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Old December 4th, 2012, 05:07 PM   #1 (permalink)
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I'm the innocent bystander in a deal between friends

Person A mentions that she would like to purchase an inexpensive mandolin for her husband as a gift. His beloved mandolin (and acoustic guitar) were stolen in a home burglary about a year ago.

Person B overhears this comment and tells Person A that he has an old mandolin that he will sell for cheap. Person A is not a musician. Person B is a musician.

Both parties agree. The mandolin is exchanged a for cash a few days later.

I was not present for any of this.

A few days later Person B asks me to borrow a string winder, to restring the mandolin as part of the deal, before he gives it to Person A. I bring him my string winder the following day.

A few days later, Person A brings the mandolin to me, and asks if I will restring it for her. I said sure. I didn't ask why Person B didn't string it for her. I didn't want to get into that - none of my business.

She hands me a brand new chip-board case, with said mandolin in it. I open the case and see the mandolin for the first time. It appears to be a 20+ year old Hondo brand... in absolutely horrible condition. I asked Person A if she wanted me to take it home and clean and polish it for her - no charge - before I put the strings on. She declines, saying that she wants to wrap it and put it under the tree tonight.

As I looked over the mandolin, the next thing I noticed is that the glued-in neck joint is separating, very badly. You can fit a coin in the gap/crack between the neck and the body. I pushed on it slightly and there was no "play" between the two pieces. I decided not to point it out to Person A. I wasn't really sure what to do.

I took the first course of strings off... and took the new strings from the package. I looped the first one around the tail-piece, and guided it up to the nut. Then I noticed that the notch on the nut that separates the courses... was broken off. No way to separate the strings as traveled to the tuner. It was like this for 3 of the 4 courses. The nut was trashed.

This is when I stopped. And I pointed all of this out to Person A. She looks dumbfounded. "Can you just string it up for my husband to play around the house? He'd not going to take it anywhere." I told her that her husband would not really be able to tune the mandolin, and it wouldn't really even play in tune.

She asked me what it would cost to repair everything. I told her that the mandolin was not really worth a repair. (I didn't tell her this, but it was probably a $49 Musician's Friend special 20 years ago. Sticker on the back of the headstock reads "Made in Indonesia".) I estimated $25 to install a pre-made plastic nut, and $75-$100 to fix the neck... at the minimum.

She said, "I only gave $80 for it."

She asked me what to do. I suggested that she speak with Person B and talk about reversing the deal, and everyone would be happy. She said she had spent another $29 on the case, and would have to return that too. I told her that since I was friends with both of them, that I was going to step away from the issue.

About an hour later, Person B comes to me... purposely wanting to make sure I heard the frustration in his voice... and says, "Where am I supposed to get a pre-made mandolin nut?" I directed him to Stew-Mac, and told him that I was not part of the issue.

I like and respect both Person A and Person B. And I know Person A's husband very well. No way he's going to be able to play this mandolin, even "around the house". He's a decent musician that likes to invite people over to sit on the porch and bang out some bluegrass tunes. This mandolin is not going to suit him.

I'm just trying to stay out of it.

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Old December 4th, 2012, 05:15 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Bummer , I think staying out of it is the wise course of action in this situation.
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Old December 4th, 2012, 05:24 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Person B sold worthless junk to Person A for $80. Person B is no good.
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Old December 4th, 2012, 05:25 PM   #4 (permalink)
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The further you can stay away from this, the better.
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Old December 4th, 2012, 05:39 PM   #5 (permalink)
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The right thing to do is to suggest to person B to refund the money for the transaction. Why send him on a hunt to find a nut for a junk mandolin that will never play? Just tell him the truth and IMO you've done your due diligence. Or you can sit back and watch your 'friend' (A) be taken advantage of.
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Old December 4th, 2012, 05:47 PM   #6 (permalink)
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The right thing to do is to suggest to person B to refund the money for the transaction.
I think I would go this route too. I know you want to stay out of it but I think it is too late - you are in it.
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Old December 4th, 2012, 05:51 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Old December 4th, 2012, 05:52 PM   #8 (permalink)
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$80 will buy a lot of mandolin these days, if one is patient and knows where to look.

I'm in for B refunding to A and A starting over.
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Old December 4th, 2012, 06:00 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Being stuck in the middle of that sounds like a real bummer. Hopefully Party B can come to their senses. Refund sounds like the fairest path to take.
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Old December 4th, 2012, 06:02 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Person B sold worthless junk to Person A for $80. Person B is no good.
This.
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Old December 4th, 2012, 06:09 PM   #11 (permalink)
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$80 will buy a lot of mandolin these days, if one is patient and knows where to look.

I'm in for B refunding to A and A starting over.
+1 I keep business and friends separate.
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Old December 4th, 2012, 06:13 PM   #12 (permalink)
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I agree with Stucco. 'Staying out of it' and watching your friend get screwed isnt right, imo. If I were in this situation I would certainly ask person B why he did this. Honestly person B sounds like a pretty sh*tty friend.
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Old December 4th, 2012, 06:20 PM   #13 (permalink)
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I think the good Texan covered this in the original post.


" She asked me what to do. I suggested that she speak with Person B and talk about reversing the deal, and everyone would be happy. She said she had spent another $29 on the case, and would have to return that too. I told her that since I was friends with both of them, that I was going to step away from the issue. "

Still say that is the best move.
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Old December 4th, 2012, 06:36 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by ASC67 View Post
I think the good Texan covered this in the original post.


" She asked me what to do. I suggested that she speak with Person B and talk about reversing the deal, and everyone would be happy. She said she had spent another $29 on the case, and would have to return that too. I told her that since I was friends with both of them, that I was going to step away from the issue. "

Still say that is the best move.
I appreciate all the responses (I really do). And I know that it's difficult to communicate all of the nuances and dynamics of this situation over the internet.

But yeah, I need to stay out of it completely at this point. I never interjected my opinion into it - I've only responded when I was asked a direct question.

I don't disagree that Person B should give the money back and forget the transaction (and possibly even help Person A facilitate the refund on the case). But it's not my business to get that deep into it... especially since my only involvement was being asked to change the strings on it.

Person B is not a bad guy at all. Maybe just didn't think this one through.
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Old December 4th, 2012, 06:44 PM   #15 (permalink)
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I'll go with Stuco . If B is your friend then you should be able be honest and tell him what you think if not he's not that good of a friend. IMO if B has no problem taking advantage of A who has no knowledge of Mandolins, I would distance myself from him. Sit back and don't intervene you can sugarcoat it any way you want it's the easy way out. Think about it you're watching somebody just plain cheat someone, kind of like stealing.
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Old December 4th, 2012, 06:56 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Its times like these you hate to be the "go to" guy. Perfect time to channel Sgt. Schultz. "I know nothing".
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Old December 4th, 2012, 07:00 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Seriously, she could have bought a brand new one on MF for $50, for $90 you get a ukelele too.

Person B is a self serving jackass for taking advantage of Person A.

Too bad she didn't ask you first.
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Old December 4th, 2012, 07:04 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Person B took advantage of person A and in this case is being a schmuck and being a musician, knew the mando was junk. Help the girl get her money back if you can.
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Old December 4th, 2012, 07:06 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Hooray for Christmas!!! This always happens to me. Person A buys me something I either don't really want or something I maybe wanted but would have preferred to pick out myself. I do the same thing to her. Not sure what you can really do for them. Hopefully they will learn (as Person A and I have over the years) that you always get a gift receipt and check the return policy.
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Old December 4th, 2012, 07:08 PM   #20 (permalink)
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This is what I would do (me, not saying anyone else should do the same thing).

I would give the lady $110.00 for the crap mandolin and case and then offer to take her shopping for a decent mandolin.

Then I would approach party B with the mandolin and case and tell him that in an effort to make the best of a bad situation that he created, he now owes me $110. He can either pay me or not, but either way the mando is his again and better not be resold to anyone known to me.
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