Pro Audio “grey-shipping”


I’ve been lucky enough in the last few months to have some small success and have made a decision to re-invest in my business, upgrading some gear, picking up a few new plugins things like that. I havent spent any significant money since I opened my doors nearly two years ago, so I consider it overdue!

So I’m hunting around for a deal on some new speakers and couldn’t help but have a rant about that experience. Read on if you find my ire and frustration marginally amusing, if not, tune in again next blog post…If you’re an australian distributor I urge you to read on, to better understand your clients perpective on your “salesmanship”.

I worked in pro audio distribution for years, I know the frustration of those companies who provide solid support to whoever calls them at whatever hour of the day and they never asks a sheckle for the honour of it. I also understand that distributors largely only get negative calls – I mean when was the last time you rang your reseller/distributor to thank them for a trouble free, solid product? It’s a thankless task being in the middle at times (oh except for the money in it).

However, you’d have to be living under a rock not to realise the aussie dollar and US dollar are close to parity – which makes for “cheap” products when shopping online from overseas stores. I mean A Current Affair have done how many bloody special investigations on the topic since we went over 90 cents? So can I be blamed for shopping around for a deal? I don’t think so, in fact I think its disrespectful to my family not to shop for the best deal to keep my cost of business economical – and more importantly I dont think I deserve a dose of guilt and a lecture on my evils from the local distributors…

I was given a great quote overseas where the landed cost of the goods, with shipping AND having rightfully paid the GST on the way into the country had the gear quite a few hundred dollars cheaper than the best price I could get locally. The locals didn’t have stock, had to check with other folk OS outside business hours to give me an ETA on stock, the turnaround was going to be significantly longer and yet they STILL had an angry tone and defensively asked me questions like “do you buy a lot of gear overseas do you!?” (the implication, HOW VERY DARE YOU!).

They went on to aggressively explain they provide EXCELLENT service, and that I can ask clients XYZ all about it….I’m sorry, but isnt that YOUR job? To SELL me? To convince of this supposed added value you provide? Why should I ring someone other than you to convince me to shop with you?? How about…

a) providing a written warranty document, outlining what added service support I can expect that differentiates your business from offshore businesses?

b) Provide some testimonials of clients in writing – maybe even, go forbid, on the same document above?

Or at the very least, leave your “sense of entitlement” to my sale out of your tone of voice when you try to convince to shop with you? It’s now a global market – you are NOT entitled to my sale, you have to EARN it. Calm yourself down, sell me, do your job and I’ll shop with you – but given a lovely, fast, courteous experience with overseas stores compared to grumpy, defensive, agressive locals who are demanding more money and providing little in the way of justification for the difference, is it any wonder more and more people shop online?

Manage your clients perspectives – “the truth” is subjective – this article is a buyers perspective and I urge local pro audio resellers to adapt to survive and to keep aussie dollars in Australia for all our sakes.


  1. STeff says:

    Great article !

  2. mattrixx says:

    Here Here brent! This has been my experience also!