories where they are sold I would guess they could be very strong competition in this sector of the market. And Yellow plastic doesn’t seem to have dulled their appeal.
Minelab need to wake up and smell the coffee. Up the production rate, get those machines into detectorists hands and above all tell distributors and dealers to scrap all this pre-order nonsense. It is just hacking people off and making us think you are the bad guys. And you know what always happens to the bad guy in all good detective stories!
Interested in the Vanquish? Why not head over to the Minelab Vanquish UK Users Group and share your thoughts.