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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I guess I'll be looking for a new shop to purchase my clarinet and saxophone gear from. I've been shopping at Howarth since the early 80's and must have sent many thousands over the years.

I just got off the phone with possibly the rudest most brusque " assistant" in a clarinet department I've spoken with since Lewington's closed.He sounded like I was interrupting his day or something. I will be Emailing them to tell them why.

In this climate I thought a good telephone attitude might be useful. Oh well there are plenty of other shops.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
In my very long experience of music shops Liam occasionally you find " frustrated" musicians who believe they are too good to be " serving" other folk regardless of how polite the customer is. Lewingtons I used to think when they advertised for staff put " Must be an arrogant tw.. " Howarth have some good helpful friendly staff
but it's not the first time I've encountered this bollocks and to be frank I've had enough. I've complained.
 

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I guess I'll be looking for a new shop to purchase my clarinet and saxophone gear from. I've been shopping at Howarth since the early 80's and must have sent many thousands over the years.

I just got off the phone with possibly the rudest most brusque " assistant" in a clarinet department I've spoken with since Lewington's closed.He sounded like I was interrupting his day or something. I will be Emailing them to tell them why.

In this climate I thought a good telephone attitude might be useful. Oh well there are plenty of other shops.
Try Chappels of Bond Street very few places now stock high quality pro instruments that you can try out due to the cost of holding stock and many will special order for you with a "no returns" policy. If you want a great repairer then I would highly recommend Dean Pelling http://www.pelling.f2s.com/about.html and Dean will happily give sound unbiased advice.

Good luck finding a new store
 

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I thought the staff I spoke to were more like used car salesmen when I purchased my Buescher NA. In fact, I think all musical instrument dealers have given me that impression - Don Mackrills was like a back street used car lot and Howarths like a main dealer used car lot!
 

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Question: is the (british) car industry a good source of inspiration ?
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Mackrills are appalling I wouldn't go there I agree. Generally I use my local shop in Nottingham. Windblowers. They are not the cheapest but they give excellent personal service, are a family shop and I know everyone. Pete Beaumont formally manager of Howarth is an old friend who is now there. Howarth carry specialist gear but nothing I can't get from the internet.

The last time I complained to Howarth I received an apology from the junior member of staff responsible but it's like everywhere you spend money..if you are inhibited because of the attitude of a staff member you go elsewhere. I don't adhere to the " Customer is always right" thing but I was my usual understated polite self and I got off the phone feeling bad.
 

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I have been dealing with Howarth's for above ten years and never had this problem,i have always found Stuart in the sax dept to be friendly,professional and helpful,although i haven't played clarinet for what must be about 10 years so i haven't spoke to that dept in a long time.
I am sure they will sort it out,no shop likes to lose customers especially in this climate.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I have received an apology from a director and he has stated his intention to speak to the person responsible. As I said Howarth do have some good staff. The sax department have always been friendly and relaxed with me but the clarinets have an attitude problem. Maybe they smell a doubler down the line and it offends their sensibilities..maybe it's my lovely flat Northern vowels.
 

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Watch it, Bopity, or she'll set that blasted dog on you!
 

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I have used T W Howarth for 37 years now, since I was a student in London in 1974. I have always had a good relationship with all the staff, first with Mike & Nigel in the oboe department and then with Peter Beaumont when they opened the sax shop in about 1979. I know Stuart James, the current sax manager, John, Donny, Phil and Thom very well and other members of the staff too - I've toured with Howarth's, I've attended social occasions at the shop and they are still my main suppliers.

So it's even more distressing for me to hear that you have had bad treatment from them Michael. Unfortunately there are occasional 'bad eggs' but I'm not going to get into specifics in public. I will email Stuart and bring his attention to this thread.

What a pity.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Dave I've been going in Howarths since the early 80's. I once ( from Pete) bought a Buffet Prestige bass clarinet and a Selmer soprano on the same day. I've had 3 Emails from Nigel who was concerned to sort it out. I think I know who it was and I've been on the receiving end of this persons bad telephone manner before. I regret posting this now as it was a knee jerk reaction but it has happened before and it isn't just me who has complained apparantly. I don't get in the shop as much as I used to but I am a regular customer. Although the majority of my telephone dealings have been positive if there's a chance I'm going to speak to this person I guess I'd rather not bother.
 

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I think you absolutely right to bring this to SOTW Michael. It is vital that establishments which rightly have a reputation for excellence should have to strive to keep their standards high; it is absolutely unacceptable that the single best woodwind shop in London, or maybe the UK, should allow any sort of slip in standards, especially in this financial climate.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I think you absolutely right to bring this to SOTW Michael. It is vital that establishments which rightly have a reputation for excellence should have to strive to keep their standards high; it is absolutely unacceptable that the single best woodwind shop in London, or maybe the UK, should allow any sort of slip in standards, especially in this financial climate.
I agree Howarth are generally excellent and I'm in two minds about posting stuff like this as I don't want to harm their business. I was even planning a visit around the horn shops. I was just peed off and as I've gotten older
I'm less inclined to take it. We've all had bad experiences in the old days ( pre internet) and basically had to swallow it but it's different now. Obviously this can be misused too.

The really sad thing in all this for me is it's all so unnecessary. You know buying something especially a musical item should be pleasurable not a dreaded chore and manners cost nothing. I'm not really interested if the person on the other end is having a bad day. I'll get my piece direct from the US.
 

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Hello all,

Firstly I would like to sincerely apologise for any upset that has been caused to any of our clients. I have been here for eight years now and I can honestly say that I have personally always tried my very hardest to give exemplary customer service. I can also say that I see what my staff do on a day to day basis and how they go above and beyond to make sure that we do the very best for our clients that we can.

We work in a very small industry and negative comments can be quite harmful but if we have behaved in the manner suggested then we have to expect them.
People have bad days, behave improperly and get irritated in all sort jobs and situations. A company who values their customers and delivers a good service will recognise this and act accordingly. I do hope that this apology and the apology you have received from my MD go some way towards that.

May I also say thank you for the very kind comments posted about me and Howarth on this thread and to one of the sax on the web members for realising I would want to respond to this and sending me the link.

Once again, please accept my sincerest apologies and if in doubt you can always contact me.

Stuart James
Saxophone sales manager.
 
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