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my experience with Skinner
mhfais posted a blog entry in mhfais' BlogI would like to describe my upsetting and disappointing experience with Skinner Inc. in Boston. I am an orchestral violinist whose career and life's calling was ruined in April 2011 with the bankruptcy of the Syracuse Symphony, where I had been a member for 27 years. Since that bankruptcy I've been forced to look at changing careers and, approaching dire financial straits, I decided I needed to sell my old Italian violin, insured at a value in the 6 digit range. At the advice of colleagues I called David Bonsey at Skinner's who was, at first, very personable and encouraging about Skinner Inc. selling my violin. I drove to Marlborough from Syracuse to meet with him, and after an hour of smooth talk, manipulating numbers and pressure, Bonsey wore me down and convinced me that selling my violin at his pricing in their auction would be the only option for me, and so I signed the consignment contract with Skinner. I then drove the 5 hours back home again, all the while feeling worse and worse that I'd made a terrible mistake, not only giving up my only real asset so quickly, but my prized violin which represented my life's commitment and passion. Heartsick, I called Bonsey the next day and told him I'd changed my mind and I wanted to cancel the contract. He started out trying to be reassuring, to the point of condescending, but when it was clear I was resolved in my decision he became exasperated and ended the call saying I should think about it and we would talk in a few days. I didn’t want to delay, so I sent Bonsey an e-mail that night, and then followed up with a faxed letter to his office the next day, which he ignored for two more days. When he finally did respond, he simply referred me to his Chief Financial Officer, saying it was now a contractual matter. From there it has turned quite ugly. I told the cfo that I had been pressured into this deal while under great stress from my situation, and I changed my mind and gave notice within 36 hours, but the CFO will not discuss it. He states that I signed a contract, period, which only will allow me to withdraw the violin by paying a fee of 35% of the “mid-range value” per the contract. I am very disappointed and upset by their conduct and business practices; I've had better treatment by car dealers and appliance dealers concerning property of considerably less value and on which my whole life didn't depend. I cancelled my contract within 36 hours, but apparently the three day Cooling Off Period Law in MA only applies to consumer goods. Am I the one out of line here in asking for some consideration and leeway considering my situation? In my opinion, Skinner may have the law on their side, but no sense of honor. Certainly I feel that any professional should think twice before making decisions like mine.
Martin, I appreciate your sensitivity to Maestronet's position in limiting the discussion of my specific case, but since the issue concerns the unjustness of a contract's withdrawal fee percentage regardless of whether the contract was signed minutes or months ago, I don't think it matters what my reasons were for changing my mind. But since this seems to be a relevant point to many Maestronet readers, I will explain that I now know I made the decision much too hastily; I had been reticent about selling my violin anyway but, being in a financial bind, I went to Skinner to talk about the auction process. David Bonsey wore me down to thinking that leaving my violin with him for auction was my best and probably only option. As I said in my post, left to my own thoughts on my way home, I realized I'd made a terrible mistake and that I didn't want to part with my violin now, and that if I ever did I needed to look at all the other possible options before making such a huge decision. Perhaps I would come to believe that an auction was the best route, but for now I was too emotionally attached to the violin, and it felt all wrong. I hope this helps clarify my reasons for my decision, and for my distress over Skinner's insistence on adhering to their contract's withdrawal fee percentage, even with my cancellation after two days. - Heather
First off, many thanks to everyone who wrote in for all the support and input I received concerning my recent thread about my experience with Skinner. Once that thread returns to Maestronet, I hope to reply more specifically to individuals. Martin, your post about auction withdrawal fees is quite relevant, and I just want to say I could better understand the reason for a withdrawal fee once real money has been invested by the auction house (for example if they had produced a printed catalog and the item had been advertised for many weeks), but it doesn't make sense in a case like mine where I officially gave notice of my desire to cancel the contract within 36 hours. Heather Fais