Paid for deposit, but the owner won't release the piano!

Posted by: Kbee

Paid for deposit, but the owner won't release the piano! - 03/05/13 04:29 PM

Got a used Yamaha GC-1 off of CL, it's in beautiful condition. We saw the piano twice and signed the bill of sale last Sat. The owner (wife) agreed that I could move the piano the following weekend.

After sending her the schedule for pick up, she emailed me that her husband needs to keep the piano for another month for her father's birthday celebration. But I need the piano for daughter's competition. She never mentioned this condition during our negotiation and said she just got the news from husband. The husband knew our negotiation and gave the counter offer which we accepted.

What to do? frown
Posted by: beethoven986

Re: Paid for deposit, but the owner won't release the piano! - 03/05/13 04:30 PM

Threaten them with small claims court.
Posted by: Kbee

Re: Paid for deposit, but the owner won't release the piano! - 03/05/13 05:58 PM

Could someone elaborate more? Can they back out of the deal and just return my deposit?

The bill of sale stated the item (piano), but did not mention when to move. I haven't paid the piano in full yet.
Posted by: Gatsbee13

Re: Paid for deposit, but the owner won't release the piano! - 03/05/13 06:10 PM

I would speak to an attorney regarding your rights. usually, this can be done over the phone for free.. try calling several law offices if you don't get an initial answer.

this one falls outside the realm of knowledge I have about the law.. let this be a lesson for all us craigslist or private party buyers.. I have a feeling this will work out in your favor..GL
Posted by: rlinkt

Re: Paid for deposit, but the owner won't release the piano! - 03/05/13 06:38 PM

Get your money back and just walk. The piano may not be in the same condition a month from now as it is today, and I do not think you planned on your contract protecting you from unexpected changes in the condition of the piano.

You could go the lawyer route, but its not worth it for a piano.
Posted by: PianoWorksATL

Re: Paid for deposit, but the owner won't release the piano! - 03/05/13 06:47 PM

Oh the joys of Craigslist. Buyer beware extends to the sellers, not just the products.

You can get your money back or you can wait. Not walking away just opens you up to more crap as private sellers are not professionals.
Posted by: Steven Y. A.

Re: Paid for deposit, but the owner won't release the piano! - 03/05/13 06:56 PM

I would walk away and look for alternatives.. GC-1 is not hard to find...
but if you feel being seriously offended you can seek for legal advice..
Posted by: Supply

Re: Paid for deposit, but the owner won't release the piano! - 03/05/13 07:19 PM

I would be a bit concerned that after the father's birthday in a month's time, there will be another lame reason for additional delays, etc, or the piano may disappear altogether.

Maybe the lesson here is: seal the deal with a deposit, but walk away with something that is essential to the piano. I have removed actions from pianos I have purchased but couldn't move right away.
Posted by: Monica K.

Re: Paid for deposit, but the owner won't release the piano! - 03/05/13 08:32 PM

The "birthday celebration" excuse is fishy indeed. I wonder if there isn't another agenda going on, e.g., maybe the owners are trying to sell it elsewhere at a higher price.

I would tell them that they either let you pick up the piano at the desired time that you verbally agreed upon, or give you your deposit back and void the deal.
Posted by: Jeff Clef

Re: Paid for deposit, but the owner won't release the piano! - 03/06/13 12:10 PM

"...We saw the piano twice and signed the bill of sale..."

If you have a bill of sale and a receipt, that is a contract; the piano is yours and they have no right to keep it. But I would stop payment on the check and cancel the sale rather than deal with these cuckoo birds. Let this be a lesson to you about buying a piano from the internet.

Whatever your daughter is using to practice for the competition now, let her keep using it.

We had a lovely person who used to post here. Oh, who am I kidding, she was crazy and obnoxious. And dishonest, it turned out. She accepted a piano from a dealer for a home try-out, and then advertized it for sale in the next town. Alas for her, the dealer saw the ad, and...

There was a little fuss about it here as she tried to explain that it was actually ok to do this, but the upside is that the piano went back to its rightful owner and we never heard from her again.

BTW, if you are buying a used piano privately, it's very important to have it inspected by a qualified piano tech who is not financially interested in the sale. You mentioned that the condition was "beautiful," but did not mention an inspection. You've already found that the unsupported word of a seller is not to be relied on. A hundred bucks or so could spare you from an ocean of tears--- even an ocean of tears and a mouse nest.
Posted by: Rickster

Re: Paid for deposit, but the owner won't release the piano! - 03/06/13 03:16 PM

Something similar happened to me once; however, it was divine providence and I ended up with a much better piano. I think the same will be the case with you, hopefully.

I saw a D.H. Baldwin (5’8”) baby grand on CL for $3000 advertised as a “divorce sale” (first red flag). It was located about 20 miles away and within my “space” so to speak, without venturing too far away from home. I called the guy the same day the ad was listed and scheduled a time to go look at it.

When I arrived a few minutes early, no one was at home (second red flag). I waited about 30 minutes and the guy finally shows up, along with his soon to be x-wife and kids. The house was nice and roomy and in a nice subdivision. The guy introduces himself, and apologizes for being late. When I go inside, there is no furniture to speak of in the house, and just a few pictures remaining on the wall; the piano was in a large great room all by itself. I sat down and played it a little, and decided right away that I wanted the piano (which would have been my first grand).

I did not even try to negotiate a lower price. I figured the asking price of $3000 was about right, and maybe even a bargain. Of course, I didn’t know as much about pianos then as I know now, such as the fact that a D. H. Baldwin ain’t no real Baldwin (excuse the double negative smile ). It was likely made by Samick… still, not a bad piano.

To make a long story short, this was on a late Saturday afternoon and I had not had time to go by the bank and get cash. I did call a local mover and got a tentative day to move the piano later that week, in the event I bought it. I offered to write the seller a personal check for the $3000 asking price, or I could offer him $100 cash earnest money to hold the piano until the movers could get there and pay the balance in person before the movers touched the piano. The seller agreed to accept the $100 earnest money and wrote me a bill of sale. I was thrilled and excited at the prospect of owning a baby grand piano for the first time!

The next day, Sunday, late in the evening, the guy calls and says his soon to be x-wife is having some issues with him selling the piano and said he would have to return my earnest money and cancel the sale. I told him that I did not want to get involved with any problems between him and his soon-to-be X and said I would be by to pick up my $100 the next day; went back by the house, and there was an envelope taped to the door with my $100 inside and a note saying "sorry".

About a week later, I saw the same piano advertised on CL again for $4500. Guess they resolved the issues about selling the piano.

Good luck with your predicament.

Rick
Posted by: BerndAB

Re: Paid for deposit, but the owner won't release the piano! - 03/06/13 04:17 PM

A sale is a sale is a sale..

If there a "third party" (hubby) suddenly insists on other rights (to delay the delivery) just blame the seller (wife) for intermediate expenses like rental of a another grand intermediate.

They will try to sell the piano elsewhere, may be for higher price ( 'coz they relay on the "security" that you gave downpayment..) and most probably will try to keep the downpayment..

Nasty try of a tricky behaviour.. Ethically incorrect.

Maybe a small announcement in the local newspaper or ebay local might be instructive: "Anyone who paid for a grand and did not get it, in xxx street..?.."

If there is another one who did a downpayment.. then sue them. It is fraud.
Posted by: Rank Piano Amateur

Re: Paid for deposit, but the owner won't release the piano! - 03/06/13 10:53 PM

I am always amazed at how frequently people recommend suing each other. Suing people is a major, colossal, huge, extravagant, horrendous pain in the you-know-where. It is expensive, time consuming, and acrimonious. If you can get your money back, get it back and buy a piano elsewhere.

Being sued is terrible, but being the plaintiff is hard too. Unless there is a real gain to be had, and it does not really sound like there is here, provided no money has changed hands. Just get your money back and vote with your feet!
Posted by: Nash. Piano Rescue

Re: Paid for deposit, but the owner won't release the piano! - 03/06/13 11:49 PM

I don't understand why you had to pay a deposit? Why not just buy it and pick it up. I understand the need possibly if it was just a great deal and you were scheduling in movers later.

I agree lot's could happen to a piano during a birthday party. Cake, Punch, Kids and a Piano Hmm.
Posted by: Derulux

Re: Paid for deposit, but the owner won't release the piano! - 03/07/13 12:52 AM

Originally Posted By: Kbee
Got a used Yamaha GC-1 off of CL, it's in beautiful condition. We saw the piano twice and signed the bill of sale last Sat. The owner (wife) agreed that I could move the piano the following weekend.

After sending her the schedule for pick up, she emailed me that her husband needs to keep the piano for another month for her father's birthday celebration. But I need the piano for daughter's competition. She never mentioned this condition during our negotiation and said she just got the news from husband. The husband knew our negotiation and gave the counter offer which we accepted.

What to do? frown

You really have two main options:

1. Go there and get your money back (if there is a risk of them skipping town, do this in person, and not via a phone call.. I would recommend involving the police in this case)
2. Wait it out

The whole, "Sue 'em!" or "Go to Small Claims Court!" ideas are great, but they're a colossal waste of your time and money. (They only really work if the person selling the item is completely ignorant of contract law, or has actually grossly violated the terms of the contract.) For example: if the agreement on when the piano could me moved was not stipulated in the contract, you've got no case. It's not like they're asking you to wait a year.

Further, if you haven't paid for the item in full, you really don't own it yet. That means the woman still owns her piano until you pay for it. And even after you pay for it, there is a chance you may not own it yet if there are FOB/Incoterms written into the contract. (In fact, it would actually be best if you didn't own it until the piano was delivered safely to your location.)

At any point over the next month, she might sell it for a higher price, and may even be banking on that. Then, all she has to do is return your money to you and void the contract before she sells it to the other person. Contract law really only requires either that the contract terms be executed, or that each party to the contract be returned to their "original state". Ethical? No. Legal? Maybe, maybe not. Would you have a winnable case? Almost certainly not, and it wouldn't even be worth the hassle to go to court.

I would highly recommend getting your money back and walking away, if it is possible to do so. In the future, I would highly recommend closing the deal and making monetary exchanges at the same time the piano is moved from the original owner's location to yours. Never let people take money from you without delivering to you the product promised. It's a shame people aren't more trustworthy, but unfortunately, they're not. Otherwise, lawyers would be out of a job. wink
Posted by: Kbee

Re: Paid for deposit, but the owner won't release the piano! - 03/07/13 09:57 PM

Thank you so very much for everyone's opinions! I really appreciate it.

Yes, I've learned my lesson. My banker friend told me to pay for the piano and move it immediately, but I didn't listen.

Since the seller is a very nice lady and I couldn't schedule the mover immediately, I paid for the deposit and had her sign the bill of sale. Everything went smoothly during the negotiation so I didn't give a second thought. This is also the first time I bought something off CL (guess you can tell by now).

After some email exchanges, luckily, the owner agreed to let me pick up the piano next week. The date is set, so hopefully I'll have a piano.

Will update later. Thanks for all the suggestions and input!!
Posted by: Jeff Clef

Re: Paid for deposit, but the owner won't release the piano! - 03/08/13 10:19 AM

You are fortunate. I'm glad it is working out better. Looks like talking beat suing. Rock breaks scissors; paper wraps rock.

What did the inspecting tech say?
Posted by: Morodiene

Re: Paid for deposit, but the owner won't release the piano! - 03/08/13 11:38 AM

Originally Posted By: Kbee
Thank you so very much for everyone's opinions! I really appreciate it.

Yes, I've learned my lesson. My banker friend told me to pay for the piano and move it immediately, but I didn't listen.

Since the seller is a very nice lady and I couldn't schedule the mover immediately, I paid for the deposit and had her sign the bill of sale. Everything went smoothly during the negotiation so I didn't give a second thought. This is also the first time I bought something off CL (guess you can tell by now).

After some email exchanges, luckily, the owner agreed to let me pick up the piano next week. The date is set, so hopefully I'll have a piano.

Will update later. Thanks for all the suggestions and input!!


Hopefully all goes as planned. I do not think it is fair on their part to change the terms of when you'd get the piano after you had agreed to pick it up within a short amount of time. Sometimes people don't think things through and they just talk without considering how that might come across. I'm glad they realized this and are going to accommodate you as originally planned.
Posted by: peterws

Re: Paid for deposit, but the owner won't release the piano! - 03/09/13 06:00 AM

"I have removed actions from pianos I have purchased but couldn't move right away."

I don`t blame anyone for doing this, but goodwill flies outa the window. . . I`ve always trusted people and 99% o` the time it works out.
Posted by: Roger Ransom

Re: Paid for deposit, but the owner won't release the piano! - 03/09/13 09:31 AM

Of course there's always the possibility that there is nothing sneaky going on and that the guy really would like to have the piano there for the occasion he talked about. Why? I have no idea but I have learned that there are often several sides to most situations. Maybe one of the invited guests plays or he thinks it looks nice in the house or.....?

That's what I would assume unless I found out different.

That does not mean I would agree to his request though and I'm glad you're getting it when you initially agreed.

Have fun!
Posted by: Rickster

Re: Paid for deposit, but the owner won't release the piano! - 03/09/13 01:01 PM

Originally Posted By: Peterws
"I have removed actions from pianos I have purchased but couldn't move right away."

I don`t blame anyone for doing this, but goodwill flies outa the window. . . I`ve always trusted people and 99% o` the time it works out.

I agree...

If I were selling a used grand and the buyer wanted to pay a deposit and take the action or the bench with them, I'd tell them NO DEAL, and politely ask them to leave and find them another used piano. If they paid in full, cash, I might go along with it because it's their piano now.


There are many pit-falls to watch out for when buying a used piano, or even a new one from a dealer. It's time to rest easy when the piano you just bought is sitting in your own living room, in tune and ready to play! smile

Rick