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PostPosted: Tue Jul 07, 2020 5:22 am 
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Hi, I posted this a few days ago under 'Availability of V Pipes' but I think it is worth putting in a wider context.
I'm sure I am not the first to be swindled but maybe someone out there knows the best way for me to proceed.

I am sorry to say I have had a very bad experience with Ramon Castro, the maker of V Pipes.

In July 2019 I got in contact with him, struck a deal and sent a deposit of 449 Euros to
the bank account he gave me (Same one as on his website) I was told delivery would be in 20 to 25 weeks.

In January I sent an email asking about progress and was told he would be ready to invoice in another week or two.

After a few more weeks I emailed again but the message was rejected. It happened a few days later again. I had been blocked.
As this was Covid 19 and Madrid was getting a hammering I eased back but, I wrote a letter to the address associated
with the bank account. A few days ago the letter came back marked 'Desconocido inconnu' - which a Spanish friend translated as
'unknown and incommunicado'.
Looks like I have been swindled out of 449Euros.

So busker sean you might tell your friend that Costro my not be making pipes at the moment but is happy to bank money
from trusting fools like me before he mentions his lack of production.
I am about to contact the bank to see if they can help get my money back. (Fat chance there, I'd say). I am also going to write to the police in Madrid.
Maybe the international element of this behaviour will raise some legal eyebrows.

Have any of the members got any advice as to how I should proceed as I chase after the elusive Ramon Castro.
As a by the way, I would also advise the well known players who appear on his website to consider their position as it lends him an air of reliability/respectability that is absolutely not warranted.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 09, 2020 4:51 am 
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Many years ago I paid in full for a Gaita from a maker in Spain.

I had already bought, and received, a very nice Gaita from him. Then I ordered a second set in a different key.

Didn't hear anything for a couple years. I sent him emails every few months that went unanswered. Finally I got an email from him saying his computer crashed and he lost all his contacts etc, he only got my email after my last attempt to contact him.

He made apologies and promises, but he never did send that Gaita, or give a refund. Once again my emails went unanswered.

A Spanish friend knocked him up when he was back in Spain visiting relatives, the Gaita maker wasn't home, and none of his neighbours knew his whereabouts.

I put a 50% deposit down with a Highland pipe maker who kept my money and never made anything.

Now with uilleann pipes I had more luck: I put a 50% deposit down with a maker, and seven years later he refunded it.

So nowadays I don't deal with pipemakers. I buy used instruments on Ebay. There's no wait, and if the seller doesn't send anything I get my money back.

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 09, 2020 7:47 am 
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A reputable maker shouldn't need to take a deposit.

RORY

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 09, 2020 7:50 am 
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Are their UP makers that don't ask for initial deposits? In my experience they all have.

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 09, 2020 8:25 am 
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rorybbellows wrote:
A reputable maker shouldn't need to take a deposit.

RORY

I thought it was standard?

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 09, 2020 8:38 am 
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Quote:
I thought it was standard?


It isn't, in my experience. Some may take a part deposit at start of work, to make sure the customer is committed to buying (the behaviour of some customers is perhaps under represented on this sort of threads).

There is a psychological effect to sending deposits. Some people send deposits, even when they are not asked to do so. They think they will get their pipes quicker if they do, in some cases though the maker has money in his pocket, to eat and live and can go out to play music rather than work. Once the money of the deposit is spent, it doesn't make sense to make a set already paid for, the money is spent, so the next set, that will be paid for, will be made and sent off instead.

Anyhow, never had any problems on this front, pipes, or parts of them, were always ready before or on time and delivery always took place well under a year from the various makers agreeing to make me something or other. No money changed hands before the pipes were ready for delivery.

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 09, 2020 8:48 am 
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Interesting. Thanks, Mr G.

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 09, 2020 10:20 am 
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This can cut both ways as Mr. Gumby suggests.
I have had customers disappear when the instrument they requested was finished and also had customers who wish to pay up front.
The vanishing customers caused monetary difficulties during the years when , for me, pipemaking was very much a hand to mouth existence... problem usually solved by finding an alternative buyer quickly.

The 'I'd like to pay up front' customer is one I try to discourage as much as possible though, having said that I am in exactly that situation currently , however, there is a practical reason for it this time even if I find it uncomfortable . I will certainly not spend that customer's money until his pipes are finished.

Many similar stories pass around concerning the Italian Accordion industry and the advice given is to order your new accordion through a local dealer and not direct from the manufacturer.

Moral of the story; do not pay up front !. Perhaps just a small deposit when work commences on your instrument.
Donkeys go faster with a dangled carrot.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 09, 2020 3:12 pm 
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Thank you all for your comments.
My take on deposits is kinda split.
If you order something that is to your own spec I think you should defnitely pay a deposit because the maker could end up with
an instrument that is difficult to sell. But, as in my case, if every item is exactly the same then what purpose does a deposit serve?
If you default the maker can just sell it to someone else. The problem, of course, is if the maker insists on a deposit you have to comply or
you don't get on the list.
I didn't realise that stealing people's deposit was as common as it appears to be. Pancelticpiper seems to have been particularly unlucky
so I think I will follow his advice and steer clear of direct contact with the makers. Obviously there are people (like Mr Wooff on this thread) who have been around a long time and have impeccable reputations, but when it comes to unknown quantities I will give them a miss.

For the record the VPipes website is still up and running as if Mr Castro is still in business and it has a photo of the wonderful Jarlath Henderson at the very top of the home page. I wonder does he realise his image is being used to lure in mugs like me? Cillian Vallely is on there too. It seems the temptation to gather in some more deposits is too hard to resist even though he said himself that he is no longer in production.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 09, 2020 4:50 pm 
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Dave Williams had a good system, especially with his long waiting list. If you wanted to order a set You would be placed on a provisional waiting list and only when he started on your set would he ask for any deposit.

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 10, 2020 5:33 am 
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Mr.Gumby wrote:
never had any problems on this front, pipes, or parts of them, were always ready before or on time and delivery always took place well under a year from the various makers agreeing to make me something or other. No money changed hands before the pipes were ready for delivery.


That's the opposite of my experience, in 45 years of buying pipes and flutes and such. Maybe if you're a name player in Ireland it's different than being an American nobody.

I've never had a maker not require a 50% deposit. Well, except the ones who needed the full payment up front.

There were makers who came through as promised, like Eugene Lambe, from whom I ordered a full set and got it pretty much on time. Ditto David Quinn.

And Rick Pettigrew, a Highland pipe maker, who is highly skilled, honest, and punctual.

Almost all other makers of Irish flutes and uilleann pipes I've ordered from took at least twice as long as promised, stretching out to years longer than promised. In most cases I eventually got my flute or pipes.

Perhaps more aggravating than the makers who abscond with my money have been the ones who used my order to experiment with new designs:

1) the uilleann pipemaker who I had played a great-sounding set by. I ordered a half-set and when it arrived (years late) the drones wouldn't play right. I looked and all the drones had brass tubing shoved up inside. I called the maker and he told me "I was experimenting with big-bore drones to get a bigger sound, and they just didn't work, so I sleeved them with brass to get them to play."

2) the different uilleann pipemaker who I had played a great-sounding C chanter by. I ordered a C chanter from him when it arrived it played wonky. I called him and he said "I was experimenting with trying to do a big-bore C chanter to get more volume out of it. I don't think it came out very well."

3) a third uilleann pipemaker of high reputation, some top players play his chanters. I know people who have them, they work great. I called him and explained my past experiences (#1 and #2 above) and he assured me that he was settled on his design. (True that I know more than one piper who have more than one chanter by him, and they play identically.)

After waiting around four times longer than promised the chanter arrived and it had some quirks. When I compared my chanter in person to three other chanters by the same maker I found that the other three were all made identically and in fact a reed could be swapped between them. Mine had a different pattern of finger-holes and the same reed that worked in the other three wouldn't play in mine.

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 10, 2020 10:33 am 
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Like others here, I've had a mix of experiences, with pipe makers and for some other instruments I play. While I've had one take years beyond what was expected and then deliver a set of problems, another changed the design from what I expected (mostly in cosmetic aspects, admittedly). Still, that was disappointing after the large sum (paid at completion) and many years of waiting involved. In both cases I heard little or nothing from the makers, even when I made queries.

Nevertheless, another experience stands out: a friend (then and still) put me on his waiting list. There were delays because he had a life-threatening illness and a new (infant) member joined his family in the middle of the delay. He told me I could leave his list (no money had changed hands) any time, but I stayed with it. I was OK with the wait because he kept me posted all along and delivered a great instrument in the end.

The common pattern for me is, does the maker communicate and keep you, the buyer/orderer, informed about progress and/or lack thereof? Some makers are known for this, and for me it is an important trait in choosing whether to make an order (along with waiting to take your money, as noted above).


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