Am I asking too much?

I’ve  been looking to finally buy the cartridge my turntable - a restored Garrard 401 with Reed 3P tonearm - deserves.  So I sent a note to a local Koetsu dealer - wanting to support them over your typical big names (e.g., Music Direct, Upscale Audio, etc.) particularly during covid.  Though I’ve never bought from this local place,  I’ve visited them before a couple times, and live less than 10 miles away.   When I asked the dealer if they provide turntable set-up — remember, this is for a $7000 cartridge — he told me that they refer people to a local company for that (which means of course at an additional charge).

wtf?  So the only service provided by the local dealer is to order the cartridge that I can get cheaper on-line and then refer me to someone else to provide actual service.  Anybody else have a reaction to this?
Maybe this is why your local guy isn't a big name. Or maybe he just doesn't need the business as much as you think. Instead of complaining here, tell him what you think. Maybe he'll foot the set-up bill as a discount. Make sure whoever touches your gear has insurance.
Had it restored by Woodsong Audio - motor rebuild, new precision eddy brake disc, original thrust bearing replaced, new gorgeous plinth, etc.
I agree with noromance. Ask him why they don't offer the service for such a large purchase.
wtf? So the only service provided by the local dealer is to order the cartridge that I can get cheaper on-line and then refer me to someone else to provide actual service. Anybody else have a reaction to this?

Dealers like this unwilling to provide even the most basic customer service deserve to go out of business. Get the MoFi Geo-Disk and do it yourself. Find the same Koetsu on-line and save a couple grand. Develop the skills, feel the pride of accomplishment, and know you’ve done your part to drive incompetent uncaring entitlement minded waste of space empty suits out of business.

I mean seriously, Costco offers better service when you buy a range. Shouldn’t be surprised but I am. Pathetic. Sad fact of the matter is they will keep doing this as long as audiophiles play the pledge in Animal House Thank you sir may I have another!

Don’t be Kevin Bacon. Don’t feel the least bit guilty and when you find that $7k Koetsu for $5k go back and gloat and tell them how they could’ve had an easy $2k if only they weren’t such effing A-holes. (May- or may not- want to tone down the language, entirely your call.)

(Don't anyone think for one second they are anything other than exactly like Nedermeyer, grinning and getting a thrill the whole time they know they are screwing you. They KNOW they are screwing you! No one can rip another person off like this, day after day, make it their actual business model, and not have total contempt for you as a customer. Its inevitable. Cognitive dissonance. They are screwing you. They know they are screwing you. They know its wrong to screw good people. Therefore you must be beneath them, which makes it okay to screw you. Not saying anything everyone doesn't know. Just saying what others are too polite or scared to say. They are Nedermeyer. Their customers are pledges. You subject yourself to the hazing, prove your total lack of self-respect, you get to join the fraternity of overcharged do me in the rear don't bother with the lube. That's just the way it works.)
@mdalton You might check out the Audiosilente idler and SPH bearing as low-cost options to take it to the next level.
Millercarbon, Why are you so angry? Let's at least give the local dealer a break and wait for his response to the OP, before we thoroughly assassinate his character.  Also, Kevin Bacon is a real person; Nedermayer is a fictitious character in a movie.  "Animal House" is not life.
"...motor rebuild, new precision eddy brake disc, original thrust bearing replaced, new gorgeous plinth, etc..."

Soon it will qualify as "new Garrard 401". The best way to do it.

Agree with the first response by noromance.

If no go, and if you can run fairly fast while wearing a mask, streak him - streak him good.

i also agree with noromance

did you nicely ask the retailer why? curious to know the response

even seemingly unreasonable people can sometimes have their reasons, at least give them a chance to explain

in these times, maybe it lack of staff due to covid? who knows....
Audiophiles. Can't tell the difference between disgust and anger. Have infinite patience while being ripped off. But quibble endlessly over minutia like how many degrees of separation there are between a character and Kevin Bacon. Maybe some audiophiles do deserve to be ripped off. They seem a little masochistic to me.
@millercarbon -  lol, love the passion! I set up my current cartridge with a borrowed Dr. Feichert, but that was a$450 Hana EL - much lower stakes.  Happy to do it again, but do believe a local dealer would want to nurture a relationship.  

@noromance @dekay @roxy54 @lewm @jjss49  - yes, was going to respond but wanted to get a read from others first, based on their experience.  My going in thought was that if he came in $500 above but did set-up, I’d do that trade (not just for the setup but to support a business in my local community).  What took me aback was the note saying they refer setup to some other company.  Not “we’re doing this due to covid” or “we’ll do it for $200”.  But the way he did it, it puts me in the position, as the customer, of feeling like I’m asking for a favor.  Oh well...
@millercarbon -  lol, love the passion! I set up my current cartridge with a borrowed Dr. Feichert, but that was a$450 Hana EL - much lower stakes.  Happy to do it again, but do believe a local dealer would want to nurture a relationship.  

Dream on! Here in Seattle the only relationship they have time for is the one between you and their credit card reader. Sounds like the same where you are, at least with this one.

The stakes are no different. They all respond to the same alignment and tweaking. They all have stylus guards. Koetsu are slightly different but not because of price but because they don't color code the pins. I guess they assume since its not entry level you must know what you're doing. Also they aren't threaded, and don't provide any hardware, so you need to visit a local shop and ask for a few nuts and bolts.  

That's what I did, and just like in my post felt no guilt whatsoever in taking up their time and getting free parts. They having done their best to rip me off even worse than your do-nothing dealer wanted to do you, only so many years ago five different contingents of arrogant twenty-something reps have since come and gone, me long since forgotten by them, their utter incompetence never forgotten by me. 

The thing about turntables, and all this stuff really, is once you really understand it well there's all kinds of little tells the clueless give without even knowing it. Just like there's all kinds of little tells the ones who really know their way around do. Takes one to know one as they say. Which is how I am quite sure the guy they use to set up their million dollar AT/dAgostino/Wilson monstrosities is mediocre at best. 

Oh and btw if you really are seriously looking at a $7k Koetsu I would first be seriously researching the Soundsmith strain gauge. For about the same money you will have a totally SOTA cartridge, plus SOTA phono stage, plus affordable user replaceable styli for life.
"Maybe some audiophiles do deserve to be ripped off."

Some people can afford not to care.
mmm....obviously, some wounds heal slowly...if at all...:(

Since I can afford to be charitable (it's not my $ or time spent), an observation on this sad tale...

Most b&m shops have migrated into selling 'systems', offering complete installations with decors designed to impress visually and hopefully with 'appropo acoustics' applied.  Selling a 7K$ cart is a easy thing to do on a slow day....

Mounting same properly?  A thumb-sized bit of 'audio jewelry' that's just as easy to screw up rather than get correct?  That, if done wrong, turns an easy sale into a nightmare of a pissed customer....

...especially if 'they' don't know how to do it anymore....right....the 1st go.

"Lets' turn Mr.Dalton over to the guy who set up Our stuff.  He (seems) to know what to do properly...."

I've been around sales folk most of my life.  The good ones can sell you underwear and convince you it's best worn backwards.  I'll assume they wear theirs correctly, but a sale is a sale.....and they know when to say NO.

If you don't feel comfy mounting your cart, you're left to the skills of the recommended party. are in the company of those who've 'been there, done that, and did it again until they got it Right'.

You're in 'check', not wanting to hear 'checkmate'.
Your move, good luck, J
@asvjerry that just seems like a very tortured rationalization for bad service.  if you don’t want to do b&m don’t do it.  i know another local place that doesn’t do that much high end - they carry Mcintosh for those who want to spend a lot on audio.  but where they make their money is thru amazon sales - they move a ton of product, mainly of video variety, and most of it is not local.  that’s how they survived financial crisis.  i buy my non-audiophile stuff there - tvs, sonos, av receivers, etc., nothing big, but i have a relationship with the store manager - I’m not important to his bottom line, but he’ll do extra stuff for me - have been friendly for over 10 years.  way better business person - realizes that “how you do anything is how you do everything.”
mdalton, Yes...tortured perhaps.  But I was making a 'ho' observation of your situation, however flawed it may be.  No intent of rubbing your fur backwards over it.

Frankly, I liked 'b&m' as it existed in the past.  Having lived the bulk of my life in large areas (SoCal, SF Bay area, Houston, in that order), time & tide have condensed the 'good outlets' to a pitiful few, the 'big box' outlets have become chains, the 'multimedia' b&m's apparently catering to those who have the $ to impress with the 'wide screen experience' overruling all else....

A cynical observation, Yes.*shrug*  I'll stand to be damned over it.

Hey, I admire your bringing a 401 into SOTA status; new arm, wonderful cart, all that...  No doubt you've the equipment that'll make the time and investment bring you pleasure for the trouble.

Me?  Yup, I eBay, Craigs', Amazon, troll the Habitats, the SalvArmy, etc.
In the past, I had the disposable $ to feed the habit, and it was fun.

It still, that is. But it doesn't mean my desires and expectations have totally gone to dregs.  It's just my focus is a bit different these daze. ;)

I wish I had a 'relationship' with a store mgr.
Unfortunately, I live now in a local where the 'stores' don't have the offerings that even begin to approach 1K$ carts....or mgrs' that would care to know me personally.

I go into these outlets fully aware that I know a lot more about their products then the bright-eyed sales staff does.  They're pretty easy to haul into the deep end of the pool...

And then there is the fact that I spend a certain amount of my 'audio time' DIY'ing an updated version of a Walsh omni speaker.
Most don't have any clue as to wtf I'm refering to or about...or Why.


Because I can....and, having some success at it.
On a shoestring...because I can.
And you don't.
Nor anyone else Here.

I'd LOVE to have the opportunity to have a pair of my 'little mutants' attached to your cables.
I'd even LOVE to have us blow the pair up...just to see what the 'upper limit' on them is.
I'd learn something from it, +5 years into the process.

As is said:
No Fear.

Anyway....good luck with the Koetsu.
I bear you no malice, only a stance.
What others think of what I not a concern to me.
Nor, what they each...

Regards, J

millercarbon...A suggestion: Go to your window, open it, and shout at the top of your lungs: "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!" You'll feel so much better after you get that built up anger (you say disgust) out of your system. All that just because a dealer wouldn't set up a turntable for a customer. I agree, he should, or at least pay for someone else to do it. Your reaction, and attack on the dealer, and other dealers, was a little over the top.
I work in a small B&M HiFi store founded 45 years ago.  Our business is ekeing out just enough to hang on.  Our customer base is ageing out...WE are ageing out!  We get more calls from widows wanting to unload their late husbands' systems than "new blood".  But we all are schooled in phono setup and never let a customer do it themselves (unless they insist).  We don't charge extra if they buy the cart from us.  That's a significant value we add compared to anyone else in our area.  Service is not dead!  
I was going to buy a Rega P6 In Chicagoland area which is like 2K and the dealer-Holm Audio said they prefer To set up the TT at no charge. I’m with MC. Buy the cart online, buy the tool to set up the TT, and do it yourself. Also if you have the tool you will have it for future carts. Or maybe you want to experiment with different carts. I think that store is not professional. Like paying $640 for a service B on a Mercedes. Which is a glorified oil change. The dealership remove the rims and tires to check the brakes. Tire rotation is extra. How hard is it to put the tire back on a different position? Do the cart Setup yourself. 
personal service is a dying concept in many fields, audio is just one

covid debacle is wiping out many of the few smaller folks still trying to make it by providing good service and customer care

we should look outside our lil hifi bubbles and see the world that is around us, realize we are lucky to have nice homes, nice hifis to listen to in peace and comfort while most of the world struggles

put it all in perspective, complain less, be kind and forgiving and give others the benefit of the doubt and good will

we will be happier for sure, and maybe if enough of us do it, the world and our society will be better for it

ps - i miss jerry raskin :)
@crustycoot, my hat is off to your, sir. I would drive you crazy, but would potentially give some of the widows' items a home that would appreciate them.  And a manager that I could 'bench race' with... ;)

@mdalton, I hope crustys' near you...really.  He has the business model that I subscribe to, to go the extra that makes a customer Want to return.

To all:
I'll apolgize for my outburst, rant 'n rave, But...  I'm of a business where we tend to get very specific about What we're going to do, the estimated 
'time frame', and what we expect to see on arrival.  Minor deviations we Do expect; Major ones trigger meetings and the potential of the dreaded Change Order.
A major client had a term for it:  BOAT$
Bring Our Another Thousand $

We don't care for them, either.  Fouls up our schedule, makes our staff have to stay in another period of time away from family, doomed to remain in the hotel stir crazy in a locale eating out of a microwave or Googling food reviews from questionable tastes...

But, I digress as usual....

Y'all....Ask Up Front.  Be Clear, Be as Specific as Possible.
Beats the alternative, whether b&m, AG sales, or any other venue.
If Any Doubt....Walk Away.

Best to all, J
ok, so it didn’t go well.  I’ve attached the email trail below, deleting all potential identifiers.  he basically said, “oh, we do setup, but only if you pay full msrp”, which means it would cost me $700.  And he certainly did not communicate this up front.  my view? going for the quick sale, didn’t have to do anything but point and click and make whatever his markup is.  pretty lame approach to doing business.  read from the bottom up for your prurient interest.

We do offer free setup, but only at retail.  I figured you were interested in a lower price.

-----Original Message-----
Sent: Tuesday, September 1, 2020 9:03 PM
Subject: Re: Cartridge

Thanks.   I appreciate your knocking off 10%(?) on price, but am a little surprised re set-up.  Seems like at this level that would be part of the package, as opposed to having me contract with someone else.  Not trying to be unreasonable, but I know I can get the cartridge a little cheaper.  My preference is to support my local dealers, but I expect more service in exchange.


On Aug 30, 2020, at 10:17 PM, wrote:

Sorry. I did not put 2 and 2 together. How have you been?
Your price on the cartridge will be $6,295 + tax.
For in-home setup, we are referring those to Dr. Vinyl.  He is a true pro and very reasonable.

-----Original Message-----
Sent: Sunday, August 30, 2020 9:54 AM
Subject: Re: Cartridge

Thanks for your response. Yes, I am local, and have visited your shop a couple times.  Three questions: 1) what would be your price; 2) how long would you expect for delivery; and 3) would you offer in-home setup?  I set up my current cartridge with a borrowed Dr. Feichert, but it’s a $450 Hana EH, so the stakes are a little higher here.

On Aug 30, 2020, at 7:21 AM, 
We really like the Urushi cartridges.  They maintain the signature Koestu warmth, but and better bass extension and dynamics.
We are happy to place an order for you. Are you local?
Sent: Saturday, August 29, 2020 4:19 PM
Subject: Cartridge 
Hi, I hope this note finds you well.  I’m in the market for a new cartridge, and have been thinking about a Koetsu, specifically the Urushi Tsugaru.  If I’m not mistaken, you carry the brand.  I’m curious if you have experience with the Tsugaru or any of the other Urushis.  My turntable is a restored Garrard 401, with a Reed 3P tonearm (cocobolo, with an effective mass of 18 g).  I would welcome your thoughts.

Crusty good on ya. Please do let us know where you are at

Miller has a one retailer viewpoint of Seattle... next time check the monster ego and attitude at the door and check out Hawthorne, ( they are about 200’ just across the street from his enemy )  they do excellent TT setup. There are of course others....I can think of 3 or 4 in easy driving distance....
I did enjoy the last few month's journey of tinkering with a Garrard.
Not as great a yours but has a DAS plinth, some new parts - all installed by myself.
Dr Feickert alignment tool helped with a vintage cart alignment.
Used Schroeder and rebuild vintage Ortofon arm.
I had some issues with the Scroeder set-up so email Frank in Germany and got several email responses what to look at (as well as several AG pointers).
It is a 10+ year old arm but he still happy to provide advice as well as his distributor in France, despite the fat that I got the arm privately.
So, customer service is not too some others pointed out above.
Too bad you did not clarify all the details prior to purchase. We unfortunately cannot "assume good service" anymore.
A few good videos on Youtube and many helpful folks here on AG and AK can help you set it up correctly. If you get some set-up tools (test LP, Fozgometer and or software from several folks like DR. Feickert and others) for the same money you would spend with this dealer you are set up for the future.
Enjoy the music and the one way ticket we all have!
Perhaps this B&M dealer really doesn't have the expertise that he needs to set up a cartridge like a Koetsu! If that is the case, he would be wise to disclose that to you...OTOH, he did say he would do it at full price, which leads me to question his business acumen. 
Koetsu's enjoy an enormous mark-up in this country. If you look at some of the Japanese audio sites, you can see the same models for mere fractions of what we are expected to pay in the US. The middle man is wringing his hands in glee when these cartridges ( and a lot of other Japanese sourced models as well) get sold here through a US dealer. 
Yes, i am aware that they have to stand behind the product and so forth, BUT the additional costs of getting the cartridge from Japan to here, plus the dealer servicing cannot explain the mark-up! IMHO. 


”Too bad you did not clarify all the details prior to purchase”

what are you talking about? blame the customer/victim??  Please re-read the email trail. 
This is peak A’gon forum. All we need now is the guy who tunes his toaster to his ears and the obligatory “are you still an audiophile if you can’t .....”
Mdalton - i misread it - looked like you already purchased the cart.
My bad.
Good luck.
honest mistake.  sorry for being snippy.  looks like I’m gonna be ordering online.  what’s your cartridge btw?

Well I have a bunch of old carts from Grace, Pickering MM, to tricked out Denon-103 )mono and stereo), Fidelity Research, Supex (both retipped), Klipsch MCZ7, Phillips GP922. Some others I just got (on their way to me). Also, some new ones like the HANA SL and Ortofon Cadenza Black.
I think if you like lush sound the Koetsu could be the ticket.

Depending on your arm's specs in your price range, top end SoundSmith, Van de Hul, Miyajima, the recently announced TOTL HANA (around $4K), Ortofon, ZYX, Kiseki (Purple Heart?) and many more could possibly work.
If you can perhaps visit some local AG members or music lover friends and listen or get advice.
wow.  what about preferences on SUTs?  I will need one for first time; am corresponding with Andrew Rothwell (quite the contrast from the local deSker in terms of service, btw.  more like your experience with Schroeder)
Well for the Klipsch, Fidelity Research and the Phillips I have the matching factory SUT.
I use the Auditorium Hommage T2 (Seteophile class A+; ~$5k new, $3K or so used) )with the Ortofon Cadenza and the Auditorium A23 with the Denon-103 - the one is again developed to be specifically used with this cart.

FR has a few ones (I think the 4 and 5) which are supposedly really nice.
VAS audio MC-1 MK II is also really good (~$1200)
Many good ones from Bob's devices etc.

What phono amp are you using?
mdalton, I'm late in the game here but tell us what length and which arm wand do you have? This will determine which cartridges are appropriate for your arm. The 3P has arm wands available made of various density woods. For more compliant cartridges you want the lighter wands. I think the lightest is teak. If you don't already have the teak wand it is probably a good one to have. You can always add weight for more compliant cartridges. Congratulations by the way. That is a beautiful well designed arm. 
Setting up a cartridge is not hard at all and it would benefit you to learn. If you can use a tiny screwdriver and tweezers you are all set. For what you will spend to have it installed you can buy the appropriate tools. If you need assistance I am sure several of us, myself included, would be happy to do this in real time. Did the Reed come with a protractor? 
I'm not sure all dealers are capable of doing a top notch set up. There's a big difference in performance between it works and sounds ok and really dialed in. When I lived in NY, I used Mike Trei as a set up guy- he's done countless turntable set ups and does many for dealers and distributors at shows. Is that worth $350 or whatever Mike currently charges? I guess it depends on your perspective. You are spending 7 grand or so on a cartridge. For me, I want to get the most out of the equipment and vinyl is not plug and play. Even for those of us who have been doing this a while. I set up Lord knows how many turntables back in the day, but I think we now know how much more can be extracted using a good arm, etc. 
When I moved to Austin, I found there was nobody around that did high end turntable set ups. So, I had to do I myself (a skill that I hadn't used in a while). The Koetsus aren't the easiest to set up either b/c the cantilever is pretty well hidden by the body, at least on the stone bodies. Sure, you can do it yourself and it's good to learn. But, do you want to do so on an expensive cartridge? I'd use somebody like Mike Trei in an instant if he were local to me. Others may have different priorities. I don't think the fact that a dealer uses an outside set up person is an indication that they are ripping you off. 
my 3P is a 12” cocobolo, 18g effective mass.  and yes, it came with a cardboard protractor.  

my issue with the local dealer was not that he would use someone else to do set-up, but that he was telling me:  “good luck with that. if you want help, call this guy.  he won’t charge you that much.”  he also pretty obviously changed his story when i asked about it, which goes to integrity.  not cool.  
@mdalton- ultimately, you’re the one paying and have to be happy with the service you are getting. I know some buyers are price sensitive and will do set ups themselves. Finding a dealer that does it all, and discounts, isn’t so easy. I had several long term relationships during my 36+ years in NY; one was a dealer in Jersey who made house calls with gear, came to troubleshoot, whatever and his pricing was reasonable given the products involved.
If you are shopping Koetsu in the US, just be aware that some dealers will claim they are authorized but are selling gray market goods which means you won’t get any support if you want to send it back for rebuild, etc. MoFi Distribution is currently the authorized US distributor as far as I know. Good luck, I’ve gotten two stone bodies and both are fun to listen to, but different in presentation.

thanks for your note.  will keep you posted. am close to pulling trigger.  it’s a big investment, and i go all hamlet-like on major purchases (e.g., “maybe the etsuro cobalt, or the new Hana”, etc.).  but i really love the idea of a koetsu, originally voiced on a 401, in my system (and it’s pretty to boot!).