What does customer service mean?
Blowing our own … trumpet?
I hope that the following goes without saying for all who sell online since it is the law: Under distance selling regulations you have the absolute right to return any item, with obvious exceptions such as computer software, within 14 days for a refund without having to give a reason. You may be responsible for sending the item back at your own expense and some retailers charge a restocking fee.
Beyond this, you have the right to expect reasonably prompt service and prompt correction of any error made by the retailer (none of us are perfect).
With specialist violin shops, it is standard practice to allow you to take items on approval to try at home (some shops will ask you to pay an insurance fee for this service). For musical instrument retailers in general, it is standard practice to operate the AIPS scheme
We try to go further. We know that because we are small there are things we can’t do. We can’t keep in stock all the items we would like to keep in stock – cash flow doesn’t permit it. For the same reason, we can’t allow you to have items on approval for weeks on end. But there are things we can do as a very small retailer that our larger colleagues would be unable to do. First, we can take the time to talk to you (just bear with us as far as phone calls are concerned because if we are busy, the phone is unmanned). We can take the time to help you by email and will happily do that even if it is clear that you will not be buying from us because you are overseas or looking at a used instrument or wanting something we don’t sell.
But we try to go further still and perhaps, at the risk of blowing our own trumpet, the following stories will illustrate the lengths we go to in order to have satisfied customers. Do bear in mind that if you have ordered something and it is not yet physically here there is not a lot we can do until it arrives. Once it does arrive, we’ll do what we can. If there is a date by which you really genuinely need an item (eg. for a birthday), always let us know and we will note that down.
Once we delivered a cello to Neath on Christmas day. Actually that was not quite such a virtuous act as it might sound since we don’t do Christmas anyway except the church part (as for the rest of it, bah humbug!). In fact after delivering the cello we went to the Aberfan memorial garden and to the cemetery where the victims were buried. It was something David particularly wanted to do and we were very glad we did it.
Once an ebay customer was slow paying for an item that was needed for a birthday and by the time she paid, the post had gone. We didn’t know her and it was ebay so we didn’t want to post before receiving payment, but when we found the birthday was the next day we simply drove the item to Lincoln.
Speaking of Lincoln, once a customer bought a relatively good violin that was end of the line and being sold at cost. A few weeks later the customer phoned in something of a panic saying that the violin had broken. On further investigation it became clear that all that had actually happened was that a screw that stops the tailgut from slipping was not properly gripping the thread and therefore was working loose. This happens occasionally and fixing it takes about five minutes. The customer had (reasonably enough) discarded the original packaging and was not comfortable about sending the violin back without it (a lot of people feel this way, actually violins in cases travel very well). Talking her through it over the phone was tried but did not work so we drove down to Lincoln to fix it. In fact the lady told us that she had taken it to the local music shop and they had told her it was unrepairable but that they would take it as a trade-in against a violin they would sell her. Right. I had it fixed before the coffee arrived.
We like to deliver Gama cellos in person because of the value. On three occasions we have delivered double basses in person (only two were Gligas). The first time we collected the bass from Manchester airport (they are too big to come through the post) and then found that the packaging meant the bass was too big to go in the back of our Ford Escort hatchback. So, into a local shop to buy string, tie the boot down as well as we could, drive home slowly, and then a few days later we drove to Norfolk with it – tailgate tied open, and it was November. That was fun! Our next car after that was somewhat larger …..
One thing Liz would really like to do is to sell a Gama cello to somewhere in Northern France. Calais would do nicely. There’s a certain shop there we would like an excuse to revisit (hic!)
What does customer service mean?