I hope someone can assist me here. I finally found a good little pedal harp to purchase (from a professional musician and who has her own website)and sent a downpayment with etransfer to hold it. As I have to drive 8 hours 1 way, she agreed to meet me in a small community an hour and a half from her home to cut down on my travel time. I would like to know if it is ‘normal’ for her to ask that I give her the rest of the money (the whole amount) upfront through etransfer before she meets me for the meet-up? She doesn’t want certified cheque from my bank only that the whole paid amount is in her bank account befores she brings me the harp. As she is a professional musician, I find this very upsetting, worrying about being taken and am quite leery of paying over$10000 by etransfer before even seeing the harp. Red flags or just do it because she is a professional?
Lots going on here…first, was the down payment to hold it so you could view/play it first and then decide if you would purchase at time of delivery? And is the down payment refundable if you don’t want it? Clarify that, first, with the seller. If it’s not refundable, then you either lose your down payment if seller is not in agreement with that, or she will consider this. You need to get that clear, that is, if it’s not too late. Because if you e-transfer payment in full before you meet up, do you trust her enough to actually meet you with the harp? I have only purchased a used harp once, and drove 10 hours to to try it out BEFORE I gave any money. The store selling the harp on consignment held it for me in good faith until the day and time I gave them of my arrival. All other harps I have bought were all new, and I always paid 1/2 down and other half EITHER before I picked up the harp, or at the time I picked it up. But I was always dealing with reputable sellers/stores/companies. I hope you can work out a resolve with her. Perhaps she would be more accommodating if you drove to her house instead of meeting up. I hope the 2 of you can work this out because it’s a harp…a beautiful instrument…and both of you should be happy with the purchase arrangement.
I think these are red flags. The main question being, what exactly do you think you agreed on? And did you have the agreement in writing (e.g. by email?)
You don’t know whether it’s a “good little pedal harp” until you’ve inspected and played it for yourself. It may have some problems which were not visible on the photos, like a need for an expensive overhaul. Also, every harp is different, so you really want to hear this harp in person before you buy.
I am not impressed by the fact she says she is a professional musician. Everyone that is making some money out of an activity may regard herself as professional. It has nothing to do with knowledge or competence. Also the fact that she has a website doesn’t impress me at all.
Every professional harpist knows that all harps are different, that used harps can have problems which may be pricey to fix and that no one should buy a harp unseen…
This harpist is willing to drive 1.5 hours (and 1.5 hours back?) to a place where you can see the harp. This may or may not be a place where she would go to anyway for another reason (like visiting friends or family).
I wonder whether she thinks that this driving is costing her time and time is money. This is a bullshit argument. She wants to sell a harp and you want to buy one. And perhaps or perhaps not you like the harp enough to buy it for the price she wants for it. You simply both invest in time and if all works out well, she sells the harp and you buy it for the price you can agree on. It may be that you like the harp, but find the money asked too high for the price asked if the harp looks like it needs an expensive overhaul….. If you can’t agree on your buying of the harp, such is life.
She may have tried perhaps even longer than you to search for a little pedal harp to sell her little pedal harp… In these Covid-times a lot of people don’t like to meet strangers who might infect them. So, I would really think twice before giving in to her extremely strange proposal. Or better, no hair on my head would think of paying before buying.
Now, I could imagine she wanted to see some money in order to be sure that you are a serious, potential buyer. But I myself would never send money beforehand. You did and I do hope it was only a minor amount and that you would get it back if at the place you agreed to meet, you didn’t like the harp as much as you thought.
There’s one thing that I would do if I had a harp to sell (and which is rather usual where I live) that is ask who the buyer’s teacher is and then contact that teacher. That way I would be sure whether I had to do with a person seriously looking for a harp or not.
As to whether she wouldn’t accept a certified cheque, I am not sure why she would refuse. The funny thing is that she doesn’t seem to trust you at all while she expects you to trust her blindly. Where I live, I could pin a great amount of money if I agreed on this with my bank beforehand. I have no clue about these kinds of thing in the USA.
In short, yes, I see several red flags. I am sorry.
As an afterthought. I read some of your earlier posts. In one of them you say that your “[….] Salvi Ana and it is too heavy to carry to gigs or exams.”
Well, I’m afraid that even the smalled double action pedal harp will be even heavier than the Salvi Ana…
You may find some single action pedal harps which may be significantly lighter in weight, but then their string tension is usually lighter as well and then you wouldn’t get the kind of full and rich sound which only pedal tension gut can provide you with. The former Camac 38 single action harp did have pedal gut tension strings though).
Thanks for replying.
I asked her if she wanted me to put a downpayment to show that I am serious about wanting to purchase the harp. And she said sure. So I did. Got an email back saying before she travels to bring me the instrument, she wants the rest of the money in her bank account before she drives out to meet me, Here in Canada, I have searched all over to no avail to buy a good pedal harp used to avoid American dollar exchange, excessive shipping costs, border fees etc. Tons in USA but not here. A place in Ontario won’t post what is available for sale in their shop, and ask you to come in person to look. I live hours away and it is not convenient for me to do so. So even though I beg for an email list, nothing. Not a great way to do business. Anyway, I am still not comfy with this situation of handing over money before seeing an instrument.
As this post doesn’t come through, perhaps because of the link, I will just send it again with the link made unusable…
Frankly, I would call ‘that place’ in Ontario again and explain that surely, you will gladly come in person to look, but you need to know first which harps of which age they have in stock as you live hours away.
I guess you just got someone on the line who didn’t exactly understand your situation.
I just googled and found one shop at Ontaria and looked at ontarioharp . ca/ classified-ads/ harp-sales (I won’t post the link as the software on this forum sometimes automatically removes postings with links). Anyway, it looks like they only have got a Camac Electro-Acoustic pedal harp.
By the way, I’m a great fan of Camac harps.
Did you also have a look for places where they rent out used harps? This might be a nice opportunity for you to find out whether a pedal harp is what you really want and how many strings you really need, etc. Often you might get a really nice price if you decided after half a year or perhaps a whole year to buy the harp you rented. Especially as two years ago, you were looking for a harp not as heavy as a (lever) Salvi Ana…
By the way, in this thread you may find valuable information on searching for a used harp in Canada: harpcolumn . com/ forums/ topic/ buying-a-used-pedal-harp-in-canada/
I’ve bought quite a few harps over the years, but never from individuals. But I’d be really concerned about paying for a harp in full before seeing/playing it in person. I’ve bought harps from Lyon & Healy directly, Virginia Harp Center, Sylvia Woods – established reputable dealers. With an individual I’d be concerned over what happens if you don’t like the harp. Is she going to refund your money (minus understandable travel fee or something)? Or would you be stuck with a harp you might not like?
I have sold a number of harps over the years and do in fact require the funds to be paid before delivery. I offer a limited warranty however, and would expect any reputable seller to do the same. These were lever harps: for a more expensive pedal harp, particularly if it was necessary to drive to meet the buyer, I would negotiate some recompense for my time and expense.
So, no I do not think this is abnormal from a sellers standpoint; I have had any number of seemingly serious “buyers” who turned out to be flakes or scammers. But in your shoes I would prefer to see the harp in person before making a monetary commitment..
I am so glad to see some of my best harp-friends’ posts in response to your dilemma. I do sympathize with your reluctance to pay for a used harp sight-unseen. Certainly a compromise should be reached, so that you would not have to purchase this harp if it doesn’t suit you. But I do agree that the seller should be paid something for her time in loading up the harp and travel time if you do not take the harp.
I agree with Wil here–I am a big fan of Camac harps. Have you thought about the Clio model with either a straight soundboard or an extended one? When you said “a good little pedal harp,” would you mind telling us what brand and how many strings it has?
Hoping this all goes well for you,
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