Originally Posted by fzman
I should probably pint out that I am speaking as myself only here, and not as an employee of a retailer.( I used to teach business ethics at the university-level, so that's the hat i'm wearing as i type this.
I think a lot of people assume that demos are provided free or at greatly reduced cost - which, in most cases they are not. Once opened, they cannot/shouldn't be sold as new either. You are not obligated to buy because you have demo-d, and you can return things you don't like. We allow returns on most merchandise - that's your audition. Once you get into the 'let's get one for the audio-buddy get-together and then return it', it's a different story, or returning turntable setup tools once you've mounted your cartridge.... "um, I'd like to return these jumper cables...."
I do think it is straightforwardly dishonest to audition someplace you have no intention to buy from - it's not e.g., an "Apple Store", company-owned for that purpose. The allocated demo is not there as a public service, it's there to allow you to try it before you buy it from the dealer demoing it. We may simply agree to disagree, and i want this to be a civil and reasoned exchange of thoughts, and will not make any further comments. thanks for listening....
This thread is usually pretty civil, so no worries there.
From my perspective, I see it this way: if there's a demo unit being offered to the general public, then usually the store is choosing to do so without any stipulations, knowing full well people are going to use it without some contractual obligation to buy it. I'm thinking specifically of the units or kiosks that are there in the open, on display, where the customer can serve his/herself without the assistance of an employee. Obviously the more expensive stuff from behind the counter is a different matter. You have to call ahead to schedule an appointment or ask someone to demo it, and in that case I agree it's asinine to do it with no intention of buying it there.
However I'm specifically talking about floor models, not the by-the-appointment stuff. They're there in the open for demoing regardless on who goes to use them, so I'm not seeing a problem with someone walking up to the open demo and using it even if there's no intention to buy it. Similarly if you walk into a record store, you'll find new music set up for people to listen to through headphones. Do you have to have an intent to buy the music even if you listen to a few tracks? I don't think so, personally.
I know that these units aren't free and that the store is opening the item to put it on display. However larger stores allocate that in their budgets, and typically they'll go on to re-sell them at discounted prices when a newer model comes along, so they recoup the cost somewhat (and pass savings onto customers), and they also recoup it in added interest / traffic / draw to the store.
I believe that Intent defines the nature of the action in question, sure. However I think it also depends on the context in which that intent is conveyed. When it comes to smaller stores and appointment-only auditions for instance, then I think it's wrong to take advantage of that. However I also think it's wrong to buy a product previously unheard to audition with the possibility of returning it if you don't like it. Shopping with online retailers then is a gamble unless you find a way to audition the product, and for some people store demos are the only means of doing so. I think the ideal solution for everyone involved would be to audition the product and if you like it, ask the retailer who let you audition it if they can price match the better price you found online. That way the retailer gets the sale for their allowing you the audition, and you get to save a bit of money.