The guys who run this site should police it. They control every thing else.
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Yes, it happens, but it happens in almost all sales fields, not just audio. Car dealers do the same thing. That doesn't justify it, but the buyer should do his homework, and let the buyer beware. One more thing, sometimes the MSRP changes over time. I've seen items list price rise over the years for the same model number (just like other fields). My amp list for $5950 when new in 1999, but I noticed that 5 years earlier the same amp list for $5450.
Does it bother me? Not really. I've been in this hobby for about 25 years, long enough to know how to do my homework on perspective purchases. Check out feedback, get the serial number and check with the maufacturer for origin dates and repair records, and if I find the guy/gal inflated the MSRP, I let them know what the true MSRP is, and move on.
Believe it or not, many times it's an innocent mistake. The seller just doesn't do their homework and find out the true MSRP. Most aren't trying to mislead, they just don't know. So they take an educated guess instead of spending the time to find out.
I know that the MSRP can change, that is definitely true. Just yesterday I read an ad for a pair of speakers I used to own. These speakers are almost 100 percent of the time listed with incorrect retail pricing. This ad said the speakers retailed for close to 800 dollars. That is completely wrong. Also, not two minutes ago I read an ad for an amplifier I own and the seller stated it is a stereophile class B component. Stereophile has never reviewed this amplifier. It just seems to me the ads are getting more untruthful as time goes on.
Buyer Beware. Its up to you to research and avoid those misleading sellers. Also, sometimes the mags get it wrong and that can be a hassle. The last amp I sold is quoted in the last issue TAS as $1200 but it actually lists for $1500. It pays to check and double check. Most of the time it takes only a couple clicks on the mouse.
Do I take the prices at face value in an ad? No way! If I am in the market to buy something, I do my homework and KNOW what the costs are. At the end of the day, I am the only one responsible for me....no one else - if I don't take responsibility, I don't (won't) depend on anyone to do it for me.
what's the saying? fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me. (corny, but true)
Price changes do occur during the lifespan of many products. To top this off, some magazines have a lead time of several months. A product could be sent in for review by the manufacturer with all of the pertinent information in January with a list price of $1000. By the time the review actually makes it into print several months later, the item could be retailing for $1200 - $1500. The manufacturer might have forgotten to notify the editor of the magazine and the old price is listed.
To top it off, some manufacturers don't update their website as often as they should. As such, they could have prices that are months or even a year out of date. When someone wanders into their local dealer trying to by "Brand X" for the price quoted in the review or on the manufacturer's website, they are met with "sticker shock" to say the least. Going up in price is one thing. Raising it by 20% - 50% and doing it without making the change public knowledge is a whole different story. I have run into such a situation before and it has altered my decision to investigate such gear. Bare in mind that this is strictly talking new / current gear in terms of MSRP.
As for older gear, some products have been in production for an extended period of time. One could have purchased a specific product at the introduction of said unit and still buy the current version some 20 years later. The manufacturer may have made TONS of production changes in that period of time yet never altered the model number i.e. the original was a "Super Duper 1000" and that is what they call the current model. This is true even though the current model should be called "Super Duper 1000 Mk XX", etc... Over the course of time and production changes, the product might have listed for $1500 at introduction and now sells for $5000. On the other hand, prices could have come down due to changes in technology and mass production cabability, so that too should be factored in. I know that prices typically don't go down, but i have seen this happen on more than a few occassions.
With all of the variables involved, one really needs to have some type of reference point to verify pricing of various models over the years. Obviously, one would need to know the appr time frame as to when a specific unit was made if it is a long running model, as this might not only affect the value of the unit, but also the performance due to the aforementioned production changes. Orion offers annual price guides with limited technical info about various models, Audiogon has their BlueBook, etc... Some of us have gathered the various Buyer's Guide's put out by Audio, Stereo Review, etc... over the years. All of these can be excellent resources when trying to dig up info on older gear. However, these price guides are all subject to human error and the previously mentioned "price change" prior to publication. As such, it is always good to check with more than one source and be familiar with the product that you are interested in. Sean
When the MSRP of an item has increased over time, I think the only fair way to represent the price is to quote the MSRP at the time the item was originally manufactured -- not what it may be selling for now (maybe years later). The referenced MSRP ought to provide a rough gauge of the unit's value when it was made.
I have sent 5-6 notes this year to sellers who printed inflated MSRP's, suggesting that they correct the prices in their ads. Most of these sellers have subsequently revised the MSRP stated in their ad, and sent me a "thank you" you note for bringing their attention to the matter.
Not everyone does so, however. The most recent example I encountered was a Canadian seller who was advertising two Adcom preamp/tuners -- the MSRP he used in his ads for these two units stated MSRP's in the $1200-1500 range, compared to the actual MSRP of $400-500. This example reflects the grossest distortion of MSRP that I have seen in Audiogon's ads.
If you see an incorrect MSRP, help our audiophile community by contacting the seller and discretely suggest that they may want to correct the content of their ad. While it might be nice if the Audiogon staff could "police" the ads, that isn't very realistic, so it is incumbent on us -- the members of this site -- to help keep things honest and fair.
Scott makes a good point about notifying the seller. I was looking at a pair of speakers here that were demos listed by a dealer. The stated retail price was $200 more than even the MSRP as listed on the manufacturer's website. I called and the dealer seemed genuinely embarrased and apologized by saying that it had been a typo. The dealer did have a decent rating, though I still had a nagging doubt. I know some do this intentionally, though I think in this case it was an honest mistake. On the other hand, my lingering uneasiness points to the need to be careful when listing. Might cost you a sale.