Soundworks in Kensington ,Md. is a Theta dealer.
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Jond, I disagree. I know Mark Haflich, a co-owner of Soundworks, from over at www.avsforum.com (I moderate two forums over there, including the Special Guest forum) and Mark seems to be a class act. Be careful about what you've "heard" because it may not be accurate. First hand knowledge is more significant. You can e-mail Mark at firstname.lastname@example.org and I think you'd find that Mark takes good care of his customers. By the way, I was talking with Lisa at Stewart Filmscreen the other month when she was making the arrangements for our AVS Forum CES Dinner Party sponsored by Stewart Filmscreen, and she happened to mention that Mark and his company Soundworks were one of their best dealers.
My experience at Soundworks about four years ago was about what the posts on audioasylum describe. The thing that floored me was that they flat refused to let me do an in-home demo. I was in the market for a HT processor, and was considering the EAD, but I wanted to take it home for a few days and see if my wife could figure it out and live with it. They said no way. I asked if I could buy it and have a money back guarantee, and was told no, I could only get credit towards a different purchase. Unbelievable!
Thanks Steve for the nice words. At Soundworks we do lend certain equipment out for trial. This priviledge is reserved for established customers. On new equipment sales we have a staunch no cash refunds policy. We accept returns for 30 days and issue a store credit which may be used at anytime in the future. I guess that's unbelievable. We have been in business now for 19 years. Most audio/video speciality stores last only a short time. We have learned that we can not keep everyone happy all of the time but we keep most of our customers happy most of the time. It is a said said fact but the customer simply is not always right. Transaction must be win/win. A new item taken home to play with for a few days, becomes a used item of considerably lesser value. Our policy of store credits only assures that we will not lose our shirts this way, It assures that we will at least make a sale to offset our new open box return. We sell over 100 different brands and in a credit situation can usually obtain a brand that we do not normally sell. Our true customer is indeed protected. TWe will not be a show room for internet sellers and we certainly are not a equipment lending library. We are here to serve our customers. People who use us but are not our customers once found out are rudely dismissed from our premises.
That said, over a period of years we have made mistakes. Salesmen sometimes have tough periods and may not always have acted as nicely as they should. I am continually working with the sales staff to educate them and to treat customers well. A customer doesn't have to buy to be a customer either. Lots of customers visit to see what's new and to get help with issues they may be facing. My wife and I have become friends with many many of our customers and each sunday during the summer have a barbeque for our employees and customers at out lakeside house in the country.
I think you will find it pleassurable to visit our store and will find yourself nicely treated.
Since it appears the response from Soundworks is directed at me, I'll give my side of things.
I have no doubt that audio retailers fight a constant battle with internet dealers who undercut prices, and people who buy from these dealers probably haunt your store checking out gear. However, that doesn't justify an elitist attitude to everyone who walks into your store...that is the very attitude that has turned so many people off to high end audio. A bricks and mortar store ought to offer more than the internet - knowledgable sales people and a wide selection of gear, for starters. But IMHO, the opportunity for home trial is something I expect if I'm going to plunk down a bunch of my hard-earned $$. Here's why: the percieved performance of audio equipment varies greatly depending on associated components and the room it's played in. Even if the dealership can replicate the components you have at home (unlikely), the room is still a huge variable. It's tough to know if an upgrade is worth the investment until you hear it at home.
When I visited your store, the salesmen certainly didn't say that home trial was a right reserved for "established customers". Exactly how much coin does someone have to drop at your store to earn that title? I was told flat out "no, we don't do that". The store credit was of no use in this circumstance. I was considering a $2500 processor, and the only alternatives were over twice as much money....more than I was prepared to spend at the time. And no, I wasn't some kid in jeans and a dirty T-shirt...I came from work at the Pentagon and was wearing my uniform as a United States Air Force officer.
You might take a poll of your customers..I'll bet most of them won't care about paying retail for an "open box" item that's in mint shape and comes with full dealer warranty, in return for the priviledge of a home audition. Other dealers who've been in business for many years manage to do it.
Sorry I do not know your name or I would personalize the response. Salesmem change from time to time and a response from one is not necessarily what you would get if I had been present. Every situation is handled by an owner on an ad hoc basis. New sales people probably adopt a hard line re deviating from general policy. What a cistomer is wearing has absolutly no impact on how a customer is treated.
Long time customers get loan privileges. Customers who are new probably wouldn't be afforded a loan. However, had I been present and you explained the issue was one of wife operability, the loan would have been made by me. Things change. Most people find me a very nice guy and now that i have retired from the practice of law, I am in the store almost eveyday for long hours.
I invite you to visit our store again. Please call me before you come and I will ensure that you enjoy your visit. Of course, they would be no obligation to purchase anything. Just come enjoy, and let me try and make a new friend. Mark Haflich