The truth about internet e-tailers!

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by PatrickKing, Jan 27, 2003.

  1. PatrickKing

    PatrickKing Auditioning

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    Please forgive me if this is not the most appropriate forum for this topic, but I saw it had a large readership and I, and many others I'm sure, really need help. For the last two months, I have been very deliberately studying and shopping for a whole new HT system. I will wind up spending a relatively moderate sum as compared to a lot of you, but, like anyone, I want the best deal.
    For example, I have decided on the STRDA4ES receiver. I have found this receiver listing for as little as $649.00 + s/h online. That's $350.00 less than MSRP. I have been shopping at Ultimate, but they won't come close to this price; even knowing that I intend on buying a TV, speakers, etc.. Sunshine Electronics, the dealer I found the lower price claims to be an authorized Sony dealer. The rep at Ultimate said that there in no such thing as authorized Sony e-tailers. I argued that if this were a b&m store supplementing their revenue stream with e-business, they in fact, could be an authorized dealer.
    My question then is this: Can we, the buying public, purchase from internet e-tailers without fear of being denied warranty service? If any of you know of specific internet e-tailers with a good reputation and are 'official' dealers, I would appreciate any input.

    p.s. - I totalled my shopping list of items and the difference between buying at e-tailers prices vs. retail was approx $6500 vs. $8500. I don't know too many people that would scoff at $2k!
     
  2. Diallo B

    Diallo B Screenwriter

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    In my experience Sony will honor the warranty as long as you have proof of purchase. There used to be a Sony Service Center 5 miles away from me and they gave warranty service to a HTB that I bought for my mother with no problems. I ordered that particular equipment at an e-tailer that is no longer in business.

    Unfortunately, that Sony Center closed shop last year.

    You will be happy with the 4ES. Don't hesitate to buy it online. I bought mine online and I am one happy camper!!!
     
  3. charlie o

    charlie o Stunt Coordinator

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    what does b&m stand for?
     
  4. Brian Johnson

    Brian Johnson Supporting Actor

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    Just thought I'd ring in with my opinions. I am sure others will follow.
    You could always take your online prices with you to a local authorized store. See what they will do to at least come close to matching the online price. If they want your business they will bend. Plus if anything bad happens, they are there.
    I have never bought any high-end/high priced equipment online. But I know at lot of companies refuse to honor the warranty if purchased by a "non-authorized" seller.
    Two that I know of are Denon and Klispch (I have em, thats why I know)
    For example, if you buy Klipsch online, and something happens, you have to ship the product back (at your cost)to the company you bought them from,not Klipsch. Who knows what that company will do then, they may say "you caused the damage, we need $xxx to fix 'em and ship it back" or they may replace it with no questions.
    It all sounds too risky to me.
    You may save a few dollars at the start, but if you have to spend your money to ship a large,heavy object to who knows where, I see the savings start to reduce dramatically.
    This is only my opinion, take this from a guy that has just bought his klipsch RF3 & his SVS used and drove oodles of miles to get them. =)

    B&M = Brick & Mortar = Local Store
     
  5. Donnie Eldridge

    Donnie Eldridge Supporting Actor

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  6. TomH

    TomH Second Unit

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    On most midrange Japanese products (Sony, Yamaha, Pioneer, Denon,etc)you will typically find a 30 to 40% markup at "authorized" B&M dealers. You need to decide if the "value added" is worth the cost. My first search showed the $895.00 retail STRDA4ES at $637.00. Thats $258.00!! Most people would never consider paying retail for other electronics such as computers, VCR's, DVD players, TV's etc. I am not sure why they will for comparable audio products. I have never found much "value added" from B&M dealers. Quite the opposite. Over pricing, misinformation, inept sales staff, limited stock, slamming any product they do not carry. Certainly not worth a $258.00 premium. Some manufacturers such as Denon play games with warranty service if you do not buy from an "authorized" dealer even though they allow massive quantities of their product to be sold on the net.
    The STRDA4ES is listed at reliableaudiovideo.com for $637.00 and they show a 5 year warranty. Oade.com is also an excellent source for Sony ES. As with all on-line purchases be careful, understand warranty issues and always buy with a credit card that offers buyer protection and extended warranty.
    Tom
     
  7. DarrylM

    DarrylM Stunt Coordinator

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  8. Ted Kim

    Ted Kim Stunt Coordinator

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    It all depends on the brand in terms of the warranty coverage they'll give for internet or mail order purchases. Sony is fine. Denon is more restrictive.
     
  9. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    it certainly pays to contact the manufacturer when there's a concern about warranties and the like. it's also good to check in advance, whether online or local, just how warranty issues are handled. some stores handle the whole thing for you. in other cases you've got to bring it or get it to an authorized center which may or may not be close. as to what importance you place on that is very much subjective. 2 grand is nothing to sneeze at and may well be worth a certain hassle. i liked the suggestion of buying on a card that offers some degree of buyer protection and/or warranty extension. that's a smart way of covering your ass.
    my son has the photography bug, and when he buys nikon lenses, he goes for the gray market ones...usually B&H or Adorama. the savings are substantial but he has to trust either of those two stores to make good on their particular warranty. luckily both have been in business for many years so he considers it worthwhile.
    Donnie: apparently sony has no problems honoring warranty issues regardless of where purchased. technically then Ultimate and Crutchfield are both correct in what they say. it's just a case of creative advertising.
     
  10. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer

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    Both www.onecall.com and www.oade.com are authorized Sony ES online retailers. I have personally had warranty service done at a Sony Service Center on a Sony DA50ES receiver that was purchased at OneCall.
     
  11. Angelo.M

    Angelo.M Producer

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    This is an interesting issue. I'm among those people that would never purchase, for example, a computer from anyone other than Dell (based on my experience with the company for home and business use), one of the biggest e-tailers around. By extension, I would have no problem buying a 4ES from onecall.com, oade.com or crutchfield. I'll also shop with jandr.com (J&R Music World), as I've bought at their B&M many times and think they're great to do business with.

    My bottom line: if I'm considering using an e-tailer, I give them a ring and ask a few questions, if for nothing else but to get a sense of how they deal with customers. If I don't like what I hear, I'm out like a shot.
     
  12. Ammon

    Ammon Stunt Coordinator

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    I think computers may not be a good comparison. Why spend all the money to Dell when you can build your own PC for a fraction of the price. Simply put, we can't build our own Sony or Denon type receiver like we can a computer.

    Crutchfield does charge full retail, but if you have ever done business with them, you find that they are one of the best e-tailers when it comes to customer service. I personally would look at your local store and see if you have any friends that work at one or have any connections. Thats what I did and I picked up my receiver at cost lower than any online store. When it comes to getting a good deal locally, it's all about a good connection IMO. When looking for a good deal online, I've found you make up the price of the low cost from poor customer service.

    My advice is to find a local connection. That way, you dont pay s/h and you have a place close to take it to if you need repairs rather than sending it somewhere else.
     
  13. Mike Poindexter

    Mike Poindexter Stunt Coordinator

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    Crutchfield doesn't charge full retail, they charge MAP. MAP is the Minimum Advertised Price. They are not allowed to drop their price below that without risking losing their dealership.

    Often, you can get somebody to give you less than MAP pricing, but you will never see it in print, so people are safe offering "price matching" because they know they can sell for MAP and make some money.

    Something that retails for $1299 might be MAP at $999 and you will only find it for $999 and assume that is MSRP. Then, your discounters that ignore MAP might push it down to $850, which may or may not be a very thin margin.
     
  14. Andy_SB

    Andy_SB Agent

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    There is definitely a risk/reward factor involved when purchasing from online "non-authorized" merchants if you value a warranty.
    Most of the non-authorized folks do at least have a 30-day return policy, but they may hit you with restocking fees if you decide to return a unit.

    One strategy you can try is to call an authorized dealer and telling them you'd like to buy from them but you've seen the same product at other online stores for much less. Even though they may not list the lower price on their site (due to MAP restrictions), they may come down quite a bit on their price on the phone. I've heard of people getting much better prices from many reputable dealers (such as 6ave.com, Onecall.com, J & R, etc.) when they call and "haggle" a bit.

    Remember that the MAP is the minimum advertised price, not the minimum selling price - that's why if you check the circulars on Sunday, you'll often see electronics items with no real pricing information, just "On sale now!" or "$499 before savings". It's also why some online vendors force you to add products to your cart to see the price of certain on-sale items.

    - Andy
     
  15. michael!la

    michael!la Auditioning

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    For what it's worth, I am relatively new to the forum but have been bitten by the home theater bug for some time now. Here's my take on etailers vs. B&M's. If the item in question costs much more $ than you can stomach to lose, then buy from "authorized" e-tailers such as Crutchfield or your local authorized B&M. I have purchased several items from Crutchfield for MAP (NOT MSRP as some others have suggested) and have been very happy. I have not yet heard of one bad experience with Crutchfield. I am sure there other e-tailers out there of the same caliber. I've also bought from less than stellar, deep discount etailers and have had mixed results. I have a older Denon receiver I bought from some outfit in NJ, steeply discounted and it was factory fresh when I got it and is still working like a champ. I've been burned once or twice but again it was a gamble I was ready to take.

    If you are uncomfortable, don't do it. Do your homework on the e-tailer, get recommendations from others, and solicit feedback from others who have bought from them. If you do all the above, you should be okay. Good Luck.
     
  16. John Dolan

    John Dolan Auditioning

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    Here's a link to an "authorized" list of Sony internet retailers. Keep in mind it was provided to me by J&R Music sales, while I was dealing with them on buying a Sony receiver. I made a great deal, and was somewhat comforted by the fact that they were on the "List"

    http://www.sel.sony.com/cgi-bin/sel/...gi/aid_list.pl
     
  17. Jonathan_D

    Jonathan_D Stunt Coordinator

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    It is not a "gamble" buying over the internet using a credit card. I have found the level of service I get quite remarkable when I threaten to dispute charges with my credit card company. I had purchased a computer a few years back where not only had the substituted parts without my authorization but the box was damaged in transit and the whole thing wouldn't boot up. Their return policy required return postage paid by the consumer and a restocking fee. When I told the customer service agent I would be writing a letter to my credit card company disputing the charges on the basis of them misrepresenting the product and unauthorized substitution she said she have UPS pick up the computer and authorize a full refund, including original shipping.

    That said, I always check out companies as much as possible, both at resellersratings.com, a google search (looking for blank_sucks sites) and a search on the BBB site.
     
  18. DarrylM

    DarrylM Stunt Coordinator

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  19. Kevin_Kr

    Kevin_Kr Supporting Actor

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    Patrick send me an email I can probably help you out.
     
  20. CurtisC

    CurtisC Second Unit

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    I have found e tailers that match the warranty word for word on all products they sell,authorized or not,and they pick it up and drop it off!Alway's use credit card,then you are covered even better.
     

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