Your thoughts about Small Boutique Stores

calieng

Member
Messages
803
/rant on

I just had another experience with a boutique guitar store that kind of put me off them again. I have had such good luck with some other small stores but in this recent case I received a high end amp from a well respected builder that is discussed on here a lot and unfortunately found that the channel switching function is not working. So I contacted the store and asked for a RMA number to send it back and they refused. They offered instead to contact the builder and have me send it directly to them and then wait to get a replacement or have that one repaired.

Do you think it is unreasonable to ask for a refund on a new item that arrives defective? Is that being unreasonable? Or should we be forced to accept a repaired item or replaced item and wait several days to several weeks without any certainty on the time it will take?

I guess I have gotten used to the return policies of larger stores like Sweetwater and Musicians Friend but I seriously question whether to buy from small shops anymore with their less than stellar return policies. Which is really too bad because I would like to support them. I mean I had MF send out replacement items even before I shipped back the defective item along with an apology from the customer service rep for any inconvenience. And pretty much no questions asked returns for any other reasons. So what has the small store offered to us when they do not have that kind of custom service for internet sales other than the excuse that we are small so we can't do that. Well you charged the same price as the other guys!

We all have to provide better return policies when we sell on eBay as private persons than what many of these small stores offer...

/rant off
 
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kbphx

Member
Messages
519
It's a bit less convenient, maybe, but it's probably better in the long run to work directly with the builder instead of a 3rd party. It helps them to keep product quality up if they are more directly in the loop on gear that leaves their shop with issues. One good thing about boutique gear is that the builders will typically stand behind their products way longer than the big names. I've had a boutique builder tweak my amp a coupla times at no charge even tho I bought the amp used (gently). Your builder may stand behind his product after the boutique dealer is long gone. It does make sense, though, that a boutique dealer should want to have that same level of customer care.
 

Dunzie

Member
Messages
1,625
There absolutely is a benefit from buying at big stores big name products that they will be willing to stand behind and provide great return / refund service that the little guys plain can't afford. There's a cool factor in owning a rare boutique item you can only buy at a small boutique shop. But the price is more than just the ticket price sometimes... easy to get MF or Sweetwater to stand behind a Fender Twin they have a dozen of.
 

calieng

Member
Messages
803
True enough but in this case many stores sell the exact same amp as I bought including several big stores and small stores. I understand if it is one particular guitar with a great top that is only at one specific store then you have to deal with them but for most other gear like amps I guess I will to stick with the big guys from now on or better still buy from some guys on here used who are good to deal with if there are any issues. I mean I have sent a complete set of new tubes to a guy before on a used amp that had one tube damaged in shipping just to be sure he was happy in the end. Some of these boutique stores need to rethink a few things before they go out of business. And I say that from the point of view of Center City Music and Guitar Trader going tits up recently here in San Diego and they were a couple of the good guys that bent over backwards to make sure you were happy.
 

motokev

Member
Messages
5,850
Locally there's a small store who sells top boutique toys. They never refund but will do store credit. I had a similar problem, the local small store contacted the builder and order a replacement part. That's what a smart business owner would do.
 

C-4

Member
Messages
15,167
ohen you deal with small builders, more times than not, you will find different policies in force then when dealing with larger mainstream companies.

This puts me off from doing a lot of business with them, unless I am dealing directly with the company from the start. Hpwever, even then it does not guarantee that you will always find good service when dealing with them. You have to take your chances with each company you deal with separately.

I have found, in my personal experience, that I am treated better from European small companies then some here in the states. As a result, I like to take my business overseas as much as I can, and stay with companies that I have a good ongoing relationship with.
 
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Gas-man

Unrepentant Massaganist
Messages
18,603
They want YOU to deal directly with the pedal maker--the question then becomes what value they are adding by being the middle man?

They are OK with taking a cut when they sold the pedal but then want nothing to do with you once it's out the door.
 

TheoDog

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
20,661
I am a little confused. Partly, I suppose, because the rant is so long and a skimmed.

Are you griping about the actual boutique shop in which you purchased the amp or are you having as issue with the amp company return/repair procedure?

If you are going to buy a boutique amp, it is presumed you are waiting for it, not impulsing it, so the extra time to ship it back and get it returned does not need to be a problem for you unless you want it to be.
As for high end shops, I avoid them because I always get an air of elitism. I am musician enough to shop there and I can sometimes afford items they sell, but they always still tend to talk down to me as if I don't know "how things are" because I inquire about product of which they have never heard.
 

Abram4235

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
5,075
When small stores bi+ch about people going to larger chains for gear this is always the point I bring up. I go to whoever can give me the gear I want and provide the service to earn my repeat business. There is just too much competition to be wasting my time with that BS. Unfortunately, the boutique market is kind of cornered and not offered at a larger store so I see your problem of returning to this store. I don't think you are being unreasonable at all. If the small stores want your business they're going to have to offer the service. I'm not a fan of the arrogant attitude of these small stores. In the future I would try the gear out at the store in question and then buy it from a different retailer perhaps national store. A few come to mind other than GC. I would avoid buying from these people at all costs.
 
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Drumnbum

Member
Messages
891
Truth is, no matter how much a smaller company (builder or retailer) wants to admit it, the ONLY way to compete in today's market is to sell unique items and offer absolutely unparalleled customer service. Yes, occasionally a very open-door policy will bite you, but in the end you will see better results.
 

MikeVB

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
8,008
Yeah, the OP was a little unclear. Did you buy the amp directly from the builder, special order through the store, or as an in-stock item from the boutique store?

If it's either of the last two and it arrived defective I think the store should take it back and cover shipping. That is assuming a reasonable time-frame, of course.
 

frisco

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,674
Call your credit card company. The store did not fulfill their half of the contract by selling you defective goods. As the middleman they are responsible, you didn't have a deal with the builder.

A charge back does wonders for getting their attention. It worked for me in the final months of the Fat Sound debacle.
 

calieng

Member
Messages
803
"Sounds like something Eddie's would do."

You hit the nail on the head.

I bought a Friedman amp from them through their Reverb page. They expect me to deal directly with Friedman on the return shipping and wait for a replacement.

Friedman called yesterday and were very accommodating and even Reverb called me because they we not happy about it. But I am still waiting for someone to send me a return label and I was supposed to get it this morning.

Why am I doing merchandise returns to Eddies suppliers and getting dicked around when they should have just called UPS for a shipping damage claim, taken the amp back and gave me a refund. Not happy.

I already bought a replacement amp from a forum member because I can see this is not going to be a quick resolution.
 

buddaman71

Student of Life
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
13,027
I've purchased many thousands of $ in gear from all manner of retailers over the years, and the level of service/price/selection I get from Sweetwater and my local (excellent) GC far surpasses any small "boutique" shop.
 

calieng

Member
Messages
803
"I've purchased many thousands of $ in gear from all manner of retailers over the years, and the level of service/price/selection I get from Sweetwater and my local (excellent) GC far surpasses any small "boutique" shop."

Yes Sweetwater is excellent.

I had bought a few guitars from Eddie's in the past so I thought I would help out and give them the sale again but that was my bad. As a buyer you might as well go through eBay if you are buying from a small dealer for that added security even though as a seller I do not like eBay for their high fees...
 

Eskimo_Joe

Rocker, roller, way out of controller
Messages
4,722
I live in STL where Eddie's is. I haven't set foot in that place in about 8 years. Those guys (Nathan and Conrad) are complete d-bags. Arrogant, entitled, unfriendly, uncool, non-musician (they don't play) turds. The only thing they want to do is take your money. Their definition of customer service is allowing you to buy something from them.
 

calieng

Member
Messages
803
I live in STL where Eddie's is. I haven't set foot in that place in about 8 years. Those guys (Nathan and Conrad) are complete d-bags. Arrogant, entitled, unfriendly, uncool, non-musician (they don't play) turds. The only thing they want to do is take your money. Their definition of customer service is allowing you to buy something from them.

Now you tell me...
 
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