Trouble Auditioning Hi-fi Components?

I am currently planning to upgrade my stereo system. One of the specialist hi-fi dealers in my area is apparently so busy with Home Theater and other clients that they do not have time to spend with me. I cannot get an appointment after a month of trying. After all, I am only looking at spending a few thousand dollars on components. They can make much more money selling complete, custom installed Home Theater systems for $100,000+ and put them into zillion dollar houses. Unfortunately this dealer is the only one for several hundred miles that carries several brands that I plan to audition. I think it may be easier in the very large markets such as New York and Los Angeles. Has anyone else had trouble auditioning components in their local area due to the increasing demands of the custom installed and Home Theater markets? Do you feel like a second rate customer at you local shop when you want to buy ONLY audio components and don't care that much about your TV, video and don't want megabuck custom installation?
I live in New York and if I wish I can audition for the whole week every day with different dealers arround NY and NJ areas. Some of the NY dealers are also busy with rich folks that want $100k HT and don't give a $hit or even knowledge about 2ch system.
Another reason the high end is killing itself.
I'd be really "ticked off" too if my local dealer kept putting me off because they are "busy" with HT, and I've not had that happen. It sounds like you can't even get an in-store audition. Is that correct? It takes them set-up time for that, so ask them if you can take the components home for a few days?

I've discovered the need to be creative and flexible when it comes to auditioning audio components at home. I've auditioned via mail order with 10-30 return privilege; I've used my local dealer a fair amount; I've bought used from A'Gon just to audition, and then re-sold; I've tried friend's equipment occasionally.

Some of the big stereo stores will allow mail order auditions, especially if they know you are serious, ie I've bought two amps from Progressive Audio in Ohio-- with return if not satisfied. I think Audio-Video Logic in Iowa will do some of this too. Of course you're out shipping and you pay near retail-- sometimes. But to me, mail order with return privilege is really valuable as I live "off the beaten path". Good Luck. Craig
I've had exactly the same experience. I saw a post the other day from someone travelling to the Dallas/Ft. Worth area who wanted to know about high-end salons to visit. I honestly could not steer him to any shops of particular interest as most have devolved into little more than HT installation fronts.

Now if the poster had but asked about topless bars, DFW is awash in them. Audio shops are a different and sad story.
The nearest stereo shop is 40mi from me (Circuit City). After that, its 150mi and when I get there, the setups, rooms, etc. are so different it's not possible to know how things will work in my system. Enter Audiogon. I've taken to finding good prices, listening to the equipment in my system and in my room, keeping what sounds right and reselling what does not work. I'm sure I'm not alone.
Man did your post ring a bell with me. I have a Linn dealer in my area that is of absolutely no value whatsoever. His suggestion for my turntable problems was for him to ship it to Florida for me and, I quote,"it'll work great right out of the box". As a Linn dealer it appears that he isn't even obligated to know how to work on an LP12. Yes, he is busy with HT installations and his clients are of the "rich and famous" category. There is only one "real" store in Boise which no longer carries Linn due to the requirements of dedicated listening rooms and mandatory inventories. I ran into the local sales rep for Linn at this store while he was trying to find a retail home for the Classic line. (It seems Linn of Scotland recognizes a need for additional coverage in this huge country of ours) Anyway, since it was obvious that he was not going to get the Classic line placed in this market area I suggesting that perhaps I would be interested in assuming this role. I didn't even get so much as a return phone call inquiring about my ability to become a retailer. I even called Linn USA (who obviously didn't want to step on the reps toes, so to speak) and didn't get a return call from them. Go figure. I am a little ashamed to admit that I recently purchased a Wakonda, Genki and a pair of LK 240's to go with my existing Sara's and LP 12. I feel a fool for enriching what appears to be the enemy. On the bright side I received excellent help and service from The Audio Gallery (Lake Oswego, Or.-a 400 mile drive for me!)for these products. Cindy and Gary are very worthy of my hard-earned dollars. I maintain that it is stupid to not court a long term relationship with all people who desire to audition a retailers products. Some of us who are not rich occassionally place our priorities in a league with the rich. Money is money or am I missing something here? Thanks for giving me the opportunity to rag about an issue that has been bothering me for a few weeks. I am note clueless, but I don't understand.
It is the relationship with a dealer that counts.
Even if you do get the audition, you are not likely
to be happy with the relationship.

Have you ever considered treating yourself to an audio
weekend. Spend $99 on a round trip ticket to a hub
city and visit a few good 2-channel shops. I make one
day round trips to Washington-DC all the time and two
day trips all over the country. Just a thought
I live near Yosemite Park in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California. Most folks here consider Radio Shack and Walmart their source for audio gear. For me to audition equipment entails traveling to the San Francisco Bay Area (3 hours), San Jose (4 hours), or Los Angeles (7 hours). Then spending hours in traffic getting from one place to another. Lucky for me there's Audiogon, as well as other audio sites on the internet to research equipment, ask questions, learn, buy-sell-upgrade, etc. So far, I haven't made too many mistakes and I love the sound of my system.
Play their game; make an appointment under the ruse of auditioning a theater rig. Use a pseudoname if necessary. Once you're there, humor them a bit in the theater room, then moving on to what you really wanted a bit later.
Even if you don't buy from them, I wouldn't feel a bit guilty for using their shop & buying here or wherever. Serves them right for the way you're being treated.
In Kansas City area, there are only three high-end places worth considering. And two of them are an absolute joke when it comes to customer service and wouldn't give 'em another dime. The third one is quite good with customer service and wouldn't hesitate to give him top dollar for a product because he takes his store very seriously.

But that's what audiogon is for. By it used at a good price and demo it in your home. If you're not happy with it, you should be able to sell it for about what you paid for.

Save your extra money for when you purchase from somebody who really cares or at least pretends to care.
If you need to spend bucks for the road to audition, the best probably idea is to
a) either buy products from dealers that guarantee a return within 'n' days minimum 15
b) or ask for advices here and buy used products online and re-sell whatever you feel doesn't match.
I hate those Voodoo salons--truly. I suggest you develop good relations with four or five of us and exchange ideas. Also work on finding good dealers you can trust over the phone. Bill Parish of GTT Audio and Steve Monte of Quest for Sound are two who I trust. People like them will help you from a distance.
We're down to only one real mid-high shop here in MouseLand and it is increasingly preoccupied with HT installations. I carefully cultivated a personal friendship with one of the senior salespersons and it has made all the difference. Sharing the occasional pitcher of beer with this guy has been illuminative. When they can sell a $100K custom installation on the basis of a one-hour appointment, during which the most important topic is gaining the wife's approval of the grill fabric for the in-wall speakers, it isn't difficult to understand why 2-channel gets short shrift. Especially when they are plagued with braindead twits who insist on bringing three of their own interconnect sets and switching them in and out--and then announce that they found the same gear on ebay for 60% off and just wanted to hear it live before they bid on it.

Between the arrogance and highhandedness of retail owners and salespersons and the whining, bitching, niggling, and freeloading of "audiophile" customers, it is no wonder that mail order and internet shopping are rapidly becoming our only alternatives.