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Klarinet Archive - Posting 000598.txt from 1999/01

From: "Martin Marks" <>
Subj: Re: [kl] Caveat emptor
Date: Wed, 13 Jan 1999 16:16:39 -0500

-----Original Message-----
From: Ken Wolman <>
Date: Wednesday, January 13, 1999 2:59 PM
Subject: [kl] Caveat emptor

>For the Latin-impaired, that just means "Buyer beware!" This has more
>to do directly with the New York people who know the store in question,
>but for all I know it applies to other stores in other parts of the
>I decided to try a new mouthpiece the other day, an Ignatius Gennusa.
>Did I NEED it? No. Was I curious? Of course. The last thing the
>salesman said to me was "We don't take returns on mouthpieces." I
>suppose I looked at him rather blankly, or something didn't register.
>As little as six months ago, they certainly DID take returns on
>mouthpieces, because the guy who sold me a Hite Premiere told me to use
>a rubber band as a ligature until I was sure the mouthpiece was what I
>wanted. Scratch marks on the mouthpiece @-----. That makes
>I got the Gennusa home, tried it out. Nice mouthpiece. Better than my
>Selmer HS*? Not necessarily. Did I want to keep it? Not if I could
>help it. However, it seemed that I was now stuck with this thing. So I
>checked the sales slip. NOTHING on it said anything about
>non-returnable products: Ash has a 15-day full refund policy that
>applies to any product you can sterilize and resell. Of course it does
>not apply to stuff like wood recorders or harmonicas, or reeds. Also,
>computer software cannot be returned. This too makes sense.
>So I called Ash the next morning and asked them again to spell out the
>policy. The guy I talked to in Woodwinds said it was a NYC Health
>Department regulation going back a year and a half.
>I called the Health Department. They said they had no such regulation
>and referred me to the Department of Consumer Affairs.
>The man at Consumer Affairs said a store could set its own policy on
>returns of merchandise, and it does not have to be on the sales slip.
>BUT the returns policy had to be clearly posted (1) at the register and
>(2) in the actual sales area.
>I went back to Ash with the mouthpiece in its original packing and with
>the sales slips. There was no sign about a returned merchandise policy
>anywhere in the Woodwind department, nor was there one at the register.
>I talked to the department manager. When she realized what I was doing
>she remained well-behaved, even after I mentioned having called Consumer
>Affairs for information: yes, there was an implicit threat, which is
>what I intended. She said they've had to cut people off because they
>are (to use her term) "equipment junkies" who come in, "borrow"
>mouthpieces and instruments, then bring them back. I felt like asking
>her what kind of business she thought she was in where you cannot try
>stuff out. Practice rooms or not, why change a policy of returns
>without posting it?
>I don't object up front to knowing that's the store's policy. The
>manager in Ash was probably right: some customers WILL abuse their
>"borrowing privileges" and make everyone nuts. Roberto's two blocks
>away is quite clear: you try it here, you buy it here, you don't bring
>it back. That goes not only for reeds and mouthpieces but even for
>stuff like ligatures and caps, where sterilization is not an issue.
>Maybe they're overdoing it in the other direction, but the guys who work
>in Roberto's--including Roberto himself--do not come with a built-in
>Attitude. In fact, they are less expensive than Ash and it's pleasant
>to do business with them. Ash I found secretive and defensive, like
>they were there to "move merch" and not deal with a customer who might
>have been prepared to spend real serious money there at some future
>time. Would I spend $2200 on a clarinet there now if I get any kind of
>bonus that allows such mad extravagance? Not really, not anymore, not
>with them.
>So I got my charge refunded. I am also, I suspect, about as popular in
>Sam Ash right now as a pack of unfiltered Camels would be in a cancer
>But I'll bet there's a sign up today.
About two weeks ago here in south Florida in one of the same chain of stores
I spotted a Giglioti mouthpiece I thought I would like to try. I asked
about their return policy on mouthpieces and was told by the salesman that
the store policy concerning mouthpieces prohibited return but if I saw him
personally with the return, he would take it back. Under these conditions I
thought purchasing it would be risky. What if the salesman left? There
also is a sign on the front of the store saying that they will not be
undersold. Their price on an instrument I wanted to purchase was 500
dollars more than several other retailers. They would not meet the lower
price. I won't shop there anymore.
Marty Marks>

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