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FAQ: rec.audio.* Mail Order 7/07 (part 10 of 13)

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Archive-name: AudioFAQ/part10
Last-modified: 2007/07/12
Version: 2.17

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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: neidorff@ti.com
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.

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