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MMD > Archives > July 2001 > 2001.07.21 > 02Prev  Next

Customers Can Teach the Expert
By John Ward

Mark Kinsler wrote ["Player Piano Failed After Tuning"]:

> It's also important to remember the following tenet of the
> repair business:  The Customer Is Usually Wrong.

I also worked in the hi-fi repair business, and agree entirely with
Mark's comments.  I'd like, however, to add a caveat: The customer
is usually right about one thing: Something New Has Gone Wrong.

He may not know beans about the equipment or how to use it, but it has
been working, more or less, until recently.  If you, the expert, cannot
duplicate the problem, ask him to operate the machine, and watch what
he does.  He may be doing something wrong, or he may just be doing it
in a way you would not expect.  This can be an important clue to the
problem, and I've often had an "ignorant" customer teach me something.

I once encountered a record changer that seemed to me to be working
fine, yet the customer kept bringing it back.  Finally I asked him
to put on a record and play it, so I could see what he was doing.
He started the player up in manual mode, and Voila!, there was the
annoying thumping noise he'd complained about.  I'd never tried
starting the changer up manually, as it was, to me, a clumsy way to
operate it, and it never occurred to me that (a) anyone would do it,
or (b) it might make any difference.  Ten minutes later I'd found the
gremlin and everyone was happy.  (I later learned the problem was
chronic in this make of changer, a PE).

Sadly it's often true that the customer doesn't know or care much about
his machine.  He may never notice all the vacuum leaks, or care about
the broken hammers lying in the bottom of his piano, as long as it will
make noise.  It can be tough maintaining pride in your work when you're
told to ignore these things and just patch up the poor thing.

John Ward

(Message sent Sat 21 Jul 2001, 04:39:33 GMT, from time zone GMT-0400.)

Key Words in Subject:  Can, Customers, Expert, Teach

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