Test Drive Charge?


A well known bristol brass retailer is now charging £10 to test out any instrument in the shop. That means if you fancied trying out 3-4 cornets before you invested your hard earned cash you would have to pay £40 just for a few minutes on each.

This is what happened yesterday to a friend who armed with over £1000 savings decided that he really needed to test out the cornets before who made a purchase (who woudn't). Of Course an argument broke out about the charge but having no other time to test out and go elsewhere before christmas reluctantly paid the fee. After trying out a new xeno was then asked to pay another £10 to try out a second hand prestige. felt he was being treated badly, he did not try out any other instrumnents (but wanted too) and settled on purshasing a brand new Xeno. Expecting a refund on the "test" charges for doing so. But no!, apprently its a fixed charge for every instrument you try out!

I expect retailers to bend over backwards to sell you something, after all you are the customer and with instrumnets costing £1000s of pounds i think this fee is just taking the **** . Is this now the way brass retailers are begining to operate? I hope it doesnt catch on because it really is unfair. What do you think?



Supporting Member
I think your friend is an Idiot! I would have walked out and spent the money on petrol or train fair to a shop that WANTS to sell you something! You should name the shop so I and others don't waste a journey there.

ian perks

Active Member
Andy Cooper said:
Name and shame!!
I 100% agree here.
ALKS ask your friend what the name of the shop /company is and put it on here then the rest of the banding movement know NOT to go there as you know news like this soon gets around in a movement like ours is.
I would have just walked out and said
"well its your loss and someone else's gain& im going to tell every music shop in the country who sell Brass Instruments and when i go to Brass Band contests im going to tell the traders there about you +all the players there i see who i know from different bands and also im going to put it in the British Bandsman,Brass Band World,TMP,and send it to 4 Bars Rest as well"
I bet they did not have to pay a fee for selecting the cornets they wanted to sell?
If i was your friend i would contact the local trading offices to see if that is allowed.
I dont think it is.
But lets see the companys name on here it will be a good Christmas Present for them:biggrin:


Active Member
I find that absolutely shocking and I would have walked too. I think it's even worse he didn't get his £10 refund for the instrument actually purchased!

However, I've searched for brass shops in Bristol on the 'net and found the shop and their website clearly states this fee. Unfortunately he couldn't claim there was no notice or warning of this.

We have reduced our prices for new instruments, in some cases substantially​
Most of our new instruments are now being sold at "website" prices​
Our price for an instrument purchased in the shop or purchased by mail order is the same​
However, if you wish to try before you buy, there is a trying out fee of £10 per instrument tried



tMP Founder
Staff member
UPDATE: I have spoken to Alex (ALKS - person who made this post) who kindly informed me which brass supplier company this is.

I shall be speaking to them with my tMP hat on first thing in the morning in an attempt to see how they justify this ridiculous test charge. I shall also inform them of the depth of feeling and outrage from members of tMP at this unreasonable charge and that it is currently a hot discussion topic on here.

I'll post an update as soon as I have spoken to them... ;)
I know the shop well....how the man stays in business I will never know.....I tried a Stomvi Mambo and a Schilke trumpet there back in 2003. Because of the attitude factor I promptly walked out and took a trip up to Eclipse. Most certainly well worth the journey to Dunstable. Yes I bought an Eclipse trumpet :clap:


Active Member
No need for any furtive "naming and shaming" -

One well known Bristol retailer, presumably the one in question, clearly sets out their policy HERE although the policy of not refunding the trial fees when a purchase is made seems oddly different to their policy on purchase after renting an instrument (HERE).

I don't think there's anything illegal about this - a retailer is entitled to charge for use of their instruments if they want to and a small charge to cover wear and tear on instruments is understandable - many people nowadays try things out in a shop, choose the best one and then go home and buy it cheaper from the internet, which does cause financial losses for retailer alowing the trial.

However, my personal feeling is that a charge or £10 PER INSTRUMENT is far more than I would be happy to pay, especially if it was not waived if an instrument was purchased and I too would have walked out of the shop and looked for somewhere else to try some instruments out.


It's certainly not illegal, but it is bizarre. The advice you'll commonly get on buying instruments whether cornets, trumpets or mellophones, is to go somewhere that you can try different makes to find out what suits you. With brass band cornets there's limited choice because everyone is aiming for a similar sound. But with trumpets for example, different makes and models can sound and blow radically differently. You might reasonably want to try six or seven different trumpets before you decide which to buy.

Personlly I would never buy an instrument from a shop with this kind of attitude, and would never reccomend them. I wonder what their after sales service is like?



tMP Founder
Staff member
Ok sure, it is perfectly legal, but in todays competitive world and in the interests of customer service, from a customer perspective I would think that this is both totally (1) unnacceptable and (2) unreasonable.


Supporting Member
hmm glad for the heads up on this one! i was off there in the new year to try out a few new sops, safe to say i'll save my 10 quid per instrument try and go elsewere!!!


Active Member
super_sop said:
hmm glad for the heads up on this one! i was off there in the new year to try out a few new sops, safe to say i'll save my 10 quid per instrument try and go elsewere!!!

There you go John, that's at least one prospective customer he's just lost having seen this notice.


New Member
All bizarre really isn't it?

I can go to the local car dealer and drive a motor worth many grands for free yet if I went to this shop would have to pay £10 to try something out before I buy it?

Whilst there may be nothing in law to stop shops conducting this shoddy practice, there seems a high ethical regard. Imagine clothing shops charging you to try on clothes?

I don't know who's most dumb though - the shop for charging it in the first place or customers for paying it?


Staff member
It's certainly not illegal, but I would argue that its borderline immoral. They clearly don't understand brass instrumentation as we all know every brass instument is slightly different. We're not talking about bean tins are we! I would always advise if you have the opportunity to give more than one example of a particular brand a try out then do it, and I would never, ever consider spending the thick end of a month's salary on something I'd never played before. Buying any instrument means spending a significant amount of money. Do car showrooms charge for test drives? No. I guess that's for a reason.

When I bought my flugel last year I was given as long as I needed to try it out. I could take it away from the shop to play in band and at home, all without any charge, or commitment from me that I would actually buy it. The only commitment expected from me was to sign an agreement that if the instrument got damaged I would have to pay for it. Fair enough as far as I'm concerned.

However had I walked into the shop to be told "you'll have to pay a tenner to try it" I'd have told then to stuff it.


When I took my daughter to chose her new trombone in a well-known south west retailer approximately 30 minutes or so down the road from Bristol she was able to try out as many as she wanted to for as long as she wanted. She tried 4 different Conn 88H's (along with a yamaha xeno and a king) and found they were all very different. She settled on the Conn which she felt was the most responsive. Unfortunately, a laquer problem became obvious in the next few weeks and the instrument had to go back to Conn so we went back and tried several different Conn's. Again, she found the one she wanted and we took it away. No problems from the retailer - they did their absolute best to make sure that we were happy and we were!


Active Member
Completly agree with what's been said above and can see that this policy will lose the shop custom.

However perhaps the thinking lies behind this part of the policy statement

"Most of our new instruments are now being sold at "website" prices
Our price for an instrument purchased in the shop or purchased by mail order is the same"

If you were buying on the internet and the price is substantially cheaper than going to your local shop then you wouldn't have had an opportunity to "try before you buy". I can see the logic of this comparision but when this company is also competing with other instruments shops that dont do this it's not going to be a USP.

How many people take the risk of buying instruments (new and used) on the likes of eBay, never having had the chance to try it out?


Having spoken, and bought a couple of instruments from this retailer (one very recently), I understand his position with charging £10 to try. But I do think the policy has changed very recently in that you used to get this money back if you bought an instrument from the shop. The policy also only applied to the new instruments.

In these days of cheap internet prices it is difficult for the small brass retailer to compete. What normally happens is Joe Bloggs goes into a local shop tries out all the instruments using staff time and the normal risks of dropping/denting the instrument. Then you go off and buy one off the internet at a lower price. Shop keeper looses business. IMHO not the best way of buying an instrument but people do have a tendency to purchase on price alone forgetting about consistency with instruments and the fact that you are better to buy the one you have actually played.

I'm not condoning what TJ is doing but I can see the logic for it. What did pee me off was that I wanted to pay for my new second hand trumpet on my credit card but was informed I would have to pay the 2.5% credit card fee. Which on a trumpet over £1000 is significant.

When I am in the South West I would travel down to Taunton as there is a better selection of new instruments down there and they are more than happy with you spending hours playing around. Not sure about their selection of second hand instruments down in Taunton. It appears to me that there is more second hand stuff at TJ's in Bristol.


Whatever these guys are doing it is plainly morally wrong. If a shop refuses to give you the service and help that we would expect name them and the reputation will soon get around. The shop keeper will lose all the business then.


Instead of having a go at this 1 shop, why not activley endorse the other shops within the same area (ie his competition) who do not charge the fees.

I kind of see the logic in some kind of fee to try out an instrument as it would stop people taking the p***. There are people out there who would take advantage a 'free trial' - but see no logic at all in not refunding said charge when you actually buy an instrument. Surely a 'refundable security deposit' would achieve the same thing?

To echo the rest of the sentiments here, I would speak with my feet!

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