Guitar Center return policy - microphones

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capnreverb
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Post by capnreverb » Wed Jun 10, 2009 5:45 am

Gentleman Jim wrote:Wait....

Now let me get this straight:

1) You bought a mic from a guy off Craigslist.
2) You think it's broken, because it sounds "horribly undefined."
3) You feel like you've been scammed and "jipped." (sic)
4) Rather than just bringing your mic to Guitar Center to compare, you'd prefer to 'buy' the mic with a very high probability of returning it; thus causing stock and accounting hassle and wasting the sales staff's time. Yeah, Guitar Center and their employees can be pretty lame, but there's this old saying about 'Two Wrongs...' that kind of applies here.
5) You put the mic up for sale on Gearslutz and say it's in GREAT CONDITION! http://www.gearslutz.com/board/gearslut ... s-mic.html
6) When asked about it on the TOMB Buy/Sell/Trade board, you say: "Yeah, I DO think it's broken, unfortunately... I'm very disappointed." This is 12 hours and 3 minutes after you posted it for sale on Gearslutz.

Huh... yeah.

A bit weak, don't you think?
Thats right up there with the guy that knowingly buys u87's with broken capsules, puts Rode one's in em' and then sells them on Ebay as fully functioning u87's. Classic.

Shit like this makes me weary of buying anything on the internet.

To the guys on Tape Op who sold me the u87 and the RCA BK-5, thanks for not fucking me! Also, thanks to the guys on Gearslutz that sold me my Josephson's and John Hardy Pre's for not fucking me either!!!!!!!!!!!!

MoreSpaceEcho
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Post by MoreSpaceEcho » Wed Jun 10, 2009 9:59 am

dwlb wrote:"boughten?"
yeah, wow. remarkable.

47ronin
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Post by 47ronin » Wed Jun 10, 2009 11:46 am

This brings up a question I have always wondered about. I have "boughten" several mics over ebay (an SM81 comes to mind) where I was never quite convinced that the thing was working as well as it should. How can you test a mic (other than just using your ears, I know) to see whether it is functioning properly? I am pretty limited in my technological skills...

Justin Foley
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Post by Justin Foley » Wed Jun 10, 2009 11:59 am

Setting aside whether or not microphones are exempt from the referenced policy, Guitar Center's policy is that people who buy stuff from them can return it in the original condition and there's no harm, no foul. What's unethical about buying something not to keep it? I appreciate that GC's commission policy treats their employees like shit, but that's not on the customer, it's on the coporation.

If someone's going to put money down for something, use it and return it, they are keeping entirely within the terms for the purchase set forth by the seller. I am open to being persuaded otherwise.

= Justin

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Post by chris harris » Wed Jun 10, 2009 12:10 pm

Justin Foley wrote:Setting aside whether or not microphones are exempt from the referenced policy, Guitar Center's policy is that people who buy stuff from them can return it in the original condition and there's no harm, no foul. What's unethical about buying something not to keep it? I appreciate that GC's commission policy treats their employees like shit, but that's not on the customer, it's on the coporation.

If someone's going to put money down for something, use it and return it, they are keeping entirely within the terms for the purchase set forth by the seller. I am open to being persuaded otherwise.

= Justin
Sure, their policy TECHNICALLY allows that. But, that's clearly not why the policy is in place. You're technically not breaking their rules... but, the ethics involved seem pretty obvious. If you buy something with no intention of keeping it, but rather to make use of it and then return it, it is clearly ethically wrong. The reason that they have a friendly return policy is clear. If you buy something and it doesn't work out for you, you're not stuck with it. I'm quite sure that the policy is intended to create a good relationship between the customers and the store. I'm equally sure that the policy is not in place so that you can rent gear for free.

I don't care about GC's bottom line or how they treat their employees. The reason I care that people do this kind of thing is because the more people take advantage of a policy, and exploit it for reasons that it was not intended, the less likely it is that policies like this will continue. As an honest person who has no trouble seeing the questionable ethics of doing this, it aggravates me because it may negatively affect my ability to take advantage of the policy in the future for legitimate reasons.

Justin Foley
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Post by Justin Foley » Wed Jun 10, 2009 12:21 pm

You're not necessarily renting it for free. You have put your money at risk for a period of time and could get stuck with the purchase if they won't take it back (wrong documentation, not sufficiently new condition, etc).

There's nothing dishonest about it. According to GC, you can go in and say "Here's $1800, I'm taking this Ampeg head for the weekend, have it back on Monday." So what? I don't know what GC's intentions are, other than that they probably do whatever they do to make as much money as they can. They deem it fine to have this policy. What do intentions have to do with it? If I really, really plan on using something but then get it as a gift the next day or find out that it sounds like crap or suddenly decide to devote my life to Krishna and stop recording, either way I'm back in there on Monday saying "here's your thing, give me my money back." Am I more ethical because I really, really planned on keeping this when I bought it and changed my mind?

The seller has a set policy. It's not up to the buyer to comply with some perceived intention. Obey the terms of the transaction and there's nothing ethically questionable about it (setting aside any larger questions about the overall ethics of market transactions).

- Justin

signorMars
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Post by signorMars » Wed Jun 10, 2009 12:39 pm

Justin Foley wrote:Setting aside whether or not microphones are exempt from the referenced policy, Guitar Center's policy is that people who buy stuff from them can return it in the original condition and there's no harm, no foul. What's unethical about buying something not to keep it? I appreciate that GC's commission policy treats their employees like shit, but that's not on the customer, it's on the coporation.

= Justin
But that IS on the customer if you're using the policy to borrow equipment. They're a RETAIL STORE not a rental agency or your friend that lends you gear. I've worked in music retail (not for GC, but a similar store) and returns like this absolutely screw you over. Say you sell something and make $200 in commission. You cash your paycheck, pay your bills and realize that that sale means you have $200 extra cash and now you can buy a new mic or pay off some credit card debt, get new tires for your car or something, and so you do. Then the guy who bought it returns it (when you're not there) and you don't find out until your next paycheck when they deduct $200 off your pay. Now you can't pay rent. All because someone decided it's okay to borrow mics from GC because "it's technically the policy screwing over the salesman, not the customer," or "I'm sticking it to GC, not the salesman."

That statement sounds the same to me as people suing someone over something stupid, like a slip and fall that was their own fault, and saying "oh it doesn't matter... their insurance company is the one paying me, so i'm not screwing with the person/business."

On a positive note... if you find the GOOD salesman at GC (they're often actually the dept managers) and you are straight with them about your intentions, they probably will let you demo the mic for the weekend. Then you're doing it above board and they don't get screwed on the backend with the commission. A good salesperson knows that not all sales are walk-ins and often the best customers are the ones that you help out when they have made it clear that they don't intend to buy ANYTHING. They're the ones who make a special effort to come back and buy from you when they do make a significant purchase. The store I worked at would routinely lend gear to people, if they were cool about it and honest about their intentions. We would of course get a deposit and keep their credit card on file until they returned it...
---
ross ingram
[brainville]

Justin Foley
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Post by Justin Foley » Wed Jun 10, 2009 12:55 pm

Look, I think that's a fucked up way to run a business. I think commissions are a fucked up way to run a business. And by "run a business" I mean "treat other human beings". You've got a worker who is absolutely at the mercy of the employer's advertising, pricing, stocking and sale policies who can't even count on a paycheck after they've cashed it? That's miserable. But if you have unsurmountable objections to that, your objections are with the way the asshole store relates to its employees, not with how the customers may choose to behave. In that case, don't shop at GC at all, regardless of whether or not you're going to return something.

Put another way, the same employee is just as fucked if I really, really want an $1800 Ampeg head, buy it and then find that I absolutely have to return it at the end of the return period (say, because my anticipated sales commission down the road at a shoe store didn't come through). What's different? In this case, I really, really wanted the head for my whole life but things changed. In other words, from the perspective of the sales person - no real difference at all. Still short on my rent.

As the example is presented, the customer can do the "risky weekend borrow". You say "if people were cool about it". I think that's messed up. If the policy is that people can do the "risky weekend borrow", I don't want someone telling me "no, dude, you cannot have this amp unless you really promise you're going to keep it." It's good manners to be upfront about the fact that you're planning to return the thing, but if the store's going to give you shit for something their policy says you can do, maybe you're better off being quiet about it. Best case scenario is "here's my money, give me the amp, I will be back with it on Monday" and the store saying "okay". Nothing especially unethical, other than the fact that the store is happy to treat its employees like shit regardless.

Again, I'm happy to be convinced otherwise.

= Justin

chris harris
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Post by chris harris » Wed Jun 10, 2009 1:12 pm

the point that I'm making has nothing to do with the sales commission.

i'm suggesting that if EVERYONE were to take advantage of the policy in this way, then the policy would quickly disappear and someone like me who would only ever use the policy in an honest manner would be screwed out of a good return policy.

your philosophy relies on the fact that most people have ethics that prevent them from doing this. as long as it's a low enough number of people misusing the policy, then the policy will hopefully remain.

but, just suppose that your argument was so good that EVERYONE started going in and "renting gear for free" for important sessions. what do you think would come of this useful and fair return policy?

chris harris
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Post by chris harris » Wed Jun 10, 2009 1:18 pm

you don't have to make assumptions about the intent of the policy. common sense tells me that the company would prefer that you not misuse the return policy in this way. and, common sense tells me that if the policy abuse increases and becomes a widespread problem for them, then they would likely update or simply do away with the policy.

I'm typically not a "looking for loopholes" kind of guy. I'm definitely not a "take advantage of their friendly policy" kind of guy.

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lyman
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Post by lyman » Wed Jun 10, 2009 1:22 pm

I don't think it's "fucked up" at all. A corporation like GC, they didn't get to be the biggest in the country by being careless with their business practices and sales policies. I'm sure they have calculated that having their return policy such as it is will generate enough sales to counter the effects of having to replace "rented" gear. Here's what I mean by that: on big ticket items people tend to shy away if it's a FINAL sale with no hope of return. Customers are going to be quite a bit more loose with their wallets if there's a safety net of a return policy. Simply put, if the return policy was not putting more money in GC's pockets then they would not have it. It's a loophole they know is there but have calculated the risk.

So is buying and returning taking advantage of them? Kinda. But at the same time I'm certain the company knows damn well what they're doing. Do I personally condone "renting" and engage in it myself? No, I think it's rather tacky.

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Post by chris harris » Wed Jun 10, 2009 1:32 pm

that's just reinforcing my point. It's wrong. But, if only a certain number of people are willing to do that "wrong" thing, then it won't affect those of us who wouldn't. It seems that both the people who do this AND GC are counting on the honesty of MOST PEOPLE in order for the policy to remain in place.

it's similar to the whole "not claiming income" argument that comes up from time to time. sure, plenty of people can come up with justifications for saying "screw you" to the big scary monsters. but, in the end, those people count on the honesty of MOST OTHER PEOPLE in order to avoid a crackdown on what they're doing.

Justin Foley
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Post by Justin Foley » Wed Jun 10, 2009 1:49 pm

lyman wrote:I don't think it's "fucked up" at all.
Oh, I wasn't talking about the return policy. I was talking about an employer forcing employees to eat a $200 return commission after they've already given it to them in a paycheck.

Other than that, I think you're right. GC has adopted this policy probably because they figure it makes them more money than not having it.

___

As to the question of "what would happen if everyone did this all of the time", my guess is that you're right: GC would probably figure it is costing them more money than it's worth and stop doing it. Or perhaps they'd find that the incredible amount of traffic they were generating as a rental place was selling them a boatload of strings, cables and skull covered guitar straps. I have no idea. I do not know for sure what their intention is, I do not know what would happen in the hypothetical situation you describe and I think any standard of ethical behavior that requires both pieces of knowledge is nuts. Here's a much more simple guideline to go by - be upfront about complying with the terms as set by the seller or choose not to engage with him or her.

Much easier. Sleep well, with a fancy amp under your pillow. Just make sure you get it back by Monday.

= Justin

Justin Foley
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Post by Justin Foley » Wed Jun 10, 2009 1:54 pm

Oh, and this is a world apart from not claiming income, if you're talking about tax evasion. The terms of that agreement - citizens pay taxes as determined by their elected officials - do not allow for tax evasion. There's a rule, an agent is breaking it, nothing ambiguous. Bitch about the rule if you like, but you're clearly breaking it if you don't pay the taxes on the income you make.

In this case, the rule is as stated by GC (assuming the salespeople and the website can get their stories straight) is that you can pay for something, use it and return it if you don't feel like you want to keep it. The "risky weekend rental" does not run contrary to this rule at all.

You keep saying dishonest. Who's being dishonest?

= Justin

Spindrift300
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Post by Spindrift300 » Wed Jun 10, 2009 3:06 pm

Justin, I'd like to buy a piece of gear from you. Do you offer a return policy?

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