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I took my YAS-23 Yamaha alto into a music store that has a repair facility to have the palm key intonation checked. I never had a repair done there previously but tried them because they were a Yamaha dealer and some other people said they did good work.

I spoke to a person at the counter and she wrote up a statement of the problem, told me to wait there and took the alto to the repair area. After a short wait she came back and told me Charlie said the horn was in pretty good shape, needed a couple of pads and recommended some cleaning. Cost would be about $X and if I went ahead it would be ready several days later.

I'm used to speaking directly to the tech in my few repair encounters. I probably could have spoken to "Charlie" if I forced the issue but it was obvious that this wasn't the normal way. I'll even go so far as to say I somewhat understand this policy given the amount of extra time that could be eaten away by chatty/curious/brain-picking instrument owners.

The work was completely satisfactory.

Would you do business with this store given this method of doing repair business?
 

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I don't see why you shouldn't give them the business. I work in a repair shop that is small enough where the customers are talking either to myself or one of our other repair techs and I don't see any extra advantage in terms of the customer.
 

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I have customers come to my workshop by appointment and they often sit and wait and ask questions - it doesnt bother me and quite often the customer thanks me for a better understanding of how their instrument works, how much work and tooling can be involved in rectifying the problems.

quite often customers will also comment once the work is completed how reasonable my rates are and usually leave a bit more than was on their invoice.

Would you do business with this store given this method of doing repair business?
I think you answered your own question with this:

The work was completely satisfactory.
 

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The reason some stores do this is that it is not uncommon for 25% - 50% of the tech's available bench time, ie. time to make money, is taken up with:

- waiting on customers,
- answering the phone,
- answering questions,
- giving repair estimates,
- talking with lonely people who have wandered into the shop and need someone to visit with,
- doing paperwork,
- looking up parts to order,

I've been there and done that. It is helpful to have more than one tech in the shop at any given time so they can rotate in helping people who come to the counter. That said, when you go back to that store, there would be nothing wrong with telling the store clerk that you need to meet with the tech briefly to "show" him what your concerns are. If you say "tell", the clerk may just say tell me and I'll write it down. If the clerk still insists in not letting you see the tech face to face, you should say in that case, "I'm sorry, I will need to take it to another repair shop where I can communicate directly with the person doing the repairs."
 

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Distinguished Technician & SOTW Columnist. RIP, Yo
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I consider the policy understandable, because of what JBT highlighted, but as a technician I would hate to be getting "symptoms" second had through a counter assistant. I want to get the customer's wording and manner first hand, and have a two way communication. The counter assistant does not know which little phrase or word hinted at something worth asking about further. And as a customer I am frustrated at not indulging in that full communication.
 

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95 percent of my work comes from stores / schools. Only 5 per cent of the time do I talk directly with the customer. So this means 95 percent of the time I get an instrument in for repair with no information except fix..

One of the skills you need to have as a tech is being able to play the instrument and diagnose its problems, hence my re-interation of an earlier comment in another post, you really need to be able to play the instrument to repair it..
 

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If this is what they can do and the work is good, then it's better than many other options I think.

I'm working alone with some (rare) exceptions of a helper helping only with some things that are easier to do for two people. I probably spend about 1/3 or more of my working time on things such as what jbtsax mentioned. It can happen that someone is here for two or three hours for a repair that takes me 30 minutes because we chat, I explain the issues thoroughly etc. I don't really mind. It doesn't get (yet) to a point where it feels out of control.

I probably see about 80%-90% of my customers. Others are from institutes and/or people who have their parents/friends/etc. bring the instrument. To be honest, even when replacing a small cork for some kid it's nice to actually see them because often they can get a lot more advice etc. which I don't charge extra for. It's maybe not the most efficient way to work but I and my customers prefer it this way. Also for the reasons Gordon mentioned which can actually save time sometimes. This might mean you also have some people waste your time and take advantage of you willing to help and give your time for free, but at least for me this is extremely rare and pretty much a non-issue.

Just a recent example, someone emailed me about a problem. Having heard the player when he was here before and the very specific way he described the problem made me think the reed was the issue. I suggested it and turned out that was the problem. If an assistant would bring an instrument with a note saying "problem with xyz notes" it would be something completely different...

Another reason is that you get to meet some people and this might lead to things you didn't expect. For example a dad brought his daughter's clarinet, he is a dental technician. He noticed my micromotor and commented on it. Shortly after I have another close local source of micromotor bits I wasn't aware of.
 

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How different our environments are, Simso. 95% of my work would be from private customers.

What Nitai wrote reminds me that a fair bit of my job satisfaction comes from contact with customers, assisting them in many ways. And of course the ecstacy they exhibit when they play the instrument and it goes far better than it ever went before.
 

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Makes the troubleshooting side interesting thats for sure. ""Repair or Service" is whats on most repair dockets, so the first couple of minutes on every instrument is test playing it and identifying what I think its problems are, then strip / clean / repair / re-assemble, test play again - paperwork and return to the stores / schools.

We repaired probably about 40 instruments last week, I never saw a single customer

We all have different business model's. Mines more of a commercial scale (deal only with stores and schools) rather than private
 

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I work in a shop that is alot like Simso's where most of the business comes from other stores or schools. Most of the time, the "private" customers we do get don't have a clue as to what is going wrong with their instrument.

Alot of the times its parents dropping the instrument off for their children and they say "my child just says that it don't work. That's all I know."

So, yes was have to spend alot of time diagnosing problems and often see more problems than originally thought.
 
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