OK, Here We Go !!!!!
About 3 years ago I got an email from some guy called "manturds" who was
lusting after one of my Abstract
Caligula Model Guitars. The only real problem was that he could not afford
one. I told him that I was considering making an import in 2009 but he told me he
wanted no part of any imported guitar.
With an email name like manturds I should have seen the
writing on the wall. I made a very bad mistake by ever getting involved with
this guy. I truly feel sorry for him because the poor guy has no life, no
money & probably no real prospects of ever getting anywhere. He has to
resort to name calling & vilifying me. I told him early on that all publicity is
good publicity. He has been driving a lot of people to my site. So many in fact
that it has become a time problem to discuss him on the phone. That is why
I am investing an hour to write this little diatribe.
Eventually after 3 or 4 emails and several conversations on
the phone he says to me that he wants to buy the guitar in
kit form. He says he knows a local guy to him that would help him build
his guitar. He told me numerous times how much he liked my guitars and that he
would be an endorser for my brands and send me lots of customers. I get
that often but he sounded genuine and I really tried hard to please him.
I informed him that I didn't mind selling him a kit,
I insisted that I could not allow him to use my name on the headstock if it was
built by someone else. He is Ok with that, he was looking to get
away as cheaply as possible.
Normally at that time a basic body blank for a Caligula sold for $2,000.00 or
so. Then the customer can add custom inlays, binding, ebony fretboard, custom
neck size, The customer can specify which wood he wants and pay accordingly.
These guitars are all built one at a time totally by hand and there is no
machining other than a bandsaw to cut the basic shape out. All the tummy
cuts, bevels, angles, and neck sizes are all slightly different based on the
woodcarver who does the work. The Good news Is The
price on the Caligula has come down recently because I have sold many more based
on people seeing his little you tube disparagement on my instrument. Most people
are intelligent enough to recognize the prattling of a disgruntled boob.
Many people go to the site and once they see it they make up their own minds.
I felt sorry for this kid and I was really honestly trying to
help him so I quoted him $1,300.00 in total for the entire body with 27 frets,
bound neck, real MOP inlays, ebony fretboard. He told me he was going to paint
the guitar a slime green solid color. He said he didn't care about the
wood grade. I used good quality wood with several very small occlusions that
would make no difference on a painted guitar because you simply cannot see them.
He saved over $1,200.00 dollars by using a piece of slightly
(very slightly) blemished wood on the bodyblank. I took pity on this guy who I
thought was about 19 years old and gave him an awesome deal. (I'm such a nice
guy, huh) don't let it get around it could ruin my reputation ha ha.
DEAL GOES SOUR
OK OK here's when the deal went sour !!!
Here come all the juicy parts that this guy likes to shove my nose in the dirt
I ship him his bodyblank it arrives at his home several days
I guess he spends the next three days showing every guitar dealer in his home
state the bodyblank. Of course, these wonderful, friendly, loving, small town
dealers are all very happy to downplay the Caligula. They are pro's at it, they
do it all the time. Just the same as I downplay my competitors with my
comparisons on my site. I mean obviously they are trying to get him to return it
to me so they could presumably get his lousy $1,300.00 & sell him a Washburn or
I don't know if that was true in every case, but I've been in this evil business
for a long time. We all know just how bad one dealer will trash another dealer
just to make a sale.
Back in the old days when I was a struggling little pudnick music store. I was
just as guilty of it myself, So I know it's true!!!
I'm quite sure that Mr Turd never told them he bought it for half price, In fact
he doesn't seem to remember it himself.
So my phone starts ringing
loudly!! The phone is glowing bright red, I pick up the phone and the
handset burns my fingers. It's Mr Turd himself calling me to tell me what
a piece of crap my Caligula is. The frets are in the wrong place The neck is
bent, The guitar is useless & could never be played. Oh Lordy Lordy Lordy.
I've had some similar situations over the years where the
customer has panicked but most of the time I can straighten out the problems. So
I remain calm, eventually we agree that
IF the guitar is truly defective I would take it back. If the guitar
turned out to be OK I would do a pre build for him but I would have to charge
him for that.
A pre build or a pre assembly is what we do here on every
guitar we build. We assemble the guitar, check the intonation, set the action,
make sure the guitar is playable before we spend the incredible amount of time & money on painting it. The
object is to find any problems before you paint so that we would not have to
damage the paint to fix a minor or even a major problem.
Because our guitars are totally custom made, totally hand carved & hand
assembled we need to use different rear cavities, depending on the
electronics package the customer requires.
If we were building cookie cutter guitars like ESP, Gibson, Samick, Epiphone,
Washburn & all the rest of the corporate moguls we would not have to do a pre
We essentially build the guitar twice. It costs more
but we will always do it that way!!!!!
Ok, Back to the story...
So he sends the guitar back and I check out the frets, He
says they are in the wrong place. He says they aren't in straight, I measured them twice. Then I nonchalantly
handed the guitar to Pat, one of the my techs in the shop. I asked him to find
the problem. I insinuated to him that there was a problem that needed fixing.
The next day, I asked him about it, he told me that he could find no problem,
but he was still looking. I guess he took me seriously enough to think he may
have been wrong. I guess because I told him "there WAS
something wrong with it".
I didn't say the customer says there's something wrong with
it. I just said the frets were off see if you can find the problem??
(Long story short he found no problems)
I repeated the exact scenario with Brent & Adrien in my shop.
About 4 days after I got it I was 100% positive that there was absolutely
nothing wrong with the neck other than a slightly tight truss rod that seemed to
already have some slight wrench marks on it Hmmm ???
We did a prebuild to the rough sanded guitar, everything
worked fine, everything checked out, the guitar sounded great too. Now we didn't
pay super close attention to detail because that would have just been stupid.
The guitar still had to come apart to be fine sanded,
painted & final complete assembly. Which of course our Mr
Turd was going to do that himself.
OK, Now Here's Where The Plot
I call the kid up, I still thought he was a
kid, I found out weeks later later he must be over 40 because he says
somewhere in one of his little blogs that he's been playing for more than 30
I told him I could find nothing wrong with the frets, they
were all perfectly straight & in their exact location for a 25" scale guitar.
(possibly his experts weren't familiar with 25" scale)
In many small towns all that is available are your basic
22 fret boring old
style fuddy dud guitars.
Surprisingly for me at the time, he didn't seem to disbelieve me, he
didn't defend his position that there was definitely something wrong with this
What he did to however was indicate to me that he would like
to trade the Caligula towards another guitar a "Caparison Horus" as my memory
serves me. (Hey I thought you didn't want to buy an
The Caparison's are not bad guitars (just overpriced)
but they are Asian made like ESP & Schecter & Samick. In my book they are only
worth about $900.00 retail at the very most.
I mean I am selling all American made real
Charvel San Dimas models. with a real Floyd Rose Tremolo, Duncan pickup & a
case for $987.00 or even less to older good customers. The Caparison's are
Asian and the run way over $2,000.00
A bell rang loudly in my head, this fickle youngster was
giving me a snow job. Obviously because he had simply changed his mind.
Remember I still thought he was a kid. At this point I started to realize that
he was just trying to angle for a different guitar. The whole deal was nothing
more than a case of buyers remorse.
The turd man I mean manturds gets his Caligula
I shipped him the Caligula
because I did not have a Caparison in stock like the one he wanted. I was pretty
sure he was going to like the guitar after all. As I said it played great &
sounded awesome. I never expected him to start pointing out knots in the wood so
that it would make the guitar look inferior.
He gets the guitar several days later my phone is glowing
again & he is whining and carrying on about the sanding on the body, the
temporary wiring job we did which was intended to be yanked out before paint. I
agreed with him it could have been a little neater but it didn't matter because
everything worked just fine.
Once Again, I Go Out Of My Way To Try To Keep Him
He says to me he wants to return the guitar and get the
Caparison. I decided to just give him back his money and not bother selling him
any guitar. Time for me to move on!!!
This guy was an INCREDIBLE time waster. No matter what I did I was wrong and he
Giving him a refund would be the smartest thing
Hey, you can't win em all. Because of negative publicity like Mr Turd, I am
inclined to be careful and to be extra mindful when a customer needs to have his
hand held a little. I get letters from people all the time (See Testimonials)
who regularly tell me I was a pleasure to deal with and that they had expected
some problems because of something they read somewhere.
I do lose patience with some of these clowns that call and want to talk about
their Dream guitar, I spend countless hours listening to people who want special
guitar they have been plotting about and have spent years thinking about. As far
as getting off their butts & actually pulling the trigger They give themselves
away by saying "Dream Guitar" Usually when I hear that phrase I know that the
guy is only dreaming of owning a great guitar, He probably actually never will.
If you are only interested in the turd story just
skip these next 8 paragraphs)
I had to fire a webmaster once who was holding me for ransom with my website
passwords. I outsmarted him by bringing my good friend, customer and internet provider
Pete Kupershmid into the mix. We
effectively locked him out of the site and told him to take a flying leap !!!!
He had been gouging me for thousands of extra dollars, whenever I complained
about it he held my feet to the fire because he had built the website and he
controlled the passwords. This was in the earlier days of the internet, That
would be a little harder to do now. He actually shut me down once for 2 days
until I agreed to pay him for his highway robbery prices.
When he first started he told me he would build me a new site
for one of my custom guitars. That was a really good price. Once the site
was up and running he held all the marbles and he could then effectively charge
me $500.00 to fix a spelling error. The website design work he did was quite
good, but he was obviously setting himself up to take advantage of me.
In any case this guy was really pissed!!! When I finally
figured out how to get rid of him. I fired his ass. I purposely did not pay his
final bill. I dumped his website design and went on line with a completely new
site within 2 hours of firing him. He was insane with rage because he was a damn
smart person. His ego was bruised because I had effectively extricated myself
from his death grip on me. He decided to make it his life's work to denigrate me on
the internet. He built several websites he joined forums in my name &
until I had him arrested almost 5 months later (It took the district
attorneys office that long to build the case) He did a lot of damage to me.
( the civil case is still open it's been over 7 years luckily for me my
attorneys fees are covered by my general business insurance policy.
I'm a controversial
character, In fact I'm both controversial and a character.
I am forthright in my opinions!!!
I say what I mean & I mean what I say !!
I mainly use the comparative method of selling.
This means that I have to work harder to learn all about my competitors product
I don't know about everybody else, but personally I like it, when a salesman
points out why his product is better than another one.
(see selling) I really hate it, when I ask
a salesman a question on another product, and he gives the dumb look and says he
doesn't know. (Ignorant Cretin)
I get misunderstood a lot, when I do my
format of what to look for. It appears to many people that I am trashing my
competition for sport. I am simply pointing out facts as published in their
catalogs or price lists. I learn by my mistakes, but I learn a lot more from
other people's mistakes.
I'm a bit of a right wing extremist sometimes and I am an
easy target for people to launch missiles at because I don't usually fight back,
I just don't have the time or inclination. Mostly it's the time, I enjoy a good
verbal parry session now & then but time just does not permit.
I have an unfair advantage over most dealers, I can
afford to give lower discounts than most of them only because my main business
is my custom shop. So I can give someone $200.00 extra off that Parker guitar &
not really care. Needless to say my competitors don't like me much excepting for
the ones who buy a lot of product from me.
Harmony Central which is
owned by Musicians Friend & that is owned by Guitar Center
rarely prints any of the positive reviews my customers have sent them. I have
been told by a high ranking executive at Guitar Center that I am on their knock
list and they badmouth me when they get the chance. I have a sworn affidavit
from an ex Guitar Center employee reporting that
Guitar Center wants to put me out of business, They would regularly discuss my
store & website at their sales meetings. Once the entire meeting in one of their
Oregon stores was focused on Ed Roman Guitars for the entire meeting. Jean Luc's
statements are signed & notarized.
Have you ever
loaned money to some jerk, when you knew good & well he wasn't going to pay
you back ?
But it still
feels like it's worth it because you will no longer have to put up with his
presence any longer.
OK Here's the good part
This is the part where, finally I get pissed off !!!!!!!!
A few moments after I get off the phone with Mr. Turd and have been
gracious enough to give him a totally non deserved refund, one of my techs tells me that he has
written some slanderous libelous & totally untrue blogs on the internet about how bad the guitar was
incompetent my staff is and what a bunch of jerks we were and how he was treated
badly and got ripped off because I sold him a beautiful Anvil style road case
for the guitar.
I called him up and told him that I was upset that he would
write this farcical nonsense on the internet and that I wanted nothing more to
do with him. He never sends the guitar. He actually wants me to send him the
money before he sends the guitar.
As I always say, "I was born at night but not last night."
My shop foreman Adrien took over for about 24 hours with Mr
Turd. I gave him full autonomy to do what he felt was best. Within 3 hours this
guy starts putting up blogs on Adrien & Brent who are both the most mellow
friendly people I know.
The next day I overheard Adrien talking to him on
the phone saying something to the effect that he had lost his final friend here
and that he was washing his hands of the situation. My wife even tried to
placate this guy and she got flamed on line for it also. Anyone who knows Joanne
will agree she is pretty much a pushover and a sweetheart. In cases such as this
she always goes the extra mile for the customer.
After Joanne got nowhere I actually started to suspect that maybe this whole
deal might even be a setup and an excuse to start a hate campaign. No
matter what any of us did Mr Turd was not going for it. It was as if he just wanted
to hassle & fight.
Stay tuned I will be adding pictures and many of Mr Turd's
emails. I am trying to collect them from my spam blocker
He started a letter campaign to the office of the
attorney general in his state. Below is my response to the letter (it was actually
mostly written by my assistant).
Date: Monday, August 11, 2008
To: State Of Idaho, Office Of The Attorney
Attn: Lonny Tutko, Consumer Specialist
From: Ed Roman, Ed Roman Guitars
Re: Scott Webb Matter, Log ID: 201244, Business ID: 150604,
Dear Mr. Tutko,
This letter is in response to a complaint
filed with your office from Mr. Scott Webb.
The real facts in the matter are these:
Mr. Webb ordered a cosmetically
blemished “KIT GUITAR” at a hugely discounted price, not a professionally
painted and assembled guitar. The extremely minor surface blemishes would easily
be resolved once the guitar had been painted. His discount was in excess of
1,000.00 for this guitar body.
A “kit guitar” is NOT assembled in the
same manner as custom completed guitar would be;
As a “kit guitar” it has not been painted by our shop. This kit guitar has been
temporarily assembled (known as a ‘Pre- Build’) at the request of Mr Webb
to check tolerances of the neck to the body, intonation, frets, etc. Also the
electronics are only temporarily soldered together to check their functionality
The guitar will have to be
completely disassembled by the customer prior to their painting their kit, and
then they would reassemble the guitar as a finished guitar including properly &
neatly soldering the electronics.
This is the same process used by
many small guitar luthiers in the USA. Mr. Webb’s claims that the guitar
was not assembled correctly is completely unfounded. Had he wanted an assembled
guitar, he should have purchased a completed instrument rather than a budget kit
in the first place!
Mr. Webb’s claim that his frets were
not installed properly is also not correct. He sent back the guitar to my shop
for inspection and three of my luthiers independently inspected his guitar’s
frets and concluded they were installed correctly. We design & custom build
hundreds of guitars annually, many for famous professional world class guitar
players. The type of mistake he is claiming occurred to his guitar would be very
odd for even a novice guitar shop to miss in it’s inspection process.
Mr. Webb has continued to
repetitively call my office, email my employees & Slander me with untrue
libelous statements on the internet, with out cause or merit, over issues that
he ‘feels’ should have been different with his discounted kit guitar.
Even after he filed a complaint with your office, he has continued to harass my
office via phone calls, numerous incoherent mails and negative libelous
inflammatory postings on the internet. I am discussing my legal options
regarding the slander with one of my attorney clients who just happens to live
in Boise Idaho.
To me it appears he regrets his purchase
and is trying to bully me into refunding his money for a guitar he very
specifically ordered. We “warranty” our guitars to be free from defects, not
“guarantee” his satisfaction with the type of unique customized kit guitar he
At this time he has performed further modifications and we will no longer accept
this guitar back under any circumstances.
In summation, Myself and my whole staff have bent over backwards to appease
Mr. Webb to no avail, and he has responded by creating an illegal hate campaign
against my staff & myself on the internet. Clearly, he has more issues than
just being dissatisfied with his guitar!
If you have any further specific
questions, please feel free to contact me or my assistant, Donald directly at