Sign in to follow this  
Rue

Tire Kicking; When Is It Okay?

Recommended Posts

I really have no clear concept of acceptable shopping etiquette.

Obviously, if you are in the market for an item you will go out and buy it. But what if you are just seeing what is out there and an immanent purchase isn't a given...but...if you run across a gem you just might purchase it?

I am always scared to ask just to look at something because I don't want to waste anyone's time. Yet I have made the odd impulse purchase as well.

And often I might not know if and what to purchase without seeing several examples of the object in real life. How does one do that without asking to see an example?

When does a vendor entertain a maybe customer versus showing them the door?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I really have no clear concept of acceptable shopping etiquette.

Obviously, if you are in the market for an item you will go out and buy it. But what if you are just seeing what is out there and an immanent purchase isn't a given...but...if you run across a gem you just might purchase it?

I am always scared to ask just to look at something because I don't want to waste anyone's time. Yet I have made the odd impulse purchase as well.

And often I might not know if and what to purchase without seeing several examples of the object in real life. How does one do that without asking to see an example?

When does a vendor entertain a maybe customer versus showing them the door?

Define entertain.  Ever see Deal Of The Century?  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deal_of_the_Century   :lol:

 

Million-dollar deals aside, while most vendors of anything do tend to respond more enthusiastically when they smell serious money, I'm seldom shy about asking to see or handle something unless there's a sign posted about it.  There are some items which have an assumed etiquette associated with them, but I'm not aware of one for violins in general.  How the heck can you really judge it without playing it?  Don't get intimidated.  :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In the shop I used to work at the owner quite frequently rushed people out or didn't take them seriously when they were tyre kicking. I watched a lot of revenue walk out the door.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I thing people have to kick tires, otherwise they would just buy the first thing they see. I don't mind shoppers, I like when people try out my stuff. If they like it but are not really in the market, they might send someone to you.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In my experience dealers are only too happy to put instruments or bows into the hands of players, whether they are seriously looking or not,  and indeed I am the owner today of a nice Nürnberger bow that was presented to me in that way.   Playing on equipment better that what one owns can awaken an interest in upgrading, I think dealers know this.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Tire kicking dates to the time when automobiles had wooden spokes. A loose fit between hub, spokes, and rim was a serious but common defect in used cars.

Sales people are there all day, and make their living selling you things. They may wear other hats, as well, though.

Someone looking for a new instrument or bow will want to try out numerous examples, should take time to think things over, and shouldn't feel obliged to buy or leave because the salesperson is moody.

If you're not currently considering a purchase, but want to see what's "out there" for future reference, that's fine. The shop will still need customers next year, so you should be treated as a customer. Best not to be too demanding in this case, though.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It also helps the salesperson if you are honest and up-front:

"I've been looking at these online, but wanted to see one in person, and prefer to buy local, but I'm not sure if I'll buy one today."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When my wife and I got married, we were shopping for a good set of pots for the kitchen. In one particular department store we found some nice stainless pots that we were interested in, but couldn't get any salesperson that would assist us; we kept getting brushed off. I was already somewhat agitated and ready to leave when a young kid walked by, and I asked if he could help us out.

 

He told me he didn't know much about the cookware, and he was a new employee, but he would try and help however he could. I said "Perfect! Ring them up, and I want to make sure you get the commission."  His eyes almost bugged out of his head when we purchased about $1500 worth of kitchen wares. Suddenly all the other salespeople who couldn't give us the time of day were interested in what was going on.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When my wife and I got married, we were shopping for a good set of pots for the kitchen. In one particular department store we found some nice stainless pots that we were interested in, but couldn't get any salesperson that would assist us; we kept getting brushed off. I was already somewhat agitated and ready to leave when a young kid walked by, and I asked if he could help us out.

 

He told me he didn't know much about the cookware, and he was a new employee, but he would try and help however he could. I said "Perfect! Ring them up, and I want to make sure you get the commission."  His eyes almost bugged out of his head when we purchased about $1500 worth of kitchen wares. Suddenly all the other salespeople who couldn't give us the time of day were interested in what was going on.

Good for you!!   :)

 

On "brushing people off", I'm irresistibly reminded of a story that circulated at a company I once worked for.  There was a secretary who officiously insulated her boss from "annoying" phone calls, and he encouraged her in this.  One day, she got one from a guy with an atrocious redneck accent who refused to give his name or answer any other prying questions, so she hung up on him.  Turns out it was the president of the company (who had started out as a roughneck), and they both got canned.  :lol:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Many years ago I worked in a music shop in a mall. And you have no idea how many "tyre kickers" come in to try out guitars. This one perticular day it was a bit quiet around the shop, and I get this 12-ish year old chubby boy that wants to try out a electric guitar. I asked him if he had a perticular one in mind, and he replied "I dont know..." 

So I rigged him up with a fancy flame red guitar, some effect pedals and a serious amplifier. I could have brushed him off, or I could have showed him the cheap all-in-one kit we had for 199$. But I didn't. The stuff he played on was worth well over a thousand dollars at the time. He was jamming around for about 20 minutes, then he said thank you and left. 

About 15minutes later he comes back. Dragging the money-holder after him. His father. He goes straigh over and points: That one, that one and that one, and his father pulls out his credit card... Like any good father would do.  :D :D :D For me this was a lesson on "you never know where a sale comes from."

So if someone gets annoyed with you for not beeing ready to buy something NOW, then go elsewhere.
If they are good salesmen, they will rather convince you why you actually need this thing afterall.. ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I do as Berl but, yes, you can waste a lot of time doing that.

 

With good professional players, it is always good receiving them even if they say they are not looking for a new instrument, in many cases they will buy.

 

I think it good haveing the profile of your players, in my case they are over 40 years old, already have a good instrument, professional, and were not looking for a new viola. I rarely sell to students.

 

Dealers have an eye to determine if a buyer is serious or not.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I tell people to come by and play things even if they aren't looking to purchase at that time. 

 

If you don't know what the possibilities are, you can't be expected to make a choice!

 

Also, when people come in to kick the tyres they sometimes realize how poorly their own instruments are set-up and I get come sort of work anyway!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think courtesy on both sides is good. The shopper should be considerate of the shop owner, understanding that they need to make a living and can't spend hours discussing their wares with one customer while 5 others are waiting not so patiently. When I go to kick the tires, or just to chat with my luthier I try to lurk in the background while he waits on paying customers - if no one else is there, then I ask my questions and play with the wares.

The other side is also true, it is also important for the shop owner to provide a little glad handing and friendly service to people that may never buy anything. A shops reputation does a long way to bringing in customers, and while this particular customer may not buy today, their experience in the shop will got out the door with them, and my experience is word of mouth is the best form of advertising for anyone. You really never know who that non-buying customer might know and mention you too. They happen to be second cousin in law of Perlman and having dinner with him that night...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think kicking tires is fine.  You never know when window shopping will turn into a purchase.  A while back I was having 3 bows re-haired and decided to wait because they were able to start on them right away, and it was a long drive.  It would still take a bit of time so I asked, if they weren't too busy, if they could set me up in a room with around ten nice violins so that I could just study them while I waited.  They did just that and pointed to a rack of bows and told me to look or play as much as I wanted and to let them know when I was done.  I didn't buy anything, but nothing I tried would make me loose sleep wishing I owned it.  If something was there (bow or violin) that just blew me away my browsing for educational purposes could have easily turned into a purchase.  The good service also keeps me going back.

 

-Jim 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 Rue, this is a wonderful topic. Thank you so much for starting it. And thanks to those who have responded.

 

 I myself have this question a lot, but I would think that, if I were a seller, I wouldn't know who would be a loyal customer. And that uncertainty alone would motivate me to deal patiently with people. But it would be nice if some people didn't take too much of your time...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was talking about makers like myself. I realize busy shops are a different story, you have people wanting to buy strings and get bow re-hairs. You can't ignore customers to just talk. That wouldn't be very good business. I don't have an open door shop.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you all for your considerate replies!   :)

 

It is one of those issues that crops up regularly (and not just with violins) that I have had conflicting personal opinions about and have heard others express conflicting approaches...so I really wasn't sure what was 'acceptable' or not.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's a matter of how desperate you are to make a sale. Smart salespeople qualify potential customers before investing time with them.

 

But beware the shop that first off wants to know your budget.  That's how the $5,000 violin you could love magically comes with a $6,500 MSRP.

Don't prevaricate.  Any successful business deserves to know your intentions.  The commercial guys deal day-in/day-out with people who don't really know what they want, and that some customers have a tendency to fall in love with the cover before learning what's on the pages.  

Over the years, I've bought 2 houses based pretty much on curb-appeal alone, not to mention two (expensive) cellos!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you all for your considerate replies!   :)

 

It is one of those issues that crops up regularly (and not just with violins) that I have had conflicting personal opinions about and have heard others express conflicting approaches...so I really wasn't sure what was 'acceptable' or not.

When you consider it, violins are in a market where a majority of buyers start out utterly clueless (which you certainly aren't), and vendors need to be tolerant of their lapses.  Also, it's not like someone is going to get injured by a safety lapse, fingerprints will wipe off easily, it's somewhat fragile, but it's not porcelain or crystal, and it's not an object where you should refrain from speaking while you handle it lest a stray drop of spittle or mist from your breath permanently deface it.  Neither is a violin a sacred object surrounded by rituals which the buyer is expected to know and follow lest they give offense.  

 

Now relax, and go happily out into the world to enjoy the process of selecting the perfect instrument for yourself without worrying about putting a foot wrong with some supercilious violin prig.  Anyway, they usually keep all the really worrisome stuff in the safe, not in the showroom1:lol:

 

 

 

BTW, though the question was about violins, don't ever be reticent about trying and meticulously examining all of the bows, too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

1.  And if you just won the Powerball or otherwise have the money to back it up if you decide that the 1600's Amati or whatever wants to go home with you, don't be at all shy about asking to see those, as well.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Visit a Guitar Center and you'll see some remarkable tire kicking and customer accommodation.   And how many of you women have spent a day trying on clothes?  I took a photography class and the instructor told us to go to the local camera stores to try out the cameras and when you found the one you liked, order it from the NYC mail order places advertised in the back of photography magazines for a 75% discount.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Visit a Guitar Center and you'll see some remarkable tire kicking and customer accommodation.   And how many of you women have spent a day trying on clothes?  I took a photography class and the instructor told us to go to the local camera stores to try out the cameras and when you found the one you liked, order it from the NYC mail order places advertised in the back of photography magazines for a 75% discount.

More to the point here, I believe, would be what goes on at the cosmetics counter, where the sales staff is very much involved.   :P   BTW, your instructor's advice will cause nothing but mischief with unique handmade items, like violins.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One thing you should do is try as many other players violins as possible. Try every instrument in your section, local teachers etc. Just so you have a good broad view besides your own instrument. Then when you go into a shop you can more quickly sort things out.

 

Some dealers  will just show you junk-the stuff they have had a hard time selling (there are poor players in all price ranges) the first few times you are in their shop, just to see what might stick and feel you out. It cant take a few trips before you actually get to see the good stuff.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.