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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Any retailer of course free to do anything they want within the limits of legality. I have to question a retailer who throws away one of the few things remaining compared to online though. This website and others like it are case studies in word of mouth advertising. That "hobbyist" may not buy him, but they will tell some friends, and they will go online and talk about their experience. It is hard to beat first hand praise.


I must say, though, I have my doubt about a hobbyist spending "3-4" hours reviewing anything in a store. If they don’t have experience with high end audio, then this would be rather boring for them, and if they do personally, then tend to know the value of time and money and most won’t waste someone else’s.


If this is truly a concern, a more reasonable policy would be too set a demo time limit, and it could even be short, i.e. 20 minutes. This is fairly justifiable as tube-life is not infinite and replacement cost is substantial for amps such as this. If you want to listen past 20 minutes, then you need to contribute to the re-tubing fund. Any serious audiophile will understand these costs and why there would be a limitation. Margin on used gear is also lower so more justification on a time limit.


Progressive businesses thrive, regressive businesses decline and fail. In my early career I worked for two companis that tried to extract every last bit of margin out of the customer, while I watched our competitors eat our lunch over time by reducing their margin, but selling more and more ultimately making more profit and also reaching an economy of scale we couldn't compete with.
Interesting situation. Auditions without a sale are just part of the business. The salesman’s job is to bond with the customer demonstrating the advantages of buying from him. A fee is absurd unless you can take them home for a few days. Even then I think it’s customer unfriendly.
@smer319  So, just how much is said fee?  I believe the OP never received clarification on this point.
"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?
WOW ! This is amazing. To make things clear this is a $60,000.00 pair of Amplifiers. This has been put into storage. We have to setup a complete vignette and connect everything. This is the reason we asked the customer who was interested to call us. We could set them up with Vandersteen, Vivid Audio, Martin Logan, Stenheim, Egglestonworks etc. To do this custom for a proper audition that makes sense, we need to be compensated. Simple as that. Hope this makes this clear.