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Not impressed w/ local retailers

 

hoosierhooch
Unregistered guest
So the new house with the dedicated media room will be completed next month. I've been researching/shopping for 3 or 4 months now as I'm a rookie building a system from scratch. I've been shopping online, at the mass market retailers, and at the local A/V specialty stores.

After visiting 3 or 4 of the local shops, they can kiss my rear. First of all, once they learn I'm not gonna use them for everything starting with the design and the on-site prewire consultation (I can't, the builder won't allow it), then they start to treat you like a 2nd class citizen. I had thought I'd like to buy most of the components from a local, but the price is ALWAYS at least 40% to 50% higher than what I can find on-line. And they won't cut any deals unless they're wiring your house or you buy $8000 worth of stuff all at once.

I see plenty of on-line retailers that are authorized dealers and offer warranties on all the products I'll need. Unless I've got the cash to do everything from start to finish, I see no reason to give business to these local shops. Am I missing something?
 

Bronze Member
Username: Kano

Post Number: 44
Registered: Oct-04
In my experience in buying some equipment I noticed the same thing. While they can be a helpful source of information, their overhead is way too much if you're only buying equipment.

In your situation it would seem they will slash their profit margin on the equipment in order to gain it from contract work on the building/wiring.

The best dealer where I'm from wouldn't even quote me a price on a Harman Kardon/Paradigm setup I liked, admitting Future Shop would kill his offer.

I believe him, I went to future shop and got a Harman Kardon receiver for half the price he wanted for it and some Polk Rtis that I love at a huge discount.

Now, being more educated, I could have saved even more money shopping E-Bay, Audiogon, and factory remanufactured equipment on-line (Although it is nice not having to ship stuff if it is defective)
 

hoosierhooch
Unregistered guest
None of these guys even put the price on their receivers and speakers. So you can't really shop and compare. I hate that. One of the websites of said local stores even mentions something to the effect of "we don't discount...if you're just looking for a "deal", please don't waste our time". That just leaves bad taste. I realize that price can't be the ONLY factor, but it's certainly darn close to the top of the priority list.

I guess these guys do plenty of business consulting and contracting or else they wouldn't stay in business. Because I don't know why anyone who is only interested in equipment would purchase from these places. Especially when you can get the same equipment, with a warranty, for almost half the price.
 

J. Vigne
Unregistered guest



It sounds like you are confusing the price you will pay with the discount a retailer can give. They are not the same thing.




 

Silver Member
Username: Petergalbraith

Rimouski, Quebec Canada

Post Number: 152
Registered: Feb-04
Guys, it's much the same here in this part of Canada. Makes me a borderfree.com customer!
 

hoosierhooch
Unregistered guest
"It sounds like you are confusing the price you will pay with the discount a retailer can give. They are not the same thing."

I realize that. But that's kinda my point. Unless they're gonna get $8k from me through contracting or purchasing several items at once, I'll be paying pretty much MSRP for equipment.
 

J. Vigne
Unregistered guest


"I realize that. But that's kinda my point. Unless they're gonna get $8k from me through contracting or purchasing several items at once, I'll be paying pretty much MSRP for equipment."


I am not finding what is disagreeable about paying a retailer what they ask for their products and services. Are you saying they don't need to make a profit?









 

hoosierhooch
Unregistered guest
Nope, I'm not saying that at all. I just don't know how they stay in business. There is pretty much no reason to buy equipment there...which is probably why they don't even put price tags on their items.

I'm not an extremely wealthy guy, but I'd venture to say I'm in the top 10-15% of wage earners. I just don't know of many people who can go in and drop $18K for one of their "low-end jobs". So when they treat you like "oh, you're one of those lowly people concerned about your money", it just ticks me off. And I'm baffled how they obviously have enough customers to keep 'em in business.

I guess what I've learned is that those places aren't there to sell equipment. They can't compete with online.
 

J. Vigne
Unregistered guest



You are absolutely correct that no brick and mortar retailer (who has overhead) can compete with a "virtual" retailer on line when price is the only consideration.

Since they ARE staying in business, I would say they MUST have more to sell than just equipment.

It is the retailer online that has nothing more than equipment to offer. They merely move boxes.

Any good retailer that can be successful against the online merchants must do more than just move boxes. Have you asked them how they stay in business? The answer could prove informative.

Can you see nothing else they can offer you other than a box?

Just curious, what do you do for a living? Does your profession compete against any online merchants or services?








 

Silver Member
Username: Elitefan1

Post Number: 765
Registered: Dec-03
We need local dealers or how the heck else are you going to auditon anything. It is not un reasonable to expect a decent discount however. I bought my Elitevsx45 receiver from a local dealer for a 33 percent discount off list. I realize Pioneer's list price's are artifically high but that's still a nice deal for a local store. Many if not most on line or mail order places offer better prices but you pay the price if you want to return the item or have problems with it. I have bought many, many components either way over the years and it's a crap shoot either way. I still feel that if a local dealer is willing to discount 15 percent or more that's the best way to go. Service means a lot.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Dpriwin

Post Number: 23
Registered: Sep-04
hoosier, I am in a similar situation to yours, except my house will be finished in Feb 05.

The difference, though, has been that I have found two knowledgeable dealers. They wanted to wire my house, but that was already done. I've found that they know about a lot of subjects. One of them is willing to bring in equipment from a competing dealer so I can A/B both products.

Although I have been upfront to them about being able to buy online, I will likely not do it. Their service and attitude has earned them the business. I will push to lower prices as much as possible, but will still work with the local guys.

Maybe I've been lucky. There is a local dealer who carries Rotel, Dyn, B&W. Their sales people are worthless. If I decide to buy any of those brands I will look to do it elsewhere - they have not earned my business.

 

hoosierhooch
Unregistered guest
Well, I've got to assume that they don't move many boxes at all. Whoever is in the market for said "boxes" and buys from these places is severely misinformed. And I have asked how they make money. Like I stated above, it's through their consulting and contract work. The equipment is just thrown in as part of it. The relatively low cost of a receiver probably gets lost amongst the tens of thousands of dollars in the contract proposal. They're all into the design and lighting and home automation and motorized screens/drapes, etc... I'm just trying to build my own theater, one piece at a time. Since that's the case, then no, they don't offer me anything other than a box. So obviously I'm shopping in the wrong place.

What led me to these locations in the first place was the "authorized dealer" lists on various websites (NAD, Yamaha, Denon, etc..). Being naive, I figured I'd see a whole lineup of receivers, maybe find one of 'em on sale. But they don't really want you there just to buy a receiver. And again, I'm just surprised there are that many people who can drop that kind of coin (on a hobby, no doubt) all at once to keep them in business. Oh well, I'm a mere peasant. :-)

I'm a mid-level manager for one of the larger pharmaceutical companies. Yeah, there's online competition, but not in the same sense as the consumer electronics industry.





 

hoosierhooch
Unregistered guest
^
I
I
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That's in response to J. Vigne
 

Silver Member
Username: Myrantz

Post Number: 966
Registered: Aug-04
I agree with J Vigne.

Although my favourite retailer cringes when he sees me approaching his door because he knows he's in for an arm twisting. Now he just asks, "How much do you want to pay for it?"

Then he goes to work on his calculator to see if he can accomodate my suggested price. The thing is - for my loyalty I get darn good service, the best price he can give that allows him a little profit, and if I have any problems I know he'll work for me should there be any warranty issues.

We've lost enough corner stores where we can look, touch and have a friendly chat!

 

hoosierhooch
Unregistered guest
"We need local dealers or how the heck else are you going to auditon anything."
That's cool. Go audition to your heart's content. Then go home, turn on your computer, and save 40%...and have a warranty.

"One of them is willing to bring in equipment from a competing dealer so I can A/B both products."
Now see, that would be nice. You found some guys who are interested in selling you some equipment. I've only found people interested in A to Z proposals with equipment being the afterthought.


 

J. Vigne
Unregistered guest


It sounds like you are shopping in the wrong place. I've never run across a retailer that can thrown in a reciever at no cost. What type of product are they willing to "throw in"? It doesn't seem like you would want to build your system around a thrown in reciever. I must have misunderstood what you were looking for.

There are far too many "authorized retailers" who are barely a step above an on line retailer. They open in a small space and order most of what they need for an upcoming job when they have a deposit from the client. Their turnover in personell is normally frightening when you think who may be knocking holes in your home. Their knowledge of product can vary from quite a bit to absolutely worthless levels. And they are just as likely as the on line folks to disappear overnight leaving you with a mess that will have to be cleaned up at your expense.

If this is the type of retailer you have found I would suggest you keep looking. If you know of someone who has purchased a system recently and can refer a compnay that is probably your best bet. There are some small installation companies that are well versed in installing high end systems. Unfortunately they are like the doctor that is well regarded. They are seldom taking new (and particularly small system) clients. They can't make money by doing systems where they are going to be working with a thrown in product. They sell top quality equipment and get a reasonable, if sometimes suprising, amount of money for what they do very well. If you are running into this seller you may have an impass between what you want and what they can HONESTLY provide. Often, if they are a decent company that just isn't doing what you want, they can refer you to another company.
I would recommend you continue to look.

When you are doing a whole house and home theater syatem you will eventually want someone who is familiar with the problems that can arise and the shortcuts that a less experienced and less caring installer will take that you should know about before the work begins. If there is no retailer in your area that can fairly do what you wish and you are convinced you are not being unreasonable, I would suggest you get on the CEDIA website and seek help ;

http://www.cedia.net/

You may be in a locale that has no local representative for the type of system you want. But persistence usually pays off for both parties involved.

Also understand that many builders make life difficult for audio retailers to provide what the client truly needs for good sound and the marketplace has become very competitive with everyone who can work a pair of wire cutters thinking they can install a home theater.

AT MSRP most electronics in an audio store of decent quality are at a 40% profit for the reatiler. (Cost is $60 for every $100 retail price.) Speakers can be between 40 and 50% profit margin depending on the line. There are exceptions and the less scrupulous retailers will often rely on the 100% lines to make some money. Lines such as Thiel, Krell, McIntosh, etc are 40% lines. When you add in the overhead a brick and mortar store has to make to stay afloat there isn't much discounting that can happen in many cases. Most dealers will work with you if you have a price that is legitimate from another retailer offering simialr products and services.

It has been a long time since a retailer will give a "best price" to someone who is not ready to make a purchase. One of the first rules of selling is if the deal isn't going to close on your offer you are simply letting someone go out to beat your price. Today there are dozens of places that will beat a price at the click of a mouse. If I were selling today I would not give a price until I knew you were ready to buy from me. That sounds, to many people, like a terrible way to do business. If you've been on the recieving end of the lost sale you would understand why that is what the internet has forced dealers to do.









 

hoosierhooch
Unregistered guest
In my case, the problem for the local retailer is that I don't need them. My builder has their own AV guy who prewired my house. I've educated myself enough to know that they did at least an acceptable job. The wire is properly placed for 7.1 surround, the wiring for the wall sconces is properly placed, they pulled all the necessary wire for the ceiling mounted projector, and they brought home ran it all the way back to wear my components will be. Of course, the local guys are quick to point out they they are the specialists in such matters. But, I didn't have a choice anyway. So I don't need the local retailer for prewire (already done), consulting (already done), design of room (already done), lighting (already done), etc.

All I need is equipment. As for which equipment, a few months of browsing web sites can get even a novice up to speed. Since I know pretty much what equipment I need without any advice from the retailer, then it all comes down to price...and warranty.
 

Silver Member
Username: Elitefan1

Post Number: 767
Registered: Dec-03
Hoosier,
I sympatize with your problem and it does seem like you have bad dealers in your area but buying mail order is very risky in most cases. You may think you are getting a full warranty but often it is the sellers warranty and not the manufacturers warranty. There can be a big difference. I do recommend mail order buying sometimes but you better know who you are dealing with.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Dpriwin

Post Number: 24
Registered: Sep-04
Hoosier, Jan:
I, too, have felt the lack of interest of some dealers who want to sell me a service for which pricing is not transparent. From my experience they are not any better than the company who did all my wiring.

On the other hand there are dealers who really love what they are doing, and take a lot of pride in what they do. Those I am talking to know FAR FAR more about HT and music equipment than I do. Their comments are useful, and honest - they are talking me out of buying equipment that would be a waste given the acoustics of my place.

What Hoosier is experiencing, though, is exactly the same I went through at one of the "better" stores in town. Their prices are inflated; their knowledge is lacking; their service is inferior. Those people should not remain in business, yet surprisingly they do.

All of this is of no help to you Hoosier. An idea: ask around this forum for references in your town. There may be places you can go to that can give you the service you need.
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