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Goats Can Eat Anything
05-01-2012, 03:48 PM
I waited tables for many years. It's often a trying job. Guests can be difficult, so can the kitchen, the bar, the coworkers... It takes patience and skill. You need to ensure that you are helping the machine stay well oiled while treating your customers like guests.

Why do I mention this?

It's great when people have a great experience without any issues. But sometimes things come up: cold food, don't like the drink, timing is off... Only some of the time is the server at fault -- but the server is always the face of the operation. One of my favorite parts of serving was going for the 'save'. In some ways, it's a blessing when some snafu compromises the guest experience. It gives you the chance to win them back and show your love. Collings just did this for me.

A few months back, I bought a Collings tenor and upon my first string change, one of the PegHed tuners came loose and unscrewed from the headstock. I called Collings and the first thing Mark, the customer service manager, said was "I'm really sorry about that." He hadn't heard of the problem before and told me he would talk with one of their uke builders to suss out the situation. Within an hour, he had called me back with the builder. The builder told me that they used medium viscosity super glue to affix the tuners and gave me instructions on how to fix it. Super glue scares me a bit, but he made the process sound manageable. So, I hit up Ace and bought the supplies. I came home and attempted the fix. Even though the builder had said "use a fair amount of glue," I was rather conservative in my application. I glued it in and it looked great! I let it cure for several hours and then tried installing the string. Unfortunately, it did not stick. So, I tried it again, more generous with the glue, and there was some squeeze out. I cleaned it with a q-tip as much as possible, but there was still a little ring. I was bummed. Super bummed.

Lesson #1: self-repair is for fools. I'm good at changing strings and twisting truss rods. I can even clean up a fret end. But I overestimated myself. Collings fit and finish is second to none. There is a reason for this: they're professionals. That said -- the tuner stayed put...

The following week I called Mark and told him of the situation. Again, he was sympathetic to my situation. I asked what it would cost to repair the finish. He checked into it with the builders and called me back. He told me that it would require a new set of tuners and a trip to the spray booth. He said that they would be happy to replace the tuners for me and that I should send it their way. I sent it to them and, two weeks after they received it, Mark called to say that it was finished. He said they were really sorry about the situation and that they wouldn't charge me for the repair. All he asked was that I pay return shipping and let him know that it arrived safe and sound, and, that it was repaired to my satisfaction.

Today, UPS dropped off my uke and I was delighted to get it back (I'm currently a one uke man!). I've even been playing in my sleep... It was better than new. It's a good day.

They could have made me pay for the repair. I could have argued that I shouldn't have to (it was not an unauthorized self-repair). But there was none of this. Mark wanted me to be happy with my instrument and he was sorry when everything had not gone as expected. I won here -- my decision to spend part of my tax refund on buying something that was made right here in America was validated. They won too. I've owned Collings guitars before and I'm eager to own more again. I'm telling everyone who will listen about a great company, with superb products and exceptional people, which stands behind what they make. This stuff matters.

I listen to the way that people talk about Koaloha around here with great reverence. Well friends, I want you to know that Collings stands behind their products, that they are happy to take your call, and that they deserve your business.

Lesson #2: Builders, take note, an earnest commitment to customer service is a better investment than you think. Collings just earned one customer for life.

Lesson #3: Collings is the real deal: great product, great people, and total integrity.

Tonight, I lift my glass to Collings.

TheOnlyUkeThatMatters
05-01-2012, 04:31 PM
Great story. Always nice to hear about a good experience like yours. And let's not forget the only lesson I've learned about Collings ukes:

Ralf's Lesson: Collings makes wonderful-sounding ukuleles that are a joy to play.

peewee
05-01-2012, 04:40 PM
Great story. Always nice to hear about a good experience like yours. And let's not forget the only lesson I've learned about Collings ukes:

Ralf's Lesson: Collings makes wonderful-sounding ukuleles that are a joy to play.

I was doing some high end uke tourism at McCabe's the other day, K brands, Blackbird, Breedlove, vintage Martin. The only one that made me feel like I needed a new uke was the Koa Collings. And now you tell me they are a stand up company too? ouch

BTW the National resonator was a close second.

Nickie
05-01-2012, 05:35 PM
Gee, this makes me wish I could afford one...

Hippie Dribble
05-01-2012, 05:46 PM
Thanks for the awesome story GCEA, what a great experience you've had with them. They are superb craftsmen and superb people. Just about the best uke builders out there in my opinion. Their finishes are in a league of their own and the tones their instruments give out are like honey from the comb. Thanks much for sharing this with us mate, very encouraging stuff to hear. :)

Dan Uke
05-01-2012, 06:41 PM
I would love to get a Collings too. Thanks for sharing

bearbike137
05-02-2012, 04:32 AM
I have not had the pleasure of playing a Collings ukulele, but I have to say - my decade long search for a lifetime acoustic and electric guitar ended with a Collings in both cases.

Goats Can Eat Anything
05-02-2012, 05:11 AM
It's a pleasure to share a story like this and, for those who enjoy hearing it, I'm very glad. I think when a company goes above and beyond, that's the time to shout about them from the mountain tops. This is especially true because Collings is pretty new to the uke game. If high quality customer service is important to my fellow UUers (and it appears to be), the best thing I can do is let you know that Collings does it right. So often people only share negative experiences. It makes sense: if you're really pissed off, venting is cathartic. But if things are just great, it's easy to just enjoy and privately bask in the kindness of someone else. I wanted to share -- for my sake, for your sake, and for Collings' sake.

For those who said that they want a Collings, but it's cost prohibitive, I can tell you that the entry level models are phenomenal sounding and right at the K brand price point. To be sure, they're not inexpensive, but they really are worth it. I hope you get a chance to join the club. You'll be playing a great instrument and supporting a wonderful company.

Bearbike, their guitars are incredible! Which models did you end up with? I'm especially smitten with the 290 and the I-35LC. They have totally out-gibsoned Gibson!

bearbike137
05-02-2012, 05:28 AM
Bearbike, their guitars are incredible! Which models did you end up with? I'm especially smitten with the 290 and the I-35LC. They have totally out-gibsoned Gibson!

It is an I-35 Standard. Not only does it sound great, but the workmanship is outstanding. I am not surprised at all that Collings ukes are highly regarded! Here she is (although I have subsequently removed the pup covers which has opened up the sound even more - and revealed double whites!):

http://i199.photobucket.com/albums/aa238/SteveKlim/I-35collage.jpg
http://i199.photobucket.com/albums/aa238/SteveKlim/I-35DoublesWhites028.jpg

Goats Can Eat Anything
05-03-2012, 04:58 PM
bearbike, that's gorgeous and I really dig the white PUPs. You're a very fortunate person!