This happening over and over should spell opportunity to some vendors. Like the cash and carry advice, the product you buy is already made and in stock, not we'll make you one if your check clears. As long as buyers put up with the risk there will be abuse. There is abuse in any industry like roofers getting a deposit for materials and then taking off to the next town and repeating this over and over.
I have bought things said to be in stock and come to find out it is not really yet. So easy to make a prototype that took 200 hours and figure repros can be done in 20 hours, it isn't the same attention to detail.
Unfortunately any good restaurant chef goes to the market at 5 AM and hand picks what he will be cooking at 5PM. A good carpenter goes and picks out the wood. A good buyer should do the same or expect to be disappointed with a delivery. Real quality must be nurtured and demands kept with in reason and the sale price would stay up. As long as customers are willing to accept knock offs and make desposits all the griping in the world will not solve the problem infact it will ready the would be start up to prepare for an exit strategy and taking everyone's money when they go.
I know if I ever get to the point of buying things that cost thousands of dollars, I will take my truck thousands of miles to get it myself, even scout out the place to begin with or not take the risk. Just knowing how things are handled in shipping justifies this to me. If I was going to sell something I would expect to deliver it as well to make sure I get my money. What I would sell would be in front of me describeable as to it's condition and quality or I would not sell it. Just the situation of selling something not in hand is a flim flam, promising an intangeble. What are the odds the end buyer will be happy if he has been promised something specific that does not exist?
Perhaps some vendors have earned the right to operate this way but on the same token, they already know who their good customers are as well. Just buying a space at a convention does not mean they are well backed, it is the nature of a trade shows intended false credability. To create an opportunity. If the buyer does not know, they may learn the hard way. Or be pleasantly surprised.
If you are dealing with or expecting high quality a certain amount of investment beyond paying for something is required. If you want to deal in mass produced crap, the price should be lower and possible losses are relative to that lower price. If the buyer wants low prices and are disappointed when the product isn't Hollywood one of a kind delivered overnight, they are a bad customer and having a forum for bad customers does what? Waste bandwidth.
If you are importing, unfortunately you need a trusted man where the products are to pick and ship (or do the leg work yourself not in the vitual world) or what you conside a convienence that is going to make you rich will not unless you are volume volume volume.
I guess the summation is maybe there is a problem with the customers? The would be vendors have made the mistake of not pre qualifying their customers, not having the item already made and a warning sign is the would be vendor getting crappy when buying. A bad customer will push on beyond these warning signs, make a deposit and hope and bitch until something is delivered. Crappy customers make new vendors just make what ever to get them to go away. Ultimately they don't end up liking the business they have begun.
The new customers are also trying to be somebody maybe they aren't and promising to make payment but, have over extended themselves. To combat this things like Transworld making sure every Buyer had a history of buying $5,000 per year in products was to help vendors. The industry rebelled and it was discovered few if anyone does this volume of business or wants to or ever expects to as far as haunted house props go.
I would expect every level of prop has its buyer. A $12,000 prop might sell 3 or 5 per year (I don't really know) and these can properly be made in so many months but, most are wanting at most 40 clown masks at $20 each and is there a discount? I'll bet you have never heard a vendor of clown masks say we aren't accepting anymore orders or looking to take on any more customers.
I'll venture a guess that if this is a 300 million dollar market this haunted house thing and there are 3,000 to 5,000 events out there, that could mean each house averages 60,000 to 100,000 in ticket sales tops right now per year. Actual prop purchases are not necessarily every year but probably average maybe $3,000 per event tops among a wide variety of products from masks costumes lighting special effects and latex things.
The other commonality seems to be that the supposed bad vendor that no one else has ever heard of has taken thousands of someone's money when by statistics it might be a hundred or so. As a buyer not forced to have minimum purchases, if you are infact spending thousands, spend it divided among many vendors rather than one and some higher percentage of goods will reach a satisfactory conclusion. Or be prepared to do the leg work to get your prized possesion.
No amount of talk will solve these deficient aspects of a realtively low level industry. Bad unqualified customers make even good vendors look bad if given the power to do so.
Another fabulous post from the U.S.Department of Wild Imaginings, now in spectaclar stereo, sponsored by the Adhesives and Sealants Council, suggesting ways to stick things together since the 1800s. Not fabulous in a gay way. Your results may vary. Illinois residents add 8% sales tax. These posts have been made by professional post makers, do not try this type of posting on your own without extensive training, lovely assistants and a trusty clown horn.