Ethics again...tryout in stores, buy on the Net
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bifcake

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Quote:

Originally posted by yage
The hifi business is kinda funny...

The ethical dilemma arises not from pure economics, but from our intentions. If I enter a hifi shop to audition equipment with absolutely no intention of purchasing that equipment from their store, then I have willfully deceived the store owner. I have essentially robbed them of their time and effort. In the end, if the negotiated price comes out to a fair price of the equipment plus my estimated cost of their salesmanship, then I'll buy from the store. That would seem to be fair for everyone involved wouldn't it?

Then again, whoever said capitalism was fair?



Even in this scenario, I don't see an ethical dilemma. It is in the store's self-interest to sell to the potential customers. As a consumer, it is your perrogative to "shop for the best deal". That's the process in which you engage when auditioning equipment in the store. If it's a problem for the store to invest the kind of time and effort to "help" their potential customers, perhaps they should set up a self-help kiosk, where people can audition equipment without the help of a salesman. In this way, there is minimal amount of time and effort involved in the sales process unless the customer is serious about purchasing the equipment, in which case, they will ask for help and escalate the sales process into phase 2.

With regard to BM costs, the online costs aren't trivial. It takes a lot of time, money and effort to design an effective web site. It takes a lot of time to explain to the programmer how you envision the site, the programmer(s) will charge you a lot of money for development. The graphic designer/artist will charge for the right look and feel of the site. Transaction processing companies take a chunk off every sale. There's the cost of hosting a site. There's revenue lost if the site is down, etc, etc. So, it's not accurate to say that the online costs are trivial as opposed to BM costs. They may be lower, but they may not be. It really depends. Besides, does it really matter to a consumer what the retailer's costs are? Let the seller beware. That's why they're in business.
 
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john_jcb

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I look at a good store like a consultant. If you find a store that has real knowledge based on experience and they work with you in the selection of equipment I have no problem paying a bit more for consultation time. I have also found that most privately held stores are more than willing to negotiate and reach a fair price.

I think that stores like this are also looking to develop a long term customer. They stand a better chance if you walk out happy with the piece you bought and confident that you got a fair deal.
 
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bifcake

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Quote:

Originally posted by john_jcb
I look at a good store like a consultant. If you find a store that has real knowledge based on experience and they work with you in the selection of equipment I have no problem paying a bit more for consultation time. I have also found that most privately held stores are more than willing to negotiate and reach a fair price.

I think that stores like this are also looking to develop a long term customer. They stand a better chance if you walk out happy with the piece you bought and confident that you got a fair deal.



This is a perfect example of a consumer finding the best VALUE for his money. Value does not necessarily translate into the lowest possible price, although it can. However, there are no moral qualms about finding the best value, nor should there be. We're not here to ensure that we keep retail stores in business. We're here to acquire the products we want for the best possible combination of price and service. If for one individual it means paying more for better service, that's great. If for another it means sacrificing service and convinience for the lowest possible price, there's nothing wrong with that either. It's an individual choice that has nothing to do with moral sentiments.
 
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Jeff Guidry

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Quote:

Originally posted by Calanctus
Here is what Stereophile's John Marks says on the subject:
"...people using a local audio dealer's demonstration-facility investment and workday time to decide what it is they want to buy, and then shopping for it online and used...is using people's business resources--and emotional resources and personal resilience--in bad faith." (From the July issue.)


That is a straight up pile of HORSE****. If this theoretical store owner is in business to make money, it is up to him to convince you to buy in the store, by offering a great return policy, reasonable prices, friendly service, etc. If a store owner wants to stay in business, it is up to him to use his natural advantage of having a place to actually listen to the speakers. If this store owner is not savvy enough to use that advantage, nuts to him.

How about a partnership with a website? You can buy now and have your equipment to use tonight, or you can save some money and have your equipment in a week or so? The store owner can earn a percentage of the sales he gets for the website.

Businesses must adapt to changing circumstances. Planting your feet in the dirt does not make you grow.
 
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Ken

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I purchased new sen580 marked down from $599AUS$ to $399AUS$. As you all know I would get sen580 cheaper here in our forum. The sen600 was at the time $699AUS$. I am now looking for Stax SRM-001 I called that dealer for $AUS price , it was $690AUS$ but I will get from the states for $515AUS$
end of story
 
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jlo mein

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sapphiremodena:

I bought my grado SR60's for either $130 or $120 at Sound Plus or Soundplus.

Is hifi centre the place beside the Seymour A&B Sound. If thats the place, i didnt like it. The grado 60's there were $150, and the sales people practically ignored me
.
 
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bifcake

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Quote:

Originally posted by Jeff Guidry


That is a straight up pile of HORSE****. If this theoretical store owner is in business to make money, it is up to him to convince you to buy in the store, by offering a great return policy, reasonable prices, friendly service, etc. If a store owner wants to stay in business, it is up to him to use his natural advantage of having a place to actually listen to the speakers. If this store owner is not savvy enough to use that advantage, nuts to him.

Businesses must adapt to changing circumstances. Planting your feet in the dirt does not make you grow.



You hit the nail right on the head! The hi-fi stores are not charitable organizations and we're not here to support them. Let them compete for our business the best way they know how.
 
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Calanctus

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Thanks all for responses. Here are my one-line summaries of the most interesting bits posted so far:

-situational ethics: if the store is helpful and if the price is not too much higher, buy from there.

-Hobbesian: go for the best price regardless, since the stores go out of their way to screw consumers.

-practical considerations: stores give instant gratification, plus no shipping charges, so consider buying there.

-situational: stores with crappy advice/service can't expect us to be loyal--buy from wherever you want, but excellent stores with good advice and a helpful attitude deserve some loyalty.

-more situational: good stores are looking to develop a long-term relationship with a customer, so they have a vested interest in having you walk out happy and stay that way. (But what if I'm happy just listening to their speakers and saving $$$ elsewhere--should I care whether they are happy if I get my way?)

-long-term self-interest: if you don't buy from stores at all, sometime they will go out of business and you won't have anyplace to audition stuff. (Hmm, interesting, but who really acts based on long-term self interest? Damn few.)

-bargaining: try to get the store to match a better price or at least reduce theirs.

-Useless Parcel Service considerations: shippers can lose/damage your precious goods, and return shipping is a pain, so buy from a store.

-free-marketeers: buying online may force stores to change policies to serve the customer better. The market is changing, and other changes benefitting consumers may come about, e.g. manufacturers opening demo facilities.

-advanced economics: Audio equipment companies use market power (sales territories, cartel arrangements) to fix prices/boost sales. (But where does that leave me, the average consumer?)

-advanced ethical philosophy: if I even enter the store with no intention of buying from there, only auditioning, then I have already committed theft. Some combination of material value and compensation for salesperson time is justification for higher store prices.

-Hobbesian variant, caveat vendor: if the store owner can't capitalize on the advantages of having a physical store, then nuts to him/her.


As far as what I'm actually planning to do, I'm not sure yet. But I'm discounting any advice based on hypothetical situations I have not encountered (store-website partnerships with price discrimination based on instant versus delayed receipt of the goods, perhaps stores will start charging for time spent auditioning, etc.) This is a pretty straight situation: Speaker X is available for $$ online and $$$$$ in a store, where I went to listen to them.

Some of the heavyweight philosophers/audiophiles on this forum have yet to weigh in. I'm thinking of those with tens of thousands of $ in audio gear and post counts suggesting they live online. I hope to hear from a few of those (k____, m___l, V_____, etc.).

Calanctus
 
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sunshine

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Another way of looking at this is when you are buying a car. If you test drive a car at a particular dealership are you obligated to buy it from the same place. Most would probably answer no. I would probably make it known to the dealer that I'm shopping around at other dealers and get them to compete with each other for my money.

That being said when it comes to audio equipment that I've bought locally I tell the owner what I can get for the equipment online and tell them that I'm willing to pay a certain amount over that for their time, service etc. I drive a pretty hard bargain and have been successful many times. I even haggle when I buy stuff at circuit city and have been successful before.

Now if you have an American Express Gold or Platinum you can buy stuff locally and get the difference back when within 60 days you find it priced lower online or locally. I've used this many times within the last year. This is really useful when you want to buy something quickly and don't have time yet to shop around. There is however a limit of $250 per item and $1000 total per year.
 
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bifcake

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Calanctus,

I'm glad we have been helpful. (I think)
 
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Ruahrc

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Like almost everyone else above me- I don't have any problems listening to the speakers in a store, then going online. Espedially if it is a big store like BB of CC. When you walk in the store it is their job to convince you to buy their products. If you go in and listen to some speakers, and a helpful salesperson comes over and you two get into a great discussion about the speakers, then he is doing his job to try to convince you to buy those speakers from their store.

It is up to you (and also how much of a cheapo you are or how strapped for cash you are) to determine whether or not the salesperson did a good job and whether or not your experience there was worthy of a higher cost, or that your money is better spent elsewhere.

Now if you go into the store, buy the speakers, go home and order them online, and return the first set when your online ones come- well that's pushing it in my book
.

Also consider that a real BM store is much easier to take returns to, and they also often offer their own warranties so if you feel that your particular set of speakers is flat or in some other way (a cosmetic flaw on the exterior, a small defect in the construction, etc. these things can happen even with the highest quality components) not satisfactory- they will exchange it no questions asked. Two years down the road when you slip and put a huge mar in your expensive subwoffer, they'll gladly exchange it given you bought their warranty. This is much easier (and IMO sometimes worth the money) than trying to convice an online retailer to take your "flat" spekers back.

As for me personally, I am looking to buy a $400 set of speakers, and will probably go to a real store this time (I usually purchase all my computer equipment online) so that I can pick up some sort of warranty, as well as having that reliable return avenue.

Ruahrc
 
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jatinder

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I hate "shopping". Even when I'm shopping for hi-fi bits and pieces I hate it!

So what I do is, quite simply, shop regularly in those stores where I find that the staff are genuinely helpful and treat you with a little respect. If the service is good, then I don't mind paying either the full retail price or a slightly discounted price. I get the item I want, the store gets a reasonable profit - and they'll be there next year when I have some questions, want a demo unit for a week or whatever.

The other stores out there - exist only for browsing and listening to demos of equipment that I can get elsewhere cheaper (such as on the net).

I'm in the market for speakers now -- and you can seriously bet your ass that regardless of service level and dealer loyalty -- if I can save £10000 on a pair of speakers by having an in-store demo and then buy online -- then I'm gonna do it!

--Jatinder
 
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