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krush050
08-11-2016, 11:17 AM
I FINALLY jumped the gun and purchased my first tenor- Kala spruce scalloped series! I typically would go through Hawaii music supply but when i spoke with them on the phone, i was less than impressed at how cold they were to me. i noticed that Uke Republic got the same ukulele in just recently and was more than impressed with their customer service. When i called, Mike was enthusiastic and more than willing to lend me his advice on what strings to order which are living waters low g set!! I even ordered a uke crazy alligator case and a strap button! Definitely will do business with them in the future!

Joyful Uke
08-11-2016, 11:31 AM
I've had great experiences with Uke Republic, too, even if it was just for things like strings.
I also had an experience with the other company that left me less than impressed, and shopping elsewhere. We all have bad days, so maybe that's all it was.

Ukejenny
08-11-2016, 11:50 AM
Mike is great. And his store, Uke Republic, is great! I could spend all day in there! My shopping experience at Uke Republic was tops. I like the website as well.

Now, I also have a strange story about that other store. When I was ready to order my Blackbird Clara, I called the number and talked to a certain fellow who was obviously eating a very messy sandwich, or maybe a burrito, but whatever it was, it must have been delicious, because he had absolutely no interest in helping me or even talking to me. Basically told me "no, we don't do that" when I inquired about a passive pickup and quickly got off the phone with me. So, I ended up calling Blackbird directly and ordered the instrument just as I wanted it.

If you live in the Atlanta area, Uke Republic hosts different events and workshops and it is a great venue. Mike really makes you feel at home.

krush050
08-11-2016, 12:02 PM
I called Hawaii Music Supple or The ukulele site, and Aaron answerd (the big guy who has the online lessons) he seems so jolly and happy online but it seemed like he and no interest in helping too! i called and said i was interested in buying a ukulele! His response was ".......um okay" i proceeded to ask him questions and they were very short direct answers. Then i call mike.... "Hey!!! Great! You've called to the right place! What can i do to help?!?" Just very jovial and fun to talk to! Hah funny thing....it probably was a burrito. I'm pretty sure The Ukulele Site is right next to a taco place!

Joyful Uke
08-11-2016, 12:11 PM
BTW, enjoy that new ukulele! I'll be watching for a NUD. :-)

JMort847
08-11-2016, 12:36 PM
Mike is great! He's my primary source for Living Water Strings and kazoos!

I ordered a clear Waterman with Fremont Mediums today, so I don't have to take my KoAloha and Bruko ukes to serenade art show patrons and jurors as they peruse my wooden wares.

Booli
08-11-2016, 01:14 PM
Echoing the sentiments of others here...

I have also bought from Uke Republic a handful of times. Mike McQueen is also very awesome, kind and knowledgeable, and despite being the boss and likely very busy, made me feel important to him, and like I was his most significant customer. This experience has been ether repeated or improved with every contact.

But yes, UKE REPUBLIC is awesome and I love Mike's YT video demos!

.

.
[edited to remove previously posted content not related to my interactions with Uke Republic]

krush050
08-11-2016, 02:52 PM
The one thing I do wish Uke Republic did was include some sort of case for free and a humidifier! I know thats not a deal breaker by any means, but it would be helpful! Does anyone know how they come shipped? Maybe I'll email mike and ad a case to my order!

Nickie
08-11-2016, 03:03 PM
The one thing I do wish Uke Republic did was include some sort of case for free and a humidifier! I know thats not a deal breaker by any means, but it would be helpful! Does anyone know how they come shipped? Maybe I'll email mike and ad a case to my order!
The only vendors I've ever seen offer a free case were custom builders....but it won't hurt to ask.

Choirguy
08-11-2016, 03:14 PM
Hah funny thing....it probably was a burrito. I'm pretty sure The Ukulele Site is right next to a taco place!

I'm not following the train of thought about burritos and taco places. Can you clarify?

�� (Taco emoji)

rappsy
08-11-2016, 03:17 PM
Then i call mike.... "Hey!!! Great! You've called to the right place! What can i do to help?!?" Just very jovial and fun to talk to!

I have long chats with Mike at the last two Tampa Bay shows he has attended, and I find him to be charming and attentive. When I asked him to bring a few items to the show from his store, they were there and even though it was accessories and strings, his attention was on me during the discussion and subsequent sale. Thanks Mike.

krush050
08-11-2016, 03:20 PM
I'm not following the train of thought about burritos and taco places. Can you clarify?

�� (Taco emoji)

I should have quoted that lol. Ukejenny made a comment about someone eating a burrito at HMS when she called there.

Nickie
08-11-2016, 03:32 PM
I plan to deal with him soon about a custom LoPrinzi

ubulele, I don't think you could go wrong. Mike knows LoPrinzi ukes as well as anyone. Donna's work is very high quality, I just don't have the bread for one. She builds a couple of miles from us, and we see her sweet smiling face every year at TBUG, and Mike too. I don't have any ukes from Mike, although I would have bought one last year, but it was sold.

stevejfc
08-11-2016, 03:40 PM
I've dealt with both HMS and Uke Republic and had good experiences with both. I'm a bit surprised about HMS, as Andrew has always been very responsive,......as of course, the late, great MGM was. Hey, we all have bad days on occasion..........and how many of us have been caught with a untimely mouth full of tuna?

Nickie
08-11-2016, 03:48 PM
and how many of us have been caught with a untimely mouth full of tuna?

Many, many times, by my cats. But only fresh caught, lightly seared tuna steaks, my friend!

stevejfc
08-11-2016, 03:58 PM
and how many of us have been caught with a untimely mouth full of tuna?

Many, many times, by my cats. But only fresh caught, lightly seared tuna steaks, my friend!
Ha, ha........extra wasabi for me please!

Booli
08-11-2016, 04:05 PM
Huh⁇ The ukes were shipped to them from China or Indonesia or wherever. The K brands would have been built in Hawaii. End-to-end, it's going to be roughly the same carbon footprint, no matter how it got to the vendor; you're still responsible for the whole path, not just the path from the vendor.

Ok, My bad, I had not considered the point-of-origin of the ukes. I will have to re-think this.


As for HMS's cool manner, how relevant is that really in the transaction? ... which limits the time they can spend on the phone with waffling customers talking about a $300 Kala as if it's a life-or-death decision.

Actually it's the WHOLE enchilada. If $300 is a lot of money to me, and the vendor treats me like I am a bother and not worth their time, then sorry, but I will buy elsewhere. This may come as a shock to some of you readers here, but not everyone WANTS a $2,500 Hawaiian-made uke. Right now I do not, nor would consider it. I am not going to list my reasons as that's not what this is about.


I only wish to offer a balancing viewpoint to the negative comments about HMS.

While it may not seem so, brother ubulele, I respect what you have said and will consider it as per your own personal experience.

krush050
08-11-2016, 04:28 PM
Actually it's the WHOLE enchilada. If $300 is a lot of money to me, and the vendor treats me like I am a bother and not worth their time, then sorry, but I will buy elsewhere. This may come as a shock to some of you readers here, but not everyone WANTS a $2,500 Hawaiian-made uke. Right now I do not, nor would consider it. I am not going to list my reasons as that's not what this is about.

Exactly! there were other reasons that factored in to my decision other than my bad experience.
Right now, my experience with ukuleles is still at the beginning stages. This will be my second serious uke. My first serious uke is a pono asd that i did buy from HMS....that was my first baby, but the pono tenors i feel are too heavy and big for my playing style right now. The Kala seemed right for where I'm at. Even the Pono i have was and is still a bit overwhelming. The strings are thicker, it was lower action, and although it got easier as time went on, i felt that it was beyond my skill level. Trying out the Kala a few months ago, everything seemed to come together....much easier to play!

Booli
08-11-2016, 04:45 PM
Exactly! there were other reasons that factored in to my decision other than my bad experience.
Right now, my experience with ukuleles is still at the beginning stages. This will be my second serious uke. My first serious uke is a pono asd that i did buy from HMS....that was my first baby, but the pono tenors i feel are too heavy and big for my playing style right now. The Kala seemed right for where I'm at. Even the Pono i have was and is still a bit overwhelming. The strings are thicker, it was lower action, and although it got easier as time went on, i felt that it was beyond my skill level. Trying out the Kala a few months ago, everything seemed to come together....much easier to play!

A set of Martin M620 strings are like $5 everywhere and likely thinner than the nylon or Nylgut strings you have on now.

Too much tension? Then try Worth CM - if too much tension still then try the Martin M600 (yes ON A TENOR) - and yes this is a progression of thinner gauges from about 45lbs total down to about 38lbs total for the whole set, and yes ON A TENOR UKE....(stringsbymail.com and stringsandbeyond.com are YOUR FRIENDS)

String action is one of the easier things to adjust, all you really need is an emery board, or nail file from the dollar store that is at least 6" long and lots of patience to lower the action, and to raise the action you can cut strips of paper or cardstock or even use some flat, wooden toothpicks, or a 1/8" wide strip of wood veneer, each placed under the saddle to raise it up until you get the string height you want.

Buying a whole new uke because you dont like the strings, string feel, or string action is like buying a whole new car because you do not like the existing RADIO presets on the old car...

There's like 40 different companies making strings for ukulele today and of those companies, at least half of them have like 2-3 or more different varieties or gauges of strings, so if you dont like the strings you already have on the instrument, you have literally HUNDREDS of choices for alternatives.

Booli
08-11-2016, 04:46 PM
Yes, I can see that. But if you stay on point, I don't think you'd have that experience with HMS—even if you're only spending $300, they want you to be satisfied. I don't want to leave the impression that they're elitist—I've never felt that from them—only that they're busy, often with customers right in the building that they literally can't afford to ignore for long. In the cell phone/convenience age, we often get too used to the idea that everyone else should be at our instant beck and call, for as long as we like; we don't sufficiently prepare to reduce the impact on their time.


yes ubu, you've made some really good points here. :)

krush050
08-11-2016, 04:55 PM
I understand that, but i was ready for a low g tenor and ive grown to love my pono and the sound of the strings! But instead of going with the heavier pono tenors because most likely i'd probably get used to it, i went for something that was easy to play and worked with my skill level.

Booli
08-11-2016, 05:11 PM
I understand that, but i was ready for a low g tenor and ive grown to love my pono and the sound of the strings! But instead of going with the heavier pono tenors because most likely i'd probably get used to it, i went for something that was easy to play and worked with my skill level.

Do you assume that Pono is 'beyond your skill level to play', and instead a Kala is more 'to your skill level'?

If so, this one of many common misconceptions among beginners, that:

A) a soprano is the 'beginner' then you 'upgrade' to concert, and later 'upgrade' to tenor or baritone when you become a really good player

B) only beginners play cheap ukes and only expert or advanced players play expensive or custom ukes

C) only one kind of strings will ever sound good on my ukulele

D) brand 'X' of (ukulele, string, case, strap, pickup, ice cream, etc) is THE BEST and all others just crap

ALL OF THE ABOVE are so completely wrong, and NOT based upon ANY facts, and I see them repeated so often on other forums (like reddit.com/r/ukulele) and misquoted so often that trying to re-educate folks is like trying to stop a tsunami with a spoon.

amiright, ubu?

Joyful Uke
08-11-2016, 05:23 PM
Yes, I can see that. But if you stay on point, I don't think you'd have that experience with HMS—even if you're only spending $300, they want you to be satisfied. I don't want to leave the impression that they're elitist—I've never felt that from them—only that they're busy, often with customers right in the building that they literally can't afford to ignore for long. In the cell phone/convenience age, we often get too used to the idea that everyone else should be at our instant beck and call, for as long as we like; we don't sufficiently prepare to reduce the impact on their time.

If they're too busy for my business, I can find others who have time for me. I've been "snubbed" when trying to ask a simple question. Quick and easy, and my response was going to be a quick "OK, I'll buy it", (which I could do online if they're busy), or "Thanks for your time", at least. On a couple occasions, I couldn't get the quick and easy answer from them. (If it wasn't quick and easy like I thought, they could tell me that, and then get back to me when they can.) I took my business elsewhere.

I'm plenty patient, and don't expect to have instant access to someone, since I know people don't get instant access to me in my life.

I thought I was the only one who ever had a negative experience with the mentioned company, so I'm at least relieved that it's not just me.

We all have different experiences, so please don't dismiss the idea that some of us didn't experience the top quality service that many of you seem to enjoy.

Joyful Uke
08-11-2016, 05:25 PM
I understand that, but i was ready for a low g tenor and ive grown to love my pono and the sound of the strings! But instead of going with the heavier pono tenors because most likely i'd probably get used to it, i went for something that was easy to play and worked with my skill level.

IMO, you're going in the right direction to find what is comfortable for you to play. I've tried to make an instrument work for me in the past, and it slowed down my progress and enjoyment, until I finally went with what felt easier to play. That really helped my progress and enjoyment.

Choirguy
08-11-2016, 05:34 PM
As I think about the content of this thread, I would hope that those of you who have steered away from a dealer/vendor, particularly one that is typically very highly recommended, would reach out to that vendor to relate your experience to the company.

I haven't purchased anything (yet) from HMS, but i have learned a ton from them--videos, resources, and now the podcast. After listening to the HMS crew for HOURS now, they ooze concern to match the buyer (regardless of investment) with an instrument. My only suggestion would be that in addition to the wonderful performances on video of each ukulele, that a standard strumming and picking pattern be played on every ukulele so that you could honestly compare the sound from instrument to instrument. Those players know how to make each of those ukuleles sound like a million bucks.

To be honest, I wouldn't be surprised if our "mainland" expectations interpret the laid back nature of Hawaiian culture as "cool" or "aloof"? Listen to one of the podcasts, and you'll see what I mean.

I just saw a post from Andrew about a job opening at the Ukulele Site in set-up; I know he is on the forums, so hopefully he can address the situations with the individuals that experienced them via PM.

I'm not saying to not purchase from anyone or that your experience wasn't valid...I just hope that if you have a bad experience with a company, let the company know. Sure, things might not change--but things might change.

Mivo
08-11-2016, 05:54 PM
The only vendors I've ever seen offer a free case were custom builders....but it won't hurt to ask.

My higher-end Pono baritone came with a custom case, and wasn't bought from HMS. I think they are always included. Really nice case, too, with an arched top over the bridge. Kanile'a also includes cases with their higher end models, I believe (may be mistaken).

krush050
08-11-2016, 06:12 PM
I love The Ukulele Site and visit it daily! I have learned a lot from that site and there videos, and I LOVE Coreys Demos and andrew has been wonderful. That bad experience alone, as i said earlier wasn't the only reason why i went with Uke Republic. I had a lot of questions that were hard to ask over facebook/email as they are 6 hours behind us. Mike was kind and patient enough to answer all my questions and he was happy to do it! Not to mention, the uke i ordered was 30 dollars cheaper! Same uke, Quality setup, and they had the strings i wanted! I will buy from HMS again, but i also think its cool to stray once in a while and try someone new.......thats in our same time zone lol. Mims is on my list of people to try as well! I'm new at this. I literally know nothing about music or ukes or any instruments for that matter and Mike was kind enough to educate me on a few things :)

Ukulele Eddie
08-11-2016, 07:01 PM
I'm glad you had a great experience with Uke Republic. As consumers, we are so very lucky to have a handful of nice options for what is largely an esoteric hobby.

It's wonderful to share positive experiences for the vendor(s) we like, but there will always be some consumers who have an experience that doesn't meet their expectation. Personally, I don't think we need to share those in this forum. It would be entirely different if somebody was selling defective merchandise or something like that.

Only because a few others mentioned less than stellar experiences, I would like to share that I've had nothing but positive experiences with HMS regardless of the price point at which I was buying. I also agree that their site sets an admirable standard for selection, information and quality sound samples, which I think a lot of us would sorely miss if it was not available.

Choirguy
08-11-2016, 08:14 PM
It's wonderful to share positive experiences for the vendor(s) we like, but there will always be some consumers who have an experience that doesn't meet their expectation. Personally, I don't think we need to share those in this forum. It would be entirely different if somebody was selling defective merchandise or something like that.

I'm not sure that I agree with this...I think there is something to be said for allowing people to voice a bad experience, particularly if they have tried to follow up with the company. If I were an owner, I wouldn't be happy about the conversation--but in the event that the customer didn't contact me, such a thread would give me the opportunity to know about the situation and to address it (even if to say, "I'm sorry this happened."). The fact that there were a few "me, too's" in this thread, if taken the right way, can help HMS in the future.

In my early days of blogging about technology in music education, I wrote a review of the two "big" PDF music readers: unrealBook and forScore. My end analysis (at the time) was that unrealBook wasn't as good as forScore. The developer--incidentally a gigging musician from Hawaii, wrote me a note and thanked me for the critical review, acknowledging that my opinions caused some pain (NOT intended, by the way) but gave him a benchmark to shoot for.

And improve he did--that app is still a recommended app on my list; and I learned that many iOS developers are not established corporations, but talented individuals programming outside of their day job. I now temper my reviews...not to be untrue...but to remember the human involved behind the scenes.

So...a shared experience--particularly one not written in anger, just as in this thread--can help make us better. In fact, in my marriage counseling, the counselor asked us to remember that comments from the other can be taken (even if not intended) as a "best interest" and that there is something positive or something constructive to work on.

And additionally, no super power lasts forever. Companies change over time, and in fact, the millennial work ethic is having impact on customer service and quality control throughout the marketplace. The ability to be honest about experiences can help determine when a company starts to "lose it," and help others as they make decisions about where to spend money.

As I have said before, I haven't bought from HMS yet, but I will, and I don't think they are on the decline in any way. And I know they are good people and real people. And I know they are very supportive of UU and many members. But that shouldn't mean that you can't discuss a negative experience. And I suppose the moderators can jump in at any time and lock down a conversation as needed.

AndrewKuker
08-11-2016, 10:10 PM
Hmm, well, I don’t really want to ignore the positive side of the thread. Mike is a great guy and I’m glad he’s getting support here. But I guess I should address the other comments because I do take them constructively.

Obviously we need to improve on the consistency of our phone service at the store. I realize that the guys up there (who are actually nice guys) may be ringing up a customer or have a bunch of people in the store to check in on, but still, the attitude should be courteous, showing aloha, or something is off. My sincerest apologies for where we fell short.

At the workshop, all day is about getting out the best ‘ukulele, perfectly setup. Every year our standards get more stringent, especially with affordable ukes because we have love for players in every price range! We also regularly work with import suppliers on areas they can improve, so I’m hoping that in our various efforts we're benefiting the community as a whole. Mahalo~

cml
08-11-2016, 11:40 PM
Andrew, I just wanted to say thank you. You and HMS deserve huge respect for replying and caring about the people here with negative experiences. This is how a company should operate. Kudos to you.

While I'm not yet a customer due to geographical reasons I love your site!

Mahalo,
Carl-Michael

sam13
08-12-2016, 04:35 AM
Andrew, I just wanted to say thank you. You and HMS deserve huge respect for replying and caring about the people here with negative experiences. This is how a company should operate. Kudos to you.

While I'm not yet a customer due to geographical reasons I love your site!

Mahalo,
Carl-Michael

People do business with people they like, feel good about: Quality service and products.

Mike at Uke Republic and Mim are on my short list of back up retailers to use if I can't get something with Andrew at HMS. They have a great number of people who are loyal because of their great service and care.

My first Uke purchase was from a vendor/dealer off of eBay ... who sold me a defective Uke and then after a few months when I realized the bridge was 3/4" off and it was CRAZY out of tune at the 12th fret ... he did nothing to make it right. It was a resale and as a complete noob I had no idea what to look for ... This dealer is no longer a member of UU for several years, although still selling.

Each purchase from Andrew has been super: phone and email support have been fabulous, and one of my Ukes developed a minor crack which was repaired without cost (only my shipping to Hawaii ... but HMS covered it on the return). I feel like I am important each time I call or buy.

The OP had a poor experience ... okay. Its unfortunate. People do have off days.

My experiences have been stellar and will continue to support Andrew at HMS out of appreciation for his tremendous care and service, and the passion which he brings to Ukulele business. He offers a tremendous resource which all buyers and sellers (yes, even his competitors) benefit from.

Mike at Uke Republic is a tremendous gent, and a year ago had a make of Uke which HMS did not carry ... and I was going to give him a ring ... but in truth I am downsizing so I might just enjoy his effervescent personality and outrageous humour.

spookelele
08-12-2016, 05:12 AM
Im sure Mike is great, as is MIM.

But.. every dealing I've had with HMS, they've bent over backward to make sure I'm happy with everything about it. I'm not saying people don't have bad days.. but that seems very not typical with HMS. I don't think price matters to them in regards to service. I've had alot of help on things as low priced as a single low G. They've been nothing but the high bar for service in my experience.

SoloRule
08-12-2016, 05:13 AM
I called Hawaii Music Supple or The ukulele site, and Aaron answerd (the big guy who has the online lessons) he seems so jolly and happy online but it seemed like he and no interest in helping too! i called and said i was interested in buying a ukulele! His response was ".......um okay" i proceeded to ask him questions and they were very short direct answers. Then i call mike.... "Hey!!! Great! You've called to the right place! What can i do to help?!?" Just very jovial and fun to talk to! Hah funny thing....it probably was a burrito. I'm pretty sure The Ukulele Site is right next to a taco place!

I had very similar experience with Aaron when I was at the store in person. Don't let one bad apple spoil the team . I would have stopped buying from HMS if I did not have a chance to deal directly with Andrew and met Zach and Joel in person.

Andrew, Zach, Joel and Corey offer excellent customer support. These guys truly care if you are happy or not. Andrew spend countless hours answering emails and telephones regardless how much or what brand your enquiry may be. I will buy from them again and again.

I also have several email exchanges with Mike at Uke Republic. I agree, he is another great guy to deal with. He is very patience and extremely quick with his email responds.

Mik
08-12-2016, 05:30 AM
I had very similar experience with Aaron when I was at the store in person. Don't let one bad apple spoil the team .


Ditto. I had same experience with him albeit via phone convo. I thought it was "me" knowing how a lot of UU members rave about HMS. I'm actually relieved to know that I'm not the only one. It validates my experience. I ended up buying straight from Koaloha that time. In fact, due to that lukewarm phone convo (similar to the previous UU member), I also bought directly from Blackbird company even though HMS was selling Clara cheaper.

That being said, I'd still buy from them in the future.

keod
08-12-2016, 06:04 AM
Count us very lucky to have stellar vendors such as HMS, Uke Republic and Mims (and others) to feed our UAS.

All contribute greatly to the uke community. It is no small feat to research products, produce the videos and maintain the worldwide communication that they offer. But (as we all know) there are personalities, circumstances and perceptions that enter into any purchase decision - and that means that at some time all vendors will fail to thrill a potential client.

I've dealt with all three and all I can say is that I trust them all to help me as best they can at that time. Any disappointment was usually more a result my own misinterpretation or faulty perception of our exchange. I think the market competition is great for all of us and open, fair, and constructive discussion is healthy as it can foster a better appreciation of the challenges on both sides. Who doesn't want better customer service and more well informed clients;)

sam13
08-12-2016, 06:07 AM
Count us very lucky to have stellar vendors such as HMS, Uke Republic and Mims (and others) to feed our UAS.

All contribute greatly to the uke community. It is no small feat to research products, produce the videos and maintain the worldwide communication that they offer. But (as we all know) there are personalities, circumstances and perceptions that enter into any purchase decision - and that means that at some time all vendors will fail to thrill a potential client.

I've dealt with all three and all I can say is that I trust them all to help me as best they can at that time. Any disappointment was usually more a result my own misinterpretation or faulty perception of our exchange. I think the market competition is great for all of us and open, fair, and constructive discussion is healthy as it can foster a better appreciation of the challenges on both sides. Who doesn't want better customer service and more well informed clients;)

A very balanced response. Thanks for sharing Keod.

bearbike137
08-12-2016, 06:41 AM
OP - I am not doubting your experience at all. That said, over my last 20 years of buying guitars and ukes (and I have bought a lot of them!), I have not come across an all-around better music store than Hawaii Music Supply. They are a rare combination of amazing inventory, quality set-up, helpful photos and clips, detailed descriptions, helpful website and tools, knowledgeable staff, liberal return policies - and a very caring, responsive and personable owner to boot.

Also, I have called and spoken with Aaron on a number of occasions, and though he really doesn't know me from Adam, he has always been helpful, enthusiastic, and friendly. I am sorry your experience was otherwise.

krush050
08-12-2016, 07:09 AM
I agree! I love HMS and was really let down by this experience. I will continue to shop from them despite my experience. Andrew, Joel, and Corey have been awesome but being from New York it's a little hard to reach them. Plus as I've said in a previous post, uke republic has my uke for cheaper and the strings I wanted. I was apphehensive about going somewhere different but it's nice to know I have another option. This got a little out of hand and I'm sorry to everyone at HMS. I've told Andrew and I'll say it here that their service is top notch.

DaveY
08-12-2016, 10:16 AM
Andrew and HMS have been as great as any company I've ever dealt with, and I've purchased nine ukuleles (most of them with installed pickups) and various accessories from them. There have been occasional minor mistakes, and I've had one or two grumpy phone encounters, but I'm an imperfect human being, too. If the phone call is unsatisfactory, I call back and talk to someone else.

As for nightmare experiences, I've had one elsewhere, but am kindly keeping it private (well, except for this sentence).

2manistrings
08-12-2016, 01:24 PM
I have no buying experience with HMS, but they've answered email questions quickly and courteously. Uke Republic OTOH, is my fave place to buy ukes/uke stuff! I don't purchase often, but my experience has been that every purchase is treated with equal importance and value. The next best thing to the customer service is their lay-away option, which helped me purchase the Mainland red cedar concert, my one and only now. <3

Nickie
08-12-2016, 03:49 PM
Count us very lucky to have stellar vendors such as HMS, Uke Republic and Mims (and others) to feed our UAS.

All contribute greatly to the uke community. It is no small feat to research products, produce the videos and maintain the worldwide communication that they offer. But (as we all know) there are personalities, circumstances and perceptions that enter into any purchase decision - and that means that at some time all vendors will fail to thrill a potential client.

Hear, hear! A friend of mine buys ALL her ukes from Mike. She isn't thrilled everytime, but she keeps going back. I can't wait to see what she comes up with next time. I think she must have at least a dozen, after selling off at least half that many. I love Mim, I've never had a mediocre experience with her. I'd buy another uke from either/or, or HMS, but I can't think of a uke I want now.
Lack of imagination?
(More like lack of funds and time to play another one!)

Recstar24
08-12-2016, 05:36 PM
Mike at uke republic has been great to me. He's been very supportive of my school's uke program and is actually our vendor we go to for strings and tuners! He's awesome on the phone and I love his cheesy YouTube videos.

Andrew at HMS has been my main interaction at HMS through email and I'm always amazed at how in depth he answers my questions as I'm sure he is a busy guy. You can tell he loves uke and his company and he just wants the best for you. I've called HMS a few times and you can hear it's pretty busy and the conversations have been short - the last time I called I asked about a nice case for my koaloha tenor and was told to get a hoffee or Calton case, but when I emailed Andrew he had recommended me an excellent fitting case that was cheaper than the Oahu case which I thought was very cool.

mm stan
08-13-2016, 03:18 AM
Ive seen this post for some time but did not comment... I get the idea some may have higher expectations of service and demand a return policy for things that they receive that might not be
to their perceived likings.. some take advantage of the business, such as you buy a gift or present t shirt and wear it and call it to return it?? kinda scruple less huh?
many businesses provide great service such as HMS, MIM, Uke Republic etc, yet unsatisfied bullies people trash their experiences online to get their ways.. how much do you expect a business to
bend over for you? if you buy a car and don't like the tires, do you take it back and return it or ask for tires you like.. would they accommodate you? hell no
all I'm saying is please be careful what you type online, it affects someones bread and butter reputation. if you had a business, Im sure you'd be pissed right... jus' saying, sorry for the rant
If you have an issue with your product, call them directly rather than start a thread or post negative comments, be a man and don't hide behind your computer.
but I think this needed to be said, be nice, karma is around the corner.....

igorthebarbarian
08-13-2016, 05:28 AM
Ultimately at the end of the day, you're buying a uke from any of these three places because of the setup. Or at least that's the best reason to. We should be thankful to have places online that do actual value-adding setups. I don't have the skill, tools, knowledge to do it myself. I think it's hard to quantify "service" on the Internet. I wonder what the i person buying experience would be in Hawaii for HMS. They do great work so I could care less if they're not overly-friendly on the phone. Someone else mentioned the island vibe and a different way of life over there, and reading that, yes that totally makes sense. I noticed it too on my honeymoon there. So that's definitely a part of what I could see people here nitpicking about.

Also I should add that the Magic Fluke people are actually really nice and friendly too.

cml
08-13-2016, 06:55 AM
Edited due to nice PMs with Stan: Can we not keep it friendly here ?

I wrote a few pages back that I think HMS is a top company (even though I'm not yet a customer due to geographical reasons), especially so because Andrew very humbly acknowledged that there might be a problem. I mean, how many businesses would do that? I tip my hat to HMS, I think it's fantastic and shows great courage and I think they will ultimately benefit from this. At least in my opinion I like them even more now :).

Kudos to HMS for being a stand up business and being such a fantastic resource for the community!

janeray1940
08-13-2016, 07:21 AM
when i spoke with them on the phone, i was less than impressed at how cold they were to me

I'm going to focus on this single line, which reflects something I'm seeing more and more these days - that people seem less adept at phone or face-to-face communication than they did in the past. As a little old 50-something lady, I believe the prevalence of electronic communication for the last two generations is in part to blame - people have become so accustomed to the abruptness and lack of human factor of text-speak and instant messaging and the like that they don't know how to be anything *but* cold. Yes, it's a generalization, but as someone whose first jobs as a teen way back in the 1970s involved dealing with the public in retail, most of what I see pass for "customer service" these days would not have passed back in the day. And the sad thing is - I don't think the employees have a clue, and even worse, I don't think their bosses have a clue. Again - I am not calling anybody in the uke world out here, but describing my experience in general as of lately.

I've dealt with both of the retailers mentioned by the OP for one thing and one thing only - strings, in both cases ordered online, in both cases some years ago. The HMS order arrived with lightning speed. The Uke Republic order had a little glitch, but they went so far above and beyond to make things right over a $5 string order that I don't doubt that their customer service regarding a uke purchase was stellar. I wouldn't hesitate to order from either, but if my order began with a phone or even email conversation and one inspired more trust than the other due to friendliness, politeness or enthusiasm, they are the one that would get my hard-earned pennies.

Joyful Uke
08-13-2016, 08:47 AM
some take advantage of the business, such as you buy a gift or present t shirt and wear it and call it to return it?? kinda scruple less huh?
many businesses provide great service such as HMS, MIM, Uke Republic etc, yet unsatisfied bullies people trash their experiences online to get their ways..

I don't think this applies to anything that has been posted. No complaints about purchases made, no attempts to return anything that I saw, (maybe I missed something?) So, the allegations don't fit the situation.

It's terrific that a storefront can have such fierce loyalty. They must be doing something right! (Lots right, most likely.) But if someone (or at least a few people here) had an experience that led them to shop elsewhere, that's valid, too. And, it's great to support the other ukulele stores, too.

That Andrew responded to this thread says a lot, too, in a very good way. Maybe all those who wanted a better experience with that store will try again, and have a great experience.

We don't all have to shop at the same store, so it's great that there are options, even for this niche market. Let's support them all, or whichever ones we choose to support.

ETA:
I hope that people will also remember to support this forum, since we are all making use of it.

Joyful Uke
08-13-2016, 08:49 AM
Also I should add that the Magic Fluke people are actually really nice and friendly too.

Yes! I've had great experiences with them also.

Mivo
08-13-2016, 09:13 AM
I feel that there is value in sharing negative experiences, for both vendors and customers, provided a customer has made an attempt to communicate with the vendor about actual or perceived issues before taking them to a public forum of any kind. Giving a vendor a chance to remedy whatever the problem is (and that the vendor may not even have been aware of) is only a fair approach.

quiltingshirley
08-13-2016, 09:25 AM
I wasn't going to post but... Uke Republic has been nice to me over the phone and bent over backwards to give me what I wanted but then so has HMS. Both have been super friendly on the phone. I have bought from both more than once. I only bought from Mim once but sure liked how she set up the uke. No longer have it but liked it.,

jer
08-13-2016, 02:02 PM
I personally don't see the problem with sharing a valid negative experience with a company. As readers/listeners, we just have to keep in mind that there are two sides to every story. Ideally, both sides would get to present their side of the story.

That said, if there are negative things going on at a company, I almost feel it's my responsibility as a consumer to speak up about it. There are some really crappy companies out there who will and do take advantage of people and don't treat them well. That could be avoided if the person knows this before dealing with them. I'm NOT saying that is the case here...I'm speaking in general.
I bagged on Outdoor Ukulele for a bad experience I had with them in the early days of their business, and saw many others here do the same thing. I didn't see any complaints about that. I then turned around and said good things about them after my last experience with them was a good one. They got their act together and made a better product to boot.

If I owned a successful business with employees, such as HMS, I would most definitely want to know if any of my employees were coming across as cold or less than interested to customers. If more than one person sees things that way, there just might be something to it. That would cost the business money and take money out of the pocket of the owner too.
I've worked in customer service in various positions in the past as a self-employed person and for a boss. Simply put, if you want to make sure the business does its best you don't get to have "off" days. I don't care if you're having the crappiest day ever, you can't let it show to the customer. One place in particular I worked for had extremely high standards. I was reprimanded for not "sounding like I was smiling while speaking" while on the phone to a customer...I thought that was going a bit far, yet I understand why the standard was set so high. As an employee it was my job to follow company policies as best I could, whether I agreed with them completely or not. For the record, I was always very courteous, just not overly bubbly.

I liked what Andrew, the owner, had to say in this thread. He didn't deny or argue with the people who shared their experiences. He said it shouldn't happen. He handled it very well. Kudos to you, sir.

As to the "kindergarten" comment up there. If this isn't a kindergarten, then why does everyone (or company) need to be handled with kid gloves? I can understand respect, but sharing is not always attacking.
People are so easily offended these days. Just because someone disagrees with something doesn't mean they're "attacking".

Joyful Uke
08-13-2016, 02:14 PM
I bagged on Outdoor Ukulele for a bad experience I had with them in the early days of their business, and saw many others here do the same thing. I didn't see any complaints about that.

I see that there is a thread now about a particular brand of strings that seems to have fallen out of favor, and don't see any complaints there either.

jer
08-13-2016, 02:19 PM
I see that there is a thread now about a particular brand of strings that seems to have fallen out of favor, and don't see any complaints there either.
I've also noticed that sort of double standard on message boards before. When people from a company being spoken about get involved in a thread or forum in general, it seems to change things. I've also noticed that sometimes the people who are saying negative things will suddenly back off and chicken out or something. lol. It's just an observation.

P.S. - I agreed with your earlier post in this thread.

hawaii 50
08-13-2016, 02:33 PM
I feel that there is value in sharing negative experiences, for both vendors and customers, provided a customer has made an attempt to communicate with the vendor about actual or perceived issues before taking them to a public forum of any kind. Giving a vendor a chance to remedy whatever the problem is (and that the vendor may not even have been aware of) is only a fair approach.


this post makes the most sense to me...but i guess it is only me......

AndrewKuker
08-13-2016, 04:02 PM
I don’t wanna sensor anyone. Even the reviews on our site only have a spam filter. We’re real people. There’s no end to improvement. It’s fine. These things aren’t offensive. I’d rather know, adjust, and get back to work. It’s cool. Everyone here is a uke enthusiast and I appreciate all of you as well as the forum UU provides. I should show them some love and get the lessons they offer. Learn some new stuff….show myself some love more like. Plus my daughters been getting good so I gotta stay better! A hui ho!

cml
08-13-2016, 09:11 PM
Edit due to nice PMs with Stan: I didn't start anything, neither this thread nor argument. Quite the opposite really, when Andrew first replied all I did was say kudos. Read back if you don't remember. I've done nothing but giving HMS my support.

cml
08-13-2016, 11:31 PM
Your PM inbox is full Stan, but I've edited my previous entries due to our nice conversation.
Mahalo!

mm stan
08-13-2016, 11:52 PM
Aloha CML,
Thank you for your resolution amongst our misunderstanding, I certainly appreciate you editing your posts as I deleted My last one. I hope there is no hard feelings as I do not and I do hope our friendship can flourish. Stan
Ps I cleaned out my PM box if you want to respond there

wayfarer75
08-14-2016, 02:58 AM
this post makes the most sense to me...but i guess it is only me......

Not just you.

Joyful Uke
08-14-2016, 05:12 AM
Since I think that krush050 meant for this thread to be about his great experience with Uke Republic and the purchase of a new ukulele, I hope that krush050 will still share his NUD with us, and continue to share his good experiences.

krush050
08-14-2016, 05:17 AM
That is very true joyful uke! It should arrive tomorrow and I am eager to see and play it! It is a gorgeous uke. I just hope I picked the right string combination! I'm having second thoughts on not going with the super nylguts. Oh...I'm a girl btw :)

Ukejenny
08-14-2016, 05:40 AM
Ive seen this post for some time but did not comment... I get the idea some may have higher expectations of service and demand a return policy for things that they receive that might not be
to their perceived likings.. some take advantage of the business, such as you buy a gift or present t shirt and wear it and call it to return it?? kinda scruple less huh?
many businesses provide great service such as HMS, MIM, Uke Republic etc, yet unsatisfied bullies people trash their experiences online to get their ways.. how much do you expect a business to
bend over for you? if you buy a car and don't like the tires, do you take it back and return it or ask for tires you like.. would they accommodate you? hell no
all I'm saying is please be careful what you type online, it affects someones bread and butter reputation. if you had a business, Im sure you'd be pissed right... jus' saying, sorry for the rant
If you have an issue with your product, call them directly rather than start a thread or post negative comments, be a man and don't hide behind your computer.
but I think this needed to be said, be nice, karma is around the corner.....

I just want to clarify that I don't expect anyone to bend over backwards for me as a customer. I only expect someone to do business with me, in a businesslike manner, before I buy a product. As a musician, I've been a member of different forums for different instruments for several years. This seems to be the only place where certain people try to shame posts that discuss less than stellar reviews. I was just being honest, not hateful, not spiteful, not wishing ill to anyone employed by any company. I was being honest.

johnson430
08-14-2016, 07:30 AM
The Pono That Wasn't, A True Story:

After several months of debating, I decided to buy a Pono MGT but HMS was sold out at the time. I called another music store in Hawaii with a bountiful supply of ukes and, yes, they had a Pono MGT.
Long story short is this: When I called to inquire about the uke the young chap on the other end turned into an instant jerk. I don't want to put you in a bad mood by stating here what this guy said to me but it was not good, not at all.
Well, first I felt offended and then I got angry. This was the only Pono MGT coming up on my search results but my conscience was bothering me...a lot.
I ended up contacting the manager of the Hawaiian uke shop and explained what had happened. He was very nice and apologized for the behavior of his employee. We even got to a point where he sent me an invoice for the Pono MGT but I just didn't feel right. It really pissed me off that this kid was such a jackass; and perhaps it was the years I spent in customer service but I just couldn't let it go.
I went back on the computer and got on Ko'olau's main website and found a list of US dealers. One had the Pono MGT but it was about $15 more money. I called the owner of that shop in NC,USA and spent the next 20 minutes talking ukes. My debit card was out and the uke was paid for and sent off that day.
I called the manager of the music shop in Hawaii back just to let him know that I would not be purchasing the uke from his company per that incident, regardless of his apology. I also explained that I was even willing to pay more money to "feel good" about my purchase.
At the end of the day I got my uke, one company lost a sale and maybe, just maybe, that sales rep. will learn something about customer service too.
THE END

Back on topic: Mike is a great guy. I have called him a few times to discuss this or that and he has always been willing to help.
Isn't he the only US supplier of Living Water strings?

Joyful Uke
08-14-2016, 07:49 AM
That is very true joyful uke! It should arrive tomorrow and I am eager to see and play it! It is a gorgeous uke. I just hope I picked the right string combination! I'm having second thoughts on not going with the super nylguts. Oh...I'm a girl btw :)

My apologies for using the wrong pronoun. Hard to tell over the internet.

I love Living Water strings, (which I buy from Uke Republic), so I think it's a good choice...but it all depends on your own tastes. If you don't like them, at least it's not a big deal to change them.

Joyful Uke
08-14-2016, 07:50 AM
Back on topic: Mike is a great guy. I have called him a few times to discuss this or that and he has always been willing to help.
Isn't he the only US supplier of Living Water strings?

He's the only US supplier I've found, so I think that's correct. But, I'm quite satisfied with buying the strings from Mike, so that works out for me.

Ukejenny
08-18-2016, 12:14 PM
Stan, your inbox is full, so I can't reply to the message you sent me!

igorthebarbarian
08-18-2016, 12:39 PM
Isn't he the only US supplier of Living Water strings?

I have purchased Living Water Strings directly from Ken in England/UK. They haven't taken noticeably longer to get all the way to me in Arizona. I usually buy a couple at a time. Great strings. Great guy Ken.