So here's the story:
I recently purchased a vintage Keilwerth New King alto from silver-sax, with the understanding that while in pieces, the horn itself was in good condition and only needed new pads; the pics looked clean and I was told it was in good condition. Even so, as with all online horn purchases not from a dealer, I figured the horn was in need of an overhaul and arranged for one. I received the horn in the evening two days ago, and as it was rather late, took a quick look at it, and everything appeared to be fine, so I alerted the seller as such that I had received the horn and it appeared to be alright; I was in a hurry as it was rather late and I'm certainly no tech. I had already arranged to have this horn overhauled by a prominent member of this community (I'll let him post here if he'd like to, I don't want to put words in his mouth), but I'll describe his reaction upon inspecting this horn: I look of excitement at seeing the case, confusion at first glance, followed by disappointment after inspection (imagine a doctor breaking bad news). Apparently this horn had suffered extensive damage which had subsequently been repaired, although done in using outdated methods. The body tube and neck had been crushed, and then hammered out, the bell and neck receiver removed (the neck receiver may or may not be original), every post removed and resoldered (a couple appear to have been resoldered slightly apart from where they should have been, with some of the keys having a good amount of lateral play, even by vintage horn standards), and the keys had been swedged using an outdated technique (I'm not an expert on this, but it appears that the ends of the key barrels have been shaved or stretched so that they now look like cones). I'll post some pics of these repairs. Neither my tech nor myself had been able to notice these problems with the horn from the pictures, where the resoldered spots appear to be not solder or bare brass, but instead slightly dulled areas of nickel plate. To get this playing in any decent form, according to my tech (who I absolutely trust is not trying to pull any funny business) would take essentially an entire rebuild, and even then, it might not play well. Considering the unexpected past damage to the horn, he advised and I agreed that the best way to go about solving the problem was to ask for the refund; my tech offered to verify my story and explain the problems with the horn.
And here's where the story gets interesting. My tech had previously tried to purchase the horn from the seller, a fact I was aware of. After e-mailing the seller asking for a refund (I considered a refund reasonable as the description misrepresented the item), I was told that my tech was just trying to get revenge upon the seller because he wouldn't trade with him in the past, and he asked that I go to another tech. Normally I would go to another tech and have this looked upon, except that I've done so much business with this tech (both buying and repairwork) that I have no doubt that if he says there are problems, there are problems; additionally, being in NYC, I know carrying a horn into a tech at lots of places pretty much automatically rings up a 3-digit bill just for looking at it, and it seems unwise to sink more money into this without any assurance of a refund. Also, I forwarded the e-mail in which he claims that my tech was out to get him to my tech; the wisdom in this move is arguable ethically, but I think it's only fair he knows that if someone is badmouthing his livelihood, he knows it. In response to this, I received an e-mail that laid out the following points:
1)he claimed it's illegal to share the contents of the e-mail (according to a relative who's a lawyer, this is not true without a confidentiality clause attached to the e-mail, and even then, it's shaky at best).
2)Apparently a number of people from NYC were offering to purchase this horn. He claimed that I was trying (as were the other from NYC who were trying to purchase this horn) to sell it to my tech who'd tried to buy it in the past, but that since I couldn't resell it, was trying to get a refund.
3)Or that my tech was trying to pull a fast one on me both as a way to make some extra money and get revenge on this guy (definitely not true, especially as he wouldn't have made any money on me asking for a refund; in fact it meant one less overhaul for him to do)
4)Or if the last wasn't the case, that as he had received complaints from NYC, my tech had to have turned the entire city against him.
5)Finally he offered to have me ship the sax back to him along with $180 and he would have pads installed and send it back; however this would not solve the problem for me: had I known the extent of previous damage and repair, I wouldn't have bought the horn. Putting pads in the horn will not undue the large amount of previous wear this horn has endured.
At this point, I realized that this probably wasn't going to go anywhere, and, although I hate to do it, decided to give up. The horn, while a decent chunk of money, didn't cost so much as to prevent me from eating
. I'll probably list the horn for sale as a parts horn, recover some of the cost and move on. I'll be much happier spending the time I would have spent arguing playing instead; as W would put it, I decided to "cut and run."
I'm not a big time player on the SOTW market, but I've done a fair number of deals, and always tried to make sure that both parties were happy; I've yet to receive one complaint regarding a transaction. Additionally, this is my first less than agreeable transaction on SOTW, and while this post is negative, it's done as a warning to others so as not suffer the same fate; where eBay has some very limited degree of protection via feedback, this is the closest thing to protection on SOTW: a bad transaction results in a bad review.