What Are Your Audio Morals?


A. We all want to audition equipment before we buy it;

B. We all want the most for our money;

C. We all can find the same equipment cheaper on the Internet than from high end dealers;

D. We all know that you can't audition equipment on the Internet.

Therefore, the question is: How can you morally audition equipment at dealers when you know you won't be buying there?

After all, the dealer is giving you his time, his advice, the exclusive use of his listening room (all at the expense of customers who may actually biuy from him), a pro-rated percentage of wear and tear on his equipment, and a pro-rated share of his rent, electricity, salaries, advertising, taxes, maintenance, etc.

What do YOU do when you want to audition equipment? Do you:

1. Use your local dealer and buy from him?

2. Use your local dealer and buy elsewhere?

3. Don't use your local dealer, but buy elsewhere as long as you can return it?

4. Take a chance and just buy based on reviews, thinking maybe you can sell it if you hate it?

5. Other?

BTW, I am not a dealer. I'm just aware that if we all use dealers as free audition services knowing we'll buy elsewhere, local dealers will soon be extinct.

Maybe that's OK. Perhaps, with the advent of the Internet, local dealers serve no purpose anymore. That may be a future topic of discussion.
Easy. It is a matter of principle and professional ethics (I'm a salesman) that keeps me from using dealers for auditions when my itentions are to buy used.

Fact of the matter is, there is a local dealer who has allowed me to demo several pieces in the past. These guys really do have a fair amount of time invested in me and I've bought one cheap cable from them. Though not to demo at this point, I stick my head in from time to time to see what's new. Sooner or later I'll get this monkey off my back by finding something in this shop that will repay their investment in me. It'd be a lot easier if they didn't carry uninteresting stuff like Martin Logan, Thiel and Classe. Maybe those Sonus Fabers in the corner... ;-)
My first two amps, first two sets of speakers and first cd player (about $5000 invested at one time) were purchased from dealers. That was for me a learning experience. I was not informed enough to do it any other way. Looking back, they were not exactly wise choices and the dealers certainly didn't have my interests at heart. They weren't thinking about a second sale to me. Nothing about system matching, and, I guess I learned my lessons the hard way. As I gained more knowledge, I continued to shop at dealers, but demoed as much as I could and bought only after I was sure. The dealers were not as happy with me. I would demo from different dealers because they carried different brands and I wanted to learn as much as possible. These choices were more informed, but I still ened up losing money.

I then started buying on the internet. I would like to believe that I was even more informed. I bought and sold many pieces over a couple of years and managed to break even. I even purchased from dealers on the internet. Much to my surprise, most of my current system (Rowland, Meadowlark, Cardas) was purcased new or as a demo from the same dealer.

So my point is? Find a way to know as much as possible before making purchases. Books, magazines, forums, friends, anyone who will share. If you don't have the time and energy to become informed, frustration is the probable outcome, not to mention the financial hit. We don't need to steal from dealers if we are willing to do the work ourselves. When I purchase from a dealer, I expect to pay more. I also expect more from them. I have no guilt demoing and not buying if the piece isn't right. When I purchase privately, I take my chances and pay less, usually without a demo. I do know the value of what I purchase and try to have a good idea about resale value, by looking at ads right here.

Sorry this is so long and I hope it makes some sense. It is two AM and I can't sleep.
I think if you are upfront with the dealer and let them know you need to find a certain piece of gear on the cheap many will help you out and give mini auditions with the understanding that you'll be buying something from them down the line or even that day, just not the major piece you're really interested in.

but to waste a dealers time knowing you have no intention of buying from him sucks. even if the guy is a jerk. it just makes you one too.

i also think dealers feed on your enthusiasm to learn. they'll go out of their way for someone who really wants to learn from them and listen to what they have to say. some wont let you leave the store w/o making you demo gear they know you cant afford if you hit it off with them. it's all about style and relationships. if they're not into that then they're the wrong people anyway.
My dealer is a close friend of mine. I find his often dizzying markups immoral and he my occasional shopping sprees outside of his territory as well. We can both live with that, because he's also a true audiophile, which is the basis of our friendship. We both know that we have conflicting interests...and in order to preserve our friendship, we are careful to give each of us his due, as well as all the necessary leeway. If he has something I want, I will pay his price, if he shows me something, which I can get cheaper from overseas, he understands. He'll keep me informed of new developments, I might show him new gizmos, like the Bybees for example. I'll get him new customers and an occasional LP he's after, but has no time to find and he'll repair gear, which I've imported on the "grey market " . So we have built up a good symbiosis through the years, a good synergy which serves us both.
I don't use audio advice from shops when I intend to purchase used or at a discount elsewhere. Using advice to me is the same as using a demo and buying elsewhere. A long time ago someone, maybe my father, told me that if I wanted service then pay for it, otherwise buy discount. That's probably why high end camera stores and bicycle shops dropped like flies in the eighties and nineties.

I would rather buy the unit used, take my time and feel free to keep or sell. And by the way... I've demo'd a ton of pieces and resold them. I prefer to listen to the advice given here in the threads and in print to anecdotal assertions of buy here now-gold at a discount!

Bill E.
Have you ever gone to a few stores to listen and bought from the one who gave you the best deal.Whats the difference.
There ar 5 B&W Dealers within a 30 minute drive from me.Is it wrong to go listen at all five and buy from the one with the best price.
You have no morals if you demo at a dealer knowing that you will, or likely will, purchase elsewhere. (And by "demo" I mean that you are taking up the dealer's time with an extended "sit down" or home demo.)
Good Thread. Honesty and integrity is the only way to deal with this issue. I have demoed stuff at a dealer with no intention of buying (not on the internet either). I tell the dealer, I'm not buying but would like to hear speaker X. I ask them only to demo it to me when all customers that are buying have been helped. They are always very accomodating, and although I don't buy the speaker, I usually end up buying other things from them down the line. I do these demo's to educate myself on what I like, don't like, might buy someday in the future, might dream about when I win the lottery. Dealers like to demo those $70k speakers--even when they know you aren't buying them--it's a lot more fun than demoing the economy bookshelf speakers (but that's what frequently pays the rent).

As to Leafs comments. I don't think there's anything wrong with that if you are upfront about it. He's not going to the interenet to get a better deal. It's like buying a car. I do the same thing with the dealers there. I tell them I'm going to buy car Y. I tell them there are 4 dealers in my general area and I'm going to visit each one. The one with the best deal gets my money. There are no hidden agendas--it's basic competition.
I have all but written off high-end shops and therefore don't utilize their services, either to buy through them or to audition something and then buy it cheaper elsewhere. I read a lot of reviews, buy stuff used, decide over a couple months if I like it or not, and sell what I don't want.

About once a year I go to a couple of the local high-end stores just to see if they've changed their approach at all - new pricing strategies, more intelligent advice, different products, etc. I'm open to seeing the value, but it never seems to make itself apparent, so I go back to educating myself and providing service to myself. I'll even be real open with them, and ask them about all of these issues, but instead of trying to win me as a customer, they get all nervous and avoid the questions. I agree with Abstract7 - if you're up front about what your approach is, there's not a question of morality. It's the flip side of Best Buy saying, "we'll beat any advertised price". You walk in and say, "I'm here to see if you'll do what it takes to win my business". If what it takes is the lowest price, so be it. If it's a certain type and amount of service for a certain price, that's fine too. It's only a question of morals when you purposely mis-lead somebody.

It seems I'm lucky in that my dealer welcomes me to sit in at auditions, and demos of outlandishly expensive equipment he knows I can't (or wouldn't) purchase. When I find equipment in the used market, I inform him and ask for his opinion; we have kind of "tacit agreement" in that he will offer his opinion in exchange for my open communication. He has suggested I go for a piece of used equipment rather than buy new from him (a brand he sells). But then, my dealer is also the shop owner -- which makes things simpler(?).
My old dealer is long since gone. He got into home theater and interior design for a while when hi-end sales started falling and finally just closed the door. There are currently NO high-end shops within a 100 mile radius of where I live. About a year ago I visited one to hear a pair of speakers I was interested in. Problem with this guy is he tried to do the hard close on me and I really got annoyed. If indeed I were going to purchase those speakers, for the time and effort he gave to set things up properly, which he did quite well, I would certainly have purchased from him.

Now I try to get a feel of products from internet sites like Audiogon. I can generally get a good sense of the sonic characteristics I am looking for. Some posters are very good at communicating this and I feel good about their recommendations. I then buy used and if not satisfied will re-sell. I would never use a dealer that would spend the time with me to demo and then purchase at a lower price elsewhere. I would however try to get a discount price from him but recognize the fact that these guys have overhead and expenses and they also have to make money to keep the doors open.

I found a guy fairly recently that is a retired doctor and sells gear out of his home at good prices, amazing actually. I suspect this is what will happen long term with the smaller dealers to keep their overhead cost down. With the internet, a store front isn't as necessary as it once was and they won't have to sell at retail. The manufacturer's won't like it but too bad, they can just sell to the big boys that will continue to sell at full retail. Maybe when I retire I may do it myself to support my hobby. Then again with the slow demise of hi-end it may be a moot point at that time.
Great question. I believe Stereophile had an editorial on this subject about a year or so ago. I think there's a point at which it becomes unethical to use a salesperson's resources when shopping for something you plan to buy used on the internet. Everyone has to decide for himself where that line is. I rarely set foot inside a brick and mortar store anymore, but here's my take on the subject:

First off, I don't have a problem with going into a store to look around with no intention of buying anything. Browsing is fair game in any industry, as is comparison shopping. I'll even ask a question or two if a salesman is handy. It's in a dealer's best interest to have people come in and "kick the tires" as sales are often generated on smaller, unrelated items (cables, etc.) while the person is in the store. I've made similar unplanned purchases when "just looking". But what about actually auditioning gear? Is using a dime of a dealer's electricity a moral meltdown on the customer's part? I don't think so, as long as you're up front with your intentions. I've been in stores before where I've said from the start that I'm not looking to buy something but just want a quick demo to satisfy my curiosity (SACD, HDTV, DTS, etc.). I've never been told no. I think salespeople sometimes enjoy giving you a quick "Gee whiz" experience, even knowing you're not there to buy.

Where I think you cross the line is when you tie up a salesperson's time at length with questions and assistance in auditioning gear--especially when there are other, presumably more serious customers in the store. There's a point at which the demands you put on a salesperson's time and energy is reserved for serious customers only. It's hard to say just exactly where that point is--it's sort of a "feel" thing. It's subtle, but if you pay attention to your own transaction or that of another with the salesperson, you can sense a point--sometimes right off the bat--at which everything shifts gears from "just looking" to "I may take this home if I like it." I'm always careful to keep things in the "just looking" mode when I do my window shopping.
I still try to buy stuff from a local dealer. But as for information, the internet IS the only way to go. The dealers salespeople don't know jack.. or they have an agenda besides the customers best interests.
First of all...all of this used equipment had to be new once, right? Someone must have purchased it from a dealer at one time or another. Besides, a seller of used gear may very well take their profits and use them to buy something new from a dealer. Many of us may buy used, but I don't think we're the majority.

I have plenty of hi-end shops in my city (maybe ten? twenty?), and I honestly don't like dealing with many of the stores that I've visited. Lots of pompous, know-it-all sales guys out there (who don't actually know anything). I never go back to their stores and demo their gear, but if I did, I certainly wouldn't lose any sleep if I ended up buying the very same item used.

I patronize the nicer, friendlier stores as much as possible, but many stores tend to carry the same items and they're usually not what I'm interested in hearing. We may have twenty stores in my area, but most of my system wasn't available from any of my local dealers. One dealer did offer me a preamp demo unit for $3800 ($200 off for the demo...wow!), and I ended up buying a used unit on Audiogon for $1700. Could that dealer honestly expect me to pay him $2100 more for...literally...nothing? I was in his store for 20 minutes, and actually talked to him for 5 at the most. I never actually listened to his unit, because none of his other components were similar to mine...I didn't see the point. I don't make enough money to give $2100 away just to be nice.

I know that there are many people who take full advantage of the dealers service, demos, in-home set-up, troubleshooting, etc, but I'm not one of them. I did buy my Linn LP12 from a dealer, and they did set deliver it and set it up for me. After discovering this site, I don't know if I would ever do that again. I mean...I basically paid a $2000-$3000 delivery fee. I'm glad that they have a gorgeous storefront in an expensive neighborhood, they're well stocked with gear, and they always have four sales guys standing around, but that doesn't mean that I should pay for it. I'm all for guys like Rick Brkich (Signature Sound) who make their home their shop. It's a tough business that fluctuates with the economy...why add unnecessary overhead? I'd rather not pay for it. Some people like the fancy stores, the salesmen in ties, the illusion of prestige...that's fine with me...let them pay for it.
Morality? Difficult situation. I agree with Macm above. We all window shop and compare stuff without intending to take advantage of our local dealers.

(1) You visit your local high end salon and listen to speakers you can't afford. You spend a lot of time and ask a lot of questions and because you're a nice guy the dealer spends his time with you knowing, because youve been honest with him, that you cant afford to buy from him. Maybe he'll refer one of his customers to you with a used pair for sale. Later on, you see the speakers advertised on Audiogon for a song and buy them. Nothing wrong with that as long as you were up-front with the dealer and he knew he was volunteering his time. But wrong if you gave him the impression that you were a buyer.

(2) You visit your local dealer and listen to a pair of bargain speakers that you know can be bought on-line at a discount. The retail value ($300) is not enough for the local dealer to spend time with you and give you much of a discount. The dealer is a jerk, has BO and a foul mouth. You still gotta buy from him and not try to save a few dollars going elsewhere, unless he called you a name or insulted your family.

(3) It is, imo, wrong to go to a store and give the impression that you are interested in buying a product from them when you intend all along to buy from someone else. But what about comparing the same set of speakers, say, to different competitive products at different dealers. Three stores all sell Speaker A. You compare it to Speaker B at store 1, Speaker C at store 2 and Speaker D at store 3. You decide to buy Speaker A. From which dealer do you buy Speaker A? My bet is the one who offers the best price. Would it be wrong to buy it at an even better price on-line? Immoral?

I buy on-line when there is no local dealer or buy from the dealer who gave me the most help. I try to buy from local dealers for the same reason I buy tires from the closest tire store. I like to support local small businesses because I want them to stick around (in my own interest - nothing to do with morality).

(4) You're on vacation and you visit a high end dealer to listen to the latest thing. You fall in love with it and spend an afternoon there. But, its too big to carry home, you don't want to pay for shipping and you prefer to be able to take it back to your local shop for service, so you leave the store fully intending to buy it back home. Is that moral? I say only if you tell the shopkeeper that you're on vacation and not a buyer before the demo and he volunteers to share his time with you.

Some of the dealers from whom I buy actually do business over the internet rather than locally, but I buy from them because they answer my questions, over the phone or by email. I wouldnt ask them any questions though if their prices weren't good, and that's the bottom line. If a local dealer wants to stay in business he needs to offer service and competitive prices.
I don't know if this is helpful or not, but the use of the wprds honesty and integrity is writ large from both perspectives.

I was a retailer in the late '70s and formed a single long term association with someone thereafter. I purchased easily $250,000 worth of eq

... apparently I rudely interrupted myself. So I purchased a lot of equipment for myself and others.

In the past two years, he has shown me B&W Nautilus, McIntosh, Parasound and Conrad Johnson equipment. In some of these instances when I purchased equipment, I did so through Audiogon. I simply could not afford to do otherwise.

From an integrity/honesty perspective, I told him each time I did. I gave him gifts including a case of fine wine to thank him and he knows very well that I will still purchase a proportionally high number of separates from him. As I stated to him once, without his help I would not have heard the B&W Nautilus line and for that I am forever grateful.

We are friends and I believe I've conducted myself in a forthright manner as one would when dealing with friends or any one else in an open fashion.

Besides, when he offers used equipment that I want, it would be purchased everytime.

Gotta go now... don't want to miss any Audiogon opportunities!
I agree with the honesty perspective. If you tell a dealer your intentions, it is their decision whether to spend time with you or loan you a demo. If they think it's a worthwhile investment, they'll try it, if they don't, they won't. I'm going to borrow two CD/DVD players from my dealer in a couple of weeks, and unless I don't like either, buy one from him. I'm also going to ask him if I can borrow a processor at the same time which I intend to buy used. It's a reasonable request, as I'll be spending 2-3k for the source, and I want to know which sounds better with the processor I intend to buy. I bet he'll agree. If I were just asking to borrow the processor demo and if I liked it, buy it used, that's less clear if it's reasonable. It would still be his decision though, as I'd be upfront about my intentions.
To those individuals who think it "immoral" to audition at a dealer & not buy; I ask you, when YOU sell equipment on Audigon that you didn't like, do YOU tell prospective buyers that you hated the sound of the piece or think it sucks? Do you give them your analysis of the sonics, if you don't like the sonics? No, you don't, because you'd never sell the piece. To chastise others on auditioning equipment in dealerships is a pompous & self-righteous act, & IMO, ridiculous. Spending countless visits & hours to a dealer without any intention to buy anything could be considered less than ideal ethics; but people "window shop" in all varieties of retail establishments en masse every day. It's part of modern life -- don't get so self-righteous & hypocritical about it.
Well Kev, are you chastising others for discusssing this issue? You bring up a couple of interesting points, and lead to another. Are the mark-ups on some products moral? Should anyone feel guilty about paying the fair market price for something auditioned at a dealer who insists on full boat retail?

Are retail salespople honest about the merits and value of the products they sell? Would they sell anything if they were? Should you care if you stiff them? (The ones I deal with are, and I wouldnt.)

With respect to used gear, I am probably naive, but most of the time I think something is for sale because the seller wants to buy something better or a better fit for the rest of his system. There is nothing wrong with the little speakers I have advertised in the past. In fact, I have turned down decent offers for them because I am so ambivalent about selling them, and happily listen to them every day. I just wanted to raise some cash to buy bigger and better ones. Do you need to tell someone you hate the piece youre selling? We all have different tastes. There is a certain well-reviewed and popular high end small speaker that I hate, but other people think its great. Im not sure my opinion of it would be relevant if I had a pair to sell.
Danvetc,I take exception to your comment about no morals.
Its a dealers job to demo equipment to people who want to listen to it.He knows full well that he will not make a sale off every demo.Its called the cost of doing business.If you have the opportunity to sit down at 3 or 4 dealers and listen and decide who desrves your business whats wrong with that.A person who shops and compares a product has no morals .Give me a break.
As long as i am up front a tell the salesperson that I will be shoping for the best deal on the product,I have fullfilled by responibility.The best deal is price and service.How do you find out if a salesperson is knowledgeable if you dont let him Demo gear.
I have found this is the best situation to weed out good dealers from bad.
Know you tell me if this is wrong or am I being a educated consumer.
Whomever was offended by my above comments, probably the weak attempt at humor, please accept my sincerest apologies. Far be it from me to try to interject a little levity into an otherwise perfect, cheerful world. I should know better, am humbled by your greatness and shudder to imagine the power you wield. As a form of payback here's another opportunity to stab me in the back with some faceless negative votes. I'm certain you'll take it. F*cking Pr*ck.

Hey, Arnie. Your children are loose again. Want to get them in hand?
fpeel: i didn't rate your first post but i did go back and read it to try to figure why you'd be the recipient of negative votes. it may be due to your presumed inadvertent error in referring to "...uninteresting stuff like.." i think you meant "...interesting stuff like..." but then, you may simply be the target, like many of us, of lurkers bent on striking out with random acts of obnoxiously rude behavior. -kelly
Well Kelly I certainly agree but who's responsible for allowing it to happen? I have this vision of the Audiogon staff laughing out loud at our obsession with this subject as Kilroy Pinhead(s) frantically runs from one poster to the next giving his -2 votes at random picking and choosing indiscriminately "f__k that a__Hole I'll give him something to think about...HEE HEE!! And in the meantime the threads discussing this subject seem to get the most attention adding fuel to the fire. "But folks, it has become a kinder, gentler more civil site". What a bunch of bull shit!!! Damn I hate this voting but sure see why Audiogon likes it, it draws attention like this. Had to get that off my chest and promise it will be my last tirade on it.
Leafs, I fear I was not specific enough. I meant to refer to those who intentionally take advantage of a local dealer's overhead, knowing full well they have NO intention but to buy from the cheapest source, (and they know that it will not be the "brick and mortar" shop they are enjoying the air conditioning in.) You know the type shopper I meant now, don't you? I encourage those who can to support their local tax base by shopping close to home, when possible.

Now if the shop is run by an arrogant ass, I guess all bets are off. What goes around, comes around. Charlie

It seems that the inability to express sarcasm effectively by email, coupled with some folks with anger management problems, has raised its ugly head. But on subject, it seems to me that if you're just looking and say so, there's no moral problem with taking as much of dealer or salesperson's time as they are willing to give. But if you are using them to demo something that you plan to buy on the web, (unless you have a long-standing relationship and make it clear up front) then you are using them; taking the value they add to the sale (overhead plus profit plus expertise) and buying at the lowest price. Its all about your intention. And if you have to rationalize it, then its probably unethical.

Thats the tradeoff from buying on the net; you pays your money (less) and you takes your chances (more).
Leafs, What about the guy that goes into the local hi end boutique shop (if those still exist), listens to say Vandersteen model 2 speakers, loves them, comes back every weekend for the next month to same dealer to hear them over and over again. Takes up a ton of the dealers time; then said dealer finds out this person just ordered a pair from a different dealer.
Frap,that would not be ethical.
I am fortunate Living in the Greater Toronto Metro area there are still many High End Boutique,s around.
I have struggled with this issue of auditionong equipment knowing a sale was at best dubious. In my area we have few high-end shops; coupled with the advent of used product availability over the net, I find it remarkable that dealers retain open doors. A high-end buddy, who opened an audio shop lives on home installs of predominately video systems. He carries a decent selection of well-known manufacturers,i.e. Krell, Thiel, Mcintosh, Aerial, Genesis, Classe, but unfortunately the risk of bringing lines of the more esoteric introduces too much risk. I feel for him and anyone else trying to succeed in this most specialized of retail offerings.

The last product I did buy from him, which incidently proved to be my last retail purchase, was Sony's SACD player. Being a newly introduced product none were available within these or comparable sites. He discounted for me, but not within reach of the used market plateaus. I cannot, at this time, justify purchasing a product from a retailer, with the competive availability. The outrageous pricing, most markedly in the cable industry, has forced the used market to flourish. Without it, my system is frightfully different.

As for taking advantage of dealers, my philosophy holds strong fiat. I have completely disassociated from the institution, even barring phone exchange. Galen Carol used to receive a hand full of calls annualy, but I morally believe, without the potential towards purhase, I have no right. How the retailing market of high-end evolves, vis-a-vis the preowned, may strongly effect the industry as a whole.
Fpeel-- such language :>) What did we do before the advent of the internet? Personally, I've only used i-net purchasing for the last year and a half or so. Prior to that, I used a combination of a good local dealer (and their annual 20% off sale), and mail order dealers.

In those not so distant days, I paid much more for audio gear too. I think the real issue is can "brick and mortar" high end audio dealers stay in business without using the internet? And how will they compete?

It's my feeling that it's going to be really tough for them. I personally think that only those manufacturers and dealers that can find a way to compete with/in cyberspace are going to survive. My local dealer has survived by getting into HT like so many others-- and inevitably they are carrying less pure audio gear.

As to this specific topic, I use a combination of a local dealer and the internet for my audio purchases. But I don't abuse the dealer. Cheers. Craig.
Fpeel -

You got me to go back and read your original post. For the life of me, I can't figure out why anyone would rate it negative. Then again, I've gotten "-2,-2" for mentioning that I'd be in LA soon and would enjoy meeting to audition power cords!

By the way, are you talking about Bay Area Audio? They carry those exact lines. And like you, I stick my head in every few months for the exact reasons you gave (although I did buy a CD player from them in addition to the cheap cable).

Sorry Plasmatronic for disrupting your very thoughtful thread with the above uncalled for comments. Not my proudest moment. Also a sincere apology to anyone who read and may have been offended. Sincerely Will
my audio morality is simple: if you can satisfy me i'll do business with you. here's the trip... when i started buyng separates 30 years ago i made myself a rule: buy the top of the range from any manufacturer. in this way i'd never feel like i got second best. but as my tastes matured so did the price tags and this philosophy became difficult to rationally implement. but with the advent of online used shopping i've refound my compass. sure the stuff i dig now is ten years old, but i can rest easy knowing it was once the best of its kind. however... when only new will do, i research on my own and go to a dealer fully intending to buy from him; back stabbing never enters the picture. otherwise i wouldn't be there and this is why i am... over the years, roughly a third of my new purchases have been defective right out of the box. beyond that i have never suffered a malfunction *knocks wood* in any 'high-end' piece of equipment, new or used. so besides acting as the means of my instant gratification, the primary service a dealer provides me is making good on defective new units. so ok, who wants to sell me a cherry threshold fet ten/e with a silver faceplate? *s*
Jhunter, those are the guys. I've found them to be the most helpful and upfront reseller in the area. My initial joke aside (note the smilie, morons), they carry a good variety of excellent products, don't mind answering questions and keep reasonable hours. They even have a smidge of used equipment for sale. The owner, whose name escapes me, is especially pleasant. BAA does have a BIG focus on custom installations of HT systems which according to the owner is really their bread and butter. Hey, whatever keeps the doors open, right? Highly recommended store.

On the subject of the negative voting, I checked yesterday before allowing myself to get good and agitated. From a high of over 70+ in both categories I'm now down about -10 in each. My goal now is to irritate Arnie's Kids to the point that Agon kicks me off their site. At this rate it shouldn't take much more than a week. It'll certainly free up a lot more time for listening! Hang on Tireguy, I'm coming! (There's a joke in that line somewhere...)
Fpeel- From what I can gather, - votes alone don't get you booted (not sure anyone other than flagrant abusers have actually gotten booted). I think it just puts you on the radar screen and Big Bro (aka Arnie) keeps an eye on you. Hard to believe that anyone would get booted for honest opinions, civilly expressed, or even an ocassional outburt (warranted imo).
I truly believe in supporting my local businesses ( local auto parts, car dealers, book stores ) because I do like to browse. It makes for a relaxing afternoon. But I have already discontinued my business to one of the local stores in my new area because of there comments about customers every time that a person would leave without buying anything. I finally realized that I received the same treatment. My last visit was when I was looking at buying a rather expensive speaker and they were not willing to move the speakers to a room with privacy and similar equipment. But the biggest deal is the very inflated prices of these shops and they refuse to discount. There is only one shop, 40 miles from me that I will still travel to and purchase from because I still desire the service. But I will never buy from the 10 other dealers, that are mostly a closer drive, because I would never treat anyone the way that they treat people. Sometimes I do forget that these people do need to make a living and this is not my lively hood but my passion. So I try to cut some slack. But the brick and mortar businesses are destined for death unless they realize the "Angel of Death" is at their door and start offering either some very useful services above and beyond, including good attitudes or start offering some competitive deals. I can afford to pay $500 more dollars for an amplifier that I can't live without but not $3000. So they have better wise up. If I treated my customers like most highend dealers do, I would not have a highend budget. I did the same with my car purchase this year. I recommend both my car dealer and my audio store. And that is what keeps these businesses going. Not products. You can get those on the internet for major reduces prices. I the manufactures do not change their practices, then there will not be anymore highend in a few years. Only what companies like Harmon international will keep over. Maybe that’s not a bad idea. Then all of my old equipment will really increase in value.
To press my myoptic view even further, here is a reply email from a cable manufacture when I was seeking a trade-in or a discount. Now, I already know that my request were self ingratiating. But the response against my grain.

regarding the issue of discounts, I'm sure you've noticed that any legitimate and conscientious audio manufacturer does not discount their product when they sell direct(quantity purchases are probably the only exception). Some manufacturers may find this an easy way to a quick buck,
we see it as a quick and easy way to upset other customers and dealers alike, because somehow, they always find out that someone else got it for less, for no good reason. This generally pisses people off while at the same time lowering the value(perceived or actual)of a product. Many of these discounted items end up on Audiogon or Ebay for pennies on the dollar, and low resale value is something that no company wants to be associated with.

This company has every right to do business any way they like and I will not interfere. But I will certainly do business elsewhere where I can get a deal on the first cable I buy, and then get hooked, and sell all of my cables to get the new ones. Of course, I will sell the used cables with the title, "The best cables that are on the planet!"