DSC_1491I’ve always loved you… The strong, silent type… Always there to break the toughest turf and pull and plow for what seems like forever. You we’re kinda behind the times… Who else built 1910 2 cylinder tractor designs into the 1950s? But you were always there when needed, without complaint, and sometimes you even caught up with the times.

But John (Deere), lately you’ve been becoming kinda high maintainence. Just noticed it the other day when I wandering by the local dealer for your “Deere Days” or whatever promotion. Desite it being a nice saturday with a free lunch offered, the parking lot was empty but for an old pickup or three, probably the usual parts counter hangers on takin’ in the free lunch. And the promised equipment demonstrations and test drives? Looked like the same bunch of tractors that had been sitting on the lot long enough to grow roots!

Mighta had somethin’ to do with the prominent near $20,000 price tag on a 25 horse subcompact “1 series” tractor with nothing but  a mower and a front end loader. For those kind of bucks we’ve come to expect a full cab with wipers, heat, and probably a coffee maker too. Jilted, I rode home, taking new interest in the several orange, blue, and red tractors along the way. Got on the web and figured out where that crazy near $20k price came from- Looked to be MSRP plus shipping and the other “usual” charges. But then I remembered the 17% discount that Deere was offering my state DOT, even if they only bought one tractor. And that 17% applied to the cheaper economy “E” model too, dropping the price by thousands. So yes John Deere, you been holdin’ out on me, while wooin’ the big buyers… And here I even bought stock in you.

So John, this is it… That orange Kubota guy does the job just as well or better, and the dealer knocked over a thousand off the asking price before the hagglin’ even got started. And if Kubota ain’t available, there’s the blue and red tractors too. And don’t give me that “buy ‘merican” BS… I know damn well your mother was a Yanmar! So you can take your attitude, and your arrogance, along with your limited catagory 1 3 point hitch and…

In all seriousness, the local John Deere dealer’s marketing manager and I have been engaging in an e-mail debate of late. As a customer, I’m rather off put by the dealer’s highball pricing- It’d make a lot more sense to lowball with a stripped model of the same tractor to get customers in the door, then upsell them. But this appears to be SOP at the Deere dealerships, which tend to be owned by huge chains- This dealer has only 6 stores! Their “competitor” 40 miles away has dozens of stores over several states, and the local Case IH dealer has around a hundred stores spread over several continents and countries. That sort of effective monopoly keeps prices profitably high, but drives away volume… Which given current low crop prices and the glut of late model tractors on the farms, is not a good thing. When the tractor dealer’s lot is full of repo’d 600 horse tractors, giving a residential or small farm customer a good deal on a 20 horsepower tractor keeps the doors open ’til better economic days. That’s why, as a Deere shareholder, I’m ticked… I can go over to the Kubota dealer and get a better deal, but if every customer does that I’m losing on downward trending Deere stock what I save by not buying a Deere.

Maybe I should make the Deere annual meeting this year…