I can’t believe I need to write this story in the year 2017. “If it’s too good to be true, it’s too good to be true.” If your daddy never told you that before, then I guess this article is for you; for the rest of you, this is just a free refresher course.
Ever since the second human being appeared on the earth, one has always been trying to rip off the other. PT Barnum wasn’t the first to figure that out, you know, “a sucker is born every minute.” From snake oil to pet rocks, pyramid schemes, the lottery, and all the other get-rich-quick deals out there, real estate with no down payments…right?
Been to Las Vegas lately? What’s the old saying, “Vegas was built by LOSERS”?
There are a few evils being perpetrated on the naive consumer in the A/V industry, and all industries I suppose. This is nothing new. I opened my first retail store in February 1973 in Mar Vista, California, called The Audiophile. Living in our greedy flesh is this demon that thinks we are going to get something for nothing, or close to it. Our greed, or stupidity, gets the better of us and thinks people are mostly honest…Oh Me! There are those lurking in the weeds waiting to pounce. They usually are not dressed in little red suits with a pitchfork and a tail; no, sometimes they appear to be very legitimate operations. Some are the criminal element among us. But it is the appearance that is deceptive. Legal, oh sure! Nobody needs a gun to rip you off today.
Okay, where am I going with this? One can make millions on our stupidity, greed, and laziness. At the rate of birth described by Barnum, you get the idea. Let’s start with the ugliest of these scams and one I consider downright criminal. I had received more letters and calls over these forty years concerning an age-old scam. Here is how it played out.
As I mentioned earlier, I owned a retail store in the early 70’s, and it seemed like a week never passed that I didn’t receive a phone call like this: “Hi, I just bought a pair of ‘Studio Monitors’ or ‘Acoustic Monitors’ and wondered, first, if you have ever heard of them, and second, do you repair them?” Oh no, another victim! The story was always the same. I was at the shopping mall, gas station, parking lot, or wherever, and this guy approached in a van, station wagon, panel truck, or whatever, and had an overstock of speakers from the factory/distributor that he needed to sell at below his cost. His boss needed to move these quickly. Hmm! Now, most of us know that Rolex salesman when we see him, but this scam has been going on now for the 40-plus years I have been in business. It has changed slightly today. Back in the “Old Days,” you might get that box home and find rocks in it. Today, you find a product in it, but what have you purchased? Again, years ago, you got paper-thin cabinets, a 12-inch 12-way with few or zero motor structures (magnets), no crossover networks, and just plain garbage speakers. They might be worth about $50 and were sold for hundreds, thinking they were worth thousands! OUCH!
What has changed? Well, 40 years later, it has gotten way more sophisticated, but it’s pretty much the same shell game. If it ain’t broke… Remember, “Nobody was ever sorry for buying the BEST!” Love that quote…
Here is the difference today: While the presentation is still about the same, the product has changed radically. With the manufacturing capability of the offshore companies in China, Malaysia, the Philippines, and even Mexico, and labor at pennies a day allowing products to be produced at a fraction of the cost here. For years, the products from these countries were unacceptable. But as we all know, most everything we purchase today is made offshore. Quality has rocketed, and even the well-known brands we have come to recognize have retreated to manufacture elsewhere. So, with the copy ability our foreign friends have perfected, it’s hard to tell the impostors from the real McCoy. Today the shysters are on the web, looking like the rest of us trying to manufacture and sell quality, American made products. Some are hiding behind old American names we recognize from our youth that have gone out of business and have been resurrected off shore.
He doesn’t drive a van anymore, he has instant access to you on the internet! You come calling him because the price looks great, the pictures look good and the scam is that he is promoting it as a $1,500 “leather” recliner at some ridiculous price, like $499. No one calls and tells me how bad this stuff is, they just want to vent because they want to think they got a $1,500 chair at $499, and their friends are laughing at them and the chair is falling apart. Or, the company isn’t there to take care of the problem. Greed? Look, you got a $499 chair for about what it was worth. Did you check them out, compare it to the other options out there, and study the market…? NO, you just wanted a DEAL!! Hope you don’t do your medical, dental, financial shopping the same way.
“Pssst, hey, need a root canal?” Years ago, one of my employees had his uncle, the car mechanic, pull his wisdom teeth. Need I tell you about his emergency room experience after that?
One day the furniture industry picked up an A/V magazine in the late 90’s and discovered that home theaters were the rage. PremiereHTS and a few other veterans from the A/V industry introduced this category. Hmm…if we put a cup holder in the same old junk we sell at your local discount furniture barn, we can pass it off as high-end theater seating. Better yet, we can probably really fool these dealers and consumers because they don’t understand the furniture business. Like the 1/4-inch speaker cabinets with nothing in them, lurking under that vinyl, “Pleather” cover, is cheap pressed board, cardboard, staples, blown-in poly-fil, and nothing else. Haven’t we all owned bad furniture at some point? STOP THE MADNESS! Cheap Charlie’s Bargain Basement furniture outlet, the Internet hustlers, J.C. Pocket Change, and Big Box Club Warehouses all might not be the place to buy that quality seating to match your new theater…you think?
But isn’t a chair, a chair, a chair, you ask? Yeah, and a Rolex and a Timex are watches. Again, do a little research. Leather, frames, mechanisms, foams, and construction vary tremendously. Ever sit in a high-quality piece of leather furniture…WOW!! Your theater has two ends, the front and your rear end. Pick a killer projector/screen combo and great seating, and then figure out the middle match with a professional.
Am I getting through to you by now? This is a serious investment, and we spend a tremendous amount of time in front of that investment. You will get years of enjoyment out of money well spent. Nobody saves any money when next year you’re out replacing your mistakes. Don’t get me started on wire and interconnects!!
So how do you avoid these pitfalls? Next time we move to Home Theater 102, your professional dealer and manufacturers. https://www.premierehts.com/good-true-home-theater-102/