Fall 2008, as observed from GuitarAttack World Headquarters

2008 is ending great for the GuitarAttack Crew in spite of all of the gloom and doom you see on the news and the uncertainty around the American political future.  Despite a drought in the southeastern US, the weather has been great and nobody around here is going hungry.  We like to make observations, and this is what this is about.  It won't take too long, and we'd like to hear your thoughts.

Observation 1:  The Bailout.  This is my rant from last April...I didn't realize it would be so prophetic.  And, if I figured this out, why didn't the Senate and House Banking Committees?

Observation 6:  Economics, 2008-style.  I've thought about writing a novel in my spare time.  Here is the scenario:  Imagine owning a guitar shop.  You decide to loan people money to buy guitars, allowing them to make low payments.  You know the people buying the guitars should be buying inexpensive Corts, or no guitar at all, but you sell them a new Gibson Les Paul VOS instead.  The people love you because of your fairness and forward thinking, and they love their new guitars.  Soon, the economy heads into a down cycle, and a large number of the Les Paul people decide they can't make payments on their Les Pauls.  Politicians, eager for votes, decide there needs to be governmental "helping hand" to help the manufacturer, retailers, and downtrodden Les Paul owners.  Soon, everyone is happily playing the Les Paul they couldn't afford in the first place, with their payments being made by people who actually bought the Cort because they couldn't afford the Les Paul.  The retailer and manufacturer were extremely happy because sales were up again.  In the end, nothing had changed, behaviors were intact, and Big Brother came to the rescue again.  Man, am I glad nothing like this could ever happen in the United States.

A lot of this stuff is class-envy:  Capping CEO pay because they are "fat cats" and the like.  How about our government capping how much you can earn -- percentage-wise -- on your investments.  Let's say 5% is all you can earn on your stocks, and the rest would have to go to the government.  Is that fair?  I know a lot of people are frustrated and angry right now, but they were happy when they were making money.  I guess the most important special interest really is "me".

My prediction is that the next great bailout with have something to do with credit cards.  It will be "spun" as "greedy, predatory standards" caused the uninformed, confused public to charge up their accounts and demand the government do something about it.  Let's hope I'm wrong.

Observation 2:  Chinese Guitars.  This is the exact email -- no editing at all -- my friend in the music biz recently got spammed with.  The photo is from the 2008 MusikMesse in Frankfurt, Germany.  Bottom Line:  Those "high paying" manufacturing jobs all of the candidates are promising will not come back any time soon.

From: YueSen Musical Instrument Factory
Sent: Thursday, July 24, 2008 2:51 AM
Subject: A letter from guitar factory China

Hello! Sir,
Hereby I introduce ourselves -- YueSen Musical Instrument Factory,  as a professional guitar and bass Products supplier.

Our factory has funded for about 8 years. And we have workers about 200 peoples. In one year, we can produce about 130 thousands pieces. We have our own brand Super3 and Rockstar. We made the guitar for many famous guitar brands as OEM, such as Washburn, Epihone, ESP and so on.

We can supply quality products at attractive price. We welcome you to come to our factory to visit.

We enclose the latest guitar products we exhibited in the 2008 Frankfurt Musikmesse for your consideration. If you are interested, please don't hesitate to contact me.

Please let me know your specific requirements for quotations. I wish we will have a long-term, fruitful and stable cooperation. It is anticipated that we will be given the opportunity to cooperate with you.

Looking forward to your early reply.

Best regards,
Cecilia Wu
YueSen Musical Instrument Factory
Overseas Marketing Manager

Observation 3:  Ebay Rant:

We get bombarded with email from folks complaining about eBay.  Well, eBay has redefined the vintage market, and we just don't see a business model out there yet that is a true eBay killer.  However, check this out.  I received this from a pawnbroker friend, and it is pretty informative.  With policies like these, eBay may not be around forever.

Sent: Thursday, August 14, 2008 5:43 PM
Subject: Alternatives to Ebay? (Post #1)

NPA Member Forum
Posted in: Discussion Forum Online Selling Questions Alternatives to Ebay?


After almost 10 years of selling on Ebay, with over 5000 positive Feedbacks, and a Positive rating of 98.7%, Ebay's new rules, and consequent lack of Buyer Education/Seller Support as resulted in our account being Suspended for 30 Days.

We received 62 Positives and 5 Negatives in the past 30 days, Which puts us below their "Acceptable" 5% Margin. I know that most of you will say that 5 Negatives in 30 days IS Unacceptable, and for the most part I agree... EXCEPT FOR THIS:

Situation 1: One negative was from a gentleman in Germany who bid on and won a camera, then wanted us to ship it to his daughter, who was vacationing in the states.  We responded asking for a confirmed PayPal address to be delivered to in the states. He responded two Days later with "My daughter has since left the states and is coming home, so I do not need the camera anymore."  We filed for Unpaid Item with Ebay, and he responds to them that we are forked tongued liars because we TOLD him he didn't have to pay, and he left us a negative. We told him we just needed to file so that we would get our closing costs back. He apologizes. We still eat a negative.

Situation 2:  Buyer from South Africa Purchases an item on Sunday Morning. Sends SIX Emails in three hours after the close of auction saying "WILL YOU SELL THIS TO ME!?" At three hours and 15 Minutes he leaves a feedback for "Poor Communication" We ask him what is wrong, and that OBVIOUSLY we would sell to him, because he won. His Response? "Oh.. OK.. I'm sorry.. how much for shipping?"

Situations 3 and 4:  Two more negatives from people we sent items to, and they were unhappy with their items. We offered a FULL refund, and sent call tags. Both buyers respond with Negatives.

Situation 5:  The last one was the icing. We sell a Roland Fantom Keyboard, and ship it. Buyer receives the item and claims: "I know I am purchasing an AS IS item, that was described as having scratches and dings, but I feel RIPPED OFF". There are two knobs punched in on the left side, and eight keys are broken. At this point I will accept nothing less than a FULL REFUND or SIGNIFICANT REDUCTION IN PRICE.  We respond with a request for a Shipping Damage Claim, and ask for photographic representation of the damage done.  He tells us there is NO WAY it was damaged in shipping, because it was packaged so well, and refuses to document damage. We start a claim anyways, telling UPS that the buyer is refusing to cooperate. UPS Responds that they will examine IN PERSON the item to see if it is, in fact, damaged. Buyer Responds that he DENIED UPS the right to look at it, and now demands that the keyboard be fixed and that we pay for it. We offer a full refund, to which he refuses. Then he leaves us a negative.

So.. 30 Days... Five completely bogus Negatives.  We talked to our Powerseller rep, and they say a suspension is imminent, because of our "Failing Standards".  We explain the situations, and say "You are trying to have Sellers "Upgrade their Moral Standards and Business Practices" yet we get punished when we offer full refunds, and satisfaction guarantees.. Since when are OUR standards failing? What more can we do? Nothing... There is NO appeal process.. there is NO MORE Squaretrade.. Nothing to do but sit and wait.  So we ask how long the suspension is for, and he says "Thirty Days".  Then what? Then we will review your account, and if it hasn't improved, we will suspend it for ANOTHER thirty days. But we can't list right now, right? Right. Okay.. then how the HECK are we supposed to make it better, if we can't list anything to get positives from? Absolutely AMAZING.

So... Since I don't want to keep rambling for ANOTHER three days... Has anyone found any other VIABLE alternatives to Ebay, for moving merchandise in a broad customer base?

I'll be looking at, and trying a few new ones in the next 30 days, and I guess I will post on my progress.

OK -- This guy got hosed.  Do you think this will actually impact the eBay business model?  Has anything like this ever happened to you?

Observation 4:  As we stated earlier in the year, we have two new companion websites. 

The first is "Hooked on Guitars".  Click here to see it.  There is no content, but we are considering offering Saga guitar kits on this site.  What is your opinion on this?

The second is our "Guitar Freakout" site.  Click here to see it.  There is no content yet, but we liked the name and we plan on offering guitar music for download on this site. 

That's what we need -- MORE WEB SITES!  Here are a couple of interesting ones.  We look forward to your feedback.

Click here to see a Gibson Factory Tour.  There are some pretty great shots on this photo essay.

Click here to read about Gibson Guitars and Best Buy.  This is particularly hard to take.  Have you noticed how Gibson is dumping those awful "Robot Guitars" at Musician's Friend?  Who would've thought this latest brilliant Gibson innovation would have been so poorly received?  I bet they'll be "Stupid Deals of the Day" in no time.

Observation 5:  Gas prices are coming down in Atlanta, and it seems like people are settling into their old routines.  I guess we have the current regime to thank for that, right?  Question: How much should gas cost?  Will electric cars and "Jetsons"-like technology really appear to fix our problems?  I just hope the University of Tennessee football team breaks .500 this year.

Have a great football season and keep checking back!

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