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MMD > Archives > July 2004 > 2004.07.11 > 08Prev  Next

Schafer & Sons & Colton Piano Company
By John A. Tuttle

Hi All,  Here's some interesting information I dug up that involves
Schafer & Sons.

If you have been trying to contact Daewoo Piano Co. for some reason,
such as parts or service, don't bother!  They went out of business
and filed for bankruptcy in the United States.

The Dec. 1995 issues of Music Trades and Musical Merchandise Review
both reported a $13.62 million court judgment awarded to Vern Schafer
of Los Angeles (a.k.a. Schafer Pianos and Colton Piano Company) against
Daewoo, a Korean conglomerate.  It is said to be the largest settlement
in music industry history!  But as of yet I do not believe they have
collected any of their money.

Vern Schafer operated a chain of piano stores in the LA area under the
name Colton Piano Co. Daewoo is a manufacturing giant who also produced
pianos under various names.  The story is long but here is a summary:

Schafer contracted with Daewoo to produce pianos under the name Schafer
& Sons in the early 1980's.  He then set up other dealers to sell
Schafer & Son pianos.  Schafer put up a $5 million guarantee for the
pianos being produced at Youjou, Korea.  By late 1991 Schafer had run
up a $4.0 million debt at Daewoo, who then sued Schafer, so Schafer
filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Schafer countersued Daewoo, claiming the pianos were poorly built and
not salable in the U.S. market.  (This was no surprise to technicians,
who had been claiming this for years.  You only had to service one to
figure that out.)  Schafer claimed Daewoo began liquidating his inventory
and then sold pianos under his name without his permission.  The jury
sided with Schafer, stating Daewoo had "willfully defrauded him and
destroyed his business".

The Orange County (California) jury awarded Schafer $3.62 million
compensatory damages plus $10 million in punitive damages.  Daewoo
lawyers state this is an aberration and a miscarriage of justice.

Since Daewoo filed bankruptcy in the U.S., Schafer's chance of
receiving a check in the near future are pretty slim.

The moral of the story?  Next time someone asks for your opinion on
whether or not they should buy a cheap, no-name brand piano, because
"the price is so good", remember Daewoo.  As in most of life, "you
generally get what you pay for".

John Ruskin is quoted as saying "there is hardly anything someone
cannot make a little cheaper, and sell for a little less money --
and the person who considers price only is this man's lawful prey".


John A Tuttle
Brick, New Jersey, USA

(Message sent Mon 12 Jul 2004, 00:57:32 GMT, from time zone GMT-0400.)

Key Words in Subject:  Colton, Company, Piano, Schafer, Sons

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