Store auditioning and then buying on-line from others. How do you feel about it ?

Doesn't look too pretty, but who cares, right ?
I guess you can do it once at a given dealer but don't expect them to keep welcoming you back. In my experience treating dealers fairly serves you much better in the long run -- doesn't mean you have to spend all your $$ in once place but at least give them something for their time
Exactly. I would offer to pay for their time, I think a fair rate could easily be negotiated.
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Mea Culpa, 
I heard the Ayre Codex at AudioConnection and bought a used unit here on Agon. I felt bad that I didn't give him a chance to sell me one.
In fact I bought all my equipment used- a lot of it from Johnny's customers. I couldn't afford it otherwise.
I try to buy what I can from him, like cables and accessories, but the big ticket items.... Oh well, you know. 
As a small business owner, I know how hard it is to make a living. Though I do try to steer as much business his way, as possible, through my posts.
For his part, John Rutan has been nothing but generous in dispensing advice and information. When I win the lottery, guess who I am going to buy from?

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Of course, turning around to buy used is going to happen.  But those are onesies and twosies kinds of things.  It's really dealers getting their sales poached by other dealers that's a huge burden upon them.

When I imported high-end audio components, and went about building a dealer network, there was no more difficult problem I faced.  It completely blindsided me, and emerged in my mind as a primary reason so many companies struggle to get their legs under them or sustain operations.  Dealer unhappiness represents a far bigger problem than any of us sitting on the sidelines realizes.

After the first year, I evolved into a workable solution; dealer territories.  No dealer could sell a component outside of their area without my consent.  Normally, that exception was provided for long-standing customer-dealer relationships.  At first, the dealers balked.  But as they began to see how it protected them from poaching, they got on-board in a bigger way than I would have hoped.  In fact, before I decided to pull the plug, I had more dealers coming to me than I could shake a stick at.  Most of them said the same thing, I wanted to watch how you handled the line.  The way you've advertised / marketed the brand, gotten reviews, attended shows, and most importantly, supported the dealers who represent you won me over.  Life is about relationships.  Take care of those who you deal with, and it will come back to you, and vice versa

 It is never OK. If brick and mortar stores go out of business there will be no place to demo equipment. Then you are just buying blind. I won't buy a piece without hearing it in my system. Everyone needs to support their local dealers if they can.

 I am not rich and buy almost everything used. I am friends with a couple local dealers. I usually buy stuff that was traded in by other customers. This way I can demo something at home before I buy it. The dealer will also stand behind the piece if there is a problem. My ARC dealer is great, he will call me if he is getting in a piece he thinks I might want. I usually tell him my plans if I am looking for something in particular. One of my local dealer let me buy a pair of his demo speakers at a great price and make payments. Even though I am not buying new, they are still making money off of me and I am supporting their business. 

Never say never but I doubt that I will ever buy any expensive piece new. Good things are too expensive and there is a pretty wide availability of used stuff. Buying used from dealers is an excellent way, if possible.

@inna "but who cares, right?"

Only you can answer that ethical riddle for yourself. Others of us may wish to develop long-term business friendships built on trust, knowledge, shared interests, and honest dealing. As we know, lowest pricing isn't always the answer to life's questions. Nor is it always the answer to developing a great audio system.  Top-flight brick and mortar dealers (audio and otherwise) add value for their customers. Those who don't or can't see that value will look elsewhere, of course. Dealers who don't add enough value to enough customers obviously will find other pursuits.
I have never walked into a brick-and-mortar shop without the motivation, funds, and a price in my head that I would be willing to pay if the demoed equipment passes muster and the retailer will negotiate. Otherwise it’s a waste of time and energy all around. Get your jollies at the audio shows; do business with the retailer.
It is wrong an unfair. It costs them money to have a room, to have gear... It's not only the time spent with the customer. And it is not sustainable behavior. It will kill stores on the long run, just like book stores and Amazon. 
Ok- so let's put this in concrete terms. Item X available at a traditional store for $2,000, new with warranty, and available on line, new with warranty, for exactly 1/2 the price. As a consumer, are you obligated to sustain the brick and mortar retailer above your own pecuniary interests? 
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I do  my best to support local business. I am willing to pay more when provided value added. Its that simple.

Here’s a story. I went to a local shop Monday after Thanksgiving and auditioned headphones with my Chord Mojo DAC. Ended up buying a pair of Grado phones I auditioned. Except none in stock so dealer imdicated they could order it for me from their store on Amazon and have it shipped to me. So they did. All good. I even got a 10% cyber Monday discount

Two weeks later now and still no phones delivered. Maybe tomorrow. Turns out they had to have the phones shipped to the store first which took longer than expected and then ship them to me. They were in the store finally yesterday.

I could probably have ordered them straight on Amazon wih Amazon prime and had them sent straight to me in two days. Now I got an online discount plus dealer has to cover two shipping costs.

Just weird. Where is the profit in that?  Very inefficient process for everyone. 
In order to survive, the audio dealers have to offer payment plans or even leasing just like automobiles. 
Please visit audioloan dot com to get approved for hottest marketplace deals yay!
A truly good dealer can be an invaluable thing and sometimes you pay more money up front to spend less later. A good dealer realizes that the true audio enthusiast that comes in may not buy something that day, or may not be able to afford what he wants. Spending the time today to treat someone with respect chitchat and give good advice can pay dividends both ways.

After years of buying gear on here, getting stuff I bought hear fixed at my local dealer and listening. I finally bought a demo piece. Then I bought tubes, eventually had that piece upgraded. When I decided to buy speakers last year I decided after everything I wanted to buy something brand new from that dealer and I did. So don't been an a**hole, but, by the same token most of shopping is browsing. Be honest start a rapport with your dealer and who knows where you may end up.
It seems that we are all quite nice, at least on paper. I really wanted to audition newest Gryphons, without any intention to buy, and was invited by a NJ dealer after I simply asked the American distributor to send me the price list. I didn't go, but maybe I should've gone and offered them 'audition fees' as I myself just suggested. The reason I wanted to know the prices had nothing to do with buying new, it had to do with possible future buying used. I also wanted to inform the membership here. Also, dealers don't have all models, they can only order them. What do you do ? Drive 500 miles if others have it ? And that's if. But that's another point.
The biggest issue is finding any dealership that actually has the gear you want to buy, or think you want to buy in the first place, all under the same roof!

If I’ve been up front with the LAS of my intent to buy a XYZ and no fair deal could be made at all, I’ve no issue with buying outside my area, from another dealership or individual seller. None.

For someone to buy anything there must be, the thing itself, the desire for it or something similar to it, and a reason to buy.

Buying pre-owned has a strong appeal. It also has hidden issues and its own set of perils. Eg., the carrier.

I would prefer for obvious reasons to buy on the spot everytime. Although, price becomes an issue. At least in the places I’ve tried or been able to buy things from, obtaining a bargain or even modest discount is almost impossible.

Then too, with some dealerships there is the added attraction of arrogance and denigrating their competition, or even your own desires or thoughts openly. Usually there is no charge for that. That’s a great sales scheme, talk down on those similar items you do not carry, and belittle the buyer’s ideas outright. Nice.

But I keep trying. Again, so there’s no shipping. No confusion. No surprises. And, sadly few if any deals.

IMHO, LAS are gonna have to get on board with new sales tactics as has been said here already. Initiating a list of sorts of those current buyers who expressed a desire to trade up or in, and those with which a retail sale could not be made so the two can be put together. Maybe entering into the consignment business, or plainly, selling used gear as well. Additionally, now and then, merely moving tonnage.

Often business become shortsighted on the leaner deals regularly letting them walk, and not acknowledging the fact they could have accomplished a lot more.

They could have made someone very happy siply by putting product out there. Product which will be seen by other people and of course, these other people will ask where was it bought? Then too, they work the social angle improving community relationships with each sale, be it fat or thin they’ve made a happy buyer and that promotes word of mouth advertising. You can’t buy that sort of advertising.

Maybe too, made a loyal customer they would not otherwise have had. One which will now refer others to that place.

Good news travels fast. Bad news travels faster!

People who bought a new aBC thingy may tell a friend or three. Those who have had bad experiences with the dealer will go out of their way to tell folks they don’t even know all about it.

Happiness abides a while, resentments can last lifetimes.

One would think by now, the web has had to have made a severe impact and as such B&M dealerships should be compelled to become more competitive with their pricing, and inter personal skills. Again, in a few instances some have not.

In fact LAS must adopt new sales resources and business plans going forward. As many do not offer ease of access or IOW close proximity to many buyers. Therefore little or no actual support is ever gonna be provided the buyer following a sale.

Sadly, in a valueless society price is king.

Asking or expecting buyers to pay MSRP has long since been read its eulogy.

Part of it is that +$20k (pick a number) amplifiers aren't meant to be sold to people who search for hard bargains, they're meant to be sold to people who want the attached service aspects of a brick and mortar dealer.

After which..regarding not fitting the intended market window... it gets complicated and into individual cases.

Or something like that. (kinda goes like.....)

Zavato said: “Item X available at a traditional store for $2,000, new with warranty, and available on line, new with warranty, for exactly 1/2 the price.”

Now, you have to remember the online “dealer” is likely a broker that has no stock and will have the unit drop shipped from the distributor or factory with virtually no overhead.

When I was in the business in the 90's, dealer discounts where 40% to 50% in small numbers for electronics + SHIPPING and sometimes up to 60% with cables.

A B&M dealer would loose money if he sold that $2000.00 unit for ½ price.

Also think about that warranty, where would you take the unit if you had a problem? Back to the dealer you did not buy it from to handle the warranty service? Or, send it back and hope for the best.

What I did was, if there was a problem under warranty and I had a demo in stock, I would let the buyer use the demo until the unit was replaced or repaired so he would not be left without.

It is unrealistic for B&M dealers to match online prices, provide demo spaces, pay rent, utilities, wages, taxes, supplies and still make a profit.

As far as paying 'fees' for a dealers time when yr at their store.  I'd try to always buy a few accessories or LP's (if available).  The dealer never knew I was doing this to ease my conscience!;)
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as inna said, we're all nice and ethical on paper; when actual significant dollars are involved i'd suspect our standards become more flexible. for myself, as someone who provides service for a living i'm empathetic to the b&m retailers and, at least where they provide good advice and add real value, would pay a reasonable premium to patronize them. that said, i feel no moral compulsion to pay full retail at a generic big-box retailer simply because i auditioned the item there--they better price-match
I think, the idea of store financing is a good one, especially now. Even if I could pay, say, $16k for a new Gryphon Diablo 300 integrated I very unlikely would want to do it right away. You don't live without savings in this country. Five year financing on reasonable terms would be nice. I heard that in Germany they don't even have credit cards, all the financing goes thru stores. Unless it's changed.
Doesn't look too pretty, but who cares, right ?
Another asked and answered thread.
Are you asking to hear answers or answering to hear confirmation?
To your first question, it falls somewhere between bad form and stealing, IMO.
To your second question, my answer is "wrong."
"Who cares" is an unfortunate opinion.
Loathsome to go audition something already seen online, have the LAS give you its best advice, spend all day trying stuff out or even allowing a home audition, and buy somewhere else to save a few bucks, especially without giving the LAS a shot at coming close in price---double especially if the LAS is cool about questions and service concerns.
Totally agree. 
Item X available at a traditional store for $2,000, new with warranty, and available on line, new with warranty, for exactly 1/2 the price. As a consumer, are you obligated to sustain the brick and mortar retailer above your own pecuniary interests?
@zavato- Yours is a different issue.  At least as I understand it, OP was asking about using the LAS to audition equipment, with the INTENTION of buying elsewhere if the audition is satisfactory.  In that case, it matters not what the total cost or the cost differential is.  It's a form of theft...theft of services, theft of intellectual property. etc.  For which the sentence is 10 years home confinement with nothing to listen to but lossy, low bit-rate, auto-tuned Paris Hilton MP3s!

I've been friendly with dealers and have always been very self conscious about wasting a dealer's time.  I'm always very upfront about exactly where I stand in terms of a purchase.  I never go to a store and ask to audition equipment that I'm not serious about buying from that dealer.

And if I'm just visiting a store to check it out, I'll sit down and listen if a system is already playing, or if a dealer asks if I'd like to hear X or Z system I make it clear whether I'd actually be in the market for those. 
As in "those are out of my price range" and if the dealer still doesn't mind putting it on, that's up to him.

The smart dealers will allow the customers to hear systems that the customer may not think he's looking to buy.  That's how I was "upsold" before on systems.  For instance, I went to a dealer to audition the Joseph Audio Pulsar speakers.  I liked them but wasn't sure they were quite full range enough.  The dealer asked if I'd iike to hear the larger floor standing Perspectives model but I said they were more than I was looking to spend.  Nonetheless, he said no problem, take a listen anyway.  Turned out I was so smitten with the sound, now I'm likely to buy a pair from that dealer.  That's happened to me before as well.

In fact, right AFTER I started contemplating if I could possibly afford those Joseph speakers, a very rare pair of Perspectives appeared on audiogon.  Where it would be financially painful to purchase them new, at less than half price used it would have been a cinch.  It was pretty torturous to let those used Perspectives go, but I felt committed to buying from the dealer after using his time.

So I'm very against the idea of going to a dealer, using his store to audition an item with buying it second hand in mind. 

That said, my recent bought of speaker auditioning brought up an ethical question:

How committed should I feel to a dealer who gives a crappy audition experience???

I had a couple that left a bad taste in my mouth. In one case I was auditioning Audio Note speakers at the only AN dealer around. The speakers were in a small room and the salesman was one of those
"too much chat" and "stand behind you while you listen" types. I can't stand that, couldn't relax to see if I could get into the sound, and I very politely said "I'm actually fine on my own here, if I could just listen a while." That seemed to slightly chuff the salesman who left, closing the door fairly strongly. Within a minute the store owner came in - clearly having been told by the salesmen that I'd asked to listen on my own - and defiantly pulled up a chair and sat down near me, arms crossed. As in "sorry buddy, this is our store and no one tells us what to do." And he began to chat.

Even if I liked the speaker, they lost a sale for that ridiculous attitude.
Now IF I'd liked the committed should I feel to buying from salesmen who acted like that?

I had a similar, though not quite as bad experience when I auditioned another brand of speakers I was interested in.  It was a fairly large store, staffed by younger guys who seemed limited in their knowledge and experience.  Basically I was contemplating buying a $10,000 pair of speakers in a certain finish (ebony). I deliberately took time off work to show up mid-week, afternoon, at a time I knew the store would be quiet.
I was the only one there, with 3 bored salesmen.  And a lot of "let me operate the CD player and tracks for you" stuff, like I couldn't be trusted to even do that without a salesman watching me.   After only about 25 minutes the salesman started the "ok, times up, what did you think?" patter.  It wasn't nearly enough time to make a decision about that much money.  It's not like people were lining up to take up their time.  I was the only customer there and they clearly had nothing else to do.

Once again, left with a very bad taste in my mouth, not wanting to go back there.   Though if I'd loved the speakers, I would have bought them from the store.

But I decided the speakers probably weren't for me anyway.

But...months later I encountered that brand again at some length at an audio show and it re-ignited my interest in the speakers. And when I was doing one of my casual looks through the audio marts, not looking for anything specific, I spotted a pair at a ridiculous steal of a price.   But in the wrong finish.

So what was I to do? I didn't care for the way the speaker store rushed the audition process, yet maybe I would like the speakers after a longer listen. My compromise was this: I knew if I bought the second hand pair I could very easily re-sell them. So I grabbed them as a form of my own in-home audition.   If I liked them and they sounded good in my room, I would sell them and buy a brand new pair in the finish I really want from the store. That was frankly the only way the store had a chance for a sale anyway, since my store audition hadn't sold me on the speaker.

Turns out I didn't care for the speaker and quickly re-sold it.   And holy cow I'm glad I didn't buy it after that rushed audition at the store!

That's the closest I've ever come to breaking my code of listening at a store and buying used. But all things considered, it struck me as a fair way to give the store a shot at my buying a speaker from that store, despite not liking the store experience.

So, after purchasing $5,800 in amps from this unnamed Good High End dealer in Waltham, Mass, I ask to hear a couple of speakers.  Set up the demo a week ahead of time.  Listened to the speakers, which happened to be Magico 3 MK2, which I thought were completely lacking in bass. When I ask the guy about the lack of bass, he's dumbfounded and starts with "so where do you want to go?"  After leaving the store and looking around some and discovering another brand will come closer to my needs, I shop a couple of stores and then go back to the Good High End store in Waltham.  The imbecile store manager tells me  "Wow, that's a great deal; you should buy them there..."  So, where do you think I am going to buy them... and with a very clean conscience?  You got it; Virginia or Nebraska.
I consider it wrong to use a local dealer to audition audio equipment with no intention of buying it from that store. It is selfish and exudes the bad neighbor syndrome of believing others in life are present for your personal entertainment/education. But negotiating price with a local dealer based on what other dealers will sell the equipment for is acting responsibly with a budget. If the local dealer wants the sale they will do their best to get close on the price offered by their competitors; if they don't want to cut their margins, then they will refuse to sell to a willing buyer seeking a fair deal. That is the local dealer saying no to an interested buyer, not the customer wrongly using the local dealer. And it should be noted that "local" has a much different meaning today with dealers that will ship product to you and allow you to try it risk free for a given time period. I have bought new from a local dealer-- and new from a less than local dealer. I have refused to do business with dealers who want to misrepresent where the transaction occurred or offer to sell me "new" stuff that requires me to lie and say I live outside another dealer's territory. Also, I have received good advice and service from non-local dealers who respond quickly to email, answer their phones, follow up with manufacturers to address concerns and have adjusted to the shrinking world the internet has created. 
I personally never quibble about price if I'm buying from a local audio dealer.  If I'm buying new, so long as I know I'm just not getting shafted on the price, I'm not going to haggle.  It's my feeling that running a high end audio store is difficult enough - it's not like tons of people get rich off of it.  And every sale counts.  So I don't want to skimp and take money out of the very profit the dealer needs to run his shop.
Prof- with respect to your hypothetical about whether you are ethically bound to purchase a product from the B&M store when you liked the product but not the audition experience, I'd say no.  When you buy B&M, a portion of the "value" you get in exchange for the higher price you pay includes customer service.  If the service (e.g., the way you were treated) is poor before the sale, imagine how it will be AFTER they have already have your $!  Your decision process w respect to the A/N's was way more than that store deserved, IMO.  In that case, they did not earn your business.  If I ever got treated that way, you can bet I'd never be back.
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I’m in sales and I buy from my customers. Think about that.! When I need something that one of my customers sells, I buy from them. I don’t care what the price is. They support me and therefore I support them. It boils down to, what comes around goes around. If you’re going to visit a local store that offers you some form of service you should buy from them if you decide to purchase that product. When you do, those dollars go back into the local economy and will come back to you in some small way. Obviously I am a huge proponent of buying local. Do you want that store to be there? Then buy from them! Generally speaking I bet the service you receive is far better then your online source.
$5800 sale is next to nothing for Goodwin's High End. $58000 - they might pay attention. Just as in NYC area, Boston area is full of people living in a totally different economic reality than most of us. What are the formal rules, by the way ? Do dealers have to allow the audition regardless of anything if the customer insists ? Or there are no rules ?  

By the way, I would pay them for the audition not because I care about them, which I don't, but because I would want to buy an hour for serious listening without any interference.
The whole B&M buying experience is in rough shape after being assaulted - first by the big box stores and later by internet sales.  As margins began to decline we started seeing lower paid, younger salespersons with less knowledge about the products.  The internet has not only resulted in many manufacturers selling direct, without the added cost of a dealer network, but it also offers a vast amount of information on just about any product.  An astute internet researcher can usually learn more about a product on-line than they would learn from a salesperson.  Also, B&M stores simply cannot carry the variety of different gear a buyer can consider when researching and purchasing equipment on-line.  The main advantage of a B&M store is the ability to hear products prior to purchasing but on-line dealers have largely overcome that advantage by offering in-home auditions and 30-day money-back options.

Some folks like the B&M experience and wouldn't consider purchasing high-end audio equipment on-line.  Many however have increased their knowledge about different gear because of the internet and are more comfortable purchasing gear on-line. My personal solution was to simply stop visiting B&M stereo shops.  One could argue that I may have actually made less mistakes and saved money had I continued to purchase my gear from B&M stores, where I could hear the gear first.  I am not sure that would have been as much fun, and I certainly wouldn't have been exposed to such a wide variety of different gear. 
Although nobody is "obligated" to support a dealer by purchasing products from a B&M store,  they should not abuse the hospitality of the B&M store by shopping there with no intention to purchase from the store.

Judging by some threads more and more people are buying unheard, including speakers, and often quite expensive stuff, both used and new. 
No, no abuse by either side. I don't want relations with dealers, all I want is the possibility of one hour uninterrupted audition and fair price. City boy attitude.
I agree with Mitch2. The market has changed dramatically. Personally I would add that many people have come to realize that at least on the electronics side there is little point in listening tests or demos (I know many here disagree). As long as I can find some good science and engineering based reviews with measurements to be sure I am not buying into some snake oil product, I am fine with buying electronics online. And I agree it is only fair not to abuse the hospitality of brick and mortars shops. I don’t do that with audio, but also not with one of my other passions, outdoor gear.
Speakers are, of course a different story. At the same time a listening comparison is not that easy. To do it properly, the output level of the speakers you are listening to would have to be equalized to within 0.2 dB, and that is quite an arduous job that I have never seen any shop do. If they did, that would be a good argument for a brick and mortar shop. I did a listening test when I bought my subwoofer, but knowing what I know now, that was a futile exercise, because what I was really hearing was the room interaction rather than the sub itself.
So like it or not we are largely groping in the dark with little to help us reduce the playing field. Sadly, there are very few serious hifi publications left that provide more than subjective (and often paid for) waffle.
As a small business owner, if you do this enough times, you'll only be able to audition from online stores.  Once all the local stores are killed off, you'll only have online retailers, who will only carry a few brands, so you'll have less to choose from.  Then you'll whine that you can't find brand X anywhere.  You'll have done this to yourself and everyone else.
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" moral compass" is an outdated concept. It has never been particularly popular, besides, it can be interpreted very differently. 

Anyway, "moral compass" is directly connected to some authority. There is no more authority to which it could be connected. We are lost sheep longing to be found.