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What's the worst thing a customer can tell you? #2239779
03/01/14 11:09 PM
03/01/14 11:09 PM
Joined: Nov 2008
Posts: 48
Boston
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Greg the Piano Tuner Offline OP
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Boston
Here's a good entry into the Worst Thing A Customer Can Tell You contest...
today, while staring into a dusty Whitney spinet with rusty strings, the customer told me that it hadn't been tuned in over 30 years.

So, what's your worst piano nightmare?

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Re: What's the worst thing a customer can tell you? [Re: Greg the Piano Tuner] #2239780
03/01/14 11:11 PM
03/01/14 11:11 PM
Joined: Jun 2003
Posts: 26,152
Oakland
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BDB Offline
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Oakland
"Are we glad to see you!" at a concert tuning.


Semipro Tech
Re: What's the worst thing a customer can tell you? [Re: Greg the Piano Tuner] #2239781
03/01/14 11:13 PM
03/01/14 11:13 PM
Joined: Jan 2012
Posts: 186
South Jersey
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BenP Offline
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South Jersey
"I don't really hear a difference."

Could be for all kinds of reasons . . . none of them are good.


Ben Patterson, RPT
South Jersey Piano Service, LLC
www.sjpianoservice.com
Re: What's the worst thing a customer can tell you? [Re: Greg the Piano Tuner] #2239814
03/02/14 12:06 AM
03/02/14 12:06 AM
Joined: Dec 2012
Posts: 4,668
Seattle, WA USA
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Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
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"I just got my grand rebuilt, could you come tune it for me?" (I had serviced their Steinway grand several times and informed them that it could greatly benefit from rebuilding. They are quite well off financially.)

I say, "I must assume you aren't aware I do rebuilding".

They say, "I didn't know that you rebuilt pianos too. I got his name from the Steinway dealer." (They originally got my name for tuning from the Steinway dealer several years prior.)

The rebuilder they used knows me. I am sure he got much enjoyment from this.

And some on PW accuse me of "excessive self-promotion".

In this case I failed at marketing myself in so many ways.

I have a grudge against that rebuilder that I will never loose. I looked at rebuilt piano and declined to service it. Work was mediocre-and I didn't want to be in the position of advocating remedies on customers behalf when they ignored me in the first place. I simply said, "the work is not to my standards and I no longer feel comfortable working on it. Good luck! Good bye! No charge."


In a seemingly infinite universe-infinite human creativity is-seemingly possible.
According to NASA, 93% of the earth like planets possible in the known universe have yet to be formed.
Contact: Ed@LightHammerpiano.com
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Re: What's the worst thing a customer can tell you? [Re: Greg the Piano Tuner] #2239935
03/02/14 05:54 AM
03/02/14 05:54 AM
Joined: Nov 2013
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Paul678 Offline
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Originally Posted by Greg the Piano Tuner
Here's a good entry into the Worst Thing A Customer Can Tell You contest...
today, while staring into a dusty Whitney spinet with rusty strings, the customer told me that it hadn't been tuned in over 30 years.


This has just happened to me too.

Old 1920's-ish upright. Hasn't been tuned in "30 years or more."

I've used Tunelab's overpull mode, and it works decently, but the most I've used it was on a piano about 130 cents flat. And of course, I still had to fine tune in regular mode, after the initial rough pitch raise. Takes #@$%!@#$ forever!

I'll find out how flat this one is on Monday. Hope I don't break a string.

Any veterans out there...this newbie welcomes any advice you can give. Thanks in advance.

Re: What's the worst thing a customer can tell you? [Re: Greg the Piano Tuner] #2239962
03/02/14 08:22 AM
03/02/14 08:22 AM
Joined: Oct 2006
Posts: 2,579
Strong, Maine
David Jenson Offline
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David Jenson  Offline
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Strong, Maine
The piano nightmare that tops my list is walking into the piano room and seeing a square PSO. In one such instance the customer said that the last tuner had broken several strings and some action parts, and had recommended me because I do excellent repair work.

I told her that I couldn't help her, no service charge, and walked out.


David L. Jenson
Tuning - Repairs - Refurbishing
Jenson's Piano Service
-----
Re: What's the worst thing a customer can tell you? [Re: Greg the Piano Tuner] #2239973
03/02/14 09:04 AM
03/02/14 09:04 AM
Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 2,058
Conway, AR USA
bkw58 Offline

Silver Supporter until December 19, 2014
bkw58  Offline

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Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 2,058
Conway, AR USA
The Stalker.

It's not so much what they said. It's what they did: Buy the same piano, then call me.

Over roughly a ten year period, the same old grand piano - literally the worst known to man - followed me from client to client not once but four times.

Sounds more like a bad dream. eek

Last edited by bkw58; 03/02/14 09:06 AM. Reason: typos

Bob W.
Piano Technician (Retired since 2006)
Conway, Arkansas
www.pianotechno.blogspot.com
Re: What's the worst thing a customer can tell you? [Re: Greg the Piano Tuner] #2239978
03/02/14 09:16 AM
03/02/14 09:16 AM
Joined: Apr 2008
Posts: 2,481
Niagara Region, On. Canada
Emmery Offline
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Posts: 2,481
Niagara Region, On. Canada
"They just put a second ticket on your car out front"

Yep... I had a new customer in the winter who had a double garage to park in yet parked both cars on the driveway an extra 10 feet from the house so that the back of my car extended a bit on to the side walk out front. No parking was allowed on the street.

So I get a ticket from the cops for blocking pedestrian traffic on sidewalk even though my bumper was only about 6" into it and everybody could easily walk by, and then I get a second redundant ticket for impeding snow removal when the sidewalk clearing Bobcat showed up.

Each ticket was ~$40 and on a $120 tuning, I basically ended working for the guvment on this one. And this is why I hate working in the big city of Toronto occasionally.

Last edited by Emmery; 03/02/14 09:19 AM.

Piano Technician
George Brown College /85
Niagara Region
Re: What's the worst thing a customer can tell you? [Re: Greg the Piano Tuner] #2239990
03/02/14 09:50 AM
03/02/14 09:50 AM
Joined: Jul 2009
Posts: 543
Farmington, MO
Ryan Hassell Offline
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Farmington, MO
"We have a piano we need tuned. Oh yeah, and there are a few keys not playing. We were very excited. It was free."






Ryan G. Hassell
Hassell's Piano Tuning
Farmington, MO
www.hassellspianotuning.com
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Hassells-Piano-Tuning/163155880804
ryanhassell@hotmail.com
Re: What's the worst thing a customer can tell you? [Re: Greg the Piano Tuner] #2240022
03/02/14 11:18 AM
03/02/14 11:18 AM
Joined: Jul 2003
Posts: 402
Southern Ontario,Canada
Piano Guy Offline
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Posts: 402
Southern Ontario,Canada
Customer: "How much to tune a piano ?"....answer is $xxx.xx...Customer "But..it was free...I'm not paying that much !! Dial tone...........


Richard, the"Piano Guy"
Piano Moving Tuning & Repair
From London ON to Fort Erie ON
Re: What's the worst thing a customer can tell you? [Re: Piano Guy] #2240031
03/02/14 11:51 AM
03/02/14 11:51 AM
Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 10
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MStaples Offline
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>And some on PW accuse me of "excessive self-promotion".

Ed McMorrow,

Just some feedback to you on this misguided opinion (self-promotion) from others about your participation on PW. I’m eager to read your posts on any piano related topic because it’s clear to me that your opinions are backed up by years of real and analytical experience in piano service and rebuilding. While I have seen clear, as well as veiled self-promotion by some, it never once occurred to me that this was the case with your posts. I appreciate you taking the time to share your knowledge with us and for challenging opinions expressed here that have no basis in experience. You are one of the PW contributors that raise the signal to noise ratio here.

Thank you!

Michael Staples

Re: What's the worst thing a customer can tell you? [Re: Greg the Piano Tuner] #2240042
03/02/14 12:13 PM
03/02/14 12:13 PM
Joined: Jan 2010
Posts: 849
Boone, Iowa, USA
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Chuck Behm, CPT-E Offline
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Boone, Iowa, USA

Interesting topic! Back in the '70's, when I was young and even dumber than I am now, I has a call around supper time. "This the tuner?" said the voice on the line. "Yes," I reply. "Well, this is Frank down to the Tap. Say, we got a fella comin in with his band and he's sayin he won't play lessen we get the piano tuned. He's been here before." "When are they scheduled to play?" I ask as I consult my wall calendar. "Lessee, what time is it right now?"

Long story short, the band was arriving at 8:00, it was now about 5:00. The bar was already open, the place was loud, the lights were low, the piano was terrible (can you say "Melville Clark?") , but (and here's the key) I was in my '20's and the beer was free! It truly was a night to remember. Chuck Behm


Tuner/Technician/Rebuilder/Technical Writer
www.pianopromoproductions.com
515-212-9220

"The act of destruction is infinitely easier than the act of creation" - Arthur C. Clarke
Re: What's the worst thing a customer can tell you? [Re: David Jenson] #2240143
03/02/14 02:47 PM
03/02/14 02:47 PM
Joined: Jun 2010
Posts: 526
USA
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Jbyron Offline
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USA
Originally Posted by David Jenson
The piano nightmare that tops my list is walking into the piano room and seeing a square PSO. In one such instance the customer said that the last tuner had broken several strings and some action parts, and had recommended me because I do excellent repair work.

I told her that I couldn't help her, no service charge, and walked out.


I've experienced this too. Someone who tunes only and then refers every other thing to other technicians. I never like to hear, 'the piano's just been tuned but needs…….

I suppose you could kindly say that you only do repairs for your own clients.

I think if a tuner tunes only and nothing else, he should work out an agreement with another technician to handle the other work. Finding someone willing to do that might not be easy.



Tuner-Technician


Re: What's the worst thing a customer can tell you? [Re: Chuck Behm, CPT-E] #2240182
03/02/14 03:32 PM
03/02/14 03:32 PM
Joined: Dec 2012
Posts: 4,668
Seattle, WA USA
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Ed McMorrow, RPT Offline
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Seattle, WA USA
Chuck,
Free beers!! If news of that gets around Homer Simpson will take up piano tuning.


In a seemingly infinite universe-infinite human creativity is-seemingly possible.
According to NASA, 93% of the earth like planets possible in the known universe have yet to be formed.
Contact: Ed@LightHammerpiano.com
Re: What's the worst thing a customer can tell you? [Re: Ed McMorrow, RPT] #2240198
03/02/14 04:07 PM
03/02/14 04:07 PM
Joined: Jan 2010
Posts: 849
Boone, Iowa, USA
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Chuck Behm, CPT-E Offline
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Joined: Jan 2010
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Boone, Iowa, USA
Quote
Chuck,
"Free beers!! If news of that gets around Homer Simpson will take up piano tuning." - Ed McMorrow


Hi Ed - It's funny how an evening that started off so bad (i.e.- Melville Clark) could end up being so much fun. You know, there's not a lot of tuning one remembers after 40 years, but that was definitely one of them for me. Chuck

P.S. Oh, and thinking back, I do remember a "worst thing" comment from a customer - when the lady of the house came running down the stairs from the second floor, running into where I was sitting in front of her piano, and gasped, " Did you hear a gunshot?" No, but I did hear the sound of the plate cracking during a pitch raise. A sound you'll never forget!

Last edited by Chuck Behm; 03/02/14 04:10 PM.

Tuner/Technician/Rebuilder/Technical Writer
www.pianopromoproductions.com
515-212-9220

"The act of destruction is infinitely easier than the act of creation" - Arthur C. Clarke
Re: What's the worst thing a customer can tell you? [Re: Paul678] #2240199
03/02/14 04:08 PM
03/02/14 04:08 PM
Joined: Jan 2012
Posts: 186
South Jersey
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BenP Offline
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South Jersey
Originally Posted by Paul678
This has just happened to me too.

Old 1920's-ish upright. Hasn't been tuned in "30 years or more."

I've used Tunelab's overpull mode, and it works decently, but the most I've used it was on a piano about 130 cents flat. And of course, I still had to fine tune in regular mode, after the initial rough pitch raise. Takes #@$%!@#$ forever!

I'll find out how flat this one is on Monday. Hope I don't break a string.

Any veterans out there...this newbie welcomes any advice you can give. Thanks in advance.


I live and work in a pretty rural area, so I have gotten a number of the "hasn't been touched in 20 years" piano jobs. You know it's bad when a middle-aged person has just gotten a piano from their parents - the one they used as a kid, which no one else has used (or tuned) since.

I've only had a couple strings ever break. Most of the time they come up to pitch surprisingly well, but the problems tend to be more in the action. I usually give a pretty big disclaimer up front that I can make the piano playable, but it is not worth much after so much neglect. Some are not even worth trying to tune.

Ideally I would tune it in two visits. One pass to just above pitch, and a few weeks later a second pass to stabilize it. I don't like using Tunelab's overpull if the piano is more than 50-100 cents flat; it does a good job calculating but I feel it's too risky to pull old, rusty strings 30-40 cents sharp when it's not necessary.

Just my $0.02.

Last edited by BenP; 03/02/14 04:10 PM.

Ben Patterson, RPT
South Jersey Piano Service, LLC
www.sjpianoservice.com
Re: What's the worst thing a customer can tell you? [Re: Greg the Piano Tuner] #2240207
03/02/14 04:20 PM
03/02/14 04:20 PM
Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 397
Harwich Port, Cape Cod, Massac...
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Jon Page Offline
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Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 397
Harwich Port, Cape Cod, Massac...
"I just backed into your car". She could have backed straight out but chose to veer into my car which was parked well off to the side. It must have been the gravitational pull.

Last edited by Jon Page; 03/02/14 04:20 PM.

Regards,

Jon Page
Piano technician/tuner
Harwich Port, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, USA
http://www.pianocapecod.com
Re: What's the worst thing a customer can tell you? [Re: Jon Page] #2240219
03/02/14 04:32 PM
03/02/14 04:32 PM
Joined: Sep 2012
Posts: 40
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lingus Offline
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Funny you should say that, Jon. "I just backed into your car" has happened to me with no less than FOUR customers, and I know it will happen again. I have thought before of starting a thread to inquire how many other have experienced those 6 magic words, but I guess this is as good a time as any to ask!

Last edited by lingus; 03/02/14 04:35 PM.
Re: What's the worst thing a customer can tell you? [Re: Jon Page] #2240254
03/02/14 05:23 PM
03/02/14 05:23 PM
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 1,416
Richfield Springs, New York
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Eric Gloo Offline
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Joined: May 2001
Posts: 1,416
Richfield Springs, New York
Originally Posted by Jon Page
"I just backed into your car".


I watched as a customer did this to my car, but it was the "That's the second time I've done that to somebody" comment that really got me!


Eric Gloo
Piano Technician
Certified Dampp-Chaser Installer
Richfield Springs, New York
Re: What's the worst thing a customer can tell you? [Re: Greg the Piano Tuner] #2240256
03/02/14 05:25 PM
03/02/14 05:25 PM
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 1,416
Richfield Springs, New York
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Eric Gloo Offline
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Joined: May 2001
Posts: 1,416
Richfield Springs, New York
"I'm sure you remember, our other piano is in the basement. Don't mind the smell down there; we're having trouble with our septic system."


Eric Gloo
Piano Technician
Certified Dampp-Chaser Installer
Richfield Springs, New York
Re: What's the worst thing a customer can tell you? [Re: BenP] #2240350
03/02/14 07:51 PM
03/02/14 07:51 PM
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Paul678 Offline
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Originally Posted by BenP


Ideally I would tune it in two visits. One pass to just above pitch, and a few weeks later a second pass to stabilize it. I don't like using Tunelab's overpull if the piano is more than 50-100 cents flat; it does a good job calculating but I feel it's too risky to pull old, rusty strings 30-40 cents sharp when it's not necessary.


So the first pass will be to something like A=442, or something like that?

Tunelab's overpull mode has a default sharp limit of 10 cents for the bass bridge, and 25 cents for the rest of the notes, so hopefully this will prevent me from snapping a string.

Re: What's the worst thing a customer can tell you? [Re: Greg the Piano Tuner] #2240363
03/02/14 08:11 PM
03/02/14 08:11 PM
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Posts: 4,063
Virginia, USA
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TimR Offline
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Virginia, USA
I don't know if there's an equivalent to this in the piano tech world.

The brass instrument repair techs tell me there are two questions they REALLY don't want to hear the wrong answer to:

1. Did you try to fix it yourself first?

2. Did that involve JBWeld?


gotta go practice
Re: What's the worst thing a customer can tell you? [Re: Greg the Piano Tuner] #2240394
03/02/14 09:08 PM
03/02/14 09:08 PM
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Posts: 48
Boston
G
Greg the Piano Tuner Offline OP
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Boston
To Paul678:

When I see an old klunker that hasn't been tuned since Abbott and Costello were on TV, I just see how far under 435 the A is. (I'm an aural tuner and I carry a 435 fork along with my 440) If the piano was built before 1941, I'll keep it at 435, since that what it was designed for. If it's a console or studio, I might try for 440, if I don't see any rust. Just lower each string a small amount before you raise it, to break loose any connection at the tuning pin. If it's a spinet, I keep the A wherever it is. Broken strings on a spinet are a nightmare.

Re: What's the worst thing a customer can tell you? [Re: Greg the Piano Tuner] #2240416
03/02/14 09:55 PM
03/02/14 09:55 PM
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Paul678 Offline
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Originally Posted by Greg the Piano Tuner
To Paul678:

When I see an old klunker that hasn't been tuned since Abbott and Costello were on TV, I just see how far under 435 the A is. (I'm an aural tuner and I carry a 435 fork along with my 440) If the piano was built before 1941, I'll keep it at 435, since that what it was designed for. If it's a console or studio, I might try for 440, if I don't see any rust. Just lower each string a small amount before you raise it, to break loose any connection at the tuning pin. If it's a spinet, I keep the A wherever it is. Broken strings on a spinet are a nightmare.


Thanks Greg, I didn't know that:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A440_(pitch_standard)

I read that you're supposed to first lower the pitch on any older piano, to reduce the risk of breakage....

Re: What's the worst thing a customer can tell you? [Re: Ed McMorrow, RPT] #2240435
03/02/14 10:51 PM
03/02/14 10:51 PM
Joined: Oct 2006
Posts: 2,579
Strong, Maine
David Jenson Offline
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David Jenson  Offline
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Joined: Oct 2006
Posts: 2,579
Strong, Maine
Originally Posted by Ed McMorrow, RPT
Chuck,
Free beers!! If news of that gets around Homer Simpson will take up piano tuning.


I have a nagging suspicion that Homer Simpson might be tuning pianos in my area. The tunings are really bad, and the customers ask if I'd like a beer.


David L. Jenson
Tuning - Repairs - Refurbishing
Jenson's Piano Service
-----
Re: What's the worst thing a customer can tell you? [Re: Greg the Piano Tuner] #2240568
03/03/14 08:50 AM
03/03/14 08:50 AM
Joined: Nov 2008
Posts: 5,810
Bradford County, PA
UnrightTooner Offline
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UnrightTooner  Offline
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Posts: 5,810
Bradford County, PA
Two comments come to mind:

"If we are not home, just come on in. We have a very large dog, but he's friendly." (I made sure they were home!)

"We decided not to pay for the tuning you did because the band didn't even use the piano." (This was a bar. I never got paid, but learned a thing or two.)


Jeff Deutschle
Part-Time Tuner
Who taught the first chicken how to peck?
Re: What's the worst thing a customer can tell you? [Re: Greg the Piano Tuner] #2240618
03/03/14 11:05 AM
03/03/14 11:05 AM
Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 2,058
Conway, AR USA
bkw58 Offline

Silver Supporter until December 19, 2014
bkw58  Offline

Silver Supporter until December 19, 2014

Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 2,058
Conway, AR USA
Top 12 Unfulfilled Promises:

12. My house is easy to find.

11. One of my neighbors will let you in.

10. The key is under the large rock in the front yard.

9. I won't set the alarm.

8. The kids are well behaved.

7. My parents had to leave, come on in.

6. He doesn't bite.

5. You can hear a pin drop.

4. It's in the mail.

3. The housekeeper doesn't vacuum on Tuesdays.

2. It's tuned semiannually.

1. It's a piano.


Bob W.
Piano Technician (Retired since 2006)
Conway, Arkansas
www.pianotechno.blogspot.com
Re: What's the worst thing a customer can tell you? [Re: Greg the Piano Tuner] #2240635
03/03/14 11:56 AM
03/03/14 11:56 AM
Joined: Jun 2010
Posts: 526
USA
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Jbyron Offline
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Joined: Jun 2010
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USA
I'm going to pick up all my kids now, we'll be right back.


Tuner-Technician


Re: What's the worst thing a customer can tell you? [Re: Greg the Piano Tuner] #2240644
03/03/14 12:30 PM
03/03/14 12:30 PM
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erichlof Offline
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Hi Bob,
In your list, is #6 for the dog or for the kid? laugh

Re: What's the worst thing a customer can tell you? [Re: UnrightTooner] #2240667
03/03/14 01:34 PM
03/03/14 01:34 PM
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Paul678 Offline
500 Post Club Member
Paul678  Offline
500 Post Club Member
P
Joined: Nov 2013
Posts: 971
Originally Posted by UnrightTooner


"We decided not to pay for the tuning you did because the band didn't even use the piano." (This was a bar. I never got paid, but learned a thing or two.)



So what exactly did you learn here? Collect payment
first? I've been getting paid after the deed is done.

I'd be mad enough to get a .357 to collect my money!

You DID tune the piano!

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