Grinter deposit

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orflute
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Grinter deposit

Post by orflute »

Hi everyone, wondering if anyone out there might be able to assist me.

I put a 340 euro deposit on a keyed Grinter flute back in August of 2017. I'm sure most here know Michael Grinter tragically passed away in late 2018. Over the last two years I followed up a few times on the status of my deposit, and the latest reply I got from Helen (who I'm assuming is his late wife):

"I’m sorry, but I’m not really sure how long it will be before Mike’s estate is finalized and deposits are returned but I do know that Mike’s two sons are still working through this with their solicitor. It certainly hasn’t been forgotten about, and I’m sure you will hear from them once plans are set in place."

That was in January of 2020. I have heard nothing since and on a further attempt to follow up today, the email address bounced. I tried contact again through the website contact form, but who knows if that is even still working.

I'm wondering if anyone here has/had a closer relationship with the Grinters and might know anything. I've pretty much given up on getting the money back at this point...
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kkrell
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Re: Grinter deposit

Post by kkrell »

orflute wrote:"I’m sorry, but I’m not really sure how long it will be before Mike’s estate is finalized and deposits are returned but I do know that Mike’s two sons are still working through this with their solicitor. It certainly hasn’t been forgotten about, and I’m sure you will hear from them once plans are set in place."
My father died in late 2017. I am just now being able to complete closing his estate (U.S.), so it's not unreasonable for this process to take a long time.

I'm sorry that I am not the one who has contact with the family, but you should certainly follow up once you have it.
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Terry McGee
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Re: Grinter deposit

Post by Terry McGee »

Hmmm. I tried to contact Ben Stewart who used to work with Mike to see if he had any family contacts, but Ben's site seems to have disappeared. Anyone in the Central Victoria area have any suggestions?
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Re: Grinter deposit

Post by bigsciota »

kkrell wrote: My father died in late 2017. I am just now being able to complete closing his estate (U.S.), so it's not unreasonable for this process to take a long time.
Yes, my (thankfully limited) experience with estate issues also suggests that 2-3 years is not an inordinate time for these matters to be resolved. It's obviously easy for me, someone not out €340, to recommend patience, but I think tactful reminders spaced out by many months would be the best option. Enough to keep yourself in their mind while not being seen as an annoyance.
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Re: Grinter deposit

Post by orflute »

Ah, I had no idea these things took as much time as they did. I've definitely been tactful about it, I guess I just freaked out a bit when the email address bounced. Perhaps a bit more patience is in order, though it would be good to at least find someone I can contact.

Terry, thanks for taking a look, much appreciated.
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kkrell
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Re: Grinter deposit

Post by kkrell »

bigsciota wrote:
kkrell wrote: My father died in late 2017. I am just now being able to complete closing his estate (U.S.), so it's not unreasonable for this process to take a long time.
Yes, my (thankfully limited) experience with estate issues also suggests that 2-3 years is not an inordinate time for these matters to be resolved. It's obviously easy for me, someone not out €340, to recommend patience, but I think tactful reminders spaced out by many months would be the best option. Enough to keep yourself in their mind while not being seen as an annoyance.
I still had new hospital & ambulance bills suddenly coming out of the blue after 2 years.
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Terry McGee
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Re: Grinter deposit

Post by Terry McGee »

orflute wrote:Ah, I had no idea these things took as much time as they did. I've definitely been tactful about it, I guess I just freaked out a bit when the email address bounced. Perhaps a bit more patience is in order, though it would be good to at least find someone I can contact.

Terry, thanks for taking a look, much appreciated.
No worries, orflute. I had been hoping that someone, either in the family or not, might pick up the making where Michael left it, but I haven't heard anything recently. I did try to contact the family just after the funeral, but without success. I hoped to ensure that, in the very least case, Michael's papers and perhaps some instruments, jigs, etc would make it to a suitable repository (the State Museum of Victoria might be an example) so that his legacy would be maintained in perpetuum. It might be quite narcissistic on my behalf, but I'm imagining some PhD student in the future striving to uncover how the modern phenomenon of Irish flute making spawned and developed. If all our papers and ephemera are lost when we go to the Big Session in the Sky (or, in my case, that other one, the one with all the fiddle players....) said PhD student is going to come to some very strange conclusions.

Turning to my fellow makers, look to your legacy, or I might end up writing it for you. Snigger, snigger....
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Terry McGee
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Re: Grinter deposit

Post by Terry McGee »

Terry McGee wrote: Turning to my fellow makers, look to your legacy, or I might end up writing it for you. Snigger, snigger....
Just enjoying rehearsing some of the phrases I might deploy in crafting your legacy if you don't, dear colleagues....
... flute-like objects of no redeeming feature....
... taught him everything he knew, and then forgot...
... and we used to think Pakistani flutes were bad....
... a tuning he believed was found in the wreckage of a crashed Klingon landing craft....
... cantankerous, self-obsessed, deluded, and they were his charming side ...

Ah, hang on, I don't have to put any work into this. I just repurpose all the things Rockstro said about Boehm, Clinton and Siccama!

And then hope that nobody remembers all the things Christopher Welch then said about Rockstro!

Now I must stop fantasising and let orflute's post go back to its original purpose. Sorry, orflute. I promise I will keep my ear to the ground in the months to come, and let you know if I hear anything useful. I've put out feelers for Helen. I can visualise her very well, but I'm not sure what surname she went by. Be back to you if I get anything.
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Re: Grinter deposit

Post by an seanduine »

kkrell wrote:
bigsciota wrote:
kkrell wrote: My father died in late 2017. I am just now being able to complete closing his estate (U.S.), so it's not unreasonable for this process to take a long time.
I still had new hospital & ambulance bills suddenly coming out of the blue after 2 years.
My sympathies, Kevin. I settled my mother´s estate. And while it was relatively simple. I was advised to keep it open for a year for everything to settle out. Fully TWO years after that I got a call from the IRS wanting to speak to my mother about not filing her taxes. . . :shock: I explain that wouldn´t be happening. . .and got everything smoothed out.

Bob
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The Beginner's mind has endless possibilities.
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Terry McGee
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Re: Grinter deposit

Post by Terry McGee »

Now it struck me overnight that orflute won't be the only person in this boat. I don't know how long Mike's waiting list was, and I don't know how quick his throughput was. But we can reasonably assume that there will be others on that list that are hopeful of receiving their deposit back.

It does raise interesting questions about taking deposits, doesn't it. I might say, I've backed away from taking deposits in recent years, except for flute orders that I would worry were too idiosyncratic to sell if the original purchaser reneged. Perhaps we shouldn't be taking deposits with orders, but if worried, should take the deposit when actually starting the work on that particular flute? That would limit the fallout in the case of an accident like this. Hmmm.

I have been reminded that Mike and Helen split up some number of years ago, and that Mike married a lady in Thailand, where he had been spending a lot of his time before the accident. So that international relationship is likely to complicate the settlement of his affairs. I'm still hoping Helen will be able to provide us with a contact with Mike's family to ensure that deposits can be refunded.
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Geoffrey Ellis
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Re: Grinter deposit

Post by Geoffrey Ellis »

Terry McGee wrote: It does raise interesting questions about taking deposits, doesn't it.
It certainly does! As a business practice, I've never understood how anyone can be entirely comfortable with it, for the very reason that has led to this thread. I'm not even certain what advantage it is to the flute maker to take payment in advance. For myself, I would never wish my wife or family to have to deal with something like that if I exit the mortal coil, or even if I'm simply ill or injured and unable to work. Whatever advantages (which seem imaginary to me) there might be in taking money up front, the mere potential of having to refund a bunch of money in the face of changing circumstances seems far more troublesome. The game is not worth the candle.

I knew a maker many years ago who took advance payment for his flutes. Not a deposit--the entire payment--sometimes more than a year in advance of delivering the flute. By the time he got around to making the flute, he had long since spent the money and was living on money being given to him for future flutes. He got himself into some pretty deep water as a result of this (not surprisingly). If he had died, his wife would have been in the position of having to return tens of thousands of dollars to a host of people. I suspect it would add a whole other layer of stress to the mourning process.

I'm genuinely curious as to why some makers operate this way. And I don't mean that in a censorious way, but rather in the interest of understanding what the logic behind the practice might be. It's conceivable that makers who do it have a well-considered reason for it that hasn't occurred to me.
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Re: Grinter deposit

Post by kkrell »

Some businesses hold funds in an escrow account until the transaction can be completed to the satisfaction of both parties. The downside is that the business owner has to have sufficient working capital to purchase materials and otherwise run their operation.
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Terry McGee
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Re: Grinter deposit

Post by Terry McGee »

Geoffrey Ellis wrote:I'm genuinely curious as to why some makers operate this way. And I don't mean that in a censorious way, but rather in the interest of understanding what the logic behind the practice might be. It's conceivable that makers who do it have a well-considered reason for it that hasn't occurred to me.
I think one purpose of the deposit is to make sure that the purchaser is serious about the order. You can imagine that if there were no deposits, somebody might put themselves down on a dozen makers lists while perhaps intending only to buy a flute from whoever ends up being able to supply it first. That could get tedious for the other makers. Asking for a small deposit will probably avoid that issue. If it even is an issue!

And I have sometimes had the reaction when I've said "don't worry about the deposit", "oh, I'd rather pay the deposit to make sure I really am on your list".

I'm not worried if a player contacts me after I've started working on their flute and says their circumstances have altered and they can no longer afford the flute, providing the order is for a fairly typical flute. Said flute can become stock. What a luxury to have stock! (I am planning a New Year's Resolution that I will try to have stock at least of a couple of popular instruments. You can poke fun at me, say around March, if it comes to naught!)

But supposing it is for a left-handed flute in an unusual and expensive timber, ivory rings, nickel-silver keys and lip plate, with just Bb and Long F keys, custom offset finger holes and an unusual embouchure. You might never find another person looking for such a flute! But at that point, a small deposit isn't really much recompense either, is it. You'd really want 25% at the time you started roughing out the flute and maybe further "progress payments" as you invest more and more work into it. Hmmm.

As I said earlier, I've generally been moving away from the notion of deposits. It would be interesting to hear from other makers on this topic.
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Re: Grinter deposit

Post by pixyy »

Not a maker myself, Terry, but your post reminded me of the art world. My wife is an artist and sells her paintings.
When exhibiting work, a customer can make a reservation on a piece if they need a day or two to think about it. If they intend to buy it once the exhibit is over, they put down a deposit so the painting is marked as sold (or pay the whole amount).
The custom left handed flute of special timber you describe I would consider a commission and would definitely warrant a non refundable deposit.

Ideally a maker would have stock, but that's a big investment of resources for sure.
Terry McGee wrote:
Geoffrey Ellis wrote:I'm genuinely curious as to why some makers operate this way. And I don't mean that in a censorious way, but rather in the interest of understanding what the logic behind the practice might be. It's conceivable that makers who do it have a well-considered reason for it that hasn't occurred to me.
I think one purpose of the deposit is to make sure that the purchaser is serious about the order. You can imagine that if there were no deposits, somebody might put themselves down on a dozen makers lists while perhaps intending only to buy a flute from whoever ends up being able to supply it first. That could get tedious for the other makers. Asking for a small deposit will probably avoid that issue. If it even is an issue!

And I have sometimes had the reaction when I've said "don't worry about the deposit", "oh, I'd rather pay the deposit to make sure I really am on your list".

I'm not worried if a player contacts me after I've started working on their flute and says their circumstances have altered and they can no longer afford the flute, providing the order is for a fairly typical flute. Said flute can become stock. What a luxury to have stock! (I am planning a New Year's Resolution that I will try to have stock at least of a couple of popular instruments. You can poke fun at me, say around March, if it comes to naught!)

But supposing it is for a left-handed flute in an unusual and expensive timber, ivory rings, nickel-silver keys and lip plate, with just Bb and Long F keys, custom offset finger holes and an unusual embouchure. You might never find another person looking for such a flute! But at that point, a small deposit isn't really much recompense either, is it. You'd really want 25% at the time you started roughing out the flute and maybe further "progress payments" as you invest more and more work into it. Hmmm.

As I said earlier, I've generally been moving away from the notion of deposits. It would be interesting to hear from other makers on this topic.
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Re: Grinter deposit

Post by Geoffrey Ellis »

But supposing it is for a left-handed flute in an unusual and expensive timber, ivory rings, nickel-silver keys and lip plate, with just Bb and Long F keys, custom offset finger holes and an unusual embouchure.
When you put it like that, I'd probably require a deposit as well!

To be fair, I have taken a deposit on a couple of occasions to cover specially ordered materials (unusual pieces of ebonite that were costly to acquire) because it was something that I wouldn't have otherwise ordered. But admittedly I don't do much customization, so almost everything I make is "standard" and can just go to my online store if someone has to cancel.
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