BUT DID YOU? So, got what you bargained for did you?

Michael Vronsky writes:

Did we in the high-end buyers arena get what we bargained for when we chose the lowest price over service and advice?

Dealers have always discounted. It’s implicit in the descriptive word ‘dealers’ i.e. ‘to deal’ Perhaps ‘retailer’ might be more appropriate? Anyway – even famous dealers may be obliged to offer a discount. Either through arm-wrestling (rarely literally of course) applied at the time of purchase under the right circumstances – or offered if there is a financial shortfall. So, lets take a hindsight glance at the mid 1980s; arguably the heyday of the high-end retailer.

Sometimes these discounts were disguised by a high (absurd?) trade in valuation or free setup or who knows what. The bottom line was that rarely did people pay full price for high-end gear. Dealers thrived, customers benefitted from their advice, service and close proximity. If you had a problem or it didn’t sound the way it did in the showroom, you could in the majority of instances rely on the dealer to help.

The value equation was simple. You paid close to the asking price for the equipment, the dealer provided years of service and help. That was an equitable bargain.

Then came the inevitable second tier dealer who eschewed service and advice to sell at a lower price. Customers flocked to this model because, well, who wants to pay more? These were known then, and still are today as ‘box-shifters’.

Now we have lower prices through these dealers but what we have given up is the trusted neighborhood dealer who was a part of our community. I don’t mean the local community because in terms of retail I very much doubt if it existed – other than of course the traditional ‘corner shop. No; I mean the audio community. The point being that the box-shifters are thriving whereas the number of ‘traditional’ specialist retailers is declining.

The problem (or the beauty) with any model in a free market society is you get what you bargained for.


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