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Was My Recent Piano Purchase a Mistake? #2550317 06/18/16 12:08 PM
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Hello all! I was recently in the market for a new (to me) piano and have appreciated the wealth of information I've found here. Thank you! I finally did make a purchase, but I'm worried that I did something foolish.

I searched the online ads and several dealers in the area but didn't see a huge selection. I was able to go see and play on a number of pianos, too, but the one piano whose sound I liked that was near my budget was a Yamaha upright. The sign on it said it was an M500. It was in truly excellent condition and when I asked how old it was, the dealer said it was ten years old, one of the last pianos made in the Thomaston GA factory.

They were asking 3500 (including delivery and one tuning), but I was very uncertain, since that was above our price range and I was afraid it was too much for a console piano anyways, but I was encouraged that it was only ten years old, and I did enjoy playing on it. There's no doubt it's been well kept.

Since it was above our budget, I explained the problem and they took it down to 3,250 (though that was like pulling teeth), and, thinking that even if it wasn't a stellar deal, it was closer to comfortable, and I should at least get a lot of good years of enjoyment out of it.

Anyways, I went ahead and bought it, and the next day it was delivered. But after playing on it a bit, I decided to peek inside to show my 6yo daughter how the insides worked. That's when I noticed the model number-- M405. I then did a Yamaha Piano serial number search. It was manufactured in Thomaston, GA, but in 1993.

I was very unhappy. New online searches for that model and age showed I'd overpaid by at least $500, possibly much more. And the age of the piano was a huge factor in my and my husband's decision to purchase. Since we're on a very tight budget (the purchase was only made possible via a gift from my mother) and very frugal, I was very upset that what the purchase I'd taken so much time to consider and decide I felt comfortable with was based on untruths.

Of course, I felt very foolish for not double checking the serial number beforehand. I will always do this in the future! But I assumed that the information on the tag and that the dealer gave me was accurate.

After feeling angry (and a little cheated, though I firmly believe the mistake was an honest one on their part), I went in the very next day (more calmly) to explain my concerns. But they were able to do nothing. No change in price, and even if I wanted to return it, I'd have to pay for the shipping. If I'd *changed my mind* about the piano, that would make perfect sense, but the fact was I thought I was buying a 10yo M500, when in reality it was a 23yo M405. Even if the mistake was an honest one, it was theirs, not mine.

I guess what I'm looking for is either someone to gently tell me that yes, I'm overreacting, and I should get over it, or to tell me that it is possible for a piano of that model and that old to honestly be worth nearly as much as a new studio upright. (I'm considering getting it appraised by a third party.) I just don't know what to do, and I hate to think that I blew this gift on something that wasn't worth it. :-(

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Re: Was My Recent Piano Purchase a Mistake? [Re: babambrie] #2550322 06/18/16 12:28 PM
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The store should make the trade good. Either returning all of your money and taking the piano back or doing a partial refund. They made a "mistake" and mis-represented the piano. This also known as fraud. Give them the chance to fix it and if they don't, your State's Attorney would probably like hear from you. Mistakes do happen, and sometimes tags get moved, but the dealer has the ultimate responsibility to fix this and even it wasn't their "fault" (a customer switched the tags) they should still fix it. The cost of the fix is far less than the bad publicity you might generate. Their first hope is that you just go away if they tell you "no". So don't take "no" and be persistent, they will probably fold pretty quickly.

Re: Was My Recent Piano Purchase a Mistake? [Re: babambrie] #2550324 06/18/16 12:33 PM
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Over the long run of owning a piano, you get a lot of satisfaction and enjoyment. It's not worth beating yourself over the head! As long as you enjoy the sound, the music, and the learning, you're in great shape.

It's a little unfortunate that the piano was misrepresented to be only 10 years old and now you have discovered that it is older. That was good to learn but the piano still is - what it is.

You did not pay a lot of money for your piano. Chalk this one up to a learning experience and don't worry another minute over that extra $500 that you think you have overpaid. It's not worth the trouble.

Good luck with your piano and hopefully you can get your six year old interested at some point.


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Re: Was My Recent Piano Purchase a Mistake? [Re: babambrie] #2550328 06/18/16 12:54 PM
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The M500 is essentially the same internal piano as the M450. The M450 is a very simple cabinet. It was a lower priced piano than the M500 when new.

For this reason, the M500 is generally more expensive used. IMHO, you do have a genuine beef. What you decide to do is up to you.

Keep us posted and good luck.


Rich Galassini
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Re: Was My Recent Piano Purchase a Mistake? [Re: babambrie] #2550329 06/18/16 12:55 PM
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It's funny in the piano world that $500 is nothing. It sort of is in terms of pianos but most other instruments or gadgets that's substantial. And on a $3500 piano that's a lot. I agree with Andrew. I'd ask them a couple more times nicely but after that I might start talking about small claims court, Yelp reviews and BBB. A used M should sell for about $2000-2500. But the bigger lesson here is trust nothing from sales people, verify everything. Their nature is to exaggerate the facts in their favor.

Re: Was My Recent Piano Purchase a Mistake? [Re: babambrie] #2550332 06/18/16 01:03 PM
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Welcome to Piano World!

Unfortunately, this, misrepresented/mistaken age of a used piano, happens all too frequently; and, it happens with some used piano dealers. I might expect a private seller to possibly not know the age of their piano they are selling, whether they loose track or time of just don't know. But a used piano dealer? They should know better...

The age of most pianos can be determined by the make and serial number and a quick online search.

I agree anrpiano, the dealer should refund your money, or make some sort of financial concessions due to the age discrepancy.

This happened to me once, and at one of the larger piano dealers in the Atlanta area, whose name I will not mention. The piano I was interested was several years older than the salesperson said it was, and all I did was research the serial number. Like I said, the dealer salesperson is supposed to be a professional and should know better. Of course, this caused me not to purchase the piano.

Things like this can tarnish the hard-earned reputations of all piano dealers.

Are you overreacting? No, because I'd feel the same way. I't be like buying used 1995 model automobile the dealer said was a 2015 model.

I'm sorry this happened to you and wish you the best in finding some sort of satisfaction and peace regarding the age discrepancy.

Just my .02.

Rick


Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel
Re: Was My Recent Piano Purchase a Mistake? [Re: babambrie] #2550334 06/18/16 01:18 PM
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Greetings,
They are professionals and this is not a mistake. If your bill of sale states that it is a 10 year old M500, and they delivered somthing else, the salesman lied to you and it is fraud. What they did was tell you that it was a more piano than what it was, and your research was based on their information. If you accept their cover story, they will continue doing the same thing to others. If I was your tech, I would recommend you give them a choice of a $ 1,000 refund, or take the piano back and refund the entire amount, or find a lawyer that will work on contingency to sue them. Even a beginning lawyer, fresh out of school, can cost them a lot of money and if they know that you are serious, they will cut their losses.
Regards,

Last edited by Ed Foote; 06/18/16 01:21 PM.
Re: Was My Recent Piano Purchase a Mistake? [Re: babambrie] #2550336 06/18/16 01:22 PM
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The situation stinks, and sadly, we've seen it often in our market from seemingly reputable competitors. I've seen scathing online reviews of restaurants and other small businesses with less cause for complaint than you have. The use of a tag with misleading information makes it harder to write off as an honest mistake. If you have that tag in your possession, or find any other significantly misleading tags at the same dealer, then you'd have leverage to reach a satisfactory solution.

The idea of overpaying based on comps may sting, but I don't see any resolution there. Online comps prove to be of very limited usefulness anyway.

As others have said, it's probably best to move on. Condition matters more than age, so if you like how it plays and looks, focus on the music. It will still do the same job as a newer M500 would have done.


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Re: Was My Recent Piano Purchase a Mistake? [Re: Rich Galassini] #2550343 06/18/16 01:51 PM
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babambrie Offline OP
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Originally Posted by Rich Galassini
The M500 is essentially the same internal piano as the M450. The M450 is a very simple cabinet. It was a lower priced piano than the M500 when new.


The model is actually an M405, not an M450. Is that the same internal piano, too?

When I went back to discuss the situation with the salesperson, he apologized for being incorrect about the age. He said he "guessed," based on the condition of the piano, because he didn't know for sure at that time that I asked, but that he gave what he thought was accurate information. I cannot comprehend how this makes everything okay. I cannot comprehend how he is not at fault for telling me the piano was ten years old (he could have so easily said "I'm not exactly sure, but please let me find out for you!") but I am at fault for being upset at the age difference of 13 years.

His biggest concern (and he seemed very genuine) was that I didn't understand what a quality piano it was. That I was crazy for thinking they could possibly go lower. In everything else everyone was so courteous and the service otherwise was wonderful, and even our discussion was civil, so that's why I don't think it was intentional. But is it possible that a piano of that model and age could legitimately be worth so much?

It is also true that for my family, $500 is no small sum. I certainly appreciate the value of having a piano in our home (it will get a lot of use! I love to play and plan to teach our children!) but that doesn't make this any less of a purchase. :-( I honestly, truly don't want to be vindictive or make a stink just to prove I'm right. But this whole experience stings, and when I tried to fix it afterward, my failure there stung, too. :-(

I'm appreciating your points of view, by the way. Thank you for all the third party opinions so far.

Re: Was My Recent Piano Purchase a Mistake? [Re: babambrie] #2550345 06/18/16 02:12 PM
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An "honest mistake" is still a mistake on their end. They should eat the cost of the mistake and allow you to return the piano and give you full refund.

Re: Was My Recent Piano Purchase a Mistake? [Re: babambrie] #2550346 06/18/16 02:16 PM
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This is certainly not the same, but years ago, my wife bought a 'Physician's book cabinet" from a high-end, reputable furniture store fairly close to home. She bought it without my knowledge or permission (but that's okay smile ) and paid what I thought was a very high price.

When my wife told me about the purchase, she was excited and said it was solid oak. They delivered the physician's book cabinet the next day, and I checked it out good. To my surprise, it was not solid oak and some of the wood was particle board with the imitation oak wood look. The only thing that was real oak was the wood frame around the glass doors. For what she had paid, I was very disappointed.

I called the store and talked to the salesperson she dealt with. I told him that he told my wife the book cabinet was solid oak and it was not... parts of it was imitation oak wood. He told me that he did not tell my wife it was solid oak, but was a solid book shelf. He also agree to take it back and refund her money. My wife confirmed that the salesman did say it was a solid oak book cabinet and not a solid piece of furniture.

Since my wife liked the piece of furniture, I told her she could keep it if she liked it and wanted it, but she paid way too much, because it was misrepresented and not solid oak.

Moral of the story? We still have the physician's book cabinet, and it hasn't fallen apart, but it is still not solid oak.

You may well enjoy the piano and it may well meet your needs, now and in the future. If I were you, I'd be assertive and tell the salesperson the piano's age was misrepresented and you expect some kind of concession, whether it be a few years worth of tunings or whatever.

If they refuse, you could follow the legal action route, but that too would be nerve racking and stressful.

Enjoy your piano!

Rick


Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel
Re: Was My Recent Piano Purchase a Mistake? [Re: babambrie] #2550348 06/18/16 02:36 PM
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Was your recent piano purchase a mistake?

I would say, "no." Focus on the positives for a minute: you say you liked its sound best of those close to your budget, and that it's in truly excellent condition, been well kept, and that you enjoyed playing it.

So, don't let this bad experience taint your feelings about the piano itself. Love it. Play it. Teach your kids how to play it.

If I can split hairs here for a second though, I'll ask a different question:

Did you pay too much?

Probably. But price is what it is.

Often, regarding a piano that might be overpriced, it's not uncommon for people here to say that if you like and think it's worth the price to you, then you should buy it (I don't necessarily agree with that, but nevertheless, it's advice that's frequently offered).

Also, when asked about value of a given piano before purchase, the mantra here is that no one can know what it's worth without inspecting it, and that condition is paramount. To the former, it's too bad that you didn't have it inspected, because that would have revealed the true model and age. To the latter, it's certainly possible that a 20 year old piano can be "worth" more than a 10 year old piano, given their respective conditions and how much life is left in each.

On the bright side, if you think you overpaid by $500, but you end up keeping the piano for 5 years, then the "premium" you paid is only about 25 cents a day (OTOH, that shows how fast 25 cents a day can add up).

Anyway, there is no "the price" for a used piano. They are worth what people will pay for them.

The Dealer

I think there's no doubt that you are dealing with an unscrupulous dealer. In spite of his well-rehearsed lines, you can bet he was much more meticulous when he took this piano into his inventory, knew the model, year of manufacture, etc.

As Rickster mentioned above, sellers misrepresenting the age of their inventory is not an unusual story here. Ironically, I have never heard of one being mistaken for older than it is (or as a lessor quality model than it is).

There's no disputing the fact that if all other factors are equal, people will assume that a younger piano is worth more, and there's no more "all things being equal" than misrepresenting the very same piano as having a younger age. And it's a trick that can be easily shrugged off when caught: "oh my goodness; you're right! Sorry about that."

It sounds like this particular seller isn't interested in making good on the "mistake," so I'd suggest that you pursue some of the courses of action described above, michaelha's in particular.

Lessons learned?
  • Always, always, always have a piano inspected.
  • Be glad is was "only" a $500 mistake, and not $5k or $50k (some of the "art piano" listings are preposterous ripoffs, imo).

Last edited by Retsacnal; 06/18/16 02:45 PM. Reason: typo


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Re: Was My Recent Piano Purchase a Mistake? [Re: babambrie] #2550364 06/18/16 03:43 PM
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The dealer misrepresented that piano. Period. Let them know they need to make it right with you, one way or another. If he refuses, tell him it's that or you'll take him to small claims court and contact the BBB, plus you'll put on your Facebook publicly what went down, AND you'll tell your story as a bad review on THEIR Facebook and on Yelp and Google. Personally, I'd ask for a refund. There's no way I'd want that dealer to have one cent of my hard earned money. If he refuses, get your proof together and follow through. It's flagrant fraud, I can't believe that anyone on here, especially another dealer, would tell you that you should just let it go.


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"Sometimes I can only groan, and suffer, and pour out my despair at the piano!" - Frederic Chopin
Re: Was My Recent Piano Purchase a Mistake? [Re: Ed Foote] #2550368 06/18/16 04:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Ed Foote
Greetings,
They are professionals and this is not a mistake. If your bill of sale states that it is a 10 year old M500, and they delivered somthing else, the salesman lied to you and it is fraud. What they did was tell you that it was a more piano than what it was, and your research was based on their information. If you accept their cover story, they will continue doing the same thing to others. If I was your tech, I would recommend you give them a choice of a $ 1,000 refund, or take the piano back and refund the entire amount, or find a lawyer that will work on contingency to sue them. Even a beginning lawyer, fresh out of school, can cost them a lot of money and if they know that you are serious, they will cut their losses.
Regards,
Does it? In my opinion, that is key in two ways:

1. It establishes whether you have a strong legal claim. Proving misrepresentation (or fraud) will be difficult if you have no proof that the piano was ever represented as something it is not other than your recollection of the conversations with the salespeople.

2. If the piano is correctly described (M405, 1993) on the invoice, you have proof of their bad faith, since presumably you always discussed "M500, 2006" with the salesperson. However, that will weaken any legal case significantly unless you have a quotation or description that confirms you were told it was something else.

In either case, a very clear reason not to hang on to the dealer, if not the piano.

Re: Was My Recent Piano Purchase a Mistake? [Re: babambrie] #2550369 06/18/16 04:02 PM
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Originally Posted by babambrie
Originally Posted by Rich Galassini
The M500 is essentially the same internal piano as the M450. The M450 is a very simple cabinet. It was a lower priced piano than the M500 when new.


The model is actually an M405, not an M450. Is that the same internal piano, too?



Oh, that piano was a french provincial cabinet as I remember. Am I right?

That is actually as good as the M500, but the 13 years difference is not something I would let go. By all means, ask for your money back, a partial refund, or an exchange towards another choice.

From what you described I believe it was an honest mistake, but that doesn't make it right.

Good luck,


Rich Galassini
Cunningham Piano Co.
Phila, Pa.
(215) 991-0834 direct line
rich@cunninghampiano.com
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Re: Was My Recent Piano Purchase a Mistake? [Re: babambrie] #2550386 06/18/16 05:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Rich Galassini
From what you described I believe it was an honest mistake, but that doesn't make it right.

Okay, following Rich's lead here... another one of my (true) stories. grin

And this one just last week. My wife, who is severely disabled and confined to a wheelchair, and I got our eyes examined a few weeks ago. My wife looked at all the new eyeglass frames and decided to keep her current frame because she liked them better than all the other options.

The lady in the optical shop ordered the new lenses and said they would be $250; sounded high to me, but we said okay. A week later, the new lenses arrive and I take her frames by there to have the new lenses installed. My wife liked the new lenses and said she could see better.

A week later, the lady from the optical shop calls and said she made a mistake and the lenses were $350 and not $250 and we owed another $100. And I thought $250 was high...

I tell the lady that that is a big mistake. She said she knew it was and she was sorry, but we owed another $100. I told her I would pay the other $100 but with reservations because that was just poor customer service. She apologized again, but did not offer any concessions on the extra $100.

Now, please keep in mind that I am Not a cheapskate. smile Okay, well, that might be up for debate; but a $100 mistake is a lot to me.

Rich is right... the customer should not be responsible for the salesperson's mistake, for better or worse.

You can tell I'm getting old; I tell a lot of stories, and repeat myself at times. grin

Rick


Piano enthusiast and amateur musician: "Treat others the way you would like to be treated". Yamaha C7. YouTube Channel
Re: Was My Recent Piano Purchase a Mistake? [Re: Rickster] #2550388 06/18/16 05:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Rickster
[...]I'm getting old; I tell a lot of stories, and repeat myself at times. grin

Rick


... and we enjoy them each and every time, but my memory is so short that I don't remember having heard them before. You can tell I'm getting old!

Cheers!


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Re: Was My Recent Piano Purchase a Mistake? [Re: Rickster] #2550391 06/18/16 06:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Rickster

A week later, the lady from the optical shop calls and said she made a mistake and the lenses were $350 and not $250 and we owed another $100. And I thought $250 was high...


Rick


Rick, you have no obligation to pay this, especially after a week went by! A shop cannot change the price that is agreed upon after you pay it. Once the transaction is complete, that's it. There's no way I would pay this!


Lisa

Playing RCM 7 & 8 repertoire
Kawai UST-9, Yamaha CLP565GP & CLP645

"Sometimes I can only groan, and suffer, and pour out my despair at the piano!" - Frederic Chopin
Re: Was My Recent Piano Purchase a Mistake? [Re: babambrie] #2550394 06/18/16 06:36 PM
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Just for balance, I used to work in an electrical appliance shop. A colleague of mine was selling a fridge or something, the customer had negotiated a £10 discount.

When my colleague came to apply the discount at the till, instead of reducing the price by £10 he set the total price to £10. The customer paid £10 and left before the boss noticed. He did ring the customer and ask them if they would pay the correct price but they refused and that was that.

Regards the piano I wouldn't let them off the hook. They either lied or were negligent and I that the would bother me.

Last edited by alwatson; 06/18/16 06:36 PM.
Re: Was My Recent Piano Purchase a Mistake? [Re: oldmancoyote] #2550411 06/18/16 09:11 PM
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Originally Posted by oldmancoyote
Originally Posted by Ed Foote
Greetings,
They are professionals and this is not a mistake. If your bill of sale states that it is a 10 year old M500, and they delivered somthing else, the salesman lied to you and it is fraud. What they did was tell you that it was a more piano than what it was, and your research was based on their information. If you accept their cover story, they will continue doing the same thing to others. If I was your tech, I would recommend you give them a choice of a $ 1,000 refund, or take the piano back and refund the entire amount, or find a lawyer that will work on contingency to sue them. Even a beginning lawyer, fresh out of school, can cost them a lot of money and if they know that you are serious, they will cut their losses.
Regards,
Does it? In my opinion, that is key in two ways:

1. It establishes whether you have a strong legal claim. Proving misrepresentation (or fraud) will be difficult if you have no proof that the piano was ever represented as something it is not other than your recollection of the conversations with the salespeople.

2. If the piano is correctly described (M405, 1993) on the invoice, you have proof of their bad faith, since presumably you always discussed "M500, 2006" with the salesperson. However, that will weaken any legal case significantly unless you have a quotation or description that confirms you were told it was something else.

In either case, a very clear reason not to hang on to the dealer, if not the piano.


The bill of sale actually says nothing about the specific model. I don't know if that's atypical. However, I do have a picture that I took of the piano when it was on the floor that shows the "tag" (the size of a full sheet of paper) and you can see the M500 on there. I have nothing but my word and his that he told me ten years old, but, to his credit, he didn't deny saying it. He just apologized for "guessing" incorrectly and denied that it should make a difference in the price. He fully insisted it was a stellar piano. And that my price was more than fair.

Thank you for sharing your stories. :-) If anything, I feel less like an anomaly and more like I'm not quite crazy. I know he's probably calling my bluff that I'll do nothing (and since I'm a scatterbrained young mom of three, it certainly is tempting to let it be), but I feel better now about approaching again. Perhaps via email this time. I sort of like the idea of, since he refused to adjust the price and says he simply can't pay to ship the piano back, asking for services like additional tuning instead. I wonder if that would be easier for him to swallow.

I would just appreciate something along the lines of, "Oops, my bad, I did make a mistake, and I want to help make it right somehow." Then I could feel better all around about my purchase. And really, I just want to be able to play the piano and enjoy playing without anything hanging over my head. I'll get there, I'm sure. :-) (I hope.)

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