Friday, November 06, 2009

Buyer beware

This is a letter from my spinning friend, Rhonda, in Florida. She used to live here in NH and was a member of our spinning group. She asked if I would post this to some of my fiber groups, but I think she will get more response from the blog. If the people from my various groups want to read this, then that is their choice. I agree with her that it is poor business, and a very disappointing situation. I almost put myself in the same situation, but did not have the deposit money at the time. So read on about her experience with Gilbert Gonsalves and his Robin wheel fiasco. At the end, you will find some links to his product...

To all my fiber friends,
I would like to share an experience with you so that hopefully you will not find
yourself in a similar and very disappointing situation.
Four years ago while attending the New Hampshire Sheep and Wool Festival, I
ordered the “Wee Traveler” from Gil Gonsalves from “Robin Spinning Wheels”. At
the time he told me there would be a 2 year waiting list and I would need to put
down a $100 deposit. The wheel cost $795.00. I wrote him a check with a balance
of $695 being due when the wheel was complete.
Allow me to share the balance of the story,
• 2 years elapsed and after placing a call I discovered that Gil had been ill but
that it would be completed in 6 to 9 months. I asked if he wanted to cancel
the order and he said no. At that time we again reviewed the amount paid on
deposit and also the balance remaining of $695.
• 1 year later I called again and he said mine was one of nine presently cut out
and it would ship “very soon”. Again the terms reviewed as was done one
year prior.
• I called Gil in June 2009 (4 years from when the original order and deposit
was made). He said that my wheel was nearly completed and we discussed
the possibility that I would attend a September fiber event. At that time
he commented that I got a great deal because the wheel now sells for
$1,095. I reminded him that I had been waiting four years and the price
that we had agreed upon.
• Mr. Gonsalves called me on Sept. 1st to tell my “Wee traveler” was ready to
be shipped. I was very excited. He told me he would ship it as soon as he
received my check plus he needed $70 for shipping (I thought that was a
little high for something that weighted a “wee 7 lbs”, but never the less I
told him I would add that to my $695 check). At that point he said,”oh no
you need to send me a check for $995 plus shipping”. I reminded him that
we had previously agreed on a price and never did he mention in any of our
conversations that he would be increasing his price. He told me to think it
over and get back to him. In the mean time I did a little research and
discovered that if I wanted to push the issue, I would be able to get it for
the price that the wheel sold for at the time he cashed my deposit check.
But as many of my good fiber friends advised me, did I really want a wheel
that was built by such a dishonest business person?
They were absolute correct! (Fiber Friends will always give good advice!!) I
called him and instructed him to return my deposit and that I was extremely
disappointed and appalled by his business tactics. He told me that I was the
only one who had objected to the increase in price. And that he was so busy
that he had hired an apprentice to help him with production. He ended the
conversation by telling me he would put my check in the mail the next day.
(read on, it gets better!)
• Well a week goes by, no check. I email him, no reply. Another week goes by,
I call him and leave him a message, no reply. Another week goes by, again I
call, no reply. As luck would have it my family was visiting from Michigan so I
asked to use my son’s cell phone to call Mr. Gonsalves. Low and behold he
answered the phone! (and he sounded a little surprised I might add!). I told
him I had not received my $100 deposit and had he sent it? Guess what his
reply was???? “I don’t have any money” (Wasn’t this the guy that just
told me he had hired an apprentice to help with all his orders!!) I was quick
to remind him of that and he had my $100 and I wanted it back immediately!
Finally, a week later I received a check for $100.
I use to say I had never met a fiber person I didn’t like or trust, but as I sadly
discovered there was an exception to my rule. Gil Gonsalves and “Robin Spinning
Wheels” proved that. He frequently is a vendor at Maryland S&W festival as well
as many other New England Festivals. Please share my story with your fiber
Character is much easier kept than recovered. ~ Thomas Paine
Rhonda Colcord
Winter Springs, FL

Please do not flame me for sending this!!! I love Rhonda and agree with her disappointment and feel that others should be forewarned!

I do need to make the comment that we here in the North Country tend to be very trusting of others. But, when I bought my Hyacinth (a reproduction of a Canadian production wheel) from David Paul of the Merlin Tree, he was astute enough to write me a receipt. As I made payments on my wheel, which was not yet built, he would trust me to mark it off on my receipt. When I made the last payment, I marked it as such. And then my wheel was delivered to my at the Sheep & Wool Festival when it was finished.
I just don't understand why this man did not give Rhonda a receipt with the price of the wheel, the amount deposited and what was owed. We do that here when we are doing a custom order that requires a deposit............
I am sorry that you were burned by this Rhonda and I hope this blog post will serve as a reminder to others to get everything in writing!!


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