Mike Twomey continues his series of articles looking at the wonderful world of audio from the dealers perspective and this month offers up a few useful tips on how to get the best trade in deal when it comes round to the inevitable upgrade time…

“This was state-of-the art at the time. Dual-well player with auto reverse..Dolby noise reduction. It can play all manner of tapes including metal!”

My customer was doing his very best to convince me that this twenty three year old Nakamichi cassette deck was worth $300. His forced enthusiasm was wearing thin even on himself.

“I think I paid over $1000 for it. It’s been gently used. What do you say?”

Well fishermen would love it. It would drain water quickly. It would be a perfect drift anchor. Look, I understand you want a discount on these speakers. But this tape deck is worthless but there may be a promising career for you in advertising.Mule

All of us just love to play with the whole concept of value. Whole industries have grown out of the concept of negotiating value. We won’t mention Barristers and Attorneys who exist solely for the purpose of resolving disputes when two parties can’t agree on value.

Our hobby, our passion, all manner of AV gear seems to be an exercise of a bridge too far; meaning we can afford “x” but we really really want “y”.  Dealers see this every day. I spent a week at a major audio show in the US recently. One of our customers tagged along with us.  Dealers got the honor of explaining to the manufacturers why we had or had not met their product quotas, while the customer gleefully went out to the hundreds of rooms of audio gear being shown. Eight hours later, he was back talking about the amazing new speakers he had heard and the new electronics.  I knew where this discussion was going.  First the divide and conquer theory came out.

“I talked to Sara (a newbie employee) about your taking back those speakers I bought last year.”

Did you now? What did Sara say?

“She said it would look good for you to be the first dealer to sell a pair of the new series”


“She said she would talk to you about giving me a good deal on a trade-in of those speakers”

Why don’t we do this? Let’s grab a beer and talk this through. What occurred during the next two hours was a back and forth based on economic realities of the Audio world. I explained that his 18 month old speakers depreciate. This is true of most things. The price I offer for the trade-in has lots of thoughts factored in. How much of a market is there for his used speaker? How long will I have to sit on them before I can sell them?  How will he pay for the new speakers and…most importantly is this a loyal repeat customer whose business is worth the effort to accommodate him.

Most AV dealers are well familiar with discounting to customers. Policies are written. Speeches are given. Websites spring up dealing in used and discounted gear.  Trade-ins are viewed as discounts by your dealer. So here are a few guidelines to consider before you visit with your local dealer with your trade-in gear in tow.

  • If you want to trade-in something be aware that your dealer may or may not be interested in it. If he is not, don’t take it personally. So first ask yourself does this dealer carry the line that I want to trade-in? Is my gear in good shape? Does it function properly?
  • You know that you would recover more money if you tried to sell your used equipment yourself. Yes it can be troublesome to do but it will certainly be worth your time.
  • If you want a good value on your trade-in be reasonable in your price expectations. This is especially true of home theater electronics. The technology is changing rapidly. Older Processors without HDMI inputs are worth more as door stops than as a trade-in to a dealer. Unfortunate?..Yes. Reality? Absolutely
  • Certain brands do have more weight in the market place and retain a higher percentage of their purchase price. The ultra-expensive speaker brands tend to be in this club. But remember, someone who is spending 50,000 Euros on a pair of speakers looks at other factors in her or his decision. How are the financial markets behaving currently and what is his net cash position? Buying elite audio gear will be covered in a future article.
  • The key walk away here is this. If you want the best possible pricing from your dealer be a loyal Tell your dealer about what you would like to do now and in the future. And actually follow through and do it. Dealers respond to repeat business and usually give their best pricing to those customers.  One time Charlies never get discounts.  We try to help customers with trade-ins by listing them in our monthly newsletter. This seems to help to move the products for the customer.

Mike Twomey owns Big Kids Toys AV located in Greensboro North Carolina. His net cash position is about $4.76 at the moment.







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