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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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.
Point of clarification, you want to be compensated.

While I would accept that COVID times are different, certainly in normal times, your staff, the equipment you have on hand, etc. are sunk costs. You are going to incur them whether you have a demonstration or not. 

It is also a $17,000 amplifier, It is not a $60,000 amplifier. 
If they were gonna charge me for an audition, I’d probably gleefully unleash torrents of abuse on them. Just because. It would take a lot to keep my dander down. Then again. Were the sellers lovely folks? Was I absolutely smitten by the components? Was the seller offering to sweeten the deal a tad?
"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.
@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.