B&W 800D or 802D Cosmetic Issues

Hello folks,

I am seeking feedback from 800D or 802D owners only. I have recently order a pair of 800D2 from my dealer. The pair arrived 2 weeks later and delivered to my home. Upon close inspection, I notice finish imperfections on one of the speaker's Marlan head and tweeter tube. There are several deep scratches embedded in the finish that are visible in day light or with the flash light. If you stand couple of feet away, you cannot spot these imperfections. The other speaker is perfect with no sign of scratches...the finish is smooth and inky glossy black.

The dealer sent over the field inspector to address the issue. The inspector notice the imperfections and gave the following explanation -

"800D are hand made, no two speaker will have the same finish and you may find these minor imperfections on another pair as well". He went on to say, that I am being 'picky' and no one really inspect these speakers with a flash light.

I feel bit disappointed with the craftsmanship and still in disbelief that these speaker passed the Q.C. test at B&W facility and no one noticed these imperfections.

I do realize that over time piano black finish tend to generate surface scratches....sort of nature of the beast. I can understand the disparity in wood grain finishes but these Marlan heads and tweeter are being painted and applied several coates of lacquer, shouldnt they be identical and spotless?

I wonder if anyone out there experienced these issues with the finish. For what I have seen at dealer showroom and another pair at local shop, a brand new pair shouldn't have these cosmetic issues. After all you're buying a flagship pair at a 24K price point.
I just toured the 800 factory and your suspicions are correct. The finishes are manufactured to a high level of precision and consistency and the ones I have owned arrived in perfect condition.
""800D are hand made, no two speaker will have the same finish and you may find these minor imperfections on another pair as well". He went on to say, that I am being 'picky' and no one really inspect these speakers with a flash light."

That's the dumbest excuse for shipping damage I've ever heard. Since when are hand made products inferior to a production line? That's the whole purpose of building a speaker by hand.

Your dealer should be ashamed of him self. When they delivered your $24k speakers, its customary to go over them with a fine tooth comb to insure the speakers don't have any damage. The speaker was either damaged in shipping, or damaged when they were unboxed. Either way, it should be fixed.

"The dealer sent over the field inspector to address the issue. The inspector notice the imperfections and gave the following explanation - "

That's a load of crap as well. Field inspector? Tell your dealer to send the field inspector to look at some farms, and send you a speaker inspector instead.

If your dealer still gives you a hard time, tell them if they don't take care of this, you are going to call B&W and say that your dealer sold them to you via mail order.
Thank you Zd542 and Kr4. And i agree with your feedback, i have owned few pairs of 700's and 800's series prior to purchasing 800d's, never experienced any issues with the finish.

The dealer is local, and when i contacted B&W US distribution in Massachusetts, they referred me back to my dealer.

IMO, the imperfections are not a result of a shipping damage. The scratches on Marlan head are not on the surface, they are embeded in the finish. These imperfections seems to stem from improper buffing process at the factory. And tweeter tube have paint lines, dribs like the ones you get from using a paint brush.

It's taken lot of pursuasion on my part to convince my dealer to order me another pair. I was quite amused when i was told by my dealer that B&W tolerence of Q.C. is far below than my tolenrence of Q.C or perfection...LOL!!!

I keep asking myself, why can't I obtain a pair of B&W flagship speakers in identical and perfect finish....is that too much to ask at 24K price point?

I wonder what would it take for someone at B&W - Massachusetts or West Sussex office to address these serious issues with the quality control?

Stay tuned and thank you for your feedback.
B&W was correct in referring you to the dealer you bought the speakers from. Its their job as a dealer to handle this type of thing. Any type of warranty issue like this has to be initiated by a dealer. If it was me, I would ask for a new housing (the actual piece that has the imperfection), and nothing more. You don't want to ask for another speaker unless you absolutely have to because the drivers are matched, and unless they replace the drivers in the other speaker, the whole thing will be a mess. Your dealer should be able to swap everything out while keeping the drivers that are already in the speaker.

I think that would be a fair request. You're asking for nothing more than what you should have gotten in the first place. Don't let the dealer push you around either. He should have already ordered this part. If the dealer refuses to do the right thing, then get B&W involved.
Hello Zd542,

I have asked for a replacement pair. I don't want to mess with changing out driver and tweeter from the existing housing to the new one. Who's to say, there won't be any issues with the assembly. A brand new pair, free from any blemishes is what i expected and that's what i should get.

I waited almost 5 years to get the 800D,they better be perfect....LOL!!!
That's a good one. You should have the field inspector watch it next time they send him out.
"The new 800 (D3)series is here, see if you can upgrade them"

Yup, I spotted them in youtube video yesterday. For some reason, B&W decided to hold off the release of 800D3 until spring 2016. I have my heart set up on 800's and really don't care for 802's.

But it would be worth looking into the newer 800D3 next year if my dealer failed to provide the replacement pair of 800D's. Did you notice the 800D3 price expected to around 35K and 802D3 at 24K?

Scratches in the finish can likely easily be wet sanded and/or buffed out. Swirl marks and scratches are easy to understand, most finishes are incredibly easy to scratch with improper handling. Take any brand new car and look at it with direct overhead lighting from the same distance as you are your speakers, and you'd be amazed at the thousands and thousands of scratches.
"Wet sanded and/or buffed out"

Really? Is that what you did with your new car or speaker....LOL!!!

The dealer already agreed that these imperfections in finish cannot be buffed out and replacement is the only way to go.

Thank you for offering the remedy for scratches but I think you missed the point of this thread.

At 24k price point, brand new flagship speakers should be perfect in fit and finish.
At 24k price point, brand new flagship speakers should be perfect in fit and finish.
No $hit!
Actually wet sanding and buffing is what I do with any new car. Every factory paint will have some peel, the only way to remove it is with wet sanding.

The point was, swirl marks can happen so easy that it's unreasonable to expect replacement if you have a few. You can unwittingly create swirl marks just by rubbing your shirt against them while unpacking, or laying them on your carpet.

Now, if they're something deeper in the finish, not just swirl marks which are easily dealt with, than that's a different story. I didn't miss the point, just trying to offer a little perspective without benefit of pictures to know what the problem actually is.
"09-10-15: Vapor1
Actually wet sanding and buffing is what I do with any new car. Every factory paint will have some peel, the only way to remove it is with wet sanding."

Yes, but that's if he leaves the speakers outside and exposed to the elements. The OP is going to keep them in the garage. Shouldn't have any problems.
If all fails you can this a try!
If all fails, these guys will fix 'em up !

The OP clearly pointed out in the original message that the issue is more than just swirl marks, and please allow me to pile on and add that for $24K you should absolutely, positively, beyond any shadow of any doubt NOT have to do wet sanding on a brand new pair of speakers. As has been said by other members who have their heads on straight, those speakers should have come out of the box factory-fresh and perfect. You are doing the appropriate thing getting replacements. I hope you enjoy them so all of this can be forgotten in the end - you've bought some fantastic speakers.
Bcgator.....That's exactly my point.

Unfortunately, second pair showed with cosmetic imperfections as well. To make the matters worse, there are no more 800D2's available. B&W discontinued the production of 800D2 series couple of months ago. The focus is now on B&W 800D3 series.

The dealer and B&W USA group offered to replace the defective Marlan head and tweeter on the second pair.

I hope another 2-3 weeks of delay is worth the wait...what a nightmare.
If only 1 of the new speakers are blemished, swap the good one from the 2nd pair to the orig that was scratched. That way, you can just be done with the whole thing. Just swap the actual housing and keep the original drivers with the speakers they came with. That's exactly what your dealer/B&W are going to do anyway. They'll either pull the part out and fix, or replace it.

I forgot to mention this in my earlier posts. Its common practice to classify audio equipment as refurbished. They usually do this on returned or damaged items. I'm willing to bet that your dealer bought refurbished speakers for a lower price and just sold them to you as new. Its the only thing that makes sense. I'm not a big B&W fan myself, but the fit and finish on their products is usually immaculate. At first, I thought the damage was from shipping or setup. After reading some of the others comments, it looks like whatever happened to it was done at the factory. And if that's the case, there's no way B&W would let a speaker like that leave the factory. They go over those things with a fine tooth comb.

I have no idea if B&W would lie and side with the dealer, or take the complaint seriously, but you should at least contact them and ask to check the serial numbers. Refurb items are labeled as such, and that info would be linked to the SN's. Hopefully, they would give you an honest answer.
Funny, I just had this happen to me on a pair of speakers costing $29,000. When I received them I noticed a few scratches when going over them with a flashlight at night to remove dust. I noticed a few imperfections and started asking questions. The dealer stated they were NOS and when I received them they were in fact sealed as if they were new, staples and all.

I contacted the importer, not the manufacturer and they ended up finding out they were sold as demo pair because they were used in shows as displays.

I contacted the dealer and they said there was a mistake and they were told they were NOS and had no idea. Well, if they did or didn't they did end up making is right by sending the new model at $34,000 a pair.

After receiving the new pair it was a world of difference in the paint finish. I can tell you there was no swirl marks or any scratches. Happy days.
Zd542....unfortunately, both pairs have cosmetic issues not just one speaker. Let's see what happens, dealer is trying to swap out the parts with blemishes.

What do you think about the new series? I have not warmed up to the looks quite yet. I did not care for bass cones sticking out of the cabinet, like alien eyes..LOL!! Marlan head is bit sleeker and the new tweeter tube is shorter in length. The only striking part for me is the aluminium back panel that now house crossover and binding posts. I think most people would love the fact that the newer series (803 and above) will have a smaller foot print.

I feel for you Lalitk, how frustrating. Getting speakers like that should be so enjoyable, quite a momentous occasion, as material acquisitions go. Getting one bad pair is frustrating enough, but two bad pairs? You are a very patient man.

I wonder if Zd542 isn't onto something, about the possibility of them being demos. I've also purchased multiple pairs of B&W speakers new, and I've never seen so much as a fingerprint on them. Quality control has always been beyond reproach, in my own personal experience. Two blemished pairs of 800-level speakers in a row seems too odd to be random coincidence.
Unfortunately, stuff like that happens all the time. The best thing to do is work with a good dealer.
"B-stock", refurbs and show demos may be all that's available to the distributor. The dealer may or may not be aware of the situation. If it was sold to someone as a new product, then they should receive a new, first quality product.

At the same time, consumers using high intensity light to examine for cosmetic defects is part of a larger problem. High end audio has taken on the trappings of a luxury product. Prices charged for high end audio products are quite high and the consumer's expectations of a "perfect" product increases. The manufacturer then starts expending resources on factors that project luxury as opposed to actual performance. Does the buyer of this loudspeaker spend as much time microscopically examining the quality of the crossover solder joints, components and internal wiring as they do the quality of the cosmetic finish? Ideally a consumer would want perfect cosmetics and state of the art performance, but that will cost even more money. There's a reason why there's been an explosion of $50k plus loudspeakers.
I had 800's ...don't play them loud....tweeters kept failing. Got rid of them
Thank you all your insights...I can't even began to imagine if dealer is trying to sell the B-stock or demo pairs as new.

I have been trying to work out the solution but my patience is wearing thin. The dealer is very reluctant to take back the pair at my home and don't wanna talk about refund either.

I am leaning towards asking credit card company to step in and sort out this mess.
If you are having a problem with your dealer, I can think of a couple of things you can do to help yourself. The first thing you need to do is change your attitude and become a problem. You tried to be nice and that didn't work. The longer this situation drags on works in favor of your dealer.

Then you need to call your dealer and threaten him with 3 actions you intend to make good on. 1. You will call B&W, as well as follow up your call with a certified letter stating that your dealer didn't follow proper B&W protocol required for the sale and delivery of B&W speakers. Also tell him you are sending B&W all supporting and related documents. But that's it. Give no more information. The dealer will be trying very hard to bait you into giving him more info, along with trying to convince you that this course of action will hurt, not help you. Be disciplined, and ignore it all.

2. Now tell the dealer (and follow up in your certified letter), that you will be taking him to small claims court for whatever the maximum allowed in your state is (most states are $5000), plus all related expenses. You will be suing for just the damaged speaker housing, and no more. Don't worry if the part doesn't cost 5k. Always ask for the max and let the judge decide what you should get.

From past experience, I know that the instant I bring up small claims court, you'll get a bunch of posters telling you to not bother, for any number of reasons. They'll be wrong. The US small claims court has a set of rules and regulations that very few people know about. Its not the same as using a regular court.

3. Now its time to start talking about stopping payment on your credit card. Its important to complete the first steps I list, as well as anything else you feel is important. You're not just going too call your credit card company up and have them reverse payment on a pair of 25k speakers you already have in your possession. There will be an investigation an an adjuster will be sent out to look at the speakers. Showing the adjuster that you are already taking reasonable steps to resolve the issue will go a long way in getting the credit company to side with you.

You will have 2 obstacles to overcome when dealing with the credit card company. The first, is that very few people are familiar with speakers that cost 25k. Expect them to be naturally suspicious, and do whatever they ask in helping them assess the value of the speakers. Second, due to the amount of money involved, expect a fight if things come down to a refund. The chance that your dealer left the money he got from the sale in the bank account linked to card purchases is most likely 0. That means, if the dealer does not cooperate in refunding the money, the bank will have to use their own funds. They won't want to do this, so expect some resistance.

I hope this info helps you out. If you can convince your dealer that you will be taking action on 1 and 2, they should fix the problem right away. That's why sending them a certified follow up letter is so important. They know you're serious.
Can anyone explain the economics of a dealer selling high end loudspeakers. What's the dollar cost to him/her of taking back two sets of high cost components and replacing them with a third set? Is it all out the dealer's pocket or is the distributor/manufacturer putting some money on the table?
"09-18-15: Onhwy61
Can anyone explain the economics of a dealer selling high end loudspeakers. What's the dollar cost to him/her of taking back two sets of high cost components and replacing them with a third set? Is it all out the dealer's pocket or is the distributor/manufacturer putting some money on the table?"

It depends. In this case we don't know the whole situation because there's a question as to weather the speakers are actually new or b stock or refurb. If its a defect from the factory on a new speaker, the factory makes good on the part in either a replace of fix scenario. The dealers usually eat the labor of maybe going out to the customers house, repack time, shipping drop off. But nothing really big. The markup on a typical high end speaker is usually pretty decent, and most manufactures don't allow you to discount the product, and your market is usually protected.

I believe this situation is a special case. As mentioned before, there's the question of the speakers not actually being new. I'm not sure what B&W would do in this case because they didn't really do anything wrong, but their dealer did. My guess is that if they get all the facts, they'll warranty the speaker. Its just the right thing to do.

If the speakers are legit new, this still is a special case in my opinion. By the looks of it, the dealer may have bitten off more than they can chew. Its one thing to sell a 25k speaker, but its something else to sell and service a sale like that properly. Most likely, this dealer doesn't have the funds to cover all things that can go wrong, and the customer is suffering as a result. My best guess is that the dealer would like to do the right thing, but he doesn't have the resources. Personally, I feel bad for the dealer, but he needs to make this right. He knew something like this could happen, yet he still chose to take the money. Its not the customers fault he chose to gamble.

Not to get off topic, but anyone that’s ever read my posts has probably seen my rants about how important it is to pick the right dealer. Or at least one that's capable of handling the sale. Several years ago when I bought a pair of 802's from Stereo Exchange, I asked them if they were in stock. They laughed and showed me the computer screen. They had 26 pairs in stock downstairs. The point is, a dealer like this can handle all aspects of a sale like this. Since then I've moved to Audio Connection for most of what I buy. John's in a different league entirely. If a manufacturer gives one of his customers a hard time he'll put his foot up their a**. I'm going on about this because I think those of us that have good dealers should get the word out to help others who may not. Too many people have to suffer with bad dealers.
Zd gives very good advice. With this much $$ involved this has gone way beyond the "my dealer is a good guy and I don't want to be a harda$$." There are places in the U.S. where you buy a house for that price and for lots of people that's a year's take home pay.
Zd, great post. Like you said, you can't under estimate the importance of a 'sound' dealer.

I have asked my dealer to replace the Marlan head and tweeter tube on the 2nd pair in his warehouse. And made it very clear that after this replacement, if the pair doesn't look 'new' he should be prepared to issue us a refund. Guess what, I have not heard back from my dealer since and it's been 5 days.

Clearly, he doesn't want to refund the money. I think he is in same predicament as I am, he is not 100% confident that the speaker will look as new after the replacement.

I feel that speakers were B-stock's and he received a pretty good 'kick' from B&W to move these speakers. Like you said, he gambled with these speakers thinking that buyer won't inspect the speakers with fine tooth and comb.

I look back at this transaction and couple of things bothers me now, my dealer knew that the newer D3 series will be out in couple of month, cause he admitted to me that B&W ceased production of D2 series around June. He could have told me that you may wanna wait for the newer series or the 800D's in B&W distribution center may have some cosmetic issues due to being the last batch.

He also told me that these speakers were special order for me. And I said, if you don't stock any high $$ merchandise and order once customer pays you then it shouldn't be considered as 'special' order. I inquired for 802 and 800 along with Classe M600 with this dealer for about 6 months and they never seem to have any of these items in stock for a walk-in customer.

As a consumer, it shouldn't be my problem what my dealer needs to pull to get me a factory fresh mint pair of 800D's. I walked into dealership thinking I am buying a brand new pair and that's what I should get for my money.
I had purchased a pair of 802d's a few years ago. They were considered B stock because they were taken out of sealed cartons and used as a show pair. Other than that, they were virtually perfect cosmetic wise. The cartons had small B-stock stickers all over the cartons. Like over a dozen of them. Due to my limited funds, this was my way of getting them at a discount. The Marlan heads were blemish free and perfect, as they should be from the dealer unless stated otherwise before purchase.
Just saw this thread.  I own 800D2's purchased used on Audiogon years ago.  The speakers have been a joy to own, sonically, and came without any blemishes on their piano black finish.  In a recent Stereophile article this summer, detailing a trip to the B and W factory, Kal Rubinson noted the high level of rejected assemblies in the factory, with defects so subtle that he couldn't spot them, aside from a circle placed in that area by the inspector in the plant.  So unless this is a new procedure,  I'd think something is truly amiss with this unfortunate purchase.  Did you think of calling B&W in the UK to at least let them know how difficult this purchase experience has been for you? I'd bet they'd try to offer some help. Hope all is resolved by now. 

Long story short, the dealer end up replacing the Marlan head and tweeter tube on one of the speaker.  The whole experience kinda left a bad taste and took away the joy of buying a 'new' pair.