Why don't dealers charge for home demos?

May sound odd, and dealers may offer more leeway to regular customers, but in recent years having borrowed several items on home demo I’ve felt a little guilty when they’ve not lived up to expectations, often several in a row, hence no sale - items may vary from low to high-end, but those I have bought have been instant improvements.

So, does this inform dealers that certain products (not necessarily Naim) are not up to scratch or is it just one of those things they accept?

So back to the original question, if I home demo a NAP 300DR for a week, would it be unreasonable to maybe charge 1-2% of purchase cost for doing so (or cheaper daily rate)? I personally don’t think it would as it could make you avoid a costly purchase mistake.

If you decided to buy on the basis of the home demo the demo cost could be discounted from final purchase cost, or perhaps kept in reserve for an alternative purchase?

Any thoughts?

Additionally, might this make it more viable for dealers to keep a broader range of items in stock?

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My local dealer is always all too happy for me to home demo gear. Naim or non Naim. His thinking is that it is easier for him for me to pick up/ drop it back and then for me to set it up at home, rather than him do it. I also get to hear it in my house with the rest of my gear. Rather than him try and match what I have in his dem room. Most items I have had for up to a couple of weeks. And most has resulted in a purchase. But, this is because I have built a relationship over 20 years.

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My dealer, which is the main dealer in France, has only 1 item in his shop. One 250 dr, Ndx2, 300dr…etc
So he can only demonstrate at home for 1 hour or two, not let the item at home. Because he won’t be able to demonstrate it at shop if a customer wants to listen to it.
Maybe in UK it’s different.

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The profit margins on High End audio equipment have home demo costs built in.

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which is why they don’t mind doing it… some people will buy because they feel like they ought to. It’s essentially just another sales technique.

My approach to this, as I certainly recognise the feeling, is to only home demo kit I might seriously want. I offer to pay for it all up front to be refunded later if not bought, and am completely clear that I am testing it in situ and if it’s not right I won’t be able to buy it… so that they know it’s not a certain sale. But I have at least some relationship with them built up first, and will go back to them later for other things…

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My dealer plays the long game…and has done some demo trips many would wince at…but apparently pays off in the long term.

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That would certainly make me more willing to try equipment out at home.

I haven’t ever done this, I’ve listened to equipment in listening rooms, I’ve had my system ‘approximated’ but not exactly and the room is certainly nothing like my room.

I wouldn’t home demo anything at the moment because I wouldn’t want to be seen as a tyre kicker if I didn’t buy. So I for one would find this attractive.

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My dealer mostly lets me take stuff home for demo during their closure, from Saturday afternoon to Tuesday morning. For certain exceptions they can arrange extended home demo (e.g. NDX2 and SuperLine), or if they are gone to a trade show. That’s for gear. Often I can home demo cables and accessories for longer periods. They don’t do that for anyone; rather, for established customers with a history of purchases.

They used to be more generous but too many people would home demo and then buy online from remote dealers who discount. As a result they put a stop to the practice in general.

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That to me would seem entirely reasonable, though of course from a personal point of view it is nice if they don’t. With free home demos there is always the risk that an unscrupulous punter wound choose what they like and then go and buy from somewhere cheaper - a lock in of some sort might prevent that.

Personally I have only ever demoed two things at home Chord TT & Dave) simultaneously from the same dealer. Because it was all done by mail due to my location, I had to pay the full cost of the two items upfront, but didn’t expect any different as the dealer doesn’t know me. I would still have done it if there had been a small extra charge, especially if to be refunded on purchase of one of the items.

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I once went to a bike shop that wanted to charge me $50 to test ride a demo bike in the local neighborhood, applicable to purchase. I walked away.

The shop down the street doesn’t have that policy. The owner even loaned me his personal cross bike to take on an event ride over the weekend. In the 6 years since he has sold me seven bicycles, all between $3k-8k.

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Providing extra services is preferable to discounting at the drop of a hat.

When I was working in hifi retail, you’d get customers just flat out asking for a discount because Richer Sounds did or something like that. But the thing is, if you discount something, the message you send is very clearly “this item isn’t worth what we normally charge for it.” That’s not the message you want to send.

This is where value added services come in for dealers. Common staples in preference of discounting are:

  • Throw in proper speaker cables up to Xm a side including proper soldering and make up.
  • Home delivery and installation.
  • Home demonstration.
  • All the after care that is required.

You’ll always get punters that feel they are entitled to all the above and a discount but some people are just like that. The point being, with so many discounts on offer on line and from other chain dealers, most are doing their best to add home demo (which, to be honest is really restricted to a very small number of countries) as a value added service within a non discounted sale.

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This is what I’ve done with my local dealer as well. Pick up late Saturday…they are closed Mondays…so return Tuesday am. Works well!!

And my ‘main’ dealer, who is 900 miles away, is very generous with shipping for a home demo. As others have said it’s a “long game” for him and him making demos possible even over long distance contributes to my loyalty, definitely.

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The good dealers, who are in it for the “long game” (making long-term relationships with customers) believe that the loyalty engendered from good service, including a home demo, is worth more to them in the long run than the 1 or 2%. Of course they’ll do more for an existing good customer than a new person off the street, but they also know that that new person off the street could well develop into one of those great long-term customers.

All good dealers like that get ‘burned’ once in a while - taken advantage of by a tire-kicker who buys elsewhere. They know it’ll happen and just seem to suck it up and chalk it up to the cost of doing business.

Same here, home demos are not the norm - doesn’t matter if its a €300 cable or €30000 speakers, very few dealers will come to your house to assist or let you try before you buy (outside the shop).

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Just out of interest, where is ‘here’ in this context, @Elfer? I can’t see a location in your profile.

Hi Ebor,

I’m in Andorra. We have no dealers here and rely on France or Spain. Spain is logistically easier for me but its still a 3 hour drive each way to the nearest dealers and as mentioned, its rare to find a dealer willing to assist with a home visit or demo - it was the same when we actually lived in Spain, there are exceptions but its not the norm.

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Personally, I don’t like the idea of dealers charging for a home demo - I see home demos and/or loans of equipment as discretionary. For lower value purchases, I am happy to purchase after a satisfactory demo at a retailer, however if I were to purchase something relatively high end, I would expect a home demo or loan to be possible, just given the amount of money I would be about to spend with them. I completely understand that dealers need to differentiate between ‘tyre kickers’ and genuine customers, but sometimes spending time trying to close a sale which is then unsuccessful is a fact of business. My views on this may be coloured by not having established a relationship with a particular dealer who is always my ‘go to’ for purchases - I imagine this is something which may happen over time as I come to upgrade my system.

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We all have to make a living or try to, so its not really ethical to “borrow” someones product knowledge and skills and then buy elsewhere. Especially when you need real help with a problem or just advice. Some don’t see it that way however. In my hi-fi buying years I have never been charged a percentage. One dealer when I asked if I could borrow their demo amp at home for a few days charged my credit card, but he didn’t know me very well. When I brought it back there were no hard feelings. In the event I did go on to buy a 552 sometime later.
The trend for on-line buying which Covid-19 has to bear some responsibility for is OK for basic items like my purchase this week of an extra fan in this extreme heat. Its also a relativly cheap item and not a considered purchase.
But if you are looking at quality audio, not just Naim, then the backing of a good dealer is a real asset. I don’t know the margins they work to but they need to pay their way in life, pay staff, run the shop and hopefully make a profit.
I am waiting delivery of a LInn Karousel bearing. It comes as a kit of parts as you might imagine. Obvious really. Could I fit it? Perhaps, but not to the standard of my Linn dealer.
There is a TV advert promoting the buying of a car which will be delivered to your front door. Not the way I would like to spend a few thousand pounds. Or did I miss something in the add?

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I presume a daily fee would be acceptable. Like a renting car. To a pre defined max number of days.

The problem is the beginning of the relation.
To build trust.