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For Sale: Place on Wakker's Waiting list


Jim Besser
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I have a spot on Wim Wakker's waiting list for one of this traditional Wakker Anglo concertinas.

 

I can't guarantee a date, but it should be relatively soon; the original estimate was 16 months, which passed in September or so.

 

I have since purchased a Jeffries, and would like to recover my $250 deposit.

 

So - with Wim's OK - I'm selling my place in line. You take over my deposit and you get an instrument much quicker!

 

I've been really impressed with his instruments, but a Jeffries came along and I succumb.

 

C.Net will get the customary contribution.

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Hello Jim, Noticed your add earlier today... Sounds as though this could be for me. Please can you supply me with some kind of proof of your order or list number etc. (if any). Regards, Rob Anker.

 

Just email Wim -- thru c.net or directly. He knows I'm doing this , and I'm sure he'll confirm, and tell you how to transfer the deposit and the place in the queue. If he has a numbering system, I'm unaware of it.

 

I should stress I don't have an exact build date, but believe it should be soon, since the original 16 month projection has passed.

Edited by Jim Besser
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More queue jumping, eh? I really think reputable makers shouldn't allow this practice, at least not overtly.

 

One of the first laws of business is not to upset your customers and I had just joined Wim's list and paid a deposit at his insistence, I'd be pretty '******* off', if someone just came and bought up a place at the top of the queue. It's the demand of a non returnable deposit that creates this situation - otherwise the OP here would just drop off the list and everyone waiting patiently in line would just move up one.

 

A different situation applies once a maker has commenced work on an instrument - then they must expect some financial committment from the punter. That's reasonable but it's not reasonable to demand non returnable deposits, years in advance.

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More queue jumping, eh? I really think reputable makers shouldn't allow this practice, at least not overtly.

 

While it's true, as you say, that it's the nonrefundable deposit that creates the possibility of what you're calling queue-jumping, I disagree that it's a problem. If (as I may be before long) I were in line for a Wakker and someone ahead of me sold a spot, it wouldn't actually affect anything; there'd still be just as many people ahead of me, and it's unlikely my wait would be any longer (or shorter). It's true that someone will now have an instrument before several people who've been waiting longer and while that's not particularly fair, I don't see it as enough of an unfairness to merit attention. My reaction to someone who got an instrument ahead of me by these means would be "lucky you" rather than "cheater." [edit] I wonder if the manufacturers feel that the waiting list would grow to unmanageable proportions if it weren't limited by "earnest money" up front?

 

The reason I said "what you call queue-jumping" is that to my mind, queue-jumping means that the queue-jumper adds to the number of people in the line, forcing others to wait longer--I'd certainly have a problem with that, but that's not what's happening here. I also hasten to add that I do not intend to call your objections foolish or invalid; it's simply that what clearly bothers you (and, I have no doubt, some number of others) does not bother me.

 

I have just noticed your "at least not overtly" disclaimer. Whether those who feel as you do are many or few, I agree that it would be an improvement if it were possible to allow anyone interested to purchase an earlier waiting-list position discreetly so that the short-cut would not be so much in the face of those it bothered. How to remain discreet and yet reach all potential buyers is another question--maybe manufacturers could put links at the bottoms of their "how to order" pages for a waiting list waiting list, as it were?

 

jdms

Edited by jdms
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More queue jumping, eh? I really think reputable makers shouldn't allow this practice, at least not overtly.

 

One of the first laws of business is not to upset your customers and I had just joined Wim's list and paid a deposit at his insistence, I'd be pretty '******* off', if someone just came and bought up a place at the top of the queue. It's the demand of a non returnable deposit that creates this situation - otherwise the OP here would just drop off the list and everyone waiting patiently in line would just move up one.

 

 

The place at the top of the list isn't sold, its given away, because it's no longer of use for Jim. He only wants to recover his $250 deposit, he doesn't make a profit.

 

Another of the first laws of business is transparancy: If I found out -and in this small community I would find out- Wim allows such arrangements only in secret, I might as well suspect him of selling high places to the highest bidder.

 

This offer is especially relevant for those who already decided to buy a WW concertina now, i.e. the people on the waiting list. Invest an extra $250 and have your WW Concertina a year quicker than you expected. A year later, when your original deposit is at the top of the list, you make the same offer as Jim did. :D

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Even if you "outlaw" such things (leaving aside whether or not that is possible) you'd surely still have the situation of people offering to sell their brand new concertina for what they paid for it, that is offering before they get it!

 

I think most of us would feel a waiting list system is "fair." It would surely be possible for makers to auction new instruments, be that online, Dutch, or traditional auction. The highest payer wins, which brings us to those vintage instrument value threads.

 

I think a lot of us would be unhappy with the idea of waiting list slots selling for more than the deposit. Trading in intangibles, hmm, where does that lead us! On the other hand, when that happens it's a pretty clear signal to the maker to raise their prices.

 

Is it all just property?

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The $250 non-refundable transaction between Jim and Wim is not such a rare thing. If we call it what it is, an "option", it becomes less mysterious. Although most of us have nothing to do with options trades, in certain areas of the economy they are frequent and make sense. Mostly they act as a kind of insurance against having to pay the spot price on the open market, which can be very volatile.

 

Some options are explicitly "tradable", others are not. If Jim did not trade his option, he could simply go forward with his concertina purchase and hope to sell it on - people can make profits like that. Or he could find a customer for a Wakker concertina, and act as a front man buying the concertina to that customer's specifications.

 

So even if Wim said the option isn't tradable, it seems hard to enforce it. Morally, it isn't really much different to the time I wandered up to the box office of a theatre for a long sold-out performance, but a few seconds ealier someone had returned some tickets, so I got them.

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I concur that this is totally acceptable. It seems very honest and forthright of Jim to only charge the amount of his original deposit, as there was an additional cost to him of the wait time (ie, interest that could have been earned on the $250). The alternative scenario of Jim acting as a middle-man would be a lot of hassle, and no-one in the universe would get any additional benefit from that scenario except Jim who might make a little money.

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Playing devil's advocate here... The main danger with queue jumping is that people start sending deposits to all makers, knowing that later they can safely recover their deposit by switching with someone else. So you get people who are unsure if they want a high end instrument, and people still not sure which want they want, inflating waiting lists...

 

So the danger is that when you wait for an instrument, and there's 100 people before you, 30% of them are pretty much "virtual" spots which will be traded later.

 

This practice actually makes you wait longer for the instrument, because if only people who were certain of their decision would be on the waiting list, you'd have a shorter waiting list. The idea is to lose your deposit if you change your mind.

 

I'm not so sure making queue jumping easy is a good idea, especially not for genuine buyers.

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The Wakker deposit has been taken by someone else, who will get a gorgeous instrument, hopefully very soon.

 

Reading the debate over the initial point, I have a few observations.

 

- Builders have good reason to demand nonrefundable deposits. None of these guys/gals are getting rich by supplying us with high-grade concertinas. They have overhead to meet, etc.

 

- Given the long wait times and the unpredictability of life, there are many have good reasons for BUYERS to try to transfer their deposit to someone else. Maybe it's a health issue, or loss of interest in concertinas, or - as in my case - the unexpected acquisition of something even better.

 

- I would have a problem selling my place in line if the builder objected. I respect these folks and admire their devotion to a craft that can't be all that remunerative. That's why I asked Wim first, before posting. If it's OK with him, I see no reason not to do it.

 

- I do have a problem with selling a place in line for more than the deposit amount. Not sure why, but it doesn't feel right.

 

I understand the frustration of those waiting for years for their concertinas; been there, done that.

Edited by Jim Besser
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The Wakker deposit has been taken by someone else, who will get a gorgeous instrument, hopefully very soon.

 

Reading the debate over the initial point, I have a few observations.

 

- Builders have good reason to demand nonrefundable deposits. None of these guys/gals are getting rich by supplying us with high-grade concertinas. They have overhead to meet, etc.

 

- Given the long wait times and the unpredictability of life, many have good reasons to try to transfer their deposit to someone else. Maybe it's a health issue, or loss of interest in concertinas, or - as in my case - the unexpected acquisition of something even better.

 

- I would have a problem selling a place in line if the builder objected. That's why I asked Wim first, before posting. If it's OK with him, I see no reason not to do it.

 

- I do have a problem with selling a place in line for more than the deposit amount. Not sure why, but it doesn't feel right.

 

I understand the frustration of those waiting for years for their concertinas; been there, done that.

 

Very classy, Jim! Good luck with your new aquisition.

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As a general question, and I'm not suggesting any criticism of Wim here, but is it really necessary for a maker to take a non-refundable deposit at the time the order is placed? They all seem to have as much work as they can handle, so they're not going to lose out if someone cancels their order. If Jim had merely cancelled his order without having to worry about his deposit, the person who bought it off him would have started at the back of the queue - no difference to the maker, and fairer on those already in the queue.

 

Once the maker has started work on the instrument, then of course that's the time to make the deposit non-refundable.

 

Just a thought.

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As a general question, and I'm not suggesting any criticism of Wim here, but is it really necessary for a maker to take a non-refundable deposit at the time the order is placed? They all seem to have as much work as they can handle, so they're not going to lose out if someone cancels their order. If Jim had merely cancelled his order without having to worry about his deposit, the person who bought it off him would have started at the back of the queue - no difference to the maker, and fairer on those already in the queue.

 

Once the maker has started work on the instrument, then of course that's the time to make the deposit non-refundable.

 

Just a thought.

 

I think it's a reasonable request for the builders to make. It ensures a certain level of seriousness from those placing an order, and a bit of compensation for time and trouble if the order is cancelled. In this case it meant that Wim didn't loose an order. And judging from a recent post by Frank Edgely regarding the downturn in the economy and some cancelled orders, it may not be a wise business decision to assume that the sellers' market is inexhaustable.

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Patrick Olwell, flute-maker par excellence, does not request a deposit. Patrick writes your name on a card when you make your order and when your card comes up you are offered a flute. If you change your mind and don't want it, there is another ready customer delighted to take the flute. He has a six-seven year wait-list for a keyed flute and a year for a keyless flute. Dana Johnson, maker of the lovely Kensington Concertina, also doesn't ask for a deposit. Chris Wilkes, another great flute-maker, asks for a nominal £40 for his flutes. None of these people are hurting for ready customers.

 

People who aren't serious generally don't ask a maker to make an instrument specially for them. So I don't see the point of a deposit either, given the lengthy wait-lists of the top makers.

 

I have paid a deposit when required by the maker. I don't object to being asked and when I have reordered I have not been asked for another deposit. I just don't see much sense to the deposit in the first place. Especially not when you can sell the deposit on, and have somebody else buy a place in the queue, thus shortening a normal wait time. Wouldn't this practice ensure that people would wait for an occasion to jump the queue, thereby causing the people respectfully waiting their turn to view the whole process with some resentment?

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Playing devil's advocate here... The main danger with queue jumping is that people start sending deposits to all makers, knowing that later they can safely recover their deposit by switching with someone else. So you get people who are unsure if they want a high end instrument, and people still not sure which want they want, inflating waiting lists...

 

So the danger is that when you wait for an instrument, and there's 100 people before you, 30% of them are pretty much "virtual" spots which will be traded later.

 

This practice actually makes you wait longer for the instrument, because if only people who were certain of their decision would be on the waiting list, you'd have a shorter waiting list. The idea is to lose your deposit if you change your mind.

 

I'm not so sure making queue jumping easy is a good idea, especially not for genuine buyers.

As with any item which can be bought and sold, the interaction of supply and demand will affect price. More would-be sellers than willing buyers, and the price will drop. So if too many "virtual" customers "buy" places in the queue (by paying deposits), they'll find that instead of making a profit, they can't sell their places for as much as they paid for them. (Some may be unable to sell them at all.) So they'll have to choose between losing money on their "option" or purchasing an actual concertina and then trying to sell that. At some point, it becomes self-limiting.

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  • 2 weeks later...

i think a deposit is a fine method. it ensures that customers are serious. while it is true that if an order comes up and a customer does not want it, what happens if five customers in a row come up, and nobody wants their concertinas? what do you do then? it makes for sloppy book keeping... it seems reasonable to say a deposit is worthless, until you consider what if it was your hard earned time and money spent on making an instrument, only to find out it was unwanted.

 

i dont know why people are flummoxed about waiting lists... it is standard practice in the industry. brannen flutes require a full payment to get on the list if you want to buy one of their brögger model flutes (which is what everyone thinks of when they think of a brannen flute). before you complain about waiting lists, imagine shelling $11,000 upfront and then waiting 2 years for a flute.

 

as far as pat olwell goes... his instruments are not highly customized. he is also a legend among irish flute makers. he's fine with or without a waiting list. i may be wrong, but as i recall david, pat olwell takes deposits on keyless flutes and does not take deposits on keyed flutes. i cannot find my notes, but i talked to him on the phone a few years ago about his list, and that is what i recall him saying.

 

also imagine the following situation: what if you were on a waiting list for a year, and in 3 months your order came up. "why?" you may ask the maker. "oh, because everyone else didn't want their concertinas." how good does that make the maker look? the main point of deposits as i understand is to assure that your buyers are serious. if someone changes their mind, it is not a flippant decision, but rather a serious decision to back out, as their money is on the line. if they want to sell the place, they have to make another serious decision: do they ask the maker if it is ok to sell the place, or do they do it on the down low? all of these are serious considerations... it does not prohibit people from selling places in line, but it makes it much less likely, much less frequent, and ensures that buyers understand they are entering into an obligation, which if they filch out of, will cost them several hundred dollars.

 

i have no problem with line jumping, as long as it is with the makers consent. after all, if it became pervasive, the maker then would have the right to put an end to it. this would not be unfair, as it is the makers right to think of their time and reputation, and remember the maker reserves the right to not refund the deposit, or allow it to be transferred, as it is called "non-refundable." i dont think the whole point of deposits is to prevent line jumping, but to make sure that people understand that making a custom, hand-made instrument is not a whimsical and playful affair, as it is a highly involved process, and that any changes in your decision to order should not be made lightly.

 

and as far as people who do not require deposits, it's whatever works for them. i know a flute maker who has been known to send you a flute and ask for the check later.... he has gotten burned, but people usually pay in the end. he doesn't do it that way all the time, but he has done it, and it works for him--he makes flute for fun, and doesn't care about the money. his only goal is to make enough money to keep making flutes. there's nothing wrong with being trusting and nonchalant about business, just as there is nothing wrong with increasing the likeliness that your orders would be filled.

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Don't think you've read through above fully, David. I have no problem with deposits in general for the reasons you and many others mention but the point is that it should not be 'non refundable' until the maker actually commences work on the instrument. At that stage, the maker is at no loss - all s/he needs to do is check with the customer, then commence work at which point it is perfectly reasonable to expect that the deposit can be kept if the customer reneges. I happen to be on a (long) waiting list, my cash is in the maker's bank account, collecting interest, rather than my own. I have little protection, I would think, if s/he goes out of business - their bank and secured creditors will swallow the deposits up. That's the nature of the beast and as an owner of a small business, I know all about it. I wouldn't dream of treating my customers in this way - I'd fully expect them to tell me where to go.

 

You say that customers should be able to sell places if the maker agrees - I strongly disagree (and business people should not annoy their customers). I think the practice is only acceptable if the maker contacts all people on the list below the seller and asks their permission and guess what answer they'll get.. I repeat, it's the non refundable aspect that causes the problem

Edited by tombilly
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