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Subject: FAQ: rec.audio.* Retail 7/07 (part 9 of 13)
This article was archived around: 15 Jan 2009 06:01:56 GMT
16.1 Should I use an up-scale retail store?
This is probably the best place to listen to gear in a
controlled environment, next to your home. This is the best
place to find expensive, high quality gear. This is the place
which is most likely to have a good policy on home trials and
a liberal return/upgrade policy. This is also likely to be
the most expensive place to shop. One exception to this is
that these stores have the ability to sell demos, returns,
and discontinued gear at very advantageous prices.
Some up-scale dealers will negotiate price on large
systems or expensive purchases. It never hurts to ask.
There are definitely better and worse local hi-fi stores. If
you find a really good one, it is probably worth the extra money
to buy from them, rather than from discounters. A really good
store will not push you to buy what they want to sell. A really
good store will allow you to take your time with your decision.
A really good store will not distort the truth in describing
equipment. A really good store will help you get the most out
of your purchase by showing you how to set it up. They will
tell you what placement works best for the speakers. (Don't
believe them if they tell you to put them anywhere.) A really
good store also selects their lines carefully. They don't want
dissatisfied customers or warranty returns any more than you do.
A really good store will also have technical equipment and/or
skilled technical people that can perform tricky adjustments
correctly, such as cartridge and tonearm alignment.
Due to the nature of the customer, a hi-fi store in a shopping
mall is likely to use high-pressure sales techniques. They know
that the majority of their customers are distracted easily by
299 other stores. Most of their sales go to customers that
come in for 3 minutes, select something, and leave. There
are exceptions to this, of course, but if there was a good
generalization, it would be to look elsewhere. There are stores
in large buildings, small buildings, private homes, shopping
plazas, and every other conceivable venue. Search from among
these to find one that meets your needs and fits your style.
16.2 Should I use a discount store?
If you need to listen carefully before making up your mind,
discount stores can be very frustrating. If you know exactly
what you want, then this can be a great place to save money.
Don't expect knowledgeable sales help or after-sale support. Be
sure to ask about the warranty (see 19.1 below on warranties).
16.3 Is it right to negotiate price?
Most people feel that it is fair to negotiate. Some feel that
it is fair to lie in negotiating, as the sales people frequently
lie to you also. Others think that lying to get a lower price
is an immoral practice. It may even be illegal, an act of
Some people feel that if you negotiate over price, you encourage
stores to mark prices artificially high, so that the stores have
room to negotiate. Others feel that in negotiating, you are
asking the store to accept a lower profit, or asking the sales
person to take a lower commission and are directly hurting them.
16.4 How can I negotiate price effectively?
A great source of information on this topic is available from
books on buying a new or used car. However, some very helpful
general tips include:
Know the competition and the dealer.
Know the gear.
Know the prices available elsewhere.
Believe in your research, not their words.
Stand your ground.
Be nice to the people but hard on the deal.
Be prepared to walk away if they won't agree.
Expect their lines and prepare responses in advance.
For example, expect the dealer to claim that the
Nakamichi deck is the best cassette deck on the
market. Be ready with a reply such as at that
price, you can buy a DAT machine which has
better frequency response, lower signal to noise
16.5 It sounded great in the store. Is it great?
Never let anyone else pick stereo for you. Especially not
speakers. They all sound different, and you don't need a golden
ear to hear the differences. Listen for yourself and ignore
what the sales people say.
If you are still unsure, ask the sales people to let you take
the gear home for a home trial in exchange for a large deposit.
Home auditioning takes 99% of the risk out of store auditions.
16.6 Do sales people try to trick the customer?
Some do and some don't. Some will treat unpleasant customers
badly and treat friendly people well. Most sales people aren't
wealthy. They sell stereo to make a living. If they can sell
you a more expensive piece of equipment or a piece of equipment
with a higher profit, they will make more money. Usually, this
figures into everything they say. Some sales people claim to be
Some sales people really are open and honest. They may starve
with this approach, or they may have a nice enough personality,
a good enough product line, a good enough store behind them, or
enough technical background to overcome this "limitation".
16.7 How can sales people trick the customer?
Often, a customer will trick him or herself without help. We
are often swayed by appearance, sales literature, position of
the equipment in the show room, and our own desire to buy what
others will like.
Some times, the sales person will actively try to push a
particular piece of equipment by demonstrating it against
another piece of equipment which is inferior or defective.
Some sales people will demonstrate a set of speakers while
simultaneously driving a subwoofer, even though they are not
telling you this. With the subwoofer, it probably will sound
Some sales people will demonstrate one set of speakers louder
than others. Louder almost always sounds better.
Most stereo buyers go into the store, spend a few minutes
selecting what they want, lay down big bucks, and leave. They
don't need to be tricked. They don't listen carefully. They
trust the sales person's choice as best in their price range.
For non-technical reasons, these people are the most likely to
be satisfied with their purchase.
16.8 What should I ask the sales person?
What do you want to know? Seriously, the best questions are
those which the sales person can answer without distorting the
truth. Don't ask a sales person to compare their brand to a
brand they don't sell. Don't ask "how good is the ...". Ask
questions of fact.
Here are some questions you may want to ask:
If I don't like it can I return it for a full refund?
Can I try this out at my home in exchange for a deposit?
What does the warranty cover? For how long?
What do I need to know to set this up for best sound?
Do I get a manufacturer's warranty with this?
Where do I take this to get it repaired under warranty?
Where do I take this to get it repaired out of warranty?
16.9 How do I impress the sales person?
Why would you want to? You have money and he doesn't.
16.10 How do I get the best service from a sales person?
Be honest with the sales person. Set some reasonable request
and ask them to meet it. For example, say that you will buy
this if you can try it at home first and listen to it
side-by-side with a piece from another store. Alternately, say
that you saw the same thing at store Z for $xx less, but you
will buy it from the guy if he will match the price.
16.11 What is "street price" or "list price"?
Street price represents the price which you would pay if you
went to a store and bought the product. It isn't a sale price
or the published price, just the actual, common selling price.
Some manufacturers tell their dealers to sell right at list
price. Others provide a low enough wholesale price that the
selling price can be significantly below "list price". List
price is generally meaningless, so street price is a more
realistic comparison price.
The information contained here is collectively copyrighted by the
authors. The right to reproduce this is hereby given, provided it is
copied intact, with the text of sections 1 through 8, inclusive.
However, the authors explicitly prohibit selling this document, any
of its parts, or any document which contains parts of this document.
Bob Neidorff; Texas Instruments | Internet: firstname.lastname@example.org
50 Phillippe Cote St. | Voice : (US) 603-222-8541
Manchester, NH 03101 USA
Note: Texas Instruments has openings for Analog and Mixed
Signal Design Engineers in Manchester, New Hampshire. If
interested, please send resume in confidence to address above.