It can be tempting to play one dealer off against another, or to use the apparently dramatic deals available online as a bargaining tool in negotiation. To an extent, that’s entirely understandable, everyone likes a good deal, but what’s really crucial is value.
As we’ve touched on elsewhere, the important point to bear in mind is that you aren’t buying a washing machine. Hi-fi and home theatre equipment isn’t just a series of appliances, to be linked together with a sure and certain guarantee of performance: there’s a science, possibly even an art, to combining components to deliver optimum results. It takes the best dealers years to acquire the experience and skills necessary to succeed, and most spend considerable sums on technical training courses to keep abreast of the latest developments. It’s this core competence that ensures satisfactory service: you’re more likely to buy a system that meets your needs, and certainly more likely to be able to hear and see it before you buy. You’ll also benefit from after-sales support.
But is support so important? This depends on your particular levels of technical expertise. An enthusiast might relish the task of installing and correctly configuring a home theatre system, but it’s a daunting prospect for the more inexperienced. Similarly, an enthusiast might regard a comparatively simple technical fault – for example, when a surround receiver ‘forgets’ its programmed set-up memories, which can happen after a power cut – as a straightforward problem that can be easily overcome. But would you feel the same way?
If the answer is either ‘no’ or ‘not sure’, then you need to think about fostering a good relationship with a local sound and vision dealer. While the very best online suppliers do provide some levels of after-sales care, there’s simply no substitute for a local specialist, able to respond in reasonably short order, and who is entirely familiar with the inner workings of your particular system. Certainly, you might not get the best deal in terms of upfront pricing but in the longer term, you’ll reap the benefits.
There's more to a good deal than the price
According to B&W.