Thursday, September 13, 2007

Musicians Friend or Buy Local?

Ok. I realize that the prices at Musicians Friend are considerably lower than your local music store. but, do I want to go through the hassles I've had with MF? Let's run down some of them. Be aware of the fact that, between my computer business and my music, I make a LOT of internet purchases. The only place I've ever had a problem is at MF. I also do a fair amount of shipping of my own products.

First, I ordered some Mic stands with a carrying case. Great products and prices. I had to reorder as MF had a problem with the fact that my billing address and shipping address are different.(?) I finally got that resolved and they shipped the mic stands...each one separately?! As I'm sure all you musicians know, the stands each came in its own box, about 4x4x36 inches. One of those was shipped with the shipping lable on the mic stand box (the way I'd have shipped them if shipped separately). The others were each shipped in boxes big enough to ship a guitar, with several pounds of wadded paper used to keep the original box/stand from rattling around in the huge boxes each came in. Any of these huge boxes would have held all six mic stands for shipping in one box. So, I wind up with an office full of boxes, wrapping paper and wadded shipping paper that I have to get rid of. It didn't cost me anything so I kind of laughed about it and passed it off. There's a guy here in town who could use the boxes so he came and got them instead of me having to make a trip to the dump harm, no foul. It just shows me a marked inefficiency at MF but that is their problem.

Next, I ordered a mixer board, power amp and the mic clips for the stands (they don't come with one...something I didn't know before hand. My bad.) for a total of $424 and some change. I pay for this stuff with a Debit card, from my checking account. I access my checking account online once or twice a week and reconcile it as often as I can. Thus, I see account activitiy very quickly. I saw the charge in my account and reconciled it in my check register. Then, I saw a credit to my account from somewhere. This turned out to be from MF. Within a couple of days, I saw the debit from the account again. Confusing, but so far I was keeping up!

I ordered some cables and a speaker. Again, I saw the account activity within a couple of days and reconciled it. Then, a credit for the speaker. Then, a re-debit for the speaker. Now, I'm seeing debits for the original order again. By this time, I was starting to run behind.

Does all this sound confusing? Guess what...Me too! I called Musicians Friend. The first "Customer service" guy I talked with was pretty clueless so I asked for a supervisor. She explained that, when the order first comes in, they "reserve" that amount from the debit card account: but, it's not actually charged until the items ship. So, everything shows up at least twice in my checking account. The "reserve" (which I still don't understand) and then the individual charges as they (SLOWLY) get everything shipped out. Although the money only actually comes out of my account once, the resulting debits/credits that show up in the online activity have about blown a fuse in my computer.

I make a lot of purchases online, as I mentioned. This is the only place I've ever had these kinds of problems. As far as I can see, it hasn't costed me anything except aggravation and time but it IS very aggravating to have to keep changing reconciled entries in my check register to coincide with the MF shipping/debiting/crediting system. I certainly didn't have problems like this when I made purchases at Music Villa, Piccolos or Clark Music. Although the pricing is attractive at Musicians Friend, I'm leaning towards the concept of buying locally. Less stress for me and more local business just might make up for the difference in price.


Beretun said...

I like to buy musical instruments from Musicians Friend... It provides best quality of stuff at affordable price...

Music Villa said...

Music Villa will match any Musicians Friend price. And you'll talk to a real person. Just give us a call. Thanks!