Saturday, April 23, 2011

Vendor Hypocrisy? Or just par for the course?

I will preface the story I am about to relay by stating that the tone of this post is purely inquisitive in nature. My interest in the JDM parts industry is the motivation behind my questions. I am the first to admit that I do not know everything there is to know about the inner workings of this industry. However, I do know, at the most basic level, it is still a business.

I recently stumbled upon something that piqued my interest...

A thread was created on a forum that included instructions on how to create one's own "Stillen-Quality" grounding kit. (This thread has since been deleted.) The member who created it provided a list of parts used to build these grounding kits and even stated that the instructions included in the Stillen kit could be used to install this newly-created, homemade kit. After investigating this member's forum activity, I found that another thread had been created in the classified section where a "brand new" Stillen grounding kit was for sale, leading me to believe that a kit was purchased from Stillen, analyzed and examined yet never installed, only to be sold later as new.

A representative from Stillen, being a forum sponsor, responded to the member's DIY thread with a post expressing some disapproval at the less-than-tactful approach to advertising these homemade grounding kits. Citing the fact that this garage DIY'er made claims of parallel quality to Stillen's product and boldly included a link to Stillen's installation instructions, Stillen was, understandably, not amused. The terms "copying" and "knock-off" were used by the representative from Stillen in the expression of displeasure.

I find no issue with Stillen being peeved by the creation of the thread. There is no crime in the creation of a DIY tutorial by a forum member for reference by other members. However, by the creator making direct reference to the Stillen kit along with some brazen claims, there is a possibility that a potential consumer reading the thread would opt for the Do-It-Yourself grounding kit over the pre-constructed Stillen product, possibly resulting in a loss of a sale for Stillen.

I have no qualms with Stillen - a few of their parts are featured on my G. This query of mine stems mainly from the intrigue I maintain into this industry and not to any disdain it may appear that I harbor towards Stillen.

To me, this situation seems a bit peculiar for a couple reasons. I can visit Stillen's website and purchase Seibon parts. Seibon copies, replicates, and 'knocks off' the designs of other companies. Stillen puts money in their pockets when people purchase these knock-off parts. It seems to me that there may be a bit of a double standard here. Stillen is perturbed when a forum member shows other people how to build their own "Stillen-Quality" grounding kit and accuse the member of 'knocking off' their product, but they have no problem selling parts from a company who has stolen designs from some of the pioneers of the aftermarket industry. An ironic paradox.

It is somewhat interesting to ponder what the response from Stillen might be if a representative from, say, Top Secret or Veilside contacted them and requested that they cease the sales of Seibon parts because they are copying, replicating, and 'knocking off' their designs. (Granted, the issues of Top Secret, Veilside, and every other company whose designs are stolen should be with Seibon directly. Nonetheless, Stillen is certainly not doing these companies any favors by supporting Seibon.)

Just food for thought, I suppose...


  1. Well said. Keep writing stuff like this. I really wonder if Stillen even realizes that they are supporting knockoffs.

  2. Thanks, Ben. Actually, in the thread, I posed that hypothetical question about Top Secret and Veilside to the representative from Stillen. I did not receive an answer, however, and, shortly thereafter, the thread was removed.