Biasco Fiasco? - Updated 02/21/08

Posted by: Piano World

Biasco Fiasco? - Updated 02/21/08 - 02/13/08 10:42 AM

Some of you may remember when there were discussions here on the forums about the Biasco's. At the time, we were asked by their attorney to pull the posts.

This time, the "post" is on a Newspaper's web site.


© From the Naperville Sun...

Biasco fiasco?
Piano buyers could be out to tune of $500,000[/b]

February 12, 2008
By BILL BIRD Staff Writer

Their names are Peter and Paul, although more than a few would contend their conduct has been anything but saintly.

Authorities are investigating potential wrongdoing on the part of brothers Peter and Paul Biasco, who recently shuttered their Piano Experts music stores at 1163 E. Ogden Ave. in Naperville and in northwest suburban Buffalo Grove.

Naperville police have fielded almost two dozen complaints during the past two weeks from music aficionados from as far away as Kansas. All contend the brothers sold them expensive pianos, took their money and then failed to deliver the instruments.[/b]

Peter Morse, a Chicago attorney and unofficial leader of a loosely-knit group of the Biascos' alleged victims, believes the number of cheated customers is far higher than that. Morse calculates at least 150 people - including one of his own children - paid for and never received their pianos from the Naperville store. The group collectively may have lost as much as $500,000.

Tale of woe
The story told by Woodridge resident Jody Grimaldi echoes that of other Piano Experts customers. Grimaldi said he spent just more than $5,300 Nov. 10 for a Baldwin baby grand piano intended as a surprise for his wife on her 30th birthday.
Store employees promised delivery of the piano within eight weeks, Grimaldi said. As that deadline passed, Grimaldi said he was told there had been delays at the manufacturing level but was assured the piano would arrive soon.

Grimaldi returned to the store Feb. 2, only to find it dark and abandoned. A sign in the front window announced "store closed," and instructed customers to call Piano Experts' telephone number and leave a message.

The store's telephone mailbox was full as of Monday.


READ THE REST OF THE ARTICLE


To file a complaint
Questions or complaints about Piano Experts of Naperville should be directed to:

• Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan at 312-814-3000

• The Naperville Police Department at 630-420-6666

According to my Google Alerts, this story is also posted ...[/b]

http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=news/local&id=5953228

And...

http://www.nbc5.com/news/15281070/detail.html
Posted by: Monica K.

Re: Biasco Fiasco? - Updated 02/21/08 - 02/13/08 04:41 PM

That article was an eye-opener. It appears that this family has been engaged in sleazy tactics for many years. What a shame. \:\(
Posted by: Piano World

Re: Biasco Fiasco? - Updated 02/21/08 - 02/13/08 05:05 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by Monica K.:
That article was an eye-opener. It appears that this family has been engaged in sleazy tactics for many years. What a shame. \:\( [/b]
http://www.pianoworld.com/ubb/ubb/ultimatebb.php?/topic/31/6.html
Posted by: Piano*Dad

Re: Biasco Fiasco? - Updated 02/21/08 - 02/13/08 06:28 PM

Well, we have had disappearing pianos discussed here before. I wonder how things are going in Houston these days.
Posted by: Axtremus

Re: Biasco Fiasco? - Updated 02/21/08 - 02/13/08 07:37 PM

As I recall, there was a gentleman from some public prosecutor's office who posted here soliciting info that may help with his office's investigation with the Houston case. I wonder if official charges have been brought.

It may seem a little slow, but it's still good to know that the government is trying to do something to protect the piano buying public, albeit only in extreme cases. And some legitimate dealers are still fighting the good fight to keep their industry reputable.

This forum and its participants help as well, by bringing such abuses to the fore and let other consumers be aware of problems.
Posted by: U S A P T

Re: Biasco Fiasco? - Updated 02/21/08 - 02/14/08 07:53 PM

Wow. This story has been all over the Chicago TV news the last few days.
Posted by: Piano World

Re: Biasco Fiasco? - Updated 02/21/08 - 02/21/08 09:53 AM

And the saga continues...

http://www.nbc5.com/news/15295996/detail.html

It's a shame what this company did to these customers.
Posted by: Steve Cohen

Re: Biasco Fiasco? - Updated 02/21/08 - 02/21/08 11:16 AM

I sure hope they don't get away with it.

Is this a golden opportunity for Baldwin to step up to the plate? Not that they have any obligation, but what a gesture!

[If they were one of my clients, I woud really push for it.]
Posted by: bitWrangler

Re: Biasco Fiasco? - Updated 02/21/08 - 02/21/08 11:34 AM

Bummer for all those folks, hopefully they can recover at least some of their money (though it sounds like it might take a while to make it through all the legal wrangling).

Does bring up an interesting point. We've had several threads about the dangers of purchasing through online venues (e.g. ebay and online piano retailers). But we've also now have had at least a couple of major issues with dealers (Covington and now this). Just goes to show that no matter where you're getting ready to plunk down thousands/tens of thousands of dollars that you must do due diligence regarding the entity you are purchasing the piano from. A quick look at the BBB shows an unsatisfactory rating for this particular piano shop (could be because of all the recent activity?). Buyers would be well advised to spend as much time looking up B&M establishments as they would virtual ones. Just because there is a friendly face accepting your check doesn't mean it will be a satisfactory experience. Caveat emptor!
Posted by: Steve Cohen

Re: Biasco Fiasco? - Updated 02/21/08 - 02/21/08 11:46 AM

 Quote:
Originally posted by bitWrangler:
Bummer for all those folks, hopefully they can recover at least some of their money (though it sounds like it might take a while to make it through all the legal wrangling).

Does bring up an interesting point. We've had several threads about the dangers of purchasing through online venues (e.g. ebay and online piano retailers). But we've also now have had at least a couple of major issues with dealers (Covington and now this). Just goes to show that no matter where you're getting ready to plunk down thousands/tens of thousands of dollars that you must do due diligence regarding the entity you are purchasing the piano from. A quick look at the BBB shows an unsatisfactory rating for this particular piano shop (could be because of all the recent activity?). Buyers would be well advised to spend as much time looking up B&M establishments as they would virtual ones. Just because there is a friendly face accepting your check doesn't mean it will be a satisfactory experience. Caveat emptor! [/b]
Very unfortunate...but true. \:\(
Posted by: apple*

Re: Biasco Fiasco? - Updated 02/21/08 - 02/21/08 03:40 PM

my word
Posted by: Glenn Treibitz

Re: Biasco Fiasco? - Updated 02/21/08 - 02/21/08 09:52 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by Steve Cohen:
I sure hope they don't get away with it.

Is this a golden opportunity for Baldwin to step up to the plate? Not that they have any obligation, but what a gesture!

[If they were one of my clients, I woud really push for it.] [/b]
Steve, That would be the right thing to do for Baldwin, but if you remember when Gison bought the company they would not even stand behind the warranties at the time.
Posted by: LittleTyke

Re: Biasco Fiasco? - Updated 02/21/08 - 02/22/08 04:23 AM

Perhaps customers should now insist on paying cash on delivery. I know it will be a hassle for the majority of piano businesses that are behaving honourably, but many "in the business" must have had an inkling of what was going on behind the scenes. This kind of thing usually spreads via the grapevine. Maybe a period of customer "civil disobedience" by demanding the goods BEFORE payment might help police the barrel from within and get rid of the rotten apples before they ruin the trade for everybody.
Posted by: Rickster

Re: Biasco Fiasco? - Updated 02/21/08 - 02/22/08 07:55 AM

Interesting thread.

The last piano I bought was C.O.D., (was from a dealer too); seems a little safer to me, especially in view of this story.

Best regards,

Rickster
Posted by: ipgrunt

Re: Biasco Fiasco? - Updated 02/21/08 - 02/22/08 12:36 PM

Frank,

I haven't been to the site in a while, but your newsletter's story brought be back in to take a look.

Once again, I'm reminded of what a great service Piano World has provided to the piano community for many years now.

About 10 years ago, I bought a Steinway A from a sweet old lady in St. Louis, and we handled the deal over the phone without ever meeting (I live in Denver). Three years later, I sold that same piano to a dealer in New York state (through Piano World), again, without ever meeting the buyer. He rebuilt that classic instrument and sold it to a buyer in the South East.

The story of my 1902 Steinway is not unique, and I'd venture a guess that 99% of the people in this business are honest and thoroughly reliable dealers and craftspersons who would take a loss before cheating a client or customer.

Since the piano business in the 21st century is the antithesis of a 'get rich quick' enterprise, I am indeed puzzled at the personalities behind the Biasco fiasco -- if I were the type whose goal was to swindle Florida residents, I doubt if I'd choose a retail piano outlet as my vehicle.

I, of course, feel terrible for those who lost savings here and I do pray the story will somehow have a happy ending for those who lost their money.
Posted by: Steve Cohen

Re: Biasco Fiasco? - Updated 02/21/08 - 02/22/08 03:29 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by LittleTyke:
Perhaps customers should now insist on paying cash on delivery. I know it will be a hassle for the majority of piano businesses that are behaving honourably, but many "in the business" must have had an inkling of what was going on behind the scenes. This kind of thing usually spreads via the grapevine. Maybe a period of customer "civil disobedience" by demanding the goods BEFORE payment might help police the barrel from within and get rid of the rotten apples before they ruin the trade for everybody. [/b]
Your assertion that many in the industry must have had an inkling is unsupported and unfair.

I would think the culprits would have carefully guarded their situation.
Posted by: S. Phillips

Re: Biasco Fiasco? - Updated 02/21/08 - 02/22/08 08:58 PM

I have to agree with Steve on this one. The manufacturer would have no way of knowing that this was happening.

Pianos are sold to the dealer by the manufacturer and sales or customer names are never reported to the manufacturer until warranty cards are sent in by the dealer or customer after the delivery. Even then the manufacturer never sees any sale paperwork. The manufacturer has no way of knowing what is sold by a dealer. The flooring company knows if a piano is missing from a dealer's floor but they again have no knowledge of a sale transaction at the dealer level unless they arrive for a stock check and the piano is not to be found. At that point the flooring company would collect for the piano but again they would have no knowledge of the name of the customer unless the dealer claimed that the piano was delivered and not paid. Then the flooring company would demand to know the whereabouts of the piano.

In this case it is very easy for a dealer to do this - until the customers with no instruments come forth and complain to someone outside of the dealership. With a closely held small dealership only the owners would have access to any sales records and since the pianos might never have been ordered to begin with the manufacturers would be completely in the dark.

Similar things have happened in the past. One large metropolitan dealership had an "order" form that had fine print that stated that if the piano was "ordered" and never delivered by the manufacturer then the deposit money was not refundable. Several customers got caught in that one because their paperwork was carefully worded so that when the piano failed to arrive, they lost their deposit.

Actually in my dealership we always collected a small deposit at the store at the time of the sale and got the balance of the purchase price at the time of delivery.

This is a sad, unfortunate saga that has plagued the Chicago market for years.

I just want to add to this that in my experience the vast majority of dealers are hard working, honest people who love the piano business and unfairly suffer from the actions of a few. The piano business is a very difficult market and it takes tenacity and commitment to stay in. I'm sure that dealers who read this know exactly how this was done but they also know how predictably one would get caught. You can't fix stupid.
Posted by: cscl

Re: Biasco Fiasco? - Updated 02/21/08 - 02/23/08 08:34 AM

I bought my first digital piano from this store in August 2006. I suppose my lifetime trade-in value isn't worth much anymore! \:\)

I was lucky as this was an inexpensive digital and they didn't seem to have the problems they have now with delivering the merchandise. They even followed up on a problem I had with crackling in the speakers and had that fixed under the warranty.

However, I didn't even go back to that shop when I was looking for an acoustic piano in 2007. There was a bit of slime factor in the salesmanship and by that time I knew a lot more about buying pianos than just walking into the first shop I saw with the snazziest advertisements (which is what I did when I bought the digital, no research, just walked in and got something that fit my budget). Back then, having been in only one piano store, I didn't realize piano stores were more like car dealerships than they are like BestBuy. I kind of thought you go in a store, they'll have all the brands, pick what you like. And maybe for digitals, that wasn't so far off, but yikes, I was lucky! \:\)
Posted by: U S A P T

Re: Biasco Fiasco? - Updated 02/21/08 - 02/23/08 07:59 PM

I wish we could reprint some of the full-page ads from the newspapers.

Many were hilarious -- especially the fine print.
Posted by: George K

Re: Biasco Fiasco? - Updated 02/21/08 - 02/23/08 09:29 PM

I paid a visit to Piano Experts when I was shopping, and spent a Sunday afternoon with a very nice Seiler grand. It was a 6 footer, and, had I had the funds at that time, it would have been a suitable piano. The salesguy was friendly and didn't pressure me at all. After about an hour, the owner came in and introduced himself. I don't remember his first name, but I sure recognized Biasco.

DING DING DING!

DANGER WILL ROBINSON!!

I spent about another half an hour ,and then left, never to return.
Posted by: byebye

Re: Biasco Fiasco? - Updated 02/21/08 - 02/24/08 08:09 PM

I find it difficult to believe that after Baldwin and Piano Experts parted ways no one at Baldwin noticed (or heard from someone in Chicago--not a small town) that the dealer was still advertising and "selling" Baldwin pianos months later.

Surely some customers must have called Baldwin, wondering when their pianos would be built and shipped.
Posted by: S. Phillips

Re: Biasco Fiasco? - Updated 02/21/08 - 02/24/08 08:36 PM

Mark,

Here's how that happens. The dealer is canceled by a manufacturer. Most of the time the manufacturer's rep might know how many pianos the dealer has in stock but sometimes that number is sketchy. As long as the dealer has stock and the manufacturer has not repurchased the pianos from the dealer, the canceled dealer can claim to have new instruments.

Usually it is the new dealer that would normally have a complaint with the manufacturer about the advertising. Also it takes more attorney fees to get a dealer to stop doing this and in most cases it is only a few units so everyone just waits until that stock is sold. Most of the time the manufacturer does not want to have to repurchase the instruments unless the flooring companies force them to do so. If there is no new dealer to complain (and I am not up who that might be) then no complaint is made.

Also the size of the Chicago market makes a lot of this easier because the anonymity of the customer base. Many customers could have this problem and it would take a while for them to find each other.

As you can see from the other thread this has been a long time in the making.
Posted by: tickler

Re: Biasco Fiasco? - Updated 02/21/08 - 02/24/08 08:46 PM

When I was piano shopping, Piano Experts was the first store I visited. I didn't realize it was a Biasco store. I liked some of the new artist-series (I think that was the name) Baldwin grands, a used Baldwin, and a used Chickering. I didn't buy anything -- I knew that I had a lot of shopping ahead of me.

What really sticks in my mind was the pushiness of the salesman. He kept pestering me so much about buying one that night, or that weekend because they had a great sale going on, that I really couldn't play the pianos. At every pause, he was there with more sales lines.

A few days later I was told that the owner was a Biasco and to avoid them. Luckily I found pianos that I liked better at other stores.

Mary
Posted by: Monica K.

Re: Biasco Fiasco? - Updated 02/21/08 - 02/24/08 08:53 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by George K:
DING DING DING!

DANGER WILL ROBINSON!!
[/b]
Now THERE was a good television show... [gets lost in happy nostalgia space]
Posted by: byebye

Re: Biasco Fiasco? - Updated 02/21/08 - 02/24/08 10:38 PM

I'm skeptical.

When I ordered a Saturn autombile the dealer gave me an estimate of when it would be built and delivered. If the car had been considerably delayed and the dealer were evasive, I would have called Saturn in Spring Hill, TN--and raised a stink.

I'll bet folks were calling Arkansas.
Posted by: George K

Re: Biasco Fiasco? - Updated 02/21/08 - 02/24/08 10:51 PM

Contacting the manufacturer is not a bad idea.

I am surprised, however, that people bought, and paid for, pianos that they had not actually touched.
Posted by: U S A P T

Re: Biasco Fiasco? - Updated 02/21/08 - 02/24/08 11:07 PM

You'd be amazed what kind of feeding frenzy a full-page newspaper ad and some clever wording can do.

Read THIS and be prepared to hurl.
Posted by: PeerGynt

Re: Biasco Fiasco? - Updated 02/21/08 - 02/25/08 09:59 AM

I purchased my piano Hamilton by Baldwin H410 from these guys some two years ago. First I paid $7000.00 for H399, which is 5'8". Since they delayed the delivery they offered me a free upgrade to H410, which is 6'2". With a two weeks delay the piano was delivered and I could have called this a happy ending. I got 6'2" excellent piano for $7000.00. But... I informed Baldwin. Why? The deal was true and it was good, but still I smelled something bad. I was sure that my money were used to pay for the piano of the previous customers and the money of the next customers were used to pay for my piano. I knew this scheme as "The Pyramid". Back in my country many people lost their money this way. Of course the first one were lucky, they made profit, but you never know when the pyramid was going to collapse.

Baldwin never answered my alerting e-mail. I guess they took it into account (with maybe some alerting e-mails from other customers) and canceled their contract with Piano Experts an year and something later. But maybe they reacted too slow. I guess my alerting e-mail after a happy ending was more like an exception and most of the other customers did not contact Baldwin until the things got out of control.

On a positive note Hamilton 6'2" grand is an excellent piano for an even more excellent price. Lucky me.
Posted by: Mudman

Re: Biasco Fiasco? - Updated 02/21/08 - 02/27/08 01:26 PM

Not much to add to this story but I was in the retail business 20 years ago in the Chicago area and there were stories then about this company and their "less than ethical" business practices. I hope the investigation is successful.