I have a dilemma on how to handle a local Seattle area luthier who is using disturbing techniques to encourage sales. This shop owner is in a convenient location for many of my students and so I will send them there for minor work on their violin i.e. bridge or nut work, small repairs, touch-ups, rehairs - nothing major. I also send students to him for their rentals. He is great with the rentals but my concern is for my students who own their instruments.
Every time, with no exception, when I send a student to him he will run down their violin and bow telling the student/family that they need to get rid of their current setup and buy something else. He goes so far in his ridicule of the instrument that I've had families call me in tears wondering what to do. Just last night one of my high school students said they had gone to him to have a groove in the nut raised a little for the A string. This owner not only refused to do the work but he told this student that the whole violin was so badly made (crooked and uneven) that they should take it back to the shop where they bought it and implied they should buy the next violin from him. I spent a good part of the students lesson last night reassuring him and his family that his violin is fine and not a screwed up mess like he was told. I have no doubt that this owner is doing this. Because in the past he's done this to me when I had brought my very nice violin in for work. But I have a thick skin and just ignored his tactics. Most of my students who own their instruments don't have high-end violins and violas but they are good quality instruments purchased from other reputable shops here in town.
My dilemma is this: In the past, I've had a good working relationship with this owner - especially with rentals. But right now, I'm tempted to instruct my students to use other shops in town to avoid this kind of treatment. Do I tell him? I'm also active in the music scene around here and I don't want to burn bridges or start a war with someone but I am sick and tired of his methods. Or do I just pull my business and not tell him? I understand that shops have a tendency to push their own inventory but this is way out of hand.
Any suggestions on how to approach this would be greatly appreciated.
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