What DOES one do about a rogue trader?

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sirprize
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What DOES one do about a rogue trader?

Post by sirprize » 13 Dec 2008, 20:05

We have one in our town and for years he's had a simply wretched effect on the local piano community. Typically he will buy dirt-cheap, put the piano on his website as 'reconditioned' (when it's had nothing more than a squirt of Pledge and a mediocre tune) then wait for some unsuspecting punter to come along and pay a grotesquely inflated price for a heap of junk. When confronted with his misselling he never takes the instrument back with a full-refund but obsequiously offers a replacement from among his other 'reconditioned' pianos

I am due to give a Xmas performance on one of his 'pianos' and I am so horrified by this latest example of his neglect, laziness and greed that my patience has now completely run out. This small, crude, upright piano probably has no commercial value whatsoever, hasn't the slightest sign of being recently reconditioned and yet cost the owner nearly £2000. The infuriated owner is about to give him a nasty shock

Anyone got any thoughts on this (especially from those who have a very good idea of whom I'm talking about)? They would be MUCH appreciated

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Post by PianoGuy » 13 Dec 2008, 20:19

IMHO he should say something along the lines of "Forgive me Father for I have sinned".

Am I warm?

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Post by joseph » 13 Dec 2008, 20:23

nothing you can do about it. other than don't recommend him to people. rather than say 'oh he's crap don't go there' you could say 'why don't you try this place as well?' or something.

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Post by vernon » 13 Dec 2008, 20:36

If the story you report is complete, I should let the customer vent his ire on him, take him to the Small Claims Court, backed by a competent Tech who will play ball and make sure the press is there, by phoning them first.
The customer's job, not yours.

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Post by sirprize » 13 Dec 2008, 20:47

PG, I couldn't possibly comment on this person's religious affiliations (though I'd be shocked if he actually had any!)

......*phew* this room's getting warm......must open the window......

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Post by Barrie Heaton » 13 Dec 2008, 22:10

its one for trading standers but the problem is getting someone who has got a piano off him to complain bin down this road a few times TS will not do anything unless the buyer complains its no use you complaining or anyone in the trade its has to be the buyer and they have to be willing to go all the way and most will not


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Post by PianoGuy » 13 Dec 2008, 22:23

Trouble is, there are two major problems with cases like this:

"Reconditioned" is a word which means duck all. The piano must have been sold with a verbal (witnessed) or documented statement of what repair has been done to it.

The price paid is not a factor which is admissible in Court. The purchaser paid it, so was willing to do so. I realise that in doing so he/she may have assumed an amount of work having been done to the piano, but without documentary proof.....

...which brings me back to the first point.

This is why chancers in all trades get away with it. This year alone I could list:
£7,000 paid for a shafted old Yam G1 with a bu**ered plank, (real value about £1,500 for repair/spares);
£1,800 plus £100 for delivery paid for a no-namo upright underdamper wih a set of tapes and a spray of fresh French polish ( real value about £700 retail if you're being generous);
£2,000 paid for a 4-year old Yam C110A with sticking keys, below pitch and delivery extra (real value about £1,200 since they were readily available for £1,600 new. In this case the bar-steward of a dealer convinced the client that it was "around £3,400 new")

.... I could go on.

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Post by sirprize » 13 Dec 2008, 22:31

Thanks everyone

The owner is absolutely incandescent with rage about this and I can't believe they won't do whatever it takes to make life as uncomfortable as possible for the trader. And it would be as easy as pie to persuade another half dozen folk to submit their own experiences of piano-betrayal to Fair Trading and Small Claims. Likewise getting a reputable tech to write a report: this trader is making such a bad name for the trade they'll be queuing up to write it

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Post by vernon » 13 Dec 2008, 22:34

I have a customer with a 1909 Bluthner grand supplied by a shop in Glasgow (!), half the dust has blown out of it,( still plenty of hairpins and tinsel in it) case sprayed. . £12000.
Bought by a young piano teacher on hp. It's her pride and joy. When asked my opinion, what do I say? "Iv'e just sold one completely overhauled for £2500?" I said something anodyne like " It sounds nice now that I tuned it."

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Post by sirprize » 13 Dec 2008, 22:44

@ Vernon........mopping up tears......chewing the carpet......can't take no more piano-abuse

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Post by Barrie Heaton » 13 Dec 2008, 23:58

sirprize wrote:Thanks everyone

The owner is absolutely incandescent with rage about this and I can't believe they won't do whatever it takes to make life as uncomfortable as possible for the trader. And it would be as easy as pie to persuade another half dozen folk to submit their own experiences of piano-betrayal to Fair Trading and Small Claims. Likewise getting a reputable tech to write a report: this trader is making such a bad name for the trade they'll be queuing up to write it
Then you do need a report to state that the piano is not fit for purpose However, you will be surprised how many tuners don't want to get in involved and you need a tuner who has no involvement with the local good shops

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Post by Pianomate » 14 Dec 2008, 02:06

If the piano has been described as having any attributes that it hasn't got, (such as being "completely overhauled and recionditioned" when it obviously hasn't) this is a breach of the Trades Descriptions Act and I would advise contacting Trading Standards. You must be able to demonstrate to them that the instrument was not as described. This will usually require an expert opinion. It doesn't cost anything so I would suggest they contact them anyway.

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Post by A440 » 14 Dec 2008, 02:35

I think you should name and shame. Why not say the name of the offending trader? How else are others not going to fall into the same trap? There is nothing wrong with naming a dealer who gives bad service. I think this forum is here to help for exactly this kind of situation. Am I wrong, is it in some way unfair?

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Post by PianoGuy » 14 Dec 2008, 12:13

A440 wrote:I think you should name and shame. Why not say the name of the offending trader? How else are others not going to fall into the same trap? There is nothing wrong with naming a dealer who gives bad service. I think this forum is here to help for exactly this kind of situation. Am I wrong, is it in some way unfair?
I think it probably would be unfair, although I feel driven to it at times. The thing is, we're all fallible without exception, and I'm sure there's not a dealer, tuner or technician in the country who has not upset someone somewhere, so it's a bit dodgy naming and shaming if the dealer in question is not present to defend himself. In some cases it's the client who has misunderstood or is being unreasonable. There are rogue punters as well as rogue dealers.

Naming and shaming could just turn the forum into a slanging match, not to mention rivals of basically sound dealers posting horror stories. The whole point behind the forum is that it's a resource where one can post anonymously, so all hell could break loose if allegedly dodgy dealers were named.

The temptation though..... Especially in this case......
:twisted:

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Post by Barrie Heaton » 14 Dec 2008, 12:28

A440 wrote:I think you should name and shame.
if it goes to court and you win fine other than that no as you could end up in court for Libel.

Barrie

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Post by joseph » 14 Dec 2008, 15:12

i know someone last year who sold a yamaha compact upright, can't remember the model but it was about 15 years old, for £3200, because someone was happy to pay for it. I told him outright that I was appalled that he did that when he knew fine that the person could have bought a brand new one for less.

He smiled and said 'thats business!'

The truth is, he hasn't done anything illegal, he didn't tell her it would cost more to buy a new one or anything, he just said this is the piano, this is the price, do you like it? she bought it all!

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Post by Jerome » 14 Dec 2008, 17:07

I am no tech nor a particularly good pianist but I am always surprised by the number of older pianos on sale for quite high prices in shops. They sound like old bangers and one lift of the lid is enough to reveal even to me that no real work has been done to them. They seem to sell, so I can only hope they go to people who want a famous name in their living room and don't care about the musical quality. I guess the people who really get caught out are parents or others who don't play the piano and trust the dealer.

Given that there appears to be a profitable market for junk, less scrupulous dealers will always be tempted to continue selling it. I would have thought trading standards would only be much use if there is clear misrepresentation, eg it was said to have new strings and it hasn't.

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Post by A440 » 15 Dec 2008, 18:24

You're right, naming and shaming is not the way. I was playing devil's advocate a bit. But my point is that a prospective buyer will read posts such as the above and have general suspicion about all dealers because he has been shown a mystery rogue dealer. It's an obvious assumption. Buying a piano is a confusing minefield for many already.
Perhaps it's best just not to post horror stories. I don't really know the most responible option...
Forums such as this are in a remarkably powerful position and are beloved of Google searches.

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Post by A440 » 15 Dec 2008, 18:27

Just a quick thought...
Maybe a general advice page from the regular posters (such as PianoGuy) would be useful... you could call it "PG tips"!

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Post by Openwood » 15 Dec 2008, 18:46

you could call it "PG tips"!
Sorry, I beat you to that one a few months back 8) But then someone else probably beat me to it before that. It's a good gag, mind :wink:
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Post by vernon » 15 Dec 2008, 19:51

HAVE AT LOOK AT THE fORUM " pIANOS ON THE iNTERNET" TODAY AND YOU WILL SEE SOME OF THE PITFALLS. EG A JUDGE RULED AGAINST A COMPLAINANT BECAUSE THERE IS NO MEASURE OF HOW LONG A PIANO SHOUILD STAY IN TUNE OR( sorry!) if it should be at " concert" pitch.
Hence, a tech is very ill advised( unless well paid) to go into a witness box for fear of being made to look an incompetent mug by a disinterested judge. That's their job after all.
Can I now transfer to the Dealers and Retailers forum

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Post by PianoGuy » 15 Dec 2008, 21:02

vernon wrote: Hence, a tech is very ill advised( unless well paid) to go into a witness box for fear of being made to look an incompetent mug by a disinterested judge. That's their job after all.
Indeed it is. A judge *has* to be disinterested to give a fair opinion.

The trouble is they're not technicians. Some cases require an 'expert witness' to give an unbiased opinion of whether the item is saleable or not. I've been asked a few times, but no case has ever gone to Court, they've always settled beforehand. Some dealers don't want the hassle.

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Post by sussexpianos » 16 Dec 2008, 10:22

As above, the judge at small claims courts dosn't know about pianos, and also bear in mind that a technician is usally being paid by the customer so the judge is a little sceptical. At the end of the day, the piano will have to be completely un-tuanable( pins turn as soon as you let go) to prove its a dud.
Trading standards will not act against a dealer, but advise to get in touch or take it further to court. Court is expensive and the odds are against you. If the piano ("thing" in some cases) plays and holds its tune for a while, then it is OK in the eyes of the law.
The price of an instrument is not in question in most cases as its business sense to get as much as you can for something, its not against the law, its up to the customer to find out if its good for the money.

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Post by MarkGoodwinPianos » 16 Dec 2008, 18:21

I once saw an effective protest. There was a car dealership on a main road and I saw a person stood on their own with a large sign in their hands saying "I have a dispute with this company" or something very similar.

I have no idea how it ended but if someone did that outside your shop wouldn't you think seriously about giving them a full refund. Just 2 or 3 hours outside the shop every Saturday morning should do it.
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