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bifcake
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Blue Oasis Audio letter

Reading the letter posted by Tom Craggs of Blue Oasis Audio, chiding Sam Tellig for turning the readers onto headphones and their availability on the Internet, made me grind my teeth. When are audio dealers going to understand the concept of competition? When are they going to understand the concept of price competition? You can't hide your head in the sand pretending the Internet and Internet based bargains don't exist and then blame writers for pointing out that there is an Internet and dealers selling the same products there. Stop going around bitching and moaning as to how you're being ripped off by others selling the same stuff cheaper on the Internet or how Audiogon is putting a dent in your sales. Sure, nobody wants to compete. Competing is hard. It's a lot easier to be snide to people walking into your store if they just want to shop around or don't have 100k to spend on their system, but those days are coming to an end. Deal with it. You want to charge a full retail price? Offer in house installation for free. Else, discount the hardware and charge for the installation. Seems like brick and mortar dealers want to have the best of both worlds: They want to charge MSRP for hardware AND for service.

I have another piece of news for Mr. Craggs: Not every person walking into your store and inquiring about a piece of gear is going to make a purchase. That's the nature of ANY retail business. Stop bitching about it. You can't have money for nothing. You have to work for it a little bit. The person making an inquiry and not making a purchase is not wasting your time. He is still a potential customer even if he chooses to buy this particular item some place else.

If you want to stay in business:

a) Start competing on price
b) Stop demonizing the people coming through your doors who happen not to make a purchase that day
c) Stop blaming everyone else if business isn't going the way you think it should.
d) Stop whining! Reinvent and keep reinventing your business model to stay on top of the game. Try offering value to your customers instead of being a middle man.

Oh, and one more thing, I don't believe that the Internet store would only make a $4 profit off a $100 headphones. I bet you they're getting their headphones for less than the $99.99 wholesale you quoted.

dcstep
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Re: Blue Oasis Audio letter

Great post AlexO.

My dealer meets and often beats internet pricing without me even asking. OTOH, he has things that I pay full retail for, but I get extra services, like speaker and turntable set up, borrowing cords and ICs before I commit to buy, etc.

If Craggs can't afford to discount, then he's in the wrong business. I've been an audio buyer since 1967 and bought most of my stuff from retailers and almost always received some sort of discount, but not always. I've always felt that I was fairly treated and received information or benefits from the dealer that made the price fair, whether it was the lowest price or not.

I wonder if Craggs has a broken-in set of AKG K701s that our friend Elk could to try to hear how good they sound after break-in.

Dave

Jan Vigne
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Re: Blue Oasis Audio letter


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d) Stop whining!

Phil Gramm seems to share your opinion.

dcstep
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Re: Blue Oasis Audio letter

Phil is usually correct.

Elk
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Re: Blue Oasis Audio letter


Quote:
I wonder if Craggs has a broken-in set of AKG K701s that our friend Elk could to try to hear how good they sound after break-in.


I have a friend with a pair that he bought soon after they were first available. I will be having dinner with him in a couple of weeks so I hope to get a chance to see what they sound like now.

Jim Tavegia
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Re: Blue Oasis Audio letter

It may be that our venerable grocery store is the last bastion of some freedom from competition. I know the locals hate the Walmart Superstore, but it does leave us the option of buying more music...and going to the upscale stores, like Publix, here in the south if we choose. I would even give some Krogers a slightly higher nod. It is clear the delivery of all goods has changed drastically from even 30 years ago.

Still it is a different day, but, personally I would not go audition a piece of gear and then buy it somewhere else. I think that is what most dealers detest. Surely a demo that leads to a smart buying decision is worth something. A good price on a less than stellar item is no "great buy" at all.

It is a hard time for audio dealers, but some of their problems are self inflicted. I have not received an invitation or heard about an open house by any dealers here in Atlanta for a while. I'm surprised that some of the dealers have not gotten together and put together a small venue audio show of their own. I would bet that some of the Reps would help out as well.

Chris Sommoviggio did a nice openhouse and invited the local Atlanta Audio Society Members and a great time was had buy all. We listen to some great music on some great systems and his speaker systems. We did miss the chance to hear the Caliburn, but maybe another day?
http://www.signals-superfi.com/
Just a thought.

bifcake
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Re: Blue Oasis Audio letter


Quote:

Still it is a different day, but, personally I would not go audition a piece of gear and then buy it somewhere else. I think that is what most dealers detest. Surely a demo that leads to a smart buying decision is worth something.

Jim,

People go to Best Buy, grocery stores, pharmacies and all kinds of other stores, look at the various items and sometimes buy them some place else. What makes audio dealers so special that they feel they should be above that? What makes them think that they shouldn't do a demo AND compete on price? A demo that leads to a smart buying decision is worth something. A good price is the sale clincher. The times, they are a changin'. It's high time audio dealers embraced price competition as an essential criteria to staying in business.

smejias
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Re: Blue Oasis Audio letter

For the record, Sam Tellig believes it is unethical to ask a dealer for a demo while intending to buy online.

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Re: Blue Oasis Audio letter

This actually happened at my local "high end/home theater" store:

1. I had looked online at audio furniture.
2. I went to my local dealer with my checkbook, since they sell it - I walked in hoping to buy that day.
3. The sales person I rounded up (after I hung around a bit trying to make eye contact) looked through the catalog with me and I pointed out the one I wanted. The guy then told me it would be easier form me to just buy it online somewhere.
4. I said OK and left. They never smiled or asked my name or about my interests.
5. I bought the thing online from AudioAdvisor.

Elk
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Re: Blue Oasis Audio letter


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For the record, Sam Tellig believes it is unethical to ask a dealer for a demo while intending to buy online.


Many agree.

To deliberately waste someone's professional time on pretense is despicable.

bifcake
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Re: Blue Oasis Audio letter


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To deliberately waste someone's professional time on pretense is despicable.

It's called shopping around. Dudes, this wouldn't happen if dealers competed on price.

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Re: Blue Oasis Audio letter


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[It's called shopping around. Dudes, this wouldn't happen if dealers competed on price.

It's not "shopping around" if you are already intending to buy someplace else; rather it is operating under false pretenses and an intentional waste of another's professional time and resources.

"Shopping around" is test driving a Ford, a Toyota, and a Hyundai and subsequently buying one from one of the dealers you visited. This is perfectly fair and appropriate behavior.

"Shopping around" is going to look at that new highly touted camera to see if you are impressed enough to buy it, looking at it, and deciding not to. Again, fair.

Our culture has an appropriately non-flattering term for women who deliberately tease with no intention of following through.

Hint: It's not called "shopping around."

bifcake
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Re: Blue Oasis Audio letter

There are two phases to shopping around. The product phase and the price phase. During the product phase, we shop around to find the product we want. During the price phase, we shop around for the price we want.

The audio dealers are competing in the product phase, by displaying the product and explaining the features and making recommendations. They are not competing in the price phase.

How about this scenario, instead of bitching and moaning about the Internet, they can take a piece of the action by offering to install ANY product purchased ANYWHERE. That would at least give them access to the customer in terms of offering accessories, cables, etc as well as making some money on a purchase vs no money. Perhaps that would alleviate some of the pain they're feeling.

The dealers seem greedy to me. They want the ENTIRE pie and they want MSRP prices and they want delivery and installation charges. That's obviously not working, so not unlike the record companies, they're simply bitching and moaning and blaming the Internet about a failing business model.

Jan Vigne
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Re: Blue Oasis Audio letter


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Phil is usually correct.

Phil is usually (always) after easy cash, that's why he went into politics. I know about Phil and Enron and many others who made large contributions to Phil's campaigns and I have heard all about his less than ethical wife. Phil was my Senator for too many years. Phil greased his skids from the public trough until he had taken all he could and then moved on to take more money from those he put in place to build the trough through no bid contracts and he has always thought anyone who doesn't take advantage of the rules to their own financial benefit is a chump and a whiner. The man is a criminal.

Jan Vigne
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Re: Blue Oasis Audio letter


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The dealers seem greedy to me.

No! I am shocked.

Welshsox
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Re: Blue Oasis Audio letter

Hi

In my professional life I work with systems and system integrators. We specialise in industrial applications which require a ton of specialised knowledge, based on Alex's thinking it would be perectly alright for a customer to work with an integrator and ourselves ( manufacturers ) to get the knowledge and necessary info to educate himself and then go online and get the cheapest price. As im sure you can imagine we get extremely pissed when this happens and when the customer rings up for support hes is referred back to the website he purchased the equipment from, of course they have absolutley no knowledge at all.

Its the same thing in the audio world, you have to make a decision. You can play in the Best Buy world, you can play in the Ebay/Audigon world and buy & sell everytime you dont like something or you can build up a working relationship with a full time audio dealer.

I picked the latter option and the dealer ( Holm Audio, im sure a few of you know them ) have been absolutley fantastic and incredibly patient with my learning curve and at times stupid comments. The end result after months of listening, borrowing equipment and advice is that I have a system that absolutely kicks ass and im absolutly delighted with, this only came about after a lot of effort. This level of service has to be paid for somehow. I could have got to the end of my process and saved several thousands of dollars by buying the chosen equipment on Audiogon, well it turned out after a few weeks of living with the original system that it wasnt perfect, The dealer let me try numerous speakers and wires at home until i was happy. In fact the dealer insisted that we wouldnt give up until i was delighted which I now am.

To say that you should have the right to go into a dealer and spend hours auditioning various equipment and then go online and get the cheapest price is an ignorant and selfish concept. If everyone did that where would you go to audition ?

The dealers are struggling due to the internet as are large sections of every industry in America, its easy to put up a website buy some cheap import shit then sell it against recognized dealer networks who have to support the product and be the bricks and mortar face of that industry.

AlexO - you really need to rethink your concept of value, if you just want cheap then why are you even going to dealers just buy online.

Alan

bifcake
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Re: Blue Oasis Audio letter

Alan,

If you received the August issue of Stereophile, read the Letters section where an audio dealer chides Sam Tellig for recommending headphones and pointing to various sites selling these headphones online. That letter will put my comments in perspective.

To address a broader issue, this is not a moral or a self-righteous issue as some have tried to frame it. This is simply a matter of business, buying and selling. Buyers look for what they perceive as value and sellers look to get as much as they can for the stuff they're selling. Some sellers offer incentives such as service, integration, installation. Others offer price incentives. My point is that in order to be successful, a dealer has to compete in service and in price domains. Most dealers refuse to compete in the price domains and choose instead to cry about the Internet.

Jan Vigne
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Re: Blue Oasis Audio letter


Quote:
To address a broader issue, this is not a moral or a self-righteous issue as some have tried to frame it.

We have addressed this issue once before in a very long thread where you were repeatedly informed it is a moral issue. You self-righteously chose to ignore those comments.

bifcake
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Re: Blue Oasis Audio letter

I do not engage in moralistic, judgmental, self-righteous chest pounding while proclaiming "Aren't we the ones". I do not see this as a moral, ethical, religious, humanistic or a spiritual issue. It's simply a matter of commerce.

Welshsox
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Re: Blue Oasis Audio letter

Alex

I havent received my August copy yet.

In terms of service im not sure what you mean, the type of dealers that im defending offer superb pre/post sales support. Of course if its just a dealer who thinks he has a god given right to business then fair play shop around. Of course the dealer has to provide service, i think your underestimating the value of pre sales service.

What im talking about is going to a dealer listening for several hours, comparing your chosen product to others, trying it with diffrent interconnects etc and then going home and buying online. That is not the a good thing to do.

Alan

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Re: Blue Oasis Audio letter

Either you're ethical or not. Being on Enron's board does not make Wendy unethical. She was totally unaware of Fastow's fraud. Lay and Skilling may have been also, since Fastow, for some strange reason, never testified.

Why was Phil Gramm never endicted if so clearly a criminal?

Dave

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Re: Blue Oasis Audio letter


Quote:
During the product phase, we shop around to find the product we want.


Nothing wrong with honest, well-intentioned checking out of products.

It is, however, a disgusting practice to waste a dealer's time and resources by requesting a demo after having already decided that you will buy online.

If you already know you are going to buy online, don't waste the dealer's time. This is reprehensible conduct.

Play the game honestly.

If you don't need to audition equipment or already know what you want, buy from online sources.

If you need a dealer's assistance to make your decisions, be fair and reward him for his time, additional expenses in maintaining a store and keeping inventory.

A dealer cannot possibly keep a store open, keep open stock on display, pay staff, etc. and then sell at the same price as a warehouse. If you want warehouse service, but from a warehouse. If you need dealer service, by from the dealer.

And stop stiffing wait staff by leaving no tip. After all, you can get just as good service without rewarding the efforts of a good waiter. Why bother paying more when you don't have to?

Welshsox
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Re: Blue Oasis Audio letter

Well put Elk

Jan Vigne
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Re: Blue Oasis Audio letter


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Why was Phil Gramm never endicted if so clearly a criminal?

Being on Enron's board is not necessarily a criminal act but collusion is. This is not the place for political arguments. You obviously have your opinion and I have mine. He was my Senator and I disapprove of his getting rich while in office and even richer immediately after he left office. If you truly believe someone with friends in high places must be prosecuted to be a criminal, the newspaper you read must begin with, "Once upon a time ... "

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Re: Blue Oasis Audio letter

Not only do some ask for an in store demo when they KNOW they will be purchasing on line SOME also insist on an in home demo. Then, when they have a problem they insist that the local dealer, whom they could have purchased from but did not MUST help them. Even going as far as to call the manufacturer to try to force the local dealer who lost the sale to come in and clean whatever mess they created.

Don't get me wrong I've bought some stuff over the internet, but that was mostly used gear. I've also worked for a couple of high end shops.

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Re: Blue Oasis Audio letter


Quote:
What im talking about is going to a dealer listening for several hours, comparing your chosen product to others, trying it with diffrent interconnects etc and then going home and buying online. That is not the a good thing to do.

It's an example of what is termed "the tragedy of the commons" (see www.stereophile.com/asweseeit/547 ). If everyone behaves in their own best interest, the shared resource disappears.

Personally, I believe that using a dealer's resources to choose what to buy, then buying somewhere else, is theft.

Sam Tellig returns to matter in his September column. (Welcome back Sam.)

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

bifcake
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Re: Blue Oasis Audio letter

When you buy a new car and you need service, you go to ANY dealer ANYWHERE to get your car serviced under warranty. But that's not even the point here. You guys have posted extreme examples and rightly so to illustrate your point. But what I'm hearing is that you worry about INTENTIONS.

So, if you INTEND to buy on the Internet when you walk into the dealer's shop for a demo, then it's not ok, but if you don't have any intentions to buy when you walk into a dealer and you're just kicking tires, then that's ok. The thing is that regardless of one's intentions, the end result is the same.

To keep the discussion on track, here's the original letter in August Stereophile that prompted this thread:

Quote:

Editor:
Sam, Sam, Sam. You've put your foot in it once again. I read with interest your article about headphones in June 2008 then recoiled in horror as your pimping for Internet "dealers." You guys frequently encourage your readers to deal with bricks and mortal audio specialty stores and extol their virtues and well you should. Then Sam comes in and kicks us in the goolies.

We, too love the AKG K701s and the Audio Technica ATH-D700's and carry them in-store for audition and purchase. A dealer typically gets items like headphones through distributions, as opposed to direct, because the sales volume of such items is low unless one is whoring about on the Net. At $103.99 for the AD700s, the price Sam quoted, the profit margin would be zero. The lowest distribution wholesale price I've found is $99.99. Shipping eats up the remaining four bucks.

So, here's what happens as a result of Sam's helpfulness:

Guy or Gal reads your article, finds out that a local, real hi-fi dealer carries the phones reviewed, and comes in for a listen. Dealer unboxes one, or two, or three sets of phones for audition, at which pint they can no longer be sold as new, if dealer has a conscience. Guy or Gal spends an hour or more listening to phones, singing along off-key, making it difficult for Dealer to conduct any other commerce. Guy or Gal then tells dealer what he or she thinks about the different models, sometimes at great length, then asks dealer the price of his or her favorite. Dealer quotes a price- say, in this case, $160 - that will help pay the rent. Guy or Gal then says, "i'll think about it.". Dealer sighs, knowing that Guy or Gal will then go to the Internet where, with Sam's help, he or she buys the favorite phones at a price that would be suicidal for the dealer.

You, in the plural editorial sense, have run numerous articles and opinion pieces about why the independent two-channel specialty shop is a dying breed. I submit that our cultural obsession with getting a bargain price for everything we buy is the primary culprit. This, more than anything, i what drives dealers to move upscale, to products that are not sold on the Web and are not discounted. It also puts pressure on the dealer to work on an appointment-only basis out of the back of the house.

The result is that only audiophiles who are already converts get a chance to hear what a good system sounds like.

If one gets a bargain price on equipment that does not satisfy in the long run, the money is wasted. Spending a little more, so that you and others can find the sound that floats your boat and rely on local advice and service - that is money well spent.

Tom Craggs
Blue Oasis Audio

bifcake
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Re: Blue Oasis Audio letter


Quote:

Personally, I believe that using a dealer's resources to choose what to buy, then buying somewhere else, is theft.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

John,

Haven't you ever walked into a store (not audio store), picked something up, looked at it, got a sticker shock and decided you can get it for less some place else? Does that make you a thief?

Welshsox
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Re: Blue Oasis Audio letter

Alex

Reading Tom's letter he makes very valid points.

Let me ask you a simple question, do you think it is OK to go into a hifi store listen for several hours then go home and buy online ?

Alan

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Re: Blue Oasis Audio letter


Quote:
Alex

Reading Tom's letter he makes very valid points.

Let me ask you a simple question, do you think it is OK to go into a hifi store listen for several hours then go home and buy online ?

Alan

Yes. I have absolutely no qualms with that.

What if it's not several hours? What if it's one hour? Is that ok? What if it's half an hour? Fifteen minutes? If you're going to be absolute about it, then what you're saying is that it's not ok to walk into a hifi store at all unless you're willing to buy. Furthermore, you're saying that we should subsidize the dealers by knowingly paying more for the equipment in order to keep the dealers in business.

There is also a point to which I would like to direct your attention: Sam Tellig is being blamed for merely pointing out that the headphones are available online for a reasonable price.

dcstep
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Re: Blue Oasis Audio letter

He was my senator also and I voted for him, along with millions of other Texans. I even contributed to his campaign when he moved from D to R. It's hard for a smart senator not to get "rich." If he's good with the country's finances, wouldn't expect him to do well on his own??

Don't start a "political argument" then claim this isn't the place. You're the one that stood up, waved his arms and threw loose, unsupported allegations thinking that no one would recognize your bluff.

Dave

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Re: Blue Oasis Audio letter

Alex

So why goto the shop at all ? why not just sit at home browse the web and buy the product ?

Nobodys saying you have to buy everything that you audition, all the dealers expect is that if you come in specifically to listen to a product and they have taken the time and effort to make available for audition that if you do decide to buy it then you do so from them. If you listen to something and decide you dont like it then you leave the store no problem.

To answer your point i do believe that we should subsidize the dealers, the overheads of a bricks and mortar store are very high. How else would you propose they cover their costs ?

If everyone adopts your approach then the only option for buying hifi will be online stores, do you believe that is a good thing for the future of audio ?

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Re: Blue Oasis Audio letter


Quote:

Quote:

Personally, I believe that using a dealer's resources to choose what to buy, then buying somewhere else, is theft.

John,

Haven't you ever walked into a store (not audio store), picked something up, looked at it, got a sticker shock and decided you can get it for less some place else?

Yes, of course. I also buy on-line without any dem.


Quote:
Does that make you a thief?

No, because I haven't used any of the dealer's resources. However, once I ask for a demo and spend, in your words "several hours" auditioning components, I am asking the dealer to invest his resources in me. If I have no intention of buying from that dealer, regardless of the outcome of the dem, yes, I am stealing his resources.

As I said, Sam returns to this subject (and his column) in the September issue.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

dcstep
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Re: Blue Oasis Audio letter


Quote:

... Furthermore, you're saying that we should subsidize the dealers by knowingly paying more for the equipment in order to keep the dealers in business...

Absolutely.

The dealer has gone to the time and expense to buy the inventory, set up a listening environment and spent time with you. A high-end dealer will have hundreds of thousands invested in demo equipment and will pay several staff people $20,000 to $40,000 per year to be available to assist customers.

Contrast that with a mail order purveyor, with boxed inventory stock high in an un-airconditioned warehouse. Often, if the manufacturer lets him, he won't even stock the piece and he'll have the maker drop-ship it to you. His sales staff is order takers that may not even be in the US.

I've bought several things from Audio Advisor (unauditioned cables, LP cleaning stuff, etc.). When I ordered a Billy Bags rack that no one had in Denver, they had Bags drop-ship it to me. They gave a 20% over MSRP, but they probably still made $200.

Let's get back to being fair to the retail dealer. Just because he's invested money up front doesn't mean that we should always expect to pay full retail. If, for instance, one was in stock in my area and it could be delivered the next day (rather than a month later as with AA) then I would have felt good paying full MSRP. However, if it's a $25,000 set of speakers with $8000 of margin, then I'm going to expect some give on the price. If a mail order dealer offered it for $18,000 ($1,000 in margin) then I'd hope that my dealer would meet me somewhere in the middle, say $21,000 or so ($4000 in margin).

My example is a little off because most makers of $25000 speakers don't allow online sales outside of their territory. Still, a dealer might get a little "tight" and need to get rid of a piece before it's really a demo piece. Still, those economics are correct.

It's really going to vary a lot with the piece. My dealer sold me a Pro-ject RM10 w/ Sumiko Blackbird for less than the online prices posted at a couple of sites. He reports that he didn't get rich, but he's happy with his margin. OTOH, the same dealer sold me my relatively inexpensive speakers at full retail. I felt good in both cases because I got a lot of attention, a lot of listening time and the deals were quick and easy. Oh, BTW, when the gem literally just fell off the end of my first Blackbird, the dealer stepped right up, called Sumiko about the problem and had me a new cartridge in two-days. Oh, he mounted the cartridge for me both times. Oh, he set up my speakers in my listening room for me.

Just because dealers spend time with you doesn't mean you're obligated to buy, but you shouldn't even go in if you know beforehand that you'll buy elsewhere.

Here's a situation common to several on this forum that are "influencers". I'm one. Lots of people ask me for advice about cars, trumpets and audio. I went so far with trumpets that I founded the Rocky Mountain Trumpet Fest, now in its third year. With cars, I've raced in SCCA and regional clubs and marque clubs for decades. In audio..., well you know.

I DO go in and check out speakers, cars and trumpets that I'm unlikely to buy simply because I want to know what I'm talking about if someone asks. If I happen to hear something that blows away my audio equipment, I might buy it, but I'm not there totally for myself. Anyway, that's actually a service to the dealers, since I have a high potential of sending them business. Of course, they can screw up by treating me like a lump of coal, then I'll report accordingly.

Here's how I do the influencer thing. I plan to order a BMW M3 in a few months. When it's time I'll go to Mercedes, Lexus, Porsche and maybe a couple of others and say, "I'm going to buy a car in this range in the next week or two and wanted to consider your option." Even though it would take a small miricle to move me off the M3, I'm open to what the seat of my pants tell me and could change my mind. Then I drive and collect data about both the car and my treatment by the dealers. I'll order from someone.

I live two blocks from RMAF; however, if I didn't I'd visit dealers in my area and as I travel around the country. In that case I go in and say, "I've got this and that in my system and wanted to hear what alternatives you might have. I'm not in the market at the moment, but I want make sure that I understand the options." Most dealers are happy to demo what they consider to be competing stuff. I avoid high traffic times. Despite not buying, I can form opinions that might help others that are likely to buy.

Dave

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Re: Blue Oasis Audio letter

There are many ways to scam others and to take resources from them. Screwing dealers is just one example. The Blue Oasis letter is dead-on.

If you want to buy at online prices, deal exclusively with online dealers. That is, buy the product and have it shipped to you so that you can try it. If you don't like it, send it back. This is perfectly fair.

This will, of course, cost you some money and time. You will need to pay for shipping, put your money on the line while the product is in your hands, and may well need to pay restocking fees.

It also will take time and effort to have the product shipped, and to send it back.

These are costs that you should be very willing to assume if you want the benefit of online prices.

This extra money and time is precisely part of what the dealer invests in his store. This is why he must charge more and how he offers a greater benefit to the consumer.

If you don't need his store, don't go in. If you go in for demos, buy from him. Easy rule.

Don't expect dealers to subsidize your hobby. Pay your own way.

bifcake
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Re: Blue Oasis Audio letter


Quote:
Alex

So why goto the shop at all ? why not just sit at home browse the web and buy the product ?

I do that sometimes too. In fact, I do that a lot.


Quote:

Nobodys saying you have to buy everything that you audition, all the dealers expect is that if you come in specifically to listen to a product and they have taken the time and effort to make available for audition that if you do decide to buy it then you do so from them. If you listen to something and decide you dont like it then you leave the store no problem.

How are you supposed to negotiate the price if there is no threat of going some place else? Do you feel that price negotiations are off limits too?


Quote:
To answer your point i do believe that we should subsidize the dealers, the overheads of a bricks and mortar store are very high. How else would you propose they cover their costs ?

If you're willing to subsidize the dealers, then why don't we just start a collection and pan handle on subways on behalf of the poor, starving audio dealers who are down on their luck? Where does it end? Why not subsidize the manufacturers? How about reviewers? MF always cries poverty.

I propose the dealers figure out how to survive in the changing market place. Let them compete on price. Let them offer something tangible for which they can charge. Installation, room dampening consulting, interior decorating (seamlessly integrating your system into your home). There are lots of things they can do to off set the revenues lost by discounting the equipment. The equipment can be a low-profit item, in fact, serving more as a hook to get people in the store and sell them the installation and consulting services. There are many, many things that can be done when there is an incentive to do so. I absolutely reject the notion of subsidizing the dealers. There is no reason why the dealers have to be the privileged class within the audio community.


Quote:
If everyone adopts your approach then the only option for buying hifi will be online stores, do you believe that is a good thing for the future of audio ?

If the dealers disappear, a new type of dealer or a new type of model will emerge that will take place of the dealer network. In fact, I think it would be good for the audio industry. If the prices drop, more people could be exposed to and afford the better sounding equipment than what you have currently. That's the way it's always been in other industries and I suspect that the high end audio industry will not only survive from the demise of the dealers and importers, but will actually get a new lease on life as it sheds the dead weight.

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Re: Blue Oasis Audio letter

Alex

Do you have a relationship with good dealer ? or just buy/sell based on reviews and price ?

Alan

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Your premise is faulty

Dear Alex,

The issue is not "picking something up and looking at it."

Let's say that I have already decided to buy a copy of Jonah Goldberg's excellent book "Liberal Fascism." If I walk into my locally-owned independent bookstore and pick it up only to see what price they are charging and NOT to skim it, and I see that they are charging six dollars more than I can get it from a chain store at the Mall, I owe them nothing and I can decide whether the gas and time expense as well as not supporting a local family business tips the balance. I have not utilized their resources to make my fundamental buying decision--I knew which book I wanted before I walked in.

Let's take a different example. A guy walks into an audio salon and wants to hear Speaker A. Salesman gives demo. But salesman also says, please humor me, listen to the other speaker, Speaker B. Customer now loves Speaker B much more than Speaker A. I think that the customer owes the dealer that business. Because, if not for the dealer's investments, the customer would not know what he wants.

If I go to the mall and ask the people at Sephora to recommend a new fragance and I occupy their time and they give me three take-home spray samples, I do not owe them anything, UNLESS that is what lets me know what I want. In the event, they gave me three near-misses. The fragrance I am most interested in, they can't get. I know of it only by a word-of-mouth recommendation; to smell it, I had to BUY a sample over the internet.

In the present case, perhaps the dealer should put up a sign: "If you do not expect to pay our fair prices, please do not expect to use our demonstration facilities." And tire-kickers can then find someone else's time to waste.

When I walked into Sephora, I knew that if I found a scent I wanted, I'd be paying 25-30% over the internet prices, sales tax and shipping canceling each other out. I was cool with that, because THE ONLY THING that would let me smell a dozen or more fragrances in one session was their investment and overhead, such as, their rent is based on their gross, the landlord of a shopping mall shares in their success but also has a safety net if they hit a rough patch. People who don't want to play the game fairly should stay away and take their blind chances on the 'net.

I am glad JA linked to my evergreen Tragedy of the Commons essay so I did not have to.

I am told one reason that audio dealers do not publicize recommended systems is that it does not bring traffic to the store, it only gives bottom-feeders free wish lists.

JM

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Re: Blue Oasis Audio letter

Audiogon is the perfect place for Alex. There he can buy used and big disoount to new retail and, assuming he buys wisely, turn around and sell at basically what he paid, less shipping and transaction costs. That's a strategy that many guys and gals follow on A'gon. The playing field is level, mostly, and you'll see equipment that's not generally available online.

I don't understand why Alex can't see how it's fair to expect brick and mortor dealers to charge more than online stores. I agree with him about the subject of this thread, whining about the mention of online options for buying cans. BTW, all my current crop of cans and my headphone amp were either bought online retail or used via head-fi.org or factory-direct. No brick and mortor dealer was injured.

Demonstrating cans doesn't take a huge investment, yet few dealers actually set up to do that. That's a segment where online dealers have the upper hand unless the local retailer is offering something extra, like the ability to come in and compare two or three leading brands, driven by good headphone amps. Shipping costs are low and, if we only had cans to consider, there would be few cans-only stand alone retailers.

Dave

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Re: Blue Oasis Audio letter

Two companys that used to be successful that followed Alex's mantra are Von Schweikert and Coincident.

Both companies decided to discount direct online, this worked great for a little while until the dealers got fed up of doing all the work only to be undercut by the factory. The end result now is that you cannot get a demo of Von Schweikert or Coincident speakers in Chicago, none of the dealers will touch them anymore. The dealers all say the same thing, used to be good product but we wont work with them.

This approach has basically cost these two companies their market.

Alan

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Re: Blue Oasis Audio letter

Once again, Alex, you can find no one who agrees with your approach to how dealers should operate. Two threads on this topic and still not one person agrees with you. Other than dup I don't know anyone who wouldn't be getting the hint by now.

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Re: Blue Oasis Audio letter

Alex0-

You show an AMAZING lack of the ability to put yourself in the shoes of others on this issue. I bet that your stance on the matter would really change if you got even a part time job at a dealer and saw everything that they went through, both time wise and financially to make a compelling environment for their customers. I'm glad to find you being shouted down by the majority of the forum on this point. The fact that buying on line instead of at a dealer after a demo is wrong is a FACT, not an opinion. It

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Re: Blue Oasis Audio letter


Quote:
I remember "The Tragedy of the Commons" essay well. It's one of the most powerful pieces that Stereophile has ever published. I hope Mr. Marks got a HUGE pat on the back for that article at the very least.

John Marks returned to the subject in the essay at www.stereophile.com/asweseeit/504awsi, while Jim Austin chipped in at www.stereophile.com/asweseeit/904awsi. I also offered some thoughts on the role of the retailer 15 years ago at www.stereophile.com/asweseeit/59 .

Yikes...I old!

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

dcstep
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Re: Blue Oasis Audio letter

Rereading the Blue Audio letter it seems to be chiding, tongue-in-cheek. Surely Cragg's doesn't think that Tellig is the first to tell his prospects about the internet. If so, then he's in for a lot more shocks.

Dave

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Re: Your premise is faulty

Hi everyone,

There are quite a few posts for me to respond, so I will try to capture everyone's inquiries and comments in a single post.


Quote:

Alex

Do you have a relationship with good dealer ? or just buy/sell based on reviews and price ?

Alan

I buy based on reviews, personal experience and price. I have yet to meet a dealer whose personality I can stomach for more than a few minutes.


Quote:
Audiogon is the perfect place for Alex. There he can buy used and big disoount to new retail and, assuming he buys wisely, turn around and sell at basically what he paid, less shipping and transaction costs. That's a strategy that many guys and gals follow on A'gon. The playing field is level, mostly, and you'll see equipment that's not generally available online.

It is indeed. I love Audiogon. I think it's the best thing that happened to hi-fi since its invention. And you hit the nail right on the head: the playing field is level. That's key.


Quote:

Once again, Alex, you can find no one who agrees with your approach to how dealers should operate. Two threads on this topic and still not one person agrees with you. Other than dup I don't know anyone who wouldn't be getting the hint by now.

Yes, Jan. You are correct. None of the respondents agree with me. Does that mean that no one agrees with me? Possibly or perhaps there are those who do and they don't choose to respond so as not to be brow beaten. In any case, it really doesn't matter if I'm alone on this. In these forums, we exchange ideas. Some ideas are more popular than others. I can live with that.


Quote:

I'm glad to find you being shouted down by the majority of the forum on this point.

Dear MrLowry, please allow me to direct the wrath of the mob towards the REAL perpetrator, the criminal mastermind, the corrupter of young, impressionable minds: Sam Tellig! It was he who preached to the masses to abandon the good folks at brick and mortar stores and embrace the dark side of online purchases. It is he who is the evil of this world. I am just an innocent victim. I am the Eve to his Serpent. I was simply misled by the fiery speeches and glowing reviews. I propose that if there is wrath and punishment to be administered that it falls upon this evil doer, the information desseminator. Let's all lynch him where he stands!

The following is to address some of John Marks' points

John, when I read the "Tragedy of the Commons" when it first came out, I was grinding my teeth so much, I almost wrote a letter to the editor demanding your head on a silver platter. Alas, I decided against it figuring I would sound like a raving lunatic and I would be completely misunderstood. I truly take offense at the notion that we, as consumers owe anything to the dealers outside of fulfilling our contractual obligations. The same goes for the dealers. They owe us nothing. Everything that the dealers do has a single purpose: to sell. The dealers don't set up their audition rooms, match equipment or offer advice out of the sheer goodness of their hearts or some altruistic concerns such as bringing music to the masses. They do that to generate business. They entice people to enter their store through sexy displays, advertisements, comfortable furniture and various sound reproducing components.

Some people are enticed, they enter the store and they sample various equipment. Some of these people will buy and some people won't. Whether those who don't buy at the dealer buy these components some place else or don't buy them at all is completely irrelevant. Whatever time and effort the dealer spent enticing the potential buyer to purchase equipment is done so at the dealer's volition and discretion, without duress, and without obligation. It's part of doing business. It's the cost of doing business.

Think of it this way: when you take a woman out on a date, and pay for dinner and a movie, is she to feel obligated to sleep with you? I would very much love that to be the case. Let's guilt her into putting out by claiming that she is a thief for having wasted your time, money and effort.

The bottom line is that nobody owes anyone anything. The sales process is comparable to a mating dance. The dealer, not unlike a male shows off his stuff, he wines and dines the potential customer, who not unlike a female may acquiesce to reject the advances, while perhaps enjoying the dance.

There is no moral dilemma here. It's not personal, it's just business.

Jan Vigne
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Re: Your premise is faulty


Quote:
Think of it this way: when you take a woman out on a date, and pay for dinner and a movie, is she to feel obligated to sleep with you? I would very much love that to be the case. Let's guilt her into putting out by claiming that she is a thief for having wasted your time, money and effort.

Good analogy! You no doubt enter the audio shop knowing in advance you will be "F'ing" the dealer tonight.


Quote:
There is no moral dilemma here.

Unfortunately, Alex, you cannot remove the morality of your actions by simply stating you have no moral center.

bifcake
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Re: Your premise is faulty


Quote:

Quote:
Think of it this way: when you take a woman out on a date, and pay for dinner and a movie, is she to feel obligated to sleep with you? I would very much love that to be the case. Let's guilt her into putting out by claiming that she is a thief for having wasted your time, money and effort.

Good analogy! You no doubt enter the audio shop with the sole intention of "F'ing" the dealer.

No, you got it all backwards. I enter the audio shop knowing that the dealer is out to "F" me.

Jan Vigne
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Re: Your premise is faulty


Quote:
I enter the audio shop knowing that the dealer is out to "F" me.

Of course you do. That's what makes it immoral.

mrlowry
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Re: Your premise is faulty


Quote:

No, you got it all backwards. I enter the audio shop knowing that the dealer is out to "F" me.

If that's your attitude then don't go in at all, stick with audiogon. It reflects in your body language and virtually guarantees shabby treatment. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy. Don't get me wrong like anything else there are good audio dealers and bad ones. Friendly ones and arrogant ones. Ethical ones and scam artists. But I'm sure that in all of New York City there have to be at least a couple of good ones.

My older brother is also into audio, however he refuses to pay retail. He hasn't been into an audio store in 15 years because he knows that they aren't willing to give him the discounts that he demands. He buys everything second hand on audiogon, ebay, or similar sources. He, however realizes that taking people

Jim Tavegia
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Re: Blue Oasis Audio letter

Alex, you must be kidding. You go into your drug store, grocery store, or clothing store (all totally commodity based items), and you can buy what you see or hit the pavement. you don't go up to the chashier and then start to dicker on the price, just because you saw the same thing, or something like it for less elsewhere!

The grocer scans your items and you pay up...it is that simple. Are you going to eat a bowl of corn flakes in the isle while you "decide" if the price is right. You can pay the price posted or take a hike. It is very simple selling.

When you go in a waste someone's time (the dealer) so you can be enlighted as to whether you prefer some piece of gear or not, that is being dishonest and you know it. If all of life is just about you, I can see where you are coming from, but that is a lonely road to travel. I feel sure you would not appreciate someone using you or your time for their benefit. We are all benefited and compensated for our time in our work and in other endeavors.

For people who think all of this is just about "the best price", then mail order is your ticket, and just make sure you get a 30 day return policy and deal with the inbound freight that someone will pay, you or the mail order house. And, then you can deal with the time you waste sending equipment back and forth. You can feel free to waste your time any way you like.

John Marks has a great statement: "You can love things or love people." I think it is hard to do both and be true to yourself or others. To have friends you first need to be one. The dealers I frequent do not run and hide from me knowing I am just going to use them. I have always felt the "deal" involved so much more.

ethanwiner
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Re: Blue Oasis Audio letter


Quote:
For the record, Sam Tellig believes it is unethical to ask a dealer for a demo while intending to buy online.


So do I, and it's so obviously unethical you'd think everyone would agree.

I don't have a lot of use for resellers generally, but what's fair is fair. Also, people do this to me too, asking for detailed advice to treat their room, when all along they plan to DIY or buy from one of the companies that sell cheap knock-offs of my products.

--Ethan

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