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Old 01-17-2019, 10:19 AM
Wild Fiddler Wild Fiddler is offline
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Default "Return Denied" on a trial guitar... any guidance?

I recently ordered two guitars from a dealer with a two week trial. Kept one and returned the other this week. Just got an email saying the "return is denied," due to a couple micro scratches that a close up camera can just detect, even though most eyes would not. This is despite wearing fleece sweat pants (no zipper), and a cotton sweat shirt (no buttons) during my trial playing time.

Any suggestions for what to do in a situation like this?

The guitar in question is a fine Martin Authentic, which apparently has incredibly thin varnish. I understand the dealer needs to be able to sell the guitar as "new." But I'm also feeling like being offered a "trial period" doesn't help if the bar is set impossibly high for a return.

What do you think would be fair to both a dealer and player in this situation? How would you handle it?

Old 01-17-2019, 10:26 AM
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fazool fazool is offline
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Guitar trial periods are a no-win situation. With rental cars you go around the car and inspect it together and agree on the condition going out, then coming back in.

Without that sort of equivalence this will always be a he-said, she-said situation.
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Old 01-17-2019, 10:35 AM
psychojohn psychojohn is offline
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Default Wow, Thanks !

Never had this offer made to me. Now I know I won't take it if it ever is. Fazool's point about not knowing if it I was there at baseline is an interesting issue/point.

Good Luck !

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Old 01-17-2019, 10:38 AM
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I am afraid that this is now a legal issue, not a philosophical one. Is there anything in writing that stipulates the conditions of a return? Is there evidence that the scratches existed before you received it? We can argue all day what the policy should be but that it irrelevant if you purchased a guitar with an existing policy in place.
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Old 01-17-2019, 10:39 AM
Athens Athens is offline
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Default "TRIAL" Denied

The sad part is that it would almost definitely have more wear hanging on a rack in a store and having people pull it down periodically.

If they try to send it back to you I would refuse the delivery. If you paid with a credit card you might see if your back will support you in the dispute by reversing the transaction.

It's sad to see a vendor being difficult, but I see both sides.

Are you comfortable telling us who the vendor is?
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Old 01-17-2019, 10:48 AM
Wild Fiddler Wild Fiddler is offline
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I think this series of Martin Authentics have unusually thin varnish. Great for sound, and light as a feather, but well nigh impossible to play without some faint swirling to occur.

I don't know if the vendor ever puts his nicer guitars on a rack for people to try. Could be he mostly does mail orders.

Thanks for your thoughts!
Old 01-17-2019, 10:58 AM
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Goat Whiskey Picks Goat Whiskey Picks is offline
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I definitely understand the OP's point but on the other side we're talking about guitars that are in the $4500 - $7000 price range. How many of us would pay that much for a new guitar and be ok with some signs of minor wear like described? If the dealer takes it back they won't be able to sell the guitar without some really steep discounts.
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Old 01-17-2019, 11:01 AM
Willie Voltaire Willie Voltaire is offline
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Originally Posted by Wild Fiddler View Post
What do you think would be fair to both a dealer and player in this situation? How would you handle it?
Offer to pay a "restocking fee" to reimburse the shop for buffing it out.
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Old 01-17-2019, 11:04 AM
ii Cybershot ii ii Cybershot ii is offline
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Need to see swirls/scratches before I could make a determination if the dealer is being unreasonable.
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Old 01-17-2019, 11:08 AM
charles Tauber charles Tauber is offline
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Originally Posted by Wild Fiddler View Post
What do you think would be fair to both a dealer and player in this situation?
"Trial periods" are an "unfair" situation. In theory, they sound great. In practice, they can go "south" in a wide variety of ways. Both the buyer and the seller is hoping that none of those things happen. If they do, one, or the other, gets the short end of the stick. It's the luck of the draw. If you are comfortable with the gamble, buy on-line, sight unseen. If not, don't buy on-line.

What can go "south"? Someone buys a guitar for a trial period, during which he or she sands the saddle lower, adjusts the nut slots, adjusts the truss rod, then returns it. If the buyer didn't really know what he or she was doing in those adjustments, the guitar, at best, needs a setup - maybe a new nut and saddle. (Hopefully, they didn't strip or break the truss rod.) If that guitar is then sent out to the next "trial period" buyer, "as new", the guitar might well be a "mess" playing wise. It'll get sent back and forth between the seller and subsequent buyers until, likely, an unsuspecting, less experienced buyer can't tell the difference and keeps it.

Other reports chronicle someone buying a high-end guitar, then swaping it for a cheap one, then returning the cheap one. The seller has little recourse, little protection, particularly if it is a private sale.

Someone buys a guitar, damages or scratches it, then returns it. As in your case, its a he-said, she-said, as to what condition it was when first sent to the buyer and whether or not the condition had changed when it was returned. As Fazool suggested, complete inspection immediately upon receiving the instrument, followed by immediate reporting to the seller of any findings, might mitigate some of that.

Shipping guitars around in extreme weather conditions - very hot and dry or very cold - there is an elevated chance that damage will occur during shipping. When that happens, there's the hassle of who is at fault and compensation, if there is any to be had.

In this day and age of an expectation of perfection, the chances are good that what one receives won't be. Particularly if the "new" instrument has been bounced back and forth a few times between the seller and a number of prospective buyers.

How would you handle it?
If you honestly believe you returned it in exactly the condition you received it, you can try to cancel payment on it via credit card/PayPal or however you paid for it. If that isn't an option, you could try to negotiate with the seller for half of the reduction in value/selling price they estimate. After that, perhaps your only other options are legal action or that you own a second new guitar.

Had you planned on buying two guitars, or did you order two knowing you'd send at least one back?

If one knows that no two instruments are identical, and that one often needs to pick through a bunch of the same make and model to find the one that one likes, why not just order half a dozen, chose one and then send the other five back? (Or order two at a time, repeatedly returning the rejects, until one finds the one one wants?) Or is that what folks are effectively already doing?

Everyone wants a brand new instrument, but no one wants one that has been "tried out" and altered, worn or damaged in the process. With the many people who buy guitars, try them out, then return them, the numbers don't add up.

Last edited by charles Tauber; 01-17-2019 at 11:28 AM.
Old 01-17-2019, 11:17 AM
DesertTwang DesertTwang is offline
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Oh, the irony. On the one hand, people are lusting after guitars most gigging musicians couldn't even afford, touting their specs and incredible sound, which comes with an unusually thin finish, but they panic when such a guitar has a couple of micro scratches, which, once you think about it, comes with the territory. Not responding to any specific comment in this thread, just sharing my observation of the big picture. To me, it's just an example of wanting to have my cake and eat it too, and people getting worked up about smaller-than-first-world problems (in this case, that would be the dealer and the future customer who would refuse to buy this perfectly fine guitar).

I'm very sorry the OP has to go through this BS. Makes me even more reluctant to ever buy a guitar that I can't hold in my hands before buying.
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Last edited by DesertTwang; 01-17-2019 at 11:25 AM.
Old 01-17-2019, 11:33 AM
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Have you had a phone conversation with the dealer? You bought one guitar from them and will be keeping it, I assume. They should be reasonably civil to you because of this. I would explain to them that keeping the guitar is not an option. I would ask them, what would you like me to do? I would imagine the dealer is protected in the fine print of their agreement of sale or trial period. A restocking fee or buffing fee as WV mentioned seems appropriate.
Old 01-17-2019, 11:33 AM
BT55 BT55 is offline
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This is a bad situation for sure. It appears that the OP respectfully treated the guitar. Did the “defects” exist on the guitar prior to his receipt? This is a good reason to pay by credit card. Place a claim with them and let the vendor fight it out with them.
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Old 01-17-2019, 11:36 AM
davep1218 davep1218 is offline
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Most likely the issues were there when you received it.
Always go over the guitar with micro vision and report any flaws when you receive the guitar to avoid this situation.
It's now your word against the store. The end result is usually the store will ask for compensation for the flaws as they cannot sell it as new now.
Old 01-17-2019, 11:40 AM
RustyAxe RustyAxe is offline
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If it is as the OP says I would deny the charges on my card send the other one back, too, and buy elsewhere. But I wouldn’t be in such a bind cuz i would never buy a guitar unseen and unplayed.
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