Fee for home audition

I am in the market for a music server/streamer. I was discussing with one of the authorized dealers for a streamer. He had a demo unit and was willing to bring to my home for an hour and let me try. He is located around 10-15 minutes from my home. He wants to charge 5% for home demo. Is this the industry standard? I am not meaning to disparage anyone so not going to name the dealer. I am just trying to see what the standard practice is. 


The standard practice is you buy it for full price and have a 30 day period to return it. I think the dealer is taking risk by letting it out of his store and 5% (that will be applied if you buy it) is fair.

The dealer told me that if I buy it and return it there is 15% restocking fee. If he brings to my home for one hour it’s 5% fee. Of course, if f I buy it immediately there is no fee.

An hour?  That’s ridiculous.  Many dealers will loan out a model on a day when they’re closed, and I’ve never paid a fee.  I’d reject this dealer on principle alone. 

I've never paid a fee for a home audition. I tend to have a relationship with the few dealers I use, and that may make a difference.

Can you even imagine a guy selling a TV bringing it out to your home for a quick look? 

my closest "friendly dealer lets it out Saturday afternoon and expects it back Monday morning. No charge, just a copy of the driver’s license. I couldn’t imagine it in many countries. You would be charged to listen to it in the store.

I do live in the East Coast. My long term dealer does not carry a lot of digital stuff. So I had to reach to this dealer for the specific streamer I was interested in. I offered to pick and drop off in an hour but he insisted on bringing it and taking back. I offered a hold on my credit card for full price if I can pick up but he refused. 

Can you even imagine a guy selling a TV bringing it out to your home for a quick look? 

I agree that would not be possible but I can buy the TV and return in a decent time for a full refund if I am not satisfied. It is even better. 

My first question is, what 5% equates to in $$$$? For me 5% fee is a non-starter. Now if you are dealing with out of state dealer for home demo, they are likely to ask for deposit and expect you to pay shipping both ways. What brand of streamer you’re looking into? I may know someone that I can possibly recommend for in-home demo. 

I assume the dealer is the owner of the store and or can make up whatever rules he wants to. I do not think that is a common practice.

If your retailer wants to charge 5% for a home demo, I suggest you find a new retailer.   What brand music server streamer are you looking at?  

While there is no standard, that’s a new one for me. We don’t have any hifi store around here that would bring a streamer to my house, so I can hear it on my home system and then take it back and have to sell the device as an open box and not for the new price.

No standard. But that is strange.


How much does it cost? If it is a $20K streamer or a $1K streamer… it makes a difference. One hour isn’t a long time.


My dealer brings stuff to my house for free. He leaves it there for weeks. But this is stuff in the $20K range and I have known him for twenty years.


This is the type of dealer who won't be in business for too long!! Move on, and find a dealer who wants to earn your business. As consumers, we vote with our pocketbooks. 

Imagine going to Gelson's deli and asking for a taste and the person behind the counter says, "There's a 5% fee for tasting." If that doesn't make sense, then doing the same for a home demo shouldn't either.

All the best,

Yeah no go for me. Also once you do that you’ve pretty much nixed any negotiating power you might have had. Is it a Bluesound level component or a muli thousand dollar one? 

I would look elsewhere. I have had companies send me equipment to demo in my home for 2 and 3 weeks at a time. I only paid shipping if I did not purchase. 

Why don’t you just buy it and if you don’t like it then return it. That’s how the system works. If the dealer gives you trouble, send you phone off visa and say that there’s a problem with the dealer not wanting to give you a refund. The last thing that he wants is visa Snooping around his business. It makes him look bad and raises his rate that the credit card companies charge for interest.

Which streamer? As @lalitk points out- 5% of what? Let’s say your product is $2K, that’s $100 directly to him. Where you offered a discounted price or full pop? Is he bringing a brand new unopened unit as well in case you decide to buy? 

Why don’t you just buy it and if you don’t like it then return it. That’s how the system works


I was able to audition integrated amp and speakers together in local shop, so no need to return.  I bought many big budget new items at 20% off and 60 day trial and no questions asked return.  Returned items are sold open box.  I purchased big ticket items used from a dealer that I trust and didn’t need to return, but pretty sure if I paid return shipping of items in good condition, he would have refunded the purchase price.

I would never pay 5% for a frankly worthless 1 hour demo. You need to listen to it for longer than an hour to know if it really sounds good to your ears with various types of music and a DAC pairing(s). For say a $2,500 streamer that’s $125/hour. Either this guy is new and won’t be in business for long or he really doesn’t take your potential business seriously and is using this scheme to turn you away. Either way, take your business elsewhere and make sure to tell him why you are doing this. Either he learns from it or he doesn’t care and deserves to suffer financially from lost sales.

If a dealer has been helpful and I’ve spent their time I would not look elsewhere but look for a reasonable discount from them. If you want to try this streamer I would call multiple dealers around the country and get the best deal you can get with a 0 penalty return policy. You will do much better that way. Some of the snobby dealers get pissed when you are looking for a deal …… but whatever. I get 20% minimum off everything I buy in the rare times I buy new. I don’t have any high end stores around me anymore so go by reviews. The only time they spend with me is a short phone call so I call that fair easy money. 

Thanks for the replies. I was looking at the Grimm mu1. So 5% is not exactly a small amount. 

So this D bag wants to charge you over $600 to try a streamer in your house for an hour! Seems like a totally reasonable request even for a weekend or more. Move on brutha.

5% fee for a piddly home demo time? Or any kind of fee in general?
I’ve been in this hobby for 50 years and shopping from dealers in the high-end strata for over twelve+ years, I have NEVER been set up for a “fee”. And you cannot make a proper assessment in just an hour.


Most likely:

DEALER has already pegged you - either fairly or grossly unfairly - in his own mind already, as an unlikely guy to close the deal post auditions. So he floats the time clock and egregious penalty fee terms to further test the waters with two more cash outcome options for his pocketbook.

option 1 :he sees you as really eager to close if you agree to his terms upfront regardless and especially if you eventually agree to buy it after the time clocked audition

if you ascede to his bizarre request upfront , then he likely brands you as a ripe sales target likely to pay a lot closer to his asking MSRP, and you will likely fritter away most - if not all- of any sales discount he may otherwise offer you.

option 2: If you agree to his bizarre terms upfront but somehow still manage to resist his time clocked sales pressure tactics,

he still hedged his bets and collects a windfall return on a WTF sales call for a piddly time spent out of shop salescall.


He is a must to avoid for me. There are plenty of other audio shops and other peer or better brands to choose from.



Great streamer, but this is just a really, really bad look for the dealer.  Shop around and see where else you might be able to demo it from or contact Grimm, describe the situation, and see if you can work out something with them directly or you’ll just buy another streamer — they won’t wanna lose a sale due to a douchebag dealer.  After finding your other options, tell the dealer he can shove that 5% fee up his a$$ if he wants a shot at making a sale or you’ll just go elsewhere.  This is ridiculous, and I agree with others this guy won’t be in business much longer.  He clearly doesn’t at all get that his best competitive advantage is he has the gear for you to hear versus buying online, and he’s undermining his one and only advantage.  What a greedy dope!

My local dealers let me have anything I wanted for two weeks. I auditioned a pair of speakers, complete set of cables and a power conditioner for two weeks completely free of charge. So id you ask what the standard is, different dealers will for sure have different standards.

Buy something and the policy will flex next time. 

Now you are a zero in his book.

Least he did not charge you $250 to walk in the door!


Over the decades and many in-home auditions, I have never paid to take an audio component home, nor paid to test drive an automobile🤔😉.   

As a dealer, a fee to listen at home for an hour seems unwarranted.  When large heavy speakers or amps that require hiring manpower and a moving van, that’s a different story.  And yes, repeat buyers are afforded courtesies that a new shopper may not. We have had to read the riot act to “loaner abusers” on occasion.  And no dealer wants to go to the trouble and expense of presenting, loaning, etc. and then have the customer buy elsewhere…especially online…without being given a fair chance to make the sale.  That can poison a relationship pretty fast!

Don't buy in Thailand - I bought an AQ power cable , had it for a week .

Decided  the higher quality , more expensive lead  was for me .Assumed I would get  a credit for returned lead on price of up grade .

Was told only half price given as now second hand cable !!!!!!!!!!!!! 

What’s the brand and model ?  This way we can see how good it is and 

the odds  would like it ,you should state the brand and model   Just to let. Others 

know it’s not a $600  what most long term Audiophiles would not be happy with.

There are other dealers that will ship you this as a new unit and send a "demo" invoice and give you a week to 10 days to demo in your home.  If you like it then you buy it within those 10 days and keep it. If you don't like it then you ship it back.  I do know that the Grimm MU1 is in tight supply for components due to the war in Ukraine. PM me if you are interested.

Rip off....  I can think of 4 dealers in close proximity that will let you demo gear at home for no fee.   I wish I knew what dealer you are talking about so I can avoid at all costs.

I once worked for a company that offered free weekend equipment loans to good customers, but charged for in-home demos. The charge was a flat fee, not some percentage of the the equipment price, and the fee helped to cover some of the cost for the time to pack up the gear and deliver it, as well as the petrol. And the consultant, who was often tied up with a single client for several hours, had to be compensated.


If you really want to hear MU1, call every single dealer here and ask for home demo. Go with a dealer who offers in-home demo with only shipping out of your pocket. 


Seems like you should be able to get enough in store with a streamer. I get "in home" for speakers and some other pieces that may be affected by room acoustics. That being said; charging you a fee, even for an "in home demo? Ridiculous. Dealers I've dealt with over the years have more class than that.

It seems like I have to look at other dealers for a home demo. I would have tried in store demo but the Grimm mu1 is very much tuned to digital coaxial output. The dealer only carries DACs with USB.

After all the responses in this thread, I am going to reach out to other dealers. Hopefully I will get a home audition. Thank you for all advise.

Screw him.

A quick google check and I see several dealers that give a no questions asked 30 day return policy on that unit.  You pay return shipping.  

Move on.

I understand the risk for both sellers and buyers, but anybody who charges ridiculous restocking fees should be avoided. 5% or 10% might not seem like much for small ticket items, but if you’re buying a $10K item, that is a lot of money for pleasure of opening a box. For those asking 20%, I have some choice expletives reserved for them.

The kicker is that many retailers will turn around and sell your return as a new product (depending on the condition) versus selling it a discount as an open box item.

That said, relationships are important. Build a good faith long term relationship with a dealer and the both buyer and seller will be rewarded. You will usually have a person and phone number to call. It's usually not an internet based relationship.

By all means, let your dealer know he lost the sale due to his stupid and greedy policy.  He needs to know he’s losing business over it, and maybe he’ll consider changing his ways when he knows it’s costing him $$$. 

Restocking fee?   What the hell is that?  Dealer started with the stock and he keeps it.  So why a fee?  Dealers I have dealt with always allow me to try equipment at home for a week or so at no charge.  Except cartridges. I pick it up and I deliver it back. If your dealer won't do that dump him.


I am a Dealer so I do have some perspective on this. First of all, there is NO Standard for home auditions or trials. I know major, well-respected dealers who charge a fee for a home trial and I know many that have some other arrangement. The one factor that IS most prevalent, as many have said here, is that IF you have a relationship with a dealer and are a proven customer, then yes, you most likely can borrow equipment for a short time on "trust" with no fee. This is how I treat my best customers.

HOWEVER, if you are unknown to the dealer, then you can't expect them to just "loan" you expensive equipment for audition without some type of protection for the dealer. On example is to pay in full and then have the right to return and refund if you decide not to purchase. But, what is wrong with paying a reasonable fee for the opportunity to listen to an expensive piece of equipment if you don't buy it? Do you know of ANY other business that would let you just "borrow" an expensive item for the weekend? Maybe your local jeweler? The Apple Store? Despite what some here may think, there IS a REAL cost of opening a new product's box and having it out for audition. That product can no longer be sold as "new" and now needs to be sold at a lower price just because it isn't sealed. That's why dealers may charge a fair demo fee (if the customer doesn't buy) to compensate in a small way for the lost revenue. And, sorry- but this is in NO WAY similar to taking out a car from a lot on a 15 minute test drive or sampling a "taste" of a slice of bologna! Give me a break!

This whole concept is subject to substantial skewing if that equipment is very expensive, delicate, or in short supply. It's one thing to get a loan of a component that costs a few thousand; it's totally another to expect to borrow a very expensive high-end component. In this case, the OP is talking about a $10K+ component from a dealer who does not know him. I know most of the Grimm dealers and they are all reputable and customer-service oriented.

This debate has unfortunately come about due to the unprofessional and unfair practices of more than a few (but by no means the majority) audiophiles who make a habit of borrowing expensive equipment from dealers solely because they are "bored" and want to try out some cool new component; or, want to make a hit with their local audio group and bring in a "demo" of a hot new toy. They have no intention of ever buying. Or, even more common, they borrow a component from a dealer, decide they like it, and then call every other dealer for that product in the country, bid for the best price and buy it at the lowest price. Meanwhile, the dealer that invested in the demo and loaned it out (and did not have it available for that demo time) plus spent time answering lots of questions does not get the sale and eats the cost of the demo. That's plain unethical in my book. If you want to call around for price, then have at it and THEN ask the lowest price dealer to send you a unit for audition FIRST. See what happens then!

This all goes to the root cause as to why there are fewer and fewer real High-End dealers left. Ultimately, many buyers buy only on price as opposed to the TOTAL VALUE that the dealer brings. Customer service, when done right, has a cost, as does purchasing demonstration gear so customers can listen to it. We are seeing the commoditization of the high-end industry. and eventually, there may only be online retailers left. Such a shame!

Finally, I am not questioning the OPs facts, but perhaps there is a big misunderstanding about the "5% for 1 hour" thing??  

Asking a dealer for advice is time and expertise.

Asking a dealer for their effort to pack, bring, adjust, give feedback, and remove -- esp. if this is in your own home -- is time and expertise.

Time and expertise are worth something.

Dealers have all the knowledge we need and access to all the gear we want, and pretending that we, the consumer, should get all that access for free -- while we remain free to take our biz elsewhere -- is nuts.

Good for that dealer. Wish more dealers were upfront about their own value. This whole we-deserve-a-massive-discount with no relationship, no engagement, and no loyalty is not sustainable. If that’s what you want, Amazon (and AudiogoN) has you covered.

I never asked the dealer to bring his equipment to my home. I offered to pay full upfront for an already open demo unit he has in store and I offered to pick up and drop off. He actually wanted to bring it to my home. If I am paying full price there is no need for trust issue. Why is it more delicate than a car? I am not asking for a cartridge. 

@socrates7 don’t dealers make a profit with the sale? In most industries, part of this profit pays for the expertise they bring. I did not say I will not pay for expertise but where is the expertise in loaning a gear for an hour? We never got to the point of discussing a sale so what’s the massive discount expectation you are talking about?

@xtremefidelity are you suggesting that I am misstating facts?  There is no misunderstanding. The charge initially quoted was 5% of 12500 - $625 for an hour.

Now thanks to a lot of responses I know this is not the standard. I just spoke to another dealer who is sending me a demo unit. I should have it in a day. Hopefully it will sound great and I will purchase from him. Thank you everyone for your thoughts and suggestions.