Note for those who buy used equipment...

I have obtained most of my equipment on the used market, and will continue to do so. However, today I ran into an issue that I had previously not encountered.

I was just about ready to pull the trigger on a used piece of Accustic Arts equipment when, in response to an inquiry about how to obtain any needed future service should that be needed, I received the following message from the Accustic Arts distributor in the U.S.:

"Thank you very much for your interest in ACCUSTIC ARTS products. My firm represents and distributes the brand in the USA and all responsibilities as it relates to repairs are through our firm.
We ONLY service products that are either bought from our firm or through an authorized dealer (similar policy to other manufacturers)".

After letting the distributor know that his policy ruled out any further consideration of Accustic Arts equipment for me, he sent the following:

"Our service policy is really no different than the vast majority of other manufacturer’s – in fact, just about nobody services or supports products bought and sold in the used market since we have no idea of how old the products are, where they were bought, how many times the items were bought and sold and how they were packaged etc. It would ultimately cause a huge liability for no reason. I suppose that is probably why most manufacturers will not support items bought and sold in the used market.
We carry ten (10) brands and we have one policy applicable to all."

So... before investing in something which may have very little re-sale value, and/or which has the potential to morph into a door-stop; do check on the manufacturer's/distributor's policy towards servicing used pieces of their equipment.

I've never had a problem?...Krell, Rogue, Sunfire, VMPS. None of these companies asked me when, or where I bought my component.

I'd say their servise policy is out of line with "most" of the industry....regardless of what they say.

I agree with Dave that Acoustic Arts' statement about most manufacturers not servicing used gear is likely untrue.

I have had used gear serviced by Lamm, Belles and VAC, and my impression is that many if not most US manufacturers will not only service used gear, but they may also honor the original warranty.
Almost sounds like he's talking about warranty repairs, rather than repairs you'd have to pay for. Is that a possibility?
Someone commenting on this exact post on AA thought maybe one of the undisclosed/underlying reasons was they thought the amount of demands from 2d hand owners might swamp their repair facility. While that seems awfully cynical after I thought about it I think I agree that as a distributor he doesn't want to commit his time and resources to second hand repairs..

I've seen some real junk out there by reason of design or parts/construction quality that I sure wouldn't want to undertake the responsibility for effective repairs if it were 2d hand and I had no other connection to the owner or other reason.

Thanks for the heads up.

PS, according to the author's comments on AA he has clarified that the distributor will NOT accomodate repairs on ANY basis for 2d hand owners. You might like to refer to his comments there.
Rupe- This is NOT the case for the majority of high end manufacturers. While they will not provide warranty support, there ARE repairs available, either from the manufacturer's authorized service reps or independently. Not always, but mostly. Of course, many boutique manufacturers go out of business and some have only fair service, but if you check the forums you will see that many provide high quality service to all their products.
He's full of crap. It is simply not true of most manufacturers. They may not warranty used stuff, but they certainly will repair it at your cost. Maybe he (or you) was confused about support - meaning of warranty repair vs customer paid repair.
I saw the list of the other 10 brands he sells posted at AA...pretty much stuff that I've never heard of, not big wonder to me now, as to why they won't service it.

Thanks for the heads-up as one can't be too careful.

I would expect that these policies would harm sales as a result of buyers pondering resale value of a product purchased from one of these exclusionary distributors

But then again Audio has always been an exclusionary hobby yet it survives.
A good place to start that research is the archives here. There are many testimonies to manufacturers who have gone the extra mile to service equipment which was bought used. I have had several incidents where I needed service or help with used equipment and have received excellent service each time. On every occasion I was up front about the fact that I bought the item used, no problem at all.
How can the manufacturer not know the date the unit was built unless the serial number is missing?
Bottom line, that guys an idiot.
I agree with those that have stated that this is not a usual situation. I have been very pleased with the support of used products by companies such as Atma-Sphere, Audio Note, and Audio Research.

Please note that the ten brands represented by this distributor are not cheap in price- not by any means! They are:

Atoll Electronique
Fischer & Fischer
BC Acoustique
Acoustic Solid
Accustic Arts
Audia Flight
NAT Audio.

As the distributor has made very clear to me, his policy is identical for all these brands: "We ONLY service products that are either bought from our firm or through an authorized dealer (similar policy to other manufacturers)".

When I informed this distributor that I would be bringing his policy to the attention of the internet audiophile community, he responded, in full: "whatever" (sic)

The distributor is undoubtedly trying to quash discounted grey market sales by refusing to offer service.

The distributor might consider amending the policy to accept used components originally purchased through an authorized dealer or directly through the distributor if the subsequent owner can provide a receipt or proof-of-original-purchase through proper channels.

This would be fair, it seems to me.
Sounds to me like a BAD company policy that the company has not fully thought through. Electronic equipment should be relatively easy to fix (local guys in my town seem to do just fine for me). Not wanting to repair their own equipment just loses a potential revenue stream for the company (time and materials), and devalues their own equipment on the used market making the peice less valuable at the time of initial purchase. Correct me if I am wrong but this is a rather silly policy for a company to have, unless they don't possess a good repair service department (could their equipment be manufactured overseas?).
I have purchased some used equipment and had no issues at all with getting it serviced by the manufacturers. On the other hand, my B&W subwoofer- which I bought new and was not cheap- was damaged due to lightning. B&W would not repair it. It was too old a model they told me. How old was it? Just 5 years old. Still saving up for a new one...
Here is another one, and I'm sure there are a few more:



2431 Fifth St
Berkeley, CA 94710
PH: 510-843-4500
FAX 510-843-7120
"since we have no idea of how old the products are"

Right away I would never purchase any brand that didn't keep proper production records of serial numbers.

Run like hell.
I agree with the others here,I had repair work done on my second hand gear from Audio Research and Sonic Frontiers with no problem.Krell and Rogue also helped me with questions.
I've always dealt directly with the manufacturers of my equipment, and have yet to be asked about how it was obtained. Never have had a problem with support. Then again; Everything I have in my system was built in this country(except the tubes and fuses).
The Sumiko announcement is interesting in view of the fact that there are currently 26 Sonus Faber speakers listed for sale in the Audiogon classified ads. Do these sellers have any obligation to disclose the Sumiko policy or is it totally "buyer beware". I'll bet that almost none of these sellers even know about the policy.

What about authorized Sonus Faber dealers - do they have an obligation to disclose the Sumiko policy?

The wording of the Sumiko statement also raises this question: does the person who wants the repair made have to be the person who purchased the unit from an authorized dealer? What if an Audiogon seller provides his buyer with a copy of a receipt from an authorized Sonus Faber dealer that bears the serial number of the unit and the Audiogon seller's name? This shows that the speaker was purchased new through an authorized dealer.

If the answer to the last question is "yes", then the Sumiko policy not only impairs the resale of the unit to another user but also impairs trade-ins to dealers that are not authorized Sonus Faber dealers.

It boils down to what the purpose of the policy is. Is Sumiko just trying to stamp out gray market products or is it trying to force buyers to deal with only authorized dealers, not only when they buy originally but when they dispose of the products.
How can you put foreign tubes in your American made gear? That's like putting Kuhmo tires on your BMW! btw, the BMW service manager always ask if I bought the car at their dealership. I have to say no because I moved after buying the car- so I don't get a courtesy car but at least they repair it.

You wrote: "The distributor is undoubtedly trying to quash discounted grey market sales by refusing to offer service."

That may well be the case. Can you or anyone else clarify for me how it is that pieces reach the grey market without the manufacturer's knowledge?

The remedy you propose sounds just so right and easy that one wonders how it is that Accustic Arts et al have not thought of it?

Oops! A hasty addition to my prior post.

I just noticed a "Sumiko" warning on the Sonus Faber page of the Audiogon classifieds. The warning statement is more ample than the one reproduced by Sogood51 in his post. Its wording would seem not to exclude a private sale buyer who can establish that the speaker was initially bought from an authorized dealer. However, I wouldn't buy a Sonus Faber speaker on a resale unless I first got that interpretation confirmed by Sumiko in writing.

I'm of two minds on a seller having to document the origin of the item he's selling. On the one hand, it's an extra paperwork burden and punishes a seller who is not good at keeping records. On the other hand, with products that can be counterfeited, it offers some assurance of genuineness to the buyer.
08-19-08: Rupertdacat
Can you or anyone else clarify for me how it is that pieces reach the grey market without the manufacturer's knowledge?
I can't clarify how it happens, and I don't know for certain that it does happen in the case of Acoustic Arts, but it would offer an explanation for the distributor's service policy.
My point is (humor aside) that like car manufacturers, stereo equipment makers should stand by their products and warranties regardless of ownership transfer. It's pretty simple to detect abuse, tampering and modifications that can affect performance. And in so doing they will help owners maintain resell value and their own reputations. My experience with several other high end manufacturers has been great- they bent over backwards for me promoting customer satisfaction. And like someone else said- a reputable, longterm, manufacturer keeps records of all the equipment they build.
Re grey market question. I think, for the most part, authorized dealers create the grey market by selling the product to an 'unauthorized' dealer w/o warranty obligations, in enuf volume to make up the difference in markup from the sale of one locally to the sale of many which would not impact on his local territory.

If this is so, and I think it is, the manufacturer could, if they wanted to, require the dealer to account for all sales. If they really wanted to. But why would the manufacturer really care. Where the product ends up doesn't affect their bottom line, at least to their disadventation. The only one who suffers is a legitimate dealer who loses a sale and the buyer who doesn't get a warranty. I've even heard of (and bought from) manufacturers who will sell product out the back door so long as its done in real green cash and no trail is created. Obviously w/out warranty.

Not doing warranty repairs for resale products is not unusual. I can appreciate that. However, not doing customer paid repairs does not have a lot of justifiable logic behind it. It means that the company does not earn money and it incurs a loss of goodwill. The only argument in favour of the policy is that it might discourage used purchases opposed to new purchases. However, the logic of this position assumes that your products have such market clout that denial of service will actually discourage second hand purchases. I don't believe this to be a reasonable position. There are too many good products on the market for any one brand to command that kind of market power. My response would be one of two things. Either buy different products, or wave your money in front of a repair person. I suspect that there are very few that will turn it down, at least privately.

And if the response of the person was "whatever", as noted in a previous post, then my response to his solicitations that I do business with him or purchase his "new" products is: "No thanks...Have a nice day".
This is not my experience at all. In fact any very well known high end manufacturer, I can name Vandersteen, Cary Audio, and especially Magnepan, continue to support thier products well into the ump-teenth generation owner.

I have had Magenapan rebuild IIIa's and 3.6R's to completely new condition. I was shocked at how reasonable the price was, and they knew who the original owners were by serial number in each case.

I will never buy an item from a company that won't support fully paid repair work. They won't be in business very long in my opinion.

As an additional point that I just thought of, McIntosh is great about repairing gear. I think these guys at AA are not the best business people on the planet if they think they can get away with spitting on the secondary market.
I always thought that a serial number on a unit was the confirmation that the product was manufactured by the company with and including a build and sale date. Why is there a grey market anyway? To sell refurbished gear or companies who make make a large purchase? Or selling discontinued items at a reduced price. The issue is always to so called "protect the Dealer". You know, those retail stores that sometimes sell at retail plus, another mark up. I have a problem with retail sellers who always complain about other retailers who give customers some kind of discount.

So lets do the math. You are a retailer who gives a discount to a customer who does hundreds if not thousands of dollars in sales. That promotes a return business. Lets face it. Everyone likes to save a little if possible.

If the issue is profit margin. That is the manufactures fault. If it's profit margins for the retailer. Then selling one unit at full retail is not as good as turning your inventory 5 times or more. Simple math. The discount put more money in the bank.

The crying retailer is where all this started. But the truth is a small private owned business does not really mean he or she is a good business person. That is why they go out of business.

Some manufactures like to be able to control the "sale/ Price" at retail. The internet is a prime example. Which is here to stay.

The manufacture gets it's price/ profit margin. Or can discount it's price at will. So it's my opinion to let the free market have fair competition.

Any manufacture that does not service it's own product is not to be trusted and should get bad press. Lets do the math here. Service costs pay for the repair. So there is no loss. In fact it's done at a profit.

Customer satisfaction and trust is what our free market is built on. There is not ( or at least few ) products that some competitor can't replace.

I am all for retail stores. The people who run them should be smart and not run away customers because they find products at a lower price.

Customer service on the retail and manufacture end is sometimes lacking.... even in high end gear. Cary Audio has only one tech that works after 1:00 pm. I even called Mogami Cable company and only one person had the knowledge to help people. This is a business flaw. Nothing makes for loosing customers more than bad customer service. On the flip side... good customer service and people who have "people skills" are worth the money they make ( if not under paid...LOL )

Dealing with the public can be a pain. But it's a job...LOL! Nothing gets to me worse than to call a company and the person who answers the phone is woman with a bad hair day or a man who is just getting through the day.

I asked to speak to one of the owners of a high end company ( small ) and was told they do not take calls. Not the best answer. I would have felt better if the "person" would have said maybe "John" could help you because the owner is not in.

It's OUR money. So we can choose how WE spend it. There is more power in that and the pen than most believe.