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#1973806 - 10/15/12 08:25 PM Piano Myths  
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beethoven986 Offline
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So earlier today, I was talking to a former Steinway salesman, and potential client, who among other things, claimed that "Yamaha's success in North America was due to Steinway discontinuing the model A, which allowed them to enter the market." I kindly pointed out that this is not factually accurate and he got all irritated and now he doesn't want anything to do with me (which I'm totally OK with).

So, I have two questions. First, how do y'all handle customers or potential customers who you think are unnecessarily stubborn? Second, what's your favorite piano myth(s) that you've heard?

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#1973822 - 10/15/12 09:04 PM Re: Piano Myths [Re: beethoven986]  
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You know, customers read these forums too.

Just sayin'.


DiGiorgi Piano Service
http://www.digiorgipiano.com
#1973840 - 10/15/12 09:56 PM Re: Piano Myths [Re: beethoven986]  
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ando Offline
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I think you both could have handled it better, to be honest. You could have said, " That's different to my understanding...." Diplomacy has its place.

#1973845 - 10/15/12 10:00 PM Re: Piano Myths [Re: ando]  
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Originally Posted by ando
I think you both could have handled it better, to be honest. You could have said, " That's different to my understanding...." Diplomacy has its place.


To be fair, you don't know what exactly I said. But, you are probably right, which is why I'm asking how other techs deal with people like this.

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#1973848 - 10/15/12 10:07 PM Re: Piano Myths [Re: Loren D]  
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Originally Posted by Loren D
You know, customers read these forums too.

Just sayin'.


Yes. I'm aware.

#1973864 - 10/15/12 10:49 PM Re: Piano Myths [Re: beethoven986]  
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ando Offline
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Originally Posted by beethoven986
Originally Posted by ando
I think you both could have handled it better, to be honest. You could have said, " That's different to my understanding...." Diplomacy has its place.


To be fair, you don't know what exactly I said. But, you are probably right, which is why I'm asking how other techs deal with people like this.


You changed the wording in your original post from "I told him it was total BS" to, "I kindly pointed out..", so it's hard to guess what really came across to your potential customer. It's fair to say you may not realise how you came across either.

I'm not a piano tech, but this isn't a piano tech question. I'm a teacher and I deal with dozens of customers every week. I also deal with the same kind of ignorant attitudes that you do. I've found over a long period of time that it isn't effective to come out too strong in denouncing somebody's opinions - even if they are horribly inaccurate. You can get the same impact by gently steering them away from their belief with your own self-contained logic. The less references to their erroneous beliefs the better. The thing about erroneous beliefs is that they aren't logical, thorough or convincing. Once you present a well-thought through proposition which is not too confrontational, people will take it on board and it will tend to replace whatever brittle thoughts they have. It doesn't always happen all in one go though - that's why you need to be on good terms with somebody so you can work away at them. It also helps you to retain customers.

#1973869 - 10/15/12 11:08 PM Re: Piano Myths [Re: ando]  
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Originally Posted by ando
Originally Posted by beethoven986
Originally Posted by ando
I think you both could have handled it better, to be honest. You could have said, " That's different to my understanding...." Diplomacy has its place.


To be fair, you don't know what exactly I said. But, you are probably right, which is why I'm asking how other techs deal with people like this.


You changed the wording in your original post from "I told him it was total BS" to, "I kindly pointed out..", so it's hard to guess what really came across to your potential customer. It's fair to say you may not realise how you came across either.

I'm not a piano tech, but this isn't a piano tech question. I'm a teacher and I deal with dozens of customers every week. I also deal with the same kind of ignorant attitudes that you do. I've found over a long period of time that it isn't effective to come out too strong in denouncing somebody's opinions - even if they are horribly inaccurate. You can get the same impact by gently steering them away from their belief with your own self-contained logic. The less references to their erroneous beliefs the better. The thing about erroneous beliefs is that they aren't logical, thorough or convincing. Once you present a well-thought through proposition which is not too confrontational, people will take it on board and it will tend to replace whatever brittle thoughts they have. It doesn't always happen all in one go though - that's why you need to be on good terms with somebody so you can work away at them. It also helps you to retain customers.


Yes. I went back and edited what I wrote, thinking perhaps that it wasn't the best choice of language on the forum. Anyway, to clarify, this conversation occurred electronically. I presented my response very matter of factly, after he had already been kind of rude. These kinds of situations just really frustrate me because what I want to say (and how to say it) is not always compatible with prudence. After thinking about it further, in this case, I think my response was firm, but reasonable; obviously, next time I'll probably just keep it to myself. Thanks for your response!

#1973879 - 10/15/12 11:40 PM Re: Piano Myths [Re: beethoven986]  
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I read somewhere to never disagree or argue with a customer. We will in all likelihood win the battle, but will lose the war.


Bob W.
Piano Technician (Retired since 2006)
Conway, Arkansas
www.pianotechno.blogspot.com
#1973883 - 10/16/12 12:01 AM Re: Piano Myths [Re: beethoven986]  
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If I know that the information that a client has is wrong, I do point it out... but as tactfully as I can manage. After all part of out job is to educate. If we don't correct the fallacies, who will? Once you have fulfilled your duty, the rest is up to him.

I might inquire during conversation: "Where did you hear that?" or "I've been in this business for so long, and this is the first time I ever heard this." in a polite, engaging tone of voice. It's best to keep lines of communication open, IMO.

I save my venom for the consciously mean, vicious people. And even then, I usually hold back. Once you send them away humbled, that is sometimes not the end... it's just the beginning. Now, they can "discuss" you with others using actual quotes from you, taken out of context of course, embellished of course, with no perceived ethical obligation on their part to relate the entire truth. Does it sound like I'm talking from experience wink ?

This is business, not one's personal life. If you find that you must terminate a relationship for cause, it's best to do it quickly and cleanly because you find it necessary, not to derive any sort of personal satisfaction from the process. IMHO.


Joe Gumbosky
Piano Tuning & Repair
www.morethanpianos.com
(semi-retired)
#1973884 - 10/16/12 12:12 AM Re: Piano Myths [Re: beethoven986]  
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Funny he said that about the A.

I tuned my first new generation A today. Interestingly, it was just as quirky to tune as the 100 year-old A's I've tuned.

And the tenor break, just as rough.



Happiness is a freshly tuned piano.
Jim Boydston, proprietor, No Piano Left Behind - technician
www.facebook.com/NoPianoLeftBehind
#1973993 - 10/16/12 08:49 AM Re: Piano Myths [Re: daniokeeper]  
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Originally Posted by daniokeeper
If I know that the information that a client has is wrong, I do point it out... but as tactfully as I can manage. After all part of out job is to educate. If we don't correct the fallacies, who will? Once you have fulfilled your duty, the rest is up to him.

I might inquire during conversation: "Where did you hear that?" or "I've been in this business for so long, and this is the first time I ever heard this." in a polite, engaging tone of voice. It's best to keep lines of communication open, IMO.




Good points, to which I would add:

When, through belief in erroneous information, a client makes assertions that, if implemented, will place his piano in jeopardy, we should certainly lead him to the truth of the matter. This is the only responsible course. On the other hand, where his comments do not affect his piano - no matter how ridiculous these may be - we can still do so, but for what purpose, and to what end? Why take an unnecessary risk?

The only risk worth taking is in the case of a piano at risk, and it has been suggested that the owner thereof can be led to the truth without actually disagreeing with him. For example:


Client: "I love my new piano, especially since the salesman told me it only needs tuning once a year."

Tech: "Have you had opportunity to review the owner's manual from the manufacturer?"

Client: "I hope to do so soon."

Tech: "I would encourage you to do so at your leisure. It contains a wealth of information concerning your warranty and the types of service your new piano should receive - and how often -in order to keep it sounding great and to protect your investment as well."


Here the client has been led to the truth through a positive appeal to his best interests, and the potential for disagreement has been placed elsewhere: between the client and the manufacturer.

Of course, seldom do conversations go according to script. The client may have already read the owners manual and still chose to side with the salesman, in which event to pursue further would more than likely lead to disagreement.

We then proceed at our own peril.

As proprietors we are at liberty to do whatsoever we wish. We can disagree with clients. We may argue. We can even walk away from those who offend our ethical sensibilities. However, our hope for continued success is in finding ways to win clients, not lose them.


Bob W.
Piano Technician (Retired since 2006)
Conway, Arkansas
www.pianotechno.blogspot.com
#1974005 - 10/16/12 09:28 AM Re: Piano Myths [Re: beethoven986]  
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From a lifetime of dealing with people who sometimes have strong, but wrong, opinions, I agree with bkw58 that diplomacy is best. You don't usually win by being right. Unless the person's opinion affects someone negatively, what does it matter?

#1974016 - 10/16/12 10:00 AM Re: Piano Myths [Re: beethoven986]  
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One of my friends has an alcoholic uncle who now regularly goes to AA meetings. The uncle had a known history of getting into huge fights with his mate, verbally, and sometimes escalating into fisticuffs. Always over a simple disagreement of opinions. At some point it completely stopped because he learned to use 4 words to diffuse the situation....he just simply says "you may be right" and walks away.

I had a new customer who completely remodelled her living room because she had read somewhere that "pianos should be located on inside walls". I pointed out to her that her fairly new house has R20 insulation in the walls and the recomendation of inside wall location comes from an past era where houses were poorly insulated, or not at all.

In retrospect, I should have just kept my mouth shut. Although I was right, it served no purpose for me to inform her she made a needless change after the fact. I could see her feelings were hurt, and although unintentional, it could have been avoided.
We live and learn.


Piano Technician
George Brown College /85
Niagara Region
#1974152 - 10/16/12 03:21 PM Re: Piano Myths [Re: bkw58]  
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Originally Posted by bkw58

Good points, to which I would add:

When, through belief in erroneous information, a client makes assertions that, if implemented, will place his piano in jeopardy, we should certainly lead him to the truth of the matter. This is the only responsible course. On the other hand, where his comments do not affect his piano - no matter how ridiculous these may be - we can still do so, but for what purpose, and to what end? Why take an unnecessary risk?

The only risk worth taking is in the case of a piano at risk, and it has been suggested that the owner thereof can be led to the truth without actually disagreeing with him. For example:


Client: "I love my new piano, especially since the salesman told me it only needs tuning once a year."

Tech: "Have you had opportunity to review the owner's manual from the manufacturer?"

Client: "I hope to do so soon."

Tech: "I would encourage you to do so at your leisure. It contains a wealth of information concerning your warranty and the types of service your new piano should receive - and how often -in order to keep it sounding great and to protect your investment as well."


Here the client has been led to the truth through a positive appeal to his best interests, and the potential for disagreement has been placed elsewhere: between the client and the manufacturer.

Of course, seldom do conversations go according to script. The client may have already read the owners manual and still chose to side with the salesman, in which event to pursue further would more than likely lead to disagreement.

We then proceed at our own peril.

As proprietors we are at liberty to do whatsoever we wish. We can disagree with clients. We may argue. We can even walk away from those who offend our ethical sensibilities. However, our hope for continued success is in finding ways to win clients, not lose them.


Great advice! It's important to recognize the scope of what we're doing and avoid "mission creep." The client has the right to be wrong, especially on his own turf. We're there to service the piano, not advise who to vote for, proselytize religious views, or impose -isms on the client. We are in their space which is for them to feel comfortable in... We're just passing through.


Joe Gumbosky
Piano Tuning & Repair
www.morethanpianos.com
(semi-retired)
#1974203 - 10/16/12 05:03 PM Re: Piano Myths [Re: beethoven986]  
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Originally Posted by beethoven986
Originally Posted by ando
I think you both could have handled it better, to be honest. You could have said, " That's different to my understanding...." Diplomacy has its place.


To be fair, you don't know what exactly I said. But, you are probably right, which is why I'm asking how other techs deal with people like this.
Why does one have to "deal" with him at all?

He wanted you to tune his piano. There's no need to tell him you think he's wrong about what he said in any tone, even the most diplomatic, because it wasn't relevant to the tuning or care of his piano. There's no need to be "firm", less than firm, or anything in between.

I've read many of your PW posts and find you often disagree with other techs, some of them having far greater experience, in the strongest possible language. It comes across very poorly for you no matter what percent of the times you may be right.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 10/16/12 05:59 PM.
#1974212 - 10/16/12 05:24 PM Re: Piano Myths [Re: Emmery]  
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Originally Posted by Emmery
I had a new customer who completely remodelled her living room because she had read somewhere that "pianos should be located on inside walls". I pointed out to her that her fairly new house has R20 insulation in the walls and the recomendation of inside wall location comes from an past era where houses were poorly insulated, or not at all.

In retrospect, I should have just kept my mouth shut. Although I was right, it served no purpose for me to inform her she made a needless change after the fact. I could see her feelings were hurt, and although unintentional, it could have been avoided.
We live and learn.
Exactly. It would only have made sense to tell her if you had known about the remodeling before it was done.

#1974224 - 10/16/12 06:00 PM Re: Piano Myths [Re: pianoloverus]  
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by Emmery
I had a new customer who completely remodelled her living room because she had read somewhere that "pianos should be located on inside walls". I pointed out to her that her fairly new house has R20 insulation in the walls and the recomendation of inside wall location comes from an past era where houses were poorly insulated, or not at all.

In retrospect, I should have just kept my mouth shut. Although I was right, it served no purpose for me to inform her she made a needless change after the fact. I could see her feelings were hurt, and although unintentional, it could have been avoided.
We live and learn.
Exactly. It would only have made sense to tell her if you had known about the remodeling before it was done.


Even better to just say "The room looks lovely."


Marty in Minnesota

It's much easier to bash a Steinway than it is to play one.
#1974231 - 10/16/12 06:15 PM Re: Piano Myths [Re: beethoven986]  
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This thread is fascinating to me because it clearly points out our different personalities, especially how we interact with other people. I know I'm taking this a whole different direction but if this interests others you can go to this website, http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/jtypes2.asp and take a short test to see what kind of personality you have. It helps you to understand yourself and others, which I think is an important part of our job.

As far as myths... one I hear quite a lot is that a crack in the soundboard is the end of the piano.


Scott Kerns
"That Tuning Guy"
Lincoln, NE
www.thattuningguy.com
#1974242 - 10/16/12 06:39 PM Re: Piano Myths [Re: That Guy]  
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INTP - sometimes J

#1974246 - 10/16/12 06:45 PM Re: Piano Myths [Re: beethoven986]  
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I had a customer once fire me because a friend of his, also a tuner, came to his house in late new england August, and told him I must have done something wrong back in April, because the piano was sharp, and pianos don't go sharp on their own.

#1974261 - 10/16/12 07:17 PM Re: Piano Myths [Re: beethoven986]  
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I just took the test again and I'm an INTP also. I would expect that a lot of piano tuners would be an introvert.


Scott Kerns
"That Tuning Guy"
Lincoln, NE
www.thattuningguy.com
#1974265 - 10/16/12 07:22 PM Re: Piano Myths [Re: beethoven986]  
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Quote
I had a customer once fire me because a friend of his, also a tuner, came to his house in late new england August, and told him I must have done something wrong back in April, because the piano was sharp, and pianos don't go sharp on their own.


I hate when that happens! It's amazing sometimes the things other tuners tell people. It makes me wonder if they didn't understand what they were saying or misinterpreted it. I've had customers say that the last tuner told them the piano only had a couple more tunings left in it (whatever that means) and then the piano tunes up just fine for me. I just wonder what's going on.


Scott Kerns
"That Tuning Guy"
Lincoln, NE
www.thattuningguy.com
#1974270 - 10/16/12 07:28 PM Re: Piano Myths [Re: beethoven986]  
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Lol! Only a couple tunings left? Thats a new one for me. As much as we all want our custs's to be cozying up to a young Schimmel or better, I personally have a ton of clients who own a dog piano, know it, and are happy to tune it twice a year. As long as I have been honest about their instruments limitations, and they accept it, I can sleep OK at night taking their check every 6 months smile

#1974273 - 10/16/12 07:47 PM Re: Piano Myths [Re: beethoven986]  
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You say he is a former Steinway salesman. I would have had to know the thinking behind that statement. Did it come from Steinway?


"Imagine it in all its primatic colorings, its counterpart in our souls - our souls that are great pianos whose strings, of honey and of steel, the divisions of the rainbow set twanging, loosing on the air great novels of adventure!" - William Carlos Williams
#1974432 - 10/17/12 06:55 AM Re: Piano Myths [Re: Emmery]  
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bkw58 Online content

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Originally Posted by Emmery
...At some point it completely stopped because he learned to use 4 words to diffuse the situation....he just simply says "you may be right" and walks away.


"You may be right." Magic words that should be right up there with "please" and "thank you."

Last edited by bkw58; 10/17/12 06:55 AM.

Bob W.
Piano Technician (Retired since 2006)
Conway, Arkansas
www.pianotechno.blogspot.com
#1974560 - 10/17/12 12:27 PM Re: Piano Myths [Re: beethoven986]  
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Originally Posted by beethoven986
.....

First, how do y'all handle customers or potential customers who you think are unnecessarily stubborn? .....


Well, first I would have to figure out how to separate them from the ones that are necessarily stubborn. Or mabye just assume that they are all necessarily stubborn and act accordingly. Yeah, that seems a lot simpler. wink



Jeff Deutschle
Part-Time Tuner
Who taught the first chicken how to peck?
#1974563 - 10/17/12 12:34 PM Re: Piano Myths [Re: pianoloverus]  
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus


I've read many of your PW posts and find you often disagree with other techs, some of them having far greater experience, in the strongest possible language. It comes across very poorly for you no matter what percent of the times you may be right.


I think this is a gross exaggeration. Yes, I'm aware that I have my moments, but so does pretty much everyone on here, yourself included. All the same, I appreciate your perspective.

#1974598 - 10/17/12 01:25 PM Re: Piano Myths [Re: beethoven986]  
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Hey can I include something completely different? Okay! I will!

How about this one for us Technicians that are busier because we have been in the business for a very long time.

New customer – Hello this is so-and-so callimg me on a Wednesday morning.. I am calling to have my piano tuned. I am available this afternoon yet or tomorrow or even Friday! Could you come on anyone of those days?

Me: no, calling back in the evening, I'm sorry I am scheduling December 27 right now and I am booked solid until then.

Customer: Oh wow! You mean you can really keep busy at this? Yes, for the thousandths time of answering that question we most certainly can! If you cannot wait I can recommend someone to you.

I have had people flat-out hang up on me before too after I've given that same answer.

I am sitting in my car in a parking lot right now killing about five more minutes before I can leave for my next appointment. Talking on my iPad just thought I would throw that in for some different kind of fun.


Jerry Groot RPT
Piano Technicians Guild
Grand Rapids, Michigan
www.grootpiano.com

We love to play BF2.
#1974604 - 10/17/12 01:36 PM Re: Piano Myths [Re: Jerry Groot RPT]  
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Originally Posted by Jerry Groot RPT
Hey can I include something completely different? Okay! I will!

How about this one for us Technicians that are busier because we have been in the business for a very long time.

New customer – Hello this is so-and-so callimg me on a Wednesday morning.. I am calling to have my piano tuned. I am available this afternoon yet or tomorrow or even Friday! Could you come on anyone of those days?

Me: no, calling back in the evening, I'm sorry I am scheduling December 27 right now and I am booked solid until then.

Customer: Oh wow! You mean you can really keep busy at this? Yes, for the thousandths time of answering that question we most certainly can! If you cannot wait I can recommend someone to you.

I have had people flat-out hang up on me before too after I've given that same answer.

I am sitting in my car in a parking lot right now killing about five more minutes before I can leave for my next appointment. Talking on my iPad just thought I would throw that in for some different kind of fun.


Ha! Who just hangs up on somebody?

#1974631 - 10/17/12 02:28 PM Re: Piano Myths [Re: beethoven986]  
Joined: Mar 2008
Posts: 4,263
Silverwood Pianos Offline
4000 Post Club Member
Silverwood Pianos  Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Joined: Mar 2008
Posts: 4,263
Vancouver B. C. Canada


I just read the initial posting and the best response for the former salesman’s claim would be;
“Yamaha first shipped pianos to the N. American market in Canada in 1958 and the American piano market shortly thereafter or perhaps simultaneously…( I have heard the early sixties for the US…) The Steinway A was discontinued in 1941.”

There is no need to inform the client he/she is incorrect.


Dan Silverwood
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http://silverwoodpianos.blogspot.com/
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"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur."
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