JimLucas Posted February 16, 2005 Share Posted February 16, 2005 (edited) Recently, concertina maker Colin Dipper has been slandered in this Forum by an individual claiming dissatisfaction as a customer. I wish to set the record straight. I do not claim to speak for Colin, but I speak of Colin, as I know him. Colin is an honourable individual, tradesman, and businessman... more honourable than most I have met. He is also a maker of superb musical instruments, and his work is in great demand... so great that he is incapable of meeting it all. This can result in significant waiting times -- times measured in years -- and continual reordering of priorities. That is not a character fault; it is simply a fact. There are physical limits to what a man can do. Colin doesn't run a factory with a work force of employees -- like Martin and Gibson, for guitars and mandolins, -- nor is there even a pool of skilled workers he could.hire, if he had the resources to do so. If he is able to make about 20 instruments a year, but has "orders" for 100 or more (I don't know the true number; this is just for illustration), then one might expect to wait at least 5 years for a new instrument. I say "at least", because Colin doesn't run a first in-first-out queue. He sets -- and continually readjusts -- his priorities according to what he perceives as important. I, for one, consider this flexibility to be a virtue, not a vice. "Special" instruments get lower priority than "standards", because they take more time and effort to produce, which means filling fewer "orders" overall. And for Colin, even a standard English-system concertina is a "special", because he makes so few in comparison to his production of anglos. Of course, if he did all the "standards" before any of the "specials", he would never do a special. So -- in my opinion -- anyone who ever gets a special from Colin should consider themself privileged, since Colin has placed their benefit above his simple financial gain. Of course, he does that even with his standard models, by not compromising quality. There are, of course, other factors. Repair work often takes priority. It makes sense that someone who has been doing without a particular instrument up till now can survive a further delay, while someone whose livelihood depends on an instrument that has suddenly stopped working has a more urgent need. A person who isn't willing to accept a long wait -- and the uncertainty over how long it will be -- shouldn't order a Dipper. If they also feel that only a Dipper will do, then they -- not Colin -- have placed themselves in an untenable position. But there's still the question of honesty. Colin's attacker said that he was "systematically lied to over delivery dates," and he emphasizes the word "promise". Frankly, I don't believe it. My experience -- and understanding from others -- is that Colin never "promises" delivery dates. At most, he makes estimates and says, "I'll try," even when the projected date is only two weeks in the future. (Two weeks would never be the case for a new instrument, but might be for a repair job.) My suspicion is that Oddball (the name the attacker used), frustrated by repeatedly revised estimates, convinced himself that they had the definiteness that he desired, rather than the indefiniteness that Colin knows is necessary. Certainly, what little "evidence" Oddball provided -- tiny, selected excerpts of emails apparently from Colin -- did not, as far as I could see, support his claims of either "promises" or "lies". Meanwhile, how "honest" is it that he used an anonymous "handle", and failed to reveal his real name, even when asked directly? One problem, quite likely contributing to Oddball's frustration, is that a wait which is estimated in years is necessarily more uncertain than one amounting only to weeks or even months. If an expected 5-day wait expands to 10 days, that's annoying, but rarely evokes massive frustration. But if an estimated 5-year wait expands to 10 years, a great deal of frustration can build up over the second 5 years, even though the proportional delay is the same. But there is so much more that can happen to affect production over 5-10 years than over 5-10 days, and it's never possible to predict the details or their impact. One thing that has happened is that the demand for concertinas in Irish music has mushroomed in the last 10 years. I don't know the true figure, but I'm sure the demand has at least doubled in that time, and it wouldn't surprise me if it has actually increased by a factor of 10 or more. And as evidenced by activity on eBay, the demand for Englishes and even duets has also increased in recent years. The main thing to remember if you want an instrument by Colin Dipper today is that you won't get it today, and possibly never. After all, one or the other of you could die before he gets to your order. (How about the tsunami? Be glad that Colin wasn't on holiday in Sri Lanka.) Colin doesn't claim otherwise. If you can accept that, fine. If not, it's not his fault. I accept it. I have placed my own new-instrument request with Colin. Contrary to what Oddball implied, I'm certain that if and when I get my new Dipper, he (Oddball) will have gotten his many years before me. But if and when I do get it, it will have been worth the wait. Oddball mentioned a "deposit". Another term for that is "earnest money", in effect a proof by the customer that he is earnest in placing his order. It also helps compensate the maker for the trouble of keeping track of the order/request over time, time which can indeed be years. It does not purchase a commitment to a particular delivery date, and Colin is always quite clear about that. One final point: Oddball seems to feel that the Colin is obliged to run his business according to what Oddball dictates. Why Oddball? Why not according to the dictates of some other customer, who has different standards or priorities? The fact is that Colin is not a slave, servant, or even employee of any of his customers. He is sole proprietor of his business, and it is his right and responsibility to run it as he sees fit. (I don't include the right to break the law or even to lie, but as I indicated above, I find it far more believable that Oddball in his frustration misled himself about what Colin said than that Colin actually "promised" and "lied".) Edited February 16, 2005 by JimLucas Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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