Piano Delivery

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Couple of Updates

1) Covington never did fax the agreement (although he told me 2 minutes ago that he will fax it as soon as some customers clear out of his store.) And as I mentioned on Saturday, he is still using Boesendorfer's Vienna HQ as his newest excuse for not having any paperwork to show me, two weeks after he made the nice offer and sent me the mail about not being a character, but rather, a man of character.

2) So this week I've been trying to track the mysterious invoice down at its source, and so I've been talking to Marion Bowinkelmann in Vienna. (Which means a lot of early morning phone calls.)

Ms. Bowinkelmann, who has a fantastic name and accent, listened to my story and let me fax her some documentation: the invoice, Covington's letter about refunding my money, and my last letter spelling out our phone agreement to replace the missing piano with a new one for the original price.

This morning I called her back, and she was suddenly very guarded. She can't tell me anything now, she said. They are having their US representative contact Mr. Covington -- whom she keeps calling "Steve Cunningham"; I do hope that she has the right guy in mind -- and I will hear back from them early next week.

My plan, and what I asked her to do, was to have the Bosies draw up a purchase contract and fax it to me, whereupon I could fax it to Covington and he would be out of excuses. (Other than the series of excuses related to processing the imaginary insurance claim, which I am sure will come next.) But once I fax him the contract it ought to get easier to press him... as things are now, he just acts really agreeable and doesn't do what he says he is going to do.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Got through, finally

SC says that he'll sign and return the agreement tonight, and that he's been working with Bosendorfer in Vienna, and not, as he originally told me, the distributor in the USA. (Maybe I shouldn't have dropped Basilios's name the way I did -- he's a clever guy. Or maybe I am just paranoid...)

He also said that the Bosendorferers were checking to see if they've got a Strauss-case 225 in the USA on a "Road Show". If they DO have one here, I should get the piano pretty quickly, he says.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Sent e-mail

To: Scott Covington <scottcovington@thepianostore.com>
Subject: Agreement / Invoice

Hi Scott,

Couldn't reach you at the store today; I'll try again tomorrow, but please do fax me the written agreement. If you haven't received any paperwork from Bosendorfer America, at least let me know where things stand. (That is, let me know whether you've placed the order with Basilios, whether you've confirmed that he has a 225 Johann Strauss in the US, etc.)

Thank you,

Thursday, October 13, 2005

(On the verge of an) Update

Just called the store and spoke very briefly to SC.

He says that the agreement is ready but he's waiting for Bösendorfer America to send him an invoice.

Which is an odd thing for them to be delaying, I think, but as usual I didn't think nearly as quickly on my feet and said that he could fax me the paperwork tomorrow...


Wednesday, October 12, 2005

No news

Going to call Mr. Covington this afternoon.

(Also, it's my thirtieth birthday.)

Update: He wasn't in the store... Nick said he'd be there tomorrow.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Informal Reply

Heard back from Scott today:


Sorry to just be answering your email/ fax until today. I was out of town yesterday and just got home today.

It will be Tuesday before I can get the new amended agreement to you. My attorney is in depositions all day tomorrow and I have been advised not to send anything before he approves it.

I appreciate your willingness to continue to work with us in this deal as well as your willingness to refrain from stirring up the people on the Piano Forum until I have had the opportunity to resolve it.

A check of the Piano Forum website will reveal that before now, our reputation has been good and consistent. I have not answered any of the accusations that have flown around there until we have a piano in your home and until we have the information we need to sue a few posters who we have identified as piano dealers and are masquerading as "concerned consumers". I have been a member of that forum for years and have never seen such trashing in it's history. I am being well-advised by people involved in the site and before all is said and done, will come out okay.

This is not to suggest I have not totally botched your delivery and failed miserably in terms of customer service and communication with you, but a "fast-Eddie" could not possibly have stayed in business and been as successful as we have been.

I hope before it is all over, you will know what The Piano Store is all about and that I am not a "character" but a man with character.

I will be in touch with you soon and feel free to call if you have any further questions.


Scott Covington
The Piano Store, Inc.

I have to admit that I'm not particularly impressed by the martyr act; but as long as he comes through with the new piano I won't complain about it, either.

Update: And by the way, I never said he was a "fast-Eddie".

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Written Response

Just to be clear, I sent SC a written summary of our verbal agreement...

Update: Got the signature card back.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Contacted Bösendorfer USA

Tried to verify Scott's story (he told me that he had spoken to the US distributor and that he thought there was a Strauss-case 225 in their warehouse already.)

To: xxxxxx@bosendorferamerica.com
Subject: 225 Johann Strauss (re. Scott Covington)

Mr. Strmec,

I recently purchased a used 225 with the Strauss case from Scott Covington, and Mr. Covington just told me that the piano was damaged in transit, so he'll be replacing it with a new one. (Which would be wonderful, from my point of view.) But I just wondered if you could confirm this for me, and let me know when you expect to ship the instrument.

Thanks and best regards,

Update: just got a reply from Basilios:

Thank you for your note and apologize for answering late as I am currently back in Austria for the last several days. As far as I know we have not received an order request from Mr. Covington in reg to a 225 Ebony Polish Johann Strauss.


Basilios A. Strmec

Episode XIV: A New Hope

So, I have been trying to pin down what exactly happened here: was the piano sold twice? Were we stalling while waiting for an emergency repair job? I am glad to have the $45k back, but I want to know what has been going on for the past month and a half.

So what I thought was: since SC offered to re-sell me the piano, the only way to learn anything more would be to follow that up and try to re-buy it. (Or at least go through the motions until I saw the thing again with my own eyes. Also, it's a gorgeous, gorgeous piano, so maybe I wanted to see it again for... sentimental reasons or something like that.)

And there was always the possibility of cashing in with a civil suit. Generally not a fan of opportunistic lawsuits, but the chances are pretty good that I really was wronged here, and if nothing else, I'd like to give the guy something to think about the next time he gets a clever idea...

But as noted, I haven't been able to get hold of him this week -- until today he finally returned my call and said that:

1) The piano was badly damaged weeks and weeks ago;
2) But the drivers were trying to conceal it from him; (!)
3) And so he only found out yesterday night;
4) And so he is going take the insurance money and buy me a new Strauss-case 225.

The new one lists at $122,000 in Larry Fine's book. Which, a) figure $90k in real life, and b) it's not like I would be able to flip it and pocket the difference, but c) DANG!

And obviously everything I hear from Harris County, Texas, these days I take with a grain of salt. But this would certainly compensate me generously for the pain-n-suffering. And while waiting to see if this is another fish story, I agreed to let the thread die a natural death on PW. Told him I'd start a new one in a couple of weeks, once I have the shiny new piano.

Which, I have mixed feelings about coming back to say "Scotty's okay!", because I really wish there would have been something on PW to tip me off about him back in July.

But on the other hand, DANG.

Still stalling

Heard from the technician this morning. He said that Scott told him on Monday that the piano was "not there yet", but that he would call him when it was ready. And that he hadn't heard anything since.

Steve, I called Scott the day I talked with you. He said the piano was not there yet. He said he would call me when it came in. As yet I haven't heard from him.


Thanks, Gary. It's possible that the piano no longer exists, but I will try to pin SC down before wasting any more of your time.

And then (why not?) he told me about a C7 he's got in his warehouse...

Thanks Steve, I'll wait to hear from you or Scot. If that piano doesn't work out for you, I have access to performance pianos from time to time that might be of interest to you. As of now I have access to a new C7 7' 6'' Yamaha that is one of the best pianos I have ever seen and under 30 K.


Anyway, I also heard from Keyboard Carriage, who said that they would make their first pick-up attempt next Tuesday, and obviously I am going to have to cancel.

Good Evening Steve,

Thank you for your business and your order # is smrd6150. I show your transfer rate as $700.00 dollars. Do you agree? If you have any questions I can be contacted @ 270-XXX-XXXX ext.142.

To which I replied:

Hi Rick,

$700 is fine; were you able to schedule the pick-up?

Good Evening Steve,
Thanks for the quick response. Your order will be processed tomorrow and Keyboard Carriage will make there first attempt to pickup the week of 10-10-05. If you have any questions I can be contacted @ 270-XXX-XXXX ext. 142.

This whole business is leaving the worst taste in my mouth, but it does seem like everybody else I've dealt with (excepting a few salesmen in Pittsburgh and Columbus) in the piano industry is a professional. And in SC's defence, the rigamarole I went through might have had more to do with the hurricanes (or the fact that he was trying to cheat me) than with his professionalism, per se.


Wednesday, October 05, 2005

No show

Called the store twice (Scott's not there; nobody knows where the piano is) and Covington's cell phone three times, but didn't learn anything.

I have to admit, I think he sold the thing twice. I might enjoy suing him for specific performance (i.e. asking the court to compel him to sell me another Strauss case 225 for $45k.) But I also want a piano SOON, so I will probably settle for the refund and reimbursment for my expenses.


Will republish the (perfectly legal) recordings shortly. Legal or not, nobody is obligated to host them, I guess. :)


Since the inspection is scheduled for today, I finally broke down and called to make sure that the piano is actually in Scott's showroom. And of course Nick (his assistant) didn't know... Guess I will find out soon enough.

Meanwhile, I've been thinking about starting over. There's a used SS B in Evansville (1991 and the guy is asking $42k) and I was thinking I should check out some Grotrians. A new Grotrian 225 would sell for not much more than I was paying for the used Bosie, and I didn't get a chance to play one when I was shopping earlier in the year. (And everybody seems to love 'em.) The nearest dealers, unfortunately, are in Akron and Chicago.

And there is still this 214CS in Little Rock. Heh...

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Got a technician

Hired this gentleman to inspect (and appraise, since I'll need to insure the thing if I end up buying it) the piano tomorrow at Scott's showroom. I should call to make sure the piano is back, safe and sound, but somehow I can't bring myself to pick up the phone and jeopardize my current calm. Maybe later in the afternoon.

Also, maybe I will offer to trade Mr. Hardy a few hours of website cleanup for his services.

Also, I played my freshman theory class the insane voice message about the piano being in a hotel room in Arkansas. They cracked up. The sharper legal minds among them said that I also deserve to be compensated for the mental anguish or whatever I've been suffering for the past month...

(Which, I'll have to remember which kids raised this issue and triple-check their grades, because I don't want to end up compensating anybody for pain or suffering.)

Monday, October 03, 2005

Bank says...

The first time I called them they said that the funds weren't available. But I called the dealer to (politely) ask if he was planning on moving funds around today or something, and he explained that the account was attached to a line of credit (and spent most of the time in overdraft). Called the bank back; bank confirmed that "Funds are available." So things are definitely looking up!

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Dear Sir

I thought about cashing the check and just running in the other direction as fast as I could.

But then I thought, I ought to try to pin this guy down. If he never had any intention of selling me the piano, then he owes me every DIME that I spent trying to buy the thing. (Plus interest.) And if he is playing things straight, then I WANT THE PIANO!

So, I wrote the most hard-boiled response I could come up with. If (heaven forfend) he is a fraud, I wanted it to sound a little bit intimidating, but if he is on the up-and-up, I don't want to offend.

So, my pseudo-lawyerly response:

Update: got the signature card back: