Is the Guitar Center Stick Club a snare?

I’ve been a musician for most of my life.  I play piano in two church services each week.  I doubt I could quit if I wanted to. :)

For most of that time as well, I’ve been a bit of a closet drummer.  Lately I’ve also had the chance to hit the kit at church as well.  (I’m still too loud.  I need to be more like Steve Gadd and less like Animal.)

The drum set I bought at a pawn shop a while back is at the church.  I finally got some new heads for the drums so that they didn’t sound like #4 washtubs.

Guitar Center … for drummers?

I got the heads at Guitar Center.  They had a clearance bin with some decent deals, and I loaded up.  The guy working there helped me out a lot with my questions, and the heads work great.  A few days following the purchase, I got an email from him asking how the heads worked out.  That was a nice touch!

I go to Guitar Center fairly regularly these days.  I guess I gave them another chance after what appeared to be a raw deal on a keyboard.  Following that incident I’ve overall been pleased with the service I’ve gotten there.

The last time I was there, I saw a sign advertising: “Fresh Sticks for a Year!”  It’s called the Guitar Center Stick Club.

The sign in the store didn’t list the price of the club.  The link above indicates that it’s $20/year.  This gets you a card that entitles the owner to $5 towards sticks each month for a year.

Intrigued, I checked the fine print.  (There’s always fine print.)  The fine print from the link:

Limit 1 per customer. See a sales associate for details … Year’s worth of sticks is $5 per month for 12 months. Card will never exceed $5. Monthly amounts do not roll over. Ask your local expert for details. Stick Club is only available in-store.

So I can conceivably get $60 worth of sticks for $20, here’s how the fine print taketh away:

  • “Limit 1 per customer” — The maximum amount I can save with this deal is $40.  Forty bucks isn’t insignificant, but … that’s it.
  • “Stick Club is only available in-store.”  Not online.  In-store.  Which means I have to go into the store to get the deal.  Which takes time, and gas …
  • “Year’s worth of sticks is $5 per month for 12 months.”  To get that maximum $40 savings, I have to buy sticks each month.  They win either way.  Either I come back into the store — which I have to do to get the deal (see above) — or I don’t, in which case they’re ahead $15.  Four visits is break-even.
  • “Card will never exceed $5. Monthly amounts do not roll over.”  So if I miss a month, it’s gone.  Too bad, so sad.
  • “Ask your local expert for details.”  There may be even more terms and conditions!  Yay!  Not.

So, is the Guitar Center Stick Club a snare?  *** rimshot ***

As with all other things, it depends.  From Guitar Center’s standpoint, they’re playing the numbers.  They’re selling you up to $60 worth of merchandise for an upfront $20.  They’re hoping that (a) you forget, or (b) that they make it up on the back end by getting you into the store those twelve times.

But … if you’re a drummer and go there regularly anyway, then no doubt you’re already buying sticks, so why not?  Or, even if you’re not a drummer, but go there regularly and have a lot of drummer friends … then sure, why not?  The once-a-month visit to the store would not only not be a chore, but people wouldn’t have to twist your arm at all!

It’s all about context!  Store deals are usually a win for you if you’re already dropping a lot of cash there.

John Wedding

Husband. Father. Web publisher. Musician. John has blogged at Mighty Bargain Hunter since 2005, helping people to recognize life's good deals.

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