Is this rude?

I'm looking to buy the best speakers I can, used, for around $2000. I'm looking at JM Lab Electra 906 or 926, Joseph Audio Rm7si mkII's, and possibly Sonus Faber if I can find a great deal. The only way for me to hear these speakers is to go into high end audio stores and essentially pretend to be interested, already knowing that I won't be buying from them. Is that rude? I just don't see any other way to make an educated decision...

Also, does anyone have any reccomendations as to other brands to check out? I'd prefer floorstanders (the room is about 17 x 13), but I'd be willing to consider large monitors as well.

Short answer, yes. Long answer, really depends on how much time the dealer puts into the demo. If you walk into the store and the speakers are already playing then no harm done. But if the dealer has to set them up (move them around or hook up different components to show them at their best) then that is not really fair (but who said life was fair?). Should you go through the demo and you appreciate the effort the dealer puts into demoing the equipment you can buy something else, say some interconnects or CD/LP. I certainly would inquire as to the availability of the floor pair of speakers at a demo price, might cost a little more but it could come with more perks than a pair bought off Audiogon.
If my intention were to buy used or from online stores, I would not audition them in my local dealer or use them as a source of free service. I wouldn't call it "rude" but it is just wrong in my book.
I agree that it would be inappropriate to "use" the dealers for your demos. Part of the buying used is the inability to hear the gear, unless you have a friend, etc. that has it.

Try this - talk to you local dealers and tell them what you are looking for and your budget. If you have a local JM or Joseph Audio dealer they probably get trades, demo's, or have a customer who is selling a pair, etc. They may be able to come close to your budget if your budget is reasonable. If it's a little more $ - so what - it's worth it to be able to demo.

Be up front with your dealer then let them dicate the next steps. They will appreciate it. If they are jerks about it - take your business somewhere else.

Some say it's the cost of doing business for dealers others say it is way uncool. I say be honest with them and sometimes you end up with a great deal and good relationship with your local dealer.
I agree with Sidssp, I would never do this. Buy used, if you don't care for it, turn around and sell it. The salesperson's time is $$$, and to go in with no intentions of paying for it is wrong, IMHO.
It's not rude, it's dishonest.

If you're only willing to buy used gear via private sale, you must also be willing to take the risks associated with buying used. If you're not willing to take the risks, don't buy used gear.
My suggestion would be to call the store and tell them what you just told us - what your price range is, and what you're looking for (the best speakers in that price range, with particular interest in used Josephs or JM Labs or Sonus Fabers). Ask them if you could come in for an audition, and offer to come in during a projected low-traffic time (like before lunch on a weekday).

The store may have a used or demo pair, or may have another customer interested in trading up. They may have another speaker that you will like even better. By being up-front and considerate with them, and you're on your way to building a good relationship even if you don't buy from them this time. Of course there's a chance that the store is only interested in making a quick sale; in which case for the price of a phone call you've learned to avoid them in the future.

Best of luck to you.

Go in , get your demo , get the salesmans card, a week later , send him a note that you decided to go in another direction, but you appreciate his time , and send him a check for a nominal amount, say 25.00. and if you find the shop to be friendly and helpful, try to use them for future considerations.
Thanks for the candid responses, everyone. It's nice to hear the opinions of those who are far more experienced than I.
Try this,lay all your cards on the table and in the end retail joint "may" cut a deal that's a tempting 1/2 step towards you.If they do quote a discount to rescue the sale,you can weight the better route ,keeping in mind all the pitfalls of doing business via mail. Shipping damage, shady sellers,miscommunication,misrepresented or abused items. Add up all the charges ,pay-pal,shipping,handling ect.
I have done it both ways and much prefer to see, touch and hear my potential new gear.Imagine the anxiety during the period of time between transaction to confirmation. You will experience if you go mailorder. Along with the extra uncertainy if deal goes south. Rude or not is beside the point really that's your call and cross to bear in the end.
Just think it through carefully because as the purchase price goes higher so does your personal investment,which is not all money but time as well.Time is most valuable.
Personally I enjoy the shopping ,looking,hearing the sales-persons input,and knowing I have the power to say lets do this deal and seeing the process of said sale go down.It's like a dance,a sales "Tango" if you will and can be much more fulfilling then the:is it going to get here in one piece,is it like they said,is it a cinderblock in a box?
It seems like people are more wary than I thought about buying off audiogon. I've had my problems with eBay, but I thought Audiogon was generally a different story. Was I wrong?
I'd give some sort of compensation to the dealer (a 6 pack of good beer or something like that) for allowing me to demo speakers I know I won't be buying from them. That way, everybody wins.
Omains, your original question was very well addressed above. Per your last question, my experience with buying through Audiogon is quite good. Bear in mind that buying direct is increasingly difficult as the components increase in complexity and size, regardless of the quality of those who are selling the components. Speakers are difficult to unpack, hook up, sell, pack and ship. Lot's can happen with each step and not all of it is good. There is value to simply using a local dealer and it is worth some extra money -- how much depends on you and your needs and wants. When I lived in Boston, my dealer delivered the speakers and set them up in my home. That avoids any finger pointing about damage that might have occurred en route. My current speakers were purchased directly and the uncrating and setup was a pain in the rear end -- but I couldn't get those speakers locally. So, don't worry too much about Audiogon (with all the caveats about checking selling history, insurance, etc that have been in many threads). Do consider the convenience of a local dealer as being worth something -- especially if something goes wrong.
No, it is not rude.

GO for it!

High End audio dealers love showing off thier gear!!!!
Here is what you should do.

Get ahold of a car that just SCREAMS "IM FILTHY RICH"
Come haul'in ass into thier parking lot, slam the e-brake and spin the wheel, make sure when you slide up to the front door that your car door can open into the front entrance of the store while your car blocks the entrance for anyone else.

This will make sure that you have thier attention and they are not being bothered by other consumers.

Next, use the most outrageous accent you can muster, barge in the place like you own it, demand thier attention, and be ultra-condensending. Wave all the cash you have and tell them it is the tip of the iceberg and a personal gift for whichever salesperson sets you up with a nice system.

Make sure you bring a nine pound lap dog and have it piss on thier carpets as you flamboyantly tromp through and be sure to tip thier speakers and check out the undersides and set them back down slightly off of where the dealer had them set up.

Demand a glass of wine, and be sure not to let them get a word in edgewise.

Make them spend the next 4 hours setting up all the different gear and occassionally say things like "I like these, i might buy 4 sets, lets hear another piece of gear"

After exhausing 6 hours of thier time, get all fidgity, then tell them thier product line is pure crap, and that you have no time to waste on such low people as themselves, and leave

When you pull out, make sure you burn the wheels real good and kick up all kinds of little rocks and stuff and chip up thier front windows, and shoot a bunch of debris into thier store.

THen maybe they will know how a 21 yr old with 2k in his pocket feels when he just walked in to buy a pair of speakers.

Actually yeah, it is rude. Almost as rude as some dealers can be to younger patrons.

(the good dealers definatly outnumber the crappy ones, but it only takes 1 or 2 to really spoil somone on buying from dealers)
I think its great that you have reservations about your dishonesty. It shows you have real character.

Tell the dealer straight up front your intentions and offer $20.00 (minimum) for his/her service provided. That is, if the speakers are set up and ready for demos. If he has to set up a demo, then it becomes different. The open box speakers will lose a lot of value. Thus, I would feel obligated to, at the very least, compensate for the loss.

In the end, it really is a matter of two questions. How much is it worth to you, to hear the speakers ,and would you be willing to trade your integrity do so?

I have a feeling you will find the right speakers, a dealer who respects you, and maybe even a friend.

PS. You can probably hear the SFs at Tweeter. In that case none of the above applies. They are made for tire kicking. Though be warned, if you continually kick tires at Tweeter you will eventually buy something!!
slappy, too cool man.

to answer your question(rude) no is not rude at all, remember this,the reason your buying used is beacuse you need to stretch your $$$$$$ , its not like audio show rooms are chock full of customers lined up to hear the same gear you want to demo.

you dont need to give a dealer an explaination of why you want to demo the gear,even if you dont intend on doing business with them the demo gear is there for all to hear & im quite sure the manufacturers would agree.

good audio isnt just for the elite,even though alot of dealers say that the internet is killing their business if it werent for guys like us buying used gear they wouldnt sell so much new stuff.

do whats right for your systems needs & not what makes a salesman happy.

I agree that it isn't ethical to misrepresent your interest and ask a dealer to go to a lot of effort for you if you're sure you won't be buying from them. On the other hand, it can be useful to a dealer for me to know what gear they carry and, in general, how they treat people. A lot of friends have asked for my help in buying gear for themselves and I always send them first to a place I trust with a few suggestions for things they might want to listen to.

So, I don't ask dealers to uncrate gear and set it up if I'm not really in the market for the gear but I do prowl around the shops, listen to what's playing and ask questions when it seems appropriate. I've sent so many people to one shop near here that the owner offered me a hefty discount if I ever do want to buy something from him.
In Jewish law there is a specific injunction about going into a store and leading on the owner that you are going to buy from him/her. It is akin to theft (violation of 10 commandments) as you are stealing the owner's time and it is also like violating the law against purposely tripping a blind person. There are actually lengthy discussions of this in the Talmud written over 1700 years ago.

There is no injunction about going in to look if you make clear you are not intending to buy.
That last one from Eddaytona was a real doozy. Maybe he should quote some other passages from the Talmud pertaining to what is considered to be acceptable treatment of Goyim. That would be a lot more enlightening for most of the readers here.
Stop wasting your time and just buy a pair of Dynaudio 3.0.
im gonna get killed for this but thats life,what & the hell are you guys talking about.

where on earth did anybody get the idea that an audio salesman needs to be treated any different than other salesman,PAY TO AUDITION, get a grip,i cant believe that some of you are calling an audition dishonest & even quoting scripture.

ive got a few simple questions, please explain the difference in the examples that follow & the audition process beacuse obviously im kinda slow here.

1 do you pay to test drive a new car?

2 does the car salesman ask you if you intend to buy from him before you test his product?

3 would you be offended if the car salesman even asked you such a question?

4 when you have a contractor give you an estimate for roofing, plumbing, painting,new furnace, siding, ect do you feel the need to pay them for the time it takes to write up such an estimate?

i can answer # 4, NO , you do not feel the need to pay you feel its a service that comes with the cost of doing business.

i dont get the whole idea of the starving audio salesman to begin with where everybody paints a picture of a struggling business that has to pinch every penny they get.

if anybody really thinks that the audio market as a whole is somehow being taken advantage of then they are in a bubble.

never before in hifi have sales been sooooo good & thats beacuse of the used gear market, remember that alot of people will only buy new gear after the old gear is sold.

the notion of being dishonest just beacuse you want to audition a product that the DEALERSHIP allready has is absurd to me.
Someone gave me good advice a long time ago "everything in moderation". Most of this thread leans toward being up front with your dealer. I agree. Let him know you are serious about buying speakers at your pricepoint and listen to him. Don't have him uncrate a sealed pair unless they were destined to be demos anyway. Don't have him go through a big production to haul them from room to room,etc. but educate your ears with what he already has set up and ask him when would be a convenient time he might have the ones you're interested in set up... Be patient, respectful, and appreciative and you'll find a lot better odds of good things coming your way. Personally, I feel anyone who milks a dealer's time for anything more than just letting you enjoy his sweet spot during some off peak time, is being audacious. By the way, buying a little something (a CD, vibrapods, or whatever) is a good idea too. P.S. I bet you'd really like the Silverline Sonatinas.Good luck and happy listening.
Vinylphile, I don't like your comment. It's insensitive and inappropriate. Eddaytona's comment on the other hand is responsive to Omains thread.

Audiogon and the audio internet sites more generally, have made retailing in High End audio more competitive and difficult. I agree with many of the posts here that intentially wasting a dealer's time is inconsiderate and I would not encourage that sort of behavior. That said, dealers are not oblivious to the fact that people come in to audition equipmenet with the intention of buying elswhere, used or over the internet. The internet has made this an increasing risk. Dealers might address this risk by, for example, charging patrons a minimal refundable "set up/listening fee" as a disinsentive to freeloaders. My guess is that most dealers would rather take their chances than potentially alienate good customers.

So Omains, my longwinded answer is follow your feelings - treat others the way you expect to be treated.
Bigjoe, Hmm lets see.

#1 No, but I also wouldnt go drive a new car to figure out whether I want to buy someone else's used car.

#2 If he figures out #1 he might as well.

#3 Well, if you have to pen me down, I say, it depends on whether he gets #2 right or wrong.

#4 No, but, you probably wont get much work if you dont give an estimate. So I dont see anyway around it. Although if I were a plumber and some Schmoe asked me to come to his house and solder some pipes and fittings together just so he could see how its done, I just might charge.

I say, time is our most valued commodity. I dont like mine wasted, so its natural to not want to waste other folks time.

You nailed it dead on the head buddy

They are Salesman, they are not jesus incarnate, they are not the next dali-llamma, they are salesman plain and simple. If they cannot hang with the market they better brush off thier shoulders and find a new career.

Ive seen threads in the past where people state that you have to "EARN" the right to become a customer.

It aint A'gon, Ebay, or other used markets that are killing off the Brick and Mortars, it is the attitude and snobbery.
Ive heared somone on here in the past say unless you are dropping 10k on a system that you shouldnt expect to get good treatment

well, not everyone has 10k to drop, and if a dealer thinks i must spend copious amounts of cash to get treated like a customer or even treated like a human, well, ill be sure to wave at him when i drive by the unemployment office and see him sittin in line.

Bigjoe was dead on with the car salesman comparison.

If a dealer wants to be adealer that is fine. i think it looks like a great job. If he thinks he is too good for potential customers by judging them on age, race, or appearance, he better understand the reason that he is hanging that "OUT OF BUSINESS" sign up is himself.

Gotta earn the right to become a CUSTOMER?

How about this, im the one with the cash. The Dealer has to EARN the right to be MY dealer, there are plenty of dealers out there willing to take a couple thousand dollars out of my wallet and let me walk out with a new set of speakers.

Ive got a few dealers that i go to, because they treated me with first class respect the moment i walked in.

That, my fellow Audiogoners, is CUSTOMER SERVICE, and THAT is what will get me in to buy those speakers. Not some pencil-necked condensending nitwit.
I will happily give my money to a dealer who shakes my hand, invites me in, and gives me attention and takes me seriously.
I would hope the high end audio salesmen are a lot better than car salesmen. I've been to Tweeter and they are car salesmen. Be honest and up front. I good dealer should be more interested in developing a customer than making a quick sale. I cup of coffee and some donuts goes a long way with most dealers (atkins diet - slab of red meat and a hunk of cheese). Most dealers can tell the tire kickers from the serious buyers in about 30 seconds.

Example: I made an appointment with a dealer to audition som soliliquy speakers last week. I told him that I had no intention of buying when I made the appointment and that I was just helping a friend. He told me he didn't mind and he had the entire afternoon available. I walked in and the dealer was polite and answered my questions. We had some lite conversation while I was auditioning. He didn't try to sell me anything. 90 minutes later he was loading the complete Von Schweikert VR4jr theater package in the back of the SUV.

Thank you all again for your input. I want to rephrase my first question, because I think I misrepresented the issue by using the word "pretend". My fault.

1. I would absolutely never ask anyone to set up a system for me, let alone uncrate a sealed product. That's just ridiculous. Even if they offered (which some have), I would insist that they not go to the trouble.

2. I do not monopolize the dealer's time. The first thing I say when I walk in is, "I'm just hear to look around," or "I'm not buying anything today, but I'd love a chance to hear xxx if it's not too much trouble." The reason I'm asking this question is that I understand how frustrating it must be for a dealer to spend time helping a customer and be left with nothing in return. My morals are tested when I leave the dealer with an unsaid impression that I very well may be coming back to buy.

So my original question was asked assuming that one would follow the above two points. My conundrum is that I'm 20 years old, don't have a lot of experience, clout, or money, and I want to make the best investment possible given my restrictions. I don't believe I can make a good choice of speaker without hearing a good representation of what's out there. Moreover, I have no intention of wasting my life buying and selling every speaker on Audiogon until I find the right one. Such a course of action would be financially dangerous (I've been jerked around one too many times on eBay), and, more importantly, it would be a waste of time.

Because of my limited finances, I do not have the option of "rewarding" a dealer for his help by buying his speakers. It's not just "a little more expensive" as some have stated. We're talking price differences on the order of thousands of dollars between new and used. But I can reward them with my politeness, courtesy, gratefulness, and (most importantly) future business when I can afford to buy new. After some thought over the course of the day, I'm confident in what I've said here. If people still believe that this is rude, given the points made above, I would be hard pressed to continue my interest in the world of hi fi.
As a former "straight-commissioned" electronics saleman, I remember wasting a lot of time and potential money on people who were just there to waste time. It is very frustrating to work for nothing.
Well, the essential question is this; how do you feel about using the time of someone who makes his or her living, working by selling. He or she puts food on the table, pays the mortgage, and so on with the money made selling. These people are almost exclusively straight commission.
A better approach would be to tell the salesperson straight up: "I am wanting to buy so and so product, but only have this amount. I can buy it used for 'x' amount. What do you think, can I do better, or do you have used gear like this, or access to it. I really want to be straight up with you."
If they are any good, they will be helpful in hopes that their help will lead to a 'next time' sale. Or, best possible, they may have exactly what you want, used, or know a customer selling the product, allowing them to sell THAT customer, something even more expensive.
I have done this for my customers in the past. I would have someone wanting a new piece of gear, but holding the old, which I couldn't do justice for them on the price. By negotiating the first sale, (which the seller may pay him for) they make the second sale possible.
You can NEVER go wrong with honesty.
Good Luck, and please respect your sales persons time.
omains,IMO here is the best advice that a person can give you,demo every speaker that is hooked up at every dealer you can find, dont ask them to hook up anything just listen to what is ALLREADY ON DISPLAY.

how much of a dealers time could you possibly waste if all they do is turn on a rig,insert a disc, press play,im getting exausted just thinking about all that work.

while im reading the responses from dealers who WASTE ALOT OF TIME WITH TIRE KICKERS it occured to me, audio is fun for us & work for them.

if anybody feels an explaination is in order the next time they go to see the dealer try this.

tell them that you are the guy who is gonna make it possible for them to land the next big WHALE beacuse your buying used gear at an honest price & that makes it possible for the real big spenders to buy.

then as you leave ask them for a show of grattitude beacuse without the used consumer their store shelves would be full of used gear like all dealers shelves were 20 yrs ago .

if dealers need to feel that a sale is behind every audition then i pity them, talk about PURE GREED.

only in hi end audio do the rules of being a consumer not apply, you have what i want to look at, lets try it out, its that simple.

dont get me wrong on this, im not knocking dealers as a whole, i visit 2 dealers on a regular basis & they are great but i do feel that alot of dealers have a condesinding attitude twords the used buyer & so do alot of people who buy new gear.

both new buyers & dealers need to remember that its places like audiogon & buyers like omains who fuel the industry from the sidelines.

NO!!! For all the rudeness, arrogance and ignorance I have suffered at high end dealers over the years it makes perfect sense to me.
It's one thing to go to a audio store just to listen to a specific speaker, or any component. That's what they are there for. Audio salespeople have heard about Audiogon, they know about the used maket. Its their job to demonstrate to you that the extra money spent buying from them will off-set the preceived advantages of buying used equipment.

However, to my way of thinking, in addition to listening to a component, if you go to seek their expertise and and product knowledge with no intention of buying, now you are taking their intellectual property under false pretense...and that (in my opinion) is wrong.
Shalom Slaufer. My comments pertaining to Eddaytona's Talmud reference were meant to clarify that those laws only apply if a Jew is dealing with another Jew. If a Jew is dealing with goyim, there are different protocols that are allowed. This is in accordance with Talmudic teachings.
I have been in retail for 35 years and can assure you that most all of the operations that had an opinion that the tire kicking or looking and etc was dishonest etc would soon have few customers walking in the door. You opened your doors to offer items for sale. The customer walking thru that door has taken his time to come in so stop crying and sell him something.Stop the we get full retail only crap and deal. Sell him something he did not know he needed or wanted. If you have a product and SERVICE then SELL IT.Audio sales are one of the very very few that try to obtain full retail prices for goods with the I can ONLY sell at retail or I lose my dealership.
Do not ask a customer for full honesty if it is not returned. Do not try to sell a piece of crap to a customer because you can.Do not hint at service you cannot or will not give after the sale. And do not treat customers as if they have no idea about high end even if they do not.
Salesman sell the correct product for that customer Honestly and with good intent before they cry about tire kicking. If you see used product for sale and do not know if it right for you the research may include a dealer visit.Give him a chance to practice his job and then make him an offer for his New item and his service and horse trade IF HE WILL. He will most likely hit you with the standard MSRP line and lose a sale to another who will or to used product.
It costs many retailers more to stock and finance product than it does audio dealers and they bargain for sales.
Audio is a product and a passion each must decide which is more important and follow that course. Audio is in trouble sales wise due to lack of salesmanship and service after the sale and the driving away of potential new customers.
When was the last time you paid MSRP for a car ot TV or almost any item? High end audio needs tire kicking and some ass kicking to wake up to save the industry.
Bigjoe brought it up and Slappy refined it. None of this is about products or the feelings of salespeople. Products will sell themselves or send you on your way somewhere else. This is about the salespersons time to shine as a helpful person. I may go in say that I'm leaning toward some other speakers but I wanted to hear these first. The seller could tell me a bit more about the speakers i want (good or bad) compare them to something he/she sells and even offer suggestions about some I hadn't thought about yet even if they're not sold here. Now, I walk out after auditioning speakers in this salon but not buying. However, I'm thinking "what a great salesperson, helpful, considerate and MOST IMPORTANT, I'll go back there to buy something they sell next time and buy from that specific salesperson. How many times have we bought from someplace because we had no options but walked out thinking "I wish someone else had this product because the person I had to deal with was a rude jackass"? This is where Internet sales come from. I just bought a VPI 16.5 from Larry @ Hollywood Sound, thousands of miles from where I live, because of the conversation we had. I called just to ask questions about the VPI and we talked about audio in general. I was doing some research for a possible Xmas present 6 months from now. But after the great interaction w/Larry, I approached my wife about purchasing it now. Six days later it showed up at my home. I'd deal w/Larry again in a heartbeat. Great customer service doesn't mean a SALE, it means REPEAT BUSINESS! It's ALL ABOUT CUSTOMER SERVICE period!
This is an interesting thread.

My own perspective is that one should go in and be 100% honest. You are a Conrad Johnson dealer. I currently have the possibility of purchasing a used MV60 amplifier for a very good price. I would like the opportunity of you allowing me to give it a listen to see if it is a good move for me. I am willing to do this at a time which is not busy, and by no means interfere with your other customers.

A good dealer would accept this proposition. It builds good will, and establishes both a rapport and a relationship with a potential new customer.

Sadly, both customer and dealer rarely follow this.

Many customers walk in, act like they are flush, and present themselves as being ready to make a deal if the unit is to their liking and the deal is good. They have no intention of buying from the dealer, and often come in at the most inconvenient times for the dealer, such as a Saturday afternoon.

A lot of dealers present themselves as obnoxious people, who are somehow gifted with better hearing, tastes, and decision making abilities than the customer. Not only do they hear better than the other person, they feel they can do a better job in making a decision between whether ARC, CJ, or Krell sounds best. In their demeanor, they end up putting off the customer, and instill in the person a sense that they never want to come back. Also, instead of dealing with money issues in a good way, they can turn things into a "you don't have enough money to be an audiophile" or "you don't have enough money to shop in my store" situation. I consider the trend I read here on Audiogon of paying to audition equipement the ultimate insult.

There is, and has for a long time, been very little effort on the part of many dealers to grow a customer base.

Thankfully, two local dealerships in my area let me basically listen to anything I was interested in as a teenager. They knew I had no ability to buy this type of equipment, but they developed the kind of relationship with me where they would encourage me to bring in my favorite CD and listen on this great system. Of course, they made no money that day, or the next, or the next, or the next.

But, in the long run, as soon as I was able to pay the fee, I bought an NAD 2600A from one of the dealers. And a good amount of gear from both of them. I feel comfortable walking into these stores, and in the end, have often bought new or demo equipment from them as opposed to buying used. Why? It just feels right.

Until dealers and customers go back to doing business in a better way, we will continue to have these discussion.
How would you feel if you put an item up on Audiogon, say an A/V processor, and someone sent you a zillion Emails asking operational questions and such , and then emailed you, Thanks, Thats helps alot , because my friend who does not know how to operate his , is selling me his for a song.
Nice thread. I just finished getting all newbie-educated and in an obsessive high-energy curve bought a couple of kayaks. As a reseller of used Subarus in a one-person business, I try to be completely transparent with my potential customers, and expect them to be with me, especially after I flood them with lots of info, and very carefully listen to their needs, fit them properly in adjustable seats, etc. Said attention, in addition to my technical product condition, has resulted in a business that's not 80-90% repeat and referral. Fine....
Knowing that discounted gear exists from paddling shops on-line, I approacjh local vendors to demo boats and learn from them FULLY EXPLAINING to them that there are 20% off deals everywhere...but that I don't necessarily expect them to meet those discounts. It's just part of the discussion to help refine realistic prices and decide which product level to aim at. The good dealers (and it's amazing to note that the kayak dealers I've met are really a VERY fine group of devotees, like some specialty audio dealers) seemed more interested in ensuring that I find the right boat, after carefully listening to my naively expressed needs, (lack of) knowledge, and desires. In one case a seller spent an hour with me in driving rain holding a pair of boats so I could compare them. So I picked one, as well a few items of clothing, and an expensive paddle. (I quickly outgrew the boat (sigh), but my daughter LOVES it. I'm lucky.)
I then paddled a dozen boats across several dealer-sponsored "demo-days", settling on a small dealer's offerings. I discovered a used high-end Kevlar kayak they had consigned, and scarily wobbled my way around in it. After several short attemps over a week I decided to trust this dealer and made the leap, spending nearly twice as much, but on $3k+ kayak. He assured me that I wouldn't outgrow the boat for several years at least, etc. If it hadn't been for all the careful handholding I wouldn't have been able to take advantage of such an opportunity, and would have bought another "intermediate step" boat, to be perhaps quickly outgrown.
All along, the dealer knew he would have to nearly match on-line offerings from other shops around the country, but simply persisted in working with me to meet my as-yet-unknown-to-me REAL needs! That's the greatness of personal care. I personally experience this weekly when I watch a smile start to crease the face of a naive Toyota or Honda owner as I teach them to push an AWD Subaru with a bit of throttle-steer through serpentine roads. The assuredness and enpowering feel is addictive, and a long marriage is set. I of course know that my prospective customers have other options, especially given the temptations of low-interest financing of new cars, etc., but attention to detail in thorough product preparation and carefully meeting customers' expressed AND anticipated needs rewards both parties with success. Relationships are built on trust and transparency. Cheers.
I have never had a problem when I have been honest and upfront with people. If someone came up to me and asked me to spend some time for my expertise, I would be able to make a clear decision if I have the time to do it. Also, I love talking to people about what I love, which most great salespeople or experts do, so I might be very willing to go beyond what I would do normally. If I sense I am being manipulated, I don't want spend anytime with that person.

My suggestion: Just be completely honest and forthright, and see what happens.
Hi Vinylphile: No offense taken and while there are laws that apply to interactions (vs. transactions) with one's own "tribe" the ones that I am talking about apply to all. As the Bible says to us: Don't forget that you were a stanger in a strange land. Treat the "stranger" as you would your family.

There are no exceptions for; "You shall not steal" and "do not put a stumbling block in front of the blind."

(I realize the above may be off topic but worth clarifying.)

When I go into a high-end store to browse I make sure to say I am not interested in buying but only doing looking. If the salesperson is busy I honor that. My experience has always been that if things aren't busy, the salesperson is pretty happy about showing his stuff off. Beats sitting around.

As the owner of a nice audio shop in Pasadena CA told me, "On your first visit I just want to get you thinking."

Peter Solberg wanabee?

Sounds like fun; wish I could drive.

If you walk out feeling better than when you walked in,you probably did/said the right thing,Bob
Thats a great way of looking at it bob
When in doubt, put yourself in the other person's shoes. If YOU were the dealer and had someone intentionally wasting your time, how would you feel about it? At the very least, you should at least be up-front and OFFER to pay this dealer for the SERVICE of allowing you to audition. Even if it's only $10 or $20, you're at least showing good faith. In all likelihood, the dealer will:

a) kick your butt out on the spot
b) Say it's "no problem", refuse to take your money, and hope they can start a RELATIONSHIP with you so you may consider purchasing other products from them...

Just my humble opinion...
Eddaytona and Vinylphile:

Thank you for your clarifications and thoughtful posts.

I have a friend who is a BAT dealer. I bought a used 75' at this site. I made up for indiscretion by purchasing an Aesthetix Calypso and receiving $900 off the list price(I did'nt even know that he carried the line!). Support your local dealer...unless they're snobbish.
I definitely agree with the people who have suggested that you just tell the dealer what your budget is, what speakers you're looking at, and ask them if they know of customers selling them or if they have a demo. Ask if the have a pre-configured system setup you could listen to at a low traffic time. All great suggestions.
Here are some things I've seen:
- Half the time I am the only person at a specialty store. I usually take lunch at an odd time (3pm for example) and I'm the ONLY person there. If you go to tweeter that's different but smaller shops only have a couple of sales people and sometimes only 1 customer in at those odd hours.
- I often don't know what I want to buy. I say Im looking for speakers within a wide range - say 1K to 2.5K. The salesperson will latch on to 2.5K. but when I show more interest in a 1.2K speaker, he'll show me my choices there.
- I usally look at 3-4 dealers. That means that 2-3 of them got ZERO business from me (that day). Did I waste their time? Granted I wasnt planning to blow them off, but hey, bottom line, no sale. Your situation is different, but chances are if you are straight with them and they are half way decent people and businessmen (anyone ever get a female audio salesperson?) they will show you something that you want to buy from them, be it a demo or a trade in. Theres money to be made in used sales too.
Be others have suggested...indicate your budget...and see what the local dealer has to offer...most local hi-end shops have many used/consignment items...but you often have to ask...they are usually stored out of sight...thanks...
Salesperson: Can i help you with anything today

Civilian: Right now, i'm just looking at what you have available. If you don't mind, I may have some questions for you about the products you carry and may also be interested in listening to a demo or two. Would you mind if i looked around and asked for your assistance should i see something that interests me?

Salesperson: No problem. Is there anything that you're looking for in specific or that i can do for you right now?

Civilian: Not at this moment, but i'll let you know. Thank you.

This is simple enough, let's the salesperson know that you're not going to whip out your wallet at the drop of a hat and the pressure is off of both parties. This opens the door for communications without stress. It is courteous on both parts and allows the salesperson to choose how much time they want to spend with what is currently a person browsing their wares that could be a potential customer IF they play their cards right. No false precepts results in no false hopes for the salesperson. Sean