Mike Twomey has a bit of advice about how to get the best deal on your audio during the holidays. The Wondrous Holiday Season – a Six Week Period. Where People Totally Lose Their Mind. How to Get a Good Deal from your Dealer During the Holidays

Every “holiday season” is viewed with equal parts dread and enthusiasm by Audio-Video Dealers throughout the realm. In the States the overbearing and ever present American Press fill the airways with reports on how retailers are bearing up in the “this highly important” time of the year.  People camp out in parking lots and storm the doors of the local big box retailer at 3AM on so called “Black Friday”.  This dubious phrase comes from the myth that on this day, most retailers finally turn a profit for the year. Just a thought…if you are 11 months into your year and have not turned a profit yet, you may wish to consider an alternative career in the fast food industry.

Below is a video of some of the locals rampaging and trampling each other. Great fun to watch by the way.  Many of these people have had their brains surgically removed as you can see. Imagine you are visiting Earth from the planet Zeldar 4 and this is your first contact with human beings…… No intelligent life exists here.

So here you sit pondering buying something nice for your budding audiophile (or yourself) for the holidays. You want a good deal but you sure as hell don’t want to go the local big box and get slammed around. Well this little article is for you.

We’ve preached about all of the good things that can occur if you establish a relationship with your local dealer. Dealers want regular customers who visit the store, bring their friends, and talk music and gear. That is why we went into the business to begin with (and of course meeting women).  Your dealer is incented to make sales during this time of year. Why?  Well the manufacturers give us quotas to hit which typically end in December.  If a dealer wants to keep the lines he has, he damn well better make his quota. In the States, at the CES conference in January dealers get to explain themselves to the manufacturers.  Trust me on this. This can be a pleasant or significantly less than pleasant experience depending on where you sit on hitting your quota. So… keep that point in mind. We dealers want to make sales and we want happy customers. Here are some more hints to help you in “this highly important” time of the year:

The Value of Bundling – if you want a good deal from your dealer, consider buying multiple items such as an amplifier and speakers together. This gives the dealer more incentive to work with you on price. To help the process along I suggest you tell your dealer that you want a good deal on your purchase and want to spend your money with her or him and … and you understand he needs to make a reasonable margin to keep the doors open. This conversation tends to yield great results.

It Helps to Know the Technology – Knowing the technology of the product you are buying is a plus. An educated customer is a joy to work with for your dealer. It also means that you’ve done your research and know the market price points. A good example of this is Digital to Analogue Converters, “DAC’s”.  There is a wide variety and many quality levels for this class of products. We sell DAC’s that range in price from $149 USD to $16,000USD. The only thing that these two products have in common is the name. Our educated customer knows the difference in these products.  If you don’t know the difference in the products…ask!  A good dealer wants to help customers understand and enjoy the products she or he sells. My little shop offers classes every two weeks on a wide variety of topics. They are meant for education and for fun; a commodity in short supply these days.  I’m on a one man mission to prevent FDD; Fun Deficit Disorder.

Trust YOUR ears not your friends or the salesperson – Buy the product that you like and sounds pleasant to your ears. When doing a demo at your dealer bring your music and preferably in the format that you prefer. (Vinyl, CD or digital download). Spend time listening to the instruments and vocals. If you are auditioning multiple products, use the same track or series of tracks on each set of gear. Try to eliminate as many variables as possible.  Don’t change cables for instance. If a product is too expensive for your budget, just say so to your dealer. He will respect you for that and for saving his time.  If you are just shopping and beginning your search tell your dealer this. She/he will leave you alone. But don’t be afraid to ask questions. They are there to help you.  When you think you have a product you like engage your salesperson. Ask for an audition using your music.

The “I know more than you” game – We see this a lot and it’s a hot button with us.  This is where a customer comes in, browses our store and proceeds to ask dozens of questions and corrects or disagrees with our sales people. Usually this guy has a pair of homemade speakers that he claims outperform anything made by Magico, Wilson or B&W. We’re thrilled for him. We put him in the “time out” chair in the back of the store near the furnace. Dealers should never ever play this game either. It’s a far greater sin in my view for a dealer to adopt a pretentious and nose-in-the-air attitude. This traditionally has been a problem in this business.  The good dealers that I know both in Europe and in the States get this. So there is an emphasis in our business on making sure you have a good experience in coming in to the shop.  If you find that you have an arrogant know-it-all salesperson working with you, you have my permission to slap the shit out of him or her whilst saying in loud firm voice “I’m doing this for your own good and for the entire industry!!!” (Hifi Pig would never condone slapping the shit out of your salesperson…or anyone else for that matter – Ed’)

I would imagine that my long suffering editors Linette and Stuart will judiciously edit this last sentence out.  “Stuart I can’t believe what that dumb Yank is saying now!”

How you pay does make a difference – The credit card companies make a nice living thanks to you and your dealer. The credit card companies charge your dealer anywhere from 2% to 3% on purchases made. Then they hope you don’t pay your balance in full each month and then charge you a tidy 15% to 20% monthly interest fee. So your dealer is incented to not take a credit card transactions if possible. Cash is always king but a bit inconvenient especially when buying higher ticket items. Very few people I know walk around with 3000 quid on them (okay, besides Linette and Stuart. But they own an international publishing conglomerate). But if you can, paying with currency helps the dealer who in turn will be inclined to view a product discount kindly.

Be Honest – yes I said it. I cannot tell how many customers lie like rugs to us. So your dealer is fairly jaded to negotiation games. If your intent is really to buy an item, say so. If you want a better price…ask.

The world goes for want of asking. But if you want a better price from the dealer, the dealer will want something in return. Are you buying anything else? How are you paying? Are you a repeat customer? Also if your intent is to buy on the internet please don’t waste the dealer’s time.

Saying that you can get a piece for “x” at another dealer actually doesn’t help your cause. The dealer knows this already. We know what the competition is doing. Skip that stuff please.

Okay let’s summarize:

  • Establish a rapport with your dealer
  • To get a great deal try to bundle products together
  • Bone up on the technology
  • Trust your own ears
  • Don’t play the “ I know more than you game
  • If your salesperson is rude go ahead and smack them around…perfectly good (no really, don’t do that it’ll lead to bad things happening down the line – Ed’).
  • Credit Cards cost your dealer money. Be aware of that
  • Be Honest with your Dealer

With these hints in mind, go forth and find the holiday bit of kit that you’ve always wanted.

Have a great holiday season!
Mike Twomey owns Big Kids Toys AV in Greensboro NC. The annual Big Kids Toys customer holiday party will be streamed live over the net.  Mike is secretly hoping for a Sony Betamax VCR this holiday season. 

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