It is possible that the truth as a literal entity has been greatly eroded in this third decade of the 21st century. In our post Trumpian world it may seem that politicians have extended their boundaries of useable falsehood and have willing allies in decaying media channels equally desperate for attention to perpetrate disinformation.

However in our micro world of specialist enthusiast consumer electronics purveyance it seems to me that standards of raw honesty are perhaps higher than they have ever been before.

When I came to Melbourne in the early eighties and was introduced to the commission based sales practices that were the norm of the time, the truth was something the typical hardened Brashes or Northern Electronics salesman would leave at home with the children. (Nb in the eighties it was possible for a basic single income household to easily pay a mortgage and support a wife and 2.4 children at home ... a good house was $50K ...)

Part of this was due to the financial rewards for a high achieving salesperson being quite lucrative. However the price was paid by the middle Australian consumer who were generally fed a deliberate diet of misinformation in order to be sold those inventory purchases that returned the greatest gross profit (GP) and the highest distributor special incentive (Spiv) to the salesperson.

This type of retail sales practice was derived from post war American incentive schemes that was fundamentally designed for selling motor cars to people. It was largely Dale Carnegie and Zig Ziglar based and very effective in its day.

In the local Hi Fi scene, unless you were one of the very few Australian consumers who came across the rare specialist enthusiast press from overseas, your primary source of information in the eighties was the salesmen interactions that occurred in a store.

Those Hi Fi magazines were usually only sold in specialist places like the much loved and missed Technical Book Shop on Swanston St. Coming here from the UK where the shoppers were guided by a number of competing critical enthusiast magazines that could be browsed in any WH Smiths, I was at first struck by the naivety on Hi Fi qualitative factors that the customers I met demonstrated ... 

They were easy meat for being sold a Sansui Super Compo system with optional graphic equaliser and furniture style loudspeakers at massive GP ... " the bass is good isn't it mate?" 

The speakers that were on these systems were truly awful. 

The speakers were the profit line and were often locally made but without thought for quality and performance. They were assembled with the cheapest possible components by backstreet cabinet makers and essentially sold as furniture with a hopelessly inflated retail price. This gave the salesman lots of room to maneuver on price to hard close the sale while still getting a high commission.

In fact it was when the iconic Mordaunt Short MS30 bookshelf loudspeaker came into the business that I worked at in the eighties in Melbourne that this particular scam came to a justified end. Suddenly you could buy a small and elegant British bookshelf speaker that was ineffably superior to the locally built monstrosities and, as it was at a distributor controlled retail price, was one third the price of them as well. 

That type of loudspeaker product used by the retailer as a commission sell profit line gave Australian designers a terrible reputation locally that took a decade to overcome. These days I must emphasise Australian loudspeaker designs are absolutely world class.

Speaker sales scams still exist though ... has a white van pulled up alongside you at the lights lately with, "ä spare set of speakers from a delivery to Carlton Audio Visual, you know what I mean mate."....

There was the time a store on Lonsdale St offered a prize to the salesman who could sell the then new ADC QLM34 cartridge for the highest price. They would simply size up the clients income and represent and charge accordingly.

Then the inevitable happened and two clients from previous days came into the store clutching their recently purchased ADC cartridges and placed them on the counter in front of the salesman ...

"Yesterday when I needed a new pickup you sold me this catridge for $185. However when my friend came in two days ago he bought this one for $120 ... please explain ..."

"Well" said the salesman "the cartridge I gave you is the hyper elliptical stylus variant whereas your friend just has the regular version."

Quoth the customer "in that case can we get the upgrade for him as well please?" ...

They say a lie goes around the world before the truth has it's boots on ...

It took a while, but these days the local specialist Hi Fi shops no longer operate on individual commissions and special sales incentives. I think once one or two stores in this market sector changed the tune of sales practice then the others were forced to follow so as to be able to play in the same feild of clients.

I believe we may have been the first store in our market sector in Australia to forego individual commission as a modus operandi in 1992.

Telling the truth is a simple and powerful sales tool that is almost impossible to competitively overcome by another business with a policy of falsehood for profit. 

Telling the truth is easy as well. Every time a lie is told on behalf of an organisation then the foundation of that enterprise is undermined.

To my knowledge most of our peer stores no longer use individual commissions and this has become one of the main background cultural issues that separates the specialist Hi Fi store from the bulk store ... and I suspect is one of the reasons why repeated attempts by retail chains in Australia to break in to the enthusiast Home Cinema and Hi Fi scene have failed. 

This being said it dosn't mean that stores like ours aren't lazy and sometimes lacking in knowledge base. In a recent mystery shop by an extra industry professional of Hi Fi stores in Australia only 4 out of 20 were readily prepared to actually play him some music ... and some of the knowledge bases from the representatives seemed to be a tad marginal.

Google of course allows clients great recourse for reporting on the trut of their experiences interacting with a business. Now we have suffered the slings and arrows of fake Google reviews from the local Anti Vaxxers and ohmigod it's hard to get those off our page. Generally a good specialist store is in the four stars or above rating while the bulk stores seem to be in the three star level. 

I suspect the likes of Harvey Norman don't care about Google ratings as they tend to be selling to a lower research base demographic and and normally would normally heavily fund their own independant marketing campaigns.

That being said there are occasional individual Harvey Norman and JB stores where they have working there that right person with the passion for music and Hi Fi and they can really excel in that environment. Harvey Norman stores are operated as franchisees so there is often quite a lot of variation.

The following is attributed to the late Stereophile founder J. Gordon Holt, but may well have come from elsewhere. In any case, here it is for your delectation:

Truth 1: Any idiot can design a loudspeaker, and unfortunately, many do.

Truth 2: You can say anything you want, who’s to prove you wrong?

Truth 3: The right amount of magnet is the right amount of magnet.

Truth 4: The only transient of significance in the audio business is tranquility. It is also the briefest.

Truth 5: Accuracy of reproduction is determined by how well a sound system models someone’s warped set of preconceived notions.

Truth 6: In audio, as elsewhere, foolproof systems prove the existence of fools.

Truth 7: The size of a woofer is determined not by desired low frequency response, but by perceived sexual dysfunction. After all, it’s not the mass it’s the motion.

Truth 8: Price buys not performance but paranoia.

Truth 9: The most outspoken experts on concert hall sonic reality have seldom, if ever, been to a concert.

Truth 10: The more money spent on an audiophile system, the less time spent on listening to music.

Truth 11: In a minimum phase system there is an inextricable link between frequency response, phase response, and transient response, as they are all merely transforms of one another. This, combined with minimization of open-look errors in output amplifiers and correct compensation for nonlinear passive crossover network loading, can lead to a significant decrease in lost system resolution. However, this all means nothing when you listen to Pink Floyd.

Truth 12: All small, state-of-the-art audio manufacturers are really manifestations of Phineas T. Barnum.

Final Truth: The audio business is no place for reasonable people to make a living.