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View Full Version : Am I overreacting?



deschutestrout
02-25-2015, 01:59 PM
Brought two of my ukes into a recommended luthier to have pickups installed. Dropped them off Friday, he had one done within a couple hours so I picked it up. Got home and took a close look and there was a little divot/dent in the finish near where he drilled the endpin jack hole. I was a bit surprised to find a mark on it but shrugged and went "oops". Picked up my Mele today, immediately looked near the jack and there was a divot and some scratches. He wasn't there to talk to, so I commented to his assistant, paid and went on my way. Emailed the head guy and asked what happened. He gave some excuse about the tail blocks being laminated and his drill knocked when he went through. I told him I could have drilled those holes without touching the instrument, and should have just installed them myself. They are relatively "minor" cosmetic scars ... but they're scars nonetheless. Not very expensive ukes, but precious to me just the same, and that's not the point (in my opinion). Am I overreacting to complain pretty heavily to this guy and expect some $ back? I've dealt with luthiers and techs for 30+ years and have NEVER had a SINGLE mark left on an instrument as a result of their work. Just venting I guess ... what would YOU do?

warndt
02-25-2015, 02:13 PM
If it were me, I'd simply let it go as a lesson learned and go look for a better luthier. A few bucks back isn't going to fix it and only ruffle every-ones feathers including your own...Is it worth getting yourself all worked up once again, probably more-so than you already are?

If so, then go get 'em...but don't expect much.

deschutestrout
02-25-2015, 02:36 PM
If it were me, I'd simply let it go as a lesson learned and go look for a better luthier. A few bucks back isn't going to fix it and only ruffle every-ones feathers including your own...Is it worth getting yourself all worked up once again, probably more-so than you already are?

If so, then go get 'em...but don't expect much.

Yeah, good advice. I'm settling down ... its just with the experience the guy said he had, to make the same mistake twice .... I should have and could have cleanly drilled the holes. Sloppy, and over-referred.

SteveZ
02-25-2015, 02:36 PM
I've gotten to the point where I'd rather make any scars myself than pay someone to make them. Stuff happens, whether by accident or carelessness. The time I let my stuff leave my hands is when I just don't have the time to do the work, or the right tools, or the skill. Most of the "after market" type of things (pickups, preamps, saddles, nuts and such) I've done on various stringed instruments, albeit very slowly and with a lot of "measure twice, check instructions/guidance twice, measure again and then cut." It's part of the fun.

I have no expectation of have scar-free instruments. Use and wear leaves marks after a while, and they often add to the beauty.

Nickie
02-25-2015, 02:43 PM
Well I totally get that you're upset. Me, I can be vindictive when I feel screwed over. It sounds like he blew you off to me. Myself, I'd feel better if I confronted him, and asked for a refund, or for it to be fixed. If he refused, I'd simply place a call to my attorneys. But not everyone would do that. I feel the need to protect myself and my interests these days. People that get off with sloppy work keep doing it.
But you may not respond to other people's f---ups the way I do. I have little tolerance for sloppy work when it comes to my passion.
Oh, and warndt is right, definitely look for a better guy....and tell your friends about it, so it doesn't happen to them. If the guy won't admit he was wrong, and try to make it right, he probably shouldn't be in a people oriented business. Just my HO.

deschutestrout
02-25-2015, 02:52 PM
I don't expect scar free instruments either ... just don't expect to find them after an "experienced" luthier with the "proper tools and know-how" does a relatively simple mod....and make the same avoidable mistake .... twice.... And I too would rather scar them myself ;). Yes, lesson learned. I'm settling ... I am ...... :cheers:

deschutestrout
02-25-2015, 02:54 PM
Well I totally get that you're upset. Me, I can be vindictive when I feel screwed over. It sounds like he blew you off to me. Myself, I'd feel better if I confronted him, and asked for a refund, or for it to be fixed. If he refused, I'd simply place a call to my attorneys. But not everyone would do that. I feel the need to protect myself and my interests these days. People that get off with sloppy work keep doing it.
But you may not respond to other people's f---ups the way I do. I have little tolerance for sloppy work when it comes to my passion.
Oh, and warndt is right, definitely look for a better guy....and tell your friends about it, so it doesn't happen to them. If the guy won't admit he was wrong, and try to make it right, he probably shouldn't be in a people oriented business. Just my HO.

I think you and I would get along together pretty good :D

Debby
02-25-2015, 03:06 PM
I'm with Nikki, for the most part. I can't afford lawyers! I know people make mistakes. I am also a very forgiving person. But when someone can't admit the mistake and blows you off like that? That would make it sting even worse. Surely, there was something he could have done to make you feel better about it. You shouldn't have to just suck it up when you paid your hard earned money to put upgrades (or whatever) on your ukes. There is a big difference in getting little scratches & nicks from from playing your ukulele, and hiring someone to install something professionally.

He could have, at least, apologized. The excuses would have irked me.

deschutestrout
02-25-2015, 03:15 PM
I'm with Nikki, for the most part. I can't afford lawyers! I know people make mistakes. I am also a very forgiving person. But when someone can't admit the mistake and blows you off like that? That would make it sting even worse. Surely, there was something he could have done to make you feel better about it. You shouldn't have to just suck it up when you paid your hard earned money to put upgrades (or whatever) on your ukes. There is a big difference in getting little scratches & nicks from from playing your ukulele, and hiring someone to install something professionally.

He could have, at least, apologized. The excuses would have irked me.

Via texts/emails he seems apologetic .... and I believe he's going to kick me some of the install $ back. The excuses are still there....which leads me to believe he's not very good at what he says he's good at doing. 20 years building and repairing instruments, one would assume he could cleanly drill a 1/2" hole ... I can, and should have. We'll see how this pans out.

Tommy B
02-25-2015, 03:25 PM
Lots of good advice here already, so I won't add mine (which generally is only OK advice, LOL.) But this reminds me of when a friend sent his beloved Martin soprano to Gryphon for a bridge adjustment. The uke came back with a perfect bridge ... and a scratch on the back that wasn't there before. I don't know how or if that ended up getting resolved, but it does show that these things happen, even at reputable shops. I still wouldn't hesitate to take my ukes to Gryphon, but you better believe I'd be looking them over carefully when they came back.

Doc_J
02-25-2015, 04:29 PM
.....He gave some excuse about the tail blocks being laminated and his drill knocked when he went through.

You have a right to be disappointed with the professional work completed poorly.
Many good luthiers prefer a laminated (plywood) tail block, especially if you are going to install a pickup. http://forum.ukuleleunderground.com/showthread.php?104842-neck-and-tail-block&highlight=block

I agree with warndt, find a better luthier. If any one asks for a luthier reference, make sure that they don't go to the fellow with the wonky drill.

equina
02-25-2015, 06:07 PM
It is perfectly normal to be upset over shoddy work done, especially those that require expensive repairs to repair the damage or worse, those that leave permanent 'scars' on the instrument.

A friend of mine sent her KoAloha Pineapple Sunday and another Hawaiian uke to a technician to fix some issues. The technician then declared that both ukes had intonation problems (esp. the KPS) and needed setups. During the 'setup', he was dumb enough to use a string-winder on the KoAloha PS--look at the KoAloha headstock and you can imagine the result. That left permanent damage on the headstock. He levelled the frets of both ukes almost to the fretboard and did not recrown them. My friend had to pay more than $400 to refret the 2 ukes (done by two other luthiers). The luthier who did the refretting of her KPS said it was not worth removing the 'scars' as it required a sanding down of the uke and refinishing it--it costs even more $$$ and he could not guarantee that the uke will look as nice after the new finishing. He advised her to accept the permanent marks as 'battle scars'.

It was a horrible experience for her, and it took her some time to accept that she was "the fool who engaged a fool" to do the job. She learnt her lesson to always get feedback from long-time guitar and uke players about the competency of the technician(s) before she engage their services. She warned her ukie friends to avoid that shop for setups or repair jobs. She has also learnt that her ukes are just 'objects' and she should focus her emotions on the more important things in life, like family, friendships, compassion to the needy and so on.

katysax
02-25-2015, 06:20 PM
I am a lawyer but I don't practice law anymore. I did practice law for 30 years. I think its a big mistake in a situation like this to seek revenge or to call a lawyer. The legal system is way overloaded with stuff that doesn't belong there. No one ever ends up with a happy result. Nothing is ever going to undo the dings on the uke.

It sucks that the repairman scratched your uke and you probably ought to tell him what he did. When people get involved in getting revenge, the bad feelings don't end until the dispute does. In this case, a couple of ukes that are not terribly expensive got a couple of minor scars. That should not have happened and it isn't acceptable, but it already happened. Stuff happens.

deschutestrout
02-25-2015, 06:27 PM
I am a lawyer but I don't practice law anymore. I did practice law for 30 years. I think its a big mistake in a situation like this to seek revenge or to call a lawyer. The legal system is way overloaded with stuff that doesn't belong there. No one ever ends up with a happy result. Nothing is ever going to undo the dings on the uke.

It sucks that the repairman scratched your uke and you probably ought to tell him what he did. When people get involved in getting revenge, the bad feelings don't end until the dispute does. In this case, a couple of ukes that are not terribly expensive got a couple of minor scars. That should not have happened and it isn't acceptable, but it already happened. Stuff happens.

I'm not seeking revenge, and I have no intention of calling a lawyer. I may send him a 1/2" step bit with a longer shank though :rolleyes:

Dan Uke
02-25-2015, 07:08 PM
I would just ask him how he could remedy the situation and never come back

Debby
02-26-2015, 12:47 AM
I would just ask him how he could remedy the situation and never come back

I would want at least some of the money back as a remedy. I would not let him touch my ukes again. I'd be scared of more damage.

I agree that calling a lawyer is gong too far, but he should not have to just suck it up.
Apologies go a long way with me, if they are sincere. A sincere apology does not include excuses.

ukulelekarcsi
02-26-2015, 01:19 AM
I agree with most of the above: he should have told you, and now there is little to do about it except complain to him, and perhaps warn others about him.

A luthier once slipped with his router while working on one of my instruments, but he was straightfoward about it, repaired it as far as it could be done, gave a (small) discount and both of us were fine with it. It was a very good but also a very cheap fleamarket instrument.

PhilUSAFRet
02-26-2015, 02:11 AM
There are lots of "experienced" people in the world who don't happen to be very good at what they do. Sorry you got ahold of one. At the least, I'd have disturbed his comfort level at least as much as he disturbed mine.

HBolte
02-26-2015, 02:56 AM
I would post an honest review online so that others can use your experience to decide if they want to use the shop.

SteveZ
02-26-2015, 03:56 AM
I am a lawyer but I don't practice law anymore. I did practice law for 30 years. I think its a big mistake in a situation like this to seek revenge or to call a lawyer. The legal system is way overloaded with stuff that doesn't belong there. No one ever ends up with a happy result. Nothing is ever going to undo the dings on the uke.

It sucks that the repairman scratched your uke and you probably ought to tell him what he did. When people get involved in getting revenge, the bad feelings don't end until the dispute does. In this case, a couple of ukes that are not terribly expensive got a couple of minor scars. That should not have happened and it isn't acceptable, but it already happened. Stuff happens.

Katysax is spot-on here and this retired lawyer couldn't agree more. Sometimes life has lessons learned the hard way.

Get-back talk, e-badmouthing and stuff these days can bring a backlash. Attacking one's professional reputation via internet posts and such is not the anonymous action many think it is. Defamation of character via intermet forum posting has found folk being sued for their postings. That forum pseudonym doesn't really hide anyone's identity if one really wants to trace someone. The OP was wise not to post the vendor's name, instead just discussing the experience.

No one likes their instruments messed up in any way, but putting drill and knife to wood has a risk to it no matter who does it. One would like pristine work done, but a $100 (or less) job on an under-$500 instrument is not in the Michelangelo category. Often the only fiscally-realistic response for low-dollar transactions, if the vendor doesn't provide some relief, is to just not do business again with that vendor.

Here's hoping the luthier (or tech, as luthier may be the wrong title) and customer can work it all out. No one is ever fully satisfied when problems happen, but good-faith responses can go a long way to mend emotional fences.

peterbright
02-26-2015, 04:38 AM
Unfortunate but at least you didn't learn this lesson with a custom shop ukulele. That they were not honest with you about the damage is the most troubling.

hoosierhiver
02-26-2015, 04:59 AM
What did he charge?

deschutestrout
02-26-2015, 05:07 AM
What did he charge?
$65 for the Mi Si ... which he had major struggles pulling off, which had me concerned from the start
$45 for the K&K ... which was the one he was familiar with.

The pickup installs look solid, he just has a challenge drilling 1/2" holes :D

And yes, some/most of my frustration lies in the fact that I had to discover the scars instead of him just telling me he had bounced the drill off both ukes (and how he would remedy it). And when I told him, he blamed it on the tail block ... which I believe is BS and avoidance.

deschutestrout
02-26-2015, 05:09 AM
What did he charge?

And rest assured Mike, he didn't lay a hand on my Mainland ... it's still clean as a whistle ;)

Moore Bettah Ukuleles
02-26-2015, 05:12 AM
Stuff happens but it's unfortunate the repairman didn't step up and admit his mistake. If it were me doing the job I would've offered the pickup and installation for free if it couldn't be repaired. Personally, I'd make sure my complaint was known to the owner of the shop and suggest some compensation. If I didn't get any satisfaction I'd move on and chalk up another "stuff happens" experience.
(BTW, I never saw bought the myth that I tail block has to be laminated for pickup installations. )

hoosierhiver
02-26-2015, 05:18 AM
And rest assured Mike, he didn't lay a hand on my Mainland ... it's still clean as a whistle ;)

We are always happy to do a pick-up installation on our ukes if you want one put in down the line.

deschutestrout
02-26-2015, 05:22 AM
We are always happy to do a pick-up installation on our ukes if you want one put in down the line.

On my next Mainland, that is something I'll definitely consider!

Mutantmoose
02-26-2015, 06:05 AM
Repair work is full of risk, there is always a chance of messing up an instrument, pretty much the same as the risks of playing an instrument.
If I was to bump a friend's uke or guitar and put a dent in it, the FIRST thing I would do is tell them! I think that any repair guy (and yes, I do some repairs) should do the same thing.
More importantly, repair guys make mistakes ALL THE TIME. The really good ones know how to fix them and hide them.

Ukejenny
02-26-2015, 07:04 AM
I hate to hear that happened, and to two of your instruments. I just had a 45 year old clarinet come back after an overhaul and it was treated roughly. Marks on the wood, cheap springs installed, pads thrown on (not beveled or leveled) and the keywork was not looked after. The only really satisfactory solution I could come up with was to turn back time and never have taken it there in the first place. Sad thing is, I have used this shop before and the same technician was supposed to have done the work, but it didn't look anything what he has done for me before. Now I'm looking for a new woodwind tech.

I won't be going back and I won't be sending my students there. And I will be calling as soon as I have a complete list of what I want explained.

deschutestrout
02-26-2015, 08:22 AM
I'm fortunate that the scars are relatively minor ... and I've already almost forgotten they are there. It's the principle and the fact that I had to discover his mishaps on my own...that's what set me off. I'm all better now ;) And the pickups sound quite good, anxious to use them both in my next gig. Thanks all for your support.

Ukuleleblues
02-26-2015, 11:44 AM
I sometimes get really POed when someone does a hoser job, but it seems like that is more of the norm than not. I always think, I bet they aren't losing any sleep over it, just me. I calm down and take my business somewhere else. Life is too short to get upset over incompetence, especially when it seems we are surrounded by it.

TheCraftedCow
02-27-2015, 09:49 PM
For those who do it professionally (charge someone for doing something) and those who do it amateurishly (do it for the love of doing it), a thin clear piece of any blister pack plastic will keep a nose from marring a piece of wood when it rapidly penetrates the inside .

deschutestrout
03-02-2015, 04:53 AM
Wow. This luthier came through and his remedy far surpassed what I was expecting, and what I felt was necessary. It is very obvious he felt very bad about the situation and wants to make things right, not only with what happened during the course of his work, but make things right between us as humans. He gained my respect through his communication and his "solution". There are a lot of genuine folks around ... sometimes we all make mistakes and get a wake-up call. Thanks all for your support. It's all good.

Debby
03-02-2015, 05:22 AM
Wow. This luthier came through and his remedy far surpassed what I was expecting, and what I felt was necessary. It is very obvious he felt very bad about the situation and wants to make things right, not only with what happened during the course of his work, but make things right between us as humans. He gained my respect through his communication and his "solution". There are a lot of genuine folks around ... sometimes we all make mistakes and get a wake-up call. Thanks all for your support. It's all good.

I get the sense that you don't want to share what the solution was. Either way, I'm glad you are satisfied and happy!

deschutestrout
03-02-2015, 05:47 AM
I get the sense that you don't want to share what the solution was. Either way, I'm glad you are satisfied and happy!

He's reimbursing me for both installs and cost of the pickup.

Debby
03-02-2015, 05:56 AM
He's reimbursing me for both installs and cost of the pickup.

Very nice. He went beyond what he really needed to. That's great!

Nickie
03-02-2015, 03:37 PM
Yippee! I love it! Sounds like he's a keeper....