What's your experience with snooty HiFi salesmen?

I began my Hifi journey in 1976 at a shop in Birmingham MI called Audio Dimensions. He was a Magnapan and ARC dealer who was kind to a 15 year old kid who bought a set of MG 1s with paper route money. The ARC amps he carried were about $4K back then- a LOT of money in 1976. In the beginning I drove my MG 1s with an old Fisher Studio Standard integrated amp. Since those lovely innocent days I have encountered some real buttholes. They act like they are doing me a favor as they quiz me about what gear I have and if I'm listening to "approved" recordings. Needless to say I don't buy from those guys. Several wives and businesses later I'm back into the hobby with a much vengeance as a 61 year old  can muster given only so many free hours in a day and only so much cash to apply due to my other vices: Classic cars and salt water fishing. 

Have you ever encountered a really good or really bad dealer (or employee) that changed your buying actions?

Darko posted a video on this topic which I found really enjoyable. Many of you have already seen it but for those (like me) who discovered it much later here's the link: 


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Sadly, Audio snobbery pushed me to purchase almost entirely on the internet.

I used to work in a record store/audio retailer in the 70s.

Back then it was fun and about the music. Over time it became almost a competition for audio stores/salesmen to show how much more they knew, and how much your gear sucked compared to theirs

When I attend Axpona this weekend my focus will not only be on the gear but watching how others interact with the sales reps./dealers. The last audio show I attended was about 10 years ago and there were some unscrupulous individuals in attendance. In the Vapor Audio room 3 clowns reeking of cannabis were demanding the sale rep. to play Paul Butterfield Blues Band. After 5 plus minutes of poorly recorded harmonica noise the Vapor rep finally hit stop and the three stooges stumbled out the door. At the same show the local Magnepan dealer closed for the last day due to someone breaking a switch on an ARC component. Unfortunately this tells me some people even Audiophiles don't know how to act in a social setting. I just hope most(all?) attendees bring a positive attitude and some social graces so this can be a pleasant event even for our wives.

The shop I mentioned in my comment, with the swindling salesman, was indeed, Sound Advice, in its second incarnation in South Florida. They had re-opened three stores. I went to the Miami Dade store to buy the PrimaLuna integrated amp. Unfortunately, it was right around the time we got a visit from Hurricane Irma so I lost about two or three weeks. However, once settled back to normalcy, I verified with Upscale Audio, the distributors of PrimaLuna, that they had never placed the order for my integrated amp. I wrote about my experience here:


I’m floored when I see people respond to this question with something like, "Snobs? What are you talking about? I’ve never met a salesman who wasn’t the salt of the earth and willing to give me the shirt off his back!" I’m not even going to go into the stories of my own experiences. They match the overwhelming number of examples here in this conversation - a mixed bag with plenty of disappointment and unnecessarily rude treatment.

But who are these people who get great treatment from HiFi salesmen? I’m not buying that they’re just new at it, rich, or lucky. I think they’re just full of it. Steve Guttenberg the stereo writer claims that the overwhelming number of salesmen he's met are the exact opposite and then turns around and explains how terrible customers are. Funny, if salesmen are so good and patient and even handed, why the follow-up about how bad customers can be? That doesn’t smell right. I think he has seen plenty of rude salesmen and chooses to reinterpret the question in a convoluted way so he can justify being contrary. Maybe there’s a perfectly clear reason why they come off as snobs and treat people like morons. But saying that they’re a patient professional bunch and don’t act rude is not even remotely credible. The comedy skits and popular stereotypes have a solid basis in the reality where I live.

I have experienced both ends of the spectrum since I started looking in HiFi shops in the mid ’70s. Unfortunately now I don’t know of a place I could go to look and ask questions without being given a snotty attitude, skeptical treatment, and just plain disdain from the salesmen.

And some people have the nerve to ask why brick and mortar shops in a field where in-person auditioning is particularly useful have almost completely disappeared. I think it's blatantly obvious that the field attracts a lot of rather difficult men who aren't good salespeople.

I knew a  snooty salesman that used  the ploy of asking customers how much they wanted to spend then demonstrating a well matched system that was much more expensive before

I had the opposite experience, most of the times they would refuse to connect speakers above my budget and I didn't push it. I understood it was a waste of their time (not that I couldn't have been upsold)