Why do dealers do this?

I'm an old fashioned guy. I like to make my audio purchases from a store and have a person I deal with, establish a relationship, and know that I have someone I can call when I need things. That is why I went into one of the larger stores in my area the other day, ready to audition a couple of things and buy my system. I had a very clear idea of what I wanted, asked to listen to a component with a view to buying it.
The dealer had a completely wrong approach from the start, and it is not a unique situation. I know many good folks in the business are on these forums, so I want to ask why this happens.
From the moment I set foot in the store he created an atmosphere of fairly intense pressure. He started with "you know, I only demo for buying customers". Throughout the visit, I felt continuously pressured to buy on the spot. I was forced to cut my visit short and I was unable to fully appreciate the component I was auditioning. I went from wanting to buy to wanting to run away - who feels comfortable buying something when pressured and rushed to do so right away? So I left the store unsure that I would want to do business with him. Had I had a good experience, and a knowledge that I can go to the store any time and have a good experience rather than have to find a way to "escape" the pressure I would not only have been happy to buy what I wanted, but would have been back often for other purchases. I cannot for the life of me understand where this comes from. One argument I heard is that store owners don't want to have people audition things and then buy online. Well, first off short of refusing to have a show room I don't see how you can make completely sure of that. So, wouldn't making the customer feel comfortable in your store be a better strategy? For me, I now want to shop online rather than go back. And here is one more twist. All online dealers for the product I was looking at make it clear they will not sell to anyone who has a dealer in their area. So I could not buy that online anyway!!
Can anyone enlighten me? Why can I not go to a local store and have that be a pleasant experience any more?
I gave up doling business with the only local high-end audio store for the reasons you so clearly stated. Also, I found that many of the staff were far less knowledgeable than me, and tended to push particular products rather than offer choices.

So I chose to purchase from a dealer in a city in an adjoining state. I not only received first-class service, but they hand-delivered the gear and set it up in my home!

And they are always available via telephone or email for almost-instant help and advice.
Yours is a common complaint. The choice is to either find a dealer with whom you feel comfortable or buy online. The first dealer will not change his attitude no matter how much you hope he will.

Buy new gear online with a return privilege, or buy used gear you can hear at home and resell if it doesn't please you.

Avoid the dealer's BS is my suggestion.
Same thing happended to me last month. I went to a local store to listen and buy a pair of speakers that I was sure to buy. When I asked him to listen to them, he told me only if I accepted the price, he will let me to listen to them!! I ran away.
Who could explain it differently, the dealer was a jackass.
Yes, the internet has created a need for a business model for store fronts that mostly carry brands that can not be discounted on line. VPI is a good example of that model. I also think that the used market has also made life very difficult for dealers, e-bay and Audiogon itself. You have not experienced rejection until you have paid a visit to Lyric/Kay in New York City.
I rarely go into high end dealers because of the same pressure. In short, I am afraid to shop at traditional dealers as it really is not a fun experience. On saturday I had the first great experience in a Audio Dealer. I visited Resolution audio in Seattle and was shown around the place by the owner Larry. He offered to check my setup on my rega TT that I did not buy from him. As well, he has a top of the line record cleaner set up for anyone to drop by and use. Anyway.....I thought it was worth bringing up this dealer to anyone in Seattle who hates the usual dealer experience.
I suspect dealers who are like this fancy themselves so perceptive that they can spot which customers are serious buyers and which are tire-kickers. It sounds like in your case (and many others one reads about in forums like this) that said dealers are often wrong.

It's a pity that happens at all and doubly so that it seems to happen frequently.

Of course, there is at least one alternate explanation. It could be that this dealer is selling more equipment than he can handle as it is without having to waste time on serious audiophiles. No need to spend time on extensive listening sessions. Fewer complaints from hypercritical customers. Fewer hassles with returns. Fewer special orders for models not in stock.

Perhaps he quickly and correctly identified you as a member of the group of customers that he thinks are more trouble than they are worth. So he blows you off and waits for a non-audiophile to walk in the door and say "give me something expensive and fancy. Your call."

I've got a system that I greatly enjoy. Even though I have no urge to change anything, I do like giving the current products on the market a listen. I can't say I've been treated poorly but there is a noticeable lack of enthusiasm when I visit most of the local stores. I do this infrequently enough - easily less than once a year - so I doubt they know who I am.

Of course, audio dealers are not alone. About 25 years ago I walked out of an Audi dealership after being treated poorly. I guess they thought I was too young to be a serious buyer. Three years ago I was looking for a new car and walked out of the same dealership again after very poor treatment. Too old now? (Those were the only two times I'd ever been in there.) I ended up with a Volvo. Guess I just don't look like the one dealer's idea of an Audi owner.... ;-)
Just my 2c from my experience.
If pressured by store owner or salesperson on commission, I simply walk out and never come back. It is that simple.

I have recently spoke with fellow audiophile who used to work in high end store in NYC. In short, he tried to explain his point of view and mentality behind the approach towards the potential customer.
His argument was the owners expenses, time, effort and annoyance with those who abuse the dealer as the source of information and place to audition gear of interest.

As much as I like to understand his arguments, I do not understand how this mentality can build a successful business and clientele?

I have never bought a car without test drive, watch -before trying it on my wrist, house- before seeing it, inspection done by a pro and comparing the property to the similar offerings in the area , etc, etc, etc.

His arguments were weak at best.

There are dealers that will work with you, care and are accommodating and friendly. You just have to look around to find them.

I dealt with manufacturers who would go out of their way to please their customers as well. It is one of the reasons why I simply deal with people that are as passionate and enthusiastic about music and HiFi as I am.

My best advice to you is this:
*Find a dealer you like ( there are plenty to choose from)
*Dealers that refuse to let you audition particular gear - report to the manufacturer....as well as your experiences and such.
*call the manufacturer directly if you are interested in the product, so they can assist/help you to get the best service.
*there are plenty of companies that sell direct. Some even offer in home audition.
*it is your money, it is your call, do what is in your best interest.
I am in sales (printing and packaging in NYC). My job is to develop relationships with my customers not push for an order. I have some customers for almost 20 years. Your retailer needs to look at it that way too. Can my customers get a lower price if they shop around and around. Maybe. But I am selling more than price. My expertise is worth the few dollars more I might be. In many cases my experience and skill can get the customer a better product for less overall cost. So I am not afraid of the cheap print shops. You get what you pay for. This bums rush dealer does not sound like he has the right stuff to win you over so he resorts to pressure tactics in place of skill and knowledge.

If I sold audio, you would walk away from a meeting with me with some new information and ideas, a plan on how to make your music sytem better today and down the road, not just a price etc.
Reminds me of my last auto purchasing experience. I was debating between Saab and BMW. Deliberately went to the dealerships wearing sweats. Was treated like a tire kicker at the BMW dealer; was treated like a real buyer at the Saab dealer. Guess who got the sale. The entire experience at the Saab dealer was pleasant. I was treated as if I were their only customer. Never before have I had a pleasant car purchasing experience, not once!

There's no way to know if someone is serious or not, and who knows when a buyer is deliberately trying to throw you off track.
My suggestion is to take control of the situation from the beginning. Tell the salesman EXACTLY why you are there. If the salesman doesn't seem willing to comply, speak to the owner and explain that you came in prepared to audition and purchase, and the sales idiot would not comply to your wants. My guess is the salesperson won't be able to kiss your ass fast enough nor often enough.

Some you have to treat a prick like a prick.
Mlsstl reminded me that it's not just audio dealers who act this way. I'm in sales for a living, and had a unique experience buying my wife a car.

One Saturday, I drove my P.O.S. company car (it's free- new one every year or so) to the Lexus dealership to buy a Lexus for my wife. I had on jeans, tennis shoes, and a Santana T-Shirt. My plan was to make the purchase with $15k down, leave the company car on the lot, and come back with my wife on Sunday to pick up the POS.

Well, the 20 something salesman refused to let me test drive a car. I could not believe it. His excuse was that since I was buying it for my wife, I should bring her up there for the test drive with me. I pointed out to the guy that my wife hates dealing with car dealers, and that I would make the decision and the transaction.

Even after my explanations, the kid told me to come back with my wife and he would "let me drive a car". He obviously took me for a middle aged underfunded chump who had no business on a Lexus lot.

Unbeknownst to the little shit, my wifes's second choice was an Acura she really liked- and the Acura dealership was directly across the street.

I went across the street and dealt with a guy in his 50's- great transaction.

I bought the new Acura and drove it over to the Lexus dealership. I asked to speak with the kid who had dissed me, and gently explained that one thing you must learn in sales is that appearances can be deceiving, and that every customer should be treated with respect. He did not apologize, or say anything other than I had made a mistake and bought an inferior car.

So basically the kid learned nothing and still treated me like shit. I'm sure he's doing very well in the current economic downturn.
I too am pissed off to the max. I bought a Grado cartridge, a Teac X1000R reel to reel, and a Linn Kudos tuner from the same company in Tampa Fl. About $1500. in all over the past 7 years. A few days ago I spoke to a salesman asking the price of used or demo Linn products. He said he would call me that day. I called back later and he was in a meeting. I called the next day from a salesman I bought the products from and he said he'd call back with prices in 10 min. NO CALL BACK. Last night I left a message for the owner pres. If or when he calls I'll let him know I bought a mint cond. Linn Mimik cd player, and I'm also buying a Linn Sondek turntable right here on AG. Not only am I saving a lot of money, but I am going to inform Linn co. about this. The economy is not that good and people should be buying gold not stereo equip. I am lucky to have a few pounds. Why do dealers ignore the working man? BTW this place was dead on Fri. when I went in there.
Good story by Danlib 1...we're all guilty of pre-judging to a certain extent, and a lot of salesmen are even more guilty of it. It's a real challenge to hear different audio equipment in peace that's why I consider events like RMAF a blessing...
Here's how I buy stuff (cars, audio etc):

1. Do exhaustive preliminary research and decide what I want
2. Do extensive price research
3. Make sure what I want is in stock at the place of potential purchase
3. Walk into a shop/dealership and request a salesperson at the reception desk
4. Make it clear to the salesperson that I will finalize the sale today, if I like it after a demo - and also clearly state that I will allow him/her to make fair profit
5. Request to be left alone, and demo it/drive it by myself for a comfortable amount of time.
6. If I like it (and I usually know what I like due to my preliminary research), walk up to the salesperson and tell him/her what I'll pay, and explain why
7. Take delivery and move on to the next thing.

Never had a problem at any car or audio dealership. That said, I do avoid disreputable places and have been driving Saabs for ages now
Reminds me of the recent experience I had at the local dealer.

As I walk in, the salesman asks me if I have any questions. I tell him what I am interested in auditioning, and he pretty much tells me that he doesn't want to go through the trouble of hooking things up unless I am serious about purchasing. I was a little taken aback by this. After all, my buying decision would have been based on the audition.

So after he finally gets things hooked up, he starts to 20 question me about what gear I own and where I purchased everything. Why does it matter anyway?

After listening to one of the setups, I asked to have a piece of gear swapped out for something that I was interested. It turns out to be defective, so the salesman tells me that he can sell it to me for a reduced price after they get it repaired. I asked him for a ballpark price so I could figure out whether it was in my price range. He wouldn't tell me. Instead, he told me to come back when the repairs were done and he then would talk price because he didn't want me to go and buy it off the internet. After this experience, I don't think I want to come back.
I generally find the dealers in Singapore and Malaysia much more friendlier.You could walk and have a chat and have a listen with no string attached for hours on end.

The biggest difference i see between here in Southeast asia and US is that most of the dealers in SEA are the owners themselves..You generally learn a lot from them and always feel welcome.

Many of my friends from abroad has started buying from here ..and there generaly could't believe how nice the dealers are compare to US.

Likewise,during my time in the UK,I find that most dealers there are very nice and knowladgeable
That kid won't be in sales long. I usually pay cash for Mustang GT's but the Dealers try to work with people that finance to make more money. I always get more than one dealership involved and once paid a little more to another dealership to keep the money out of the other ones hands. Since then it has been yes Sir all the way anytime I step onto the lot. Too bad this great Country has gone to hell over greed and ego. I love cars, music, rare coins, guitars, and other things that I can live with out, but I can't understand why everyone today has to hit the home run every time. You won't get rich or last that way.
Danlib1, I doubt that the kid was able to keep his job; he's probably at his new job, selling audio gear, right now.
Thank you for all the replies. Wow, I tapped into a well of frustration here, I am glad to hear it's not me (I was worried it was me shifty eyes...). The number of replies shows the extent of the problem.
Since someone mentioned this, in the 70 or so minutes I spent there I did not see one other customer walk in, on a week-end day in the middle of the day. I guess others had figured the store out before me...
I always hoped audio dealers would have a love of this stuff and be a different category than car dealers (nothing against car dealers, I know plenty who are great people, but we all agree that business overall has a certain reputation). I guess I will give other stores a chance and look more closely to online options.
To brighten the mood, I remember the first store I spent audio money in. In a small town, but with a lively music scene. I spent over two hours there the first time I went, and the guy (must have been one of the salesmen) spent that time taking my wife and I through hugely expensive equipment set-ups and just teaching us about audio in general - it was very clear we would not even dream of buying any of that. He just seemed to have a blast doing that. So, one year later (yes, I did not even buy anything for a whole year!), when I finally decided to buy a system, guess where I went? This is what I want in an audio store. Educate your potential customers, and make them feel comfortable and maybe even have lots of fun in your store. Most of them will be back to spend money.
Pacific Island Audio,

Good story, sorry about the Saab, my experience was equally as good buying a Saab, then when it spent 8 out of 30 months in the shop, the luster faded!


I suspect I know which dealer in Tampa this was, don't feel bad, the guy refused to call or return any communications from a good friend who told him he ahd $75,000 for new HT gear for his new house!


I ALWAYS go shopping looking like a bum, living in Florida by the beach, I don't even own dress clothes! I have never had trouble in ultra high end watch stores, or car dealers, the Porsche dealer couldn't have been more accommodating to me (unfortunately I don't fit in anything but the Cayenne) and I've had watch dealers pull $180,000+ watches out in a heartbeat for me (DeWitt Tourbillion BTW)

Despite this, I too have been snubbed at audio stores. The last one I went into was closing it's doors in 3 hours, done, over, no more retail. I wanted to buy a TT and had cash in hand (well, in wallet) They asked for 20% off a MMF Demo??? I was amazed, well, didn't buy the TT, and laughed to myself as I walked out, it was pretty easy to see why they went out of business!
Because many dealers' sales people don't know how to sell. They are selling a transaction instead of finding out what your needs are and listening to you. Tranactional vs. consultative selling.

I've been a corporate sales officer and have taught many teams how to sell on a consultative basis. As the other poster said, it means repeat business due the the value added for the buyer when a dealer can approach you and your needs from your perspective.

Unfortunately, most dealers don't understand this themselves and therfore don't know how to hire and/or train their salespeople.

If you can, find another dealer in the area and explain the type of experience and assistance you are looking for and make clear that selling pressure is the quickest way to have you head for the exit door.

On the reverse side though, many dealers don't invest in this type of personnel as when they do, some customers will pick their brains, demo their equipment at home then buy at the cheapest place in the area or used on-line.
I don't understand why a dealer would have such an attitude but I've come to the understanding that it is a waste of time to try to enlighten one. Just walk away and enjoy the amusement of the show of ignorance.
I've had the opposite experience in Denver. With almost no exceptions I've created relationships with people who are very knowledgeable, patient, and truly care. Maybe you should call the store owner (assuming it's not a big store) and talk to him/her. You might create a relationship with someone that will enhance your future experiences. After all if we all just buy things online, we may not like the world we create.
you just went to the wrong place....it is possible to have the dealer experience you'd like to have.
I enjoyed reading all the above experiences, especially those regarding car buying. I sold cars for 19 years and always found it amusing how much money I made off the ignorance and over-all lack of selling skills of other car salesman. Customers just want to be treated fairly, not lied to, and want to walk away from the buying experience with the feeling that we both benefited from the transaction. I actually had customers who did not buy a car from me refer their friends and family to me. It's disappointing to see those who have no customer skills in the wrong occupation.
My three favourite personal stories/experiences:

1. I go to a store to buy a TV. A salesperson is at the counter reading an audio magazine. There are no other customers in the store. I walk over and say: "I'm looking for a new TV for my home theatre. Without even looking up from his magazine, he say: "When are you going to buy?". I say: "When I can find someone who will help me", and walk out of the store.

2. I go to a store to buy a new cartridge. My old one could not be repaired at a reasonable cost due to the nature of the damage. I confirmed with the manufacturer that it couldn't be repaired before going to the store. I tell the salesperson: "I'm looking for a new ". He asks what was wrong and then says: "We can fix that". I said: "The manufacturer says it can't be repaired". The salesguy says: "I know more about that cartridge than the manufacturer does". I walk out of the store.

3. I go to a store to audition a peice of equipment. The salesperson says: "We charge a deposit to audition equipment. If you buy, the deposit goes towards the purchase price. If you don't buy, the deposit is non-refundable since we can't sell the item as new once the box is opened." I say: "I don't pay to audition equipment." I walk out of the store.

Needless to say, none of these stores ever received any business from me.
I went to a car audio place once, and asked if they had any high end drivers as I was redoing my car stereo at the time. I was looking for Morel, Focal, Dynaudio, Scan-speak, etc. quality drivers.

The guy (who I think was the owner?) told me that their best line was Boston Acoustics, and that I wouldn't be able to tell the difference between Boston and those other overpriced drivers.

Needless to say, I was out of there very quickly and gave my business to someone else.

On the other side of things... if anyone is in the New England area and is looking for a great dealer (no pressure, relationship style, patient, helpful, respectful, etc.) give Goodwins High End in Waltham a try. They are awesome.
It is the same when you go to a car dealer. What does this suggest?
I think age has something to do with it. In my 20's sales people assumed I was either not serious, had no money or didn't know anything about the product I was shopping for. But now that I am 50, salespeople are a little more respectful, I find.

I like to visit stereo shops in the different towns I visit around the world. Some places are cold and indifferent and some places the sales people like to chat and talk shop. One of my best experiences in a stereo store was in Las Vegas in the 90's. I literally traded the shirt off my back for a Half Speed Master recording of APP's Tales of Mystery and Imagination. I was on a vehicle hot fuel test and the shop owner liked the corporate vehicle logos on my shirt. So I took off my dirty smelly shirt and grabbed a clean shirt out of the trunk of my car. Love that record.
You encountered a bad dealer, plain and simple. His attitude is self defeating. The only way he can survive is to provide better service to his customers than the alternatives and apparently he isn't.

Try to find a good one if you can. They are still around at least in my area (Baltimore/DC metro area).

Otherwise, get used to buying online either used so as to be able to try and sell if needed without taking a loss or from good on-line companies with appropriate policies regarding in-home auditioning and guaranteed customer satisfaction.
By the way, it must be hard for live dealers to try to operate with traditional boutique business models these days. Audiophiles are a finicky bunch when it comes to how systems sound, and what you hear in a store is not necessarily what you'll hear at home, so there is a risk involved if you are a buyer dropping a lot of cash on a product and then you get it home and it does not pan out for some reason.

I guess really knowledgeable dealers are aware of this and provide good, honest input to help avoid this situation rather than looking for the fast sale, like with those that got us into this sub-prime mortgage problem.

If I were a dealer these days, I would look to provide value added via the live experience over what a customer can expect shopping online. Old fashioned boutique business models alone might not cut it.
If you tell them you moved to a new bigger house and need a new system they will jump all over you. If you tell them your just kicking tires and you are honest and say you just want to hear something out of curiosity you will usually be ignored. The salespeople are often competing in the store....they size people up fast and try to keep themselves available for when the Goldman Sachs investment banker/broker with the "i want to build a complete HT system" and "it must be better than my friends" walks in.

Fortunately some of your toughest competition (those guys at Goldman Sachs used to earn an average of $622,000 a year and the I bought a brand new bigger house crowd) may be out of a job and a house - so the salespeople may turn their attention to ordinary folks again ;-) ( Just kidding)
Its true as Shadorne points out in a busy store that salespeople will naturally try to target the person who appears to be the next big ticket.

However, most shops I go into these days are not that busy so you would expect the sales people are more ready in general to go the extra mile to make a sale.

And there are still those that will treat anyone with honest intentions with respect and service when they walk into a store...but this may be less common in general unfortunately these days....
This forum is probably a good place for posting specific queries to find the best nearby place & salesman to source a particular piece. That way you can visit the showroom by appointment on a referral basis and get the attention you deserve based on a preexisting relationship. You're unlikely to find too many average audio salesmen who share your ethusiasm for demoing equipment. As an old hooker once said, "You've been the business too long when you start cumming with the customer."
"You're unlikely to find too many average audio salesmen who share your ethusiasm for demoing equipment."

Too bad if true. I sold a lot of equipment years ago just by paying attention to people's needs when they walked in the store and enjoyed the process of demo'ing options as well.

Of course, I was just a naive college kid back then. Times have changed for sure and certainly not always for the better.
people who apply pressure to sell you something may make the best deals.

i welcome the challenge of high pressure salespersons. i sometimes get good deals using my superior negotiating skills-- the greater the desperation, the higher the discount.
I am 28, I have been involved in the audio hobby for about 15 years.

My high-end audio dealer is my favorite retail store and that includes all types of goods. As a 17-18 year old kid I took up a lot of their time. I probably made a purchase one out of every four times I walked in the door. The rest of the time I was consulting with the owner and salespeople, listening to equipment well outside of my price range for reference, and just picking their brain.

However, as a result of their liberal policies, zero pressure attitude, and expertise, I was able to make very, very smart purchasing decisions. By the time I was 21 I probably spent close to $8k-10k on components and accessories that have lasted almost a decade. I took a long hiatus for college and law school and am getting back into it after an almost seven year break. Or I should say, seven years of being broke.

So even though most of the time I show up there I can't really afford to buy anything and I am really just investigating, the relationship they formed with me will probably be worth tens of thousands of dollars when it is time to close the book on this system.

How does a normal, middle-class person wind up with a seriously awesome high-end system? Upgrading and trading in one component at a time, strategically and thoughtfully, over decades. That means developing long term relationships with dealers that know the equipment and the auditioning process, and want to get to know you.

The best dealer will always let you into their flagship room because that is the only place where you will get the reference you need to make the right decisions about your own system, whether it is a $2,000 system or a $10,000 system or a $50,000 system, or whatever.
>> i sometimes get good deals using my superior negotiating skills<<

Not to mention an abundance of humility.
"The best dealer will always let you into their flagship room because that is the only place where you will get the reference you need to make the right decisions about your own system, whether it is a $2,000 system or a $10,000 system or a $50,000 system, or whatever"

Good point!
I fondly remember when I used to visit big cities and go to audio shops. I would often get a chance to hear what Holt and Pearson were talking about. At the time I did have local dealers who had only one listening room and typically only the less expensive lines.

Now shows like the RMAF and THE Show and an extensive group of people whose opinions I trust fulfill the function of directing my attention to new products. Both approaches have their benefits, but I will always remember auditioning seven different Decca London cartridges in a near northside audio shop in Chicago to pick those I liked and bought. I was like a kid in a candy store.

I think survival of store front businesses now is very shaky. Most manufacturers have direct sales, "if there is no dealer in your area."
>>I fondly remember when I used to visit big cities and go to audio shops<<

That was prior to indoor plumbing right?
I guess you should soon be able to afford indoor plumbing, except for this crisis.
Crisis? What Crisis?
Tbg + Audiofeil,

Where were you guys before last nights presidential debate? McCain and Obama could have both used some witty retorts!
I think Norm was online looking for a deal on Depends.
two stooges are running for president. no wonder the world thinks americans are idiots.
The whole world thinks Americans are idiots? Are you certain of that?
Danlib1, I'm American, and I'm an idiot; must be true.
Me too Viridian, at least according to my wife. I'm just pulling mrtennis' chain a little.

BTW, like them or not, I couldn't call Obama and McCain stooges.

Let's see, one candidate worked his way up from a single parent childhood to the top of his party's ticket, inspiring millions of people while running one of the most brilliant political campaigns in American history. The other has a lifetime of service for his nation under his belt, including serving bravely in the military, and putting the welfare of his buddies ahead of his own while frequently suffering unspeakable torture.

Yep, stooges both, we should be ashamed.
Mrt, if we accept (which personally I don't) that these gentlemen along with their accomplishments are "stooges", I'm curious as to where you view yourself in the food chain.

Thanks in advance.