Wow. Interesting discussion.
On a personal experience level, I agree with Captain Strato. Some markets, ski gear being one of them, are not particularly well served by internet sales. Internet sales are 'forcing the hand' of the smaller ski specialty shops at an alarming rate, and the reality is that many of them will be out of business within 5 years. Who's going to mount/tune/warranty your skis then? Gart Sports? That's a nauseating option.
However, on a practical level, I agree that ski internet sales are here to stay, and the smart shop owner needs to adapt his business plan, and fast.
What's really at issue here is "legitimate" internet vs. Ebay. Most ski manufacturers can accept their authorized dealers selling online (Volkl does to, regardless of what their website says.) This usually means that the skis will sell at their manufacturer-set MAP prices and the dealer has experience handling returns and warranty, so the odds of a happy customer are probably the same as if said customer walked into the retail store.
However, the same cannot be said of most ebay transactions. Obviously, many ebay sales go well, or else we wouldn't be talking about it. That said, I know the percentage of happy customers is not as high as it is for a traditional purchase, and this is a cause for concern with the manufacturers, often because the consumers ask them to solve the problems.
Ebay customer: "Uh, hello. I bought some x skis with y "system" bindings from Ebay. I took them to my local dealer to get mounted and they mentioned that I should have received the x system binding. I contacted the Ebay seller and they said the y binding would work just fine, don't worry about it. That may be true, but I'd really like my skis to be exactly the way they are pictured on your website, so can I just swap the bindings with you?"
Manufacturer: "Well, um, geez, system bindings are not sold as separates, so I can't really help you. You should really contact the seller who sold you the wrong binding and ask for the right one..."
Result: local store doesn't get sale, customer gets confused and potentially unhappy, and manufacturer appears unhelpful is solving a problem they did nothing to create. Happens more often than people think, and none of it is good.
Regarding warranty, most manufacturer's reps tell the shops that any merchandise purchased through Ebay is not covered by any warranty. Right or wrong, this is seldom enforceable unless the consumer readily admits the source of the skis during the return process.
Regarding Atomic, the same company that sold directly to Overstock.com is now going to clamp down on their "rogue" dealers who may want to sell legitimately on the internet?
Sure, they are
If they did that, I'm pretty sure I'd no longer be an Atomic dealer...