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Estonia Pianos
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So I was talking to my husband the other day about the general similarities between car dealerships and piano dealerships, and he brought up the whole European delivery programs for luxury cars in the US, and he asked if there was some kind of similar program for European pianos like there are for cars.

I'm starting to toy with the idea of getting a new piano, and definitely wouldn't mind expanding the list of potential brands to consider, but I can't imagine that there's a similar program considering one of the points of the European delivery program for cars is that you take delivery of it while there and then drive it yourself to the export point.

I'm thinking this is less fun for pianos, and I envision myself pushing a piano down some street in Germany looking for a boat to put it on.

But you never know....do people from the US successfully buy pianos in Europe?

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People in Europe have to wait until may/June to get a new piano. Most storesz are pretty empty, only 1 model to test is available.

Last edited by johan d; 02/23/21 10:59 AM.
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Originally Posted by johan d
People in Europe have to wait until may/June to get a new piano.

Well, I should point out this is not nearly an imminent purchase. Next year, at best, and certainly not until the pandemic is over!

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One can go over for factory selection, at least with some manufacturers. The piano is then shipped.

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Originally Posted by dhull100
One can go over for factory selection, at least with some manufacturers. The piano is then shipped.

Or you can simply buy from a European dealer that will do international shipments. Generally this is all a bad idea though, primarily because it is best to play the actual piano you are purchasing before buying it (they are individual musical instruments not cars) but also for ease of servicing and warranties (unless you are purchasing a used piano when it perhaps matters less).

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Originally Posted by gwing
Originally Posted by dhull100
One can go over for factory selection, at least with some manufacturers. The piano is then shipped.

Or you can simply buy from a European dealer that will do international shipments. Generally this is all a bad idea though, primarily because it is best to play the actual piano you are purchasing before buying it (they are individual musical instruments not cars) but also for ease of servicing and warranties (unless you are purchasing a used piano when it perhaps matters less).

Yes, any purchase in Europe would be after I played it and chose it directly. I'm just not sure if this is a thing that has a recognized process to it, or if it just doesn't really happen because it's massively impractical/expensive.

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I think shipment via air would be around $6k. (Very dim memory, but I was chatting with a London dealer of a German upright that isn't sold widely in the US.) So you could do some serious arbitrage on pricing if you bought from a European dealer. Whether you would then be on a black list with US dealers is another question.

As for ordering, say a Bosendorfer, through a US dealer for a European pickup and then shipping, I don't know what the incentives would be. Much of the benefit for doing this with cars was that you could drive it in Europe just enough to make it a used car, thus lowering the duty in the US. I doubt that is any kind of big deal with pianos.

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I don't know the current position regarding cars, but I was with a Boston friend when we were in Munich. We visited several BMW main dealers and they refused to sell him a new 5 series for him to self export it back to Boston.
With regard to a new German or Austrian Tier 1 piano, even if you bought one I doubt that you could get a warranty that would apply after you imported.
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Originally Posted by Beemer
I don't know the current position regarding cars, but I was with a Boston friend when we were in Munich. We visited several BMW main dealers and they refused to sell him a new 5 series for him to self export it back to Boston.

I suspect the reason that the German dealer wouldn't sell your friend a car was mainly due to government regulations. Historically, there have been a variety of different requirements for everything from emissions to types of safety glass and even lighting (types of lights, number of lights, turn signals, markers, parking lights, etc). The dealer probably doesn't have the capacity to sell your friend a U.S. spec'ed car.


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Yes-- for cars, you had to go to the US dealer, who would order the car. Some US specs were not quite legal in Europe, so there might be a conversion of sorts in Hamburg or Rotterdam, wherever it was finally shipped from. And apparently there was a point of pride among some of the dock workers to steal one thing from each car. The inside of an ash tray, for example.

Anyway, unless Steinway gets too fussy about Grotrian-Steinwegs, there won't be that problem with musical instruments.

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BMW has ended it's European Delivery program (apparently more and more people are doing the same, but opting for pickup of their US-built BMWs in the US), but the way it worked is that you arranged it through your local dealer (i.e. you buy your car locally, not in Germany), and you picked it up at BMW's facilities in Germany, got a tour of the factory, get to drive it around on the Autobahn while you vacation in Europe, and then it's shipped to your home country.

I didn't do this myself, but I have a number of friends who did, and enjoyed it.


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Originally Posted by Retsacnal
BMW has ended it's European Delivery program (apparently more and more people are doing the same, but opting for pickup of their US-built BMWs in the US), but the way it worked is that you arranged it through your local dealer (i.e. you buy your car locally, not in Germany), and you picked it up at BMW's facilities in Germany, got a tour of the factory, get to drive it around on the Autobahn while you vacation in Europe, and then it's shipped to your home country.

I didn't do this myself, but I have a number of friends who did, and enjoyed it.

Currently on Canadian television, Volvo is offering a similar incentive.

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Regarding pianos, I think it could be a good option for some of the premium makers that don't have much of a North American presence. Customer selects their piano at the factory. Factory crates it up and ships it to customer's destination. Re. warranty work, there's no reason why the factory can't find technicians the same way that others who ship pianos do.

Benefits go to both parties:
  • Customer has a great vacation and awesome stories to tell about selecting their piano at the factory. Manufacturer removes the "scary" part of the equation (shipping).
  • Manufacturer sells additional pianos into markets where they are currently underserved, or not represented at all.


Frankly, the customer is likely to get a better price because there wouldn't need to be mountains of fudge priced in for middleman markup, currency fluctuation, warehousing, etc. And the factory could get a higher return by selling at a reasonable retail price rather than wholesale to a distributor. I suspect these prices could be very attractive to both parties.


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Even if it is not a standard offering, perhaps that could be part of the price negotiation with the local dealer. Especially if you're not buying one off the floor and there is an order involved, that would take a lot of the risk and financial costs off their books. Clients would be happier with the product, either because of choosing intelligently, or because of wonderful memories of a European vacation.

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Originally Posted by Beemer
I don't know the current position regarding cars, but I was with a Boston friend when we were in Munich. We visited several BMW main dealers and they refused to sell him a new 5 series for him to self export it back to Boston.
With regard to a new German or Austrian Tier 1 piano, even if you bought one I doubt that you could get a warranty that would apply after you imported.
Ian

Yes, on the car side, you would have to enroll through the manufacturer directly. The dealerships themselves wouldn't be able to arrange that.

It's a shame, though, with specific regard to BMW--they cancelled their European delivery program this year. It was one of the possibilities a couple of years ago, but we ended up getting an Audi, and didn't do anything special for it. We just bought it domestically.

I was just wondering if perhaps the piano manufacturer had some kind of program like that, similar to the luxury auto programs. I am quite certain I could not walk into a showroom and just expect them to be able to arrange an export.

Not that I didn't think about it. The last time I was in Munich, I visited several piano dealerships (but no BMW dealerships!)

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Probably works best for something expensive and rare, like a Steingraeber or Bluthner. Not a lot of inventory over here, so you're talking about special orders in many cases.

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Originally Posted by Maestro Lennie
I think shipment via air would be around $6k. (Very dim memory, but I was chatting with a London dealer of a German upright that isn't sold widely in the US.) So you could do some serious arbitrage on pricing if you bought from a European dealer. Whether you would then be on a black list with US dealers is another question.

As for ordering, say a Bosendorfer, through a US dealer for a European pickup and then shipping, I don't know what the incentives would be. Much of the benefit for doing this with cars was that you could drive it in Europe just enough to make it a used car, thus lowering the duty in the US. I doubt that is any kind of big deal with pianos.

Yes, thus my joke about having to push it around the streets of Germany in order to have officially "taken delivery" of it while in Europe.

But as for the actual cost of shipping, I should ask a friend, who spent several years in the USA while her husband needed to be here for work, and she had her piano shipped from France to the house they rented here, and then shipped it back once they moved home. It's a possibility that I could take delivery of a piano in Europe and then have it arranged separately to ship using a freight service.

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Originally Posted by Maestro Lennie
Probably works best for something expensive and rare, like a Steingraeber or Bluthner. Not a lot of inventory over here, so you're talking about special orders in many cases.

Wasn't planning on spending anything more than around $60,000 so I don't think that qualifies, within the context of this discussion, as expensive and rare.

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Originally Posted by TwoSnowflakes
we ended up getting an Audi, and didn't do anything special for it. We just bought it domestically.

Before posting earlier, I google'd to double-check, and some links said that Audi had also canceled their European pickup option too. I think it said in '18.


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I was just wondering if perhaps the piano manufacturer had some kind of program like that, similar to the luxury auto programs. I am quite certain I could not walk into a showroom and just expect them to be able to arrange an export.

People have posted here before about buying pianos in Europe and having them shipped home. Honestly, I think it would be less of a big deal for pianos than cars (pianos aren't regulated), but I've had the experience of shipping cars and household stuff in both directions.

Frankly, European retail price minus VAT seems like a significant incentive to me.


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We were going to order a Sauter upright piano that our dealer did not normally keep .The piano was going to be flown here after it was made. These were special circumstances and the price would not have been that high.
We then unexpectedly found a different European piano that the dealer had moved from the warehouse to his store. We were delighted with it , and chose that one instead.(much relief, I no longer had to worry about ordering blind , and we we chose an excellent instrument)

During our last European (in Paris) vacation we noticed that there were quite a few uprights crammed together in a few piano stores and very few grands.Mainly Bechstein, Sauter, and Rameau ., Although there was also Yamaha and Feurich.(surprise) I am sure there were dealers who had other brands
as well.
Just nearby the same store there was a fairly large area full of used pianos. Every European brand you could think of was there. Some where undergoing repair or restoration.

It would be best to go and find your piano by actually trying them out .

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