Best HIFI salesmen story?

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I've noticed that this forum can get a little serious and it's great to lighten up every now and then, well this is my attempt. You must all have great HIFI salesmen stories if you've spent much time auditioning gear, boy I've got a few.
About 20 yrs ago I got a call from a store that I used to do repairs and installs for. My salesman mate was very worried, he's got a problem in this hifi system with a big screen TV, (well 29" was big in those days). Over the phone he explains that one half of the picture is brighter than the other half. He's fiddled with the contrast and brightness for over an hour and can't fix the problem and the customer is due this afternoon to audition the system.
I asked him over the phone to describe the symptoms and it's got me beat. There's a common problem if the top or bottom half is brighter but I've never heard or seen the left side brighter than the right, with a distinct line between. I have to admit I though that he wasn't describing the symptoms correctly.
I raced over there with a collection of likely components, when I got there it was exactly as he said! The fix was quicker than I was expecting, I asked him which side of the picture he thought was best, and he said the dark side. I adjusted the curtain in front of thew window across the room to comply with his tastes and didn't charge him.
I did promise him never to tell anyone and I think he believed me.

I'm sure we can do better than that, (I'm keeping my best for last).
Regards WALKER

PS I have a good friend who is an excellent HIFI salesman, my apologies if I offend anyone in the trade.
thats hillarious

thanks for sharing, and hopefully we can get more stories. unfortunately I've only run into the dumb salesmen who don't know anything about the product (and some good ones along the way, whom I rewarded with a purchase) but never anything funny like that.

keep em coming!
I, as a customer, have met the usual number of arrogant & silly salesmen (like the moron who was trying to sell me a pair of the Eminent Technology planar speakers--every thirty seconds, he'd tell me that they were a 'completed Magnepan,' which got tiresome after the hundredth time), but most of my stories are from the other side of the fence.
One aspect of being in sales is having to deal with The Owner Of The Business. Now, there are some wonderful people out there, but I was inflicted with one who wasn't, shall we say, fit for polite company. He was into karate and would return from a karate lesson without taking a shower, then horn into an ongoing conversation between one of the sales critters and a customer with the intent to 'show you how to sell.' (He was the pushiest salesman I ever met in the stereo business. He'd be better off selling used cars.) Picture yourself talking to a salesman when this stranger who smells like a goat walks up, intrudes forcibly on the conversation, and starts trying to shove this Model XYZ down your throat. We lost a lot of customers that way.
He was also prone to making a fool of himself in other ways. He'd show up saying something inane like, 'listen to the wood tones on that flute!.' This would cause incredulous stares because, as you are no doubt aware (though he was not), a flute is one of the woodwinds, but isn't made of wood; modern flutes are made of metal. Again, envision customers sidling towards the door, wondering just who this strange man is.
To put it mildly, it was hard to make a living with that particular albatross around your neck. There are a fair number of ex-employees around town, and when we happen to see one another, we'll trade horror stories about when he did this or that.
Unfortunately, the man was so aggravating to work with that you'd end up going out and snapping at a perfectly innocent customer without meaning to. More customers out the door. I have to take the blame for doing that a time or two, myself. Naturally, there's no way to tell the guy that if he wasn't such an ***, you would be more relaxed, and life would be better all around. I try (not always successfully, I'll grant) to remember those days when I meet an obnoxious salesman today.
(Incidentally, apologies to any customers out there who I might have barked at on a bad day. I and the other guys weren't always up to the task of absorbing the behind-the-scenes stuff without some spilling over onto bystanders.)

Grey, thanks for the insight, I have spent some time selling gear as well. This occurred on a couple of occasions at a Audio Video store that was a good customer of my repair business as well as a HIFI store that I used to vagrant. I'll bet it's a different game if its your sole source of income.

I used to 'sport' with the arrogant salesmen at a couple of stores that I would normally go out of my way to miss, if I wasn't in the mood, (I suppose that makes me arrogant). Hopefully I’ve grown out of that sort of behaviour, hmm.

About 15 years ago I was in the market for a new CD player, (I still own the first Sony CDP101 brought into Aust for demonstration, have CDs come a long way). Deciding to listen to as many players that could, I wandered into one of the stores that I love to hate. As I wandered past the speaker lounge, the recording that was playing caught my ear and I wandered in. The record was by Elliott Fisk, (classical guitar) the speakers were small 2-way ported UK units and sounded great with this material. The customer who was auditioning the speakers suggested that although they sounded nice, he thought that he wanted bigger speakers. The salesman, who subscribed to “the customer never knows what he wants” club, told him that you don’t know what your talking about, you want these speakers, (may be not so directly). The customer said he liked loud rock music, the salesman assured him that these speakers would play loud rock music better than any other speaker on the market, that he would hear from these speakers details that he had never heard before. (He later proved to be correct!)
So on went the loud rock music. The customer had to admit that the speakers sounded more revealing than any others that he had auditioned. The bass, he said was tighter and sharper than any other speakers he had heard.
It sounded terrible, in my opinion.
I couldn’t help myself, I butted in and was half way though describing what driver poling, (bottoming) was when one of the tweeters decided it had had enough. I quickly pointed it out to the salesman who stated that what I was listening to was, just exceptional imaging. I took exception to that and left the lounge, as the second tweeter took a rest.

Interestingly, I was called to repair a set of Cerwin Vega speakers sold by that store a number of years later. It surprised me that the owner could have cooked them knowing how robust they were. Once the grill was removed the blown driver was obviously not CV. It had been replaced with a cheap 12” unit. Its partner in the other enclosure did have the big CV on the dust cap but didn’t sound healthy either.

The motto; listen to the individual drivers up close before purchasing speakers. You might be surprised how often I have come across a blown tweeter gone un-noticed.

Regards WALKER
Lew Johnson (Conrad Johnson) had just bought a Porsche 928. On finding out that I had some interest in cars, we went down to the driveway to look over his small collection. One thing led to another, and we were soon tooling around the DC area in the 928 at speeds that would surely have upset the local constabulary had one been in the right place at the right time.
Lew was driving. I was in the front passenger seat, and my (ex)wife was in the back. Lew and I were extolling the virtues of the Pirelli P7, a relatively new tire in those days, graced with a footprint about the size of a mastodon's. Curve after curve flew by. It was a sunny afternoon, and life was good. We came to a twsting, back-handed curve that looked like a good one for testing the P7's adhesion.
Lew floored it and swung the wheel to meet the curve.
The 928 fairly flew around the turn, emitting a slight <i>chirp</i> in the apex. Lew and I exchanged puzzled looks. Surely the P7 could handle that dinky little curve...couldn't it? But facts are facts, and we agreed that we'd heard one of the tires lose it.
Blast it, you just can't get good tires any more.
Somewhat dejected, we headed back to his house, parked and got out, preparing to listen to some things he'd been putting together upstairs. We were still muttering about the tires.
My wife, unable to stand it any longer, confessed.
It hadn't been the tires squealing in the'd been her squeaking in fear for her life.
Lew and I, vindicated in our belief in the P7, looked at each other and nodded. Whew! Close call. Almost lost faith there. We went up to his listening room/workshop with the cloud lifted, all smiles and laughter.
My wife, on the other hand, didn't say another word throughout the entire evening. She'd always thought herself a bit of a thrill-seeking individual, but found that when put to the test, perhaps she was a bit more homebody than she'd realized.

In my highschool days I worked extra in the local radio/TV store.
One day a little old lady walked up to me and asked if we sold the TV remotes spearately.
I asked her what make and model her TV was so I could look up the replacement part.
She said it was at least ten years old, but she thought it just seemed so convinient not having to get up to change the channel.
It took some explaining before she realized there had to be something in the TV also to get it to work...
Good thinking anyway ;)
Years ago I worked for a large music store down in Florida. We also happen to take phone orders from in state in our store. One day a gentleman called up wanting to purchase a portable dat. He went on about how little money he had, but he had to have a portable dat to record lightning as that was how he made his living. Naturally I steared him toward our least expensive model and all was going well until it came time to pay. He had no credit card and wanted to fill out an in store credit app. Well, he wanted to fill it out over the phone even though he was only thirty minutes away so I tried to get him to come down to the store. Well he couldn't he said because he was blind. This whole thing took about 45 minutes and when I finally got off of the phone my boss was snickering. It seems poor old Tad calls at least once a month with the same routine. The thought of a blind man tripping after lightning storms to stand out in them holding a mic just didn't sound right. After that when Tad would call we would put him on hold and page some unsuspecting expert.
Reminds me of a customer we had. Okay, perhaps the word customer is putting it too strongly. This guy would come in about once a month and talk your ears off, wanting to know the lowdown on some particular receiver. Wanted to see literature, how much power, distortion specs, the works. After taking up an hour or two of your time over some dinky $300 receiver, he'd up and say that, well, actually he wasn't going to buy anything right this minute as Big Magazine had just had an article saying that NAD or Yamaha or whoever was on the verge of releasing a new model, and he thought he'd wait to see what that one looked like, and the specs, etc.
To my knowledge, the miserable creature never actually bought anything--ever--from anyone. He just wasted everyone's time, month after month after month after...
The last time I saw him, his girlfriend happened to come along. She confided that she was going to leave him. Seemed that he was indecisive about <i>everything</i> and she was fed up with having to make up his mind for him.


I wandered into a local "High END" establishment a couple of months ago with one of my own CDs so that I could really get a good comparison with what I own and what is considered to be some REAL GOOD gear. Mac preamp, Krell amp, B&W speakers, some $10K cables etc. Well I listened to a cut and asked the sales guy "Why the 1000 watts?" He tells me a story about a full orchestra playing at a whisper and suddenly pours it on and how the meter they had on it showed a jump from 25 watts to over 600 in the blink of an eye and that how many watts an amp had was a sign of quality. He wasn't lying to me. He believed it 100% because someone taught him that. The reason I went to listen to this set up was a guy working in Best Buy was telling me how he had just been to listen to the new Krells and when I asked him who really needs 1000 watts he told me that how many watts an amp has is a sign of its quality. And so it goes. I guess my SE tube amp must be trash and I just couldn't tell by listening to it.
in a time long ago, i worked in stereo (wannabe hifi) store that
had railroad tracks about 25 yards from the rear lot. when a train
went by during a theater demo, customers often remarked, "wow
which sub is that?" due to the bldg. shaking.
one afternoon in the summer (very slow sales season) the second person to walk in all day strolls up to me and says,"i go
by here all the time, been meaning to come in and see what you've got...". so we start yaking about a set of snells that were
on and a bunch of other lite topics for a good 1/2 hour. finally,
he states, "well, best be rolling, ******* people off by now..".
i didn't know what he meant, but walked with him to the door.
as i looked outside, i saw an empty lot. "where's your ride?" i asked. "right there." he said motioning with his thumb to the
unmoving train on the tracks. then i noticed he was wearing
striped bib overalls, had a red bandana and (i swear) one of those casey jones hats. "thanks, man." he says and walks over
climbs into the cab, blows the whistle and strarts to roll. the thing was a good 100 cars long, estimated he was blocking 5 or 6
major city intersections. oh, about 3 month later, he drove in and got the snells!

sales guys all know the arrogant time waster that comes in soley
to argue who spouts "well, i'm an engineer..." at which time you reply, "really? which railroad?"
I too was lately at the store looking at sub woofers for a friend of mine. The sales person showed us a little dinky sub which I could lift with one hand and when I asked how low it went he told me "really low". When I wanted to know in hertz, I gave examples, 20, 30... He replied that it would go as low as the recording. I asked "13Hz? 8Hz? ", and he said that was no problem for this little miniature box... He assured me it didn't matter though because he claimed that absolutely no one could hear below 20Hz. After that I convinced my friend to build his own...
In defense of (some) dinky subs...if they use an ELF strategy, they can get very, very deep indeed in what would seem to be an impossible size (there's been some discussion of this idea here; although it's conceptually easy, it's not a trivial project, once you balance all the conflicting requirements--I wouldn't recommend it as a first project).
If that were true in this case, I'd expect the salescritter to be able to articulate the hows and whys on demand, so he's not off the hook in my book. Back when I was selling, I made <i>damned</i> sure I knew what was going on with everything I sold...and in the most important competitors' products. Not everyone wants to know, but those who do won't take bafflegab & waffling for an answer.

Got curious and looked up the patent that is now know as ELF: #4481662. Anyone who knows anything about electric bass will recognize one of the names on the patent--Ron Wickersham--yes, <i>that</i> Wickersham, the honcho at Alembic. Even if you don't care about playing bass, but might possibly care about beautiful woodworking, check out (note the prices while you're there...).
I'm good down to somewhere in the mid to upper-teens last time I checked, but you can still feel stuff below that, so I feel pretty abashed when I have to say that my current rig only goes to mid to upper 20's. Bummer. As it happens, I spent part of yesterday and most of today researching the optical servo I mention from time to time. Keep hitting brick walls, confound it. But I'm a persistent l'il cuss. I'll get there eventually. I had it, then lost it, now I want that last octave back!

I know what you mean about feeling it. My daughter came in to the listening room and wanted to hear her Alicia Keys on my knew A75. Wow, somebody really recorded some subs on that one. I've never heard (or felt) freq. that low. A few more minutes and i'd be going to the bathroom. Hey, is that what they mean by music that moves you?
...Me wearing my 'customer' hat, as opposed to when I was in selling mode...
There was a store that sold sorta mid-fi stuff in town. I've always been drawn to high-performance gear (regardless of whether I could afford it), but I'd drop by this store once in a blue moon just to see how the other half lived.
Surprise of surprises, there was a customer in there one day. I walked in just as the customer was asking about adding bass to a speaker that the salescritter was demonstrating. I fiddled about a bit, listening in. The customer had heard of a dedicated low end box, and was trying to describe same to the salesman. Salesman tried to tell him no such thing existed. It didn't exactly escalate into an argument, but the customer was clearly getting a little frustrated because he couldn't remember the term for this thing, and the salesman was being obtuse.
I leaned over and supplied the word 'subwoofer' to break the logjam.
Suddenly, the salescritter lights up and says,"Oh, I know all about those. That's a bass commode."
(Odd as it may seem now, that was actually a term that was used in some circles for a while. Personally, I'm just as glad it fell out of favor.)
Then he (the salesman, that is) commenced to trying to tell the customer that these bass commodes were useless, that they were nothing more than ordinary woofers so you didn't really gain anything by adding one to a system.
Folks, I hate to admit it, because I usually try to stand for Truth, Justice, and the Hifi way...but I left, abandoning the customer to the clutches of this bozo.
The store went out of business not long afterward.

Faulty Customer / Faulty Technician

Scrolling back through DIY I came across this thread and this brought to mind the faulty customer condition.

Out in the suburbs you get to meet some interesting people........Anyway, one friday a few months ago a happy, tall, fit and elderley man comes into my repair shop and expains that a 85 Yo female friend who lives in the same retirement village has a four-play shelf system for sale and that the cd section is faulty, and the wireless is no good, and he would like a cd player so he can listen to a 'Tony O'Connor' cd that was a gift from his great-grandson.
He asks about the likely cost of repairs, and adds because he is 87, he does not really want to spend too much.
I give him a gestimated cost at the counter, and a few days later he brings it in to the shop.
Later that afternoon I put it on the bench, and tried it out.
The wireless problem was due to the aerial wires being connected into the wrong sockets.
Next the cd section - It seemed to play okay, but the tracking was a little too sensitive to bumps.
I opened the machine and cleaned the badly dusty lens and it tracked perfectly solidly on my workshop tracking test scratched cd - nothing unusual here.
I phoned him to say that his machine was ready and he came and got it, for a nominal charge.
The following Monday he came back with the machine, saying that he had tried to play his gift cd, and that the cdp is still faulty.
I plugged the machine in at the counter and connected a speaker, pushed the play button, and the disc already inside started to play, but skipped, and he commented that he did not really like the music.
I opened the drawer, and found two discs inside, with the T.O'Connor disc on top, and my workshop test disc on the bottom.
I smiled and politely explained to him that only one disc can be played, and that the machine reads the disc from the underside, with the label side up.
After a pause, he grinned too and said "I didn't think that it sounded like Tony O'Connor ?"

We parted laughing, happy customer and happy technician.


PS - As he left he explained that his lady friend would not take his money for the stereo, so they had agreed that he would pay the repair cost and keep until he was not around to use it any more, and then it should return to her, if possible. - touching.
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