Charging A Fee To Demo An Amplifier In A Brick & Mortar Store

I Saw a pair of pre-owned tube monoblocs for sale on an onlline forum for around $17k.
The seller has a retail store for hiigh end audio. The seller mentioned that there will be an up-front fee for the demo if a prospect comes to the store the amps are not purchased. The demo fee may also be used for credit towards any purchase in the store.

This is the first time I’ve ever heard of this. Is this now a common occurance in high end audio stores? I sent a note to the seller asking what the demo fee amount was....two weeks and I didn’t get a response.

Does anyone know what amount of fees are charged for a demo?
@mitch4t,  Another question is HOW interested are you in these Audio Research Reference 750 Mono Block Amplifiers, list price of $55,000, on sale for $16,995?  Have you been looking for a long time?  Do you REALLY LIKE these amps for this price?   To be honest, I am surprised these amps are for sale at such a substantially reduced price so I guess that is another question to ask the retailer?    Are these amplifiers working okay and do their tubes need to be replaced?   Do these amplifiers come with any kind of a warranty?   What happens if they stop working after 30-60 days?   I am not a tube person so is 800 hours of demo use a reasonable amount?   How old are these amplifiers?  

@stereo5 said "That dealer has been trying to 'unload' those mono locks for over a year now".   This might explain the reduced sale price and would be a concern to me.  

Your post states you asked about the audition fee and there was no response (AFTER 2 weeks).  This is a MAJOR concern of why is the retailer not responding to a potential interested party.  It does not say good things about their customer service.  

IF you are really interested in these amplifiers, AND the charge to audition these amplifiers is 'reasonable', then I suggest you give them a listen.  The price is right so you maybe should give them an audition.  

HOWEVER, based on the ABOVE posts, several people have expressed various concerns about this transaction.   Based on my 'understanding' of the translation, the audition fee, the implied condition of these amplifiers, the retailer, etc., I have concerns about a possible purchase (IMHO) and suggest you do more research and investigating.   

Geek!   And I say that in the most respectful, Star-Trekky sort of way.  

First rule of acquisition, "Once you get their money, you never give it back".

Any retailer of course free to do anything they want within the limits of legality. I have to question a retailer who throws away one of the few things remaining compared to online though. This website and others like it are case studies in word of mouth advertising. That "hobbyist" may not buy him, but they will tell some friends, and they will go online and talk about their experience. It is hard to beat first hand praise.

I must say, though, I have my doubt about a hobbyist spending "3-4" hours reviewing anything in a store. If they don’t have experience with high end audio, then this would be rather boring for them, and if they do personally, then tend to know the value of time and money and most won’t waste someone else’s.

If this is truly a concern, a more reasonable policy would be too set a demo time limit, and it could even be short, i.e. 20 minutes. This is fairly justifiable as tube-life is not infinite and replacement cost is substantial for amps such as this. If you want to listen past 20 minutes, then you need to contribute to the re-tubing fund. Any serious audiophile will understand these costs and why there would be a limitation. Margin on used gear is also lower so more justification on a time limit.

Progressive businesses thrive, regressive businesses decline and fail. In my early career I worked for two companis that tried to extract every last bit of margin out of the customer, while I watched our competitors eat our lunch over time by reducing their margin, but selling more and more ultimately making more profit and also reaching an economy of scale we couldn't compete with.
Interesting situation. Auditions without a sale are just part of the business. The salesman’s job is to bond with the customer demonstrating the advantages of buying from him. A fee is absurd unless you can take them home for a few days. Even then I think it’s customer unfriendly.
@smer319  So, just how much is said fee?  I believe the OP never received clarification on this point.