...What does seem to be the case is that they have assessed their resources at CPS and come to the conclusion that it is a good business decision for them to have more customers in their program.
That's really the key point. Regardless of how anyone else feels about it, it is Canon's program and if they choose not to stringently enforce their own rules, that's their decision.
They call it "professional services" but it walks like, quacks like and swims like an affinity program, so it's hard to blame people for treating it like an affinity program.
There are probably a hundred or more things Canon could do to tighten up the system, but they don't. My observation has been that Canon seldom does anything without having a solid business reason behind it. I assume they have assessed their CPS program and come to the conclusion that this is business model that works for them.
Actually, as I'm thinking more about this, it occurs to me how brilliant their marketing strategy is.
They've adopted a restrictive but unenforced set of qualifications so that people who spend a fortune on their equipment can pay them $100 a year to become members of an exclusive "professional" club. People pay them and think they are getting away with something by "crashing" this exclusive club, when in reality everyone else in the club has also crashed the party.
Now, I do feel a little sorry for the people like awinphoto, but on the other hand, this is sort of like the "I don't want video on my camera" debate.
Does Canon's defacto policy truly deplete the available resources for professionals, or does expanding the membership allow them to keep the program open for professionals. I suspect it is the latter.
In the old days, Canon and Nikon probably ran their professional services programs as loss leaders. They probably didn't make money on the service, but used other resources to subsidize it so they could keep their professional base content. But, that was in the days when there was a large professional base and profit margins were more generous.
In today's business world, every division and every subdivision has to justify it's existence and demonstrate some contribution to the bottom line. That's just how businesses are run today. I strongly suspect that management looked at CPS and determined that it could not be sustained based on the traditional model, so they had to find a way to make it self-sustaining and this is it.
So really, while I know it is frustrating for someone who was invited to the wedding, to go and find a bunch of riffraff who got in by slipping some cash under the table, try to remember that if it weren't for that riffraff you would be eating Chicken instead of Filet Mignon.