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Three things I hate about buying basses on the web

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Tom7, May 15, 2006.

  1. Tom7

    Tom7 I'm so bright, my mom called me son! ;-)

    Jan 31, 2000
    Eagle River, Alaska
    I recently decided to buy 4 new basses, something I haven't ever done before. And over the last month as I have tried to buy them, I've had enough frustration that I don't ever want to do this again. I'm sure you have your pet peeves about bass sellers, here are my top three.

    1. Falsely Inflated Inventories - Many websites display sold basses as if they are not sold, so that their inventory appears larger and they get more inquiries. They claim they haven't had time to update the site, but I've been watching and they update the site with new basses and still don't remove the sold ones.

    2. Lazy Product Descriptions - What extended range bass buyer doesn't want to know the string width, neck length, wood types, and at least a retail price for a bass they are thinking about buying? Why not always post this basic information on the website? The stupid thing is, bass sellers think they don't have enough time to post the information on their sites, but they seem to have enough time to give this same information again and again to potential buyers who have to write or call to ask about what they didn't bother to post. Why not save their time and ours and post it to begin with?

    3. Lame Photos - Some websites do a very nice job of providing multiple, high-quality photos, but other bass sellers really miss the boat on this. For example, I just bought a new Fodera from a site, and they have an F Bass I'm interested in too, but all they have is ONE very LAME photo of the bass, and it isn't even a photo of the complete bass. Even for a potential sale of near $5,000, they won't snap a few more photos so that I can check the bass out.

    Anyway, I doubt my complaining will change anything, but it would be nice if enough of us spoke up and someone noticed! Getting new gear should be fun!
  2. some companies out source their website. This company will receive copies of invoices or movements inbound to the site and not outbound.
    same thing with the other company taking pictures of the bass and not knowing specs.
  3. Tom7

    Tom7 I'm so bright, my mom called me son! ;-)

    Jan 31, 2000
    Eagle River, Alaska
    Right, but in my eyes and hopefully every customer's eyes, those are not good reasons for having a lame website, those are good reasons for changing how you do your website!
  4. yes but it costs money to set up communications, interfaces etc and increase maintenance costs increase the costs that need to be offset somehow (through lower salary for employees who won't be useful or increased sale prices). Typically the nice stores with great employees and great prices (for this reason) don't make a huge margin on products because they're selling them at lower prices and have good knowledable employees..... they also don't buy the high end in bulk like GC or so, gotta cut costs somewhere ..... this is just a generalization of course.
  5. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    Part of the problem is when a store is accustomed to brick-and-mortar business, it really is a big expenditure of money and effort to build and maintain a slick and efffective web business. They really are two totally different ways of running a business, and they require different skill sets.
  6. tplyons


    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    1. Really depends on the site, but I have not found this. What stores are you dealing with?

    2. I find that a majority of the purchasers really DON'T know what they're getting into. They buy something pretty only reading the reviews, and not trying beforehand. Therefore, these specs are unneeded by the majority of the shoppers.

    As far as I know, outside of TBers, not many bassists know much about gear.
  7. JPJ


    Apr 21, 2001
    Chicago, IL
    Precisely...so why not focus your efforts on bass shops who are owned and operated by bass players and bass enthusiasts? There are several that I can think of that are excellent when it comes to customer service, are knowledgable, care about their customers, and have at least decent web sites. Granted, everyone has different tastes when it comes to web sites, but it's not as if what you're looking for doesn't exist. It does exist, and it exists in various formats and in various locations across the U.S. and the world. In stead of fighting aginst the grain working with people who you don't find supportive, find someone who is.

  8. Tom7

    Tom7 I'm so bright, my mom called me son! ;-)

    Jan 31, 2000
    Eagle River, Alaska
    [Laughing] I am a bit reluctant to name names ... I have two basses left to buy and I don't want to offend anyone -- particularly someone I'll be doing business with soon. Let me think about this ... I might name names after all in a later post.

    Living in a fairly remote place in Alaska, I do not have the benefit of trying before I buy, therefore what bass sellers do and don't do with their websites may be more frustrating for me than for other people.
  9. Tom7

    Tom7 I'm so bright, my mom called me son! ;-)

    Jan 31, 2000
    Eagle River, Alaska
    I agree that merchants need to alter their "brick and mortar" business practices to adapt to the "click and got her" world.

    I used to work for IBM in the 80s. At the time, they had the attitude that since most of their revenue came from "big iron," what happened with their PC business didn't matter too much. What I kept arguing is that while PCs may not bring in the same revenue as mainframes, PCs are very high profile. How customers feel about their PCs is how they will feel about IBM and that will affect ALL of IBM's business, including mainframes. Sure enough, IBM took some hard knocks before realizing again that in the long run, customer perception is as valuable an asset as revenue.

    Perhaps bass sellers still make more money on walk in traffic than Internet traffic, but the Internet is extremely high profile. In the long run, if a website is perceived by players at large as Mickey Mouse, that will affect whether or not traffic will continue to walk in.
  10. Pan

    Pan Lowdown User

    Aug 8, 2005
    Brisbane, Australia
    Just out of interest . . . why do you have to buy 4 basses?

    And what kind of basses?

    Shouldn't you be able to get a quantity discount if you deal with a single supplier? Maybe buy 3 and get 1 free?

    I'd be lucky to see 4 nice basses where I live so I'm interested in why.
  11. Lemme guess... are you talking about Bass Central? Great store but I know what you mean.
  12. Tom7

    Tom7 I'm so bright, my mom called me son! ;-)

    Jan 31, 2000
    Eagle River, Alaska
    First, I don't HAVE to buy 4 basses, I've just decided that, since I've changed how I play bass these last 2 years, I want to change my basses for something that better matches how I play now.

    I used to be a 4-string player who played a 6-string bass for certain things, but now I play 6-string basses all the time except for occasional 4- or 5- string slapping. Consequently, I want more versatile 6-string basses (fretted and fretless), and to make my 4-string bass a super slap bass. I'm keeping my current 5-string bass (F Bass BN5), and bought a Barker electric upright bass.

    Trouble is, I can't find what I want from one vendor.

    Fair enough.
  13. i can agree with the first one, but the second two are kinda subjective imo...
  14. Tom7

    Tom7 I'm so bright, my mom called me son! ;-)

    Jan 31, 2000
    Eagle River, Alaska
    Yes, definitely Bass Central, but other otherwise great stores do it too ...
    • Austin Bass Traders - The AC6 was sold awhile ago
    • Bass Alone - The Fodera Imperial Elite 6 on their site is sold
    • Atlanta Bass Gallery - The Barker Basses will be antiques before they post photos
    • Bass Exchange - The Yin Yang was sold for weeks but still on the site, then the site vanished altogether.
    • Don's Music City - The site says they have an AC6, however the photo is of an AC5, but they have neither in stock.
    And I can list a lot more places that don't include basic information like scale length and string spacing, forcing me to call or write.

    The thing is, I like each and EVERY ONE of these bass sellers. I have had nothing but outstanding service from all of them both on the phone and in emails. Glenn at Austin Bass Traders has even played different basses for me over the telephone so I could compare tones -- FANTASTIC service in my book.

    But providing great service and little guidance up front on the website is like a city with no street signs or paint on the roads, but a great ambulance service. It's cool the service is so good, but it would be nice not to need it so much, you know?
  15. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    Bass Palace (currently offline) is notoriously slow about updating their website.
  16. I agree with the original posters assertions. I have been in the market for a new bass for about 3 months now(its how I ended up on this forum actually). And it is quite disheartening trying to look online. I also work in advertising so I have a little insight.
    As far as why they dont seem to want to put as much energy into their website as they do into customer service, easy. Customer service/sales guys make base $7-12 hourly plus comission. Web designers or maintenance people make $25-100 hr and up. I have webmastered for some clubs, bands and promoters and it can be very easy, or very difficult, depending on whether its hard coded (easy) or PHP, ASP etc. So yeah, in some cases it may be easier to add basses than delete them.
    I do find it annoying when they wont print prices. In some cases this is because of a minimum advertised retail price al la Mesa Boogie. But in most cases they just want to get you on the phone with a sales guy. I know where I work we dont post our ad rates on line for this reason!;)
    Also, it is next to impossible to tell what a bass would play like or sound like by a pic. I have basses that photograph terribly but play like brown butter in butter sauce with a side of sweet cream butter.
  17. jive1

    jive1 Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
    1. Depends on the site. Some guys list stuff to give people an idea of the type of inventory they carry. Some basses may not be in stock at the moment, but may be in transit or on order.

    2. This is where a dealer has to choose between being a webmaster or salesperson. The product descriptions can be long and consuming to write, and many times the information the customer is looking for is available on the manufacturer website or other online resources like Harmony Central. On the flip side, folks will call for information even when it's on the website. How many store owners get calls for their hours, even though it is written on the front page of the website? Alot.

    3. One thing I've learned in my brief time in the industry is that taking quality product photos is harder than most people think. The equipment can be expensive, and the skills needed are more than just point and click. We're not talking photos for E-bay, I'm talking about professional grade product photos. Lighting, controling reflections, reducing hot spots, retaining the natural color of the subject, capturing fine details, photo editing, etc. take alot more time and skill than one would expect.
  18. lamarjones

    lamarjones Supporting Member

    Aug 27, 2002
    Raleigh, NC
    I dare say, with the kind of coin you say you are thinking about dropping, a plane ticket should be figured into your search.

    Or, that 48 approval period will be getting its use!

    Quite honestly, most dudes looking at fodera's know what they are getting into, and the sound from the woods are the usual deviance, so actually all that added jazz on the website do not buy the merchants all that much. Except from added traffic from people who don't know what they want.

    And in some way, you sound like you are stating you might be that guy.......not that you don't know about basses, but....

    "First, I don't HAVE to buy 4 basses, I've just decided that, since I've changed how I play bass these last 2 years, I want to change my basses for something that better matches how I play now.

    Which would be........?

    Seriously, plane ticket to the biggest bang for the buck.....you want a bass you are going to love, or one that will suit you when it comes in the mail?
  19. on that topic see my threads on Bass stores in NYC and the SF/Oakland Bay Area
  20. lamarjones

    lamarjones Supporting Member

    Aug 27, 2002
    Raleigh, NC
    yeah, i saw that after I posted that message, that is a Freakin Great idea and list if you are serious about dropping coin on the bass 'you will love'.

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