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Changes to Our Advisory Service

A quick update regarding changes to our advisory service.

You may be aware that we offer an advisory service to the hi-fi community. We’re one of just a handful of technical specialists doing so. Through this service and a desire to assist hi-fi lovers, we’ve helped people worldwide diagnose faults, improve their systems, purchase end-game hi-fi equipment and more.

We currently offer two levels of service:

Existing Issues

Both offer excellent value and insight for advice seekers and reduce productivity-killing, brain-draining conversations for me which can chew up hours, PER DAY! I’ve historically administered these advisory services generously, relying on user honesty, and letting people pay retrospectively, according to how much of my time they thought they’d used.

The problems with this approach might seem obvious and in retrospect, I was naive to think this would work. Many folks under-donated or didn’t at all, and I found myself helping people I didn’t even know, who then just disappeared, often without even a “thanks”! Not a viable way to run a business, so I tightened things up and donations became payments, but it still cost me to provide the advisory service.

I’m happy to offer advisory services and they help many, but it’s not core business and a ton of advice is built into how I run the business anyway, something customers know well. Unfortunately, despite mostly positive interactions with wonderful people, a few problematic situations mean further changes are needed. Either that or I cancel the service and people don’t want me to do that.

First, a big shout-out to Liquid Audio friends, supporters and folks who respect how we do things, including customers, advice seekers, consult purchasers, one-offs, regulars and our first monthly donor. You know who you are!

Considerations

I considered the following in revising the advisory service:

  • The service offers unique, conflict-of-interest-free expertise and insight
  • We’re a specialist service provider, not a retailer or charity, time is money
  • The advisory service is not core business and I don’t need to offer it
  • My time is valuable so un/underpaid interactions should be eliminated

Problematic Enquirers

Example 1

I recently assisted an advice seeker with a high-end turntable and ancillary equipment purchase, via multiple lengthy calls and emails. This individual purchased a small amount of discussion time and I donated a considerable amount beyond that, based on a good-faith discussion and understanding that the equipment would come to me for assessment and service.

Unfortunately, despite several follow-ups, I learned that the equipment subsequently went to another local business (a colleague) that played no part in the process and doesn’t offer an advisory service. What should have been a fully paid consult and valuable follow-up work, morphed into me earning less than a child’s minimum wage to help an ungrateful customer and a fantastic result for a colleague who played no part in the process. When I politely raised this with the person I’d assisted I was rudely dismissed.

Insane story, this actually happened.

(edit: two YEARS later and it still pisses me off!)

Example 2

‘G’ contacted me seeking technical assistance with his rare and extremely valuable Sansui amplifier. He enjoyed my free articles and some free advice but when I suggested he purchase a small amount of time to address his follow-up questions, G lost his shit:

“F*** you, I’m not going to pay you for a simple question, that speaks to how miserable you are.”

G

Example 3

‘K’ wanted KD-600 turntable advice after I’d already assisted him over several long conversations, at my expense. When I suggested he purchase some time for further assistance, he threatened that he knew someone in the Australian Tax Office who “might like to know about that.” Proving my point about how hard it is to find expert advice, K contacted me again recently, wanting more help, hoping I’d forgotten. I haven’t, and I won’t.

Summary & Changes

stealing

I’ve created hundreds of freely available articles, FAQs, reviews and videos filled with advice and tips about classic hi-fi gear. Stealing from me is like rummaging through your mum’s purse after she cooks you dinner. With this in mind, I’d like to announce the following changes, effective immediately:

  • We now only offer 10, 20, 30 and 60-minute paid advice bites and consults
  • Advice will be provided selectively and only through our advisory service
  • Recipients will only receive assistance after payment is received

Reasonable people will understand and I sincerely thank you for it, I’m here for reasonable people ONLY! If you have any suggestions for further improvement to the service, I’d love to hear them in the comments below or by email.

Thanks and as always friends, onwards.

Postscript

Well, I could never have predicted the response this post would generate. It’s funny, but I was nervous about posting my feelings on this, and yet the comments, calls, email responses and even donations I’ve received since have been amazing, mind-blowing actually!

Quite literally everyone has been positive and supportive, with many sharing similar stories from their own working experience. This genuine outflowing support has taken me by surprise and helped me feel a little lighter about something that felt heavy, so again, thank you.


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16 thoughts on “Changes to Our Advisory Service”

  1. Alexander MacDonald

    Good job in handling this touchy subject.
    Sad encounters for sure, but this is being handled beautifully. Best from Montreal
    Alex MacDonald

  2. i cant believe people have the Gall to act like this . I always pay a handsome EXTRA to my tech when i tell him to put in the best Capacitors because i want him to thrive . He’s doing me a favour keeping my gear going so i don’t have to purchase the overpriced new gear being priced today as if they were luxury works of art.

  3. Hey Mikey,
    People can be so terrific and also such a*#^holes!
    We need you, (from my selfish point of view), to be running a very successful business that remains so until you decide to move on. So you may need to keep refining until the abuser’s are shut out completely, so be it.
    Too bad you don’t run a advanced school on hifi repair and advice for a similar business here in Melbourne, (Australia).
    It would give me more confidence to chase those trophy vintage pieces I rarely see.
    All the best
    🙂

  4. Perfectly reasonable Mike. I used your advisory service when purchasing a vintage amplifier. The advice paid for itself many times over.

    1. Thanks Tony, you’re the kind of person I’ll always go out of my way to help, purely because of your approach. It has very little to do with the numbers for me, it’s overwhelmingly about the principles of fairness and reciprocity.

  5. “If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and man.”

    ― Mark Twain

  6. Good deal Mike. Now I know what is fair for compensation, You always told me “not necessary”, and I always guessed at an acceptable amount. Have you cloned yourself in the USA yet ???

  7. Wow… Mike, I’m sorry that bad people always want to be taking advantage. I really do appreciate the basic electronics knowledge you freely shared with me recently. Also, 9 days & counting of rock solid steady speed on that ‘table. Thanks again man! Next time I have a little spare cash I’ll send some more your way jes on principle. 1st off though I gotta recoup my parts expenditure as i went ahead & got 4 more of every component that was involved in the speed issues on that board…because … ya never know what might become Unobtanium down the road.LOL!

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