There are some moments in time when lots of annoying things seem to collide. I guess this week was one of those moments. And it's not even a full moon!
Now, for those of you who don't know, as part of my business I do piano key recovering for the trade. In other words, piano technicians from around the country ship damaged or worn piano keys to me. I make them like new. A bit over simplified as an explanation but it will do.
I guess I'll attack this chronologically.
Customer X...Last July I received a set of keys from a new technician/customer. As is customary, he enclosed prepayment for the job. Only problem was that his prepayment was $15.00 short. Not a problem, I thought. When I shipped the finished keys back to him I put a note with the receipt that "current due" was $15.00 and included a copy of the price list/ad that runs in the Piano Technician's Guild Journal.
Customer Y...This past August I received a set of keys from a longtime customer. They rarely prepay and I usually receive payment within a couple weeks. I did the work and shipped the keys back with a bill.
Just over two weeks ago, another set of keys arrive from customer Y. He requests a specialty keytop that is $125.00 more expensive than the "normal". He also had some questions, so I called. During the conversation he remarked that he was sending the payment for the previous job. Okay with me. I did the special job, still hadn't received the arrears payment, and wrote a bill and included it in the return shipment of the second job. The bill showed the amount due on the current job as well as the amount overdue on the previous, and the total.
Customer Z...needs a piano tuned at a certain location where I am normally the "contracted" tuner. I tell customer Z the price and we agree on the date that the piano will be tuned. I go and tune and mail the bill to customer Z. That was over a week ago.
I email customer Y asking that he check on the status of my payment. He owes $410.00. He replies that the check was issued on Sat. 22, that he'll put it in the mail on Fri. 28. Huh???
Well, at least it's progress of a sort. Maybe, just maybe?
Still no money and....
A box arrives. Customer X has sent another set of keys. Packed so poorly that there would be no way to return ship in the same undersized box without the new key coverings being damaged. And a prepayment check, $15.00 short. I emailed detailing the problem. Arrears $30. No problem, he says. He was looking at an older ad, he says. Sorry, he says. Whoever unpacked the previous keys must have thrown the bill away, he says. A $30.00 check will be in the mail. He says. The next day I was getting ready to head for the bank to deposit the check that he had enclosed, albeit for the shorted amount. And guess what I discovered?
He hadn't signed the check. (Have you heard my screaming around the world?)
So I emailed again with a copy of the unsigned check attached. I told him I would not be starting on his keys until I had received full payment. And I mentioned the packing problem, too. So sorry, he says. He take care of it.
Yesterday we were out for the day visiting friends in Plaistow, NH. When we got home I headed for the mailbox, truly expecting to be disappointed once again.
YAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAY! A check from customer Y. I finally got it on Oct 4 (it was postmarked on the 2nd). For $135.00 too much. Now I'm sending him an overpayment refund check. How long should I make him wait?
Which leads to the even bigger question.
Why, oh why, do I enjoy being self employed?
Do you think this guy had the same problems way back then? Found in an old upright piano. Check out the little phone number!
P.S. Still waiting on Customers X and Z.