Below is a copy of correspondence with the Haight-Ashbury Music store in San Francisco…
Thanks for your reply.
I came into your shop last week, but was bitterly disappointed by the level of service you gave me. I was all set to buy a dozen harmonicas, a Green Bullet and an amp, but came away with nothing. That’s a few 100 dollars worth of business.
I teach harmonica and have played for 25 years. I was the UK harmonica champion in 2000 and perform regularly with headline acts. I know my stuff and how to go about buying my instruments!
Your assistant was absolutely clueless about harmonicas and said so! In fact I ended up talking to one of your customers about which harmonicas to buy because the assistant was unable to provide basic information. This I can understand as I am not a guitar expert. But the level of attention and personal service was deplorable.
The main point, and you may well remember this, was when it came to buying the harmonicas. I explained to your assistant it is normal practice to pay up front and then test the instruments before leaving the premises. If a harp is evidently and audibly below specification, then it can be exchanged for a correctly working item. In my experience, this procedure is acceptable in the UK, in New York, in Chicago, in New Orleans. Sadly not in your shop – and this has nothing to do with California state law. It’s down to basic common sense and customer service.
The bellows you have will tell me whether or not the harmonica makes a noise. As would a device that plucks guitar strings for me. It won’t tell me if reeds bend correctly, octave and are in tune. Nor will it tell me if the harmonica is leaky or has reeds that rattle.
I stood for quite some time waiting for the ‘The Manager’ to finish on the phone – presumably this was yourself. Then, rather than get up off your chair to speak to me in person, you sent your assistant back to tell me that I would have to pay for the harmonicas and any that didn’t work would be sent back to the manufacturer. Presumably your policy would be the same for the Green Bullet and Twin Reverb. Which is when I left the shop utterly deflated.
- You couldn’t be bothered to get up and talk to me in person.
- You sent your assistant to deliver the bad news and he was clearly very uncomfortable with matters.
- I would be purchasing my harmonicas from you, the retailer, not the manufacturer. If you sold me something that did not work correctly I would expect to exchange it with you the retailer. Just as I would anything from a pair of shoes to an automobile. It is for you to sort out any poor goods with your suppliers. I don’t need to get involved with that.
- As I was visiting from the UK I doubt you would want to incur any costs in postage etc in sorting things out with the manufacturer. I guess I would be left to sort this out myself. At my own expense. I only need a harmonica, not the burden of sorting things out with your suppliers.
- You are the first retailer that has left me feeling so totally hacked off and unwelcome. And I came a long way to visit!
I would be interested to hear your feedback.
From: Judah Collins [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: 16 October 2007 20:46
To: Richard Taylor
Subject: Re: Good morning!
yes we have lots of harmonicas, and we have the Shure Green Bullet and the Audix FireBall for mics. Also the Twin reverb.
please stop in!
Haight Ashbury Music Center
1540 Haight Street
San Francisco, CA 94117
Mon-Fri 11-7, Sat 10-6, Sun 12-6
—– Original Message —–
From: Richard Taylor
Sent: Monday, October 15, 2007 6:13 AM
Subject: Good morning!
I will be coming to SF from England on Wednesday and am interested to know if you stock the following..Harmonicas (Hohner / Lee Oskar etc)
Harmonica Mics (Astatic JT30 / Sure Green Bullet / Hohner Bluesblaster)Fender Amps – 59 Bassman / Twin Reverb
Grateful if you could let me know asap and, if poss, advise on prices?