I think that Scalce is speaking about two different shops here - maybe three. There is the original shop in MA where he was very dissatisfied with the service. And then there were the two shops in NH where he thought that he was overcharged for mounting the bindings. I am not clear on which shop he paid $70 for a ceramic tune, as I know that Ken Jones in Manchester does the ceramic race tune for $40. He may have been referring to the cost of tuning two pairs of skis.
So here's my two cents (maybe three):
I guess the choice of buying on-line versus buying from a local shop comes down to how much time you expect to spend at your shop. If you are buying skis every several years and getting one annual tune, it may be worth it to go the e-bay route. I buy at least one set of skis every year as well as accessories and tuning equipment, and I believe that for service, selection and price, it ends up being cheaper for me to buy from local shops. Earlier this year, when I was looking to purchase a pair of Fischer RX-9’s for a trip the next weekend, I was told by Fischer that they were not available. I spoke with the guys that I know at Ken Jones in Manchester, and they got me the skis. They didn’t just get me the skis, they got them in time for my trip at a 30% discount and they were willing to drive to the Fischer headquarters to pick them up to insure that I received them in time. I don't think that you could get that service on-line. Also, when it is time to trade in skis, they will sell my skis for me and provide me with a gift certificate for the full price of the sale. As for prices in local shops, a couple of days ago I decided to buy some Line skis that I had seen on-line for $200 plus shipping. I decided to see what my local shop (Ken Jones Nashua) had for bindings prior to ordering the skis and I told them that I was looking to purchase the skis elsewhere. Knowing this, they still offered me new Rossi Power 120 for $100 installed. I also noticed that they had one pair of the Line skis that I was planning to order on-line, but they were only marked down to $325. When I asked what their best price was, they offered me the skis and bindings for $375. Subtracting the shipping cost, it would cost me $50 more to buy from the local shop. The obvious benefits were that I could have the skis right away, I could see the skis before I bought them, and I would have the support of shop. I also remembered that about a month prior, this same shop had sold me a bunch of tuning equipment (rotary brushes, variable temp iron, rotary drill attachment, waxes, etc.) for 50% off retail (much less than on-line prices). That day alone, I had saved much more than $50. So I agreed to buy the skis from them. I also decided to buy 5 packages of LF wax for next season. They gave me a discount on the wax which amounted to an extra $65 savings. So it ended up being cheaper and easier to buy from the local shop.