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Have you found sales clerks at high-end stereo stores to be rude?

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#21
He is a classic "old coot" who does not dress up and is not shy about saying what he thinks.
Try spending money when you don’t dress up and you’re a skinny, white boy with dreadlocks (at the time) and facial piercings! One dealer lost a >£15k sale because of this.

The first thing they did was ask me what I have, and pissed all over it. I thought that was kind of obnoxious. There's definitely a game of "are you good enough to look at this stuff".
The above mentioned dealer only asked me what gear I had after answering my first question of “how much does it cost?” with “it’s very expensive”. The look on his face when I told him was priceless.
 

restorer-john

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#22
When I recently replaced my speakers, I went to several dealers. The first thing they did was ask me what I have, and pissed all over it.
That was pretty much standard operating procedure in HiFi stores and incredibly short sighted. People were too polite to call it out, they just bought somewhere else and never went back. I know salesmen that employed that tactic.

He reversed the channels once, and another time connected a speaker out of phase.
Many times the old out-of-phase speaker was done on purpose. If the customer called it out, the salesman would thank the guy, pretend to look embarrassed and hurriedly fix it. The customer would feel extremely clever and the entire landscape of the sales interaction would change. Basically, it flipped the expertise from the salesman to the customer and empowered them.

I haven't been into a proper HiFi store for about 12 years. The nearest one is 30km away, only opens on appointment or at odd hours and when I last peered in the window on a Sunday, doesn't appear to offer anything of interest.
 

Blake Klondike

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#23
These stories contribute all the more to making me appreciate the good dealers I have worked with. It is true that you can always walk and spend your money elsewhere if you are dealing with a jerk-- just like with car dealers, etc.
 

ahofer

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#24
Thing is, dealers are going away. I don't mind buying electronics on-line, but speakers I want to hear. But imagine shipping back speakers? You can do it, but a lot of the ones I looked at weighed over 70 pounds. Wilson Sabrinas, KEF Reference 3, PSB Imagine T3, Legacy, etc....

Ironically I ended up with Harbeths, which are actually pretty light.
 

Blake Klondike

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#25
Thing is, dealers are going away. I don't mind buying electronics on-line, but speakers I want to hear. But imagine shipping back speakers? You can do it, but a lot of the ones I looked at weighed over 70 pounds. Wilson Sabrinas, KEF Reference 3, PSB Imagine T3, Legacy, etc....

Ironically I ended up with Harbeths, which are actually pretty light.
Which model Harbeths? They are far and away the best passives I have ever heard.
 

Daverz

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#27
I've always had positive experiences at Stereo Unlimited in San Diego, but maybe I have easy mark written all over me. There was a hi-fi shop further down on Sports Arena Blvd that I won't step foot in, but I don't know if it's still there.
 

LTig

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#29
I have always made it a point to thank sales clerks in stereo stores profusely for their time, for giving me the opportunity to audition equipment, and for their expertise. I acknowledge that I am not in a position to spend giant amounts of dough, and that their help means a lot. The response is always "Don't mention it-- that's what we are here for!" On several occasions when I have thanked them for letting me audition several pieces that I didn't end up buying, the response is always "Of course-- it generally takes people many, many visits and sometimes even years to find the right match for their ears and their room."
This is also the only way to grow customers. One of 10 young and long time lurking cheap buying customers may grow to an audiophile with lots of money to spend.
But at a couple of the high-end shops in my area (including one where I have spent $3000+ in the past two years) they have definitely started treating me very poorly-- like I am some street urchin walking into a Cartier jewelry store.

The end result is that I am angry and it makes me want to spend my money elsewhere. I may not have $20k to spend right now, but I am a potential life-long customer with a serious interest in the hobby. And I do have a budget of a couple thousand bucks to spend on the right equipment. It is a serious drag. [..] Anybody else have a perspective on this?
I did no have such bad experiences, most hifi shops were friendly even when I came several times and did not buy anything. Finally I bought an HD800 though. There were of course shops where the owner tried to convince me what sounds better and failed. Looking back he was probably right, but I was used to another sound back then.

I had a bad experience at a big Audi car dealer - both salesmen acted as if they did not want to sell anything at all. They smalltalked 15 minutes in their office letting me wait despite seeing me, and when I wanted a test drive they "had no car" although there were lots of them parked outside - when I asked these were "loan cars for customers with a problem". Of course I left and bought another brand. Just stupid. I mean - if a dealer acts so dearly during a sales act how will he treat me when I come with a problem???

The small dealer where I bought my car was very friendly and helpful. I even got the test car over night and drove some 300 km to test all kind of road conditions. When after 7 years the motor had a major problem the dealer fought hard with the producer to finally get a 50% rebate on the costs since the car was out of warranty, and gave another 20% rebate on his working costs to keep me happy, so it was a very good choice.
 

scott wurcer

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#30
This is exactly the state of mind the clerk wants you when stepping into the store. But you may have a big surprise about that :).

I used to have a lot of fun playing dumb in High End Audio stores around Yorkville (kinda 5th Ave. in Toronto). Imagine the clerk foaming after me leaving empty handed two hours later.
I find telling them I am a personal friend of John Curl changes their attitude. :) My funniest experience was falling out of bed in SF while at the ISSCC and taking a walk in sweats, unshaven, etc. and having a guy in a little goatee come out of an art gallery trying to get me to buy a $50,000 Toulouse-Lautrec original.
 

DonH56

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#31
Once upon a time a friend and I built a nice little preamp (LM381-based) and power amp (Sanken-based), together with some fancy volume and tone controls, into a Sound Design system we had trashed as unrepairable. (Sound Design was cheap trash that spec'd things like "1000 W peak dynamic instantaneous music power" from a 2n3904/2n3906 output stage.) I left the set screw loose on a knob or two so it would come off now and then. We'd take it to a store and get them to compare to their cheap stuff just to see the reaction when it blew away most of their stuff. Now, it seems like a childish trick and waste of some poor salesman's time, but back then it was college and we knew everything and had nothing better to do.

A few years later I got a much better understanding of the pain when you spent hours with somebody only to have them walk out and order it by mail (no Internet then let alone the WWW) to save 5 or 10%. I have ever since done my best to buy locally unless the prices (or salesfolk) are completely unreasonable. I have a much better understanding of the cost of doing business.
 
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Wombat

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#32
I remember from many years ago a very polite and earnest young department store sales guy doing a great job explaining the superiority of VHS over Betamax.

Problem is that he had his wires crossed and was attributing the Betamax characteristics to the VHS product. :rolleyes:
 

BillG

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#33
I'm too independent in personality to want to sold to, and high end audio stores are essentially trading in luxury goods, with all the associated snobbery that can accompany that. Being rather egalitarian in mindset... Yeah, I can't be bothered subjecting myself to that.

For electronics, I shop by measurements (with this forum and a few others I frequent being science oriented, I'm confident doing so) and online. For speakers, I shop by measurements, general consensus, and again, online. I've not been disappointed yet by doing so.

My next big purchase, which will probably be active studio monitors in five years, is going to be from the pro audio side of things, though. And, the mindset there is quite different - Walk in looking like a street urchin, and they don't care, as many successful musicians and recording engineers I've met dress like that all the time... :D
 

JJB70

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#34
I find really good salespeople adjust their sales pitch to the audience (such as avoiding the sillier BS if they clock a customer has some knowledge), are willing to look after customers they see as a good long term repeat cash cow and they make anyone feel comfortable. A sale should be a mutually beneficial exchange, the shop makes their profit, the customer gets something they like but sadly some salespeople do their best to make it difficult.
 

Dialectic

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#35
A few years later I got a much better understanding of the pain when you spent hours with somebody only to have them walk out and order it by mail (no Internet then let alone the WWW) to save 5 or 10%. I have ever since done my best to buy locally unless the prices (or salesfolk) are completely unreasonable. I have a much better understanding of the cost of doing business.
I formerly worked as a CE salesperson, and that behavior is infuriating. I spent hundreds of hours with purported customers who, after they had extracted every last morsel of information from me, played games about my "throwing in" another flatscreen HDTV for free or matching an impossibly low price from a disreputable online dealer or even eBay. (We would always try to match Amazon.) In all my time working as a salesperson, I never devised a good way to spot these "wankers," as I used to call them.

A related behavior that I often observe as a customer at the 5th Ave. Barnes & Noble is endless "browsing"--taking stacks of books and magazines to a part of the store with a bench or comfortable chair, reading for a few hours in air-conditioned bliss, and then leaving without buying anything. That Barnes & Noble is almost always crowded, but the checkout line is invariably short to nonexistent. James Daunt has a difficult task ahead of him.

Amazon seems to have eliminated shame about bad consumer behavior in a large portion of the general public.

All of that said, most high-end audio salespeople are haughty, uninformed idiots. I could not blame any customer for walking into the Stereo Exchange, enduring an hour of pain dealing with a salesperson who implies that the equipment is too sophisticated or expensive for the customer, listening to some speakers for 10 minutes, and then leaving to buy them online.
 
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watchnerd

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#36
My favorite stereo store recently is one where over half of the gear being sold is used.

You've got 20-somethings looking at 70s and 80s receivers priced for a few hundred bucks, and older guys looking at used McIntosh gear for a few thousands.

It's a nice vibe, and because of all the used gear, they even have a halfway decent repair shop.
 

BigVU's

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#37
There are HiFi shops out there still?

I tried to find one and thought I had. I was excited to get there and walk in and see action, selection and HiFI glory! Nope. They had one room, one speaker selection and nothing you would be able to pick up and take home.

They had to expand their business into automation and window shading as the HiFi business is being replaced with apple earbuds and soundbars. Felt a bit bad for them and suppose we should be rooting for them trying to still bring home audio to the local communities.
 

watchnerd

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#38
There are HiFi shops out there still?

I tried to find one and thought I had. I was excited to get there and walk in and see action, selection and HiFI glory! Nope. They had one room, one speaker selection and nothing you would be able to pick up and take home.

They had to expand their business into automation and window shading as the HiFi business is being replaced with apple earbuds and soundbars. Felt a bit bad for them and suppose we should be rooting for them trying to still bring home audio to the local communities.
Barely.

In my area (decent sized metro), there are only a handful:

1. A few automation / home theater, custom install type places
2. One traditional high end store
3. A few 'used gear' places

I once went into the high end store to try to get them to do TT alignment, but nobody knew how to do it anymore. They had one guy, semi-retired, who could do it, via appointment only, and wouldn't do home visits.
 

JJB70

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#39
I live in a town of about quarter of a million people and which serves as the principal shopping destination for a much larger area. We have one real AV shop selling hifi, a branch of a large national chain. The shop is small but well stocked, prices generally competitive, customer service good and the staff very helpful. They specialise in entry to mid level hifi, no high end, Cambridge Audio is their house brand.
What has really changed is that department stores and the large CE retailers no longer sell audio gear other than wireless speakers, soundbars and headphones. We have a huge branch of one of the UK's upscale department stores and their electrical department sells some seriously expensive TVs and premium wireless speakers like Naim Muso, Ruark Technics and Sonos as well as Bose, Samsung and Sony. Some of these things really are pretty expensive. They don't sell any conventional hifi, 20 years go they would have had quite a decent range of hifi components and systems. Ditto the local large CE dealer.
 

anmpr1

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#40
There are HiFi shops out there still?
When I lived in Central Florida, Orlando, as a kid there was at least a dozen hi-fi shops. Then they went away. One of the last to go was called Absolute Sounds. They sold McIntosh, and other brands that came and went. But Mac was the staple. Eventually they closed their doors.

I remember going in to buy some speakers. Nothing high-end or expensive. Paradigm bookshelf stuff. The owner sat with me for an hour and a half as we compared models. He just sat there listening. Didn't try and influence me. He told me that if I ever wanted to 'trade up' to McIntosh gear he'd personally deliver it to my house. Real nice guy. I mean, at the time I was a low rent buyer. But the owner took the time and didn't care about that. I'll always remember that.
 

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