Strange ReTales: White Van Speakers

Not at all suspicious

Last week I stumbled upon a fun essay at Audiophile Review in which the author used the notorious White Van Speakers as a jumping off point to rail at his particular hobby horses in the HiFi biz.

As entertaining as his screed was, I’m going to take a more literal approach. Instead of using White Van Speakers as a metaphor, I’m going to talk from experience.

If you’re somehow new to the industry, the White Van Speaker Scam is so notorious that it has its own Wikipedia entry. It’s so widespread that it occurs in countries on every continent.

Locally, my experience with the white vans was the phone calls we’d get at the shop.

Typically, the white van guys would include the name of our store in their pitch, to add legitimacy. That this brand of speakers was one we sold, and they were clearing out the overstock.

Some guy would be a in a parking lot somewhere, and call us on his cell to confirm their story.

I’d try to be kind, and let them down gently while trying to clue them in that they were being led astray.

What was surprising to me, early on, was how much these guys wanted to believe. They really wanted to believe they were getting a steal of a deal.

In fact, some of them would get angry at me over the phone, like I was the one who was scamming them.

That somehow these white van speakers were such an amazing deal that I, the stereo sales guy was trying to keep them from buying these amazing van speakers.

Some of them would actually argue with me. That’s when I’d leave them to it.

Fine. Buy your crappy overpriced speakers in the middle of a parking lot. That’s not my concern.

There’s an important lesson there in the power of belief.

Now, if only you can harness that power to be a force for good.