If MFD manufacturers had to handle all technical and product support, they would be overwhelmed.
That says a lot about MFD. IF the manufacturer can't handle support there has to be something
somewhat unsatisfactory about their product. If reliability and usability is such that support issues are overwhelming
then it becomes essential for the manufacturers to to price the gear and repairs in such a way to
leave sufficient margin to attract specialized dealers that will generally be studio equipment suppliers
rather than general photography stores.
There is also the issue of how much of a salesman pitch is needed for certain items to sell.
A retail store has a line of clients to deal with and cannot be chasing down clients on forums, direct mailing, local trade shows etc etc
The cost of dealer channel in MFD is to a certain extent like car sales. The price drops significantly just by driving the car off the lot.
Just get an estimate from an MF dealer and then compare it to the price for the same gear from a volume
dealer like BH. Different, but it is an indication of the margins. I have also found that in general doing a lot of negotiation
when buying non retail store pro gear can lead to getting prices significantly lowered, even years ago before the digital revolution.
This because manufacturers want dealers to have a significant monetary incentive to sell their products.
Shifting support to their dealers is a second way to give them an incentive. When a 5 year VA warranty is sold I'm sure the dealer gets a fair share of it.
As volumes go down prices have to go up so as to maintain the manufacturing costs, the dealers and to be able to supply the product to the diminishing or simply small market.
When a camera offering goes from 12MP to 36MP with only a moderate price difference (both launch prices) it sells by itself
and they fly off the shelves. On the other hand the relatively diminishing IQ advantage of MF requires more of the skills of the salesman
to keep sales going for those sales to photographers that are not printing 60x40in.
While there is a diminishing IQ advantage there is still an advantage..... sort of like HiFi and out eyes are far more refined than our ears.
So in saying there is a diminishing IQ difference I mean no disrespect to those that require it or simply enjoy it.
However the reality in the market is that there are simply fewer and fewer prolific publishing formats that require more
quality than is produced by much cheaper cameras and motion image is getting more and more prolific, even if it isn't story telling
buy simply motion photography illustrating and creating a mood. Actually very fun and liberating for a photographer.
Going back to support it is important to have it. IF equipment is hellishly expensive it is even more important.
With far less expensive gear it is less important because a back up cameras would cost about the same as a repair job on an MF back.