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Old 23rd September 2008, 05:31 AM   #1
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Default I am done with AES -- a short rant.

A while back, I needed some 6688s, so I called up AES (tubesandmore.com). At the time, 6688's were about $2 per tube. I was told that they has 13 in stock, 12 of which were quads by brand. Additionally, I was informed that they would not pick brands unless I paid an extra dollar per tube. This meant that if I wanted the 12 in quads, I would have to pay an extra $12. I bought all thirteen. Indeed, the sales guy acted like he was totally put out that I would ask for him to sell me anything at all.

Cut to some time later, I wanted some 7722s. I told them, explicitly, that I didn't care what brand they were, but they needed to be the same brand. They said that was fine, and sent me a bunch of singles. I sent them back, paid shipping both ways, and got a refund. Frustrating.

The other day, I called them and said I needed some tubes. For one particular type I said I again didn't care about brand, but they needed to be the same brand and same construction. These particular tubes were on sale for about $35 each (which is what every other vendor sells them for). I was told that for them to check, I would have to pay the non-sale price plus $1 per tube. I asked them to look at my account, at the $1000 I've spent there in the last couple of years, and perhaps find a pair of tubes. He said he wouldn't, but that he'd leave a note to the picker to find a pair. They arrived today, and are indeed made by the same manufactirer, but are structurally quite different.

Additionally, I asked for a pair of another type (these only $20 per). For some reason, he was willing to go pick them himself in this case, but not open the boxes. They are, again, same manufacturer but different construction -- which, quite frankly, could be determined from the different printing on the boxes, but he neglected to tell me that.

Further, I asked for a 12FQ6 (a noval dual triode) and they shipped me a 12SQ7 (a worthless piece of garbage.)

There was one tube, worth $4, they got right. So, $135 later I have a pile of useless tubes, and one good one.

So, the thing is, who are these people that they think I want their castoffs? I understand they are having a sale and that tube boxes can be a pain to look through, but this was not insignificant money, I was not asking for matched pairs of $1 tubes, and I have been a good customer for a while.

I am sure there are plenty of good dealings with AES, and I have had a few myself, but three bad transactions is enough for me. So, I am done with them. The shipping is too slow and too expensive, and if they can't make the extra effort, neither can I. And, the guys are vacuumtubes.net and radio daze are nicer anyway.
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Old 23rd September 2008, 06:32 AM   #2
athos56 is offline athos56  United States
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Default I total understand.

When I was a kid a very rich guy, the father of a childhood friend, taught me that if you pay for a service you have the right to be satisfied with what you paid for, and I agree. You vote with your pocket book, Parts connection failed to follow their own shipping terms, resulting in the theft of a package, I don't buy from them or use fedex anymore. That being said, I did just purchase $150 bucks worth of parts from AES because they haven't let me down yet, hopefully they won't. When I had my snafu with Parts Connection I directed them to the forum post where I told everybody about it, I got a refund really quick....just an idea
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Old 23rd September 2008, 01:55 PM   #3
PRNDL is offline PRNDL  United States
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A couple of good questions to ask:
- Is the company a wholesale outfit, or a specialty provider?
- How many people work there?
- How's business been lately?

AES is a wholesale outfit; a lot of people work there; and business has been off for a lot of people due to the economy.

It's common for employees to have short tempers when sales are down, people are being let go, and they're worried they may be next.

Stress is very high and you're asking for special service on sale items without paying the extra charge for it. Most likely you didn't say "pretty please with a cherry on top"! (which may have been appropriate given the above).

Your overall evaluation, however, is correct. It may be time to choose a vendor that specializes in NOS tubes.

AES is still a great place for basic amp stuff.
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Old 23rd September 2008, 02:20 PM   #4
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I'm sure they use the periodic sales to clear out the odd inventory - and not all of any given number will available at the sale price. I have received obviously used tubes and even some numbers that didn't match the box... but at $1 - $3 each I'm not gonna complain. I would expect OEM brands, mismatched singles, worn boxes... NOS tubes are OLD, and whatever stocks exist have been picked over for years.

I can probably help with a 12FQ7 ( I certainly don't need any more 12SQ7s though... I have about 40 and maybe have 3 radios that use it...)
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Old 23rd September 2008, 03:22 PM   #5
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i'm not sure i'm following you on this. Their web site clearly states no "No picking of brands at sale pricing. " I think your post says you bought the tubes on sale and didn't pay the $1 matching fee... right? Sorry if I got that wrong.
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Old 23rd September 2008, 03:53 PM   #6
kevinkr is offline kevinkr  United States
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I've had similarly not great experiences buying tubes from AES in the past and therefore generally buy from them only in one offs for things like short wave radio restorations.

I do buy transformers and chokes from them, but little else.

I would consider AES a retail seller not wholesale, their customer base originally was the antique radio restoration crowd.

I order on line, and have not found their help in recent years helpful or pleasant to talk to.. I just avoid the issue. In the old days (previous owners) it was a bit different.

I have much better luck getting my audio tubes on eBay and elsewhere, and sometimes you do have to buy from multiple sources in order to get a set of matched tubes. Annoying, but in a time of dwindling supplies not too surprising - and buying and matching singles will often save you money on rarer types like the 71A for example.

In short I am not a big fan of AES, but don't hate them either, their core market is not really the hifi tweak anyway.
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Old 23rd September 2008, 05:27 PM   #7
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Default Re: I total understand.

Quote:
Originally posted by targeteye
i'm not sure i'm following you on this. Their web site clearly states no "No picking of brands at sale pricing. " I think your post says you bought the tubes on sale and didn't pay the $1 matching fee... right? Sorry if I got that wrong.
Well, as I said, I wasn't picking brands, simply requesting pairs. Maybe that's a lawyer's distinction, but it is a distinction never the less. Indeed, they were free to say no and send me to another vendor. Instead, they decided they wanted my business, bargained around the rule, and they said they would take care of it since I was a good, regular customer. This was a negotiation, and generally when one enters into such a thing, one is expected to follow through with the agreement made.

I lived in Firenze for a short time. I don't know if this is true throughout Italy, or even throughout that city, but where I lived there were a couple of fruit stands on the same street. The vendors would not let the customer pick out the fruit (which is how it works in the US) but would instead pick it out for you. The idea was that they knew their stock and would pick out the best fruit for you. If they did a good job, then you would return for the quality and the service. If they didn't, you would go to the next stand down.

On a day to day basis, this is probably costly, but for me, since I bought fruit every morning, I ended up back at the same vendor everyday for months. A nice efficient system as it allows the party with the most knowledge to apply that knowledge rather than forcing decisions on people without knowledge.


Quote:
Originally posted by kevinkr
I order on line, and have not found their help in recent years helpful or pleasant to talk to.. I just avoid the issue. In the old days (previous owners) it was a bit different.
I think it is one particular guy. Unfortunately, I don't remember his name, but I have gotten good help from a different sales person. That was last January, so it is hard to know if he is even still there.

Quote:
Originally posted by kevinkr
and buying and matching singles will often save you money on rarer types like the 71A for example.
These were 71a's, in fact. He told me they had a couple dozen RCA ST's. Maybe I am wrong, but I have my doubts that there are a couple of dozen different RCA ST constructions. Popping the top on the box to make sure the tubes look the same seems reasonable in this case.
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Old 23rd September 2008, 05:34 PM   #8
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I use their web ordering system (easier for me to do at work) and just request 'same brand' when I order tubes.

For 6922s I got a pair of Tungsrams (labelled ProComm / Made in Britain - ha) and on another order I receive a pair of GEs.

Of course I once got a pair of 'same brand' 7119s - both Amperex, but one was U.S. made and the other was made in Holland. Oh well.
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Old 23rd September 2008, 05:41 PM   #9
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Quote:
I would consider AES a retail seller not wholesale, their customer base originally was the antique radio restoration crowd.
AES is the retail shop. They have a wholesale shop, CE Distribution, that caters to "people in the amp repair, design, and manufacturing" business. The prices are the same on some stuff (Hammond products) to 30% lower on other stuff.

I would guess that sales are off since I now recieve sales calls from CE "reminding me" of specials that they are offering.

It would seem that both outfits have shifted their focus to the guitar and amp market. There are many more guitar related pages in both catalogs than radio of HiFi stuff.

Quote:
I'm sure they use the periodic sales to clear out the odd inventory..... I have received obviously used tubes and even some numbers that didn't match the box... but at $1 - $3 each I'm not gonna complain.
The last batch of 6BQ6's that I got were about 25% bad, some looked well used (little or no getter left, plain white box) but some looked very new, and still didn't work. For 98 cents, I am not going to bother. I have received 3 wrong tubes, wrong number on the outside of the box. This should be easy to get right.

Quote:
and not all of any given number will available at the sale price.
I bought all of their 6LR8's at the $1.65 sale price. They dissappeared from the web site after that sale. 3 weeks later they reappeared at the old price. Mention of certain numbers on the "Tube sale at AES" thread caused the supply to dry up overnight. This time I kept my mouth shut about one number until I get the box that I ordered last week. I might need some more, but I hesitate to order a bunch until I see what I get.

Quote:
I do buy transformers and chokes from them, but little else.
They do have good prices on Hammond, however I did receive a pair of 3 year old 1628SE's when I ordered 1628SEA's once. They said that I could return them if I had not used (soldered or scratched) them. I had to pay the return shipping which was almost $50. They are still on my shelf 2 years later.

Over all I still buy from them, I don't ask for anything special. If I am looking for a unique tube, I will go see Stan (the Tube Center or ESRC). He has about 3 million to choose from, but he is 180 miles away.
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Old 24th September 2008, 04:08 AM   #10
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D,

Awhile back there was a thread here pertaining to The Tube Center, which is in league with ESRC down in Florida.  I have bough a lot of stuff from them, and they have always been very helpful in the all-you-got-of-a-single-brand department.  Jack actually told me, 'Let me get back to the warehouse, and I'll tell you what I got.'  A day or so later, 'I got RCA, Sylvania, GE.'. I ask him, 'How many RCAs you got? (they're always a good pig'n'a'poke bet)', he tells me, I buy.

No pain, no suffering, odd small signal tubes for $1 to $3 each, no bad vibes, fast shipping.

What's not to like?

Aloha,

Poinz
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