My fellow Billiard Retailers and I have joined together to create the "Don't Get Hustled!" campaign. We are an industry of craftsmen and women who work very hard at our chosen profession and we want to impart some information to those in the market for a pool table.
When you purchase a pool table online, it is like purchasing a kit car and having it delivered in pieces and then calling your mechanic to come and build it for you. Although not quite as complicated, putting pool tables together is an art. You must have patience, mechanical ability, and the kind of tenacity that ensures you will end up with an excellent product. Simply leveling a table takes skill, and with any craft, plumbing, electrical, etc., you call those who know what they're doing.
If you've owned the table and you've moved and need it set-up or set-up & recovered, that's different. We have a service list of pricing that you can access on our Pricing tab. But if you're going to purchase a new pool table or shuffleboard table, and you would like to use our services, you are asking us to set-up a competitor's pool table. It may even have the Brunswick name on it. But it's not our table, we didn't get the margin for selling that table, and this is not remotely like a car dealership (this was suggested to me as an equivalency). Even car dealers will charge you for servicing a car purchased elsewhere, even at another dealer.
We look at it differently, because we are in a unique business with a unique skill set. We make a living carrying very heavy things up and down stairs, around corners, and assembling a product that may or may not be designed well, and our time is at least as valuable as your own. If we have been paid for our time, i.e., when you purchase a pool table from us, we are generous with our terms (set-up & delivery are included in the sales price).
When you as a purchaser have given someone else the margin, perhaps that company should arrange for the delivery and set-up. At the very least, they should explain that local dealers do not participate in profit sharing and they will charge a significant fee to set it up. We receive no referrals from some of our dealers, and we do not benefit, other than being able to provide you with that product, from being a "dealer." It is a difficult business; we are in a low volume market (also unlike a car dealership) and we are always in a battle for survival. We want to be there when our customers need recoveries and repairs, and we have to take this into consideration when we price our services.
It was suggested to me that we should say that we handle our own customers first because we are busy, and that's a valid consideration. However, that usually isn't enough explanation for the fee that we charge to set up a "competitor's" table ($1,800). I generally prefer to be honest with people and let them know that we consider an online purchase to be setting up the "competition's" table, and we charge accordingly. We've considered pricing on a sliding scale based on the price of the table, but landed on the number we charge as an average.
Most dealers in the industry understand this. We set up tables for one of the largest dealer's in the country, for instance, and they pay us the fee because they understand that we are setting up tables that were sold by someone else and we did not participate in the profit. The profit we build into our fee to set-up a table that has been purchased through a competitor helps to defray this "lost sale," and we don't mind saying that. In fact, almost all pool table dealers will tell you the same thing: we are happy to set-up and recover your table or provide our excellent services when you've purchased a product from us, but when you purchase elsewhere and they received the profit, our pricing structure changes.
We love our customers, and most of them understand this inherently, but some do not. We, as an industry of craftsmen, are always improving our services, learning better ways of doing things, and generally practicing quality improvement and honing our core competency each day. These are sports that some are unfamiliar with, and we try to provide the knowledge that you need to make an informed purchase.
Billiard tables provide excellent family fun, and we can make the process of purchasing a pool table a smooth one, but as a consumer, it is important to understand that Billiard Dealers will not set up our competitor's products without a significant fee, nor will we set-up products that you have bought elsewhere that are an inferior quality. If we cannot guarantee the quality of the end product, we will say no to the job.
Be an informed consumer, read through our Blog! We are here for you and we have a great deal of experience and knowledge to share about a sport that some are unfamiliar with. Billiard tables provide excellent family fun, and we can make the process of purchasing a pool table a smooth one so that you can enjoy your family time and not worry about the quality of the product you've purchased.