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Thread: Returning a New Uke :-( Online purchase -> a long, cautionary tale

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2019
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    Default Returning a New Uke :-( Online purchase -> a long, cautionary tale

    First, and important…this isn’t a criticism of the vendor. I’m only sharing my experience and pointing out two disappointments. I hope that anyone who makes a purchase will consider asking a few more questions before hitting the [BUY] button.

    Not to bury the lead… I returned the uke within the ‘no fault’ return policy and had the return shipping deducted from the refund. There were two important reasons for the return.

    This was an expensive instrument (for me, $800-900) from a reputable builder and dealership. I have two other instruments from the same builder and also purchased from the dealer twice before in the last year.

    First, thanks to everyone in the forum who has commented on threads involving “dead notes” and “wolf notes” … Having that knowledge and background helped me make the decision to return the uke. [I have two other instruments that display this flaw, both were improved (though not completely mitigated)n by suggestions of trying differ string sets.]. When I got this uke, after a quick, admiring inspection I tuned it and did some fretboard warmups. Two notes on the upper five frets had little or no sustain; dead. And on the 14, 15, 16th frets on the low G sustain disappeared little by little as I was ascending. F & F# were the notes most noticeable.

    I tried four different sets of strings, including the originals. Different tensions, composition, and diameter. Worth Browns helped “slightly” on the C string, 5th fret, but was still noticeable. Replacing the Low G with a high g resulted in no improvement.

    Second, the gloss finish wasn’t the same on all surfaces. The sides and back were clearly mirror-like, as expected. But the sound board had small dimples at most of the pores. Most people wouldn’t notice it, but I did. It was a production flaw made notable when comparing with the other surfaces. By comparison, my other uke -from the same builder- had a flawless finish on all surfaces (same price range). So I thought my expectation of a flawless finish were reasonable.

    The policy of the dealership was that a defective return would result in a full refund, NOT having return shipping deducted from the refund. The dealer’s representative indicated that the instrument wasn’t defective; dead notes and finish issue were not defects, but flaws. Defects affect playability in some significant way.

    In their return policy, the dealership clearly points out that defective instruments qualify for a full refund. I simply didn’t understand want a defect is/was. Consider that the first uke purchased from them… same builder, same price, didn’t have these “flaws!” And, of my five other ukes, only one has dead notes (and only in one upper position) with those instruments costing $250-$350.

    Finally, the shipping and insurance fee amounted to $46. The dealer provided the return shipping label; I did not choose the shipper or value of insurance. By comparison, when I purchased a less expensive uke from them, I was charged under $26 shipping.

    My recommendation. Read and understand the return/refund policy and conditions outlined therein. Ask for clarification of any terms that might disqualify you from a refund of any kind. Be willing to pay the ‘fees’ before you hit the [BUY] button. Me… I’m not buying from this dealership, or any online unless I can view, hear, play the instrument!

    Thanks for “listening” everyone. No comments expected. I’m worn out!
    ::: Romero Creations Replica Tenor ::: Fender Montecito Tenor Koa ::: Ohana Soprano SK-75 ::: Kanile'a Islander MAPG-4-C ::: Kanile'a K-2 Super Concert ::: Kala KA-SSTU-SMC-C ::: Ohana SK-50G ::: Enya Nova U Concert ::: Kala KA-ABP-CTG Bari :::

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Web_Parrot View Post
    ...dead notes and finish issue were not defects, but flaws. Defects affect playability in some significant way.
    I can sympathize. Sellers are more more willing to sell than to accept returns. Just be thankful that you could return it and get most of your money back.

    Shipping charges can be nasty. I've paid high shipping charges and gotten very slow shipping. I've also paid reasonable charges and gotten two day delivery from CA, HI, and New Zealand. Charging a lot for cheap shipping is another way to increase profit.
    Too many ukes, but I can't stop buying!
    https://www.catskillukulelegroup.com/

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2018
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    Quote Originally Posted by Web_Parrot View Post
    First, and important…this isn’t a criticism of the vendor. I’m only sharing my experience and pointing out two disappointments. I hope that anyone who makes a purchase will consider asking a few more questions before hitting the [BUY] button.

    Not to bury the lead… I returned the uke within the ‘no fault’ return policy and had the return shipping deducted from the refund. There were two important reasons for the return.

    This was an expensive instrument (for me, $800-900) from a reputable builder and dealership. I have two other instruments from the same builder and also purchased from the dealer twice before in the last year.

    First, thanks to everyone in the forum who has commented on threads involving “dead notes” and “wolf notes” … Having that knowledge and background helped me make the decision to return the uke. [I have two other instruments that display this flaw, both were improved (though not completely mitigated)n by suggestions of trying differ string sets.]. When I got this uke, after a quick, admiring inspection I tuned it and did some fretboard warmups. Two notes on the upper five frets had little or no sustain; dead. And on the 14, 15, 16th frets on the low G sustain disappeared little by little as I was ascending. F & F# were the notes most noticeable.

    I tried four different sets of strings, including the originals. Different tensions, composition, and diameter. Worth Browns helped “slightly” on the C string, 5th fret, but was still noticeable. Replacing the Low G with a high g resulted in no improvement.

    Second, the gloss finish wasn’t the same on all surfaces. The sides and back were clearly mirror-like, as expected. But the sound board had small dimples at most of the pores. Most people wouldn’t notice it, but I did. It was a production flaw made notable when comparing with the other surfaces. By comparison, my other uke -from the same builder- had a flawless finish on all surfaces (same price range). So I thought my expectation of a flawless finish were reasonable.

    The policy of the dealership was that a defective return would result in a full refund, NOT having return shipping deducted from the refund. The dealer’s representative indicated that the instrument wasn’t defective; dead notes and finish issue were not defects, but flaws. Defects affect playability in some significant way.

    In their return policy, the dealership clearly points out that defective instruments qualify for a full refund. I simply didn’t understand want a defect is/was. Consider that the first uke purchased from them… same builder, same price, didn’t have these “flaws!” And, of my five other ukes, only one has dead notes (and only in one upper position) with those instruments costing $250-$350.

    Finally, the shipping and insurance fee amounted to $46. The dealer provided the return shipping label; I did not choose the shipper or value of insurance. By comparison, when I purchased a less expensive uke from them, I was charged under $26 shipping.

    My recommendation. Read and understand the return/refund policy and conditions outlined therein. Ask for clarification of any terms that might disqualify you from a refund of any kind. Be willing to pay the ‘fees’ before you hit the [BUY] button. Me… I’m not buying from this dealership, or any online unless I can view, hear, play the instrument!

    Thanks for “listening” everyone. No comments expected. I’m worn out!
    That's why I use credit cards and Paypal for purchases. Their "defect" vs "flaw" distinction wouldn't hold much water when the refund amount was disputed. You are way too kind to them. If more of the customers they cheat disputed the deduction, the vendor would find it is an expensive and time consuming endeavor. Chargebacks carry a service fee of $35, in addition to the time to fight their losing battle. That uke had 2 separate defects.

  4. #4
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    Jul 2018
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jerryc41 View Post
    I can sympathize. Sellers are more more willing to sell than to accept returns. Just be thankful that you could return it and get most of your money back.

    Shipping charges can be nasty. I've paid high shipping charges and gotten very slow shipping. I've also paid reasonable charges and gotten two day delivery from CA, HI, and New Zealand. Charging a lot for cheap shipping is another way to increase profit.
    I would not be thankful. I would ensure they rued the day they tried to cheat me by both contesting the charge for a full refund, and by leaving reviews on their fb page, BBB, and reporting to FTC.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2019
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    Honolulu
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    I returned a Romero Creations TT6 to California and the shipping and insurance was $150 USPS (UPS and FedX were more), so you got off easy! Having owned a couple new instruments with wolf tones—e.g., really loud F on the 1st fret of the C string—I noticed most of the notes disappeared or diminished after 6 months or so. However, the couple dead notes didn't change much. A luthier friend of mine explained that the builder didn't bother to listen to the instrument and adjust the soundboard to fix the inconsistent notes. I watched him fix such a problem in one of my guitars and he used sandpaper and a finger plane to shave various parts of the soundboard and braces to even up the response—and it worked perfectly!

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by gochugogi View Post
    I returned a Romero Creations TT6 to California and the shipping and insurance was $150 USPS (UPS and FedX were more), so you got off easy! Having owned a couple new instruments with wolf tones—e.g., really loud F on the 1st fret of the C string—I noticed most of the notes disappeared or diminished after 6 months or so. However, the couple dead notes didn't change much. A luthier friend of mine explained that the builder didn't bother to listen to the instrument and adjust the soundboard to fix the inconsistent notes. I watched him fix such a problem in one of my guitars and he used sandpaper and a finger plane to shave various parts of the soundboard and braces to even up the response—and it worked perfectly!
    I have often wondered about that. Thanks for posting this Peter. Amazing, their ability to hear and adjust such small inconsistencies in the build to fix the problems.
    There is a subtle yet profound difference between the learning of something and the knowing of that thing.
    You can learn by reading, but you don’t begin to know until you begin to try to do.

    —Lou Churchill, Plane & Pilot Magazine

  7. #7
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    It really makes you appreciate the easy returns when this happens. I bought a uke for around $200 including shipping and returned it only because I didn't like it enough. Paying for 2 way shipping, a restocking fee and only a partial refund on customs charges, I barely got half my money back. I contemplated selling it privately, but in the end, decided I probably wouldn't do any better.
    Glenn

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by glennerd View Post
    It really makes you appreciate the easy returns when this happens. I bought a uke for around $200 including shipping and returned it only because I didn't like it enough. Paying for 2 way shipping, a restocking fee and only a partial refund on customs charges, I barely got half my money back. I contemplated selling it privately, but in the end, decided I probably wouldn't do any better.
    The cost of returning something is always a consideration. With Amazon, there is no cost, but most others charge. It can easily get to a point where I'll decide to keep it or sell it.
    Too many ukes, but I can't stop buying!
    https://www.catskillukulelegroup.com/

  9. #9
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    Apr 2019
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    Quote Originally Posted by AQUATOPAZ View Post
    I would not be thankful. I would ensure they rued the day they tried to cheat me by both contesting the charge for a full refund, and by leaving reviews on their fb page, BBB, and reporting to FTC.
    I thoughtfully disagree. My intent of this post was to create an awareness. As a customer you deserve to know what the return policy is and on what it is based. I'm not trying to punish, expose, reveal, or otherwise shame the dealer/builder. It would be nonsense to waste the time of BBB or FTC (?) with such a petty claim. While I disagree with their decision to categorize my issues as flaws, it's their decision. As I've read other posts on dead/wolf notes, there are many opinions on why they occur and whether it's a normal occurrence or something that can be avoided or repaired.
    ::: Romero Creations Replica Tenor ::: Fender Montecito Tenor Koa ::: Ohana Soprano SK-75 ::: Kanile'a Islander MAPG-4-C ::: Kanile'a K-2 Super Concert ::: Kala KA-SSTU-SMC-C ::: Ohana SK-50G ::: Enya Nova U Concert ::: Kala KA-ABP-CTG Bari :::

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by glennerd View Post
    It really makes you appreciate the easy returns when this happens. I bought a uke for around $200 including shipping and returned it only because I didn't like it enough. Paying for 2 way shipping, a restocking fee and only a partial refund on customs charges, I barely got half my money back. I contemplated selling it privately, but in the end, decided I probably wouldn't do any better.
    And, I will say the return process was "easy". Aside from the time to document my reason/complaint, repack, print the label, and take to FedEx, it went fine.

    I have since visited a half-dozen "popular" on-line dealers and looked for their shipping and return policies. Only 2 of the 6 detailed the process and mentioned they would differentiate charging return shipping if other than a 'defect' were the reason.

    Again, my intent was to provide a cautionary tale and encourage customers to engage IN ADVANCE of a purchase. Ask for examples of 'returnable defects' and a differentiation between flaws and defects. Phone calls are a nice personal touch, but followup with an email confirming the discussion. Perhaps the existence of this sort of communication and documentation will cause the person doing setup to increase the awareness for such "flaws!"
    Last edited by Web_Parrot; 11-29-2019 at 07:17 AM. Reason: spelling correct
    ::: Romero Creations Replica Tenor ::: Fender Montecito Tenor Koa ::: Ohana Soprano SK-75 ::: Kanile'a Islander MAPG-4-C ::: Kanile'a K-2 Super Concert ::: Kala KA-SSTU-SMC-C ::: Ohana SK-50G ::: Enya Nova U Concert ::: Kala KA-ABP-CTG Bari :::

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