Charging A Fee To Demo An Amplifier In A Brick & Mortar Store

I Saw a pair of pre-owned tube monoblocs for sale on an onlline forum for around $17k.
The seller has a retail store for hiigh end audio. The seller mentioned that there will be an up-front fee for the demo if a prospect comes to the store the amps are not purchased. The demo fee may also be used for credit towards any purchase in the store.

This is the first time I’ve ever heard of this. Is this now a common occurance in high end audio stores? I sent a note to the seller asking what the demo fee amount was....two weeks and I didn’t get a response.

Does anyone know what amount of fees are charged for a demo?
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Showing 14 responses by glupson

"Too many hobbyists like to pass time hearing products. They ruin it for businesses."

I thought that audio hobby is all about passing time hearing products. No hobbyists, no business.
"When we are selling DEMOS on products that retail at $60,000.00 USD for $16,995.00 then we have to charge a fee."

I am not in retail business, but I thought that when a a store is selling DEMOS, it is selling used items that rarely cost as much as the original retail. If $16 995 is really such a great deal, essentially loss for the seller, increasing a price to $40 000 and waiving auditioning fee may be the way to go. Even now, the line of tire kickers seems to be long. At least if we go by Audiogon clicks.

OP did a good job in advertising these amplifiers. Someone may get them. The question remains, though. How much will be OP’s fee for finally bringing the sale to an item not many were willing to buy?
Once upon a time, I entered a store and said I was interested in browsing what they had. I was not intending to listen to anything and made that clear. Salesperson said it would be $50 fee that could be applied to the purchase. I thanked him and left. I never stepped in again, but I did pass by many times and watched it close for good, as many stores have done since then.

Fast forward a few years and a few blocks away. I entered another store, made it clear that I was not in to buy anything, checked out first two rooms and had no pressure from the salesman at all. I went to one or two more rooms, ever increasing cost of the equipment shown, and was about to leave. Salesman told me I forgot to check the last room out and that I should as it was the best they had. Stack of dCS machines with other equipment to match performance and price and then some. I played some records and CDs, had a very relaxed chat with the salesman, and that was it. I bought a few things there over time. That store is still in business.
Imagine going to a car dealer for a look see and test drive and being told, "Nah, it’s gonna cost you to test drive this rust bucket."

Not exactly that, but something parallel to that happened to me. I wanted to test drive a Mitsubishi (roughly $30 000 or 40 000 car at that time, I do not remember anymore). Dealer asked for $5000 deposit before test drive he would be present at anyway. So I have never driven a Mitsubishi.

Speaking of judging the seriousness that the dealer from our amplifier story is talking about, I was very serious about buying that car on the spot. Now, the difference is that it was a new car and these are old amplifiers.
"Try running a store, be profitable and have people who request you to do 6 hours of work and then purchase product that is 1/10th the price used from ebay."

I doubt that anyone here is not aware of that. At the same time, people have their ideas. One of them is that some used amplifier is still used amplifier. From what I understand, it is a good one. Why not keep it and demo speakers with it? It is a $60 000 amplifier that you can keep for $16 995.

Good news, there is no such an amplifier on eBay for $6000, much less for $1695.50, at this moment.

You are certainly right, but that was the only car around I could fit in, had a trunk, and could hold the road as good as any (Evo, I think it was IX but may be wrong about it as it was a while back).

My current system is here:

Nice system, no doubt about it, but what launches it into different galaxy is your tuner. Hats off.
"... walk into a store and tell the owner that he would like to give the amps in storage a listen because he’s never heard them, and he might be interested, and then expect the owner to say sure, come back tomorrow because it’s going to take me a few hours to get them out and set them up?"

That is exactly my experience when looking for a bicycle. Except that the salespeople insisted on doing it and I was trying to dissuade them.
"Then the customer goes and buys online at a discounted price."

Is the dealer allowed to sell new Audio Research equipment online? I know that some brands have restrictions, but I am not sure about Audio Research.

For old and used equipment, I guess anything goes.


"glupson, You don’t think there’s a difference between getting a bike out from the back and setting up a system with a couple of 170 lb amps?"

I was just pointing out different approaches in enticing a potential buyer.

To answer your question, those bicycles I mentioned were driven from the warehouse, assembled, adjusted to perfection, and then I could take a ride and say "doesn't feel quite right". Setting up a bicycle right, even on a very casual amateur rider level, does require some work. To the extreme of having ten mechanics in a competition team.

I have no problem with this particular dealer charging whatever he thinks is right. Still, I remember one member here who at some point (in another thread) said "your first loss was your best loss". Waiting for the right customer to show up may be a losing game, but I really have no experience with running a store. That storage must cost something. I would really think of keeping those amplifiers as an eternal demo rather than losing money and time on tire kickers and giving it away for only $16995.
"This is at least a 8 hour job."

How long does it take for those amplifiers to be assembled in the factory?
"...there is NO PROFIT on this at all."

Raise the price. $40 000 and no whining.
"we sold 800 of them in 2 weeks."

You could still do it. Just not with $17 000 amplifiers. Maybe with iPhones. Amplifiers could be 2 in 80 weeks.
"800 of them in 2 weeks huh?"

That would be about one sold every 13 minutes for 12 hours a day for two weeks straight. A few minutes here or there. An achievement, indeed. One must wonder how many people were hired to do all the paperwork.