View Full Version : International Trade?

Bob A
Apr-28-2004, 9:52am
I found the Albertini noted by Jim in "Bowlbacks of Note" to be interesting, and loads cheaper than the Sinier De Ridder example, which I'd been eyeballing for months. I emailed the seller (whose auction went down with no bids) about the instrument and payment etc, in English, since his ad featured both languages, but got no reply.

I also emailed a cafe member in Italy, to seek assistance. I was informed that there might be a problem trans-shipping musical instruments between Italy and the US. There's also the problem of sending large amounts of cash to strangers half a world away.

So, as I approach the point of the post, I inquire of those who might have gone down this road before: "What problems actually exist in this regard, and how did you surmount them? (Or not!)".

While I'd certainly like that Lombard for 900 Euros, even with the crack in the bowl (sigh), the prospect of coming up broke and empty-handed is not pleasant.

Of course, in keeping with the spirit of this section, any and all interesting digressions are welcome!

Apr-28-2004, 10:08am
Well, Bob, eBay, ANY eBay is always a leap of faith; and the fact that the seller is in Italy is not a critical factor in presumptively measuring his/her honesty (or lack thereof).

In fact, Sr. Calace did once ship me his grandpapa's Method way before I sent him a penny for it— and he waited patiently, without as much as one complaint for months and months for payment (as 9/11 had intervened, rendering my office in Lower Manhattan inaccessible until, oh, March 2002).

But your question, I'm afraid, cannot be answered adequately. What I DO know is that shipping should be no problem; said Raffaele Jr. just shipped me my latest baby a month or so ago. I cannot imagine what could have transpired in the meanwhile to make shipping impossible (and the ocean impassable) a month later. Nor are money-transfers any harder now than they were recently—#I DO mean recently, not five years ago or so.

Having been of no help to you, my friend, I at least wish you the best of luck in this. As for me, I would distrust Italian corporations far, FAR more than individual Italian people. Ugh! #http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/rock.gif

Jim Garber
Apr-28-2004, 10:09am
I am not sure what the problem would be "trans-shipping" instruments. What is "trans-shipping" versus just plain shipping?

I know that Sr. Pandini sent a few instruments recently from Ferrara to New York. I can refer you to one of the recipients.

Unless it is a problem with US customs relating to antique instruments.

I got my mandolino Lombardo from France and there was no problem getting it, tho I was a little nervous.

Thius seller does not take Paypal which i think would simplify things. I know that Italy does not accept USPS International Money Orders and that getting on in dollars presents problems on the seller's end.

Best would be an intermediary over there. Someone here must know someone in Firenze, no? There must be a few mandolin players there.


Bob A
Apr-28-2004, 1:52pm
Sr Pieri finally replied to my email: he will be pleased to sell me his instrument for 900 Euro, plus about 70 Euro for shipping. Looks like he wants money up front. (Duh). WHile he doesn't seem to have scammed anyone (134 ebay sales with 100% positive rating) I'm still a bit hesitant. But I'll probably go thru with it.

Of course, if we have any connections thereabouts who would like to involve themselves, all the better! They could even get in some Lombard Mandolino time, except I think it is not strung.

Ship, transship, what the heck. My language may not be accurate, but at least it is polysyllabic. I did have a runaround with customs about a instrument once, but it was an antique, and they had to eat their stinking duty. Still I suppose it's a necessary evil - we must protect our homegrown Lombard Mandolin industry.

Apr-29-2004, 6:36am
I found the best solution was to make friends with several musical instrument dealers in Italy. I know at least one in every major city. If a private party has an instrument to sell, I ask that person to bring it to my closest friend there for inspection. If it is a good deal. I wire transfer the payment to my friend, and for a small fee, the shop now properly packs and ships my new instrument to me. I've been doing this for many years. It also weeds out any potential problems. The litte extra I spend is worth the peace of mind I get after making a deal.
You should insist on Air Mail shiping only. However, I understand that FedEX has a new Global 5Day for under 140EURO.


Bob A
Apr-29-2004, 10:09am
I once rec'd an instrument from France via Fedex. Arrived the next afternoon, cost about $140.

Apr-30-2004, 2:32am
this is a tough one - it all has to do with national stereotypes, buying things "blind", too many maifia films...

a "bargin" is difficult enough to find on your own door step; it doesn't become less of a chimera simply by being put up for sale in an international market. and a crook in america is simply a crook whereas a crook in italy becomes an "italian" crook and everybody knows what they're like, right?


speaking personally, i think the instrument-aquiring mania that's had me in its grip for the past few years is finally coming to an end. (greatgodalmighty!!!...) maybe it's because i've been let down once too often by comparing the expectations i derived from looking at the photo to what's actually in the box. or maybe it's because i realize that what i should really be doing is practicing my scales instead of drooling over flotsom from someone else's garage.

i guess e-commerce and the whole free market philosophy boils down to a real understanding of happiness and what it is that makes us so. how many of us are prepared to accept the restrictions that happiness full-filled, brings? it's much more appealing to have happiness forestalled a bit, just out of reach...tomorrow it's going to be great! to look at the music instrument (in this case) in my hand and say "this isn't making me any happier or more fulfilled than i was was a minute ago and searching ebay to find another isn't going to make it any better" is an extremely difficult, mature observation to make. gee, i hope i make it.

having bored you all with that may i say that dodgey vendors and fickle buyers may certainly be a pain in ### but they pale to insignificance when compared to cretinous customs officials and heavy-handed postal workers. if you're looking for flys in the e-commerce ointmment, look no further...

- bill

Bob A
Apr-30-2004, 8:05pm
I do not intend to demean the Italian people by any of my posts. My basis for worry stems from demands for fund transfer with no control, and from my friends' experiences in the country, which have occasionally been remarkable for a certain anarchic flavor. (I approve of anarchy to some degree, except when disorder impinges on my wallet. Certainly all right-thinking folk have little to say for heavy-handed border officials; those in the US are perhaps the most unpleasant in the western world). My apologies if I've offended.

Certainly the toy one desires is far more appealing than the one one has; this quirk of the human psyche has fortunately provided employment for much of the human race of late. It would be tragic in the extreme to bring mature acceptance into the marketplace, and watch the world economy crash around our ears.

Greed is good, so long as it is not excessive. But it's a slippery slope I'm on. If I have to toss some instruments off the troika to save myself from the wolves, I hope they'll fall into welcoming hands.

May-01-2004, 10:17am
Bob, you are certainly at a safe distance from crossing the line of offending national prides and sensitivities. In fact, I would gladly join you in your doubts and reservations, if you were concerned about the Italian establishment.

By way of sad example: A Roman friend of mine flies to Milan, where he is to give a piano recital, an all-Scarlatti program, for some grand gala at a prominent hotel. During his dress rehearsal on the day before the performance, he is approached by a well-dressed gentleman, ostensibly representing some Association of Composers, Publishers, etc. (like our own ASCAP and BMI), and demanding a licensing-fee for the performance; the hotel manager, standing nearby, nods in consent. Pay or else... My friend, in a desparate check-mate, unable/unwilling of course to fly right back to New York, NOT having played the recital he was engaged for, is pathetically strong-armed into shelling out the equivalent of some $1,000 for licensing, which, in turn, just about eats up all his artist's fee.

Now, those of us who know that the purpose of licensing is to remunerate the composer, and that of course said Domenico Scarlatti has left the company of the living as of several CENTURIES ago, and that the concept of the "public domain" does in fact exist world-wide, also know whose pocket that grand actually went into. #http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/sad.gif

Still, I would not taint my relationship with any Italian people with the recollection of such unfortunate events. On the other hand, if I were King for a Day, I would dismantle more than a few institutions... #http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/rock.gif