Sunday, June 03, 2007

Opinions Please

I received a rather accusatory telephone call from a piano technician. I do not wish to divulge names. I feel that verbal contact with this tech would become confrontational and I just don't do confrontational. I have composed a written response to his phone call. Please note that I had already left a message for him that I was not willing to do the job. I was polite...evidently not firm enough. Yes, this is familiar to some. Anyway, I wanted to be sure that I was concise, polite, and quite clear as to my position.

The rough draft of the letter follows and is pretty self-explanatory.

I'm not good at this so.......

PLEASE comment!



This note is in response to your phone call today.



During the past several years, I have made a point of providing quality work at reasonable costs to both you and to your dad. On many occasions I have put aside other customer's work to accommodate your requests for rush jobs. While your dad was ill, I covered any tunings that you requested, always reminding his customers that I was only a temporary replacement. I have also, whenever possible, attempted to comply when either you or your dad have requested discounted fees.



Balancing time in self-employment, particularly in a service related industry, is extremely important to success of the business and to customer satisfaction. In my efforts to provide this service I have in many instances endured your missed appointments for delivery or pick up of work. At some times this has caused considerable wasted time, effort, and travel on my part, as well as delaying the scheduling of other customers.



As I have discussed with you many times over the last few years, I never recommend speculating in the buying, rebuilding, and resale of player pianos. Despite my advice you have chosen to do so. The Wxxxx DA was completed in April 2004. It remained in relative storage in your shop for approximately three years before you arranged sale of the instrument. As in most anything mechanical, lack of use can be detrimental to optimal subsequent performance. One week prior to delivery of the Wxxxx you called asking for my assistance in delivery prep work. As I explained to you, neither my work schedule nor my personal schedule allowed for that addition.



In the Fall of 2004 you asked that I rebuild the Txxxxx player system for a Sxxxxxx upright that was intended to be your personal instrument. With that consideration, I offered the job at a price lower than I would bid to the general public. In good faith, I began the component rebuild before receiving the customary one-third deposit. Several months later, in December 2004, you paid one-half the deposit. In March 2005 you paid the other half of the deposit. The component rebuild was completed, including bench testing, one month later and you were notified. At that time you did not have the funds to finish. After storing the working components for several months they were returned to you with the understanding that there would be no further obligations. The components have now been stored for over two years, the vast majority of that time being in your workshop.



Without consideration of my schedule, or consideration of the disuse and possible disabling effects of parts storage, you chose to sell the Sxxxxx Txxxxx. A more reasonable course of action may have been to complete the instrument before taking a deposit on its sale. Considering the extended storage of the components, the apparent disregard for my business and scheduling, and the possible additional labor that could ensue due to substantial time lapse, I cannot consider this job. All components were in working order when returned to you and I chose to accept the one-third deposit as minimally sufficient to cover 300 hours of labor. In addition to the labor involved I had an investment in materials which I chose to overlook and have not entertained requesting any additional fees to cover those costs.



You and your father have told me that you have rebuilt at least one player piano approximately 7 years ago. With that knowledge, and with the completed components and drawings that were returned to your shop, you should be able to reinstall the player system.

9 comments:

Net Crimes & Misdemeanors said...

Put "the" in front of "success" in the following sentence and send it. Pfft on them.

"Balancing time in self-employment, particularly in a service related industry, is extremely important to success of the business and to customer satisfaction."

deb said...

Consider the "the" inserted appropriately! As to sending it. I'm going to sleep on it at least one night. I've NEVER had this much grief from a "customer" in 15 years of business. (off to fume)

dickiebo said...

You can't fool us Deb. You got a lawyer pal to write this. Own up!
Excellent restraint - reflects on the way you were brought up. (At least, that's what I always think.)

dickiebo said...

P.S. I agree with Calam.

deb said...

Thanks. No lawyer. I am used to reading a good deal of legal-eese and writing technical material. My dad taught me that being fair (as in just) was always the right course. I try my best. And yes, at times I've probably lost out materially because of it...but I sleep well each night! Restraint comes easily. I know how to keep my mouth shut until my brain has time to engage!

deb said...

Calam. heeheehee. Hardly. Her head's on straight.

deb said...

PS I've edited the current post, removing the actual instrument names, to eliminate the possibility of the post from showing up in searches for those instruments.

Call me over-cautious.

mary said...

Good letter. I would only add one thought/change

You wait until the middle of the next to last paragraph to "bottom line" the message. I would start with that line "Considering the extended storage of the components, the apparent disregard for my business and scheduling, and the possible additional labor that could ensue due to substantial time lapse, I cannot consider this job. "

The rest of the letter then explains your reasoning.

deb said...

Very good thought, Mary. I will have to go back and reread in that format.