What does a warrantee cover on a new piano?

Posted by: Ariel

What does a warrantee cover on a new piano? - 06/14/03 01:04 AM

Warrantees are like the weather - everybody talks about them, but nobody does anything about it! OK, the analogy isn't perfect, but the real question is, what does (or should) a manufacturer's warrantee cover?

According to what I've heard about (and to a lesser extent, from) our only local piano dealer (Steinway), they don't cover much of anything. Not even a soundboard cracking! What is expectable and does it depend on make and/or dealer?
Posted by: Peter 88

Re: What does a warrantee cover on a new piano? - 06/14/03 07:27 AM

The only new piano that I've shopped extensively is the Mason & Hamlin and its warranty seems great. It took me only a few minutes several years ago to realize that I had no interest in a new Steinway. A Steinway salesman used the snide term PSO (piano shaped object)in referring to other makes before showing me a few pianos that clearly were PSO's - that just happened to be new Steinways!! The last straw for me was the Steinway warranty that isn't much of a warranty at all once you look into it.

The Mason & Hamlin warranty, according to three different dealers that I've spoken to, is the model of what all piano warranties should be. The heart of it is twelve year coverage of every square inch of the piano including the soundboard (which is not really covered by Steinway since they don't consider a crack in a soundboard to be a defect). And the twelve year Mason warranty is transferable. I am sure that that adds value to the piano should you have to sell it.

My guess is that Mason & Hamlin can guarantee its soundboards because they are made properly and are thus very inlikely to crack. None of the three Mason dealers that I spoke to had ever seen a crack in a Burgett (post 1995) Mason & Hamlin (or so they said). From what I've heard, soundboard cracks in new Steinways are not uncommon. Does anyone here have knowledge about this?
Posted by: Steve Cohen

Re: What does a warrantee cover on a new piano? - 06/14/03 10:06 AM

Almost all piano warranties cover "any material defect in material or workmanship". Most also include the cost of both parts and labor.

The other significant variables are length of coverage, and whether or not the warranty transfers from owner to owner, a requirement to be designated a "Full" warrany under the Magneson-Moss Act. Transferable warranties tend to, in a small way, support a higher resale value as the piano can be sold with the manufacturer's warranty.

Some manufacturers also include a longer "parts only" warranty, usually 25-years or Lifetime (for the original purchaser). Because the overwhelming cost in warranty is labor, these warranties are of limited value.

Some manufacturers have very liberal service departments that will cover most requests. Yamaha, Young Chang and M&H have a good reputation for easy coverage.

As to the referance in the original post about soundboard cracks, they are not always a problem. A crack alone is not a significant problem. If it causes buzzing or a loss of crown it would need to be addressed. Otherwise, extensive testing by independent techs has pretty much proven that a crack that is not creating other symptoms has no significant ill effect.
Posted by: Peter 88

Re: What does a warrantee cover on a new piano? - 06/14/03 11:23 AM

 Quote:
As to the referance in the original post about soundboard cracks, they are not always a problem. A crack alone is not a significant problem. If it causes buzzing or a loss of crown it would need to be addressed. Otherwise, extensive testing by independent techs has pretty much proven that a crack that is not creating other symptoms has no significant ill effect.
Various people have claimed, here and elsewhere, that a crack in a soundboard is not a significant problem. I have heard a Steinway salesman make this claim as well. Can anyone tell me how it is that a crack is not significant if it significantly devalues a piano? My guess is that if almost anyone on this forum was considering the purchase of a $50,000 piano, that purchase would sour if a crack appeared in the soundboard - unless the price came down at least $5,000. Is $5,000 insignificant? Not to me it isn't!
Posted by: Ariel

Re: What does a warrantee cover on a new piano? - 06/14/03 03:18 PM

Thank you, Peter 88 and Steve Cohen!

Even from this small sampling, I am understanding that there is tremendous variability between makes - much more than I had thought. I expected to hear that the only real differences were length of warrantee and transferability, and perhaps to a lesser extent flexibility in interpretation (I had heard that Yamaha was easy to work with in this way).

But I never expected to hear there was such a difference in WHAT was covered.

Re Steve's comments about "most manufacturers covering manufacturing defects". This always seemed to be a cop-out to me in any item, as if something is the matter you find out pretty quickly - so who cares how long the warrantee is?

But what happens if after X number of years, a part is giving way (and the item has not been abused)? Excluding perhaps normal wear and tear, I was wondering whether some manufacturers cover more than manufacturing defects? For that matter, as with anything, some companies jump at any chance to claim "abuse" has caused a problem with a product down the road - others are quick to assume responsibility.

Peter 88, it sounds like M&H does cover more. Or when you say they cover "every square inch of the piano", did you just mean for such defects? I too am interested in M&H, so any elaboration on your comments would be most appreciated.

Re: your comments about Steinway. Yes, I have heard they have a problem with cracking soundboards. And I have also heard that they do not cover it under warrantee - or (at least in the case of our local dealer) anything else to speak of.

Ariel
Posted by: cht

Re: What does a warrantee cover on a new piano? - 06/14/03 03:56 PM

I bought a Kawai from the original owner and the company still stood behind the piano when I wanted to get some work done on it, so a warranty that is transferrable with the piano is an issue that I would always check on. With some pianos, the warranty can be 10 or 15 years, but if you didn't buy it new, forget it.
Posted by: Ariel

Re: What does a warrantee cover on a new piano? - 06/14/03 03:59 PM

cht - And the work that you wanted done, was it supposed to be a "manufacturing defect"? What was the problem (unless for some reason you don't want to discuss it)?
Posted by: Norbert

Re: What does a warrantee cover on a new piano? - 06/14/03 04:54 PM

As a dealer for Young Chang [and the world famous
absolutely incomparable J.Pramberger pianos \:D ]

...I can only say about their warranty:

...AWESOME!!

[Sometimes I almost have to stop them to fix some other maker's problems...... \:D ]

nobert
Posted by: cht

Re: What does a warrantee cover on a new piano? - 06/14/03 07:44 PM

Ariel,

The problem with my Kawai (an upright)was that I was not satisfied with the change in tone of the piano at the crossover between the bass and the trebel. I posted an inquiry on this forum about this and was seeking solution from anyone that might have had the same sort of problem (note this was not a "defect", nor was anything broken, I just was not happy with the change in tone).The Kawai people, who must monitor this forum, saw the thread, and authorized a local tech to replace three pairs of strings and get things right. This also involved some return trips to bring the new strings back up to pitch. Kawai took care of the costs to the tech, and did so on their own initiative. Now, that IS warranty service, and you don't see that too often anymore these days.
Posted by: Ariel

Re: What does a warrantee cover on a new piano? - 06/14/03 07:55 PM

cht,

WOW! Kudos to Kawai! The only thing I can't figure out, is how did they know it was you? From the location?

(I'm glad this Forum provides an opportunity to give credit where credit is so clearly due!)

Ariel
Posted by: Norbert

Re: What does a warrantee cover on a new piano? - 06/14/03 08:07 PM

Kudos to Kawai but........

Superkudos to those companies who do exactly THAT everyday WITHOUT being monitored on the Forum!

norbert
Posted by: Jolly

Re: What does a warrantee cover on a new piano? - 06/14/03 08:12 PM

I believe cht's problem was noticed by Don Mannino (kawaidon), who I believe is KawaiUS's head service guy.
Posted by: Larry

Re: What does a warrantee cover on a new piano? - 06/15/03 02:15 AM

 Quote:
Originally posted by Ariel:

Even from this small sampling, I am understanding that there is tremendous variability between makes - much more than I had thought. I expected to hear that the only real differences were length of warrantee and transferability, and perhaps to a lesser extent flexibility in interpretation [/b]
Well..... in essence, that *is* all that's different. Rick Clark said it very well some time back on rmmp, paraphrased "a warranty is only useful in the event of catastrophic failure". I don't know what differences you were reading into what was said, but the fact is, every single warranty out there reads almost the same way, in regard to what the warranty covers - "defects in materials and workmanship". The only difference is type of warranty (limited Vs full), length of warranty, and frilly sales hype, such as lifetime plate warranties, 25 year soundboard warranties, and such. Other than defects in materials and workmanship, everything else can be attributed to maintenance.

Anything past 5 years is fluff. If a piano hasn't experienced a major structural catastrophe within a couple of years, the odds are it isn't going to. The Japanese and Korean companies are going to honor their warranties just fine, as are the American makers, and most of the European makers. The Chinese makers almost won't, it all depends upon the integrity of the distributor it came in through. Mason Hamlin has a good warranty - but it's no better than any other quality maker's warranty. Kawai has excellent service - just like all the other quality manufacturers. Yamaha has a 10 year limited warranty, Kawai has a 12 year full warranty. From there, the lower in quality you go, the longer the warranty, and the higher in quality you go, the shorter the warranty. Lower quality makers use their warranty as a selling point, high end makers don't.

If you start splitting hairs, using the warranty as a measuring tool, giving one brand more points than another because it has 2 more years on the warranty than another for example, you are going to screw up. Just make sure the maker or distributor has a good reputation for service (as I said, all the quality makers do) and then don't worry how long the warranty is. Play the pianos, and choose based on what you feel and hear. If it's going to explode, it will do so fairly quickly. If it isn't going to explode, 99% of the things you'll face after a couple of years will fall under the category of "maintenance", and no one's warranty covers maintenance. Not a one.
Posted by: Jim Lob

Re: What does a warrantee cover on a new piano? - 06/15/03 07:34 AM

One further thought:

What is printed on the paper is only half the battle. Whether the promisor follows through on its promise is the other half and is perhaps more important.

I have a story (certainly not fasinating) developing on a very small warranty claim. I don't know the ending yet, so I won't bother going into the details.
Posted by: Steve Cohen

Re: What does a warrantee cover on a new piano? - 06/15/03 12:56 PM

cht, the problem you had with your Kawai was properly covered under Kawai's transferable warranty.

It was a "defect in materials and workmanship". The tone across the break should be relatively even on a decent pianos. Obviously there was a problem with the strings (materials) and the voicing (workmanship). I'm not surprised at all that Kawai's service department would approve this warranty claim.
Posted by: Ariel

Re: What does a warrantee cover on a new piano? - 06/15/03 01:13 PM

Larry, other dealers (current or "retired"), techns, piano-owners,

Don't know who wll check in about this elaboration to my initial question, but three things:

1) What are your personal experiences[/b] with reporting dissatisfaction with something about your piano and how was it handled? Or - from techs or dealers, what are some of your stories regarding different makes?

2) How much does the dealer factor[/b] in?

3) What about transportation expenses[/b]? By that I mean, what if you purchased your piano from a dealer distant from your home and the problem is so serious the piano needs to be shipped somewhere (to them or further) for work?

Is this ever covered - or "helped with"? I was disconcerted to say the least, speaking to Faust Harrison to learn that it was entirely possible that an Estonia grand might have to be shipped back to Estonia for certain problems, paid for by the purchaser (but it wasn't "that expensive" ).

And digressing a bit on Estonias, I had also heard from a very reputable , former dealer (no, they dropped the line not that they were dropped) that they had had to deal with a number of cracked sound-boards (apparently from insufficiently aged wood) and two cases of legs which had snapped off. These pianos were produced before the last two years when I know they have improved their materials and workmanship, but still...

If I had to ship my piano back to a dealer - as I most certainly would have to since I am at least four hours from any large dealership besides that local one - it would already be at least $1000 extra round trip and maybe twice that. If it's clearly a problem with the "workmanship" etc. this concerns me.

Thanks for all replies! And to Larry for comments earlier.
Posted by: Ariel

Re: What does a warrantee cover on a new piano? - 06/15/03 01:26 PM

By the way, Steve,

Voicing is "workmanship"? I thought that was a matter of "dealer prep" - like tuning, regulation etc.? (And I wonder how much of that to expect too - or even if I would notice the difference, but that is another story)
Posted by: fmelliott

Re: What does a warrantee cover on a new piano? - 06/15/03 01:55 PM

Ariel,

I have had 2 warantee issues on pianos. I had a 14 year old Young Chang grand. I broke a hammer and asked to buy another. They sent me 2 free and asked if the action brackets were defective. They were crumbling, but I hadn't noticed it. New brackets and payment for installation and some action regulation were paid for by Young Chang. I didn't think anyone could top that service.

I got a Charles Walter for the church and the finish started to crack. I called the dealer who sold it to us. He is about 30 miles from here. I asked what to do. He said he would get back to me. He called and said the piano would be replaced. He paid for the moving and put in a replacement Damp Chaser in the replacement piano. The Damp Chaser was not involved at all but the dealer was really generous. Charles Walter is great and so is the Piano Company in Leesburg.

Both companies were surprisingly generous. Buy nice things from good people and they will take care of you. \:D
Posted by: Ariel

Re: What does a warrantee cover on a new piano? - 06/15/03 02:19 PM

fmelliot,

Very impressive - and far beyond the base standard spoken of!

Larry said:
 Quote:
Just make sure the maker or distributor has a good reputation for service (as I said, all the quality makers do) and then don't worry how long the warranty is. [/b]
Well, Larry, I have heard pretty negative things about Steinway's attention to service after delivery and I think they count as a "quality maker". Certainly in the case of our local dealer, they only seem to pay attention to the music faculty at the University and other purchasers they feel "matter" (I guess).

That's why I'm wondering about the dealer's role - and for that matter, you have now introduced the variable of "distributor". I THINK I know what they do, but I don't see why they play a role. Is there more than one distirbutor per make for say, the whole USA?

Repeat - calling for personal[/b] experience with warrantee claims!!
Posted by: Jolly

Re: What does a warrantee cover on a new piano? - 06/15/03 03:43 PM

I would give you an example, but I don't have one. My Chinese piano has had 0 problems. But there is a lesson or two here:

1. The best pianos have less problems than the cheap pianos, but that doesn't mean an entry level must develop problems, only that it can.

And the best way to keep that from happening to any piano, is to take care of it. No matter the name on the fallboard, all pianos need some TLC, and maintenance.

2. The dealer is probably as important as the brand.

Buy from someone who'll prep, and voice the way you want it before sale, and the likelihood is that this same customer-driven dealer will provide superior after-sale service, also.

Remember, when you have warranty work done, the first step starts with the local dealer. His opinion, or his backing, may mean the difference between the repair being covered, and the consumer footing the bill.
Posted by: Steve Cohen

Re: What does a warrantee cover on a new piano? - 06/15/03 09:25 PM

 Quote:
Originally posted by Ariel:
Larry, other dealers (current or "retired"), techns, piano-owners,

Don't know who wll check in about this elaboration to my initial question, but three things:

1) What are your personal experiences[/b] with reporting dissatisfaction with something about your piano and how was it handled? Or - from techs or dealers, what are some of your stories regarding different makes?

2) How much does the dealer factor[/b] in?

3) What about transportation expenses[/b]? By that I mean, what if you purchased your piano from a dealer distant from your home and the problem is so serious the piano needs to be shipped somewhere (to them or further) for work?

Is this ever covered - or "helped with"? I was disconcerted to say the least, speaking to Faust Harrison to learn that it was entirely possible that an Estonia grand might have to be shipped back to Estonia for certain problems, paid for by the purchaser (but it wasn't "that expensive" ).

And digressing a bit on Estonias, I had also heard from a very reputable , former dealer (no, they dropped the line not that they were dropped) that they had had to deal with a number of cracked sound-boards (apparently from insufficiently aged wood) and two cases of legs which had snapped off. These pianos were produced before the last two years when I know they have improved their materials and workmanship, but still...

If I had to ship my piano back to a dealer - as I most certainly would have to since I am at least four hours from any large dealership besides that local one - it would already be at least $1000 extra round trip and maybe twice that. If it's clearly a problem with the "workmanship" etc. this concerns me.

Thanks for all replies! And to Larry for comments earlier.[/b]
I have extensive experience with both Yamaha and Young Chang. Both service departments are VERY responsive and liberal in their interpretation of thier responsibilities.

The dealer is a very important aspect. Some dealers drive their manufacturers crazy and some work with them happily. I see myself as an advocate for the customer in any valid warranty situation.

Transportation fees are reimbursable if billed to the manufacturer by the dealership. I usually absorb them as a courtesy to my suppliers, but if I asked for it, I'd get it (at least with Yamaha and YC). This is true regardless of cost. It is part of the budget set-aside manufacturers have for warranty costs.

Also, pianos are almost never sent back to the factory for warranty work. It is almost alway cheaper to replace the instrument with a new one, and most warranties specify that option.
Posted by: Rich Galassini

Re: What does a warrantee cover on a new piano? - 06/15/03 09:30 PM

 Quote:
I was disconcerted to say the least, speaking to Faust Harrison to learn that it was entirely possible that an Estonia grand might have to be shipped back to Estonia for certain problems, paid for by the purchaser
Ariel,

I don't know why anyone at F-H would say that. I have only had two warranty claims with Estonia pianos - both were taken care of quickly and with no problems at all by the Estonia company.

Hmmmm....
Posted by: Norbert

Re: What does a warrantee cover on a new piano? - 06/16/03 02:08 AM

Same here.

In fact I sold an Estonia grand years ago to Ontario, the owner of which contacted me recently and indicated an alleged problem with 'soft pins'

After speaking with the local tech there for a few minutes and one single call to Dr. Laul in New York, the go ahead was given for a complete repinning in less than a minute.

Never even met the owner! \:\)

norbert