Demos - To Charge a Fee or to Not Charge a Fee?

One common dealer complaint is that customers sometimes use them to audition equipment only to later purchase it elsewhere.

How much of that is true is not known but it must happen. Such is the nature of some folk.

Therefore, how about abandoning the time honoured practice of free demonstrations (also shared by the car industry) and start charging a fee?

Would $10 an hour be sufficient? 

Surely, even in quiet part of a quiet day it must cost the dealer considerably more than that to provide the facilities and staff to facilitate a satisfactory demonstration.

I don't know how others may feel, but I'd be more than happy to pay for the service.
Selling is a cost of doing your business but auditioning is a service provided by a dealer.  It's a service that can be separated from the transaction.  When a person auditions a product at a dealer and then buys it off of the internet, they're separating those two things.  It's different from construction because all construction companies have to accept the cost of selling.  Not all audio dealers do.  Imagine if you could somehow transfer the cost of selling to your competition and use that advantage to undercut them for the actual sale.  That's a broken system.

A timely clarification.

That’s the problem here.

Just how does a dealer compete with the internet?

Or is all retail as we know it, ultimately doomed?

Not that long ago I wanted to buy some Adidas training shoes. They had to be all black, have non memory foam inner soles, be breathable /cool to wear, and look reasonably smart.

I found some online and then looked to see where I could buy some in-store as I couldn’t imagine buying shoes without trying them on first.

In the end I had to, as the nearest store was some 19 miles away.

I wasn’t too pleased about this but thankfully they fitted really well.

I’m definitely not one of those people who doesn’t mind the extra hassle of returning things, but who knows, maybe even that will have to change as in-store options continue to diminish at their current rate?
Some of these audio stores are boutiques.  I think if you are considering a charge to listen, you probably should go to an appointment only business.  That way, you can filter out people that are tire kickers and deal mostly with buyers by asking the right questions when setting the appointment.

if that’s not the type of dealer you are, then you are best to take the good with the bad.  Unfortunately, we have a bunch selfish people in the world who will take advantage of someone, if they can.  That is part of your business model.

My philosophy is to plan on buying from the dealer if I plan on using their resources for evaluation/listening.  I also do not expect a discount when I do.  If I expect a discount, then, I’m not going to use someone resources unless I talk about it upfront.

Now, if you do an in-home setup, I think it’s reasonable to state your charges upfront.