Is the Audiophile hobby in the UK dying?

Hi guys...this question I'm going to pose is not intended to russel up anyone's feathers, moreover, I ask this question because I have (in recent years) noticed a significant change in the downward trend of attitude/outlook/customer service/passion/integrity/motivation/product knowledge/politeness, and so many other elements from the very people who are serving to sell companies products to the end user and which carries a huge responsibility for keeping the industry in this country alive. I relate this question specifically to the UK market as I also live/work in Europe as well as the UK and I have identified a very definite difference between the cross channel attitudes in the professionalism and enthusiasm of the 2 markets. I didn't start to ask myself this very question until I stopped to think why 5 years ago I had not purchased a single piece of hi-end hi-fi equipment outside the UK and that for the last 18 months all my purchases have gone to European dealers. This was not relative to manufacturer or product as there are no limitations on purchasing products within the EU anymore and yes all of my purchases have been British made items that Ive bought in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

I first started to ask myself this question when trying to purchase a high end class A amp and later a DAC both items in the 5-10K price range. Trying to achieve a home demo was a painful experience laced with financial obligations and complications...whereas the sale went cross channel simply because the dealers were so very willing, polite, well informed, enthusiastic, knowledgeable and very willing (with no obligation) to jump in a van and drive to the UK to make a demonstration ...YES OF A UK PRODUCT! Origin of manufacture really should not be relevant but in this case i think it is. Has the industry in the UK reached such a point that it's decline is inspired by the very people who make it available to us? Is it greed? Laziness? Lack of professionalism? The internet killing odd the high street shop? Financial markets? Motivation? Manufacturers limitations imposed upon the UK market dealers?

I further ask this question while sincerely not intending to slander those dealers of high ethical values, motivation and integrity, and i suspect that those who view this post in a negative light may well be defending themselves from the adjectives I have used because they feel perhaps it is applicable to themselves. Who knows?

Finally, yes, there are undoubtedly very highly respected outlets in the UK that remain steadfast in their professional and ethical positions as resellers and for that reason I remain loyal to one shop in the UK in particular, but understandingly that company is unable to provide access to every item I might be interested in. That dealers professionalism results in his empathy as to why I might purchase elsewhere and hence future business will be conducted between us whenever possible.

My concern is simple; I cant be the only person who had discovered that you can achieve far greater price reductions on UK manufactured equipment, while achieving a far superior level of customer service by buying cross channel. Isn't it a shame that the product gets made here, shipped to the continent and sent back to the customer in the UK all because the customer feels he has gained not only a cost saving but has enjoyed a far more pleasurable experience during the process and has purchased because the dealer helped him to buy it??

As an aside, I was recently encouraged when a UK dealer asked me the very question, "may I inquire as to what has prompted you to buy this item from a European source?". I must respect that individual as he took no offense to my honest and direct answer although his interest seemed to end at that point.

Please remember, this is an open question and not intended to be a statement of fact.

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