Actually, Ben and Mark, I believe that the answer lay somewhere in the middle.
The entire replica community has had their eyes opened wide in the last month or so – manufacturers and car owners alike. Manufacturers who are unwaveringly determined to operate their business in the same way they did just a month ago may well find themselves watching the growth of their business begin to slow, potentially even post negative growth. And they’ll have no one to blame but themselves. Simply, business as usual just isn’t going to cut it anymore.
In racing or business, innovators – those who adapt to the ever-changing needs and demands of the market - have always come out on top. In these last few painful weeks, you can bet that innovators in the replica GT40 community have been quietly working with their bankers to develop financing options for their businesses which will (1) provide the capital needed to fund orders “in progress” and at the same time (2) offer piece of mind for those who are being asked to put up some serious dollars as a ‘refundable deposit’ (the RF oxymoron of the month).
I suspect we will see in the very near future one of the manufacturers offering to take an order subject to the exchange of funds being handled by an escrow company. If you take a moment to think about it, it only makes sense.
Escrow is a disinterested third-party who is paid a small fee to ensure that the buyer gets their product, a GT40 replica in this case, and the seller gets paid. During the entire process, everyone has piece of mind. The buyer is happy because they know the money won’t be released until the car is received as ordered, and the manufacturer doesn’t have to worry about assembling a car for someone who doesn’t have the means the write the check.
Additionally, it’s easy for a business to secure the capital they need when they are able to show their bank a signed contract for a purchase. Many years ago, the company I work for was faced with just that situation. Those weren’t easy times, and many of us wondered now and again if we’d pull off what seemed to be the impossible. Thankfully, we did.
Perhaps a portion of the deposit should be non-refundable. I have no problem with that providing I am made aware up front. I also have no problem with being asked to pay, up front, for ‘custom’ or low volume options to a kit, which likely wouldn’t be ordered by the next customer in line. Heck, that just makes sense. And I most certainly have no problem with the buyer paying for costs associated with the extra hoops that escrow will create.
As a one of the charter members of the ‘RF mates’, my wife and I learned an expensive lesson. In hindsight, I can honestly say that had it been agreed to work with an escrow company, I would’ve happily have paid the associated fees. I suspect that most of the others who had ordered an RF would have, as well.