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#1285547 - 10/12/09 03:25 PM Hearing aids
Jerry Groot RPT Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/07/07
Posts: 6828
Loc: Grand Rapids Michigan
OK. So, I get this customer that nobody else can please from a good technician fiend, er, ah, friend that does excellent work but he can't seem to please the guy. The tech figures if anybody can please this dude, I can. So, he gives him my name and number. Thanks...

I went to tune his piano a nice Boston full sized upright last March 2009. I tuned and voiced it. It came out perfect as perfect can be. I played it, he played, I went up and down the scales striking all of the notes he had not been happy with before. I made him set down and play it for about 5 minutes. He was never before so thrilled. Or, so he says.

I got into the car and said to my son, Jer, by the time we get home, he will be on the machine with a complaint. Jer said, how do you know that dad? He was happy as can be? I just know Jer. I know the type. Sure enough, he was on there complaining about those same notes as before.

I called him right then and listened finally explaining to him that his hearing aids for one, are squealing like mad. Drove me nuts while I was tuning. I explained further that his hearing is bad and that the aids are picking up stuff that normal ears would not. He would not believe me for anything. I said, I can come back but, I will charge you for my time because I know full well that piano was in tune and spent an extra 20 minutes with you on it before I left to make sure that you were happy and you were, happy. Very happy. He understands and says he will wait.

1 week later. He calls back. Says that he talked with his brother who also wears hearing aids. His brother said that it is his hearing aids and that he can no longer listen to his old records because with his own hearing aids they just sound so distorted. He continues saying he just can't believe this. Never heard that before and almost refused to believe it. Then says that next time I tune the piano (I'm thinking, next time, ha ha, funny)he would like to watch and listen to see if what I'm doing sounds "good to him."

Today, he called to make an appointment again. I flat out refused him explaining further that I was to busy which is quite true and then here's the funny part... I referred him to my cousin, the other Groot RPT in our family. hehehe. I can hardly wait for my cousin to call me. He WILL have a few choice words just for me....... Ain't I a stinker???
Jerry Groot RPT
Piano Technicians Guild
Grand Rapids, Michigan

We love to play BF2.

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#1285562 - 10/12/09 03:56 PM Re: Hearing aids [Re: Jerry Groot RPT]
Bob Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/01/01
Posts: 3932
Someone referred a customer to me last June - second tuning on a new grand. I replaced a broken string and spent 1 3/4 hours tuning due to tight, sticky, ultra-flex pins. Hard hammers made for a bright, ear-splitting tone, and the player bangs hard on the keys. The piano is in a small 10 x 10 bedroom. I offer to voice the piano down, but there's no money for that.

Two months later, I'm called back to fix another broken string. I offer again to voice the piano down. No money.

Last week they called again - another broken string. Now due for a tuning, but they refused that, and refused any voicing. I referred them to another tuner.

#1285655 - 10/12/09 06:22 PM Re: Hearing aids [Re: Bob]
jpscoey Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/02/09
Posts: 306
Loc: Manchester, England, UK.
Even tho' this was 15 or more years ago I still remember a customer who was a nightmare to deal with.

She was an elderly lady (80 if she was a day).

Upon arriving at her house, she told me that she'd turned to me on the highest recommendation, because none of the previous tuners she had tried were able to tune her (nearly new) piano to the standard she required..... and that they were "unreliable", because "when I've phoned them to ask them to come back and correct their faults", they promised to return her calls & never did.

It wasn't long before I added myself to that list!!!

I did perfectly good tuning for her and, like Jerry, not only played the piano for several minutes so she could check it - but had her play it too.

She said she was delighted - "it's never sounded so good".

A day or two later & she was on the phone.

"There's something not quite right with 'one note' the piano".

I went back to check. The tuning was still perfect.

I tried to explain to her (by demonstrating all the various checks) that there was nothing wrong, but she insisted that E5 was "terribly flat".

I asked why she hadn't voiced her concerns at the time.

"It must have gone out of tune since you left".

Although the note WAS perfectly in tune, I agreed to tune it to her liking.

When she was finally 'happy' with it, it was WILDLY sharp. I said I wasn't happy to leave it like that, as it was my name that was associated to the tuning..... but she insisted, so I reluctantly agreed to leave it as it was.

Another day or two passed..... & yes, she was on the phone again - the note still wasn't 'right'.

I said to her that I'd tuned it exactly how she wanted it, but (as she was only about a mile away from where I lived), I called round again.

This time I put it back into perfect tuning again - and she was, once more, delighted.

One or two days later - (you guessed it.....)

This time I was 'too busy with other work' - and thankfully never heard from, or saw her again!

Some people, eh? crazy !!!
John Schofield. NTC Dip. , C.G.L.I.
Professional piano tuner/technician since 1982.

#1285670 - 10/12/09 06:58 PM Re: Hearing aids [Re: jpscoey]
BDB Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 22173
Loc: Oakland
I remember a customer in her late 90s who had a nice Mason & Hamlin BB. She had been a concert pianist who had studied with Harold Bauer and played concertos with orchestras. I would tune her piano, and she would sit down and play Schumann's Toccata. But the piano never sounded right to her because of her hearing aids. Lovely lady, though, long gone now.
Semipro Tech

#1285696 - 10/12/09 07:58 PM Re: Hearing aids [Re: BDB]
David Jenson Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/22/06
Posts: 2282
Loc: Maine
Jerry, you're a certifiable "stinker" for unloading that customer on your poor, innocent, pure-of-heart, foul-of-mouth cousin.

'Seems like every customer I've unloaded has worn a hearing aid. No matter how carefully you try to explain the limitations of the things, the wearers insist that they can hear just fine with 'em.
David L. Jenson
Tuning - Repairs - Refurbishing
Jenson's Piano Service

#1285817 - 10/13/09 12:36 AM Re: Hearing aids [Re: David Jenson]
JBE Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/17/09
Posts: 377
Loc: USA
My jaws get tight just thinking about those types of customers.
Sometimes you just want to pack up and walk out. I just tell myself, just a test it'll soon pass.

#1286123 - 10/13/09 12:27 PM Re: Hearing aids [Re: JBE]
BDB Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 22173
Loc: Oakland
So how is it that hearing aids cause pitch distortion, yet microphones used for tuning do not, no matter how cheap they are?
Semipro Tech

#1286211 - 10/13/09 02:25 PM Re: Hearing aids [Re: BDB]
Jerry Groot RPT Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/07/07
Posts: 6828
Loc: Grand Rapids Michigan
Good point BDB. I haven't a clue on that one. It obviously has something to do with our ears verses a machine picking it up...


I gladly drop customers like this. It just isn't worth the frustration. They refuse to accept or understand the limitations of hearing aids. I suppose, there are better quality ones that might pick up better? I don't know. Hope I never have to find out either!
Jerry Groot RPT
Piano Technicians Guild
Grand Rapids, Michigan

We love to play BF2.

#1286329 - 10/13/09 06:03 PM Re: Hearing aids [Re: BDB]
JBE Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/17/09
Posts: 377
Loc: USA
Sometimes microphones for tuning don't pick it up very well. That's why we have to listen and verify. Sometimes the microphone needs to be repositioned slightly.

#1286645 - 10/14/09 08:13 AM Re: Hearing aids [Re: JBE]
UnrightTooner Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/13/08
Posts: 5206
Loc: Bradford County, PA
Perhaps the hearing aid mic is fine, but the amplifier is not, or the ear can only be helped so much, or the mind is not interpreting correctly. To me, the high treble notes sound at different pitches depending on what notes are played beforehand. Remember the riddle about if a tree falls in the forest and there is no one around to hear it, does it make a noise?
Jeff Deutschle
Part-Time Tuner
Who taught the first chicken how to peck?

#1286695 - 10/14/09 09:39 AM Re: Hearing aids [Re: UnrightTooner]
Jerry Groot RPT Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/07/07
Posts: 6828
Loc: Grand Rapids Michigan
Yeah, the upper end goes "clunk clunk clunk" a wooden sound only according to some customers who have lost their upper register hearing abilities.
Jerry Groot RPT
Piano Technicians Guild
Grand Rapids, Michigan

We love to play BF2.


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