The "dealer" is totally at fault and should refund your money.
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The table was not delivered to you in the condition advertised. Assuming a standard shipper was used, the shipper would not be at fault as I believe items must be packaged to withstand what they consider normal handling, which may include being turned around and even a limited drop. Therefore, I agree with dweller that you should contact the seller and arrange to return the table for a refund. You didn't say whether you looked in the owner's manual for the instructions regarding shipping (e.g. does the manual verify the seller should have reasonably known not to ship the table without first draining it?).
We often buy gears from dealers thinking we will have more comfort level in receiving them in better shape, but I found from hard lessons that's actually completely opposite. My worst experience occurred with dealers that are still active in Audiogon both time.
So since this transaction occurred in Audiogon, you should inform Audiogon staff and also contact the seller. If dealer refused to refund your money, there is dispute section you can submit your case in Audiogon. You then should take the time to write BBB and file a case with small claim if that is what it takes.
I have lost thousands of dollars in the past because of dealer's fault, I will hate to see another one of us who lost his hard earn money again.
You should demand a full and immediate refund and, if there is any hesitation on the part of the dealer, you should tell us his name so that we can all avoid him. This forum will only remain safe for us to use if we ruthlessly purge those who attempt to exploit it.
If you have not withheld any pertinent information, then you are completely in the right on this matter.
Good Luck, I'm with you and I'm sure most of the rest of us are as well.
Before jumping to extremes why don't you contact the dealer and calmly explain the information that you have garnered from the distributor. Explain the complete situation thoroughly, without bias and without emotion. Tell the dealer what your expected resolution is. In this case, that is a return of the turntable. If the dealer is unwilling to resolve the matter to your satisfaction contact Audiogon disputes. Very few actually end up in the publicly displayed dispute section and an unbiased third party can be of really great help in these matters. I speak from experience as they assisted me when a transaction go off of the tracks.
See what the manufacturer does. Likely they will fix it for free and perhaps chastise the dealer. Don't be so quick to judge, all you witch-hunters. It could have been an honest mistake. We are only hearing one side of things here.
Silicone is not any worse or better than any other oil. With the right solvent it will come right off with no trace. More can easily be had, it's used in photocopies and can be had from staples I'd think. (or at the worst, a copy machine place, or the turntable manufacturer.)
First of all thanks to everyone who responded. I just want to make clear to everyone that the dealer has not yet refused to take it back; I don't want to impugn him in an unfair way. My main question essentially is: is it fair to ask him for an exchange or refund when I don't know for certain that the table is broken? All I really have are pools of silicone grease and the distributors suspicion that there is a ""fairly high"" likliehood that the motor could be damaged. It seems most people fell I would be within my rights to ask for a new table or refund, and thats probably what I'll do. But I just want to make clear that the dealer hasn't refused to deal with me; he just didn't seem to care when I told him that the oil had drained all over the table. Hopefully, he will do what he can to ensure my satisfaction.
Viridian's advice is right on: calmly contact the dealer and explain what you've learned and request a full refund with return shipping costs. Don't get sarcastic or accusatory. If dealer refuses that solution, request he pay for shipment to distributor, testing, and any repairs that are necessary. I'm sure he'll refuse that solution. Any reputable dealer would accept a return and give a full refund, given the circumstances. I'd even expect a private party seller to accept a return and refund in these circumstances, because he shouldn't have shipped the table without learning and undertaking the correct shipping procedures. I have learned from my own experience with a Sumiko Wood Project that shipping turntables is extremely hazardous, no matter who undertakes to do it.
I wrote a letter to the dealer; per the distributor there is some question as to whether the table was actually a "for sale" unit or rather a stictly for display unit. Apparently some distrubutors sell dome units to dealers at a discount provided they agree no to sell them. I'll let you know what happens