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Thread: Ron Oates Lack of Customer Service

  1. #1
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    I ordered a 5 string electric mando from Ron Oates back in March of 2003 at which time he told me it would take 2 months to complete...After he cashed my money order, I have not been able to make consistent contact with him whatsoever. He has not returned my phone calls/e-mails at all!

    I'm just curious if anyone else has had a similar experience. Has anyone been able to contact him recently? If so, how were you able to reach him? Any details you can share would be extremely helpful!

    Thanks,
    Mike

  2. #2
    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Last time I called Ron he picked the phone up right away, but he said he likes to spend a week at a time in his shop -- during which a lot of phone messages will pile up, which he feels like he doesn't have time to return.

    Ron is so backed up with work that he has stopped taking orders and removed his phone number from his Web site (however, it's still at MY Web site, emando.com). My advice would be to keep dialing and try to catch him on a day when he's at home and not holed up in his shop. Figure out how many rings you get before the voice mail picks up, and hang up in the middle of the last ring -- that way, you don't get charged for a phone call that isn't returned.

    Is this the ideal way to do customer service? No, but it's the way things are. I'm hoping Ron succeeds in working through his backlog. Maybe he needs to hire somebody to help him -- I think he and his customers are both suffering from the popularity of his instruments.
    Emando.com: More than you wanted to know about electric mandolins.

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  3. #3
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    I guess I'm at the point where I'm done giving Ron the benefit of the doubt....This is the same Ron Oates who literally fell off the face of the earth for 3 months this past summer and now again for the past month+....i.e. did not return a single phone call or e-mail...To me, that is flagrantly unprofessional....As a luthier, if you fall behind schedule, you owe your paying customers the courtesy of informing them of where you are in the process....

    I would rhetorically ask, "How hard would it be for Ron to compose an e-mail update which he could carbon copy to his 40+ backed-up customers?" My main beef is NOT that it's taken 5 times longer than he said it would take to complete my mando. It is his lack of COMMUNICATION. What else is a customer to assume except, "I gave this man over $1000 of my money, and he doesn't even respect me enough to take 5 minutes out of his day to write a 3 sentence e-mail response..."

    Unfortunately, yet completely justifiably, it will be Ron Oates' popularity as a luthier that will suffer as a result of all this....

  4. #4

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    I sympathize with you and your last line sums it up in a nutshell!
    Look up (to see whats comin down)

  5. #5
    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    I am not dissuaded about the depositlooting yet, until my$1250 is worth talking to me.
    AFofM have any kneecappers in Denver?
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  6. #6
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    I believe what Ron's done is mail fraud, a federal offense. Contact his local police department and file a complaint. If this becomes your intention, send a certified letter to him stating your intention. It sounds rather inexcusable at this point.
    Wye Knot

  7. #7

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    Well, have you heard anything yet?

  8. #8
    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    I have heard nothing but #talk and that was a year ago, I am forced to mail via registered return reciept, a) change of my adress notification, and notice that If I hear no reply still, I MUST consider all previous statements to be fraudulent, #(only talk)and take it from there.
    Mail fraud #is one count.



    writing about music
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    about architecture

  9. #9

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    Still no response...I'd be checking into legal options at this point in time. Keep us updated and keep this thread active, who knows it might save someone a heartache. Good luck my friend!
    Look up (to see whats comin down)

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    All right--here's the latest from my end...I contacted the Boulder Police Department who referred me to the District Attorney's office. I have been working with a lady by the name of Claire Hunter in the Consumer Division who has dealt with Ron Oates' victims before. I would encourage anyone and everyone who has outstanding issues with this unethical luthier to contact her. I know there are quite a few Cafe members in the same boat as me and who knows how many other casual board viewers out there who have or will see this thread. If we can demonstrate to the DA's office that there is a pattern of unethical business practices, they can act on our behalf to right these wrongs.

    Again, her name is Claire Hunter and her phone# is (303) 441-1664.

    Thanks,
    Mike

  11. #11

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    FYI, I just got off the phone with RonO. Obviously I won't be able to put out these fires, but I'll tell you what I know. I'm just the messenger here though, so don't shoot me... He's down to 11 orders left to fill, with me being last on his list. He told me he has 3 ready to go out the door, and that he's just waiting on the hardware to arrive. He's expecting to get them out by the end of this week or the beginning of next week. He said Mike above is one of them, and that he's sending the mando COD. He also said that the other fella on here complaining has a bit of a different story. That he tried to get his deposiot back because he didn't have the money to pay the 2nd half when it would be due (upon completion). From what RonO told me, is that he said he wouldn't give the deposit back because he had started the mandolin (acceptable in my book) and ceased communication due to threats (i.e. the DA in Boulder). He is still planning to deliver that mandolin COD when it is finished. Whether it is accepted and paid for is another story. I wouldn't expect to get your deposit back if you don't accept the mandolin, as thats why they call it a deposit... He told me he turned out 35 instruments last year, and that he's expecting to have his list wiped out by summer. Then he told me he's quitting the mandolin-making business and going back to working construction. Said its a lot easier to work only 60 hour weeks instead of 80, and to not be broke all the time.

    Again, I'm only telling you what he told me on the phone. Do whatever you guys feel you have to do, but I thought I'd communicate our conversation...

    Dave
    Mandofiddle

  12. #12
    Registered User Tom C's Avatar
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    I would think the buyer who is bowing out is entitled to get their deposit back once the maker sells the so called mando to another buyer.

  13. #13

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    I have no idea how that works in the luthier world. I know that in the graphic design world, I get a signed contract that says once the work has started and the deposit is paid and the contract is signed, that the deposit is non-refundable. I also have this in writing though, so there is no question...
    Mandofiddle

  14. #14
    Registered User Tom C's Avatar
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    Yeah, but that business is different. Just a small example. If you make a logo for somebody's company and then they decide they do not want it. You can not re-sell it
    unless that company has the same name and doesn't mind having a scull with cross bones for a logo. A mando you could re-sell even with all custom appointments. They're are pretty static.

  15. #15
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    This might be one of those ethics versus legal issues. #If the item producted has no value to anyone else (custom graphics) then I can see giving no refund. #If the items still has value I can see giving the refund but only after the item is sold to someone else.

    Of course, since most custom builders give a 48 hours approval, it is really in the best interest of the builder to give the refund otherwise the build will have a mandolin that has been shipped twice and "didn't sound right".

  16. #16
    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Thanks for doing that, Dave.
    Emando.com: More than you wanted to know about electric mandolins.

    Notorious: My Celtic CD--listen & buy!

    Donaldson Wood Thormahlen Andersen Old Wave Bacorn Yanuziello Fender National Gibson Franke Fuchs Aceto Three Hungry Pit Bulls

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    First off, thanks for sharing the details of your conversation, Dave.

    Now let me explain why I'm not very convinced of how truthful Ron was being with you. Since September, that's right SEPTEMBER, Ron has told me that my mando would be ready in 1 to 1 1/2 weeks. I guess after about the fifth or sixth time I heard this line was when I stopped believing Ron. So when he tells you that he expects to be finished this week or early next week, I'm sorry, I just don't buy it.

    Furthermore, I know none of you know me personally, but I am not one to complain over a small matter. So let's face it, when I've reached the point where I am contacting the DA's office and the Boulder Police Department, it is because I believe that I have been SERIOUSLY wronged.

    Before I let my anger get the best of me, I'll stop typing...for now.

    Again, thanks for the update Dave.

  18. #18

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    i do a lot of business consulting for small businesses. #i was a corporate vice president before that at a fortune 100 company where we were taught basic old fashioned business skills as well as the new-fangled stuff. #(in addition my family has also run the same successful business for over 100 years. so i grew up around this stuff too.)

    here is something that i have learned over the years-
    if you are going to miss a deadline, then you need to be up front and honest about where you are in your schedule. #hiding from the truth just hurts business. #all you need is one person bad mouthing you at a party (or a jam in this case) and your reputation is damaged to the point where you are going to feel it financially.

    as for the deposit, if the luthier has a policy not to return, then that's fair. #if he is making up the rules as he goes along, well, that's another story.

    enough preaching, time for some pickin'



    Good Advice: Play before you pay, and know your product and your market.

  19. #19
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    Thumbs down

    Today marks the ONE YEAR anniversary of the day Ron Oates cashed my check...Over the course of this year, I have received ONE returned e-mail and ZERO returned phone calls. That is an absolute JOKE! Words cannot describe how insulted/angry I feel... # #

  20. #20
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    Yesterday I took delivery of an Aylward Master model (like a Selmer Django guitar). I paid me deposit in Sept. 02 for a June 03 delivery, so it was 9 months late of schedule.

    However, we kept in touch and there were a number of good reasons that I was made aware of. It's easier to grin and bear it when there is communication with the luthier. The guitar is totally awesome and was well worth the wait- I asked for a few custom touches (maple back, sides and neck, plain fingerboard, etc.) which set it apart from his usual. But one man shops are up against a lot- one thing goes wrong, and the whole endeavor grinds to a halt, and the domino effect takes place. Small consolation but a fact none the less!

    It sounds like yer man is getting out of the business and going back to construction, and so that'll be that. I hope your new axe is worth waiting for in any event!
    John McGann, Associate Professor, Berklee College of Music
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    Hmmm....Let's see....Today is March 25....The last word we heard from Ron (thanks to Dave's post) was on March 9 at which point he said that he expected to have the instruments shipped in approx a week or so....

    Maybe the hardware hasn't arrived...Maybe the shipping company botched an order...Maybe Ron's dog ate my mandolin and my money...Maybe my mandolin still has roots and leaves...Maybe--oh, wait, I mean DEFINITELY Ron is running a dishonest, uncommunicative, and utterly unethical business.

    Anyone who has outstanding issues with Ron Oates, please contact Claire Hunter at the DA's office at the number in my previous post above.

    Thanks,
    Mike

  22. #22
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    i, too, ordered a mandolin at the same time you did, mandoaz. same troubles with communication. haven't heard anything for awhile...reaching a level of supreme frustration. think I'll contact the DA...this sucks.

  23. #23
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    has anyone heard anything recently? i've contacted the DA and am filling out an official complaint form...

  24. #24

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    Nothing new from my end unfortunately...
    Mandofiddle

  25. #25
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    I have heard nada, nothing, zip....I'll say it again...This is the worst purchase experience I have had...EVER! When I think of all the other quality luthiers I could have given my hard earned money to, it makes me sick...

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