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The ethics of buying a bass to play it for a week, just to return it for a refund...

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by JessRobinson, Sep 9, 2005.


  1. JessRobinson

    JessRobinson Supporting Member

    Dec 29, 2004
    Fairfax, VA
    I’m heading out next Monday on a two-week business trip. This will keep me away from my beloved basses, which I refuse to subject to the rigors of airplane travel.

    I’d love to have a bass on hand to 1) keep up with my practicing, and 2) alleviate the boredom of being on the road for an extended period. I’ve already posted a WTB ad for a cheap bass on the destination city’s local craigslist site, but have had no response. I thought I’d try to pick something up for under $100 and sell it off to a pawnshop at a small loss. Worth it in my opinion.

    Then it occurred to me... hmmm… to go the local outlet of a chain music store upon my arrival, buy a bass that I like, play it to my heart’s content, and then take advantage of the store’s return policy to get my money back prior to my departure. FYI - I've made some major purchases at the said store back in my hometown, so I am an established patron.

    So the question I pose to this esteemed group is should I buy a bass well knowing that I’d simply return it, effectively using it as a free rental? :confused:

    Thanks for your thoughts on this moral dilemma.

    Jess

    P.S. I don’t need an amp – would use my Korg Pandora’s Box with headphones.
    P.P.S. PM me if you want to find out which Midwestern city I’m headed to if you have a cheapo bass you want to get rid of (or let me borrow!).
     
  2. adouglas

    adouglas

    Jun 23, 2003
    Bridgeport, CT
    I posed this very same question over on the Ernie Ball forum. It caused a huge debate that got so heated the thread got shut down by the moderators.

    Consensus: It's just plain wrong, for a variety of ethical reasons. The one I found most compelling was that when you buy the bass, the sales guy has just made a commission....which gets taken away when the thing comes back.

    Interestingly, one of the few who found no problem with the ethics of the situation is a popular, high-profile dealer. Go figure.

    Based on that discussion I decided to find an alternate answer to my need to "borrow" a particular bass.

    Don't do it.
     
  3. Tip the salesman a fat 20 dollar bill if you're going to return it.
     
  4. A friend of mine who owns a local store had a similar issue awhile ago....


    ....someone bought some gear on Friday, then tried to return it on Monday saying he didn't like it. The shop told him they'd be happy to buy it back as used gear, at a ~$600 loss to the customer.

    This shop has no problems with test periods, but when it's obvious that someone was looking for a free rental they put their foot down.
     
  5. alembicfive

    alembicfive

    Jan 17, 2003
    USA
    Pick up a Spirit series Steinberger bass from musicyo.com They are fairly cheap (as low as $270) and because of the size they travel very well. You would no problem fitting one in a overhead bin on a plane.....
     
  6. Chef

    Chef Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    May 23, 2004
    Columbia MO
    Staff Reviewer; Bass Gear Magazine
    Short answer: No

    Longer answer: buy a $100 Essex.
     
  7. iamthebassman

    iamthebassman

    Feb 24, 2004
    Austin,Texas
    Endorsing Artist: Phantom Guitars, Eastwood Guitars
    Rent something there.
     
  8. C-5KO

    C-5KO

    Mar 9, 2005
    Toronto, Canada

    People try this often in the computer store I work in. Basically, we charge a 20% restocking fee for whatever item is EXCHANGED. (No refunds, only exchanges to deter such practices)
     
  9. Eilif

    Eilif Supporting Member

    Oct 1, 2001
    Chicago
    If you want to rent a bass. Be honest about it and rent a bass. Many music stores, especially private stores and those who do lessons will rent you a bass if you ask. I think American Music will do this.

    Call local music stores and setup a rental. It may take a bit of effort, but is your integrity really worth saving the 25-50 bucks that it is going to cost to rent a bass for 2 weeks? I really hope not. And as a former music salesman, I can tell you that doing the "buy and return" really does screw the salesman.

    Heres another idea it may cost more than renting a beginner instrument, but contact the high end dealers and try to setup a rental of an instrument you have always wanted to try. Then enjoy yourself for 2 weeks with something you really want to play on.
     
  10. JessRobinson

    JessRobinson Supporting Member

    Dec 29, 2004
    Fairfax, VA
    After hearing from you all, I'm now convinced that doing the "try-out" maneuver is blatantly wrong. I think I knew it deep down inside but was refusing to admit it to myself.

    I've placed an ad in the Wanted section of this forum - maybe someone will connect with me on a cheap sale.

    By the way, I'm going to beautiful Oklahoma City, OK. If anyone is looking to unload a cheap bass in the area, I'm your man.

    Jess
     
  11. Tash

    Tash

    Feb 13, 2005
    Bel Air Maryland
    I have no problem taking advantage of the fact that many stores offer 30 day or longer return periods on gear. Since I often buy gear from the net without getting the chance to fully shake it down to make sure it really meets my needs. If it doesn't I will return it.

    I don't think this is what you are talking about, I think you are more concerned with the idea of buying something with absolutely no intention of keeping it.

    I don't have much of a problem with this either, but I would only do it to a certain giant franchise that makes it standard policy to cheat employees and customers regularly and treats everyone who enters the door like a petty annoyance or conspiring shoplifter. If I needed a bass or rig right now for the weekend I know what I'd do.

    As for it hurting the employee, well if you don't want to get screwed don't work for a company trying to screw every musician on earth.
     
  12. superfly

    superfly

    Aug 4, 2004
    I would say no also. If you had an intention to possibly keep it but just changed your mind then fine.

    Another topic ,which is tied into this topic, would be the bad practice and bad ethics in my opinion of stores like Guitar Center taking back sold equipment after 30 days and turning around and selling them as new again!
    That just pisses me off!
    The nerve of them trying to resell what is essentially used gear as new!
    Guitars with scratches, missing knobs, stained cymbals etcc.

    Is there some kind of law against this practice?
     
  13. I would be very tempted to do it...I say go for it. Just find out the stores return policy BEFORE you buy the bass. If they won't give you the money back, then don't bother. If they do give your money back, then just be very careful with it so you can return it in mint condition.
     
  14. iamthebassman

    iamthebassman

    Feb 24, 2004
    Austin,Texas
    Endorsing Artist: Phantom Guitars, Eastwood Guitars
    I'm sorry.
     
  15. Washishimi

    Washishimi Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2005
    New York
    It is probably not good practice to buy, knowing you will return.

    But what I think is worse is the ethics of the music store taking that same bass you returned, and turning around to sell it as new again.
     
  16. xshawnxearthx

    xshawnxearthx

    Aug 23, 2004
    new jersey
    guitar center.

    30 days, no questions asked.
     
  17. Coop Soup

    Coop Soup

    Aug 24, 2005
    Minneapolis

    Yep, you'll need to get a bass if you're going there. Most boring state ever! Good luck.

    :)
     
  18. sheepdog

    sheepdog

    Feb 20, 2003
    Birmingham, AL
    +1 to the SX

    definately just buy an SX P ($100)

    decent bass and you can probably resell it and recoupe most of the cost if you wanted to. or just keep it as a beater bass.
     
  19. jz0h4d

    jz0h4d

    Apr 26, 2005
    What you suggest is theft. No moral high ground for thieves.
     
  20. Eilif

    Eilif Supporting Member

    Oct 1, 2001
    Chicago
    All this whining about GC selling returned instruments as new... There is nothing bad about this practice. Most instruments are not kept long before being returned. Besides if they had to mark every returned instrument as used there is no way that they could offer the 30 day return policy. I would much rather there be a chance that the instrument I purchase had been taken home already by someone else than not be free to return a piece of gear that I doesn't meet my needs. In terms of condition there really isn't any difference between gear that has been on the floor and accessible to customers to wank on for a month and gear that spent a couple of weeks in someone's posession and was then returned.

    Some people do abuse the pracitce and buy and return tons of gear, but if the piece is beat up don't buy it. Even better, if you are smart you know that GC wants to get rid of this gear, if you talk to the salesguy and/or managers, you can usually get gear that is scratched, damaged, etc for a great deal. I've seen guitars go out at incredible deals. Just because it got scratched and we just wanted to get rid of it.

    Oh and just because GC is an evil corporate empire (Having worked there I can't totally disproove this ) that's no excuse for screwing some poor salesguy who is just trying to scratch a living. It really disgusts me when people justify taking advantage of a salesguy because he works for a large corporate company or because they have had bad previous experience with the company.