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sh4078
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Horrible Experience At An Audio Store

I wanted to take this opportunity to share a recent experience I had at an audio store in San Francisco called the House of Music.

Some background about me: I am an audiophile in training. For years I have had speakers which were not good by any stretch of the imagination. For years, I have dreamed about putting together a great system and finally got some cash together to start building it. It was a long time coming. I'm a type of person who carefully researches things before making a purchase and does serious due diligence.

I had first gone into the House of Music approximately 2 months ago in order to look at some kef speakers. I was interested in taking a look at kef's lineup of speakers and was initially focusing in on some lifestyle oriented speakers called the kht 9000 ace. I thought the 9000's were speakers worthy of some consideration, but ultimately concluded that they did not offer what i was looking for especially in the mid-range for main speakers. While the speakers were very good for lifestyle speakers, they, in my view, were not spectacular (especially when contrasted with price/performance) for inclusion in my "dream" system.

The search continued and I ultimately went back to the store to take a look at the reference 203 speakers. I did an audition of them and ultimately the dealer provided me with a price estimate. The estimate was the FULL msrp price. Their were no discounts offered -- not even some complimentary cables/wires. They did not offer an opportunity for an "in home demo."

The estimate was for two reference 203's, a reference 202c center, and two back satellites (which for the sake of pricing was the kht 9000 which I thought would make good back channel speakers -- not as mains). With regard to the two back satellites, I wasn't yet convinced this was the way to go vis-a-vis the kht's, but for the sake of pricing out the system, I used those speakers to fill in the blanks.

Anyway, I decided to do some due diligence with regard to pricing. This was especially true in light of the numerous audio forums which claim that at least a 10% discount or something complimentary is pretty standard in the business. Some of these forums claim that if you are not offered 10% off (which according to some is "obligatory") run not walk out of the door.

Indeed, I can't think of any substantial purchase I have ever made where there was not at least some "haggling" with regard to price. Even Dell haggles when you purchase a computer (if you call to place the order you often get better deals than simply doing it online). I did not think haggling was therefore unusual or inappropriate. I sort of expected to be offered some form of break on a substantial purchase.

After being presented the msrp based estimate I was sort of taken aback in light of the forum discussions on discounts. However, since I had an appointment at the b&w showroom, I decided to head out and do some haggling with the system consultant after listening to some other speakers. At that juncture, I was still weighing my options with regard to speakers and overall sound. I listened to the b&w's, but I liked the sound and overall/fit and finish of the 203's.

To make a long story short, I contacted a number of kef dealers in the surrounding area. Nearly every dealer I contacted offered some form of discount. These discounts ranged from about 10% to approximately 27%. It did not involve haggling or teeth pulling. I called them up via telephone and simply said I'm interested in purchasing 4 reference 203's and the 202 center, what can you do for me? That was all. All of these dealers were authorized by kef and i got their contact info off of kef's website.

Significantly, there was no back and forth. They simply said here is the type of deal we can do, what do you think? I did not even have to haggle. It was sort of like the "customary" or "obligatory" discount which the various forums had said are common place.

In light of the availability of a discount, I ultimately decided to get 4 reference 203's plus the 202c center. This I thought would be a sweet system that had room to expand. While it was certainly more than I ultimately wanted to spend, I was convinced that the sound was the best match for me and some other issues (aesthetics) also worked.

Ultimately, the monetary discount I was able to obtain was significant. The msrp on this speaker package is $12,000.00. With the discount, I was able to make this purchase for well under $9,000.00. Again, a very substantial savings for anyone except a google zillionaire.

Prior to making an agreement to purchase from one of the other dealers, I contacted the House of Music and informed them that I did some due diligence and told them of other deals on the very same speakers.

I told them it was my preference to place an order with the house of music in light of the fact that I tried out the speakers at their store. Truth be known, they did not even have to be the lowest price out of all the dealers and i would have still purchased the speakers from them. I was looking for a reasonable accommodation. As it turns out, none was forthcoming.

Simply, they were not receptive to offering any type of discount or any other type of accommodation. They were simply unwilling to show any flexibility with regard to price. Accordingly, in simplest terms, I could not purchase the speakers from them.

Yesterday, I got a call from a system consultant at the house of music and, the long and short of it is, he called me "unethical" and asked me to forward him a check for $80 for a so-called "consultation" (in light of the fact that the purchase would not take place from his store). I advised that the store he works at is a show-room and I would have been more than happy to make a purchase from him had the price been within the overall ballpark of reasonableness. In other words, they should have offered me something other than the nebulous "we have great customer service" line in light of what the other dealers with substantially lower prices on the very same product. The claim of "great customer service" as it turns out was highly suspect in light of the tone of the phone call in which the system consultant essentially accused me of the theft of his intellectual property regarding system set-up. This was a ridiculous claim in light of the fact that the show room has kef speakers and ultimately the purchasing decision is based on what i think "sounds great" -- not what the system consultant believed. I was not asking for him to design a system for me. I was not asking for opinions on receivers or speakers. I was simply listening to speakers so that I could arrive at a decision as to which sound (between a host of brands and series within brands) worked best for me. I found the request for compensation to be both startling and unprofessional. I essentially told the system consultant that I would not send him a check and I thought it was unfortunate that he would even make the request. I tried to be nice about this and indicated that I would certainly consider them for future purchases, but I could not do so this time. I tried to explain that this is not like purchasing a burger at mcdonald's. It is a big purchase. I had spent approximately 3 months doing research before even visiting a showroom to educate myself. Overall, I had about seven months invested in the "hunt" for sound that I liked. One has to do due diligence. To me that is not unethical. Rather, it is common sense. I tried to convey to the system consultant that if the price is not reasonable, I am certainly under no obligation to purchase from the store at which I actually did the sound performance. Indeed, even if the price WERE REASONABLE, while I would be hard pressed not to make a purchase, no obligation (morally, legally, or ethically) would exist. But, I am not arguing or justifying in any way the later point, because had the price been reasonable in comparison with other dealers, I would have purchased from the House of Music (no if's or but's about it).

Notably, the store doesn't say right up front and the system consultant certainly did not say right of the gate "we don't haggle on price" so if you are not prepared to pay MSRP go away. Of course, I imagine this wouldn't be good for business.

I talked to some friends and they confirmed my belief that the store was behaving unreasonably and quite outrageously. It really did offend me to be called "unethical" when nothing could be further from the truth.

I decided today to call the store manager and relay what I considered to be a very disappointing conversation with the system representative. I frankly thought that an apology from the system representative or store manager would have been appropriate. Apologies can go a long way with me and I would have certainly considered them for a purchase in the future.

I asked to speak with the store manager but was instead connected with another system consultant. Apparently, the store manager couldn't be bothered to speak with me. Is this another indication of "great customer service?"

I told the system consultant what had happened and that I was disappointed in the behavior his fellow system consultant. Remarkably, this system consultant engaged in similar discourse to the first system consultant and essentially told me that since I was not a current customer of the store and did not intend to make a purchase of the speakers from them, there was no point having any discussion. He implicitly agreed with his associate that there is something "wrong" with listening to speakers at a showroom and then purchasing somewhere else -- even if the showroom furnishes a price which is entirely uncompetitive.

This system consultant (along with his associate) missed the point. Just because I didn't make a purchase of speakers from them, why on earth would they alienate a potential customer? If customer service is so important to them to justify a no-discount policy, wouldn't the smart thing to do be to say something like... you got a good discount, but if you have problems, don't expect any help from them..etc...wish me the best of luck and secretly hope that i ultimately do need some good customer service with regard to these speakers? At that point I would conceivably head to the house of music and pay so I could get "good service." To me this would have been a normal response. Instead, I got a harsh response which was entirely unnecessary and unjustified.

However, the promise of "good service" at this store I think is an empty one. I would never make a purchase at this store now in light of their overall unsatisfactory response and failure to recognize that their behavior was not only rude but also entirely inappropriate and unprofessional. Indeed, if this is how they treat prospective customers with thousands of dollars to spend on audio components, how on earth do they treat you once they have your money and you have a problem?

Anyway, what do you think?

ohfourohnine
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Re: Horrible Experience At An Audio Store

I think you've done a great service to other potential customers of the House of Music. Congratulations.

Monty
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Re: Horrible Experience At An Audio Store

Your experience is not uncommon in the hi-fi business. I am not surprised when I hear stories such as yours. I don't think dealers have come to terms with the nature of retailing in the current climate.

In defense of the dealers, I wouldn't be too happy running a business and incurring the expenses of providing a service that served as a manufacturer's demo room so that potential consumers could make informed buying decisions from discounters. At some point, money would need to come my direction for what I was providing.

Still, dealers have to be realistic about the nature of their business and offer a reason for consumers to have a perception of value in doing business with them as opposed to someone else.

Salesmanship is becoming a lost art due to discounting and warehouse merchandising. Some manufacturers will protect their retailers with protected territories and the like while others pretty much encourage a free-for-all with multiple dealers in the same market, internet sales and things like that.

People that are motivated entirely by price really should be honest with themselves and not take advantage of the dealers to audition gear and then search for a discounter to serve as a peddler. These are the guys that the dealers had just as soon not have in their stores.

At the same time, dealers need to understand that relationship building is the first thing they need to sell or they might as well start making plans for what they want to do after they get out of the hi-fi business.

The bottom line is that it is a two-way street and we are rapidly devaluing business/customer relationships in favor of a culture that has been trained to focus strictly on price.

As a general rule, if you have major problems paying retail for gear, you probably shouldn't frequent 'retailers.'

CECE
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Re: Horrible Experience At An Audio Store

good story, that place sounds like a bunch of retards. So if you try out a car and the dealer has a bad price, do you need to pay for the test ride? thanks for online shopping, it will eliminate retard retailers. That place thinks they are doing someone a favor? They don't deserve your money, the fact that they are called" system consultant" is also pretty uppity nonsense, if he was selling $300 HTIB at Best Buys, hi stitle would be ....hey, ya got one of these in stock? Expensie audio deserves teh reputation it gots, too many of these types, thinking they are important. Besides ya needs some LEGACYS www.legacyaudio.com, since you are in that price category...More speaker less money, better reps. No system consultants...just guys who sell stuff.

Logan
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Re: Horrible Experience At An Audio Store

By and large we don't haggle in New Zealand - something to do with being a former British colony I guess. So it's usually sticker prices all the way, except in our version of high-end stores where there often aren't any stickers. Apparently it's bad taste to even mention money.

I live in a modest little house, drive a 12-year-old Honda Accord, and have a good but not outrageously expensive and/or exotic stereo system. I could afford much more ostentation, but I choose not to. I upgrade infrequently, and only audition when I've done my research through the magazines and on the web. I never listen to anything for more than 5 minutes in an audio store - if something sounds promising I request a home audition, in my room and with my components.

Sometimes I amuse myself by turning up at a high-end store after a morning spent gardening, or in the workshop, or painting my ceilings. Once when I showed some interest in a pair of $5000 speakers I was told that the store listening room was fully booked for the day (it was empty for the entire hour I was in the store) and that they didn't permit home appraisal, even if I was willing to leave the full price as a cash or credit card deposit. On another I was simply told by a salesman in no uncertain terms that I would probably find what I was looking for in the equivalent of the local Walmart. Not that he bothered to ask what I was looking for. As he shuffled me out the door he effusively welcomed a family who had come to look at a giant TV screen surrounded by minute plastic speakers and featuring Bruce Willis noisily blowing up the world.

Fortunately not all of our dealers operate the snob factor otherwise I'd never own anything, and I've learned to do business with those who will accept me in my gardening gear or anything else I choose to wear. It would be nice to report that the snobs grovelled suitably when I wrote mild letters of complaint under my professional letterhead, but in fact neither even deigned to reply.

One of these days when I'm at a loose end I'll wander into the snob-appeal stores wearing a suit and tie, get an hour of demonstration of something, and then walk out after announcing that I can buy the item off the web at a price 40% lower - which is usually the case here. I believe that this practice is quite unethical under normal circumstances, but it may be justified in these special cases.

Jim Tavegia
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Re: Horrible Experience At An Audio Store

I don't see how you really had a horrible experience. You used someone's intellectual property for free. Once you wasted their time you shopped to get the best price. You won.

You didn't stop there. You called them back after getting a great price to see...what...If you are telling me that you would have paid them $500 more there for the same package of speakers you bought, but didn't, and when they asked for an $80 consulting fee you were insulted? Really?

The only stupid thing was the original dealer wanting $80. If all his intellectual property is worth is $80 that is his CHOICE to make. I would have just bid you good day. If KEF did not clean up their dealer net work I would find another speaker line to replace KEF. It would not be that hard to do.

If I was the KEF rep the other dealers would be found out and gone. If KEF's policy is to sell on the internet or by phone and make a "commodity" out of their products that would be their choice. I do not believe that is their marketing policy. I could be wrong.

If KEF is fine with this "phone in and get the lowest price" program then what they are saying is their speakers are worth at least 25% less than the MSRP.

It is amazing that people think that profit is only fine in their own personal line of work. Do not tell me that you would feel fine if the shoe was on the other foot. That is a bunch of crap. You did not intend to buy the speakers from them. Your intent was to demo them and find the best price.

Wasting people's time and stealing their intellectual property is just that...stealing. I have no problem with people who download music illegally getting caught either. Why we have this notion that buying audio is some sacred ground for the buyer, and the seller be damned.

And you wonder why there is less and less brick and motar stores carrying very good audio anymore. With everything being treated like "just another car deal" these days no wonder people are into MP3s. You probably stopped at Starbucks and treated yourself to a great 50 cent $5 cup of coffee to ease your stress.

gkc
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Re: Horrible Experience At An Audio Store

Jim, you took the words out of my mouth -- er, off my fingers. I was going to respond to this, until I saw your post. This guy had a GREAT experience! He should pay a couple hundred to House of Music for a week's entertainment! If there were a MAD Magazine version of Stereophile, this would be the feature story. Nobody EVER posts "complaints" (snicker) like this after visiting a McIntosh dealer. Go in THERE and ask for an "obligitory" 10% discount! After the salesman or manager picks himself up off the floor (from falling-down hysterical guffawing) and wipes the tears of laughter from his face, he'll say, "Here, have a free cup of coffee, look through our brochures, twirl a few knobs, and call me when you're ready to buy. If you don't like our prices, there's a Sony dealer down the street." Hell, McIntosh won't even sell out of state, at FULL RETAIL, to help you avoid paying sales tax. I know -- I've tried: "Hmmm, Los Angeles, you say? Just a minute and I'll give you a list of our LA area dealers." Let's all play a sad tune in honor of this poor, harrassed shopper. Keep 'em coming! It's been a slow day in the markets and I need the amusement. Cheers, Clifton

Buddha
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Re: Horrible Experience At An Audio Store

Well, jeez, I'm torn.

Gear I've purchased new has most often been via a brick and mortar dealer, but they all tossed out some small "discount" or incentive to close the deal.

Aside number one: Back in the day, I had wonderful shopping experiences in the Bay Area, especially at what used to be Stereo Plus (what is it now, San Francisco Stereo or something?)

Anyway, I can see a customer trying a little haggling. Nothing wrong with it, it seems like it has been part of hi-fi for a long time. Every store I've ever known has done it to some extent.

Aside number two: I never expected it on vinyl related items, because set-up and access to the staff was always part of the sale, which was immensely valuable. Vinyl is labor intensive for a good dealer and they deserve to be rewarded for it.

When I've had a good idea of what I wanted and gone in to do a quick auditon, the saleman has usually smelled someone who'd quickly close and spontaneously offered a small discount - typically 10%, once 12.5%.

It mostly acted as a lubricant to get me to buy on the spot, and it worked.

If Sh4078 brought this up on a 12,000 dollar set-up he walked in and heard, he's not asking for a whole lot of value added service, why not 10% off?

Assuming the usual mark ups, going the extra yard to buy extra speakers from the same dealer seems worth a little off the top. It's not like people usually waste a saleman's time wanting to audition surround speakers from different manufactures. At 10%, the store would have still made a tidy profit and had a returning customer who has proven he is able to part with cash. Maybe 10 grand-plus isn't that significant any more, but it seems so to me.

So, where am I torn?

Well, the dealer could have offered value without the discount: something like a trade-up allowance could have been great inducement to buy at full price, with the promise of full credit within a year for an upgrade.

Perhaps, in light of a quick sale, a discount could have been offered for any further gear purchased in the next year - the dealer's incremental cost per sale goes way down with a happy returning customer. Pay full price now, but anything else you buy here in the next 12 months is 25% off would be pretty fantastic.

Free home delivery and set-up is a great value, too. Making sure everything is just right right out of the box has tremendous value.

Same with having a pick-up service for problems!

So, I see the dealer's point of view.

On the other hand, it doesn't sound like they exactly demonstrated why full retail is the best way to go when they tried to close the deal, so I can see why the lack of discount could have been off putting.

If a salesman had established the store's value, and then said, 11-K out the door, delivered, with trade up privileges and service with loaner speakers while their product was being repaired for any warantee problem, I would have shopped happily at that store and gone back for more.

The post reads like they were stand offish and not all that interested in customer education about their value.

Sorry for the rambling reply...I just don't feel like I have the whole story, so to speak.

"Consideration" is more than just the bottom line on one purchase. If you pay full price, you should have been shown why that's the best way to go.

gkc
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Re: Horrible Experience At An Audio Store

I dunno, Buddha. It reads to me like the guy went into the store, found some speakers he liked, and asked for a discount -- in other words, put in a bid. They said, "no." His bid wasn't hit (I do this all the time, trading the schlock market and the comedy market -- my bids don't get hit 90% of the time!). So he shopped around and somebody else hit his bid. So he went back to the first store and said, "here's your last shot." They still said no. So he bought at a discount somewhere else. Then he said, "nya nya na naa naa, guess I showed YOU" to the first store. The salesman got pissed and said, "you owe me 80 small ones for using my brain." Half of it? So now he's a halfwit, right? Which, for some reason huffed the guy. So he wrote this forum an account of the sad story, titled "Horrible Experience." Eek. Gasp. For WHAT? He got what he wanted, at his price, as Jim noted. He wants to bad mouth the store?? My comment is, you make your offer, then leave if there are no takers. I guess my problem is literary (God, oh, no...there I go again). How is this a "Horrible Experience"? Has something been left out? Did the manager moon him? Did they lock all the doors and play The Village Idiots singing "YMCA" at 105 db? Where's the insult, the horror? Buddha, you're not one of these bleeding heart liberals, are you? If you are, I'm gonna get you at HE '06, stuff 3 quarts o' single malt down your pipes, and show you The Way, The Truth, The Light. THEN you'll understand free market capitalism!!! Cheers and happy tunes! No more horrible experiences! Please! Lemme outta here...it's Friday, almost happy hour, and I'm still sober! Gasp! Now, THERE's a horrible experience!! Clifton

Buddha
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Re: Horrible Experience At An Audio Store

"THEN you'll understand free market capitalism!!!"

Isn't that what he did, but you disapprove?

He exercised his free market rights, much to your displeasure.

Is McIntosh's forbidding of stores to discount an example of free market capitalism? A dealer who has paid for an item can't price it as he sees fit?

That comment lost me.

__________________________

Politics, eh?

I'm a Goldwater Republican, which makes me a left wing liberal in these trying times! So, color me blue and red! I'd say purple, but that color has been stolen, connotationally.

Conservative used to apply to political philosophy, not any certain religious doctrine. Same with Liberal, it used to apply to a vision of the role of government, not "anything goes."

What have they all done?

Besides, I trust no one who is conservative on every possible issue or liberal on every possible issue - shows the ability to memorize dogma but not the ability to think independently.

ohfourohnine
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Re: Horrible Experience At An Audio Store

I too think we are doing ourselves a disservice when we choose a small price reduction rather than support GOOD brick and mortar stores. Too many of them have gone by the wayside in my area. The "consultant fee", in my opinion, takes this outfit out of the catetory of GOOD. Hearing his account, if I were in the bay area, I'd avoid that store like the plague.

With all due respect, Jim (and in my opinion you are deserving of a good amount) please stop abusing the term "intellectual property" so flagrantly. As one who spent thirty years with a major publisher, I knew what that term meant before the DRM issue made it the buzzword du jour. You've pushed it beyond any reasonable limit here and you don't need to do that to make your points.

sh4078
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Re: Horrible Experience At An Audio Store

I disagree with any suggestion that somehow I raided the store's intellectual property in declining to make a purchase through them. Taking speakers for a test drive is what kef and any other manufacturer/dealer wants a consumer/prospective customer to do. We do live in the global marketplace where consumers have plenty of options. Taking the test drive and assessing whether the speaker is even suitable seems -- to me anyway -- to be the first step in any equipment transaction.

The consultant's job generally is really about trying to sell the speaker or some other product he carries. Information he conveys would be associated with the following: 1) establishing a relationship with a potential consumer (to ultimately close the deal); 2) market some of the products that he/she is offering for sale (to ultimately close the deal); and 3)convey a feeling a trustworthiness (to ultimately close the deal). Other examples certainly exist.

The intellectual property that I would have gained is tantamount to going to macy's and trying on a suit. 40R didn't fit. So, when I go to sak's, maybe instead of the 40R, I'll try the 41S. Worse yet. Maybe the macy's salesman told me lime green suit looks terrible on me, so I go to sak's and buy a blue one. Wow! I guess I got some value from my experience at macy's. But, am I really obligated to make a purchase at macy's because some information (however marginal) was conveyed? I think not. Likeiwse, simply listening to music in the showroom (and having some banter with a consultant) -- to me that is far from intellectual property that could ever be subject to theft.

Really, the saleman is putting the information (whatever its value) out there as a (for want of a better term) a lure to bring in business. Comfort level is key. It is a risk he/she takes in an effort to close a deal and convince the consumer, among other things, that a purchase through that particular store makes sense.

Again, I did not go in with the intent of necessarily shopping around. Had the so-called "obligatory" or "customary" discount been conveyed, I may very well have accepted such an offer and placed the order without shopping around. Comfort level is key, and the lack of a discount impacted my overall comfort level.

Accordingly, I exercised my option of doing some due diligence prior to making a purchase. To me this is reasonable. Again, if the store was selling in addition to the speakers -- customer support which was worth the approximately $3,000 differential, I was not made privy to such information. Moreover, if kef has some sort of policy against discounting, it is certainly not my fault or responsibility to police their dealers. This is really inside baseball so to speak and does involve consumers.

I had every expectation in the world that the store would come back and offer some sort of accommodation on a large purchase. They did not. That is perfectly fine. However, what I particularly objected to was the suggestion that somehow I owed a "consultation fee" and the overall chutzpah of the system consultant when he (or the store) by choice decided not to to offer any accommodation and then got riled up when I took my business elsewhere. The fact that they did not offer such an accommodation is not objectionable. It was their reaction to me after I decided not to purchase through them after finding a better deal. If you are not going to even attempt to compete on price don't get all riled up when somebody makes a decision based on price.

Jim Tavegia
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Re: Horrible Experience At An Audio Store

Maybe.

I have my first novel at a publishing house under review as I write this. It's 300+ pages of fiction. Anyone who would choose to take "MY" work for free for their own enjoyment would $%^&^*& me off. It may not go anywhere. That is the breaks of the publishing game. Publishing and the music business may be the two toughest professions on the planet in which to make a living. I am a pretty decent story teller, but that does not make me a great novelist. I had some houses tell me they liked it, but what was really selling and they wanted was "self-help" books.

I had two other houses ask me to take THE DREAMERS and "spice it up a bit" and throw in some gratuitous sex scenes and send it back. It has sat in my closet for nearly 20 years. That is not who I am.

If you want to take advantage of my thought(s) for your own benefit and think there is no "value", or in your opinion, not enough to warrant compensation, then don't ask for my help or my opinion. This is especially true if you come in my audio store looking to use my "expertise" (I use the term rather loosely), or my store's facilities or inventory so you can make a conscious choice to satisfy your curiosity before buying.

The 30 crummy songs I have written are copyrighted and my first novel is in process. I am half way through a second that will also be copyrighted. This Napster mentality of taking because I can and you can't stop me is pathetic.

I wrote the songs not because I am talented, but I myself would complain about what I thought was awful music being recorded and sold. I thought, O.K., smart guy go write some of your own music and see how easy it is to write a great song. I now understand how difficult it is.

I am also doing some amateur recording of local talent to get the same feel of how hard it is to make and master a great sounding recording. Rather than just complain about some recordings I buy I wanted to find how just how hard it is to "capture it all". You do not need to have the equivalent of JA's recording rig to try and gain an understanding of what it takes.

What I find interesting in my 30+ years of selling from intangibles, to industrial, to commercial, and consumer products is how the "customer" attitude and mindset changes. Once people start spending their own money they treat sellers with such disdain it is unbelievable. It is a dynamic I have never seen in any other sales experience in my life.

I have seen people go in a lay down over $30 to $80 grand on a piano for a church and do it with great dignity. I have seen some consumers do the same for 7 foot pianos for themselves and not make the process an awful event. I have then seen parents complain about the price of a $3K upright for their children who know absolutely nothing about piano construction or quality...it is just about working for a discount...whether the instrument is right for their child or not. I asked my friend how he could stand to do this. He just shrugged his shoulders, like it was just the way things were.

It is no wonder why brick and mortar audio stores are a dying breed. Few respect the audio salesperson. After all, if he was that smart he would be doing something else (selling audio is not a real job...is it?).

Maybe I get it as I have created some intellectual property and feel protective of it. It is like having someone tell you your children are really ugly. That is what literary rejection feels like, but you have to understand going in that the chances of being published are near zero.

JK Rowling's first Harry Potter sat at some agent's office in a pile of other unsolicited manuscripts. He just happened to pick it up.

I am not saying my work is even close to that quality or marketability. That Potter manuscript could still be sitting there, or like the master audio tapes that were being thrown in the dumpster.

There is probably another "Gone With the Wind" out there, never to be discovered. The intellectual property is there, the labor spent, never to be appreciated. If my being protective of "intellectual property" riles some people, that is just fine. I can get just as riled about my time and effort not being appreciated.

Don't count me in when we think we are not being teated fairly when we make a $12K audio purchase. I am not about to make buying decisions all an EBay experience. I want and need more friends. When I go into an audio store I do not want sales people to run and hide and say, "Here come the tire kicker...again".

It may be why people hate sales people. The good ones have left the building and it is now just about "moving boxes" at BigBox Mart. We have lost much of our civility and the I just became 500 point type.

gkc
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Yo, Buddha -- "Much to my displeasure"??? Please read my response again. A buyer and seller get together on price and/or service. Or they don't. They didn't. Period. My "displeasure" is in the STORY: where's the HORROR?? I STILL don't see any horror. A bad reality is always debatable. A bad STORY is unforgiveable. As for McIntosh dealers, I have yet to meet one unhappy with the arrangement. That's the deal. It's all up front. You want to sell McIntosh? Here's the deal: no discounts. You don't like the deal? Nice meeting you.

No harm in asking for a discount. That's your bid. No harm in refusing to sell. That's your ask. Buyers and sellers don't always come together. That's life in a free market. Where's the horror?

Goldwater? He wanted to just nuke 'em. Sigh. Hindsight is 20/20.

Just kidding. Damn, you must be still sober. Lost your sense of humor, eh? Sorry I called you a liberal. I thought you'd ignore the politics and just lay claim to the 3 quarts of single malt. Cheers anyway, Clifton

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Re: Horrible Experience At An Audio Store

sh4078,
Yo. The salesperson doesn't care about the 80 bucks. He's just pissed because he lost the sale, and this is the only way he can pull your chain after you've gone out the door. He would TAKE the 80 bucks if you were dumb enough to offer it, but you're not, so that's moot. Question. Why did you REALLY go back and tell the salesman you had a better offer? Why didn't you just buy the KEF's at the discount price when you got the offer and be done with it? C'mon. You wanted to rub his nose in it a little, didn't you? It's OK. We all feel that way when our offers are refused. Or did you want the store salesman to knock ANOTHER couple hundred off? So he wouldn't. So what's the problem? You got your speakers at a decent discount, you won't have to pay the 80 bucks (there's obviously no legal claim here), and you got the opportunity to bad mouth the retailer in front of an audience...and you initiated a lively argument on the forum! Where's the horror?? Sounds like a good week to me.
Cheers and happy tunes. Clifton

ohfourohnine
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At the risk of seeming insensitive to the passion of your arguments, Jim, I felt you might be amused to know that my former company actually did reject "Gone With the Wind". Can't win 'em all.

Jim Tavegia
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It does't require protection under any statute. It is his "work" as he has chosen it for his profession, that you choose to demean as not being worth "anything". He is required to deal with "tire kickers" who come into the store with a hidden adgenda knowing it is ultimately going to be just about the price in the end.

It is strickly treating someone as YOU would want to be treated. And, it is why good people are leaving this brick and mortar audio industry as all too many think their time is not worth anything.

Yet there will be those who will say, "But they chose to do this for a living and if they can't close the deal that is their fault". The reality was there was not a real deal to be made as this was just a test drive.

You are correct as their is no illegal activity going on here. The buyer can rest with a clear conscience. He doesn't owe anybody anything. I do believe in life that what goes around comes around. The fact that he came here to whine about it is what is pathetic.

I am tired of beating this dead horse. I am not about to help someone justify mistreatment of others. But, if you are one of those who think that "business is just business" then you will be just fine with what happened. We will just have to choose to think and treat people differently. This is a character issue to me.

I am not posting on this anymore topic anymore. The horse is dead.

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We need some new smiley's around here, like this one (see attachment)

RG

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Quote:
We need some new smiley's around here, like this one (see attachment)

RG

Egg-salent!

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Re: Horrible Experience At An Audio Store

rgibran,
I agree with WP -- this IS fine. Your talents are truly unrecognized and unrequited. Now, if the chainsaw were actually to hit the nag, THAT would be a horrible experience. Cheers, Clifton.

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Anonymous -- You want evidence? Call a dozen or so McIntosh dealers and ask for quotes. Don't rush this case to court...you'd lose. The judge would tell you to vote with your feet and buy another brand. Before he passed out from laughing (he might even be a McIntosh owner...). Cheers, Clifton.

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Hi Clifton, Goldwater was right. His solution is something we could think about for Iraq, and maybe the whole middle east. Of course we could also hit Afghanistan and Iran by accident. Oops!, we thought our missiles were more accurate. Just use neutron bombs to preserve the infrastructure.
By the way, Israel is in the middle east. I am an equal opportunity genocidal maniac!
Maybe we should hit Ireland also. Those Catholics and Protestants can't seem to act rationally either.

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On a serious note. Several years ago I walked into a local "very high end store". I had several thousand dollars in cash in my pocket. My buddie and I were dressed in jeans sandals and raggedy tee shirts. We were soundly ignored for half an hour. I finally approached a salesman and was told they were very busy, although the sales staff seemed to be busy only with their coffee and conversation.
We left, went to the parking lot fired up my Porsche and drove past the door so we could be seen. I spent several thousand elswhere.

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House of Music, in their ad in the San Francisco Yellow Pages, claims to be "America's #1 McIntosh Dealer." They list Bose, McIntosh, Marantz, Fujitsu, Sharp, Sunfire, and Adcom as the major brands they carry. The ad also proclaims, "Home Theater You Deserve," and "Ask About Our Free In-Home Consultation."

The ad says nothing about charging for free consultations should someone decide to take their business elsewhere.

According to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), "Intellectual property refers to creations of the mind: inventions, literary and artistic works, and symbols, names, images, and designs used in commerce.

"Intellectual property is divided into two categories: Industrial property, which includes inventions (patents), trademarks, industrial designs, and geographic indications of source; and Copyright, which includes literary and artistic works such as novels, poems and plays, films, musical works, artistic works such as drawings, paintings, photographs and sculptures, and architectural designs. Rights related to copyright include those of performing artists in their performances, producers of phonograms in their recordings, and those of broadcasters in their radio and television programs."

I think a salesperson would be hard pressed to make a case for "intellectual property" as regards information dispersed in hopes of bagging a sale.

I once entered this store's old location many years ago, before I began writing for the audiophile press. When I asked a salesperson what cable lines they carried, and about differences between interconnects, I was laughed at and told that the store did not believe in that audiophile nonsense that you read about in Stereophile.

jason victor serinus

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Yo, Victor -- yeah, it sounds like a retail operation managed by idiots...although I've never been there to see for myself. As Joe notes, though, you just vote with your feet and buy someplace else, hopefully getting a chance to flip 'em off on the way out. The claim to system-setup-knowledge as "intellectual property" is pretty silly, as I noted in an earlier post (even though I have no knowledge of the law as it is formally written -- your post is interesting in that regard). I once advised a friend on where to try placing his speakers -- I guess I should have billed him. Apparently, McIntosh has only one firm requirement for dealership (aside from having enough money/credit for a minimal inventory): sell at MSRP. Still, I have been to some McIntosh dealers who are friendly, knowledgeable, and non-judgmental about their customers' appearances or preferences. You meet all kinds in any retail business. Cheers, Clifton.

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Hi, Joe -- this reminds me of a few years back when I was driving down Wilshire and noticed an auto showroom filled with various Maserati and Ferrari models. I stopped, parked, and went in to kick some tires. I was in very casual attire, and expected the worst when approached by an ascot-wearing, VERY snooty looking salesman. To my surprise, he was very courteous and even offered a test drive, but on a few days' notice. A young kid, about 18 I'd guess, zit-faced, barefoot, and wearing a T-shirt that was more holes than cloth, walked in. He looked around and hollered, "Hey! I need some &*%^@$ help over here!" The salesman approached him and offered him a cup of coffee and a seat at his desk in the corner. The kid strolled over and tossed a wad of greenbacks on the desk that nearly buckled it on impact. "You got a Mistral in white?" he said. You never know, eh? Especially in Hollywood. I'll tell you, that salesman knew. Cheers, Clifton.

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As the legend goes, Clifton, that's how Gracie Slick bought her Aston Martin. Dressed in jeans and groomed about as you would guess the interest she showed interest in the "James Bond Car" which was answered by the salesman rudely telling her the price. Her response, "I'll take it." was accompanied by her dropping a wad of currency sufficient to cover the cost on the hood of the showroom model.

Some elements of California lunacy have had real charm. Last I heard, Gracie lives quietly in hills and has beautiful flower gardens which were featured in an HG television spot.

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Re: Horrible Experience At An Audio Store


Quote:
I once entered this store's old location many years ago, before I began writing for the audiophile press. When I asked a salesperson what cable lines they carried, and about differences between interconnects, I was laughed at and told that the store did not believe in that audiophile nonsense that you read about in Stereophile.

Almost without exception, this is the attitude of dealers towards the audio press. However, the dealers will waste no time in handing you a fist full of papers touting their product by Stereophile or other magazines.

Dealers have a love/hate relationship with the audio press. In some ways it is understandable. On the one hand, the dealer might be considerably more familiar with the particular product and just love it. On the other hand, the dealer likely doesn't have as wide a range of experience with comparable products available to form an opinion as to how it compares to others. This is where the reviewer's experience would likely allow for a more informed and unbiased evaluation.

I don't know about other people, but trashing Stereophile or reviewers (or competetors for that matter) isn't going to get a dealer anywhere closer to my wallet and is an impression that I will carry with me when I choose who to do business with.

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Hi, Cheapskate -- I didn't hear about Gracie, but I saw this little drama unfold before my eyes. After the order was placed and a deposit made, I drooled around awhile and talked to the salesman. He said the experience was quite common in good ol' casual LA -- rich people just don't dress up that often around here, and in a place where movies and drugs create instant billionaires, no retailer with half a brain can afford to judge anyone on appearances. I just couldn't understand why the kid wanted a Maserati, when there was a nipple-red Ferrari 264 GTB he could have driven off the showroom floor. No accounting for taste, I suppose. Here's to the American Dream, and I just bought another $20 worth of Lotto tickets -- the Mega is up to about 200 million, and the Super is a mere 50 million. I guess I'd really cry if I won the smaller one. I hope my gold and silver miners keep goin' vertical, along with a couple of futures contracts...I gotta make enough to keep me in lottery tickets!!! Local audio dealers beware -- if I win, I'm gonna walk in some lucky fool's place buck nekked, toss a half-mil on one of the amp stands, and say, "whatchoo got that sounds good?" Dream on. Cheers, Clifton.

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I gotta make enough to keep me in lottery tickets!!! Local audio dealers beware -- if I win, I'm gonna walk in some lucky fool's place buck nekked, toss a half-mil on one of the amp stands, and say, "whatchoo got that sounds good?" Dream on.

LMAO My lucky lottery tickets probably right next to that Golden Ticket in the Willy Wonka Bar that melted in my backpack on the way home from Band Camp. Jr Barns is probably knee deep in Tube Amps and DACs since he grabbed that pack.

Been checkin' my numbers twice a week for years and I haven't even won a free ticket yet.

Don L

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Re: Horrible Experience At An Audio Store

Hey, Don,
Yeah. If I ever win the damned thing, the ticket'll be beer-soaked-buried under 20 pounds of used cigar butts, at the bottom o' the trash compactor. It's playing the game that counts, as the tornado said to the coconut tree ("Hang on to your nuts...this ain't no ordinary blow job!"). Happy tunes. That may be all that's possible. Clifton.

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Hey, Don,
Yeah. If I ever win the damned thing, the ticket'll be beer-soaked-buried under 20 pounds of used cigar butts, at the bottom o' the trash compactor. It's playing the game that counts, as the tornado said to the coconut tree ("Hang on to your nuts...this ain't no ordinary blow job!"). Happy tunes. That may be all that's possible. Clifton.

I know what you mean.... but I think I woke up under some of those cigar butts a few times with a ticket stuck to my drunkin face and never realized it.... oh, the best of times :-)

Clifton, if I heard this type of greating at an audio store I'd probably feel like I fit right in and break out some Oingo Boingo and Yaz CDs.

Don

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Re: Horrible Experience At An Audio Store

Hi, Stefan. Yes, there are occasionally dealer specials on this side of the border, too. Often, it means McIntosh is about to introduce new models and wants to give their dealers a chance to clear out some stale inventory...sometimes they are called "demo" sales. Isn't it great when a salesman sets things up the way you ask, and then just leaves so you can listen. I, like you, have had the experience rarely, but when it happens I ALWAYS buy something -- there's always something in your system that needs replacing or upgrading, and I always support the good guys with my wallet. Cheers, Clifton.

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What the hell is a "lifestyle speaker"...? (There are a million lifestyles...and EVERY speaker suits some of them.)

That must be something like a "car that has round tires" or a "wallet that holds money"...very descriptive.

I give your little essay an "A" for obfuscation and an "F" for clarity and substance. You take two long paragraphs to say, in effect, "I shopped and did some research".

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Amen, Commsysman. As a former teacher, I would love to have a dollar for every time I threw up on some banal student essay with "lifestyle" plastered everywhere there might be ten seconds of thought required. Yes, we live in vapid times, and the information highway (hey! I can indulge my lifestyle with this crap, too!) is littered with road kill from careless minds. Cheers, Clifton.

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Wasting people's time and stealing their intellectual property is just that...stealing. I have no problem with people who download music illegally getting caught either. Why we have this notion that buying audio is some sacred ground for the buyer, and the seller be damned.

And you wonder why there is less and less brick and motar stores carrying very good audio anymore. With everything being treated like "just another car deal" these days no wonder people are into MP3s. You probably stopped at Starbucks and treated yourself to a great 50 cent $5 cup of coffee to ease your stress.

Excuse me, but which "intellectual property" are we talking about? Is it the "intellectual property" looking and listening to a demo unit? What type of intellectual property is that? Do we owe the dealers a sale as soon as we step over the threshhold of their stores? Furthermore, what "wasted time" are we talking about? The wasted time of a salesman trying to make a sale? That's what salespeople do whether they're called "consultants" or "salespeople". Sometimes they make a sale and sometimes they don't. That's the nature of the business. If they were really intent on making a sale at this particular time, with this particular customer, they would have shown flexibility and made a sale or at least TRIED to make a sale. Instead, they tried to scam him for $80 for doing nothing. Guess what, feel free to pay me $80 and I'll be perfectly happy to sit here and do nothing.

What type of nonsense is this to even try to justify this behavior? Seems to me that the House of Music people are nothing but greedy thieves. Yes, they are the thieves for trying to scam the $80 from the guy. The high end audio is a commodity just like any other. It gets auditioned, it gets bought and sold. You can try and color it with such adjectives as "boutique" and "customer service" and my favorite "pride of ownership", but the bottom line is that high end audio is the same electronics as consumer grade electronics taken to the Nth degree of refinement. Yes, they sound better. Yes, they sound a LOT better, but when all is said and done it's stuff like any other stuff.

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Re: Horrible Experience At An Audio Store

This whole thread has a feeling of unreality to it.
The idea that someone could be "unethical" because they try to negotiate a price on something and then take the best deal they can get is absolutely ludicrous. Trying to charge them for the salesman's time or whatever is even more ludicrous.
How can anyone take any of that seriously?
A salesperson in an audio store, car dealership, or wherever, invests his time and energy in trying to make a deal and sometimes that investment pays off and sometimes it does not; that is the way it works.
Having said that, however, I think that it is perhaps a mistake to make "the deal", meaning the best price, your absolute top priority, without thinking a bit more about who you are dealing with and why.
When I am shopping for equipment, the best price is certainly an issue, but those who "grind" the dealers to see who can come down to the very lowest price may be making a mistake. I also consider that the dealer has to make a fair profit to stay in business and maintain a good inventory of desirable equipment so I can audition it. I also want the dealer to stay in business so I can have service and sales far into the future. I also have to realize that in order to maintain several listening rooms and offer me a good range of equipment to audition, the dealer has to make enough to sustain that kind of overhead.
If the guy who allows me to take up his time and helps me to audition equipment he has in the showroom has a fairly decent price, I am probably going to deal with him. I know people who will go to a dealer, audition his equipment, and then end up buying from someone that has very little inventory (or none) because they can shave the price some more. To me, that is stupid. If you drive the legitimate dealers who provide the opportunity to audition out of business, how are you going to make informed decisions in the future about what you want to buy. Anyone can do business for less if they have less floor space and less inventory and just operate a buying service with no frills.
We need to ask ourselves if we want to get to the point where ALL dealers are just like the one who is offering the best price. Think about that.

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