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Important to buy from Authorized Dealer?

 

Bronze Member
Username: Thephatp

Post Number: 15
Registered: Jun-05
I've been looking at the Denon 2805, which I'm pretty set on, but I'm wondering...

How important is it to buy from an authorized dealer?

ALL of the authorized dealers listed on the Denon website are selling new 2805's for around $900. I can't afford that. So I was looking at referbished ones, and the cheapest I can find is $589 + tax and shipping. I was looking at the product warranties on the Denon site, and a referbished item is only warrantied for 90 days. I can find a new one shipped for $600 or so. Is it really worth the 90 days of warranty to get a referb, when I could by a brand new for the same price?

How often to people have problems with receivers such that they actually use the warranty?

Thanks for the insight!
 

Gold Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 4043
Registered: May-04


It is not a matter of how often the products require warranty service (most products are quite reliable new or refurbished); but whether your unit will require service. If you have problems it can easily wipe out any savings from buying refurbished products. Manufacturers will generally buy the most reliable parts they can afford at any price range. The more competitive the price range, the more pressure there is to save a penny here and a penny there. The average product failure rate is under 5% in the first year. Some products are higher and some products are lower. But do you want to be in that 5%? That is why there are factory authorized warranty repair stations.

You pays your money and you takes your chances.



 

Silver Member
Username: Dmwiley

Post Number: 767
Registered: Feb-05
There are some "gray" market items I would purchase but other products that I would only secure from an authorized dealer. For example, I would purchase a top of the line SLR from an authorized dealer. But I might get a few lenses from gray marketers. If I were considering Denon, I would go with an authorized dealer because repair on their units can be expensive. Jan is right.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Chitown

Post Number: 98
Registered: Apr-05
What is the regular warranty for Denon? Is it 3 years?

If it's only one year you can do the math ($600 + estimated repair cost * 5% chance of breaking down vs. $900) you can still come out ahead. Besides most of these places will sell a 2-3 year warranty pretty cheap.

Also check with some of these sites, you may be surprised that some are authorized dealers anyway.
 

Gold Member
Username: Paul_ohstbucks

Post Number: 1176
Registered: Jan-05
It's all about personal preference. Is it worth it to pay more for a longer warranty???? Only you can decide.

For the same reasons, some folks buy gobs of insurance for everything under the sun, and others dont.

If you really want to open a big can of worms, you could have asked about extended warranties and their value:-)
 

Silver Member
Username: Petergalbraith

Rimouski, Quebec Canada

Post Number: 750
Registered: Feb-04
It's half-price for me to buy a receiver from www.ecost.com shipped to Canada compared buying here. So at least for that item, it's a no-brainer for me.
 

Gold Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 4046
Registered: May-04


Having sold many an extended warranty the issue is still exacly as I stated above. It is not how many break, it is what happens if it is yours that breaks. As Paul said, it is insurance and some people believe in insurance and others do not.

To clarify Dale's remarks; a "gray market" item should be avoided at all costs if you have any concern other than how cheaply can an item be purchased. For some people that is the only issue to consider. Others have more sense.

Gray market items are most frequently products that are brought into a market by breaking franchise agreements or simply by illegal procedures. If the same product can be purchased at a lower price due to monetary discrepancies (as the current situation with the dollar provides) and shipped to a market to undercut the authorized dealer, that is a gray market item. Products that are sold across franchise/distribution agreements can have many sources and destinations. They are often meant for another location and have "disappeared" from a shipping manifesto. It is not uncommon to have serial numbers removed or defaced. An authorized service center is under no obligation to warranty these items and the owner will pick up the expense of repair.

Gray market and refurbished are two distinct items that have little in common. Refurbished means the work was done by an authorized service center and a warranty of some length is provided. Gray market may tell you there is a warranty, but it is not true. Quite often in the world of button and switch/menu driven AV products, a refurbished piece of equipment wasn't defective in the first place; the problem was with the operator not comprehending the instructions and returning a well functioning product.




 

Bronze Member
Username: Chitown

Post Number: 100
Registered: Apr-05
Jan the question is not between Refurbished vs. gray market, my question at least is how do you tell a gray market. This site for instance:
http://www.ibuydigital.com/main.cfm?fuseaction=all.proPage&product_id=4065&CFID= 441648&CFTOKEN=93950903

claims "Shop with Confidence! All products we carry are factory sealed, complete with all factory supplied accessories, and a full manufacturers USA warranty." and it is selling a Denon 2805 at $585 well below the ABT appliance and Crutchfield prices of $900. Is it a grey market? Supposing nothing is defaced, the serial number is intact etc. Will Denon actually refuse a warranty claim? The list they have on their web site is not even complete. It is missing some of the big players such as ABT and Crutchfield. You can make a serious arguement that there is no way for you to keep up with their "approved vendor list" and they will have to abide by their warranty.

I have bought items from some of these sites in Manhattan and Brookly for years. They can't possibly deliver that much inventory for so many years based solely on items "missing" from a shipment.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Jimvm

Louisiana U.S.A.

Post Number: 81
Registered: Apr-05
It's pretty much up to you. The important thing is to go into the purchase with your eyes open. From what I have read and heard, there are many folks who have purchased audio gear from unauthorized dealers and have no complaints. On the other hand, if you do some research on the Internet, you can find plenty of cases where folks were very dissatisfied with such purchases.

The potential problems that I have read/heard about all revolve around being lied to. Some of these e-tailers will say that they are an authorized dealer and that their products carry a full manufacturer's warranty when they aren't and they don't; some will say the item is new-in-box when it isn't; some will say that they have the item in stock when they don't, etc. I have read/heard of many cases of people having received obviously pre-opened boxes, units which are damaged, units which are refurbished, units which have had the serial number removed or obliterated and units which are counterfeit.

Not all unauthorized dealers operate that way, notwithstanding how they obtain their wares. I've seen some which make it clear on their website that they are not an authorized dealer for some of the products they sell. Usually they offer "off the shelf" warranties for an additional charge. If you are considering buying from an unauthorized dealer, carefully examine the website and look for whether or not they purport to be an authorized dealer, whether or not they advertise that their products come with a full manufacturer's warranty (they often say, "full USA warranty" whatever that means). You could even call them on the phone and ask them. If you catch them in a lie, that's a pretty good indication that you're dealing with one of the crooked ones.

Frankly, I would no more purchase audio gear from an unauthorized dealer than I would purchase a purported Patek Philippe watch from a guy on a street corner.
 

Gold Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 4048
Registered: May-04


How do you tell a gray market item? Before the sales transaction takes place there are a few things a consumer can do to protect themself. The internet has become a large problem in many ways because a shop in China can sell to someone in Los Angeles. And, of course, people lie and not having face to face contact makes the situation worse than ever before. Read everything on the web site carefully and check for references that verify the seller has a reputation for honesty.

A dealer selling gray market goods seldom advertises as refurbished since they want you to believe you are getting an absolutely smoking deal that no one else can match. So they are supposedly offering brand new units with factory warranty at an unbelievable price.

Manufacturers have a hard time keeping their web sites up to date but that is where to begin. Even this could prove less than helpful if the dealer has lost their franchise recently. An honest dealer will sell their remaining stock, probably at a discount, and that will be the end of the matter. There are dealers who have lost their franchise - for good reason - who will continue to find and sell product they shouldn't have.

A call to the manufacturer should give a definite answer as to who is an authorized dealer and who isn't. This still hasn't stopped some dealers from selling gray market goods that shouldn't be sold in their market.

The largest problem of gray market products comes from equipment that is not meant for the country it is purchased from. Until recently the value of the dollar to the rest of the world's currency made the sale of factory sealed equipment very inviting to the gray market sellers. As the dollar has lost its ability to buy more from foreign markets the equation has shifted somewhat. But foreign merchandise still accounts for the largest portion of gray market sales in the US.

While you have the manufacturer on the line, ask what their serial numbers look like for your market. Every international seller uses some way to distinguish between what region of the world a product should be sold into. If the package arrives and you cannot find a serial number on the outside of the package - begin to worry. If the serial number on the unit itself has been tampered with or doesn't match the serial number code for your region - expect the worst and contact the seller immediately.

Like any scam the seller depends on the greed of the buyer to operate. If you've received what appears to be a gray market item, you are pretty much on your own. You can call the manufacturer but they will only take action to shut down any further sales. They won't help you.

If you have a gray market item that requires warranty service, you can and most likely will be denied warranty by the manufacturer. You can scream all you want but the manufacturer and the service center hold all the cards in this hand. You are screwed!

Some manufacturers will use this to protect themselves from deceptive business practices. Better manufacturers will use this to promote sales through their authorized brick and mortar dealers. Either way the buyer who just wanted to save a few bucks can be out much more than they saved.

And there is always the issue of what happens if the equipment you buy has to be returned to the seller before any further action can take place. A buyer can easily find their money and their equipment tied up for 6 months or more while getting nothing but answering systems with menus for everything but talking to a live human being.

Probably 8.5 times out of 10 you will do OK buying a product from someone who offers a good deal. You just don't want to fall into that 1.5 category.

In the case of an unauthorized dealer the company is typically buying up products that a dealer can't sell and wants to unload. Possibly a dealer that is going out of business is selling through a bankruptcy court. Manufacturers are often making deals where they opened up a storage compartment to discover 10,000 CD players that are a year old. Companies like JRelectronics has been in this market for decades. Fast Eddy's out of New York drove authorized dealers crazy for many, many years.

There are lots of reasons a legitimate (more or less) dealer can sell at very low prices. In the days when dealers did their own warranty service this could create minor hassles. Today with factory service centralized in another state for many products, that issue has been removed and the shipping and handling of your gear has taken on another issue all together.






 

Silver Member
Username: Chitown

Post Number: 107
Registered: Apr-05
Jan what you are proposing here, though logical to a audiophile like yourself, would be way beyond the accepted norm in a consumer oriented society like ours. You can not place that much burden on a consumer to verify a product placement before purchasing (call, e-mail, check website?), and I will guarantee you the marketing and sales departments will overrule the service departments at any point if this issues is raised by a customer. I acquiesce to your point regarding damaged or wiped out serial numbers, but outside of that it will be hard to sell and maintain a product line by getting a bad rap on tough warranty exclusions.

If you notice the warranty registeration cards, there is not even that much of a burden of proof placed on the customer. They simply ask you to state where you bought it from and date. You don't need to include a receipt.
 

Gvenk
Unregistered guest
I would recommend that people differentiate between unauthorized and sleazy dealers to make their decisions. I have no problem buying from the former but not from the latter (and sometimes even if the sleazy dealer is an authorized dealer).

To explain, the concept of authorized dealer originates in the manufacturer's intent to control pricing, period. There are all kinds of rationalizations to justify it otherwise but that is the foremost reason. In this aspect, many of these manufacturers run dangerously close to violating the price-fixing laws and other fair trade practices especially in the US and therefore will not make a big deal out of this if you bought it from a reputable but unauthorized dealer.

The only justifiable case where a manufacturer may decide to deny you warranty is if the purchase was from a vendor that is known to be "problematic". For example, flagrant gray market selling (although the US Supreme court itself has witheld the legality of gray market selling) or a history of selling altered/modified/used equipment as new. This they have to do as a necessity to prevent runaway support costs from units sold in less than new condition. And they will have some legal protection as well in such denials especially if they can bring the past history of the merchant in question to bear.

The lowest price from a reputable dealer is a good way to purchase these equipment authorized or not. I refuse to yield to the price-fixing schemes as practiced by many manufacturers such as NAD et al using the label of authorized dealers to limit inventory and price competition.

The above applies to new equipment only not to anything that is reurbished/open box or anything less than "sealed by manufacturer" condition and legally sold as new.
 

Gold Member
Username: Paul_ohstbucks

Post Number: 1191
Registered: Jan-05
There is nothing sleezy about buying components from someone who is NOT an authorized dealer(pricegrabber.com, etc..etc..etc). They offer a service for a price, and a darned good one.

It's the customers decision whether the added 'brick and mortar/warranty' costs are worth it to them. The manufacturers gladly sell those component to 'unath'venders because
1.product is moving

and 2, it's a relatively hassle free no strings attached transaction.
 

Silver Member
Username: Dmwiley

Post Number: 775
Registered: Feb-05
Paul is exactly right.
 

Gvenk
Unregistered guest
Since I introduced the word sleazy, I would like to make sure that the above post from Paul does not mischaracterize what I was saying as it dismisses something completely different (although I agree with what Paul said) from what I said. He appears to have misunderstood my first statement.

Being sleazy has nothing to do with being authorized (or not). There are some internet dealers out there who have less than honorable business practices. If you buy from a sleazy dealer and he happens to be unauthorized then you stand a good chance of running into problems with the manufacturer on warranty issues because of that merchant's past practices.

On the other hand, if the merchant happens to be a reputable dealer then there should not be any problem in getting warranty services from the manufacturer and so it should not be an issue.

One problem I can see however is if you are sending in for any rebates (more common in video equipment than audio). Then you should make sure that you buy from an authorized dealer.

Of course, there are sleazy customers too. These are the ones that waste hours of an authorized dealer's time with a store for auditions and window shopping with no intent of buying from them and then go and buy from a cheaper internet source.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Thephatp

Post Number: 19
Registered: Jun-05
Ok, now I'm getting a little confused. Tell me this--If I buy a receiver from an UNauthorized dealer, but that that dealer did nothing to alter the serial number, will the manufacturer warranty it?

I know you still run the chance of getting a used or referb when they state that it's new, but assuming that it's new and that the serial number has not been altered in any way, with the manufacturer warranty it?

A few more questions:
- If you buy from an authorized dealer, but have problems, do you have to go back to that same dealer to have it serviced?
- If you buy from an UNauthorized dealer, what do you do when you have problems at that point? Contact the manufacturer directly?
- If the manufacturer honors the warranty on a product even if you bought it from an UNauthorized dealer, do you have to pay shipping?

I could really use some clarity here. If buy from an UNauthorized dealer presents only a risk and not a guarantee, then that is a different story. But if the manufacturer will always know you got it from an UNauthorized dealer, I'd say that's dangerous.

Am I getting my question across? I can't tell, so if I need to clarify more, please let me know.

Thanks for the help!
 

Gold Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 4054
Registered: May-04


Paul is, as usual, mostly wrong. For the most part manufacturers take on authorized dealers for many reasons and make a contract that is binding on both sides. This means a manufacturer cannot offer an item that is a "hot seller" to an unauthorized dealer. That cuts into the service the authorized dealer can offer their clients and the profits the authorized dealer can make. Manufacturers may dispose of older merchandise or slow movers through a broker and that merchandise will end up at unauthorized dealers. It depends very much on the manufacturer. In the past companies like Pioneer, Japanese Marantz, Kenwood and others have left dealers with less than they thought they signed on for in the way of support from the manufacturer. Companies such as McIntosh, Theil, Wilson and so forth, mostly due to their small market share, try to help the dealer as much as possible and will make every effort to shut down unauthorized sales. Whether you want to view this as price fixing or supporting each other is your choice. Dealers can't afford to spend time and money promoting a manufacturer that undercuts their efforts. This is especially true in today's marketplace where margins are razor thin.

In the same way, how a company deals with warranty repairs is largely a matter of how big the company's distribution network is. Pioneer and Sony and so forth will often look the other way when dealing with warranty work because it is more trouble to track down unauthorized sales than it is to just fix a product. The burden of proof is typically put on the service center which sends in for warranty reinbursement after the repair has been made and the account settled with the customer.

Smaller companies have more restrictive policies toward warranties since they have a more confined dealer network. For the most part the manufacturer is the final word in the matter and the shop will write off some unauthorized repairs instead of fighting with the manufacturer.

Stof, it is not me that places the burden on the customer. If someone wants to buy from a dealer without checking whether they will have a warranty, I have no say in the matter. Since electronics are generally reliable the buyer may not have a problem to face. Should a warranty issue arise how do you suggest the manufacturer deal with the problem? Look the other way because the client wanted to save a few dollars and didn't want to make a phone call or check the internet to find out whether they were dealing with an authorized representative? Manufacturers seldom have that much sympathy. It is true that if you scream loud enough and long enough you might get some concessions from the repair center. Today it is more likely you will be shuffled off to a regional service center where you will have to pay for shipping to and from the shop and probably still have to pay for the repair. You pays your money ...

Chad - There is no hard and fast rule about what will result from an unauthorized or authorized dealer when it comes to warranty. Some manufacturers are more than likely to just let the problem become an issue for the service center. The shop is your point of contact and it is, after all, the repair facility's obligation to make certain they will get reinbursed before they take on a repair. If you have questions about any particular company I would once again suggest you make the phone call to inquire what the company's policies are. To do otherwise is risking an expensive repair bill should you have problems. Where product is serviced and who pays for what part of shipping varies from company to company. If the service center is not at the dealership you purchased from (which it seldom is nowdays) the manufacturer will typically pick up the shipping to the repair center and back to you if the repair is deemed warranty work. If the problem is not found and the "repair" is not made, you can find yourself paying for at least the return trip. Repeated problems that get designated user error or abuse will find you paying for all the charges. If you have any doubts, it is best to call the manufacturer and get clarification before you spend your money. I hope I'm getting my point across.




 

Gold Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 4055
Registered: May-04


Gevnk - "For example, flagrant gray market selling (although the US Supreme court itself has witheld the legality of gray market selling) or a history of selling altered/modified/used equipment as new."

Upheld or witheld?


 

Gvenk
Unregistered guest
Oops, I meant to say upheld as in allowed!
 

Silver Member
Username: Chitown

Post Number: 116
Registered: Apr-05
Jan there are two problems with your arguments here : 1)You are assuming that the companies handcuff themselves with the dealer authorization. The dealer authorization agreements are nice fuzzy contracts that allow a relationship to be built between manufacturers and stores where one may or may not exists. It is good for the manufacturers because they can count on a number of units to move through the stores and eases their sales forecast and product placement. Now, at the end of the quarter when the inventories have piled up and the holding company is breathing down their neck, do you think the sales execs are going to sit there and just see what sales they can slap on existing stores and move the products? No, they will do anything and everything to get rid of merchandise, and that includes moving them through channels that they use for that specific purpose. The stores know it and will tolerate a certain amount of it because their markups are still decent and their high-end main clientele will go back to them regardless of the price on the net or some shop in Brooklyn. This is how most of these units end up in some shops in Manhattan, Brooklyn or Queens where they are moved out, no questions asked.

2) "Should a warranty issue arise how do you suggest the manufacturer deal with the problem? Look the other way". This is precisely what I would expect a good company to do. I would not call it looking the other way, but standing behind their product. That is what builds brand loyalty. You said yourself there are no hard and fast rules. Just look at this bonanza that so many people just got from the Marantz sale at Ubid. Marantz just increase their client base, name recognition and brand loyalty and they were able to clear inventory. Will they stand behind this corporate move? Absolutely. You can be sure they monitor forums like this as well.

In terms of the warranty rejection, there are always disclaimers put out by any product or service that allows the manufacturer a way out. The good companies that last will still cater to the customer regardless. Sometimes, as you said, it may require hand twisting and "talking to the supervisor", but it can be done.

 

Gvenk
Unregistered guest
Chad, the only definite statements I can make are:

1. If you buy from an authorized dealer for that unit, you can definitely get warranty repair eventually. Eventually, because when and where you get the repairs vary from one manufacturer to another. In many cases, the vendor is not involved in anything after the sale at all.

2. If you buy from an unauthorized dealer and the unit is not gray market (i.e., not imported from another region a unit that is not sold in this region), if the unit is sold in factory-fresh condition and the dealer regularly sells such units (as opposed to one-of for a short period of time) and the merchant is a reputable one not known for scams and other unfair trade practices and the warranty repairs are managed by the manufacturer (i.e, you call the manufacturer first even if you buy from an authorized dealer), then you can be certain that the warranty will be honored no questions asked in 90% of the cases and the rest you may have to follow up and be a pest until they allow it.

3. If any of the clauses in (2) above is not valid for your purchase then you are taking a significant risk that your warranty will not be honored but may still be able to, especially from the mass market brands.
 

Gold Member
Username: Paul_ohstbucks

Post Number: 1208
Registered: Jan-05
Stof,
You have to excuse Jan. She's suffering from "brick and mortar" breath. She obviously has her reasons for what she says.
 

Silver Member
Username: Dmwiley

Post Number: 776
Registered: Feb-05
Paul is right on both of his last posts.
 

Gold Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 4061
Registered: May-04


Whatever the situation of the dealer and service center, make certain you have your sales receipt. If you do not have a file where all receipts are kept I normally suggested to the buyer that they tape the receipt to the bottom of the equipment. Obviously that doesn't apply to any product that needs air flowing through the bottom panel. But, make certain you can show the receipt to ease the warranty situation as much as possible.


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