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Joined: Nov 2006
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Originally Posted by sheepdog
Originally Posted by Mark...
The key for me is knowing the historical low price that the piano is currently selling at and working off that number.


And how did you find that?



Researching on the Internet, getting a ballpark idea from the Fine book, asking buyers, visiting stores etc. You must make sure you are comparing apples to apples.

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I like a couple things said, such as: telling the dealer you are making a decision by a certain date, you are using the Piano Buyer as a reference for pricing (although pricing does vary across the country), and that the lowest price is not necessarily the best deal.

If you are making a decision by a certain date (lets say 1 month out) that gives the salesperson sometime to come up with his best price. Sometimes, the dealer will have incentives come in from manufacturers during that time that they can then apply to the deal.

Using Piano Buyer will assure you are in the ballpark of the discount you should be getting.

Finally, lowest price might by achieved through the fact that you are getting a closeout model or older serial number, as-is piano, B stock (something wrong with the piano), no additional perks (tuning, bench, voicing, etc...), etc... Thus, if you are getting a brand new out-of-the-box Yamaha C3 for $29,000 from one dealer but a 5-year old C3 (still new but has been sitting on the showroom floor for a few years) with some cabinet defects for $25,000, which is the better deal?


Choleric
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Hello Sarah:

We are shopping for a grand in the mid teens. The 2 dealers I have been talking to have had very aggressive sales tactics. I'm definitely not suggesting all dealers are this way but if you don't have stomach or natural talent for negotiation, you might consider to get someone to help you with the effort.

The key to negotiation leverage is

- If possible, have multiple choices. If you lock down on one and the dealer knows. You have less leverage.

- Be patient. The pianos I've been looking at has dropped priced nearly everyday in dealer's daily email/phone communication. It depends on their business model of course. Generally, there don't seem to be a whole lot of buyers beyond the lower priced uprights right now.

Last edited by howardc64; 05/02/10 01:03 PM.

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Interesting thread…

I’ve never considered myself a good negotiator, but I do want the best price I can get on a big-ticket item.

I agree that our first impression of a salesperson/dealer is very important. Not that I’ve visited all that many dealers or bought that many pianos, but I have had a few good experiences and bad ones.

I’m afraid I made a piano salesperson really mad at me once when we were exchanging emails and phone calls on a Perzina upright I thought I was interested in. The dealer was in North Atlanta and I live about 60 miles south of Atlanta. It would have been about a 160 mile round trip to visit the store so I was trying to take some shortcuts with my negotiating via email and phone calls. My wife is severely disabled and in a wheel chair and it is hard for me to travel. Most places are not very handicap accessible and it is just a big chore to go anywhere unless I make arrangements for someone to stay with her while I travel.

The salesperson and myself exchanged a few emails and phone calls about a 50 or 52 inch Perzina upright I saw on their website (this was about 4 or 5 years ago and the piano store is no longer in business). I know piano dealers do not like to negotiate over the phone or emails. Anyway, I explained to the salesperson that it was difficult for me to travel and I was gathering as much information as I could before I made a commitment to visit the dealer. The guy explained that he was not supposed to give prices over the phone but he gave me a price I thought was higher than some others I had seen on the internet. After a few back and forth emails and phone calls, I mentioned that I had found a lower price on the same piano over the internet, and the guy blasted me and said he was through with me and not to contact him again and that if I didn’t trust him enough to price his pianos fairly he didn’t need me as a customer.

Wow, I had no idea that would inflame that salesperson so badly. I’ve told other salespeople not to contact me again over the years, but I have never had a salesperson to tell me not to contact them again. I wonder if that attitude had anything to do with the store going out of business not long after that…

Believe it or not, I’m really not that bad of a customer to deal with. I just want the best price I and get because I don’t have an unlimited supply of money.

I did learn something from the experience though...

Take care,

Rick


Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel
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Hello Rick,

Your story makes me laugh only because I know who "blasted" you. It should not have happened. Obviously, you get more flies with honey....

However, internet pricing destroys any incentive for a store to maintain a nice showroom, prepped pianos, and after-sale service. A piano is not an appliance like a TV, but everyone treats them as such until about every 2 months another thread pops up about "free vs. included" and dealers who prep vs. dealers who don't. A warehouse in rural Alabama does the same thing to prices that outsourcing does for American labor rates. You can't apply prices equally but people try to anyway.

I'm generally a capitalist, but I have to accept that with capitalism, the pendulum often swings too far. There used to be stories of people paying over MSRP. Now we see quotes below wholesale so that a dealer can make rent and payroll by selling assets, not making a sale with any kind of sustainable or reasonable profit margin.

You don't have to cry for the dealers, but don't be too surprised if negotiating occasionally blows up in your face. Pressure and frustration will occasionally get the better of good businessmen.


Sam Bennett
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Hi Sam,

Your post was well written and makes plenty of sense. I too find it a little humorous that you say you know who this salesperson was, or may have been. Since they told me not to contact them again, I didn’t have the opportunity to apologize to them (or did he own me an apology? grin).

I try to be careful what I say/write here on PW, and I never want to offend anyone or burn any bridges with anyone. I view most dealers here as someone I would do business with, yourself included.

On another note, I find is interesting how the piano business community does indeed seem to keep up with each other and seems to know each other (for better or worse grin).

Take care,

Rick


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Originally Posted by PianoWorksATL
internet pricing destroys any incentive for a store to maintain a nice showroom, prepped pianos, and after-sale service.


and this is where a good salesperson, rather than "blasting", will come up with a list of reasons why their price is higher (i.e. prep, support and so on) which means they might end up with a sale and a happy customer, vs no sale at all and negative publicity which might come to haunt them later on.

I would never work in retail, but in this day & age behaving like the internet does not exist does not seem to me like a good business strategy: a store owner should know their prospective customers will look stuff up online, and so should do the same to be able to turn any 'I could get this for $x less' into a 'I know, but this is what the extra $x will buy you if you get it from me, and as you can see it is quite a good deal after all'.

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Tons of great tips!!

I'm definitely feeling better about the buying/negotiating process now. My piano search begins in earnest this Saturday - I'll keep you guys updated!!

Last edited by sunnysarah; 05/04/10 06:06 PM.
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The thing that has been mentioned but maybe not stressed is how different a piano is from a car. Especially with a higher end piano, but all the way down the line, it is a simple matter for a dealer to spend extra days tweaking it before the sale and supporting it through the break-in period in your home. With a car, you get what you get.

A piano customer shopping strictly on price and really pinching is going to end up with a poorly prepped piano. Which is ok if only if you have your own great tech and plan on prepping it 'yourself'. Not to open the Steinway can of worms, but that's another example where two supposedly identical pianos are not. The person pinching dollars is not going to get the better one.

The piano negotiation is more subtle. I think you need to find a sweet spot that truly works for buyer/seller.

And, FYI, I work car dealers to the bone...and I'm not in the piano business.

Good luck!


-Nocty
Not in the piano business.
1906 Baldwin C rebuilt 2008
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