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For Sale: Place on Wakker's Waiting list

Jim Besser

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Let me explain how our order process works and why we charge a non refundable deposit….


First of all, there is a lot of difference between someone offering 1 model with a very limited customization option, and our production. We build 12 different concertina models with traditional concertina reeds, which all can be customized.


A few examples of customizing:

Other makers make about 14 different reed sizes with one reed profile per size. We make over 30 different sizes, with 2-3 different reed profiles per size. For instance, we offer 4 different frame sizes and reed profiles just for the note A1. All together, we make 68 different reed frame/reed profile combinations, not including the different materials for the reeds. This gives a lot of room for customizing equilibrium and reed performance.

In addition, we offer 6 different types of wood for sound reflection, and 4 types for construction. Any combination is possible. We even offer different types of glue. Other options are: different reed pan designs and construction, chamber depths, trim, stringing, ends (raised, flat, any type of metal), button height, button travel and pressure, hand rails, straps, bellows models, number of folds, material, etc..

This only covers the customization of our 12 concertina models. In addition, it is also possible to order a truly custom made instrument, either designed by the customer or me.


As you can read on our site, our ordering process consists of 2 parts. The first part includes the $200 deposit. This money is used to cover part of the consulting costs. Since most of our customers want a customized or custom made instrument, we invite them to discuss their objectives during the 2-3 year waiting period. In my experience, most customers will either fine tune their specifications or change them all together based on our correspondence.

In theory I ‘reserve’ 10 hours of consulting per customer. Some need a lot more, others a lot less. This comes to $20 per hour. Given the fact that I spent 11 years in college for this, and have 5 Graduate degrees in free reeds, I think that my ‘fee’ is reasonable….

By the time we actually start building your instrument, you’ve spent your deposit. If someone during this first part of our ordering process cancels without using his deposit, I think he/she should have the option to sell it to someone else, preferably without a mark up. This does not affect any other customers on our waiting list. If you’re no 45, and slot no. 20 changes hands, you will not be affected. You’re still no. 45. The only thing that changed was the name on slot 20. We do not offer this option if the customer has used his deposit, or when he has moved to the 2nd part of the waiting list. (see our site for details).


Wim Wakker

Concertina Connection Inc.

Wakker Concertinas

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I see where you're coming from, Wim and thanks for the clarification. What strikes me though is that you are then charging for advice - it's like say I provide a tiling service but if you require a quotation from me to tile your bathroom then you should pay me for supplying a price. You'll come across businesses that do just this but mostly the buying public don't like it! In my experience, many businesses now build these sort of time costs in the their overall pricing - they'll lose out on some jobs but gain in many others. I also run a small business, nothing to do with musical instruments, but I would very rapidly run out of customers if I charged them in helping them to choose my services!


And what happens when place 20 is sold to someone else - presumably you've done your consulting at this stage with the original customer and now have to deal with someone with a new set of requirements. How can that work in your system or does the new person on place 20 just have to take whatever you agreed with the first person.


One appreciates that you have many build options but presumably concertinas are essentially modular and once you have not commenced work on a particular instrument, then those parts can be readily used in other builds.


So sorry, I still don't see the need for non refundable deposits until construction work has commenced and I think it's wrong to allow people to jump queues in general. A case can be made for pushing someone up a queue where there is a pressing need - say a good promising young player that would greatly benefit.

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And what happens when place 20 is sold to someone else - presumably you've done your consulting at this stage with the original customer and now have to deal with someone with a new set of requirements. How can that work in your system or does the new person on place 20 just have to take whatever you agreed with the first person.


Tombilly, if you reread Wim's post, I think you'll see that he's only saying a place on his waiting list may be sold to someone else before he's done his consulting. This page lays out his ordering process. He does say there that the customer should feel free to ask advice during the entire waiting list period, but the specifications are not locked in until he contacts the customer approximately a month before the construction start date. The implication, then, is that he's charging for the hashing out and confirmation of details that begins at that point.


Never having ordered a Wakker concertina, I don't know this, but I would assume that Wim's responses to queries before that contact for specifications are along the lines of "these are options worth considering, and we can talk about it in detail when I contact you before starting work on your instrument." In other words, what happens before that contact is just conversations with general advice, and what happens afterwards is the actual consulting for which the deposit pays.


That's not to say that you as a reasonable person can't look at this and disagree with Wim's approach--perhaps you feel that the earlier conversations should count as part of the consultation. I, as you may have gathered, don't feel that way, and anyway (not that you've said anything to contradict this last point), it's entirely Wim's choice what he does or does not charge to do.


Joshua Mackay-Smith

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Don't get me wrong - I'm not 'having a go' at Wim Wakker in particular. His approach is not entirely unreasonable and the $200 is not a vast amount to lose, if things don't turn out the way you assumed over the 2-3 years.


I am aware of this practice with other makers, not just of concertinas: in the trad area, there seems to be long waiting lists for uilleann pipes, flutes and concertinas, varying by maker. Waiting lists that run to many years in some cases and involve percentage deposits, not just a fixed 'nominal' $200. I just happen to think it's unfair to demand a substantial non returnable deposit if the maker cannot fill the order for many years. It's that simple.

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