Was I Expecting Too Much

Hi everyone.  I'm looking for a heading check with a situation I encountered yesterday.  


I'm planning to upgrade my turntable later this year - Q3 is my target.  After my research, I've narrowed down to AMG and Brinkmann.  I was able to audition an AMG Viella yesterday, and was looking to audition a Bardo or Taurus for comparison.  I know my thought of trying to fit in a Brinkmann demo was last-minute, and some dealers are particular when it comes to appointments and allowing them time to setup their demo.  

The Situation:

So I called the local Brinkmann dealer and inquired to see if a bardo or taurus happened to be setup.  The salesman I spoke with said they had both, and he was going to check if a demo was possible.  After a few minutes, I get a phone call back from the owner who seemed rather dismissive of my request.  I explained that I'm currently doing my research and looking to hear some demos to help down-select, and that my purchase would be a few months from now.  He asked for my budget which I found strange as I already stated what I was interested in demoing.  Then the conversation turned to what gear I already own, which I understand sort-of.  Then the owner basically said it doesn't make sense for me to demo anything now and to call back when I'm ready to purchase.  

How am I going to know what I want to purchase without demoing the options?

Was I expecting too much by asking to hear equipment that I'm interested in?  My opinion is a sale isn't guaranteed and an audio dealer, just like any other dealer, needs to invest some reasonable amount of time to capture a sale.  You don't capture all the sales, but I didn't think I was being unreasonable in my request and certainly was not trying to waste anyone's time.  I was pretty transparent with where I'm at and I guess he was reciprocating my transparency by telling me to go away.  I felt "less-than" by this experience.  As if I wasn't worth investing any time into.




No, you were not expecting too much. You should expect to be taken seriously and with respect. It is a real shame that some dealers are like this. But some are. Good dealers realize that todays demos produce sales down the road. Sometimes years in the future. They build a reputation and business over years.

Personally, I would find the next closest dealer, even if that means traveling a few hundred miles. I see if that dealer is better. If so, explain what happened. Most audio companies protect their brands… they evaluate their resellers. I think it likely if a custom pops up in another territory they will allow you to buy through that dealer. 


Obviously, your request was perfectly reasonable.  I am going to guess that your dealer's salon is located in an area of a large major city and in a neighborhood where his walk-in customers are apt to be affluent.  In most parts of the US, which do not fit that demographic, his attitude would eventually be fatal to his business, but in Beverly Hills or in the posh shopping heart of Manhattan, for examples, he could get away with it. If they really have both of the Brinkmann TTs in which you are interested set up and running, it really boggles the mind how they could be so snotty about doing a demo.  Why else have them set up at all? Anyway, why not just walk in, wave your checkbook, and pretend your are hot to trot?  By now they've probably forgotten your name. Unless they ask for a deposit up front, you would not be under any obligation to buy.


WTF. It’s like their job to setup and demo the products that they carry. Maybe they don’t know how to setup a TT? What a shame.

Maybe just go to that store in person and see if they have 1 setup or ask for a demo. Have a few hundred dollar bills hanging out of your pocket? 

Joe Nies


I agree with the sentiment expressed by the above posts. Your request is very much within reason and expectations. In my opinion the store owner was quite arrogant and dismissive toward you. I’d certainly want to hear an audio component I’m considering purchasing. Unfortunately some people behave as jerks.


By the way, if you are deciding between the two Brinkmann models only, then the odds of your hearing the probably subtle difference between them in a system with which you are not intimately familiar are small.  If between a Brinkmann and something else, then the "something else" evidently is not on demo in that store.  So maybe you needn't bother.

Thanks for the replies.

@lewm I'm trying not to call out the dealer, but I don't want to shine a bad light on the wrong dealer.  You mentioned Salon in your post, so I think I know who you are referring to based on my location.  I am a big fan of that dealer.  In fact I've purchased two pairs of Wilsons from him.  A standup gentleman with the utmost respect to all his clients no matter how big or small.

The dealer I'm referring to is on the other side of LA....around Covina...

Regarding Brinkmann, I'm probably looking at a Bardo with 10.5 or 12.1 arm.  I think the Taurus is just outside of my budget, but I would like to hear both.  Maybe I need to save more for the Taurus if its that much better.  I accept that these comparisons are somewhat flawed as the systems will not be the same.  Creature comforts are another factor.  I want to try using the tables to see which one feels best in the hand, so to speak.

Tire kickers are a PIA. A busy store could be serving non-buyers all day long, it's a waste of time. The dealer was telling you how it is. Go see him when you are ready to buy. Otherwise he is making no money. I'm also not sure how you compare the sound of tables with the endless differences in the supporting equipment. You have some nice equipment. Don't you have a trusted dealer to help you with a TT, cartridge, and phono pre-amp selection?  

^ Nonsense.  It's opinions like @russ69's that degrade the value of customer service. I don't think it's too much to ask for a demo - some dealers just don't want the headache of setting things up.  The same dealer had a pair of trade-in speakers for sale on A'gon and when I asked to see if them, he wanted an unreasonable amount of money to unpack/demo. When you spend that kind of money on a turntable/equipment, everyone wants a good buying experience, otherwise it leaves a bad taste in your mouth.

And the Brick & Mortar stores are dying on the vine, wonder why. Can get better service online or used…..

Just amazing.

Asking for a demo is as straightforward as it gets.

A good dealer should arrange and set up a demo when possible and all the discussions could happen at the store at visit ime. This is my understanding.


@cbl117 , you have to know how this game is played. The owner was trying to figure out if you were "qualified." He does not want to waste time with people who are pulling his chain. So, next time you confront an audio sales person make them think you are bloody rich and you like the Bardo because it is a beautiful object. It also helps if you drive up in a 911. Then you will get all the attention you need and more. 

Cbl117, in the present tense, I had no particular dealer in mind. I was thinking of some like experiences I had back in the 70s In Manhattan with Lyric HiFi and some others. When Mike Kay was on the floor at Lyric he was a prince, even with a low life med student and intern like me. Later on when they got successful the guys he hired in his stead were plain rude, required an advance appointment to audition any thing, and that was after I’d bought an expensive (for me) pair of speakers at full list. More recently I remember trying to buy a pair of socks on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills.

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I think the problem is the internet. It isn’t just stereo. Shoestores have it worse. Eveybody goes it, tries on shoes to get their size, and then orders online.

I would guess the dealer was trying to determine if you were a serious buyer or an internet buyer looking to decide what to buy elsewhere.

Your challenge is to convince him. apparently your didn’t, probably because you were honest.

I don’t have an answer for the situation we are in right now.

Best of luck.


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I went for test drives in four different Mercedes SUVs on the same appointment. I drove up in an older car. No issues, they scanned my license and threw me the keys saying have fun. Why being a silly turntable dealer makes these guys think they're better than potential customers is beyond me.

In another vein, the head salesman at Western Electric at AXPONA 2019 dismissed me when I told him I preferred analog by saying, "what would you know about anything?" I was suitably irked by him that I told him the WE91E looks ridiculous. He was not pleased because, let's face it, it does.

Many years ago, while on vacation in Hawaii, I walked into a high end art gallery wearing beach shorts and a T-Shirt. The salesman treated me like I was a multi millionaire.  Why, because in Hawaii they can't tell who's rich and who's not by appearance, so they have learned to treat everyone like a qualified buyer.  It's a lesson that all sales people sadly have not learned.  

Plenty of ideas put forward why the sales team have acted as they did.

The Outlet might have policies that govern how they interact with a inquiry, and there is a monitoring of the Sales Staff.

In many situations today calls are recorded, maybe they have to show an assertiveness when dealing with phone inquiries. The idea of turning up in person and seeing what is able to be arranged might be the better approach, as turning away a encounter that seems to be a genuine sales inquiry, will be more difficult than thwarting ones inquiry that suggests ones intentions are from an educational aspect and not necessarily committed to a purchase.  

 It's opinions like @russ69's that degrade the value of customer service. 

Customer service is dead, and I didn't kill it. The tire kickers killed it. The shop has to make money to survive, they have bills to pay. "Investing" in a future customer doesn't pay the bills. I'm sorry the OP had a bad experience, I think we all have a bad experience at one time or another. The OP learned that one particular dealer may not be a place he wants to shop. He has 2 other choices for that particular product in his area. 

Reminds me of Elaine in Seinfeld buying her desired dress in the other store and waving it in the window of the initial store to pee off the cranky owner. Until the owner shouts back that she owns the other store too.

According to his website, Brian @ Whetstone Audio in Austin is a Brinkmann dealer.  I had a great experience dealing with him in the past.  He’s the polar opposite of the Covina dealer.

Demo's by appointment are industry standard you did everything by the book. The dealer responded poorly and now not only will he get the sale when you buy a turntable he won't ever get a sale from you. That's being dumb with a healthy splash of arrogance mixed in, smart dealers invest the time to make the sale now and in the future.

How do you demo a turntable for sound quality?  Too many variables.  Were you planning on getting a side by side demonstration into a reference system?

A few years ago a successful dealer told me that audiophile customers were a PITA.  They wanted to demo and compare everything while doing relatively very little buying.  For that dealer the real money was in selling whole systems to customers who really didn't care about the equipment as long as it was not the Cadillac, but the Lexus of audio systems.  (That's a "The Wire" reference).

It’s difficult to compare two different tables with two totally different components on two totally different systems.  I think he figured none would be gained by these demos. 

Now I know why you don’t see stereo equipment in home listings.  He sounds like a dealer.  You know they are doing you a favor if they even talk to you.  Is there another dealer you can talk to.  Perhaps contact the manufacturer and have recommend who to talk to.  There are certainly a lot of snobby dealers.  


$15,990 is the list price of the Brinkman Taurus. 

B&M audio sales is no picnic these days, but it is not your responsibility to support a dealer that doesn't understand how to make spending $16K a rewarding and fun experience for their customers.  Find another dealer.

Another thought - for $16k +/-, I'd look into the Stabi R and Kuzma 4P - there are good Kuzma dealers in the greater Los Angeles area where you might be able to audition the table/arm.  At that price point, the tables are pretty comparable.

I know the dealers in question, it’s not difficult… High end audio… especially analog shops are a relatively SMALL world… and in LA.. other than…MAYBE judging by the leased car…. well… who knows…

i should mention, i have a Bardo, etc. I frequently hear the next models up ( and the $ competitive Kuzma )  I might also strongly suggest a trip to San Diego… the dealer there… earns most of my California business… i drive a ratty GL-550 with 180 k miles on the ticker…. i enjoy them and they provide a relaxing environment w about 20 k records for sale…its an analog crack den…

Bardo w HRS class isolation, a suitable arm and cartridge are about $20k. i run a Triplaner and either a Lyra Delos or Kuzma CAR-40. at the low end the combo is $20 ish… The heavy Taurus, does sound better …. it’s subtle….and supports the additional arm = $. While the Brinkmann arms offer excellent value…i obviously went a different way.

Hopefully this helps a bit.

I also get the opportunity to hear a Kuzma TT w a 4point on a minus K…. not side bt side against the Brinkmann… i think blind many would struggle to find a super clear winner…i don’t believe it fits but a 4point on a Brinkmann would be fun…. ha

I agree with those who've already, much more politely, characterized the dealer you referenced as a pugnacious, arrogant schmuck. It doesn't matter where his or her shop is or which clientele he caters to. There's no excuse for that kind of behavior. I wouldn't buy a thing from such a curmudgeon. I'd also suggest contacting Brinkman and informing them of this experience. I'm certain they'd want to know and, more importantly, they may be able to help you schedule a demo with a dealer with an infinitely better disposition and offer a financial peace offering, to boot. Good luck!

That is the mark of a retailer actually telling you he doesn't need your business.  Pure and simple laziness.  Go to the next audio show near you and you will hear all of those you wish to audition.  Bring a record or two along.

@cbl117 I think you were perfectly reasonable in your expectations. In my personal opinion, there are lot of dealers who feel they carry the brand and they own the region and act arrogantly. I had a similar experience recently. I recommend you reach out to another dealer, who carries the brand and shop around for the best possible sales experience. As a customer you deserve the best service.

I do understand where the dealer was coming from.... "I'm not purchasing now but down the road".... Demoing at your place when you aren't going to buy something is not practical. The bottom line is price so if he brings it to you to demo and you find a lower price somewhere else on what you liked, you'll buy it there. The dealers usually have demo rooms which they have set up for optimal sound quality and they only have to do it once at their place and not many many times at potential customers who aren't really buying now anyway. Go to the dealer, sit down and listen there.

You don’t just demo equipment (which isn’t usually very useful; too many variables), you are evaluating the dealer, who one day may be needed for service, support or advice - or a positive buying experience on a c. $20k purchase, which should be a good experience, not a painful extraction of gear from an asshole. If you were a masochist, he’d be perfect. But then, you’d probably be buying a boat or Italian car instead.
You have successfully weeded out that one. His business model is poorly designed; he wasn’t “qualified” to get your business. Good work. Be glad it was before you bought.


There is a huge difference between “sales” people and people who provide customer service that results in a sale. I would walk away from this store as fast as you can. They have zero interest in their customers outside their wallets. If they are acting his way presale I can only imagine how their post sale service is. 

As a former dealer:

We have to understand that the initial conversation between POTENTIAL customers and POTENTIAL dealers is an "interview" process that involves two parties, analzing the prospects of a positive outcome for each Both have the option to proceed or terminate the relationship based on the information they are given. The dealer may get indicators that the prospects for success are very low (say, 20%) based on past experiences, and decide to tactfully withdraw at that point.

The key word here is "tactfully" withdraw. In my view, "preserving the relationship" was always the top priority, unless of course, I felt the person was a low integrity individual. I don’t know what kind of day/week/year/life the dealer was having. It would have good to get to know you face-to-face to discuss the turntable. I’m pretty sure your lifetime Hi-fi ambitions are not going to stop with your current turntable purchase.

By the way, I was in the market for a luxury sports sedan a few years ago. I asked the salesman: "If I pick the sports suspension option, how much lower does the vehicle sit?" To which the salesman replied: "I need to make sure you’re serious about the car before I spend the time doing all this research." I ended up purchasing the car (with sports suspension) from a salesman who was a performance driving instructor who, during the test drive, made sure I hit the apex at speed on the exit ramps. Relationships matter.

In business there are two philosophies for dealing with customers. I'll call them "transactional" and "relationship." Every positive dealer story or recommendation I've ever heard involves that dealer building a relationship with the customer. The Covina dealer missed a golden opportunity to meet you and build a relationship so that you would buy preferentially from him/her in the future. Anyone wanting to take the time and trouble to audition and operate a Brinkman turntable, and who has a complete audiophile grade setup, is a valuable future customer. Sadly, the dealer seems to operate in a transactional mode which is completely opposite IMO from the model of a successful high end dealer.

Many moons ago when I lived near Portland, OR, I did business with a few dealers but one in particular got most of my business. I could just stop in and shoot the breeze on a slow day and when he got something in that was cool he would call me and invite me to come over and listen. I bought pieces from him that I didn't even know I wanted to upgrade.

My point is, when buying high end products, seek out businesses that focus on a relationship instead of the immediate transaction. If we are ready to spend five figures on piece of gear the sales process should be pleasant and fun.

Their actions and poor customer service will end up putting them out of business. I grew up in NW-Arkansas the headquarters of Walmart, Tyson Foods, and JTL Jones Truck Line. I was a young engineering manager and a rotary member. Old man Don Tyson gave a talk one time at rotary as usual dressed in blue jeans, flannel shirt and really old cowboy boots. He related the importance of customer service in EVERY interaction by telling the following story. He had visited a Freightliner truck dealership in his old beat up ford pickup and was walking around the lot inspecting the various semi trucks. A salesman appeared and asked him to :not play on the vehicles" as they were brand new. He then turned and walked away. So... Don got in his old ford and went a couple miles down the road to the International dealer which politely answered questions and asked if Don would like to test one of the new rigs. Don said no BUT I would like to buy 100 trucks about a $30M purchase. To this day Tyson’s Foods uses International trucks exclusively. Oh did I mention that Freightliner pulled their dealership license from the other guy in the following months. News travels fast!

Some of the newer audio folks here might find it amazing that we used to be able to take home components to try in our own systems.   Since most stores were closed on Sunday to Tuesday at noon you had a few days to try digital and amplification products, as well as cables.   If you had a strong purchase history, you could try speakers up to modest floor standers at home as well.   While most dealers can’t afford this now. The cost of in store demo is basically a fixed cost.  If you know the product. That already establishes a knowledgeable customer.  If the owner thinks you can’t discern the difference, sell you another product that fits your system

cbl117, I've been researching a new amp/preamp combo over the last couple of months.  My experience was similar to yours when I explained that I was selling some real estate and that was under contract but wouldn't close until the beginning of May.  As soon as they were done qualifying me and found out that they might have to wait a couple months until the sale was finished they wrote me off and told me to call back when I was ready to purchase.  Now the helpful dealer or two I will get in touch with the end of next week.  I have a very long memory and those that were less than helpful won't hear from me again.  Big mistake as I will be dropping some serious coin.

Unacceptable.  I would send a note to the U.S. distributor.  They should know how their chosen dealers are representing their brand.  All should be accountable.

An interesting aside, I have purchased all of my recent gear either from an online dealer or directly from the manufacturer and have not had one single bad experience. To the contrary All the online shops have been very accommodating even when problems develop.  

@frankmc195 You misread my original post. I never asked to demo the gear at my home. I asked if I could stop by his store since the gear was already confirmed to be setup there.

"Go to the dealer, sit down and listen there"

I tried. He said no.

@russ69 you must have a very low threshold for defining someone a tire kicker.

""Investing" in a future customer doesn't pay the bills."

The store was open under normal business hours, the staff was already there, hell the gear was even setup!  Surely my request doesn't add to their sunk cost or take from their bottom line.  I'll give them the benefit of the doubt and admit perhaps I'm adding opportunity cost.

"I'm also not sure how you compare the sound of tables with the endless differences in the supporting equipment."

That's true, trying to make sound comparisons between two tables on two completely different systems is going to be filled with conjecture, but there are other variables to compare like the operating experience.  I'm not going to drop 5 figures on something without getting my hands on it first.  Others may, and that's cool.

What a jerk!

In this day and age where there so few good Hifi stores left, it’s sad that any shop would treat a potential customer so poorly.

I can't believe that one poster defended this nonsense. I'd love to know what he does for a living so i could never deal with him.

I have several owned successful restaurants over 40 +  years & know something about guest service. That owner was being foolish & now probably lost the golden opportunity to gain another loyal customer. It’s a bit different In restaurants because have to eat everyday but repeat clientele is the heart & soul of just about any business. That could have been you!

Because turntables are so fragile, a home audition is tricky but in the price range of those fine turntables, a private session could be arranged in store possibly w/ some of your own stuff ( phono amp, amp, speakers, whatever). If they did this, treated you well & offered you a good deal on the spot, there’s a good chance you would buy right then or at least in a few months when you were actually ready. 

They clearly have no faith in their salesmanship for both the product & themselves. I would look elsewhere. 

Everybody knows what the problem is. It is the Internet. I ran into this at a local dealer. Looking for some Macintosh products. The first thing he said to me is.” are you here to shop or are you gonna buy one on the Internet used?” I kind of felt bad for the guy, that’s probably what I was going to do. I could tell it was burned out, and probably realize that he was at the end of his business life. I can only imagine the amount of people that they get going into the store Doing exactly what I was going to do. The way that I justify it is that if I buy something used from somebody with more money than me hopefully they’re going to a dealer and buying something new. But I have no way to guarantee that. It’s just the way of the world and retail is , the new person in the economy to take a hit. I had a bunch of friends who work around the printing industry and they all got their butt kicked 20 years ago. Now it’s stereo guys turn. I guess at some point we’re all going to get to take our turn .