Mermer Guitars

Mermer Guitars

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My Worst Experience in 30 Years in the Music Business

Posted Feb. 6, 2002

Mermer Nightmare

I met Richard Mermer at the Asia Show in Nashville three years back in 1999.  I was impressed with the look and feel of his guitars. I bought three of his samples and entered into a verbal dealership agreement with him. I had intended to carry his line and promote his company.  I supplied him with some beautiful woods to build me several more guitars. The relationship started out as a business-as-usual, normal dealership.

The dealership agreement didn't work out very well.  Maybe it was my fault because I had trouble selling the guitars based on the price I had paid for them.  I called him on the phone and apologized to him for not performing well.  I told him I would keep all the merchandise and try to sell it.  I didn't ask to return anything; however, I did ask about the wood I had supplied to him and how I wanted it back.  He told me he would send it.  That was almost two years ago.  I am still waiting.

Difficulty Selling

I can easily sell electric guitars in price ranges of $5,000.00 to $12,000.00.  I have no problem with high quality, high priced boutique electric guitars, so I deduced that it wouldn't be too hard to sell what at first appeared to be high quality acoustics around $4,500.00 to $5,500.00.  I was certainly wrong on my deduction.  People would look at them, but I couldn't get anyone to consider spending anywhere near the price I would have had to sell them for to make a 10% to 15% profit margin.  Finally, I tried selling them at cost--still no good.   Almost three years later, I still have two of the original three guitars in my possession.  (11 years later still have 2 of them)

Since he never started on building me the other guitars, I asked him to please return the wood to me.  When I was on the phone with him discussing this, he became upset with me and made a very loud statement that I had promised him some sales and that he had given me extra special deals on the three guitars I had bought from him.  I quietly listened and let him vent at me.  When he was through, I apologized again and hung up the phone.  I felt very uncomfortable.  In my long sales career I have had very few failures.  This had definitely been one of them.  He had really derided me on the phone, calling me names and swearing at me a lot.  (I can get that way myself when I get pissed, but I didn't even get mad about it.)  I thought he was wrong, but I saw no point in arguing.  After all, I had told him that I could probably sell some of his guitars.  Knowing me, I probably even bragged about how well sales were, etc.  I know myself and I never would have promised him guaranteed sales.  All I would have said is that I would give it my best shot.

Months later at the Anaheim NAMM Show I saw him walking around. I approached him and said hello, I asked him if he was still upset with me? He was very nice, he smiled and was almost friendly, he said that he probably was having a bad day when I called him and that he didn't really mean anything by it. So in my mind the altercation was over and it was time to move on. I didn't even mention the wood he owed me.

The Problems Started

I don't display acoustic guitars in my Connecticut facility.  All acoustics are kept in their original cases.  I can control the humidity better and the cases don't get separated.  Sometimes finding a case for a particular acoustic guitar can really drive you insane.  The added benefit of course is the guitars stay in perfect condition.  The guitars are regularly opened and checked.  Dampits are installed where necessary and humidity is carefully watched.

Well, the Richard Mermer acoustic guitars didn't stay in perfect condition.  In fact, I had major problems with all three of them. Two of the tops cracked horribly. The seams separated and the wood showed vertical cracks.  Below is the story that transpired when the first guitar cracked.

I contacted Richard Mermer when I discovered the first one and he told me he could fix it.  I asked him what the worst case scenario would be and he told me $400.00.  Now, I personally don't work on acoustics too often, but I have two very knowledgeable luthiers on staff who could have fixed it for considerably less.  They both told me that the repair should definitely be a warranty.

Seeing as how the guitar had finally been sold and the girl who bought it felt more comfortable about sending it back to the builder than having my people repair it, I agreed to send the guitar back.   After all, it was a very expensive guitar.  I believed that Richard should have repaired the guitar for free; however, I also understand that these small builders have very little money and have a tough time affording to guitar repairs.  So, I said what the hell.  I won't argue over $400.00.  I'll just swallow it and forget it.  Plus, I knew that when he shipped me the guitar back, it would be the perfect opportunity to press him for my wood back.

The Plot Thickens

Richard Mermer gets the guitar and says he will have it repaired within a couple of weeks.  I call him several times, and I can never get through to him.  Eventually, my customer gets upset and calls him directly.  He tells her that I overcharged her for the guitar.  (When in fact, I sold it to her at my exact cost.)  He tells her I paid a thousand dollars less for the guitar than I charged her.  (This woman was the wife of my new web master, the same guy who redesigned my entire web site.)  In any case, my customer says nothing to me of what Richard Mermer said to her.

In the meantime, I finally get Richard Mermer on the phone.  He tells me that in his conversations with the customer she wants a new top put on, and that it will cost me $1,000.00.   Remember, at this time I have no knowledge of what he has been telling my customer.  I knew he had me over a barrel, so I had no choice but to agree to his terms.  My concern was strictly for the customer at this time.  The guitar had been a very hard guitar to sell.  It was either lose a $1,000.00 or eat a $3,000.00 wood sandwich.  I simply chose the lesser of two evils.  I knew Mermer was giving me the royal screw, but he had me over a barrel.

During the course of this whole misadventure, I discovered that another Mermer guitar had cracked just like the first one.  I have 300 acoustic guitars in stock and I have not had this problem with any other guitar brand, except for Taylor, which are famous for finish cracks.  Over the past 28 years in business, I have probably sold over 5,000 acoustic guitars.  I cannot remember a situation more screwed up than this one.  Eventually, my customer told me what Richard Mermer said to her and I promptly forwarded her a copy of my sales receipt from Richard Mermer.  I can't believe he would have tried to make up such an obvious lie.  The receipt and the insurance form was all it took to convince my customer that he was lying.

Now this weenie, Mermer, tries to bend me over even further.  He tells me, "If I want the guitar back I have to give him even more money."  I told him that it was no longer my guitar and I didn't care.  I contacted my customer and talked to them for a long time.  They understood what was happening and they agreed to deal directly with Richard Mermer.  I don't think they ever told him that they had seen the invoices and knew the score.  They pretended that I had just told them to deal with Mermer directly and pay him.  Six months later the little weenie finally fixes the guitar and sends it to my customer.  My customer has to prepay the repair bill before he will ship.  I gave my customer the $1,000.00 and finally the first part of this three part nightmare is finished.

To this day, I can't understand why Richard Mermer ever got mad at me and tried to cause me grief.  All I did was spend $10,000.00 with him.  I did fail in selling his products, but that's not a reason to hate someone.  It certainly doesn't give him any right to go to my customers and tell them horrible lies.  Like I said above, it was easy to disprove the lie with his own receipts and insurance charges.  Not very intelligent Richard.

I have sent copies of this to the Better Business Bureau, The Consumer Protection Agency, ASIA, NAMM, and various other people in the trade.  I will be posting this on my site for all time.  If I really want it to get seen, I might post it on my rant page with a header "Ed Roman Gets Screwed."