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 4 responses by tomcy6

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?

dannad, Some details, please. Where and when did you request to see a couple of 170 lb used amps in storage that were being sold online and the owner spent the next few hours getting them out and setting them up for you?
@laaudionut asked: Sep-16-2020
What is the inconvenience fee associated with an in-store demo...fully face masked, of course?

@smer319 replied:
These are packed and put away. Can you tell me what kind of system would you want it demonstrated with ? Please call the store...Probably $500.00 which will be applied to purchase price of $16995.00.

So the amps are packed up and smer319 will get them out, set them up, and demonstrate them with gear the potential buyer requests. A $500 deposit is not an unreasonable request to do that. These are big, heavy, complicated amps. The buyer has the option to just buy them off the internet, unseen and unheard, like most of us do all the time, and not pay the deposit.

@mrdecibel said:
Back when I was in the industry, and even more recently since then, I have experienced and heard stories of people going into shops ( by both the shop staff and the listener ), listening for hours, and then, the listener leaving, only to buy the auditioned products, elsewhere, likely for less, either new or used ( off of the internet, or another store ),

We all know this is a big problem for retailers now, and it’s why many are closing up their stores for good. I think it’s a good idea to try to see the situation from both the buyer’s and the seller’s point of view and be a little less judgmental. I don’t think it’s easy to run a profitable audio store today.


Had I’d walked into a hifi shop unaware of this practice and a guy told me there’s a $500 fee for an audition, I would’ve been offended and felt insulted.

Let’s be honest. The OP did not walk into a dealer and ask to listen to some gear on display. It has been said more than once that these amps are boxed up and in storage. These amps weigh 170 lbs each. They have 16 power tubes each that need to be biased.

Does anyone really expect to 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? Really?

I’m sure you can go to Sunny Audio and listen to the gear on display for free, even if you’re obviously not a serious buyer. 

I would love to see all you outraged people open up an audio shop. I’d love to come and talk audio with you and do some listening, maybe 2 or 3 times a week. Of course you’d be cool with that, right?


Most dealers do not sell trade in gear in their stores.  They sell it online.  The store is for selling new gear.

You guys have never tried running a retail store, have you?