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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

My Problems with an E.F. Durand F-trigger Trombone from Great Tunes Direct (greattunesdirect) and USA Music Supply (usamusicsupply) on E-bay

In late August 2011 I bought a Brass Tenor F Trigger Trombone w/ Tune Slide” from Great Tunes Direct through their E-bay site.
When the trombone arrived, I played the horn for a few days, and noticed that the slide was grabbing at a few positions and did not slide as smoothly as I would like.  Within a week of receiving the horn (well within their stipulated 14 day return period), I contacted Great Tunes Direct in Twin Falls, ID through email to see if I could exchange my slide for one that worked better.  Christina, their customer service representative sent me a return email saying they would be glad to send a new slide, but that I would need to return the old slide to them at my expense. I agreed, and they shipped a new slide to me on September 23.

I bought this new trombone because I needed a larger bore horn (.547) for playing in a community orchestra.  The horn sounded very nice, and I was quite pleased with the new slide.  About three weeks after receiving the new slide, I started to notice a scratchiness in the slide movement.  When I pulled the slide apart to inspect the inner tubes, I found that one of the inner slide tube stockings had begun to lose its plating, and was pitting badly.  I had only used the slide for about 10 hours of total playing time.  Here are some pictures of what I saw when I inspected the replacement slide:

On October 19, 2011 I sent the following email to Steve Di Lucca at Great Tunes along with the pictures above: 

Dear Steve,
I recently bought a trombone from you on eBay.  After I received the trombone, I immediately sent the slide back to you for repair because the slide was grabbing in certain positions.  I don’t currently have the RMA number you sent to me before I returned the slide for repair, but the slide came back to me working well.  I have only been playing the trombone consistently for about 3 weeks now since I got the repaired slide back, and I noticed a scratching sound and feel in the slide other night when I was playing.  When I took the outer slide tube off the inner tubes, I saw that the nickel plating is chipping off one of the inner slide tubes.  I have attached pictures of the nickel plating failure.  I’m wondering if this could be related to the repair of the slide?  The slide has been very well lubricated over the last few weeks.

In any case, I really like the horn, and would like to have the slide replaced with one that works freely without binding AND has the nickel plating in good shape. I am currently playing in an community orchestra with an upcoming concert, and I can’t send you the old slide back until a new one comes because it is my only horn.  Can you please help me out?  I was promised a “High Quality” instrument when I bought it from you, and so far, it has not lived up to the promise. 
Thanks for your help.

I received a response to this email from Christina, and she said she would follow-up with Steve.  I didn’t hear anything, so I gave a call to Steve Di Lucca to see if we could resolve this problem.  Steve said  they had been selling this horn for many years and had not had any problems with it.  He told me that I might have “acidic saliva” that was causing the problem.  I contended that the plating was bad on the slide, and that it should not have failed after three weeks (10 hours of use).  After some wrangling, Steve said they would send me a new slide, and that I would need to send the defective slide back to them at my expense.  He also said that this would be the last effort their company would make to provide a working horn.

I received the new slide as promised about a week and a half later, and sent the defective slide back.  The new slide worked very smoothly, and an inspection of the slide before any use showed no pitting or deplating of the inner slide.  I was happily playing the horn at my orchestra practices for about a month, when I began to notice the scratchiness in the slide movement again.  I pulled the slide apart, and THIS slide was beginning to lose plating on one of the stockings as well.  I felt so disappointed.  This horn has a very nice sound, and all I wanted was a horn that I could use in the orchestra.  Here is a picture of the second slide stocking that deplated within a month of use:

Although I was not hopeful, I contacted Steve Di Lucca after the second slide plating failed.  Since the horn had a “Manufacturer’s Two Year Warranty”, I decided to try to contact the manufacturer directly to get the slide replaced.  Here was Steve’s reply to my inquiry:

WOW! What is going on? I've been selling this horn for over ten years and NEVER have I had a slide with this issue. OK, maybe the first one was blemished, but the second and now third slide? No way is this a result of manufacturing defect. There is something going one on your end that is causing this. Because it is a user issue, it is no longer eligible for the warranty. At this point we are finished. I am sorry but, I have bent over backwards to accommodate your requests.

The warranty is very clear on what is covered. Whatever you are doing is causing the issue, thus nullifies the warranty. We are the manufacturer and we deal with the warranty work so there is no other place to contact. You are past the return period. As you acknowledge in your email we have done all that we can for you. I am now out two slides which leave two horns without slides until next year when I get a new shipment.
I wish you luck and am sorry for issue.
Steve Di Lucca

We went back and forth by email a few more times, and I finally asked him for a refund on the horn.  He refused, and that was the end of our conversations.

Despite Steve’s assertion that “we are the manufacturer,” I know that this is a Chinese-made horn, and the Great Tunes does not make them in Idaho.  While I am grateful for the attempts that Steve and Great Tunes made to give me a playable horn, in the end, the manufacturing defects of this Chinese horn sabotaged their efforts.  I feel that as the US marketer for these horns, Great Tunes needs stand behind them even when they fail.  They did not satisfactorily resolve my issues, and I’m unfortunately left with a case full of shiny metal.

I am very disappointed in the company’s resolution of this matter, and hope that anyone considering a musical instrument purchase from Great Tunes Direct would consider my recent experience there.