Ah! Empire Cartridges, that brings back some memories.
During the final days of Sound City, we were buying an OEM Empire cartridge in thousand-piece drops for under three bucks each. We had a total exclusive on the E-20 model in Victoria. Initially, they were sold as an upgrade on Sansui Systems, or thrown in as a close. On our pricelists, we had a RRP of a tad under forty bucks and they were a big improvement over the crap that Sansui was factory fitting at the time.
One of Sound City's dodgier Store Managers decided to run a little incentive program. Each week there would be a $50 cash bonus for the salesman who sold an Empire E-20 for the most money. In the industry, it's called a "SPIV".
After 3 weeks the going price on an E-20 was hovering around $180. It gave the "Gross" in "Gross Profit" a whole new meaning.
One afternoon two guys came storming into the shop and straight to the cartridge display case. where the duty salesman, affectionally known as "Tengrain" because he always a least one loaded gun in his pockets at all times, attempted to serve them. (I didn't personally witness this, I was running Penny Lane, but I wish I had been there to see it) Here's what happened.
1st Guy: I bought an Empire cartridge from you people about 3 weeks ago from that guy there. (pointing across the shop floor at a salesman called "Brenda"). My mate here came around last week and really liked the cartridge, so I got him to come here and buy one.
Tengrain: So, is there a problem?
2nd Guy: Bloody oath there's a problem! You charged me $169 for the same cartridge my mate got for forty bucks!!!!!
Tengrain: Well there's obviously been some kind of mix up, do you have the carts with you?
TG knew we'd been busted, but as usual, he didn't miss a beat*, no hesitation, no sweat.
The guys put the two identical carts on the counter. TG calmly when and got the Stylus Microscope and placed on the counter. After spending much time positioning the carts, adjusting the scope and making random boffinish noises, he reaches a verdict.
TG: So! What's happened is that the cartridge you originally purchased has the standard Elliptical Stylus Profile while your mates' cartridge has the higher performance Hyper-Parabolic Diamond. So we have two options, we can upgrade yours (looking at 1st Guy) or downgrade yours (looking at 2nd Guy), whatever you choose, I want both you to be happy when going home.
Silence. But statistically, no guy is going to ask for a downgrade, especially in front of a mate.
2nd Guy: I really liked the sound of mine.
1st Guy: Looks like I'm upgrading then. You breathe a word of this to the missus, and I'll rip your head off. So what am I up for?
TG: Here's what we're going to do, I going to credit you for the original purchase and give you identical new cartridges and I'll cover the cost of your upgrade, to compensate you for the inconvenience of having to come all the way in here.
Tengrain presented them with two new E-20s, and they all lived happily ever after............
*Just to give some idea of just how unflappable TG was, and I was present when this happened.
TG was manning the Accessories Counter serving a pair of tiny Catholic Nuns, you know the ones, sorta like Penguins, only vicious. They'd come in because we had a special on TDK cassettes and wanted to get some bulk packs for their school. In his jacket pocket, TG had a small antique black powder pistol, that was not only fully loaded, but also cocked. In the middle of his explanation of the benefits of the new SA series, Chrome V Ferrite Etc, He dumped the pocket with his elbow.
But TG just kept talking, no reaction, no pause, no acknowledgement of the huge cloud of white smoke billowing up around him. I haven't seen Nuns move that fast since the night the Vice Squad raided "Raheen" in the mid-sixties.