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17.0 Mail Order Mail order is appealing. The general hope is that by using mail order, you avoid pushy sales people, you pay fixed, discounted prices, and you have written catalog descriptions to help you select your purchase. In practice, most mail order today is "phone order", in that the company completes the deal with a phone call. Many of the "mail order" companies don't even have price lists or catalogs. They are just retailers that are willing to sell over the phone and ship the merchandise to you. In some cases, retail store sales are better deals than mail order. Don't expect the lowest price from the first place you call. Also, don't expect excellent service from everyone, and especially not from the company with the lowest price. It pays to be careful. Some have reported that previously believed reputable dealers will disappear with their money, never to be seen or heard again. Use a credit card that has buyer protection. 17.1 Who sells brand XXX equipment mail-order? Consult the rec.audio.marketplace mail-order survey published by nau@SSESCO.com (William R. Nau) or contact William Nau directly. This survey is also available via FTP in the pub/rec.audio directory of SSESCO.com. If you have any mail order experiences to share, please send them directly to William Nau. 17.2 Is the stuff sold by DAK really awesome? Damark? DAK is out of business. It is believed that DAK went out of business because they invested too heavily in 80286 PCs as the price and demand dropped. Dave Platt joked that the closing of DAK resulted in the great superlative shortage of 1995, because DAK used many wild claims in their advertisements. Regarding Damark, their products seem to be as described, but not necessarily bargains. In addition, there have been a number of consumer complaints against Damark for charging for products not ordered. Doug Purl reports that DAK was named after and owned by Drew A. Kaplan and that Damark is named after and owned by Drew And MARy Kaplan, so these two companies may share more than style. Richard Bollar did some research and came up with a different origin for the name Damark: "The firm's moniker is a combination of the first names of the founders, David Russ and Mark Cohn, who had both worked at COMB, a discount mail-order house. They became vendors to COMB, but when that company refused to pick up some of their merchandise, they started their own catalog business. At first they continued to sell to their former employer, but when it forced them to decide whether to be suppliers or competitors, Cohn and Russ decided: they started DAMARK in 1986." Whichever is true, be cautious when buying any product without an audition. Ignore any wild claims or comparisons to products costing many times more. There are many examples of excellent, expensive products that are worth every penny, but don't sound great. Someone could honestly claim that their product sounds better than products costing ten times as much, yet they could still be selling an inferior product with poor sound. 17.3 Is the stuff sold by Cambridge Sound Works really awesome? What about the other brands of tiny satelites and subwoofers? Many experienced listeners report that the systems sold by Cambridge Sound Works which consist of two small satelites and one medium sized subwoofer are a poor value if your goal is best sound quality for the money. However, the convenience of tiny satelites is important to some people. Perhaps someday, someone will develop a great tiny satelite plus subwoofer system, but all examples so far seem to suffer from lumpy frequency response and poor reconstruction of the stereo image. The same complaint applies to similar systems from other makers. Some believe that it is essential to have all of the left channel sound coming from the exact same location for best stereo image and smooth frequency response. This premise implies that tiny satelite plus subwoofer systems will always be inferior. Cambridge Sound Works also sells more conventional tower and bookshelf systems. These, like many other speakers on the market, are worth a listen. However, the authors of this FAQ strongly recommend that you ignore all recommendations and make your decision based on your own personal listening tests. 17.4 What should I watch out for when buying mail order? Many of the cautions mentioned in warranties (20.1) apply. Look for a store which has been around a long time. Look for friends which have dealt with the store and been satisfied. Look for a store which does not lie or stretch the truth. 17.5 What is gray market? See warranties (20.1), below. 17.6 Are there any good mail-order sources for recordings? Alas, Noteworthy is out of business as of November 1996. BMG and Columbia also sell CDs mail-order, but have a smaller list of offerings and higher prices. However, BMG and Columbia have interesting deals to entice new customers. Read the fine print before you sign to be sure that they are right for you. BMG and Columbia both have promotional offerings to "members" which allow you to buy two or three discs for the price of one. These can be very good deals, if you want what they have. Look at their advertisements in common magazines and Sunday newspapers for a better idea of what they carry. They list much of their line in their ad. Don't expect much more. For more information on BMG and Columbia, see section 10.13, 10.14, 10.15, and 10.16 of this FAQ. Tower Records has a mail order department which also sells CDs. Tower is a large retail chain. Many have bought from their retail outlets happily. They do not have a catalog of their own, but will sell you a Schwann or similar catalog and offer to get virtually any disc out of those catalogs. Contact: Tower Records Mail Order Department 692 Broadway New York City, NY 10012 USA 800-648-4844 or 800-522-5445 Another source is Music New Hampshire; 800-234-8458. They sell many $3.79 post-paid sampler CDs and also many independent label single-artist discs. Most single artist discs are $15.00 each. Shipping is $3 for 1-3 discs and $5 for 4-up. Their stuff is mostly obscure artists. They have Rock, Jazz, Classical, Folk, Country, and Children's offerings. Affiliated with CD Review. Music New Hampshire - Wayne Green Inc 70 Route 202N Peterborough NH 03458-1107 USA If you like the idea of buying CDs by Modem, consider The Compact Disc Connection 1016 East El Camino #322 Sunnyvale CA 94087 USA Voice 408-733-0801 Modem 212-532-4045 New York City NY 312-477-3518 Chicago IL 408-730-9015 Sunnyvale CA 617-639-0238 Boston MA Telnet cdconnection.com They have a collection of over 120,000 CD titles. People have said that their service is excellent. Prices are fairly good. Shipping is $3.50 for orders under $100.00 and free for larger orders. They do not stock anything, but deliver from the warehouses of their suppliers. This means that some items may be back ordered or completely discontinued while remaining in their on-line data base. They advertise 94.2% of orders in 1992 shipped, though not necessarily immediately. You can also get their catalog from ftp.cdconnection.com There have been a couple of music (cd/lp) mail-order lists compiled on the net - one older list can be found via anonymous ftp to ftp.uwp.edu in the file: /pub/music/misc.mailorder.rmm Someone is revising this file and it should be updated or found in a new file name there in the future. Another list contains vendors that specialize in progressive rock, electronic and experimental music, is maintained by Malcolm Humes and posted sporadically to alt.music.progressive, rec.music.misc, & rec.music.info. This also can be ftp'd from ft.uwp.edu, in the file: /pub/music/misc/mailorder.progressive Federal Music and Video markets "Discount Coupon Books" featuring two-for-one CDs and Tape deals. They require payment with the order, which many consider risky. One company that distributes these coupon books for Federal Music is Reed Music. The price from Federal or Reed Music with the two-for-one deal is comparable to the price from Noteworthy. So far, no net user has yet related any positive or negative experience with Reed Music or Federal Music and Video. Federal Music and Video has been in business since 1985, so is probably legit. However, in that they require payment in advance it is probably safer to avoid them completely and use a discounter like Noteworthy. Occasionally, a new dealer will pop up offering free CDs and/or a great coupon book. They may be a dealer for Federal. Save your money. There is a list of mail-order music companies on the web: http://www.razorsedge.net Most seem to be specialized smaller dealers. When considering mail purchases of CDs, consider shipping costs. It is common for people to charge between $1 and $3 per disk for "shipping and handling". This makes mail order less attractive, but may be equally balanced by a lack of sales tax. Get archive "mailorder.txt" from "/pub/cd" on "jammin.nosc.mil" for a complete list of mail order music sellers. COPYRIGHT NOTICE The information contained here is collectively copyrighted by the authors. The right to reproduce this is hereby given, provided it is copied intact, with the text of sections 1 through 8, inclusive. However, the authors explicitly prohibit selling this document, any of its parts, or any document which contains parts of this document. -- Bob Neidorff; Texas Instruments | Internet: firstname.lastname@example.org 50 Phillippe Cote St. | Voice : (US) 603-222-8541 Manchester, NH 03101 USA Note: Texas Instruments has openings for Analog and Mixed Signal Design Engineers in Manchester, New Hampshire. If interested, please send resume in confidence to address above.