P.T. Barnum said it so succinctly all those years ago when he exclaimed “There’s a sucker born every minute”.
Countless examples of forgeries and scams abound on the internet: Nike shoes knocked up in backyard sheds, fake Rolex watches bought for $100 at carpark markets, let alone bogus investments in platinum and the foreign exchange market.
HiFi and HT electronics also have their fair share of rogue operators as well, and those looking to buy a bargain need to be forewarned – the products are basically crap with knobs on.
For the past 10 years or more scurrilous ‘salesman’ operating from white vans (white van scam) have been peddling brands such as Acoustic Studio Monitor, Linear Phase and Dynalab to unsuspecting victims. It’s a simple scam, they’ll pull up alongside you in a carpark or at the lights and offer their wares at an unbelievable price, usually as a result of ‘over ordering’ or quitting ‘end of line’ stock.
Typically these salesman are well versed in the art of the hard sell, and are only too willing to mark down the equipment from the usual $3995 to an unbelievable $600.
Watch this clip from a British documentary highlighting the poor quality of the goods, and the underhanded methods of white van scammers.
It sounds like the bargain of the century, but beware – the components or speakers lurking within each carton will be poorly made and terrible sounding at best, and dangerous at worst.
It’s pretty much a done deal that you’ll not find any of the international safety certificates stamped on the back, such as CE or UL ratings – this will mean the gear hasn’t been tested and met European or North American safety standards.
Doing the rounds on TradeMe at the moment is a brand called Marc Vincent, and at face value (and without knowledge of audio equipment) you’d consider the gear the bargain of the century.
After all, the website proudly proclaims its European lineage as a ‘synergy of Italian design and latest German audio technologies’.
What could possibly be wrong with that?
Sadly, after a closer look at the specifications and features of the equipment, all is not what it seems.
Equipped with advanced technology such as a ‘DTS Prosound 3 Decoder’, ‘MP3 digital PRO inputs’, ‘AC-3 active scan A/V inputs’ and delivering a whopping 3000 watt output, the non-HDMI equipped MV-8000s is nothing more than a poorly made piece of shit. In fact if there was ever a Transformer Elephant made from HiFi components, this is precisely what would be pouring out of its arse.
For all Marc Vincent’s claims about the amplifier being Blu-Ray ready, the lack of HDMI or any digital input is patently ridiculous. As for video connections, the best you’ll find on the sparsely populated tinplate rear panel is a solitary S-Video output along with a few composite outputs.
Not exactly value at the recommended $US2000MRSP is it?
Other dubious brands to watch out for are Symphony Orchestra (amps/speakers), while projector scam brands Oracle and Pro-Optics turn up like bad pennies quite often on TM.
So to finish off, always research the product before making a commitment to buy. Ask plenty of questions, and if possible look closely at pictures of the connection panel of the component – at the very least it should have a recognised safety certificate printed on the back, and if the ad states ‘Blu-Ray compatible’ or has internal DTS decoders, it must have the appropriate digital connections for it to work properly.
And don’t be sucked in by the apparent drastic price cut, or the fact that it has to be sold because ‘it’s way too big for my room’, or ‘just bought a home with a HT system pre-installed so don’t need this’ and other porkies.
The bottom line is: if it sounds too good to be true, then it bloody well definitely is…