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Piano Technicians on Pricing
#2870574 07/19/19 08:59 AM
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The recommendation to ask your piano technician what a piano is worth, or what you should pay for it, is often problematic.

In addition to be a 3rd generation piano dealer, I've been an associate member of the PTG for over 40 years. My father founded the Baltimore chapter in 1961, and they still meet monthly in my store. I have also worked with countless techs who were not Guild members.

Based on that experience I would say that a significant majority of techs don't know much about the selling prices of new or used pianos. They simply are not involved in that side of the business. So, while they should assuredly be used to evaluate the quality and condition of a piano, and, they should be asked if they are "value knowledgeable" (since many are), you should be prepared to seek other sources.

The same can be said about most piano teachers.


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Re: Piano Technicians on Pricing
Steve Cohen #2870579 07/19/19 09:19 AM
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I actually don't think it's fair to ask piano technicians for retail pricing information in the context of giving advice about purchases. Appraising pianos for donation or insurance, yes. Otherwise, no.

Let me being by saying that the independent technicians with whom I have dealt have been uniformly fabulous and conscientious professionals. I am absolutely certain that they would only give advice to me based on my interests and would not be governed by any bias in favor of dealerships. I am talking below (in numbers 1 and 2) not about technicians who have an angle when giving advice, who obviously should not be trusted, but about making the wonderful technicians whom I have met uncomfortable by asking for information that is not part of their expertise or that might make them feel awkward for other reasons.

I have the following reasons for my view that technicians should not be asked about pricing:

First, many piano technicians rely on dealers either for work or for referrals. This puts the technician in a conflict of interest situation, even if the technician is an independent professional. He or she will not be in a position to antagonize a source of future employment. The potential buyer seeking advice is a one-off; a piano dealership is not. A conscientious technician will be made uncomfortable by a request for retail pricing information, something I do not want to cause.

Second, even if the piano is a private sale, it is competing with pianos being sold by dealers. The technician can evaluate the piano (although even that may present problems), but price is another matter. It could easily get back to local dealerships that the technician has been advising a consumer in a manner contrary to the interests of the dealership.

Third, a technician who is him or herself a piano seller/rebuilder who might want to sell you a piano is for obvious reasons not a good source of information about someone else's piano.

Fourth, as to music teachers, the most conscientious music teachers will not give advice on price. That is not their area of expertise. Moreover, many piano teachers get paid for referrals of their students to dealerships. Advice from such a person is not worth anything, also for obvious reasons. And those who do not accept payments from dealerships will not give any.

Just my less than two cents.

Re: Piano Technicians on Pricing
Steve Cohen #2870602 07/19/19 11:05 AM
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An interesting topic, for sure. Probably will get somewhat controversial, but maybe not. Lots of competition between piano professionals in the business, but I'm on the outside looking in.

The only experience I've had with a technician getting involved in a pricing situation is when I sold my early 2000s Petrof 46" studio upright. A lady and her daughter, who was just starting piano lessons, came to look at it. They looked it over good, and I played it some for them, and then the young daughter sat and played a few scales, or what she knew how to play at the time. They seemed very interested in the piano.

The lady called the local piano technician, whom I had met before and had a few conversations with, and bought some piano wire from him, to come and inspect the piano. I told the lady the piano was like new and not been played a lot. The tech came out and looked the piano over and told the lady it was like new and had not been played a lot.

When it came time to negotiate, the lady offered me $500 less than I was asking, and I thought I was already asking a low price for the piano. She said the tech agreed with her and said her offer was more inline with the current used piano market. So, I was double teamed by the prospective buyer and the tech. I gave in and accepted the lower offer. But I did feel a bit slighted.

So, yes, in some situations, the technician most definitely gets involved in the pricing issue, for better or worse, depending on whether it is in favor of the buyer or seller. It is likely to be in one or the other's favor, but not both, usually, at least in my view. But, again, I'm on the outside looking in...

Rick


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Re: Piano Technicians on Pricing
Steve Cohen #2870615 07/19/19 12:10 PM
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When I searched for a piano in 2007, I tried many used piano. A few of them had been evaluated by technicians and some had a written evaluation. They were all very old piano and overprice. I suspect the technician to inflate his evaluation to please his customers. They all had a story to justify the asking price.

Last edited by Serge88; 07/19/19 12:10 PM.


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Re: Piano Technicians on Pricing
Steve Cohen #2870638 07/19/19 01:49 PM
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Steve, is there some specific argument or claim you're responding to? I'm not sure there is much value in a pre-emptive blanket blast at technicians and piano teachers.

Re: Piano Technicians on Pricing
Piano*Dad #2870644 07/19/19 02:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Piano*Dad
Steve, is there some specific argument or claim you're responding to? I'm not sure there is much value in a pre-emptive blanket blast at technicians and piano teachers.


+ 1

I was also wondering what prompted this thread....


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Re: Piano Technicians on Pricing
Steve Cohen #2870651 07/19/19 02:31 PM
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If I were in the market for a piano, and my teacher or tech offered advice on pricing, I would hear them out. I would also ask them to explain their reasoning and give me other bits of information that might allow me to assess where they are coming from. I would not simply accept what I was told as gospel, nor would I presume it was worthless or biased simply because they are teachers or techs.

Teachers certainly can proffer biased information, especially if they have an undisclosed relationship with a local dealer. Ditto for techs. Teachers can also offer low or no value advice, just like any other random person off the street. They can tell us personal anecdotes of their experiences, however dated or narrow they may be. They can misrepresent their biases and tastes as objective, just like anyone else. On the other hand, teachers and techs might have clear information and some learning behind their opinions. I would not specifically disregard the opinions of an entire group of people based on a label, even if "most" aren't particularly knowledgable.


Re: Piano Technicians on Pricing
Steve Cohen #2870653 07/19/19 02:37 PM
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Many newbies assume that piano tech and teacher are knowledgeable about piano pricing. Most are not.

I'm not blanket-blasting at all. I'm simply advised shoppers that their beliefs are often misplaced.

The overwhelming percentage of techs and teachers are quite competent in their field of expertise. More often than not, pricing in the piano market is outside those fields.

Some of my best friends are techs and teachers!!!!

laugh


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Jasons Music
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My postings, unless stated otherwise, are my personal opinions, not those of my clients.
Re: Piano Technicians on Pricing
Piano*Dad #2870668 07/19/19 03:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Piano*Dad
If I were in the market for a piano, and my teacher or tech offered advice on pricing, I would hear them out. I would also ask them to explain their reasoning and give me other bits of information that might allow me to assess where they are coming from. I would not simply accept what I was told as gospel, nor would I presume it was worthless or biased simply because they are teachers or techs.

Teachers certainly can proffer biased information, especially if they have an undisclosed relationship with a local dealer. Ditto for techs. Teachers can also offer low or no value advice, just like any other random person off the street. They can tell us personal anecdotes of their experiences, however dated or narrow they may be. They can misrepresent their biases and tastes as objective, just like anyone else. On the other hand, teachers and techs might have clear information and some learning behind their opinions. I would not specifically disregard the opinions of an entire group of people based on a label, even if "most" aren't particularly knowledgable.



I agree with you completely.

Many teachers think the market is relatively the same as it was when they purchased their piano in the 70's. Teaching from home limits their exposure to the wide variety of instruments on the market.

Tech have much more exposure to different instruments enabling them to make cogent observations as to quality. Pricing is still another issue altogether.


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Jasons Music
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My postings, unless stated otherwise, are my personal opinions, not those of my clients.
Re: Piano Technicians on Pricing
Steve Cohen #2870752 07/19/19 08:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Steve Cohen
Many newbies assume that piano tech and teacher are knowledgeable about piano pricing. Most are not.

I'm not blanket-blasting at all. I'm simply advised shoppers that their beliefs are often misplaced.

The overwhelming percentage of techs and teachers are quite competent in their field of expertise. More often than not, pricing in the piano market is outside those fields.

Some of my best friends are techs and teachers!!!!

laugh


I think you are spot on in your advice. And I did not feel you were "blanket-blasting" at all.



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Re: Piano Technicians on Pricing
Steve Cohen #2870775 07/19/19 11:00 PM
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Experienced piano sales agents are experts in piano market value. In my experience this is information they keep as closely guarded as they can. In some ways the sales agents "job" is to hide the "true" price of whatever they are selling.

Technicians rarely keep the true condition of pianos they know secret.

This has always struck me as a power imbalance.


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Re: Piano Technicians on Pricing
Ed McMorrow, RPT #2870783 07/20/19 12:05 AM
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Agreed, well said.

A technician may know what some of their clients have paid. And, that'd only be relevant for a short time afterwards.

In my case, nobody knows what I negotiated - except that it was a price which pleased me.

A technician or a teacher can give guidance on which piano, but none I've known would be drawn into pricing.


Alan from Queensland, Australia (and Clara - my Grotrian Concert & Allen Organ (CF-17a)).
Re: Piano Technicians on Pricing
Steve Cohen #2870791 07/20/19 01:27 AM
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Public service announcement?

Or self-serving advice?

Perhaps there should be a disclaimer:

Seller Advisory Service

There's something I find hillariously ironic on the linked page.



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Re: Piano Technicians on Pricing
Steve Cohen #2872732 07/25/19 07:46 PM
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The OP lives just up the road from where I used to work . . . .

I agree with his premise.

I tried to keep current with the market by asking if clients would mind telling me what they paid for a recently purchased piano and I'd include that in my client database. I also suggested that a buyer do an online search for similar pianos for sale, although I readily concede that you're looking at asking prices for unsold pianos.

Our value to clients is mostly to help them identify outliers, both high and low.

Re: Piano Technicians on Pricing
Retsacnal #2872748 07/25/19 08:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Retsacnal
Public service announcement?

Or self-serving advice?

Perhaps there should be a disclaimer:

Seller Advisory Service

There's something I find hillariously ironic on the linked page.


Thought this post was for discussion/information. Disappointing to find out it is really an ad for paid services without a disclaimer and not in the advertising section.


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Re: Piano Technicians on Pricing
dogperson #2872937 07/26/19 11:05 AM
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You are mistaken as to my motives.

I have posted about 11000 times on PianoWorld, for almost 20 years, assisting thousands of visitors. I have made fewer than a dozen or so posts that could be mistaken as self-promotion.

The point I made concerned newbies who follow the advice of piano professionals that don't happen to know about today's pricing. The point in fact is that while many piano technicians and teachers are broadly knowledgeable about current selling prices, many are not. And many who think they are, are mistaken.


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Jasons Music
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Re: Piano Technicians on Pricing
Steve Cohen #2872965 07/26/19 01:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Steve Cohen
I have posted about 11000 times on PianoWorld, for almost 20 years, assisting thousands of visitors. I have made fewer than a dozen or so posts that could be mistaken as self-promotion.
I agree.

Re: Piano Technicians on Pricing
pianoloverus #2872970 07/26/19 01:51 PM
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Originally Posted by pianoloverus
Originally Posted by Steve Cohen
I have posted about 11000 times on PianoWorld, for almost 20 years, assisting thousands of visitors. I have made fewer than a dozen or so posts that could be mistaken as self-promotion.
I agree.

thumb +1
I do too! I’m a bit mystified why anyone would think this post was self promotion?


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Re: Piano Technicians on Pricing
Steve Cohen #2872971 07/26/19 01:53 PM
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Steve offered very good advice and didn't mention his role as a buyers consultant except that unlike another poster in this thread his professional affiliation is clearly stated as per the rules, in his sig. line.

I've been here 6-7 years. Steve is one of the good guys and one of handful of true piano professionals left who regularly posts. It serves none of us to attack him in public with what I view as pettiness. If you really think he's crossed the rules, use the "notify" button.

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Re: Piano Technicians on Pricing
Steve Cohen #2872972 07/26/19 02:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Steve Cohen
You are mistaken as to my motives.

I have posted about 11000 times on PianoWorld, for almost 20 years, assisting thousands of visitors. I have made fewer than a dozen or so posts that could be mistaken as self-promotion.

The point I made concerned newbies who follow the advice of piano professionals that don't happen to know about today's pricing. The point in fact is that while many piano technicians and teachers are broadly knowledgeable about current selling prices, many are not. And many who think they are, are mistaken.


Mistaken or not, I'd think it good of you to acknowledge that you are offering a "Seller Advisory Service" in exchange for money while stating here, in the Piano Forum, that a similar valuation, as received from a technician or a teacher, could well be unreliable and suspect.

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