No more Haggling at Guitar Center: Employee Comment Follow-up

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As a follow-up to my Guitar Center bought by Mitt Romney’s Company: No More Haggling Allowed I recently received a good comment from a Guitar Center employee. It provoked me to delve further into the whole Guitar Center issue. I was going to email this person, but I felt the comments were valuable, and merited posting in the main blog, including my wordy responses.

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…yes….the prospect of the commission thing going away is quite probable. However, employees are and still will be REQUIRED to pass certifications on their knowledge. Also, despite not being a commission based job, you are still required to hit your goal (sales figures based on your skill/lenth of job/job title….all business’s have a daily goal people…not a huge industry secret). So, if you think that average ‘Joe Blow’ can just waltz in and get a job, think again.

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How long will that last? I wanted to get a job at Guitar Center because I was pretty sure that I knew more about guitar stuff than most of the people on the floor, and therefore I felt I would do a good job informing people and selling guitars, earning a good commission by developing a dialogue with them. Incentive being that I could take the price down and get them coming back. Without commission, it wouldn’t matter at all if the person knew anything about guitars, a wage job is a wage job.

It’s like most big name stores without commission; salespeople don’t go around asking people if they want anything, they just sit at the register waiting to check someone out. There’s no incentive or reason for them to ask, so they just sit around waiting. Deals and commission were all about incentive. Incentive to work at Guitar Center, incentive to sell, incentive to buy, incentive to get a deal.

Now Guitar Center can’t have the whole friendly vibe, or at least there’s no point to it. I went in to the store that day looking for the guy I knew, and he knew me.  He would give me good deals on things and I wouldn’t waste his time with other people, i’d ask for what I wanted and pay. Instead, if I go I can just buy whatever from whoever and know i’m paying full price, and the salespeople no longer matter. People with knowledge won’t matter, they’ll just show it on the computer if someone asks for information.

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People can whine all they want about having to finally pay what the instrument is worth. If you want to go to a mom and pop shop, that is your business and your right. GC is simply trying to get away from that archaic way of doing business. Car dealerships have been doing away with it as well. There are many flaws in the “haggle” way of selling. Look at it from a different perspective…..Let’s say you own a business, and you have to pay rent, utilities, insurance (public, employment, property), overhead (cost of goods and the cost to maintain those goods) and so forth…..and then you get Johnny McDouchebag coming into your store…. occupies 3 hours of your time, and then when it gets down to the sale, he grinds the hell out of you until you are 5-10% above cost. That 5-10% will not cover your overall costs of selling that piece. You actually lose money. Do you honestly think that is fair? Is it fair to the business? Without income, the business cannot grow. Is it fair to the
employee who is trying to earn a living? If someone feels the need to grind me on a price, I feel like that person doesn’t care about my time, my livelihood or my knowledge and it’s disrespectful.

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That was the thing, it was the only reason I went to Guitar Center. By creating a haggling atmosphere, it was an entirely different entity and it was the reason I didn’t go to mom and pops. If I have the option now of paying full price at Guitar Center or at a small store, i’m going to the small store. I feel my money is going to better use, i’ve had a better experience, and i’m making sure they’ll be there by supporting their livelihood. Before this new price set thing was in action, I would care if Guitar Center left. Now not so much. Unlike technology stores and emporium stores, there’s still a grassroots guitar store movement out there, and if Guitar Center is just another one of the options, i’ll let them go.

I was willing to buy more things overall because I knew I would get good prices on things I wanted, and by talking to people for hours who gave me a deal, i’d always come back and give them my business. Unlike a Car Dealership, you don’t just go to Guitar Center once. Most people have more than one guitar, amp, pedal, and accessories. If I know your name, and I know you treat me well and give me good prices, i’ll just keep talking to you and probably buy things I don’t need, but get them just because it’s a good price. Same reason I went in there in the first place. Obviously this doesn’t apply to everyone. Tourists, beginners, rich people with money to burn.

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Obviously, I work at GC. I spend an enormous amount of my time learning all I can to insure that the information I give to someone is correct. I’m not very high up in the ranks (just an AM), but I do believe in the direction the company is taking. It will take some time to get all the bugs worked out, but believe me…I know what’s up the road and it looks good. Try not to be so negative people. GC is trying to make a change for the better. Yeah, sure, you may have to pay the tagged price now….so what? Do you haggle your groceries? Best Buy? Anywhere else? This is a business, and it has to be run as such. Why else do you think the company was in trouble before Bain bought it? We were giving away too much stuff below the price to cover our overall costs. I’ve seen the IBITA (your overall costs vs. profits…..that is if I spelled it right) reports, and it was UGLY. Cost was not outweighing our income.
Hopefully, a few open minds out there will see where I was coming from with this and perhaps see reasoning.
-Z-

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Guitars are a store driven market, and Guitar Center was the only big chain out there. I feel no loyalty to a Best Buy or a grocery store because those are things I need. More people need and buy cell phones, cameras, TVs, computers, and food than they ever buy guitars. It’s why Panasonic, Sony, Samsung, Toshiba, SHARP, and so forth are household names and brands, while i’d give a guess and say that if you asked someone to name a guitar company, you’d be lucky with a “Fender”, “Martin” or “Gibson.”

They don’t offer haggling because they don’t have to. Guitar Center is purely luxury items for a specific market, and in order to captivate an outside, seemingly uninterested market, there needs to be some (back to square one) incentive that will cross the mental barrier of them wanting to spend money. Guitar Center is all over America, but the consistency was that we could get good deals at all of the stores if there were good people there. And the salespeople were unique instead of just a clan of blue-wearing khaki pants robots. As I said, people wanted to work there, and Guitar Center knew it. It has/had an extremely high employee turnover rate because GC knew if someone wasn’t performing, they could get another worker in quick.

So here’s an open question to employees and readers alike:

What sets Guitar Center above anyone else now?

Give your comments and thoughts.

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54 Comments

Filed under center, cheap, complaining, electric guitar, Fender, Fender Guitars, Gibson, guitar, guitar center, Guitar Hero, guitar player, guitar rant, Guitar store, mitt romney, music, Nay-saying, negativity, story

54 Responses to No more Haggling at Guitar Center: Employee Comment Follow-up

  1. IG

    What sets Guitar Center above anyone else now?

    A physical retail store you can visit anytime you like (don’t have to wait for mail delivery) and that has typically the most quantity and diversity of guitar-related products in your city.

    I think at the end of the day, if you want to do business in the music instruments area, you have to decide whether you want to reach a savvy buyer niche in that area, or the most customers in that area. And, whatever route you choose, you have to be the best at it given your company assets.

    Guitar Center, in my opinion, has chosen to be the leading retail musical instruments “store” and it is probably the only one capable of doing it successfuly. The fact that other retailers have been leaving the market signifies that Guitar Center has an opportunity to be the leader because it will be the only one left.

    I think while playing music is sort of a luxury item in a household’s list of things, buying an instrument, especially a guitar, is not a luxurious cateogory anymore. I mean, a lot of people buy guitars, and these are people who are not gear experts. And, you can get a decent guitar at a low price. And, also, be mindful of the Guitar Hero phenomenon, which is not going away and it is driving more and more people to the guitar store.

    So, somebody has to cater to the average person who plays guitar who is not an expert connosieour of gear and can haggle. Somebody has to meet this market’s need, and out of the competition Guitar Center is poised to win there, IMO. And, hopefully, in my view, they’ll do other things to bring value to this market beyond just selling instruments.

    Just my two cents. Great conversation.

    IG

  2. Z

    I understand that going to a mom and pop appears to go to a better use, however don’t judge so fast. Yeah, mom and pop shops are awesome, I’ll be the first to admit. However, underneath the umbrella of GC corporate, there are alot of people employed by GC. If a mom and pop shop goes out of business, a couple of people would have to find a new job or business…..sad, but not a tragedy. However, if GC went out of business, many thousands would be out of a job. Which do you think would impact the public market/economy the worst?
    I also understand the loyalty issue. I have no loyalty to my grocery store or electronics store. Despite GC changing their ways, if you deal with the same guy/girl and they know your gear, what you are trying to achieve, what your band is up to and so on, that relationship is invaluable…period. Where else will there be a guy keeping his eyes open for a vintage 67′ Les Paul for you and give you a call if one shows up used? I have a bunch of customers I consider friends. I have a long list of gear that I am always looking for to come in. I can’t count how many people I have made happy finding them some obscure piece of gear, by either it showing up, or me simply searching the chain inventory. And I can say this in complete honesty…the sale of the item is maybe 10% of my motivation. I genuinely get a thrill by finding someone the gear they have been dreaming of. Maybe it’s my love of music…I dunno. Most of the guys/girls I work with feel pretty much the same way. I’ve done work with Make-A-Wish at my store, and it’s the greatest experience taking part in granting a ‘wish’ for some kid. My last wish granted was a Custom Tri-tone Gibson Les Paul. The entire guitar department all chipped in stuff in a xmas stocking (the wish was being granted near xmas). CD’s, swag, clothing, etc….. I have a bunch of pictures of the event. The greatest feeling was seeing Zach (the kid) playing his new guitar in a Vintage Modern halfstack to some Led Zepplin Tune and his mom hugging me with tears in her eyes thanking me for all my help.
    I didn’t get paid to do that, I did it because I love music, and how often does someone get to grant a wish?
    With all that said and done, how often do you hear of ‘other’ music retailers or mom and pops doing things like that?
    What about the GC ‘Sessions’? If you are not familiar, check out our website and read up on it. It’s really cool.
    I’m not really sure what else to say about this issue. I merely wanted to chime in and say what I think and see from the inside. I’ve never been a ‘flag waver’ for my place of work. But I will defend it if it’s unfairly attacked.
    And to say that GC will no longer give deals is false. You can always get a deal….always. Exceptions being the obvious such as Mesa Boogie, Bose and Monster. If nothing else, they are going to be implementing better authentic sale prices (no longer just the same price with a different colored tag), email 10-15% off coupons (like they did this month), and ongoing crazy sales. For example, Friday and saturday (june 27th and 28th) we are having the ‘midnight madness’ sale. I saw the gear list today, and it’s a legitimate massive discount on a ton of gear. I’m talking Ampeg heads normally $699 for around $349. That kind of shit. Seriously. If you see this post before then, go check it out for yourselves.
    Ok, I’m done for now. All comments and questions are welcome.
    -z-

    • eatme

      Mom and pop stores are important because, like you said, giant corporations have thousands of employees.

      the bigger your company is, the more powerful it is, and the more insulated it becomes from the negative experience of customers.

      If a mom and pop store gouges and alienates 20% of its customer base, it will go under. They have a vested interest in providing good service and being amenable to the “haggling desires” of customers.

      Think about it another way. Haggling was the pre-mass market form of making sure you spent YOUR Labor Value the best. When you work, your labor value is converted into a universally recognized exchange medium (money), and then you take this exchange to others to buy things you want.

      Under mega-corporation business models, you can no longer haggle. If the store raises their prices, you have to deal with it, because other stores will either raise their prices or “have a terrible cost vs income ratio” and go under, because compared to the other chain, it is shrinking.

      Profit ALWAYS means that you’re gaining while another is losing. You can not have profit without someone losing, because the amount of Labor Value in the human system is finite. If that Labor Value (being imbued in paper money or credit, etc), is being collected in the hands of a few people like Mitt Romney, they must be making more profit than other people, or comparatively, they must be gaining while others are losing.

      Back to the haggling and “free” market ploy espoused by the typical big business apologist, Free market is really anything but when you have large companies. Look at gas. Sure, there’s 5-8 cents difference between the stations everywhere, but due EXACTLY to the fact that smaller businesses are just subsidiaries of huge umbrella corps, the final cost structure is in the hands of a small number of single entities.

      Lets say you have 5 gas companies, and thousands of mom and pop and chain stores selling gas. Those 5 gas companies are the ultimate dictator of price, whether or not the mom and pops like it. If these 5 gas companies buy their oil or refined gas from a supplier, or make it themselves, the place their get their product from gets to set the price, which means that price is set regionally, or even further in radial influence. Those mom and pop stores can’t really haggle or compete. Their cost structure is directly tied to what they’re getting from the bigger companies.

      Imagine it like a river. What happens when you put a dam on that river? The flow of that river is directly tied to that single choke point. Everything below that point has to adjust to that change.

      In a highly fragmented market with millions of competing mom and pop stores, the cost/income ratio can be wildly different from a store in, say, Malibu, to one in Little Rock. Once you gather all these different businesses under a single corporate roof, the ones in those regions with lower annual income required to live look extremely bad on paper, costing the company money.

      The local GC has terrible selection in potentiometers and other electronic parts, limited guitar selection, dunce employees (a woman works there who calls truss rod adjustments permanent and irreversible, but she has a nice figure and ass, so eye candy), and simply isn’t as good as going 60 miles away to a large city store with people who know their shit and a huge selection, but the prices are even more expensive at the local GC. It is direct encouragement to simply shop online.

      As an aside, I really find it ironic that the people “trying” to sell you stuff at a store are becoming more antagonistic to their customers. “I got a family to feed, I have needs too!”. That’s fine, we all do. The point at where people are treated like they’re trying to destroy your personal life because they only bought a 3 dollar item and are being careful with their money is where I get irked. The relationship of customer to sales “assistant” has been reduced to a faceless money relationship. People who want to be careful with their money are treated like lepers, and this is exactly the kind of atmosphere large corporations that own your individual store want. Encourage customers to spend extravagantly, whether by hook or crook. Turn employees against the customer, etc.

      • There’s a very double edged sword here.

        People are trying to be careful with their money. At the same time, businesses are trying to get what their product is worth. In order for a business to succeed, they have to take in enough money to recover their cost of the product, cost of overhead (space rent, utilities, etc etc) plus make a profit off of it. After all, making a profit is the whole reason a business exists right?

        The issue at hand is that people want to be able to buy products at the same price the business bought it for. If everyone were haggling and everyone were successful at haggling a price down to dealer cost, that only recovers what the business invested in the product. That leaves nothing to cover business overhead and damn sure leaves no profits. The business goes under.

        The problem is that hagglers don’t give two shits about the business they’re buying from. If they did they’d want to see that business succeed, and thus would pay the asking price of the product and not haggle in the first place. Yet they expect the business to care the world about them and their “money issues” and slash the price down to cost for them so they can feel like they got the deal of the century.

        The other problem is that everyone seems to haggle these days. Get enough hagglers to come through and haggle you down to cost and your business goes under.

        Quite honestly, if people really wanted to be careful with their money, they would buy things they can afford rather than forcing the market to make products fit their limited budget.

  3. Tom

    All I know is that I recently interviewed at GC (I have an interview coming up shortly). I know people who work there and I know all about commission and such. Anyway, my real point is this: in the interview, I was to take a diagnostic test as to see how much I know about musical equipment. There were several questions that were rather varied. Each question had four choices and had to be answered in under 2 minutes (no looking anything up). I would disagree that any Joe Blow can work there.

  4. DL

    The real hallmark of a great salesperson is the “I genuinely care” attitude. That translates into truth, honesty, humility and the willingness to go the distance for the customer. Can you name ANY retailer that nails it with 100% of it’s sales force?
    GC managers are all required to create this mental attitude in their crew. It ain’t easy but it does happen on a regular basis with people who are receptive. It’ll never be perfect but you can rest assured that GC will never stop aspiring to be the best in all categories.

  5. Josiah

    Haggling made sense back when music stores tagged instruments at the suggested retail, instead of glp (guaranteed lowest price). At that time haggling was expected by the salesperson and the customer, and was needed to get a decent price. But Guitar Center has created a competitive market that allows everyday customers to get a good deal, even if they’re paying the tagged price. Haggling isn’t as necessary as it once was to get a deal.
    Where else can you go and tell the salesperson/clerk that you don’t want to pay the listed price? Can a carpenter get a discount at the hardware store because he’s a “professional”? Do most people get a discount when spending money on their hobbies, whatever that should be? Why should Guitar Center be any different?
    One more thing, as an employee it is very difficult to make a decent living at GC, which makes it all the more frustrating when customers expect deals. Which (sort of) brings me to my next point: I’ll be happy when we’re off commission, and I don’t think it will ruin customer service at GC. First off, like the previous poster said, we’ll still be expected to hit sales goals. If Joe Schmoe can’t sell, he’s gone. Second, I think employees will be more satisfied with what they make, which will lead to happier employees, more eager to do their jobs. Also, this should help the horrendous employee turnover rate, which means a more experienced staff.

    • gk

      A carpenter, and many other contractor tradesperson, DO get deals at the hardware store. First of all they usually go to a wholesale supplier. Secondly, Lowes gives contractors a 10% discount.

  6. me

    Uh….I don’t think that Mitt Romney runs that company anymore…But way to sensationalize.

  7. Haggling can be all part of the experience.
    So if you want to try to get a better price now you will end up going where that experiende is available. I used to love to go to pawn shops and make deals. Now a days I don;t have the time or energy. That said.. at my local guitar store they know me and I have been a customoer for over 20 years and the old timers know me and offer me a good deal.

    Long term relationships are the way to build a business. I try to treat each customer or “tire kicker” so as to increase trust in me with the goal of becoming a trusted friend. In the end you have lots of friends and customers and it makes it easier to get up in the morning to go to work.
    Andrew Koblick
    http://www.guitar5day.com

  8. Derek

    guitar center does pricematching.

    in my opinion, that’s the best form of haggling.
    if you could possibly find a published price for lower than what gc offers, they’ll respect that and offer you an equal or lower price.

    it’s pretty rad.
    plus, you get one on one service and the benefit of knowing that some one sold you your product, not some online protocol, which absolutely parallels the post-buy customer service a purchaser receives.

  9. Curtis Nash

    I just have to say something here…is it really considered crazy that a company will not AUTOMATICALLY discount merchandise just because someone says so? No other corporate retailer would even consider such a thing on the scale that Guitar Center has. I understand that people get a thrill, of sorts, from “haggling”; hey, you know what? So do I.
    That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the BEST way of doing business. I, in the past, and even currently on occasion, have almost had to discount a piece solely to satisfy a customer, not because there was any real reason to warrant that discount. Except, of course, because some people just want to know that they got a deal. I suppose my subconscious reasoning for doing so is that the customer being pleased and happy and overall satisfied is more important than staying with a price.
    However, from time to time, it can be insulting when you’re talking to someone who suggests or at least implies that both you and your “guaranteed lowest price” are illegitimate and heinously bullshit. I have to say, when you run into this scenario, it can be discouraging, and to a greater degree, a succubus of good will turned, simply, “tolerant” of the situation.
    People have to understand that Guitar Center is just not like any other retailer. It is not a job that just anybody can do. There seems to be a common misconception that the people who work at Guitar Center are just lobotomized dolts who smoke pot, have no real ambition whatsoever, and think as well as articulate monosyllabically and without logic or good sense. I know this, because I have actually been told this, in so many words.
    Again, contrary to popular belief, there is A LOT that goes into working at Guitar Center, from the guy/girl who stands at the door counting how many people walk in and stamp their receipts to the people who manage a store, to the people who manage the store managers to the CEO himself. I mean it…a lot of time and energy and concentration, and sometimes loss of sleep goes into making it all happen at Guitar Center.
    Every person that works there has to have more than a basic knowledge of the product they’re selling, as well as the attributes of that product. On top of having to know the ins and outs of each manufacturer, product line, features, and so on, we as Guitar Center employees have to keep up on the ever-changing technology that is associated with this product, as well as which major manufacturer bought out which competitor, or whether there is a shortage of this type of wood and how that shortage will effect the production of this type of drum or guitar, or whether a manufacturer outsources and why they decided to do so.
    Then we have to know how that is going to interact with other products, and, more importantly, how that product or products will ultimately effect your music, whether you are a performing musician or a kid who only plays his guitar or drum set when his parents are at Target so he doesn’t have to hear them bitch about the noise he’s making. It takes more than an automaton to understand each person and their unique musical situation.
    And, just to clear the air here, no matter what the public opinion may be, good or bad, most guitar center employees that I know got into it for two reasons. One, they love music, and the respective instrument they make that music on. Two, they very genuinely want to help people find their path to their own musical creation; they want to help people understand what it is that makes all the music we love, why and how it works, what it’s value is, and how it can better serve their musical aspirations. Anyone who doesn’t believe that should actually talk to some of the Guitar Center employees, not just immediately assume that because it’s a corporation, we are just Stormtroopers out to assist the intake of money, rather than serve the interests of people who love music. How’s that for run-on sentences?
    I love my job. I am an Assistant Manager. I try really hard. I try to help the people I work with. I try to understand them, and I try to encourage them. Why? Because, I want them to be able to do the same for their customers, and I want to understand, assist, and encourage my customers with whatever it is they need.
    I can honestly say that I have fixed a kid’s guitar that was totally unplayable. He brought it in and had no idea how to get it working again. I spent an hour re-vamping this ugly thing, and when I was done, it was a perfectly intonated, well polished and conditioned, great sounding guitar. I charged him absolutely nothing. And you know what? He tipped me 10 dollars. I even argued with him that the tip wasn’t necessary. Either way, the kid left very happy, with a big smile on his face. And I’m sure he enjoyed his guitar. And that made my day. Hell, it made my month.
    That’s what Guitar Center’s about. We don’t build the stuff we sell, we don’t work at Yamaha or Gibson, we don’t know why this piece takes as long as it does to ship to this person. What we do know is that we actually give a shit about our customers. I remember my customers names. I know what band they’re in, if they’re in one. I know if they prefer a certain type of drum head or string guage for a guitar. Can Best Buy or Wal-Mart honestly say that they’re doing that? Can they remember the name, life situation, product preference of their customer as though they were bartenders?
    No. Even if they could, it would not come close to the scale that guitar center does. We love our customers. We try hard for our company, our managers, our bosses, our CEO’s, whoever, but not like we do for our customers. They’re the ones’ we see on a daily basis.
    So, keep that in mind. Not every one is evil and trying to get your money. Some, if not most of us, want to see you have success in your aspirations, and be happy with those aspirations, and the gear, the advice, and the customer service that may have played a part in getting you there.

    Thanks Guys.

  10. Jason Ewton

    I was an assistant manager at a Guitar Center in TN, and I helped open the store. I worked there for 3 years and I can tell you these facts:

    - Guitar Center trains its employees *explicitly* to rip you off.

    Its not about what gear fits your needs, it’s about what gear “gips” (GP) or makes the most gross profit. That’s all they tell you. “Just roll deals, sell sell sell…” They even have things called “Gip Bombs” that are garbage instruments marked up 50% and then encourage you to sell that garbage.

    As a working musician since about 16 (im 28 now), I can tell you honestly… that place is hell.

  11. Very interesting article. I did not know about any of this. I can’t speak on behalf of Guitar Center so much, but I seriously think that Samash needs to teach its employees about proper sales. At least at the Samash near me.

    I don’t know how you can make a sale of information or product when you can’t even look the customer in the eye. I see this behavior everywhere, and its getting worse and worse. Only those who are willing to work on their people skills will ever progress in business. If I were Samash, I would hand every employee in the company a copy of “How to win friends and influence people” by Dale Carnegie – a very important read for anyone.

  12. High Tech Guy

    What really sets GC above anyone else is the fact that you can get what you actually want to buy. If you go to a mom and pop store wanting to buy an amp, sure they will have an amp. They may even have two.

    The prices are good. The selection is the best for any brick and mortar store. The people really WANT to enjoy helping you. I work for GC. Trust me. Nobody at the store level is getting rich. We just want to enjoy our jobs. Any time you feel you don’t trust a GC employee, keep that in mind. If we are so good at sales and taking your money, what the hell are we doing in THIS avenue of sales when we could be making real money in a different company with a different product? We just want to enjoy what we do, and most of us enjoy working with gear and can help you get what you need.

    If you want to pay less, often you can. Just do your research. Any advertised price will be beaten. Just look it up. If nobody has a lower price then you’re already getting a deal, aren’t you? Get over the haggling. It’s lame.

    Please, folks, keep in mind that in the GC stores we don’t just sell. It is a lot of work setting things up for you to play with.

    So, we work hard. We have good prices. We have a good selection. We are not money grubbing bastards. (I cannot stress this enough. We make shit, and I work in one of the BIG music markets at a BIG Guitar Center.) We try to enjoy what we do. We like the gear and we want you to enjoy buying it and using it. If there is a mom and pop store in your town that can perform on all of those levels any better, you live in some kind of gear heaven.

  13. LR

    Wow, after working at GC for 6 months in NYC, it really amazes me how many AMs etc on this post seem really INTO that store. They are repeating practically verbatim the company handbook as was recited to us by the AM’s and managers. I can’t say GC was a great place, and wouldn’t shop there now, commission/haggling or no because it’s all a bunch of bs rhetoric, plain and simple.
    The managers are there to compete and make money- and it’s all too often at the expense of their sales people.

    GC has a way of advertising that is common with any department store or supermarket you want to name. It doesn’t run to promote a creative spirit, but focuses all its energy on THE GEAR. Oh how hot is this GEAR, oh sweet GEAR I need MORE GEAR…etc. Consumption of PRODUCT is promoted, not the integrity or quality of the music itself. (How seamlessly they were able to start selling Guitar Hero alongside the real instruments without batting an eye!)

    Yes, obviously GC is a retail store, but that’s my point- it defines itself by the products alone- its reason for being is the product and not the end result- which honestly should be to help people express themselves creatively.

    You get this kind of environment from employees who want to be there, and enjoy what they do. GC had very few of these people on the sales floor. It felt like everyone was hustling for a pimp, and fighting over peanuts. It creates a deluded state among employees who start believing that it’s a valuable way to spend their time- that the commission-wages really pay off. They don’t, and that creates a lingering state of resentment among the quicker members of the sales crew.

    What ended up happening was it made people resort to creative ways of making money off the store. Two or three people got canned while I was there for agreeing to take the price down significantly for the customer on a keyboard or Mac or something expensive in exchange for a little cash from the customer right then and there into the employee’s pocket.

    And yes, anyone can work there- it has to be that easy because for that much work and that little pay, few people even stayed as long as I did.

    So essentially, commission or no, there really was no great incentive for the employees at GC anyway. What do you expect from the combination of a low payoff for an inversely proportional amount of grunt-work. Sorry, had to get some stuff off my chest :)

  14. A.Moore

    I guess what it comes down to is whether Guitar Center cares more about having more gross sales who will be repeat customers, and once those people are won over, they will come back for everything small they need like strings etc. in bulk quantities. Or do they care more about making full profit off of a single item, and not making the customer feel like he is getting something different at this place. As mentioned above, if GC is going to just sell things for retail cost, yet a Ma-Pop shop is willing to haggle a little to beat GC, eventually I think we will see things level out a bit. Circuit City was in business and a large chain for a long time. It is things like what seemed like minor policies which have led this company to its demise. The road ahead might seem like it is paved well, and while I agree that there might be some stability for a while, GC will eventually reach its peak, and the word will get out about the GP bombs, which as a previous employee I can vouch for. I dont at all trust employees there now, only because most of them when I go there are trying to sell me b-52 amps telling me they sound like a mesa, simply because they have more profit. I guess this would be remedied by taking commission away, however I think haggling is going to make its way back, as I am currently developing a website specifically devoted to consumer haggling which will partner with various retailers to allow the retailers to reach “haggling” type customers, as well as make customers get the “break” they want. I used to love Guitar Center, and now I will only buy strings and drum heads there because everything else can be bought cheaper at smaller stores and they “earn” your business.

  15. Interesting story – great comments.

    I used to work at GC for four years. My experience – loved it and hated it. The reasons I loved it – working in the music instrument industry, selling gear to musicians – and that positive vibe is still there. What I hated was that the culture to sell really caused anxiety amongst the employees – and that is going away with the change in sales tactics – making it a much better place.

    In regards to GC hiring “Joe Blows” – I have to disagree with that. I thought I knew allot about gear – been playing for 20 years – but was always amazed at how much the other salespeople I worked with knew.

    Don’t expect salespeople to know every detail about every piece of gear – that’s not reality. The hardest thing was when some guy would come in to the store after spending countless hours researching one particular guitar – then proceed to grill you on every detail of that instrument – often with no intention of ever buying – doing it just to get his kicks. And this is what GC employees have to deal with on a daily basis. I luckily realized this early on and when it happened to me I would tell the customer the truth – you know more than I do, so tell me what you know – stroking his ego while possibly learning something from him.

    I had a great time working there, and have an even greater time shopping there knowing I can just go in, try out some gear and not buy anything.

    One last thing – it’s too bad musicians don’t respect each other more – instead of dissing GC employees, why not realize that they are musicians like you that just want to earn a living.

  16. Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. :) Cheers! Sandra. R.

  17. ACCGuy

    Wow, great thoughtful comments on this site! I’ve worked for GC for a little over two years now and I’d have to agree with screaming stone, but I’d like to add more food for thought.
    The term gp bomb, is a sales term that identifies an item that has greater margin in its profit, not necessarily an inferior product. Generally I look for equivalent products that both serve the customers interests as well as make better profit. There is no mal-intent here. Yes the sales staff works off of commission, but a genuine sales guy should want you, the customer, to be happy. Whenever a customer returns a product we do take negative numbers (its tough it happens). We want to get you the right thing the first time to avoid negatives (more importantly making you happy), so that our time can be spent helping other customers or by having your repeat business by giving you good service.
    Margin, which i referred to before, is the final figure that we make 10% of. For example Item A & Item B both cost $40.00. Item A is a more popular brand and makes $6.00 in margin. Item B is equal if not better than Item A at performing the same function at $20.00 margin. 10% of these two #’s breaks down to a choice for us to make 0.60 cents with Item A or $2.00 with item B. Over several transactions these #’s add up significantly. I will of course recommend B, but if your mind is made up on A, no problem.
    I do not personally like the pay structure and would like to see some changes, because it is a struggle to even make basic payments even while ranked #2 in the store! That’s how we survive. I can think of no other instance in which I have asked a grocery clerk, a waiter or my car mechanic to give me a special discount because I think I should be treated special. Do you ever consider not tipping your waiter or bartender for their service? For lack of a better analogy, haggling down the price is similar to leaving a bad or no tip.
    One thing I would concede though is that due to the pay structure, I have seen many extremely valuable employees who are knowledgeable guys be forced to leave because they just can’t afford to work there. I hope in the future corporate will make greater efforts to retain its employees. As of now there are promotions, but there is NO SUCH THING AS A RAISE until you are a sales manager or higher. Sometimes I’d rather be the guy on the other end who has the money, instead of the one with the great employee discount who can’t afford to use it :/

  18. GC Customer & Employee

    Well, it’s September 26th, 2009 and Guitar Center employees still work for mostly commission.

    So, no need to freak out anymore about where you’re going to purchase your gear or how much you’ll spend & save!

    Capitalism is a good thing! Thank God you’re not in China or Cuba.

  19. lz

    “If I have the option now of paying full price at Guitar Center or at a small store, i’m going to the small store. I feel my money is going to better use, i’ve had a better experience, and i’m making sure they’ll be there by supporting their livelihood.”

    but i bet you still eat fast food once and a while instead of searching out some mom and pop diner that charges twice as much for a sandwich that has been there all week. let’s not be such hypocrites. it’s time to admit that these two entities can co-exist and offer their own cost for benefit advantages. not every mom and pop place will have the latest pro tools rig and not every guitar center will have the les paul that’s been loved into perfect playability. These things are not black and white or mutually exclusive… a-duh.

  20. Nabbuko

    I agree with how they are a business and they cannot haggle for “special” people and not for “average” buyers….but why is it that I receive NO service when I go to Guitar-Centers all over the state of TX?
    Austin, Tx: guys are assholes and they tell me not to try the instruments, no customer service…they tell me that they are busy and to stop asking for them to help. =)

    I don’t give a crap HOW much they know about music….you NEVER treat a customer like this!
    I would know!…I work at walmart!
    I can’t even complain against the employees because the manager is even worse….”Well you shouldn’t come here so much.”….haha
    Service?
    Business? =)
    Fck guitar center…I’m no longer buying from there…oh ya…”So what, you’re just 1 customer.”
    XD *flips the bird*

  21. ACCGuy

    Sorry to hear about your bad experience Nabbuko. I’ve never heard of a GC not allowing demos, that’s sales suicide right there. The only advice I can give is to find a sales guy that has shown some thoughtfulness and has given you some time to try stuff out. When you return seek out the same person to help you, call ahead to make sure the person is there, it will benefit you both. Basically establish a go-to guy.
    Again this situation would likely be avoided if the turnover rate weren’t so high. The good guys often might make as much as the bad guys and never succeed in the business. The hiring process only filters people out based on if they are willing to work off of commission or not. I don’t believe you need to have a background in music, though it helps. If the company gave their knowledgeable staff some adequate compensation, then there might be a better population of informed/professional sales guys.

    What I want to happen is for them to change the pay structure, but they won’t change that unless there is better customer awareness of the situation. Pay = minimum wage + commissions*. Commissions are only paid out if your sales %’s exceed your months hourly wage, of which you get the difference. Example for 1 month

    Gr Sales: you made GC 20,000 : you get 2% = 400
    Gr Pft: you made GC 9,000 profit you get 10%=900
    400 + 900 = $1300 – min wage earned.
    Hrly min wage 7.25 x 40 hr week x 4 wks = 1160
    1300 (Sales %s combined) – 1160 (min wg)= $140

    Congratulations you’re a GC employee having had an average sales month. You’ve made a hard earned minimum wage paycheck plus an extra 140 dollars. To those wondering why service is a failure and why haggling is a problem, there is your answer. Help us out, give corporate some feedback on your thoughts.

    • nick

      yeah, GC salesman are massively underpaid. Mandatory meeting this morning (mandatory meeting?! minimum wage?!), and even our manager said he wished we all made a base salary of at least $12/hr + commission, because we work way to hard for what we get. And it really is true… and on top of it we have to deal with the b/s from customers begging “what’s my price, man?” You’re price is GLP, aka Guaranteed Lowest Price, meaning you won’t find it cheaper anywhere else… and i’m usually more than happy to dig up a coupon for you to get it even cheaper, and even 90 ticket in some free strings, etc. you still get hooked up at GC, and when we hook you up, we’re pulling money out of our own pockets…. its tough to discount, yet i still go out of my way to try and get you a cheaper price or some free accessories, even though its hurting me. I’ve been calling egnater 3 times a week trying to get them to send me a new pedal for a tourmaster head for free, because i have a customer who wants the head, but needs the working pedal, even though we are losing money on the head (clearanced out bc it doesn’t have a pedal) – so yeah, i’m running through hoops to help a customer out on a sale that will probably go under house numbers as it will literally lose me money. we do what we can to help, you’re getting the lowest price at GC, and you still complain. find me the product new anywhere else online, and i will match that price, and take some money off! how can you beat that? the corporation is greedy? sounds like customers are confused and greedy

  22. Your blog is so informative … ..I just bookmarked you….keep up the good work!!!!

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    -Robert Shumake Fifth Third

  23. DamnImCold

    Any company has a threshold of what can be done regarding pricing to keep their profits inline. That’s how it is in the car business. The salespeople know how much they can discount the car, and that’s how it used to be at GC. Now many of us know how much this stuff is really marked up. Why would I pay hundreds more than I need to? The only reason I used to go to the GC I went to was because of a dude named Aaron that always took care of me. I’ve spent a lot of money at this place. I called to order a drum set the other day, and the guy had no clue what I was talking about (AND HE WORKS IN DRUMS & PERCUSSION). Then he tells me that the price is what the price is. I tell him that I’ve always gotten a deal there. “That’s too bad,” he says.

    I think that this is crazy, and the folks that have been coming back to GC for years and years won’t be coming back anymore. I would much rather spend my money at place where people seem to care. When I get a better deal on something, I will be buying more. Doesn’t look like it will be at Guitar Center anymore.

  24. TCB

    Great blog! Couldn’t agree more. The day the deals ended was the day I stopped buying from GC. Nowadays, when I need something and can’t find it on craigslist, ebay, etc. I just order from sweetwater.com because they offer free shipping on everything and I don’t have to pay tax. Walking into GC and paying full price plus tax is a huge dealbreaker. I think this was hugely a bad move on their part and they surely lost a valueable customer.

  25. Henry Moss

    It is ridiculous that Guitar Center won’t permit haggling anymore. It makes sense that a small Mom and Pop store would ban the practice but it is pure corporate greed in the case of GC. Guitar Center, like Wal-Mart is a volume dealer. It sells so many items in such large quantity that it doesn’t have to rely on squeezing the most profit out of each item sold, because of the sheer amount of items it sells.

    Also it is greedy because Guitar Center sells.. well Guitars.. luxury items bought for sheer enjoyment, not out of necessity (although some musicians may argue that point). Name brands like Gibson and Fender and Martin make huge percentage profits off the sale of their items. I myself am going to purchase a 2000 dollar Gibson guitar at Guitar Center within the next couple of weeks. It doesn’t cost anywhere near that much for Gibson to manufacture its guitars, rather they rely on the clout of their name to charge that much. The same is true of Martin and Fender, although Fender is not as egregiously overpriced as the other two.

    When the Guitar Center employee says ‘c’mon you don’t get to haggle when you buy groceries’, yeah no crap, because grocery stores only make about 1 dollar profit for every 100 dollars worth of goods they sell! You couldn’t possibly haggle for your groceries and have any grocer stay in business. But its preposterous for Guitar Center to plead poverty because so many of their items are so overpriced relative to the cost of manufacture, and because they are now an empire that can crush any of their smaller Mom and Pop competition. Guitar Center is an Empire, make no mistake, and all empires are greedy. Doesn’t mean I’ll likely stop shopping there, but lets at least call a spade a spade. Small-time American citizens are absolute morons when it comes to being sucked into feeling sympathy for huge corporations and buying all their bull crap about, ‘oh we have to screw you over if we want to stay in business’ Wake up, and take care of the little guy, after all, if you’re reading this you probably are the little guy!

    • nick

      do you know how gibson “relies on the clout of their name?” a buttload of advertising… which you are also paying for with the guitar… the company needs to stay in business by selling guitars, and advertising is a part of business… guess how they pay for it? the same way every other company pays for advertising… do you think a roll of Charmin toilet paper costs anywhere near $3.00? hell no haha, it costs pennies… but how do you think they got you to whistle their little jingle all day long? i’ve found most of the people complaining about GC have absolutely know idea how businesses are run… go tell the best buy salesman you want money off your Sony Bravia because “its a luxury item and doesn’t cost nearly that much to make, especially since its made in 3rd world countries.” at least your gibson is made in America… pretty cheap for expensive labor on a “luxury item.”

  26. While I’ve run into the occasional noob at Guitar Center who didn’t know their butt from a hole in the ground, I’ve also been pretty lucky when dealing on larger purchases. Sales associates were usually quick to offer some kind of discount and with a little push, you could usually get a few bucks more off. Even on small items like strings and cables, they would usually offer a discount of some kind. It’s a shame GC’s prices are already inflated, because they do have a good selection of stuff. I still prefer to buy online or from the local mom & pop music store when I can.

  27. Dizzle

    “When the Guitar Center employee says ‘c’mon you don’t get to haggle when you buy groceries’, yeah no crap, because grocery stores only make about 1 dollar profit for every 100 dollars worth of goods they sell!”

    Apperantly you have no idea what you are talking about. I worked for Albertsons and my wife now works at HEB, and the mark up is huge on groceries. How do you think any company survives? I now work at Guitar Center in the drum department. It is impossible for me to make commission due to low traffic, plus everyone wanting a deal. I am just trying to help people get the right stuff, and we already have the lowest price. The local shops here sell a 22″ Remo PowerStroke 3 bass drum head for $61.99, and ours is $38.39(seriously). That is why those shops haggle. Even after you haggle with them, the price may be $51.99, and still over priced. Thats why they dont have a loyal following. I continue to work at GC even at minimum wage because I enjoy helping people with finding the right gear, so lets stop pointing out flaws that aren’t true.

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  29. Martin

    Is this still their policy? I found this blog while trying to find out more info about it.

    My opinion on Guitar Center not allowing haggling is this; if they don’t want to allow it for new gear that’s fine. New gear has a smaller mark up and has higher overhead. But why not used gear? I mean, we all know that if you’re looking at something used that is priced at $1,000 at any music shop that generally means they paid $500 or less. That should be fair game.

    I used to stop in once a week, and since they’ve stopped allowing haggling I’ve stopped in twice in the past three years. If they’re going to sell their new gear at retail price, I’ll get it from a mom and pop or online. If they’re going to sell their used gear at eBay prices, I’ll get it from eBay and save the sales tax and the gas. I have no need to check out what they have. Brilliant business model.

    • nick

      actually, if something is marked at $1000, that usually means we payed more than $500. On anything cheap, we usually tag it at double the price. So if a guitar is worth $200, the guy gets $100 for it. But on more expensive gear, we don’t make double, we make less, otherwise our offer to the customer is an insult and will never work. For example – customer brings in gibson hummingbird, retails new at ~$2800, which means we’ll probably sell it for about $1600-1800 used… but there’s no way we can offer the customer $800-900 for it, so he’ll get 1100-1200, which is a bit better for the customer, plus he gets 10% off his purchase (if buying something), so that can be up to another $500, depending on purchase. But, we will NEVER make more than double on a used item… i sold a video game to gamestop today and got $20 for it… i saw they were selling it used for $55 – i was pissed, and they laughed when i asked if there was wiggle room

  30. Customer turned Employee turned Man Shaking Stick

    Ok, there are many misconceptions being cast around that will drive me crazy if I don’t respond. And believe me before I say this, I don’t have a love of defending a corporation that pays me $**t, but that’s besides the point. Guitar Center does not sell anything for retail cost/msrp or however you want to call it. Those prices were relevant in the past and provided plenty of space to maneuver for haggling….this no longer applies. YES, there is mark up still but that’s how the lower price gets carried to you. Wholesale purchases being marked to MAP price (not even close to retail). Notice that there are 2 prices on the Guitar Center price tags. There is retail printed in small case, and GLP (our term for MAP) printed large. The mark up is actually fairly reasonable since a business needs to profit in order to grow, pretty simple. GC buys there stuff wholesale and then tags it at MAP. For those who don’t know this abbreviation, its Minimum Advertised Price. Each manufacturer determines this and has their varying levels of markup, some are next to nothing while others have higher margin. I’m very skeptical that a Mom & Pop store would have a lower price . Generally they have to price it higher because they can’t buy in the sheer volume of gear. For example some dealers can’t carry Gibson because they can’t afford to buy in the minimum purchase. Its not really fair, but the fact remains. More is determined by the manufacturers than people realize in setting rules and pricing.
    In the case of used gear there is actually more gear offered on the used guitar center website than ebay itself. If you want to “haggle” gear on ebay or risk being outbid, go for it to get the lower price. Of course you may not have a return period or the benefits of financing something which are helpful options the store provides. Saving tax is nominal considering that generally you’ve gotten something that has been tested and has a return period. The reason why we don’t have to haggle used gear is because we actually do price it very competitively. I don’t see much gear hanging around for long, and if it does happen to be sitting around for a long time, that might be something they’ll consider negotiating in some infrequent cases.
    Get coupons or keep your eyes open for specials. We don’t combine them because they can’t exceed the floor price because…….then there’s nothing to profit and therefore no point. I find it amazing that comparable corporate businesses like Bestbuy, Walmart, Target, and Radioshack don’t get nearly as much flack for not haggling. This company invests a ton of money in advertising, free coupons and free gift cards! I’ve never gotten a free $20 gift card in the mail to use at face value! Even with these freebies, people still want to haggle!?!?!!?! I search for Best Buy coupons and barely come up with anything. What stores let you basically try whatever you want before you buy it??? I know that there will be some people that will never be pleased, but give the store credit where its due. That’s my rant, I’m sure there will be more.

    • nick

      and well said, point i forgot to make… i don’t walk into the grocery store or bestbuy and asking for a discount because of how much i’ve spent there. what makes guitar center so special? why do we have to be the only coorperation to discount our merchandise lower than the manufacturers GLP?? we offer the lowest price, isn’t that enough?

  31. nick

    well, you can still haggle, for one ( iwork there.) We also match anybody so its always lowest price guarantee, and for used gear, its amazing (for buying, anyways) because the general rule of thumb for the salesman is, buy low sell low.. guaranteed to sell fast and make money, and the customer gets a great deal. also offer a great warranty that, in all honesty, is worth it on some items, and not on others. I NEVER buy warranties, but you gotta be a moron not to get it on effects pedals… you STEP ON IT!!!! but, no, people “will be careful,” with it… ok, keep stepping on youre electronics, i guarantee you it will break… get the warranty, and its no hassle, get a new pedal at the store immediately… manufacturer warranty? have fun, you MAY have a new, or fixed pedal within half a year. GC is definitely the “evil empire,” or walmart of music, but its the place to go if you’re looking to save money. Don’t be a douche, or the guy always going “what’s my price man? c’mon, whats the best you can do for ME?” – that doesn’t work, but there are polite, non douchbag ways to get a deal. and don’t pull the “i’ve spent 100,000 bucks here man, c’mon.” because one, that doesn’t help you’re cause, and 2, we can look you up in the system and see every item you’ve purchased, serial number and all

  32. vermillion

    we’re talking about 60-100% mark ups on some of this stuff though, the reason GC got into trouble financially is too many grossly overpaid managers & too much redundancy in management. No reason GC couldn’t haggle on price & offer employees a commission, it’s how they got so big in the first place! I’ll visit GC to check out stuff, because they do have a decent floor selection, I’ll almost never buy there though, all of their shit is floor model stuff-essentially used gear by the time you get it-and I can usually get a better price on better condition stuff from a mom & pop & maybe talk to somebody who actually knows what they’re selling you to boot!

  33. Matty Matt Matt

    The customer experience suffers greatly due the pay structure and system redundancies. We can’t discount this stuff for you. It is just simply a bad idea for us if you hope to fade, meaning, make more than $7.25 an hour.
    There have been bonuses removed, elimination of positions that come with commission increases, hours cut and workload increased this year like carazy. All this and they are opening new stores, its because of that, we know that, but its on the back of us….. Kind of a deuch thing to do to people. I’m #1 in my store (greenscreen only, poo) and I’m here broke…. again.
    The real guys leave burnt because they will take advantage of your knowledge base and cut your pay in return. Emo kids replace them and are ‘trained’… bam, crap sandwich. They are gunning for 2 managers that can keep the contestants rolling. Just pay us something not humiliating, please, and we’ll stay… All these complaints would disappear because we’d all be into it and you would retain good people. Make the positions sought after and not settled for.
    But no. lmfao, This place is cash, that is it, no more, no less. They don’t care who you are and what its for, buy it. Like the job or get out. What you expect for an average of 8.75 an hour is ridiculous… truly. Its insulting, actually. I’m gonna cut back to part time on my way out… man… clown shoes.
    I have never gotten so bitter at a job I was so good at and should have enjoyed.

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  35. Guitar Center Will fail. You can haggle at Best Buy and it’s non-commission. I make $12.70/hr/40hrs/full benies at Best Buy Musical Instruments. Christ you get $17/hr+bonus for being a supervisor in the dept. There is no point in working for GuitarCenter anymore. They have screwed their employees. Work for Best Buy. It’s fucking easy and they don’t fire you for not selling alot. You get paid for your relationship building skills and just asking for the sale.

  36. JMB

    If you’re not passionate about what you love to do, then you’re not a fully committed in my opinion. This is why we have commissioned salesman or guys who work for big chain stores for cheap trying to get by. Lets face it; do many of us have a choice in today’s economy? This is where HUGE corporations make out. Real guitar repairman and/or luthiers don’t need chain store positions,but neither do CEOs in giant corporations. Luthiers are beyond of the scope of required box specs in terms of knowledge and sharing internet info or as well as shareholders paying for research and marketing strategy. I used to shop at Guitar Center. I don’t like their way of business in the sense that it’s the same nonsense and overpaid prices for stuff that is built dirt cheap in Asian factories. Gibson and ESP are not “made in USA”. At those levels of mass production, marketing is there to sell big numbers for giant conglomerates like Guitar Center in small towns across the country. These companies use high price tags to make their instruments seem higher in quality. No longer do we get what we pay for. I don’t like the fact that consumers aren’t told this and there’s nothing that says they have to. Lets face it, if Gibson came clean about their USA off-the-racks guitars coming from Asian factories they would lose their business. I’m not saying all Gibsons are terrible guitars because they aren’t. The big business incentives is what drives up corporate consumer competition and pushes out the middle man. Heckling was the old way to doing business by both salesman and customer (most know it as negotiating a deal). The educated people got by, the ones who didn’t got screwed. In these times, it’s too easy to go into a chain store like Guitar Center uneducated and take whatever it is they see fit. I only want a recommendation when I ask. Even then, I’m fickle about split second decisions to make or break a deal.

    I’m not trying to be a stick in the mudd, but it is what is is. The owners of Guitar Center are not your friend. As nice as a salesman may be, they want your loyalty not your friendship. There are some very decent minded salesman who are committed to music outside of their job that I respect. I believe Guitar Center found a way to cut incentives because it puts more money in the Shareholders and CEO’s pockets. The sales floor is still the same where employees are underpaid, working long hours trying to meet very unfair deadlines to make ends meet.

    I think Fender is a overall good company and one of the better mass produced guitars with a larger selection to choose from in all price ranges. Ibanez and Ernie Ball/Music Man also makes better-quality off-the-rack guitars for a fair price than most Gibsons or ESPs.
    Then again, I wouldn’t want a new import Fender Strat for $500 + tax/shipping when I could get an original late 80s import Kramer with original Floyd Rose for $350-$450 in very good condition. Timelines of mass production also play an important role when buying because older woods were better on guitars than what we have now. Modern electronics totally surpass the old stuff so there’s always a trade-off. There’s no easy answer, the solution is getting yourself educated.

    Remember, there’s no laws that forbid corporations from buying up as many names brands as they want and fixing the prices from one store to another on the same items. It’s up to you, the consumer, to also learn to buy smart and do your research beforehand. In a retail market where tinkering prices is virtually obsolete, why not just learn where to buy smart anyway because it still helps?

  37. JMB

    For your information, anybody who thinks they will find an extremely rare guitar like a 1938 Martin D28 in a Guitar Center is going to be disappointed. Those guitars are bought and sold by business people who have the funds to do so. Unless of course you’re lucky enough to find it in Grandma’s old closet after all these years, chances are the commissioned salesman who promised to give you a call when one comes his way isn’t. Commissioned or not, certain things are not going to change within the walls of these big retail chain stores.

  38. EsotericInterests

    Why debate it? GC will likely shift to online sales only at some point and shut down the retail outlets. And to the employee that is drinking the Kool-Aid, it’s EBITDA- no offense. That’s cool that the employees are pumped about the new direction. But honestly, it’s pretty easy for someone with an MBA to jam acronyms and ratios onto a PowerPoint and convince employees with a basic high school education that they know what they’re talking about. Having an MBA myself, I speak from experience.

  39. Interesting. But haggling isn’t really necessary if other stores out there are offering discounts as well on the same product.

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  41. More and more people are taking work from home jobs. It is now easier than ever to make money online.

  42. Peter Pertierra

    I’m an employee @ Sam Ash music and I have to say that I’ve seen both sides. I worked for Circuit City right after ther converted their employees to hourly from commissioned. We too had to be certified in our areas of expertise and take online courses. What upset me the most is that you did not see any incentive for working hard. I was the most knowledgable in the home theater area and sold as much as the full timers. In the end I took home pay equivalent to my hourly wage. No bonuses,nothing extra. At Sam Ash as a commisioned employee, my pay is determined by how much I sell. I see the fruits of my labor. Everyone always wants a discount and they are entitled to ask for one. But working on a music store takes more than just knowing how to ring up a register. You need to build your customer base and develop a good relationship with your customers. I wish you the best. Just a little insight drom the “other” side.

  43. Irina

    4.5 years after the acquisition of Guitar Center by Bain, and a little over 4 years since the “Discount Management” initiative was set in place….Lets take a look at what the “greedy money hungry wal-mart of music stores” aka Guitar Center has done with all that extra money they have made by ripping off haggling customers by making them pay normal prices.

    1. They are creating hundreds of new jobs by opening new stores all over the country…I believe something like 15 new stores just in 2013.
    In each of these new stores has a new innovative department called GC Studios, in an effort to help people make music they now offer lessons to aspiring musicians and in some locations: rent practice spaces for bands. How horrible.

    2. They have restructured their Sales Manager position to incorporate better training of their employees while cultivatiitng strong store mangers to run the new stores they open. How horrible.

    3. Have you ever wanted to try out some software to see how it works or maybe hear some sound samples from a virtual instrument before you get ripped off by paying normal price for it? Now you can! Plus in an effort to help people make music they offer free home recording classes every Saturday morning where you can spend valuable time with an associate that offers you his/her training (not selling) absolutely free of charge. Where else can you learn Pro Tools for free? There’s no such thing as a free lunch people….enjoy. How horrible.

    4. In an effort to help people make music they have rolled out several new programs to facilitate both customer service, support, and sales followup. Now your own sales associate will shoot you a friendly thank you email and make sure that you are happy with your purchase and proactively ensure that you get your moneys worth out of the gear you got ripped off by paying normal price for. What a shame.

    5. When this thread was first written in 2008, guitarcenter.com wasn’t nearly the resource that it has become. As of 2012 guitarcenter.com now boasts more used mi than ebay. You can now purchase any piece of gear, new or used from any store in the company while sitting in you underwear at home, and if you have questions about said piece of gear you can visit the direct web page of your local store or the store that houses the piece you have your eyes on and email any associate directly. So you can now shop online AND still interact with a trained human being that gives a shit about your business and wants to help you make music. Can you get that kind of service from say….. Amazon? Hell no. Amazon drops their pants on all of their prices to move mass quantity without the customer experience and community outreach that Guitar Center is striving towards. And if its Amazon’s price that you’re after, they will beat it….yeah discount management is really about being smart about what they discount, its not discount refusal….it just puts a damper on all of the sport grinders and hagglers that think they deserve a better price than everyone else. Ya see, Guitar Center wants to be an equal opportunity ripper offer and force everyone to pay normal price.

    These are but only a few things that discount management has allowed Guitar Center to accomplish since the hagglers got their panties in a wad back in 2008. They still will not be undersold if price is your issue, print out a sheet from Amazon, or just pull it up on your phone inside the store and get it for less right there and go home with your new stuff. They still make commission by the way….which almost invalidates this entire thread….they have spent every dime helping people make music and they do care about you. And if anything written on this post doesnt line up with an outstanding customer experience in the store I assure you they would be honored at the opportunity to make things right if you give them the chance.

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