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Thread: Unrealistic customer

  1. #1
    Supporting Member Randall's Avatar
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    Unrealistic customer

    I don't typically have issues with my customers, but one guy is testing my patience. A couple of years ago I rebuilt a hurricane damaged 65 Super Reverb for him by building a new glass board and birch baffle. Then he got a squeaky clean 65 Vibrolux Reverb that I did a cap job, and several other things to square it up. He brought it back to me for squealing and whining noises. One of the plate resistors came apart as I lifted one leg to measure it, and all the others had drifted out of spec, so I replaced them all. Problem solved, charged him $65.

    Three months later, he goes to use the amp at a gig, but it is making to much hum and other noise, so he brings it back, unhappy. This time I find the board has stray voltages all over it. We are in our humid season down here in SWFL, so I think the board is absorbing moisture and is going conductive. I also find several, actually almost all of the ceramic caps are leaking, so I replace them. While I have a cap out, I check the resistors nearby, and find several out of spec, so I replace them also. Then, as I am doing this I find two resistors in the PI are grossly wrong from the factory, so I correct that. I hit the board with a heat gun, and now things are back to normal, and as quiet as a 55 year old amp with many original components can be. This bill is $129.

    I call him, and he is upset. He complains that I just did a repair (he's not sure what), and "it wasn't cheap" ($65). And now he has to pay for more work, and he doesn't want to have to bring it to me any more, and he thought I told him it should be good after all the work I have done, so what is going on?

    I explain to him about the humidity and conductivity being a fact of life with these fiber board amps. I told him I found wrong parts in it that I wasn't looking for the other times. I said I can fix your problems, but I cannot, as no one can, tell you if you won't have future failures, and that the work I did on the plate resistors has not a thing to do with your current issues. And I am going to tell him when he comes to pick it up that maybe he should find somewhere else to bring it when the amp has it's next problem. I will also point out that it still has mostly 55 year old carbon resistors in it, and short of shotgunning them all, he probably should expect future noise and other issues from them. But, of course he paid premium dollar for an almost dead stock clean vintage amp, so why would he want to start changing parts?

    Just kill me now.

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    It's weird, because it WAS working fine.....

  2. #2
    Old Timer Leo_Gnardo's Avatar
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    Co-miserate... Luckily such customers are rare here these days. Tell him if his mechanic rebuilt the steering & front end on his car, then months later it started having a leak out the gas tank. Or if he had his windshield replaced, then the back bumper fell off it's the mechanic's responsibilty. Problems aren't related & each takes $$$ to fix. Or give up driving, and walk everywhere.

    Similar analogies with dentists, doctors, construction contractors, etc etc. Some people... think just because they threw money at their problem, that no other problems should show up, forever. IOW, whoever fixed it last, owns all problems that develop in the future. World ain't like that dear crustomers, get over it.

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    Enjoy. Every. Sandwich.

  3. #3
    ToneOholic! big_teee's Avatar
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    That's why I quit winding pickups for the public.
    I still make my own, and take care of some friends, pro type regional players.
    People want one off pickups, for china prices, and I can never please them.
    Instead I gamble my money on the stock market!
    Sometimes I lose, but sometimes I win, and no one to thank or blame, but myself!
    GL,
    T

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    Courage is being Scared to Death, but Saddling up anyway! (John Wayne)

    Terry

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    Old Timer J M Fahey's Avatar
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    I said I can fix your problems, but I cannot, as no one can, tell you if you won't have future failures,
    But you definitely can tell him he WILL have future failures.
    Who says nobody can predict the future?

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    Juan Manuel Fahey

  5. #5
    Senior Member
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    I explain it like this: If you have the brakes fixed on your car, they aren't going to replace the transmission for free if it goes bad shortly after.

    Edit: I see Leo already made the same point!

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    Last edited by drewl; 07-06-2019 at 11:34 PM.

  6. #6
    Senior Member SoulFetish's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by J M Fahey View Post
    But you definitely can tell him he WILL have future failures.
    Word!

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    If I have a 50% chance of guessing the right answer, I guess wrong 80% of the time.

  7. #7
    Old Timer Leo_Gnardo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by J M Fahey View Post
    But you definitely can tell him he WILL have future failures.
    Borrow this line from Scotty Kilmer, top auto advice channel on YouseTube: "It's gonna be a bottomless money pit!" Then offer to buy his deflicted old tube amp for $100, let him go get a Quilter or somethin'.

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    Enjoy. Every. Sandwich.

  8. #8
    Lifetime Member Enzo's Avatar
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    I tell them that I have a warranty on my shop work, but a warranty is no the same as insurance.

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    Education is what you're left with after you have forgotten what you have learned.

  9. #9
    Member HaroldBrooks's Avatar
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    After my third or so not all that expensive repair to my beloved vintage amps, I got the message loud and clear, just like with my vintage cars. That Everything is old, so either you plan on paying out money to service routinely and don't mind breaking down more frequently, or repair every last single wear part up front, or learn how to do it yourself as you go along. There's no easy way out, but occasionally you get lucky. I have a couple of old amps that are running with almost no repairs, others I had to replace ever cap, but like a roulette wheel or dice, you don't know how it will end up, not entirely.

    I never regret learning how to make repairs myself. Not everyone's cup of tea, but for me it was a no brainer as I am so inclined.

    No customer has a right to expect a 55 year old amp with 55 year old parts to not have new issues eventually. Just let them know that up front, and explain the logic, upfront before you start. If they run, then good riddance, in two words. Sounds harsh but you are actually doing them a favor as well, just say it with a smile !

    Here's another thing you can let them know, the vintage amp they know and love got a great reputation, back when it was brand new, with all new parts. If they can follow that logic, they might consider replacing at the very least all the caps, and while they are at it, some resistors exposed to high temps like the ones that sit right on top of tube sockets.

    It took me much too long personally to realize I wasn't doing myself or my vintage amp any favors running it with out of spec or with some "time bomb" parts. No, for me it's a gamble, and if you don't fix stuff yourself, you shouldn't place ANY bets ! If they do run old parts, you should let them know the risks.

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    Last edited by HaroldBrooks; 07-07-2019 at 02:41 PM.

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