The Local Hacks


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40 minutes ago, Bill Merkel said:

It could just as easily be both.  Or a teacher could be an actual business partner with the dealer, telling him import this 'cause they're great.  He profits from the sale.  Or if the teacher works for a music store, maybe he gets a commission on sales he creates.  Or actually not allowed to tell a student to buy elsewhere.

That's just an even bigger hole to fall into.

It's a simple thing. If anyone should pay for the teachers time in selecting a new instrument, it should be the pupil.

Anything else is a clear conflict of interest, and is exploiting the pupil.

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I think I know who you're talking about, actually. :o
Any time his listings pop up on Marketplace, I snarl, scroll away (pun intended), and move on.
Especially as someone who's NOT a dealer, I don't know what more I could do. 

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1 hour ago, jacobsaunders said:

You should ask the pupil (or his/her parents) who are looking to you for impartial advice, if they are in agreement that you receive a commission/bribe. I would suggest they look for a new teacher

Everybody is assuming the "kickback" is for an inferior product for some reason, not an incentive to line you up with what he thinks is the best deal in town.  

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5 minutes ago, Bill Merkel said:

Everybody is assuming the "kickback" is for an inferior product for some reason, not an incentive to line you up with what he thinks is the best deal in town.  

So to get someone the best deal in town, secret cash payments should be made? dizzy.gif.4cf96117946a924d5b0d76c165bb8aae.gif

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41 minutes ago, Bill Merkel said:

Everybody is assuming the "kickback" is for an inferior product for some reason

This is a valid point. Many of the kickbacks come from shops that do provide good, well set up instruments. But usually the student just gets the next violin off the shelf, with little expertise from the teacher.

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54 minutes ago, Wood Butcher said:

So to get someone the best deal in town, secret cash payments should be made? dizzy.gif.4cf96117946a924d5b0d76c165bb8aae.gif

Why should it be any different from the arms business, the oil business, or a dozen others I could name?  :huh::ph34r::lol:

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I never would ask for nor take a commission on the sale of an instrument to a student. I actually tell parents/students that I do not receive any remuneration for my advice.

I'm happy to and encourage everyone to bring me potential purchases during lessons and give them feedback and advice on the buying process. I think it's just part of the student-teacher relationship, getting a quality instrument and bow in a student's hands is one of the most valuable things I can do for them.

If they are looking at a more expensive instrument (or are especially concerned about getting it right) I'll borrow the prospective fiddle(s) for a couple of days and put it/them through their paces. I have a fiddle sitting in my studio right now that I've been testing out for a student.

It's actually a lot of fun!

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15 minutes ago, Spelman said:

I never would ask for nor take a commission on the sale of an instrument to a student. I actually tell parents/students that I do not receive any remuneration for my advice.

I'm happy to and encourage everyone to bring me potential purchases during lessons and give them feedback and advice on the buying process. I think it's just part of the student-teacher relationship, getting a quality instrument and bow in a student's hands is one of the most valuable things I can do for them.

If they are looking at a more expensive instrument (or are especially concerned about getting it right) I'll borrow the prospective fiddle(s) for a couple of days and put it/them through their paces. I have a fiddle sitting in my studio right now that I've been testing out for a student.

It's actually a lot of fun!

Good for you! It's great that not everyone aspires to be a whore, or a "gold-digger".

 

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8 minutes ago, David Burgess said:

Good for you! It's great that not everyone wants to be a whore.

 

Yup, but some people aspire to it.  Consider the competition for admission to law schools, for instance.  :ph34r:

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5 hours ago, deans said:

Back to the "local hack", not all of these guys are part of the kickback scheme, many of them rant against this and the idea that the violin industry is corrupt in general. And they come in all sorts.

Some are just delusional.  They really think that every trade instrument they find is better than a Strad, or that their varnish recipe or regraduation scheme makes everything better. They believe it themselves, and sometimes confidence is attractive.

Others are normal, honest, well liked people in the community who's repair work or expertise just isn't up to snuff. But people like to support the local guy. Sometimes they are also a teacher.

They can all do damage.

Each point is valid but might be more nuanced. Some shops just need survive. Some teachers need the business from the shops. 

There is also a difference between large markets and small markets where students in Dodge City have a far fewer choices than say someone who work in a Burbank.

Some have very little choice, and Shar and Johnson, Southwest, etc are the choices if one has a decent credit card.

I find it difficult to request an instrument or bow from anyone without the transparency of letting them know it is for a student and they would be making the purchase directly if they choose the product.

Recently, I had a dealer refuse to send a bow. The salesman politely suggested that I visit the shop. I do visit this city of coffee and beer about once a year to do some work but do not have time to visit shops as we keep working just shy of flight time. It was for a student who was successfully playing a bow of a known maker and they chose to want one.

Also, when a student changes institutions, some teachers asks the student to "upgrade" instruments. Or they imply it. Inevitably, students develop a desire for what they do not or can not have and if they are lucky, and good, a foundation will loan them an instrument ( which is a great thing and I can not thank any and every institution and individual who does this. ) The best teachers have the kids mining for coal until they strike gold. But this is also tough on the kids, not that being a professional musician is easy.

Just a few thoughts. 

 

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The issue here is honesty versus dishonesty. What is ironic is that the finances are the same either way. If the dealer is going to pay a teachers commission they generally add the cost to the price they are asking for the instrument knowing that even if they over price the instrument the teacher will still recommend it. The teacher cannot be objective even if they want to be because they stand to profit from the sale and the student is likely to get an instrument which may not be as good or as competitively priced as it should be. If on the other hand the teachers were to ask for   payment by the student for their help in choosing an instrument then the buyer would pay the  fair price for the instrument plus the teachers fee, the dealer receives the same net amount as they would after paying a commission, the teacher gets the same fee  and the whole thing becomes completely above board with no conflicts of interest and teachers who are good at helping their students able to demand a fair consulting fee for their expertise. If this would become the norm everyone would be better off.

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2 hours ago, GoPractice said:

 

 I do visit this city of coffee and beer about once a year to do some work but do not have time to visit shops as we keep working just shy of flight time. It was for a student who was successfully playing a bow of a known maker and they chose to want one.

 

 

One shop in said city sends the teacher commission even if the teacher wasn't involved. A friend, a well-known teacher, would just endorse the checks and give them to the students.

Conversely, I have a teacher who visits my shop from time to time who asks for fiddles and bows and wants a receipt without the dollar amounts filled in. He want to fill them in for the students and be reimbursed by the student. We don't do business.

I'll give a teacher a free rehair, complimentary adjustments, even a free set of strings. I appreciate their help since I couldn't do business without them, but no teacher commissions.

 I asked one teacher, who was requesting commissions, if they were willing to pay me a fee for each student that I sent to them for lessons. I suggested that I should get a kick-back for as long as the student continued to study with the teacher, since I sent them and they wouldn't have the student otherwise. They didn't appreciate that.

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23 minutes ago, duane88 said:

I'll give a teacher a free rehair, complimentary adjustments, even a free set of strings. I appreciate their help since I couldn't do business without them, but no teacher commissions.

It doesn't have to be cash...... you don't have to meet in the alley with a bag with a dollar sign on it. A bow rehair is pushing $100 where I live.

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14 minutes ago, deans said:

It doesn't have to be cash...... you don't have to meet in the alley with a bag with a dollar sign on it. A bow rehair is pushing $100 where I live.

well, since I am doing the rehair, it is my time, that's all.

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7 minutes ago, duane88 said:

well, since I am doing the rehair, it is my time, that's all.

Still a favor connected to a separate transaction. In some professions you have to be careful about even treating a guy to a beer. It can be difficult since its easy to form friendships with clients and we are inclined to do favors for friends.

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I don't know of any teacher that receives "back door" commissions. ... Maybe I am blind.  What I don't understand  is why would a teacher accept a commission as that would drive up the cost of the instrument for the student, making the cost of lessons( for the student) even higher and possibly triggering the student to quit.... they should assist the student to get the very best price. I've had teachers call me saying their student is not well off and what can I do... and I always do something.   

In any case, the Student is already paying the teacher to teach and selecting and using the tool for the task is part of what the teacher is already being paid for.

Successful teachers. luthiers and businesses don't need to manipulate the system for every penny.

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I used to get upset about this too.  I shouldn't focus on this, but it's really obvious that teachers and some, *some* supposed other professionals in my area definitely take money from people they shouldn't, and endorse people who don't deserve it, and are creative with their word choices, and may not know enough to even fix a crack even though they are full-service repair... yeah. But it's tough out there, now more than ever. It's not about to get easier. Not for teachers, sole proprietors, or luthiers trying to figure out how to get "there". Wherever that is. The last step is, I guess, to accept that this stuff happens. People will lie and cheat others to enrich themselves. Shocker! Some of you seasoned pros aren't there yet, as in, understanding that this is the norm for humans in general. Odd. I myself have had many rude awakenings about the lack of integrity some people have, and at some point nothing is surprising---except someone infinitely smarter and more knowledgeable and experienced than me not seeing that there are problems that way in this particular industry. 

There's a wish we all might have to elevate cultured and interesting people morally, but it's kinda a big red herring. I could pretend we don't know any hacks or had never been shocked or fooled by any hacks, but stirring the pot with truth is more fun.

Also many professional people have gone far out of their way to show how decent and kind they are, in many circumstances, and I continue to hope that is the case with most of the real professionals out there...like maybe there is just a skewed learning curve sometimes. 

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I once was given £50 by an instrument seller, I didn't even know why, and I queried it with them. They explained that one of my students had bought an instrument (not violin family) from them, and it was their standard practice to give the bung to the teacher. I was very uneasy about this. The pupil had purchased this instrument off their own bat, I had advised them to go elsewhere and get a different instrument. But I saw at once there was a conflict of interest.

As a tutor I would think less of any seller who did this. I would suspect that (as in this case) the product being offered was not up to standard and the "bung" was to give me an incentive to recommend them when I otherwise wouldn't.

Its good to read other people's thoughts on this!

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10 hours ago, not telling said:

 I could pretend we don't know any hacks or had never been shocked or fooled by any hacks, but stirring the pot with truth is more fun.

i see you guys have a place called Band-Aide Instrument Repair Company that carries a five star rating - that sounds good to me.

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7 hours ago, uncle duke said:

i see you guys have a place called Band-Aide Instrument Repair Company that carries a five star rating - that sounds good to me.

Those people were in competition with friends of ours...sort of. Our friend got all of the KU work (slowly but surely) and Band Aide gets usd 497. The pandemic killed her business though. 2020 sure was something. Do they really have 5 stars? Not surprising. I have heard some stories about what they're up to. Well, they're still up to it, and KU people have to go to Topeka or KC now.

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21 hours ago, duane88 said:

 ( ... )

I'll give a teacher a free rehair, complimentary adjustments, even a free set of strings. I appreciate their help since I couldn't do business without them, but no teacher commissions.

 ( ... )

This is the symbiotic relationship. Many ( real ) teachers or ones who teach beginners will appreciate the smallest of appreciations. Teachers who have truly excellent relationships with their dealers ( and value them ) will often get appreciation in other ways like being alerted of the arrival of a fine instrument.

I do not have such relationships, so am often greeted with, "dude, you just missed the greatest bow!"

I miss flying up there three times a year. I have family moving up there for island living off the Peninsula. Building a house. Will make time to visit shops. More trips to Port Townsend Cyclery, U of W, Cornish. Kayaking. 

17 hours ago, not telling said:

 ( ... ) People will lie and cheat others to enrich themselves. Shocker! Some of you seasoned pros aren't there yet, as in, understanding that this is the norm for humans in general. Odd. I myself have had many rude awakenings about the lack of integrity some people have, and at some point nothing is surprising---except someone infinitely smarter and more knowledgeable and experienced than me not seeing that there are problems that way in this particular industry. 

 ( ,,, )

Integrity is just a word. It can also be this very heavy weight around ones neck in a thick swamp of survival. Some of us try, but I have to say that I have slipped when it comes to artistic or intellectual integrity. It is not worth getting upset, but make note.

I have tried to convince Arts Councils in various jurisdictions so that dealers, makers and restorers become the local source, the lynch pins, in a performing arts community. If any country can do it in the Americas, it would be Canada. The commitment appears to be stronger up north. 

I have been sincerely humbled and grateful to those throughout Canada, especially those up in Banff, to offer wonderful opportunities for young artists. As Indianapolis winds up again, I hope they offer up the same, broad-er opportunities.

Thank you and keep posting. 

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22 hours ago, deans said:

It doesn't have to be cash...... you don't have to meet in the alley with a bag with a dollar sign on it. A bow rehair is pushing $100 where I live.

This is different from a commission tied too the price of a particular sale. As I said before I will definitely help the teachers who support me and their students as well.  That is good business. Payments behind the customers back which are ultimately charged to the unwitting buyer are another matter. 

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On 2/14/2021 at 8:45 PM, Mat Roop said:

Well of course... As they said 2000 years ago,  "money is the root of all evil"

 When we give a discount to dealers, wholesalers, retailers, teachers, etc. it is in fact a bribe, otherwise they would not bother to sell your wares.... but that is a principle of capitalism, much better than ....

The good part is that you have the right to choose who you deal with.

They didn't say money is the root of all evil.  They said the love of money is the root of all evil.

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