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Cathy12

Curious About Claim Checks

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I tried to do some searching for this but could not find any discussion on it.  Perhaps I was using the wrong search terms.  I ask you to bear with me if this is a topic that comes up all the time.

 

 

I am not a luthier, I am a musician using the services of luthiers.  One of the luthiers in my area always gives me a claim check when I leave something for repairs but most of the others do not.  I have a cello and a violin which can be easily identified I suppose.   So far I have not had any trouble with my instruments.

 

 

However, I get nervous about leaving my bow for rehairing or repairs.  I am not so worried about the shop stealing my bow, but rather I am concerned that because a bow is relatively small and "generic" looking, I worry that the shop would not remember that I had left a bow.  Without a claim check, I would have no proof that I even left any bow, much less my valuable bow.  Perhaps when I come back to retrieve it, someone other than the person who took it in is working.  That person would have absolutely no knowledge of me leaving it.  And even the person who took it might not remember.

 

I really need some help on how to deal with this.  The last time I left my bow to be rehaired, I asked for a claim check and instead got re-assurance that they understood why I was nervous, but no claim check was offered.  Fortunately I was able to retrieve my bow without problem.

 

Obviously, I cannot continue to go without getting my bow rehaired, but I am worried about how to settle a dispute, should one arise.

 

 

Since many of you have shops, I thought I would get your perspective.  If you do not offer claim checks for bows, why not?  And what happens if a bow is somehow mis-labeled in your shop?  

 

Why should I not be worried about this?

 

I am unwilling to take my bow to the luthier who gives claim checks, because I learned that they send it out to another luthier who did not give me a claim check and who also did not do a good job when I had it rehaired there.  I'm kind of stuck here.

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You should be nervous about it. I always use two part forms to document the work to be done, both on instruments and bows. The form documents the instrument or bow, with any labels or other distinguishing marks. The customer gets one copy as a receipt. I also use small string tags for bows.

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I think you have every reasonable expectation of receiving a claim check. Even if you haven't had a problem until now, what if there is a flood, fire, etc, or a break in and your bow is gone, how could you even prove it was there?

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I think Claim tickets are a must; I have been rehairing for about 15 years and rehair 5 to 10 a week; I work for a medium sized shop and don't often meet the customer and several people intake the bows so I have no connection with the bow and the owner.  I insist that the bow be placed in a plastic bow bag with the order placed inside and a hang tag tied to the bow.  I try to get the intake person to make a brief inspection checking for cracks in the tip, head frog etc.  If a name is stamped on the bow I want that noted on the Claim Ticket.  Occasionally a dispute will occur but I give a careful inspection before I do anything to the bow and if anything looks "iffy" I stop and call the owner.  If I had the facilities to do it I would photograph all bows at intake as someday I know that would be valuable.  I am aware of a situation elsewhere where a bow was switched and I played a part in getting the original bow back to the owner so, these things do happen.   


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Also take good macro (in focus!) pictures of your bow, especially if it has any distinguishing marks. Digital cameras are so ubiquitous these days that you may as well get good photo's. 

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Yes, you should get a receipt or claim check. In my shop I use a string tagged ticket with a tear off receipt and  the tag stays either on the bow or in the parts tray while the bow is actually being worked on and is reattached to the bow before it leaves the bench. My assumption is that someday the executor of my estate will need to identify any property in the shop belonging to others and I act accordingly. You should also expect that any old fittings , strings etc. which are removed from your instrument  during servicing be returned to you. I put all that stuff in a bag with the clients name on it and put the bag with the similarly labeled case any time the instrument is being worked on.

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My question would be why wouldn't you (as a business) use claim checks and carefully label/tag the bows you have in?  Isn't that added precaution worth it given how bows are all so similar in appearance?

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I am unwilling to take my bow to the luthier who gives claim checks, because I learned that they send it out to another luthier who did not give me a claim check and who also did not do a good job when I had it rehaired there.  I'm kind of stuck here.

 

If the shop doesn't rehair their own bows,  what would stop them from tagging and sending out the bow after you leave it even if they don't give you a claim check?

 

I'd suggest more communication and selectivity.  Ask the shop if they rehair on premises and don't do business with shops that are evasive when addressing your questions.

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Dear Cathy 12,

 

I think you ask a very good question, although it is very difficult to find an answer that is completely satisfactory for all parties. Taken to the nth. degree, any solution is in grave danger of becoming dreadfully bureaucratic and can also create new problems.

 

Leaving an instrument/bow for repair is a mixture of (at least) two different contracts; 1) a custody agreement and 2) a contract for specific work, both of which have very different statutory periods of limitation.

 

With the first, (custody) should you demand a receipt for your property, then I should be obliged to insist on your giving me a receipt that you have received your instrument back afterwards. In my experience, it is a minority of musicians who remember to bring their receipts with them when they come to fetch their violin. This is a constant time waster in the Probate procedures I inevitably get involved in in my side job as court expert. Auntie Mitzi dies, and the heirs find a receipt for a valuable necklace left at a jeweler's for repair, only be told by the jeweler, that she fetched it years ago (acrimonious question of proof). A further moot point with the custody agreement, is in exactly how far I should describe and specify what the instrument actually is. Appraisal of what an instrument is or isn’t, is generally a service for which I may present you with an invoice, and I am not sure if I am going to be too keen on doing this through the back door for free via a custody agreement. If I don’t, arguments pertaining to whether it is the same instrument/bow upon collection could well be at least theoretically possible.

 

Regarding the contract for a specific work; should you leave your instrument/bow in my shop for repair, it would (unless specifically stipulated) be my decision, if I should repair it myself or entrust it to an employee, or even a contractor, after all, I would be the addressee of any possible reclamations.

 

A further question in our “on-line” day and age, is how you wish to have a receipt for sending your bow if you use an on-line bow rehairer. “Netrehair” for instance advertises on this forum. I would be interested, if they could post and tell us how they would see fit to acknowledge their responsibilities pertaining to their custody agreement re. your bow with you.

 

Further, since the Americans have a Violin Makers' Federation, I would be curious if they publish workable guidelines to this question.

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Thank you for all of your comments.  Asking for a claim check is not the same thing as getting a claim check.  I asked and was politely declined.  I don't really wish to get into a tussle over something that ought to be automatic because it is important to me to maintain good relationships with the people I, as a musician, depend upon to help keep my instruments in good playing condition.  It is good to hear that many of you do use claim checks.  

 

 

It would nice to hear from some who do not use claim checks as to why I should not worry about this when no claim check is offered.  VATman, your points are well made and well taken.  Obviously, the owner should be happy to give you proof when they pick up their instrument after the repair.  Absolutely.  If they don't have the claim check, then they should be willing to show an ID, have that ID photocopied, and sign a release.

 

There are only so many luthiers within driving distance.  I feel like I have to deal with what I have access to.

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Cathy, I understand your concerns.

Even with a claim check, the other half of the document could be transferred to another bow, either out of negligence or fraud. And it won't do a lot to protect you against damage done during the time when the bow is outside of your custody. About the best you can do, the way most things are done right now, is to seek out a really reputable shop.

 

A super-cautious shop might take a number of photos of the bow when it comes in, in the presence of the owner, and have them sign the photos, with other details of the transaction also written on the photos. And then the owner would sign off on the same photos when they picked the bow up. That might make for a rather expensive rehair though.

 

Jacob, in an attempt to answer your question about "Netrehair", my incomplete understanding is that they take time-stamped photos of every semi-valuable bow (or better) when it comes in. That's supplemented by tracking information supplied by the shipper, including delivery time. It's not foolproof for either the client or the shop, but it worked out well for the shop at least one time, when a client claimed that a bow had been damaged in their custody. Jerry P., the guy behind Netrehair, probably deserves to be called one of the major gurus of rehairing.

 

What would be your solutions to the various potential problems, realizing that most of us in the repair and making trades got into it because we loved making and fixing stuff, and not because being "businessmen" looked attractive?

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If the shop doesn't rehair their own bows,  what would stop them from tagging and sending out the bow after you leave it even if they don't give you a claim check?

 

I'd suggest more communication and selectivity.  Ask the shop if they rehair on premises and don't do business with shops that are evasive when addressing your questions.

 

 

I need to make something more clear.  The shop which does not do their own rehairs is above reproach in their business ethics.  I have never dealt with a business of any kind whose ethics are higher.  They are a small shop, and they have a talented luthier who does not yet have enough experience to handle all repairs.  They have told me voluntarily when a repair would have to be referred to another shop.  I actually have never asked them to rehair my bow, but I was in the shop one day when another luthier came in to collect the bows for rehairing.  Perhaps this is all confusing because of missing detail, but let me just re-emphasize that this shop is above reproach.  I clearly cannot use them to get my bow rehaired, however.  Regardless of claim checks, I was not completely happy with the job done by the second shop when I took my bow there directly.

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My question would be why wouldn't you (as a business) use claim checks and carefully label/tag the bows you have in?  Isn't that added precaution worth it given how bows are all so similar in appearance?

 

 

Maybe you phrased it better, but that is the heart of my question!  

 

 

My bow is not especially valuable as bows go, but it is worth a couple of thousand dollars, maybe a little more, and I have yet to play with a bow I like better.  I'm sure there are better bows out there, of course.  I would hate to have to replace it because I know I can't get a bow I like as well for a few thousand dollars, regardless of whose money it is.  What I'm trying to say is that for me there is more than just the monetary value at stake.

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What would be your solutions to the various potential problems?

 

 David,
If that question is directed at me, I already tried to explain at length in post #9 why it “is very difficult to find an answer that is completely satisfactory for all parties” and that “any solution is in grave danger of becoming dreadfully bureaucratic and can also create new problems”,and you (#10) have now pointed out that a reciept slip provides little or no effective protection for Cathy12 anyway.
 
I suppose in a perfect word everybody would be honest like the driven snow and trust each other, and the AFVBM could concentrate on getting the next round of drinks in.

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 David,
If that question is directed at me, I already tried to explain at length in post #9 why it “is very difficult to find an answer that is completely satisfactory for all parties” and that “any solution is in grave danger of becoming dreadfully bureaucratic and can also create new problems”,and you (#10) have now pointed out that a reciept slip provides little or no effective protection for Cathy12 anyway.
 
I suppose in a perfect word everybody would be honest like the driven snow and trust each other, and the AFVBM could concentrate on getting the next round of drinks in.

 

 

To David and Jacob --

 

I believe that all of the shops I have dealt with are extremely reputable.  This is not about fraud or dishonesty, it's about the fact that mix-ups and other unfortunate things do occur.  Also, I have no reason to distrust the shops, but they may have plenty of reason not to trust customers, so they may be reluctant to take my word for it that "I left my bow with you last week with someone who is not working today."  *I* am the one potentially under suspicion, not the shop.  *I* am the one who needs to be able to present proof of a claim.

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 a reciept slip provides little or no effective protection for Cathy12 anyway.
 
 

 

It would, however, provide me with the protection against a shop not believing my claim to have left something there, and if it had details, it might provide some evidence of the actual bow I have left which could help them find it among all of the various bows.  I realize I cannot protect myself from all problems.  But the particular problem is how to resolve a dispute in which the shop owner does not recall me leaving my bow there.  At LEAST a claim check would send a reputable shop owner back to the back to look again more carefully.  I understand it might not result in me getting my bow back, but if I come in to retrieve my bow and they don't remember that I left it, I am sure I will leave WITHOUT my bow.  If I have a claim check, they will make more effort to find out what happened.

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I suppose in a perfect word everybody would be honest like the driven snow and trust each other, and the AFVBM could concentrate on getting the next round of drinks in.

 

Flattering to see that you're still obsessing about the AFVBM. :)

However inadequate it may be, when it comes to policing the violin business, at least it's not invisible and being totally ignored. B)

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Cathy, I understand your concerns.

Jacob, in an attempt to answer your question about "Netrehair", my incomplete understanding is that they take time-stamped photos of every semi-valuable bow (or better) when it comes in. That's supplemented by tracking information supplied by the shipper, including delivery time.

Every bow gets detailed photos, not just valuable ones. Every bow gets tagged when it comes in with the customer present (if they are dropping it off themselves). The tag stays with the bow throughout the process even while being photographed. The same more or less with the instruments.

We also save any parts and put them in a bag to be given back to the customer like a bridge or sound post that is replaced like Nathan described.

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I need to make something more clear.  The shop which does not do their own rehairs is above reproach in their business ethics.  I have never dealt with a business of any kind whose ethics are higher.  They are a small shop, and they have a talented luthier who does not yet have enough experience to handle all repairs.  They have told me voluntarily when a repair would have to be referred to another shop.  I actually have never asked them to rehair my bow, but I was in the shop one day when another luthier came in to collect the bows for rehairing.  Perhaps this is all confusing because of missing detail, but let me just re-emphasize that this shop is above reproach.  I clearly cannot use them to get my bow rehaired, however.  Regardless of claim checks, I was not completely happy with the job done by the second shop when I took my bow there directly.

 

Again, sounds like a communication issue and a question of the shop's choice of an outside contractor, not a claim check issue...  

 

I have a very small shop (me, myself, and I), and although I do have experience with bow rehairing and repair, I prefer to concentrate on instruments...  and one of the better bow specialists in the state works only 2 blocks away...  So... when a client is flying in and can't see both of us, I will sometimes take their bow in and forward it to my colleague.  If I am charged with working with an estate or collection that includes the need for bow work, I simply inform the owner/executor who I plan to use to do that work and why (which is often the same gentleman, one in Washington State or the person mentioned below).

 

If you desire a receipt or claim check from a business when dropping an item off for service (anything, not just a fiddle) it seems the business would be smart to comply, no matter the state laws.

 

If you have difficulty in town and are looking for alternatives, I can say I've known Jerry (Netrehair.com) for many years, he's done client work for me in the past and I'd use him in the future, I have him rehair the bows I play on, and I think he has a very well organized system for handling bows sent in and shipped back.

 

(Note, I see Matthew responded concerning Jerry's shop while I was composing my post.)

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Every bow gets detailed photos, not just valuable ones. Every bow gets tagged when it comes in with the customer present (if they are dropping it off themselves). The tag stays with the bow throughout the process even while being photographed. The same more or less with the instruments.

 

 

Does the customer get a claim check, or do you just let them watch the item be tagged?

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Again, sounds like a communication issue and a question of the shop's choice of an outside contractor, not a claim check issue...  

 

I am not having a communication problem with this shop!  

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I am not having a communication problem with this shop!  

 

Maybe, maybe not... and maybe not the way in which you are defining a "problem".

 

Cathy12, in her initial post wrote: "I am unwilling to take my bow to the luthier who gives claim checks, because I learned that they send it out to another luthier who did not give me a claim check and who also did not do a good job when I had it rehaired there."

 

Did you inform the initial shop of this?  If not, I'd classify that as a communication problem.   :)

 

Seriously, if it were me, I'd want to know if a musician was having difficulty.  Sounds like the small shop you like may want to consider raising the quality standards of their contract work.

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When I drop an old pair of shoes into a shoe maker for repair I expect to get a receipt/claim check, not that anyone would care to run off in them. Do you know the value of your bow BTW

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Maybe, maybe not... and maybe not the way in which you are defining a "problem".

 

Cathy12, in her initial post wrote: "I am unwilling to take my bow to the luthier who gives claim checks, because I learned that they send it out to another luthier who did not give me a claim check and who also did not do a good job when I had it rehaired there."

 

Did you inform the initial shop of this?  If not, I'd classify that as a communication problem.   :)

 

Seriously, if it were me, I'd want to know if a musician was having difficulty.  Sounds like the small shop you like may want to consider raising the quality standards of their contract work.

 

 

I think there are other issues that I'm not going to go into, because I would be speculating about relationships between various luthiers here, and I am not willing to do that.  Also, the first shop did not ever have my bow for rehairing, so I had no grievance against them.  In general, I do not stick my nose into other people's business.  It is not my business where they might sub-contract repairs they can't do UNTIL it is on my equipment.  At that point I would have a discussion with them about whether my perception (based on a single rehair job) of the other shop is accurate.  I try to remain open to other views because I know I don't have a corner on all of the relevant information.  

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