Piano Delivery

Friday, September 30, 2005

Strange, Portentious Message

None, and I really mean NONE, of this is information that I can vouch for. But since it was related to me in such an odd manner I will try to describe it and let you make up your own minds. (I have not made up my own mind, to be honest, and I will try to explain the mitigating circumstances as I see them.)

About three hours after I introduced the dealer's name into the thread on PianoWorld I got a "Private Message" on the forum:

We know this guy we can give you some information that would be helpfull, but only by phone. Please call at XXX-XXX-XXXX as for XXXX XXXXXXX.

So I called the number, but didn't get an answer until the following morning. The next morning I called the store (it was another piano store in the same market, which should obviously affect your evaluation of this story) and the guy told me some blood-curdling stories.

Update: The check did clear, which seems to contradict what the other dealer told me; so I'm removing his unsupported and partially disproven allegations. Either Texas is a weird place, or the piano industry is a weird industry. (Or both.)

Monday, September 26, 2005

But come to think of it...

The people at PianoWorld who said I was a fool for letting the situation stew for almost a month... those guys were probably right. Having a generally positive and trusting outlook is worth a lot to me, it really is, but it's not worth forty-five grand.


I posted the sob story first on PianoWorld.

I got some good advice (about hiring independent movers) and some bad advice (about the FBI) and some people thought I was a moron for being so gullible.

Others thought that I was making stuff up, but I posted redacted scans of the invoice and wire:

And those look pretty convincing, even without the dealer's name.


The delays are supposed to have been because:

1) The dealer wanted to consolidate a couple of shipments to share costs. This was a one week delay, and it was also the one he warned me about ahead of time, so not a big deal...

(On the other hand, he has never mentioned the other two deliveries again, so I don't know what happened to them.)

2) He had his trucks/drivers making relief deliveries down south after Katrina hit. (It's not an independent delivery company, these are the dealer's trucks and employees.)

So obviously I would have to be a heel to complain about THAT, but it was at least inconsiderate not to let me know what the delivery guys were up to. I spent a boring Saturday waiting around and trying to get somebody on the phone who knew what was going on.

3) The truck got turned around about halfway to my place because of not having some piece of essential paperwork for interstate deliveries. You'd think he would have learned at some point what paperwork was required, but even if it's an honest mistake, he should have let me know what happened before I took the morning off and waited around for a truck that wasn't coming.

4) One of the drivers went AWOL or something like that so the truck never left. (The dealer's assistant said something euphemistic about staffing problems and not-to-worry, that the culprit had been fired.)

This time the delivery was supposed to be Friday night or Saturday morning and I didn't find out what had gone wrong until Monday. Whoever was watching the store over the weekend had no idea what the situation was, and for some reason I kept thinking that if I was stubborn enough calling and waiting, the truck would just materialize in my driveway.

5a) The truck got stopped at a weigh station in Tennessee and ended up having to spend the night outside of Nashville because they didn't have a log book. This was odd, because he actually mentioned the log book to me during excuse #3, and also because he told me earlier that morning that they were in Illinois -- and you don't get to Indiana by driving up to Illinois and then back down to Tennessee and then back up north again.

But this was only supposed to push the delivery back until the next morning, and Nashville is only 5 hours from Bloomington, so I figured it wasn't a huge deal. (Maybe the Illinois thing was just a bad guess at where they would be by that point.)

5b) But then the truck didn't show up the next morning either, and the store's answering machine said that they had closed to let employees get out of the way of hurricane Rita.

So I got the dealer on his cell phone, and he said not-to-worry, that the truck and the piano were going to stay in Nashville until the drivers' families could join them there, and then they would all drive up here together to drop off my piano.

And this is what finally made me start imagining some sort of con, because it doesn't make any sense at all. It is a ridiculous plan! If that's really what the drivers did, they would have had time to drive from Nashville to my house and back three or four times while waiting. (And our call got cut off before I could ask him how to get hold of those guys in Tennessee.)

What seemed more likely to me was that the truck had turned around and that the dealer didn't want to tell me the truth about it because he knew he had already screwed up several times in a row... Human nature, maybe.

So anyway I figure like there's a reasonable chance that I'm the one being a jerk here, what with the hurricanes and all. But it's pretty hard to believe that anybody could have such a string of good intentions and bad luck...


So I bought a piano in July from an out-of-state dealer with delivery scheduled for the week of August 22. I paid the full purchase price up front ($45,000 wire transfer on July 13th) but the dealer has postponed delivery five times and I have no idea where the piano is now or whether/when to expect it to arrive.

(I've had the rug rolled back and casters laid out and everything for three weeks; it looks kind of depressing in there by now.)

Anyway, on four of the scheduled delivery dates, this guy told me right up until the day before the truck was supposed to arrive that everything was going as planned, so I got ready and waited around the house, and waited some more, and kept waiting, and when I finally got through to the store it would turn out that the truck had never left, or had forgotten some piece of paperwork, etc.

FOUR TIMES this has happened! (The other time he did let me know that his plans had changed ahead of time.) So I'm pretty nervous by now; can't tell whether the guy is just clueless or whether I'm being had.