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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When I created this post, I was truly curious if high end stores were now charging for an in-store demo. I’d never before heard of such a thing.
I had no intention of being critical of the seller...I just wanted to know if this was now a widespread and common practice in high end audio. 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. Now that I’m aware of it, I can choose to walk in their doors or not.

I love Audio Research preamps. I’ve owned several of them and I think they are amazing. I’ve always wondered if their tube amps are as good as their preamps.

I own two pairs of Pass Labs monoblocks that I’m thoroughly satisfied with. I’ve been member of Audiogon for 20 years. Without fail, year in and year out I keep hearing about the magic of tube amplifiers from members of this forum. I’d never entertain the thought of paying $60k for an amplifier...however, if the price was right on a pre-owned pair, I’d consider a change if the tube amps were all they were cracked up to be. 

The amps are now priced at $17k.

I’ve also had the same curiosity about high powered Class-A monoblocs.
I periodically peruse Audiogon to see if these megabuck amps have fallen into my price range. Well, the current monoblocks are in my price range. However, I don’t need any amplifiers....but if I can be convinced by proof of listening that these monoblocks in question are head and shoulders above what I currently have, I’d certainly entertain the thought of purchasing them. I could sell my current amps to absorb part of the purchase price.

This seller is asking $500 for an in-store demo.

If that’s his business policy, I have no quarrel with that. But I do have a choice whether or not to go along with it.

These amps for sale have no warranty.

My current system is here:

https://systems.audiogon.com/systems/876


I see zero issue with that assuming the fee is reasonable and can be used towards store credit. Don’t tubes have a finite life? Smart guy. Separates the buyers from the pikers.  
It was suggested that this is equivalent to a restocking fee; I disagree.  If I buy equipment from Schiit or Tekton and I don't like it I have to send it back, probably pay shipping both ways, and pay a restocking fee.  But ... I have auditioned the equipment for 15 days in my home, in my system.  That is very different from an audition in the dealer's room, with the dealer's equipment.  
I have been to this store 3 times and it is one of my favourites in Los Angeles. They have amazing gear and were very pleasant to deal with. I demoed 2 speakers there the first time I went. Sunil wanted me to hear a much more expensive Wilson Alexa setup just to hear what was possible. He knew I was not able to buy anything that day.  I left with a good opinion.

The other 2 times I went, it was during presentations done with the Los Angeles Audio Society. Again great events with a lot of attendees.

I am buying gear now and I always check to see if they have any gear that I could buy because of the nice way they have treated me. Brooks Berdan and Excel Audio are 2 others that treated me great. Going to be spreading my dollars to these 3 dealers.

I actually have not gone to demo some gear because I was not ready to buy. I would have gone if I could have paid a fee. I know the issues BM  stores are facing.
Perhaps the seller is trying to recoup the electricity cost of turning the amps on 😂