ProSoundWeb Community

Sound Reinforcement - Forums for Live Sound Professionals - Your Displayed Name Must Be Your Real Full Name To Post In The Live Sound Forums => SR Forum Archives => LAB Lounge FUD Forum Archive => Topic started by: Doolie on January 24, 2005, 02:49:58 am

Title: Sam Ash protocol
Post by: Doolie on January 24, 2005, 02:49:58 am
I had to make a quick stop at Sam Ash today, and the experience reminded me of why I usually avoid shopping there.

Today's agenda was to replace a mic cable for tonight's gig. Simple enough. It generally takes me 1-2 minutes to order one online, but since I needed it today and I was passing Sam Ash anyway, I decided to buy it there. Here's how I think the transaction should have gone:

Step one) Enter store
Step two) Select mic cable from display rack which is located in easy-to-find and well-marked area.
Step three) check out

Assuming there's no line for the cashier, the entire procedure shouldn't take more than five minutes.

Here's what happens in "Sam Ash world."

Step one) Enter store
Step two) Wander into potential "mic cable section" of store.
Step three) Make eye contact with Sam Ash employees who are happily ignoring the only customer in their department.
Step four) Browse section looking for mic cables with no success.
Step five) Tell employee who finally deigns to offer help that I need a mic cable... with an on/off switch.
Step six) Try to explain to uncomprehending employee what "mic cable with on/off switch" means.
Step seven) Follow employee to another department where mic cables are located.
Step eight) Wait for said employee to give you mic cable.
Step nine) Ask said employee, who is seemingly just hanging around, for mic cable.
Step ten) Listen to employee explain that it's not his department.
Step eleven) Employee calls for assistance.
Step twelve) Another Sam Ash employee shows up and locates mic cable.
Step thirteen) Sam Ash employee locates "grabber" tool and takes cable down from hook on wall near ceiling.
Step fourteen) Original Sam Ash employee is wowed by concept of switch on cable and takes a moment to "check it out."
Step fifteen) Employees discuss who should get the credit for the sale. (They're paid on comission.)
Step sixteen) Employee enters item into computer.
Step seventeen) Employee manually fills out paper slip listing items purchased
Step eighteen) Employee instructs me to take said paper and the mic cable to the cashier.
Step nineteen) Cashier rings up sale on old-fashioned credit card unit, manually taking imprint of credit card.
Step twenty) Security guard -- who has watched checkout from about three feet away -- checks receipt to verify payment.
Step twenty one) Finally leave store, further commited to shopping elsewhere in the future.
Title: Re: Sam Ash protocol
Post by: Brian Adams on January 24, 2005, 04:53:54 am
Wow, that's crazy...

...I had no idea that real people actually used those mic cables with switched on them. Wink
Title: Re: Sam Ash protocol
Post by: Bennett Prescott on January 24, 2005, 11:20:43 am
B. Adams wrote on Mon, 24 January 2005 04:53

...I had no idea that real people actually used those mic cables with switched on them. Wink

Ha ha ha! My thoughts exactly.
Title: Re: Sam Ash protocol
Post by: Chris Davis on January 24, 2005, 03:46:43 pm
Okay, so you are saying that place is not an effective audio training grounds for its own employees.  Why should it be...or how could it be?

I always found them to be rather marketing-centric with their employees...leaving them to view live audio principles as stumbling blocks, or (to pinpoint the philosophy) a "noble" achievement but just not on "company time". Twisted Evil  

Title: Re: Sam Ash protocol
Post by: Dan Whitehead on January 24, 2005, 04:26:32 pm
Maybe it's an attempt to try and keep you in the store longer so you see/remember something else you need to buy Wink
Title: Re: Sam Ash protocol
Post by: Mike Chapin on January 24, 2005, 09:04:50 pm
Hmph. Tends to make me appreciate my GC a little more.
Title: Re: Sam Ash protocol
Post by: Bill Gruber on January 26, 2005, 07:05:25 pm
They make mic cable with on/off switches on them?  Who knew?  Why would you need a mic cable with an on/off switch anyway?  It's kinda like the useless annoying on/off switch of some of my mics(why isn't this stupid thing working, after checking cables, inputs, etc oh look some idiot turned the mic off AAAAAAAHHHHHHHH).

Title: Re: Sam Ash protocol
Post by: Pete Sams on January 26, 2005, 08:42:40 pm
   Two things here: 1. I hat emic cables with switches, a waste of time UNLESS there is a specific app for them but I haven't run across one yet.

  GC and Sam Ash (I worked at GC) are sales driven. Thier concept of training is WAY off. Info on new product trickles in while bread and butter basics just aren't covered. You'd be suprised by all the mis-information within the company. Really if they trained the pro audio guys the way they should they'd have to pay them more (you know they won't do that!).

Title: Re: Sam Ash protocol
Post by: Scott Hibbard on January 26, 2005, 11:03:31 pm
Doolie...NO KIDDING I had the SAME experience today at Sam Ash (only I was stopping in for 2 NL4P's).  The moment I walked into the store the "front door man" asked me what I needed.  I informed what I was there for and he had NO IDEA what I was talking about.  The rest of the visit turned out identical to yours (including the fact that I was also the ONLY ONE in the store!)

Title: Re: Why I avoid music stores
Post by: Marc Schwartz on January 27, 2005, 08:57:33 am

Your story exemplifies why I avoid music stores. I have some sympathy for the poor souls who must labor in these stores, but not enough to tolerate the stupidity of "sales kids" when it costs me time, which is my most precious commodity. There are just too many other good sources for these same products online and mail order. I can find out the information that I need on the internet or from a catalog, place my order, and never have to leave my desk. OTOH, when an emergency comes up, and I need something in a hurry on show day, I will send a "runner" to a local music store to go and get it, but only after talking to the store owner or someone else who knows me personally on the phone, and making sure they have it ready for pick-up when my "runner" gets there. It has taken me years to properly train the local music stores how to deal with a pro audio company. After a while, they finally caught on to the fact that I wasn't going to spend my money with them unless they can provide me with good service.

Title: Re: Sam Ash protocol
Post by: Tom Reid on January 27, 2005, 10:25:16 am
When I was released from the military (back when ...) one of the first jobs I got was working for Pacific Stereo.  This was when Phase Linear still had the kickin' amps, and Bob Carver still worked for them (yeah, I don't feel old, but somehow the ugly truth unfolds).

In order to even stand on the sales floor, I was required a minimum of 3 weeks audio basics.  My trainers were *gasp* manufacturer reps.  Having electronics courses from the military made traing tons easier, but some of those courses were tough.  Not everyone who started finished the courses, and as a result they were not invited to "hover" in the stores.

My relationship with Pacific Stereo ended when they were bought out by CBS.  At that point the sales guys were trained by used car salsemen.

The same thing is happening today, on a larger scale.  Of course, everyone should be familiar with my rants on that subject ...
Title: Re: Sam Ash protocol
Post by: Matt Loretitsch on January 27, 2005, 05:43:07 pm
Sounds like a typical experience to me!  I am lucky that a friend of mine actually works in the pro audio department and at least has a clue what's going on usually.  I'm still trying to talk them out of their plx-3402 amps for 900 each.  Price match my azz!  I have a quote in hand for 914.00 and they best they'll do is 1000 then add tax to that! I don't think so.

Of course it took me an hour to get that 1000 dollar quote.  What a waste of time.  At least I gave a few people my card if they ever wanted some sound stuff done (oddly enough my cards went to EMPLOYEES of sam ash).

Oh...and I love having Samson shoved down my throat.  F*** off   Laughing

Feel the love,
Title: Re: Sam Ash protocol
Post by: Doolie on January 27, 2005, 06:30:17 pm
I don't care for those cables w/ the switches on them...I had a client that requested it.
Title: Re: Sam Ash protocol
Post by: Doolie on January 27, 2005, 06:38:45 pm
I find GC a lot better at price matching or beating.  Theyv'e done it for me where they actually lost $ on it because I found an item on the net for a ridiculously low amount...because I buy so much gear from them they actually beat it!  On the other hand, I told the Sam Ash guyz a quote I got from GC, they didn't believe I actually bought it from GC, and to test the SA policy I brought the GC reciept with the price on it and asked to buy another from them for that price, and they refused!  But they offered me to sell it for theyr'e price with 6 months no interest no payments...little did they know I had gotten it for the low price at GC with 15 months no interest or payments!
Title: Re: Sam Ash protocol
Post by: Stephen Thorpe on March 27, 2005, 01:18:21 pm
The only thing I've found usefull about a mic cable on/off switch is when you want to signal check for a DI before the musician is ready, without making two trips to the stage. I turn the cable off, insert mic, turn on, check, turn cable off, plug it into DI and turn it back on. No pop and you don't have to go back and mute the channel when switching. Other than that I can't think of any reason to use them.
Title: Re: Sam Ash protocol
Post by: John LeVasseur on March 29, 2005, 03:27:25 am

Hi all,

The problem doesn't lie with Ash, their employees or its protocols. It has to do with a lack of willingness to help yourself. You may spend twenty minutes online searching a website for what you need, but go into a store and you feel you should be serviced by these folks in seconds. That's not what Ash is about. For Ash it's all about their turn-over of product, at the expense of everything else. Yes, it seems counter-productive. It is, very much so, and they [Ash and GC] will never understand that since they have never done business this way nor have they needed to. You expect service, well ... you are looking for blueberries on a desert island.

Guess what, it isn't gonna happen. Firstly, it takes years to just properly understand how audio works. To understand every product sold in a store, with this many products, you first have to be a very experienced person in the audio biz, or just a very curious type of person. It would be impossible for Ash to hire (or keep) people of that caliber. I know first hand. I have worked on the sales floor for both Ash and GC, and for Ash I also worked in the main office as a buyer/merchandiser (my office was across the hall from Jerry & Paul Ash, Richard's dad & uncle). My experience both on the sales floor and in the office was a frustrating one, on many levels. On the floor, I was amazed at the crap slung by most of my fellow salesmen ... amazed! This was mostly out desperation on their part to keep these lame-ass jobs. And what I heard from management regarding the treatment of the staff was nothing short of appalling. This all my opinion, by the way, from my own experience. I may not be objective here and I could be wrong. I was actually treated well, but I'm very knowledgable and experienced in pro-audio, so that went a long way with these guys.

Most guys like me (I've been a live soundguy for 25 years) will not take a job at Ash or GC because we can make much more money doing the real work, especially at that experience level. I went into retail to try something else for change of pace, got  totally disgusted, and returned to my first love ... mixing and designing.

Basically, know what you want, take the time and search on your own. Only get a sales associate involved when you can pull them over and point to what you want him to get for you. Speaking is not necessary, and should be avoided. A grunt from you while pointing may actually elicit a fear response and make the sales associate move a little quicker. Language skills are useless and most often troublesome and may confuse the sales associate. Any overly technical discussion, (like the reasons for having a switch on a cable or what a switch does or what a cable is) may cause damage to the sales associate or at least confusion, which will then cause a sales associate to call another over to clarify or interpret for the first. I jest...

In all fairness, most of these guys are just miserable. These are not interesting jobs, no matter how much effort they put into it. And the management can care less about making them feel even the slightest bit important, unless they are in the top five gross'ers in the chain. They are told often they are expendable, not important, and pressured constantly with the threat of unemployment. You cannot expect much from people in that predicament. In my 30 years of work experience, I have never seen employees treated as badly as I have seen in the MI industry. It is a demoralizing experience, worsened by extreme pressure to perform without adequate assistance or any guidance or real training in anything other then data processing and security. I once heard a top-executive of one these companies, angry about a few missing price tags, say in a private top-level meeting in the president's office, "Our staff are no more significant to me than the shit I flush down my toilet. I could fire them all tomorrow and replace them the next day. Their all nothing more than shit to me. Every one of them. Fuck'em all". This is what I heard with my own ears. While this a short statement made in anger and presented here possibly out of context, it does express a common feeling by these executives and typifies what percolates down to these employees in the form of undue pressure and sometimes actual statements meant to motivate. (If you've ever seen the movie GlenGary-GlenRoss, you get the picture). Take that into consideration when you wonder why these sales guys seem so ... sub-human. Their not stupid, their just beat-up.

So, don't bother sales associates. Use you own eyes and take the time to look around for what you need. If you need help, go find a manager and ask him. They get paid more and actually have some pecuniary interest. Tell them their staff is a waste of time, and since they generally agree with that assessment, they will take care of you or at least refer you to the one guy who actually knows his stuff and isn't miserable.

Otherwise, deal with Sweetwater. They deserve the turn.

John LeVasseur

Title: Re: Sam Ash protocol
Post by: jack owen on March 29, 2005, 04:35:14 pm
I first started shopping at the original Sam Ash in Manhatten way back in the late 1960's before they had all of those "mega stores". Service was great, salesmen new their stuff, and it was an exciting experience at the time. You never knew who would walk in to buy gear or just hang out. You could bump into people like Hendrix, Santana, Duane Allman, etc. Musicians hung out there just to be seen. Once I was buying guitar strings and I remember the guy on line behind me was Leslie West. Manny's Music was next door and the whole street was loaded with pawn shops, and smaller music stores. You could buy a used 60's Strat or Les Paul for $100.00. You could go from store to store and price shop and you could always strike a deal with the Sam Ash salesmen. None of this crap back then about "sorry, that's the price in the computer and I can't change it". There were no computers, and they would always work with you on the price. Ten minutes downtown from Sam Ash was the Fillmore Theater where we'd catch a concert, usually a 3 band lineup for $6.00. Great music, good sound, and not a bad seat in the house. Does anyone remember the Allman Brothers "Live at the Fillmore"? These days you need to bring a Hubble telescope to a show and hope there's an ATM machine handy so you can afford to buy a couple of cokes. Arenas were made for hockey and basketball. Wanna hear and see a good concert and actually feel like you're there, go to an old theater like the Fillmore or the Academy of Music in New York, although I'm sure they're all closed up by now. Anyone remember the Capitol Theater in Passaic, N.J.? Seems we've lost the fun and intimacy from simple things like shopping at the music store just as we've lost that old time concert vibe.
So anyway, my assistant just got back from the Guitar Center. I gave him a written detailed description of 2 items that I needed.
I asked for a "Y" cable and the "EXPERT PRO SALESMAN" gave him a send and receive cable! I also asked for electric guitar strings and the "EXPERT GUITAR SALESMAN" with the giant nose ring gave him nylon strings! This is why I shop online. AMS, Parts Express, Musicians Friend, never a problem or attitude.
"Miss the good old days!"

stl jack
Title: Capitol Theatre in Passaic, NJ
Post by: Andy Peters on March 29, 2005, 04:39:42 pm
stl jack wrote on Tue, 29 March 2005 14:35

Anyone remember the Capitol Theater in Passaic, N.J.?

Man, I saw sooo many great shows there.  I remember seeing R.E.M. there, second row, after Reckoning came out; it was an MTV "Rock Influences" show so the "support" acts were short sets by John Sebastian, a couple of members of The Band (I think everyone but Robbie Robertson, actually), and others.  I also saw R.E.M. there with the dB's (after Stamey quit) as the opener.

The location is now an AutoZone, I think.  Shame.

Title: Re: Sam Ash protocol
Post by: jack owen on March 29, 2005, 04:56:37 pm
I heard the Capital burned down. I worked there in the '70's, actually I worked mostly at the Casino in Asbury Park. John Scher owned the Capital, booked the Casino and also Roosevelt Stadium in Jersey City and occasionally Roosevelt Raceway in New York. After soundcheck at the Capital we'd hang out at that bar around the corner with the bands. Never shoot pool with Commander Cody.He's good!

stl jack
Title: Re: Sam Ash protocol
Post by: John Roberts {JR} on March 29, 2005, 05:14:07 pm
I think there was another semi-infamous store on the other side of Ash on 48th(?) street Alex Music or something like that. They got lots of people coming all the way from South America just to shop there... Some of that small shop vibe was for show, they all moved some tonnage through those little store fronts.

I remember being in Ash once just looking around and they could spot the wannabee's coming from a block away... kids who would drive all the way down from NH to get a deal in the big city and ended up paying more than they would of at the half dozen stores they drove past getting there .

Ah the good old days...Shocked

Title: Re: Sam Ash protocol
Post by: jack owen on March 29, 2005, 06:03:12 pm
You just had to figure out how to play there game. You first went to Manny's and got a price, then you went to Ash, then back to Manny's for a better price and back and forth. Sometimes it took awhile but they both tried hard not to lose a sale. My favorite store on the same side of the street near Alex was simply called "We Buy And Sell Guitars". Basically a guitar pawn shop.

stl jack
Title: Re: Sam Ash protocol
Post by: John Roberts {JR} on March 29, 2005, 07:06:29 pm
stl jack wrote on Tue, 29 March 2005 17:03

You just had to figure out how to play there game. You first went to Manny's and got a price, then you went to Ash, then back to Manny's for a better price and back and forth. Sometimes it took awhile but they both tried hard not to lose a sale. My favorite store on the same side of the street near Alex was simply called "We Buy And Sell Guitars". Basically a guitar pawn shop.

stl jack

Yes, but you didn't have to drive hundreds of miles to play that game. There were several dealers in NE back in those days that were paying the same wholesale for product as Ash or Manny's who would deal. It just wasn't as good of a story. The skill of selling is having the customer believe he's getting a deal even when he isn't.

I believe the folks on 48th street were still doing OK for themselves.

Title: Re: Sam Ash protocol
Post by: Bob Lee (QSC) on March 30, 2005, 11:55:36 am
NH … New Hampshire or N'Haven? Wink
Title: Re: Sam Ash protocol
Post by: John Roberts {JR} on March 30, 2005, 12:32:24 pm
Bob Lee (QSC) wrote on Wed, 30 March 2005 10:55

NH … New Hampshire or N'Haven? Wink

The two I was talking about looked like they just walked out of a Norman Rockwell painting and drove down from either New Hampshire or Vermont.... NH was easier to abbreviate. They drove past Jeff's store in Hartford, maybe another serious dealer in New Haven on their way to the "Big City".... I don't know that Boston had their price act very together back in those days but once you add in the cost of gas and value of drive time, even the Daddy's chain up there if not even closer to their homes wasn't that bad of a deal.

Title: Re: Sam Ash protocol
Post by: ordmen on March 30, 2005, 02:07:35 pm

That's Alex Axe your thinking of.

Title: Re: Sam Ash protocol
Post by: Jason Ludden on March 30, 2005, 02:39:44 pm
I have to admit I am spoiled.  I have been all over the country to many GC, Sam Ash, Mars (R.I.P), Music go Round.  And over all I have had between poor and abysmal service.

But locally (Southern CT) I am totally spoiled.

My local guitar center (Orange CT).  Has a Pro Audio section with a great manager (Shawn Chua)  he helped me to design and build my first PA and I love it.  He is very open to me talking to my about gear they don't stock.  And will often tell me not to buy something I am looking at,  without pushing a different product.  My local Pro audio loyalties are completely with him.

And up until recently we had J0e Delaney ( at Sam Ash.  I good live guy, but a GREAT studio guy.  He has moved on to other ventures,  but I still keep in touch with him.

It would have been scary to hear what the credit card companies and my wife would have said, if J0e and Shawn both worked together.

Title: Re: Sam Ash protocol
Post by: John Roberts {JR} on March 30, 2005, 02:56:14 pm
Back before the super stores took over there was a fair music scene in CT...Plenty of studios and some serious live music in New Haven area. One of the better pro audio dealers (Ham Brosious/Audiotechniques) in Stamford and several good MI dealers around... I suspect some of that gene pool may be still floating around.

Title: Re: Sam Ash protocol
Post by: Graham Riggle on March 31, 2005, 08:56:53 am
  Was he actualy shoping for a Mic cable with an On/Off switch , or one of the cables Ive used before that have the tiny button on the end that turns it on and off as its pluged in and removed?  Idea
Title: Re: Sam Ash protocol
Post by: Bennett Prescott on March 31, 2005, 10:57:14 am
I like the ones with a phantom-powered LED that lights when the cable is "on". Mmm... power draw. I think I'll use one of those on my Earthworks mics and see how much smoke I can let out of my board.