He wasn't saying the major sales slump this year was due to the Coal-trol. That's due to the home heating oil price easing as well as the deep recession we've been in.
No, he's saying that having the Coal-trol as standard equipment is a turn off for some potential customers. And the reason is right along the lines you touched on.
The coal stove business is niche and some customer expectations (probably more than with other non-hand-fed heating types) are focused squarely on the simplest of controls, the more manual and mechanical/physical the better. For them the inclusion of an electronics package will never be acceptable, no matter its purpose, ease of use, or track record of reliability and strong customer support, etc. Those customers end up going to other brands because of the decision Leisure Line made to make Coal-trol standard equipment. Being that no company likes to see customers going to a competitor, it is something that comes up from time to time in discussion.
That's not to say that the Coal-trol hasn't brought new customers in to Leisure Line, too. I believe that the net effect has been positive for Leisure Line, as evidenced by their working with us through the years to improve the control and their continued inclusion of Coal-trol as standard equipment on all but their lowest cost model stove, the Econo.