AVS Forum Addicted Member
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Monument CO
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Anybody who has been in or around this business for any length of time knows how fickle customers can be. Decades ago, it was mail-order, watching the person you'd spent hours, days, weeks with buying from some mail-order place for often minimal savings. Frustrating does not begin to describe it. Online sales have now made the situation much worse, and overall economic issues and cost of doing business means there are fewer local dealers to patronize. A lot of high-end companies, then and now, simply refuse to support mail-order and online sales so they can maintain a dealer support network. I always support my local dealers if possible, exceptions being when there are none close to visit, or when poor service sends me elsewhere. For example, there are several Revel dealers in the area; one a small shop with outstanding support, one a local chain that managed to thoroughly annoy a friend of mine (who dropped $20k on a pair of B&Ws at a different store as a result) as well as me at different times (but has been helpful to others, maybe a salesman issue), and another one or two I have never visited.
It is a sad, and not at all new, commentary on how little value some people place on another's time, and most consumers do not understand the overhead costs involved in keeping a local shop going. The idea that just any local place can automatically match the low-overhead, large-volume but no-service online businesses is misguided at best and completely devalues the local guy who let you listen, offered advice to help set up and/or complete the system, and often includes extras like home set-up and support beyond the sale that email just doesn't provide.
There is the flip side; service and checkout has gotten so bad at my local Wal-Mart that I use Amazon as much as possible even if I pay a little more. And audio shops, to stay more relevant, often seem have to split into one of two models:
(1) Sell as much as possible, going for volume, and constantly pressure the consumer to "upgrade" and pay for "extras" to boost the bottom line. These places tend to offer little knowledge and tolerate little time for any sort of extended auditioning and comparisons (a few years ago, a friend was comparing a $10k pair of speakers to a $12k pair in two different rooms, and they flat refused to move either pair to the other room so we could compare them -- he bought elsewhere).
(2) Cater to the very high-end crowd, where volumes are low but margins higher. These are likely to judge you when you step in the door; jeans are not advised, and when discussing a couple of speakers in the $20k~$50k range they actually rather snootily (his words) asked a friend if they could run a credit check in the interest of helping him finance the speakers. He took offense and walked out; they probably figured he was just fishing. He had the cash in the bank and gave it to another dealer.
Finding a good old-fashioned dealer is hard these days, or at least it has been for me. I tried several before running across John and crew and have been happy since. There are some great online places as well, that offer advice and such without all the extra b.s., but if you want to hear, see, and touch there's nothing like a good local dealer. The small extra amount you may pay is often much less than the value of their expertise and time.
IME/IMO - Don
"After silence, that which best expresses the inexpressible, is music" - Aldous Huxley