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Faults First


Guest Cynic
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Guest Cynic

It seems obvious to me that if your church has a contract (usually only a verbal agreement) with a firm for Tuning and Maintenance that the maintenance ought to take precedence when the tuner arrives. Many years ago, I was told by Mr.Vic Dann (from Manders) that he was not allowed to mend faults on the organ at which I first presided [st.Stephen's Paddington]. He was a nice man and a very good tuner, so I tracked this back to his boss, viz. Noel Mander himself. He told me quite firmly and openly that when an organ was overdue for a rebuild, all his men were firmly instructed not to carry out any work that would put that rebuild further off.

 

I recount the tale because I am confident that this policy no longer applies with the Mander firm. Needless to say, I suggested to my church that they arrange to have another firm maintain the organ because (as observed by several people in another current topic) an organ left alone does not really need too much tuning - reeds aside.

 

This last weekend I played three organs in London. One of them receives a monthly visit and every little thing is dealt with - at some substantial expense, but then this is an organ of national importance. On both of the other two, faults had built up to a marked degree and while tuning was certainly satisfactory in both cases - allowing for the heat wave - frankly, organists and congregations of both parishes are not being well served by these organs being left in the state they are.

 

I appreciate that any firm expects to keep 'in the black' by carrying out rebuilds and restorations along with (scarce) brand new work, but how can expensive visits be justified if the organ gets no better when there are what amount to adjustment problems ignored or 'stacked up'?

 

One of the chief problems of this is that, once again, non-musicians begin to think that an organ is not worth the enormous cost of repair and that they would be spending money more wisely by investing in an electronic. In the case of one of these poor instruments - a historic Walker of Bristol Cathedral vintage and some 40+ stops - I had no idea that it was potentially such a fine instrument, judging from its (limited) use as heard downstairs!

 

So my questions are:

1. Does your tuner deal thoroughly with faults or make excuses?

2. Have you ever had it suggested that small works carried out on (only) part of an instrument would make the instrument appreciably better for a much lesser sum than a rebuild? Examples would be releathering of purse-rails, refelting of pedalboard etc.

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Guest Barry Williams

I have had disagreements with tuners who maintain that their instructions are to tune first, even when a note is off and the pipes cannot be tuned! A discussion with the managing director of one large company resulted in my being told that congregations would notice a note out of tune but were less likely to notice a note off, therefore tuning came first.

 

The bottom line lies in the words of the tuning contract. Rarely is this considered, even if there is documentary evidence for it.

 

Just for the record, Vic Dann maintained two organs I played for many years. He always sorted the action faults before tuning, as a matter of course and his tuning was spot on, every time.

 

Barry Williams

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I usually play first - seem to have a knack for finding broken things, occasionally that the organist didn't know about. Or perhaps I broke them. Either way, it gives a good idea of what needs doing and then, like PD says, time can be allocated to making actual improvements or corrections on a global basis rather than trying to fight lots of small fires by doing odd things to odd notes.

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It seems obvious to me that if your church has a contract (usually only a verbal agreement) with a firm for Tuning and Maintenance that the maintenance ought to take precedence when the tuner arrives. Many years ago, I was told by Mr.Vic Dann (from Manders) that he was not allowed to mend faults on the organ at which I first presided [st.Stephen's Paddington]. He was a nice man and a very good tuner, so I tracked this back to his boss, viz. Noel Mander himself. He told me quite firmly and openly that when an organ was overdue for a rebuild, all his men were firmly instructed not to carry out any work that would put that rebuild further off.

 

I recount the tale because I am confident that this policy no longer applies with the Mander firm. Needless to say, I suggested to my church that they arrange to have another firm maintain the organ because (as observed by several people in another current topic) an organ left alone does not really need too much tuning - reeds aside.

 

This last weekend I played three organs in London. One of them receives a monthly visit and every little thing is dealt with - at some substantial expense, but then this is an organ of national importance. On both of the other two, faults had built up to a marked degree and while tuning was certainly satisfactory in both cases - allowing for the heat wave - frankly, organists and congregations of both parishes are not being well served by these organs being left in the state they are.

 

I appreciate that any firm expects to keep 'in the black' by carrying out rebuilds and restorations along with (scarce) brand new work, but how can expensive visits be justified if the organ gets no better when there are what amount to adjustment problems ignored or 'stacked up'?

 

One of the chief problems of this is that, once again, non-musicians begin to think that an organ is not worth the enormous cost of repair and that they would be spending money more wisely by investing in an electronic. In the case of one of these poor instruments - a historic Walker of Bristol Cathedral vintage and some 40+ stops - I had no idea that it was potentially such a fine instrument, judging from its (limited) use as heard downstairs!

 

So my questions are:

1. Does your tuner deal thoroughly with faults or make excuses?

2. Have you ever had it suggested that small works carried out on (only) part of an instrument would make the instrument appreciably better for a much lesser sum than a rebuild? Examples would be releathering of purse-rails, refelting of pedalboard etc.

 

 

Generally most tuners (unless obviously told otherwise as mentioned above) try to manintain an instrument to the best possible state its condition condition will allow and take a pride in doing this. The main object is obviously to get all the notes playing if possible, then do as much tuning as time allows. If the organ is not in good condition then of course there will be problems but there is much that can be done to get an instrument playing and much ingenuity is and has been used.

 

This also raises the problem of how long a 1/2 day or full day tuning is. Does it include travelling time to the church? Time wasted in having to fetch keys? In most churches the organist and tuner develop a happy understanding and there is some give and take. Sometimes a fault can take up to a couple of hours to put right, others, if for example a fault caused by water coming through roof, will need far more than a tuning visit to put right and have to be quoted as a `special repair' job.

 

In my tuning days I seem to have been pretty lucky with clients. On occasions one worked well beyond the time one was expected home for supper as in those days and still is in some cases, for many tuners getting things right was what mattered. You also had some organist (do I note occasional signs in this Forum?) who could be more than difficult.

 

These days Health and Safety legislation presents problems even with simple ladders and of course one should have tower scaffolding erected to remove lofty front or pedal pipes to get in.

 

It would be interesting to see who could come up with a suitably worded tuning and maintenance contract to cover everything.

 

FF

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When I arrived at my current church there were several small but significant faults on the organ. The (larger) firm at the time hadn't, to my knowledge, made clear just how close to major work the organ was (is!), tuned it and then went home. The fact it doesn't hold its tuning accurately either adds to the fun. Of the faults, the annoying one was the bottom C and C sharp on the pedal Bourdon were off (a polyphone pipe). Two firms quoted four figure sums to get them/it playing again - which included doing re-leathering, etc that they said would be silly not to do at the same time. PCC then decided to do something more drastic (more later) so these quotes were not taken up...

 

I lived for 2 years with no C or C sharp on the Little-Boom, then we changed tuner to a small firm (Ex HN&B) who had looked after the organ at my previous church... After his first tuning visit, the book said something like "Tuning, etc, ... and I've made C and C sharp work on the Bourdon again..." :rolleyes:

 

At the church, which I play regular monthly recitals at, a different tuner is slowly quoting for and overhauling parts of the organ as they become troublesome. The Open Metal has just been refurbished/releathered, etc. The recitals partly fund this, which is good as the PCC see the organ paying for its own keep to an extent. If a major rebuild was required all at once they'd definitely end up with a Grande Orgue Electronique! :unsure:

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This also raises the problem of how long a 1/2 day or full day tuning is. Does it include travelling time to the church?

 

This is one of my bug bears. In the "real world", if you pay someone to do a job based on a daily rate, their day is expected to be 9-5. Not "You pay us from 9, which is when we'll leave the house". Every other business in the world expects to get the full day's work that they pay for, and NOT to pay travelling expenses. If my company is asked by a customer to send me out for a day's consulting, then the client pays the same, regardless of whether I'm going to Inverness, Southampton or Stockholm. They also expect me to turn up at 9. In other words, if they pay for a day's work, they expect to get a day's work. Not a day minus travel time.

 

There are still organ maintainers out there that persist in this stupid practice - when will they come into the 20th century, let alone the 21st?

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Many years ago, an organ with which I was closely involved would be tuned on a Friday, and then expected to be completely in tune for the Sunday concert, which of course it wasn't. not helped by varying weather conditions. Apparently organ tuners will not work overnight or on Saturdays or Sundays.

Shouldn't organ owners be able to call the tune? (pardon the pun).

Colin Richell.

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This is one of my bug bears. In the "real world", if you pay someone to do a job based on a daily rate, their day is expected to be 9-5. Not "You pay us from 9, which is when we'll leave the house". Every other business in the world expects to get the full day's work that they pay for, and NOT to pay travelling expenses. If my company is asked by a customer to send me out for a day's consulting, then the client pays the same, regardless of whether I'm going to Inverness, Southampton or Stockholm. They also expect me to turn up at 9. In other words, if they pay for a day's work, they expect to get a day's work. Not a day minus travel time.

 

There are still organ maintainers out there that persist in this stupid practice - when will they come into the 20th century, let alone the 21st?

 

This forum is quickly beginning to show the many problematic facets of this subject. A Company employee's day might well start at eight when he commences working for his Company by getting into his car to go tuning and will expect to be paid for leaving his house (or the factory if is works from there and will have clocked on at 8) at that time. His paid time does not start from his arrival at the church as that is not his place of employment, nor are the church his employers.

 

If your company charges the same for your consaltancy fee wich starts at 9 am be it Southampton or Stockholm then who absorbs your travelling time and costs. Do you mean that you have to get yourself to Stockholm in your own time and at your own expense to be there by 9 am?

 

FF

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Many years ago, an organ with which I was closely involved would be tuned on a Friday, and then expected to be completely in tune for the Sunday concert, which of course it wasn't. not helped by varying weather conditions. Apparently organ tuners will not work overnight or on Saturdays or Sundays.

Shouldn't organ owners be able to call the tune? (pardon the pun).

Colin Richell.

 

Yes - if they are prepared to pay the piper (no pun intended). Maybe you are not aware of special rates of overtime for weekend and overnight working, such as double time for a start. The organbuilders/tuners employed by Companies are the ones that have their `rights', it is the individuals working for themselves that can make their own rules.

 

Organs are often the organist's hobby, ill paid often with suspect working conditions, giving many hours of their time free to churches. An organbuilder is a professional craftsman and indeed some even felt that they deserved a home life and would not work at week ends or nights, even at overtime rates - but on the other hand some, usually the younger unmarried ones would.

 

FF

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This forum is quickly beginning to show the many problematic facets of this subject. A Company employee's day might well start at eight when he commences working for his Company by getting into his car to go tuning and will expect to be paid for leaving his house (or the factory if is works from there and will have clocked on at 8) at that time. His paid time does not start from his arrival at the church as that is not his place of employment, nor are the church his employers.

 

If your company charges the same for your consaltancy fee wich starts at 9 am be it Southampton or Stockholm then who absorbs your travelling time and costs. Do you mean that you have to get yourself to Stockholm in your own time and at your own expense to be there by 9 am?

 

FF

 

I think it's perfectly reasonable for the tuner's employer to pay him from the time at which he leaves the house/factory, but I do not expect to a) be told by his employer that the church is paying him for that travel time, :rolleyes: pay for a "day's work" which is in actual fact a day's work less travelling.

 

If I were being sent to Stockholm to a "day's work", then I would, and have, arrive the night before, stay in a hotel and be at the client at the commencement of their working day, and leave either when the client is satisifed that I have resolved their problem (I typically get sent out as a problem solving consultant), or at the end of their working day (or later!).

 

Ok, in my world, the $$$ are higher, hence my company will pay for me to stay in a hotel in Sweden - they're still charging a lot of money for my services, so there's room for manoeuvre. The organ world is not like that. But... tuners don't *have* to travel a great distance, really, assuming that the bigger firms have regional reps, and the smaller firms stay "in area" - if the cost of getting the tuner to site is too high, then reflect that in the quote.

 

I understand where you're coming from, Frank, but I really don't see that this area is problematic at all - it's a practice that's stuck in Victorian times.

 

Churches usually pay for a day's work - that should mean a day's work. Why should we pay for 2-4 hours of work that aren't actually being done? I can understand paying mileage or such like, but not an actual working rate. The cardinal sin, if the tuner is starting their "day's work" from the minute they get in the car, is to say in the tuning book "Unable to deal with due to lack of time" - if they arrive at 11 and leave at 3, this makes me *very* angry.

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I understand where you're coming from, Frank, but I really don't see that this area is problematic at all - it's a practice that's stuck in Victorian times.

 

Churches usually pay for a day's work - that should mean a day's work. Why should we pay for 2-4 hours of work that aren't actually being done? I can understand paying mileage or such like, but not an actual working rate. The cardinal sin, if the tuner is starting their "day's work" from the minute they get in the car, is to say in the tuning book "Unable to deal with due to lack of time" - if they arrive at 11 and leave at 3, this makes me *very* angry.

 

While I can understand the feelings of AJT, it does look as if the real cause of the problem is the charging formula employed by tuners which makes it transparent that travelling time is charged to the Church : a different formula might successfully obscure this fact, though it would be unlikely to alter the identity of who actually ended up paying. Would ajt be happier if it was not quite so "in your face" that travelling time is charged to the customer ? After all the "call out charges" levied by plumbers, appliance repairmen and the like are basically a means of getting the customer to pay for travelling time: these tend to be flat rate and ,since the radius of action of the typical plumber is unlikely to be larger than that of the typical tuner, but rather smaller in fact, would be likely to be seen as even more expensive if expressed in terms of a common denominator. In fact the charging basis for many fees for professional services bears only the most tenuous of connections to the difficulty of the work or the time taken to do it. Thus a typical formula if you engage the services of a solicitor to sell your house for you will be a percentage of the consideration (price) you get for it (typically .75%) plus outgoings plus VAT. Estate agents often adopt a similar practice. There is very little evidence which tends to show that there is any kind of direct relationship between the price of a house and the difficultyof/ time required to do the work required to sell it.

 

Perhaps tuners might simultaneously be able to soothe the feelings of clients like ajt and increase their remuneration if they changed the formula used to present the final account to the customer ?

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Maybe it's just felt that the church is a soft touch....

 

I can never understand why, if you want work doing on an organ, so many builders expect to get the tuning contract. I'm not sure that if you took your car for an MOT you would have to enter into an agreement with the garage that they would have the ongoing care of the car.

 

Time that was shot out of the water too....

 

 

 

I think it's perfectly reasonable for the tuner's employer to pay him from the time at which he leaves the house/factory, but I do not expect to a) be told by his employer that the church is paying him for that travel time, :rolleyes: pay for a "day's work" which is in actual fact a day's work less travelling.

 

If I were being sent to Stockholm to a "day's work", then I would, and have, arrive the night before, stay in a hotel and be at the client at the commencement of their working day, and leave either when the client is satisifed that I have resolved their problem (I typically get sent out as a problem solving consultant), or at the end of their working day (or later!).

 

Ok, in my world, the $$$ are higher, hence my company will pay for me to stay in a hotel in Sweden - they're still charging a lot of money for my services, so there's room for manoeuvre. The organ world is not like that. But... tuners don't *have* to travel a great distance, really, assuming that the bigger firms have regional reps, and the smaller firms stay "in area" - if the cost of getting the tuner to site is too high, then reflect that in the quote.

 

I understand where you're coming from, Frank, but I really don't see that this area is problematic at all - it's a practice that's stuck in Victorian times.

 

Churches usually pay for a day's work - that should mean a day's work. Why should we pay for 2-4 hours of work that aren't actually being done? I can understand paying mileage or such like, but not an actual working rate. The cardinal sin, if the tuner is starting their "day's work" from the minute they get in the car, is to say in the tuning book "Unable to deal with due to lack of time" - if they arrive at 11 and leave at 3, this makes me *very* angry.

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Ok, in my world, the $$$ are higher, hence my company will pay for me to stay in a hotel in Sweden - they're still charging a lot of money for my services, so there's room for manoeuvre. The organ world is not like that. But... tuners don't *have* to travel a great distance, really, assuming that the bigger firms have regional reps, and the smaller firms stay "in area" - if the cost of getting the tuner to site is too high, then reflect that in the quote.

 

I understand where you're coming from, Frank, but I really don't see that this area is problematic at all - it's a practice that's stuck in Victorian times.

Turn away your anger, ajt :rolleyes:

 

I can't see anything wrong with the status quo. Tuners (of organs and pianos) do a tough job pretty well, on the whole, and if you don't like their work or their rates you can go elsewhere. If, through lack of work, all the local tuners in your area give up, then you will be either tunerless, or you'll have to pay someone much more to come from further away. By the way, as a professional musician based in London, I will expect to be paid travel expenses and an element to cover travel time if I am booked to do a concert out-of-town, otherwise I'll be better off doing less work in London; if they don't want to pay those expenses they can get someone local.

 

I've heard it said that if all organs were cone-tuned with mechanical action, kept out of direct heat and light and in fairly stable temperature and humidity, organists would be able to do most of the minimal maintenance (ie tuning the reeds) themselves. Is it true that this happens quite often on the continent?

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I've heard it said that if all organs were cone-tuned with mechanical action, kept out of direct heat and light and in fairly stable temperature and humidity, organists would be able to do most of the minimal maintenance (ie tuning the reeds) themselves. Is it true that this happens quite often on the continent?

 

Yes, quite true. And in many places in this country, too.

 

As for Adrian's thing - you're all right, the formula could be obscured to make it appear different from how it is but the costs have to be met somewhere. I am reminded of sentences like "To send a horse to fetch ye orgynn makerr, 2s and a penny of ye ale for ye men" etc.

 

One point Frank hasn't mentioned is the old days of firms like Osmonds, who would aim (so I am led to believe) for six a day. In that case, charging for travel from the depot is downright dishonest (and I don't suggest for a minute that Osmonds actually did this, it's just hypothetical) because the actual charge should probably be five miles from the last job. I would venture to suggest that a day in the life of a local HN&B rep might not have been terribly different - not that I'm suggesting any kind of dishonesty, merely that it makes good commercial sense to get round as many tunings in a day as is possible and decent. Ergo, on a day where a man whose wages are going to be about £50 and he's earning around £500 for the firm, a drop of petrol and two hours in the car amounts to precious little.

 

I wouldn't expect driving a car to attract the same hourly rate (in terms of charge to customer) as tuning an organ; whilst firms may charge £40 an hour or so for site or workshop operations, the actual physical cost of hiring the man to do the job is much lower and this can be reflected by making an allowance for travelling time at cost. Personally, I'd far prefer to be paying £300 for a 9 to 5 day than £250 for an 11 to 3 day, for instance. Then, all the "sorry, ran out of time so it still doesn't work" comments will either cease or be harder to excuse. But I'd rather have fewer visits full stop and take care of very simple matters like reeds myself.

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come from further away. By the way, as a professional musician based in London, I will expect to be paid travel expenses and an element to cover travel time if I am booked to do a concert out-of-town

 

Quite - travel "expenses". Not your full professional hourly rate. BIG difference. That is my bug bear. Why should I, as a "church" (well, not me personally, although I am quite wide, there's probably room for a pew or two), pay for something I'm not getting?

 

Some (and only one of the 3 I've used in my last couple of jobs), still charge a full hourly rate from the moment they leave their house. If I encounter someone like that, I'll either negotiate to try to reach a different agreement - e.g. we'll pay travelling expenses/mileage, but not a working rate, or switch to someone that doesn't do that.

 

Churches are always trying to get something for nothing, and when they do actually have to pay for something, they expect to get what they pay for. Anyone who wants to do work in a church, and expects to get paid for work they're NOT doing, really needs to wake up.

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Guest Barry Williams

I deputised for some months at a church with a fine three manual organ. The tuning was terrible - all the octaves were exact, but the bearings were hopelessly out. I mentioned it to the churchwarden who took it up with the company (West of Bristol) that had 'restored and improved' the organ in 1986.

 

The next tuning visit was timed by the churchwarden. The 'tuners' were in the church for one hour and twenty two minutes - for a thirty five speaking stop instrument with seven reeds. The tuning book stated that the bearings had been reset. The matter was taken up with the director of the company who said that the time taken was 'all that was left' after travelling from the factory to South London. A year or two later it was discovered that the tuning had in fact been subcontracted to a South London that was noted for this type of sharp practice.

 

I learned recently that an organist (who thinks he is an organ builder) attempted to repair part of an organ that is normally professional tuned and maintained. The repair could have been effected by a qualified organ builder in the course of a routine visit. After the unqualified ministrations of the musician it needed a separate visit and a replacement of the entire part.

 

A good tuning and maintenace contract requires good faith on the part of the church and of the organ builder. Most tuners are very conscientious and will try and recify faults on a routine visit. However, churches must be prepared to pay for the proper attention if more complex work is neeed.

 

Barry Williams

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Churches are always trying to get something for nothing, and when they do actually have to pay for something, they expect to get what they pay for. Anyone who wants to do work in a church, and expects to get paid for work they're NOT doing, really needs to wake up.

 

 

Whilst it may be true that "free" is almost everyone's favourite four-letter-word, there certainly used to be a widespread view in the legal profession that free advice was normally worth precisely what you paid for it. I suspect that would have been true of many other occupations as well. Whilst it is indisputable that Churches (as buildings/individual congregations) have always welcomed benefactions and a number have virtually owed their existence to the generosity of one or more wealthy patrons, in the 21st century with falling attendances , why should any church/congregation even begin to think it has some sort of entitlement to professional services at free or subsidsed rates ? If someone is prepared to provide them, that is wonderful but it is surely a bonus: not a right or legitimate expectation? I do not see why a church has any more reason to expect subsidised or preferential rates for work on the organ than for work on the roof.

 

Not wishing to be argumentative it does seem to me that we are back to problems of terminology here: wages for work done is what an employer pays to his employee or in the older terminology a master to his servant. This will rarely be the situation between a church and someone doing work for it: the relationship in legal terminology will almost always be a contract for services and the church will be paying not "wages for work done" but a "charge for services provided". A part of that charge will be for the cost of providing those services at the time and place they are provided, or quite simply the cost of travelling time which has to be met by someone. And the cost of travelling time involves more than the actual expense of getting to A from B: certainly more than the cost of the fuel used. There is the profit element, the charge to reflect the fact that equipment en route from A to B is not available for work at C and so on and so forth. So if there is any "waking up" to be done it is perhaps more on the part of those church officers/ officials whose view of the way the economy works seems more rooted in the assumptions of the 19th century than those of the 21st.

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I can never understand why, if you want work doing on an organ, so many builders expect to get the tuning contract. I'm not sure that if you took your car for an MOT you would have to enter into an agreement with the garage that they would have the ongoing care of the car.

 

Time that was shot out of the water too....

 

Do you want the work guaranteed Q?

 

David Wyld.

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why should any church/congregation even begin to think it has some sort of entitlement to professional services at free or subsidsed rates ? If someone is prepared to provide them, that is wonderful but it is surely a bonus: not a right or legitimate expectation? I do not see why a church has any more reason to expect subsidised or preferential rates for work on the organ than for work on the roof.

 

I completely agree - I wasn't saying that it was "right", but that the economic facts are that churches are increasingly skinflint.

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Maybe it's just felt that the church is a soft touch....

 

I can never understand why, if you want work doing on an organ, so many builders expect to get the tuning contract. I'm not sure that if you took your car for an MOT you would have to enter into an agreement with the garage that they would have the ongoing care of the car.

 

Time that was shot out of the water too....

 

As has been said the organ business is way behind times. The history of builders expecting to get the tuning contract goes back to days of Guarantees. I can remember that unrealistc guarantees had to be quoted of: "21 years, provided the tuning and maintenance remained with the firm who carried out the work and persons not authorised by the firm did not enter the instrument." (On occasions I have sanctioned an organist capable of doing minor ajustments access).

 

This was necessary as from time to time well meaning organists would `have a go themselves', be totally dishonest and blame the resulting damage on the organ builder. I had one case where most of the weights had come off the reeds and there were some buckled tongues, but one of the churchwardens who described himself as a `hard businessman who knew a bit about organs' and who's son happened to be the organist, insisted that this was bad workmanship. We had not used strong enough glue (?) for the weights and the reed tongues were sub standard brass and that we had to rectify these faults under guarantee.

 

The Verger blew the gaff and told me how the organist and his friend and been in one evening working until late trying to tune the reeds. The result - we lost the tuning contract and the church their guarantee and our reputation was dented on every occasion possible by the father and son. (Incidently the son is still about and since he is likely to outlive me I can not put his name in my book!).

 

I don't know how the present Consumer's protection legislation affects things today - help again please Barry.

 

FF

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Not wishing to be argumentative it does seem to me that we are back to problems of terminology here: wages for work done is what an employer pays to his employee or in the older terminology a master to his servant. This will rarely be the situation between a church and someone doing work for it: the relationship in legal terminology will almost always be a contract for services and the church will be paying not "wages for work done" but a "charge for services provided". A part of that charge will be for the cost of providing those services at the time and place they are provided, or quite simply the cost of travelling time which has to be met by someone. And the cost of travelling time involves more than the actual expense of getting to A from B: certainly more than the cost of the fuel used. There is the profit element, the charge to reflect the fact that equipment en route from A to B is not available for work at C and so on and so forth. So if there is any "waking up" to be done it is perhaps more on the part of those church officers/ officials whose view of the way the economy works seems more rooted in the assumptions of the 19th century than those of the 21st.

 

Not wishing to be argumentative either, but I don't see the problem as being one of terminology, only of attitude.

 

1) If you think it's reasonable to pay workshop rates for a man to drive a car, then feel free. I don't. Assuming a distance of 40 miles @ 20p a mile operating cost, and 1 hour's salary at £8 an hour or so, that represents a cost to the firm of £16. Is £40+ a reasonable charge to make for that non-productive time? If so, there are some firms who would find they might prefer to make more profit by sending men out to drive all day and only spend ten minutes on each organ. Just think of the invoices you could raise. On an emergency callout basis, then the charge can be more easily justified, but as far as planned maintenance goes that is often a case of the company telling the church how often they would like to come, and not the other way round. Apart from anything else, how is the customer to know that the tuner hasn't come from another church three miles away, and is going to another one five miles away afterwards?

 

2) Equipment - a can of oil for the blower and a selection of hand tools are most likely going to belong to (or at least be unique to) the individual, rather than the firm. It's extremely unlikely that any firm wishing to be taken seriously is going to be held up in its work because the company reed knife is on another job.

 

If I need a plumber, glazier, carpenter, electrician, driving instructor, mobile mechanic, grass cutter or whatever at home, they turn up at 9.00 and have almost certainly factored travel costs as part of their overhead and reflected it in both their hourly rate and the locations they state they are prepared to work. They have probably also fitted me in with another job or quote a reasonable distance away, making an effort to minimise their own costs. What they don't do is turn up at 10.30 and announce that I already owe them sixty quid, plus some compensation for the firm only having one spanner/shovel/saw and the rest of their men having to stand idle as a result.

 

As for warranties - I had a new ABS unit a while back. It (and the workmanship) has a one year warranty. I am under no contractual obligation to take my car there three times a year for them to do what they want to it. Last year I had new windows with a ten-year guarantee; one of the panes of glass was broken ealier this year and I changed it myself having obtained the glass from another company. In neither case is my warranty void.

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Not wishing to be argumentative either, but I don't see the problem as being one of terminology, only of attitude.

 

1) If you think it's reasonable to pay workshop rates for a man to drive a car, then feel free. I don't. Assuming a distance of 40 miles @ 20p a mile operating cost, and 1 hour's salary at £8 an hour or so, that represents a cost to the firm of £16. Is £40+ a reasonable charge to make for that? If so, there are some firms who would make more profit by sending men out to drive all day and only spend ten minutes on each organ. On an emergency callout basis, then the charge can be more easily justified, but as far as planned maintenance goes that is often a case of the company telling the church how often they would like to come, and not the other way round. Apart from anything else, how is the customer to know that the tuner hasn't come from another church three miles away, and is going to another one five miles away afterwards?

 

2) Equipment - a can of oil for the blower and a selection of hand tools are most likely going to belong to (or at least be unique to) the individual, rather than the firm. It's extremely unlikely that any firm wishing to be taken seriously is going to be held up in its work because the company reed knife is on another job.

 

If I need a plumber, glazier, carpenter, electrician, driving instructor, mobile mechanic, grass cutter or whatever at home, they turn up at 9.00 and have almost certainly factored travel costs as part of their overhead and reflected it in both their hourly rate and the locations they state they are prepared to work. What they don't do is turn up at 10.30 and announce that I already owe them sixty quid, plus some compensation for the firm only having one spanner/shovel/saw and the rest of their men having to stand idle as a result.

 

As for warranties - I had a new ABS unit a while back. It (and the workmanship) has a one year warranty. I am under no contractual obligation to take my car there three times a year for them to do what they want to it. Last year I had new windows with a ten-year guarantee; one of the panes of glass was broken ealier this year and I changed it myself having obtained the glass from another company. In neither case is my warranty void.

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I think that I have pressed some wrong butrtons some how. David is a great guy (and stirrer) but I would have been happy have employed him in the past. I would have loved to have him work in my office for a couple of weeks to see how he would have coped as an employer with such comments from the Accountant as, why is `Charlie blogs' charging for toilet rolls on his expenses.

 

FF

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David, a few things I would disagree with you about :

 

1 20p a mile motoring costs - what century would that have been in ?

 

2 If the staff of a small firm are all out tuning, are the workshop running costs suspended? I think not. The tuner's work brings in revenue needed to keep the resources of the business alive. Those resources are needed (tools, machinery, materials) in order to facilitate proper repairs. What good to a client is a tuner without the proper resources to repair, overhaul, rebuild etc.?

 

3 In the case you cited of a plumber turning up - they usually make a minimum standard charge for the 1st hour and then hourly rate thereafter. You pay that first hour charge, even if it only takes 5 mins to solve the problem.

 

4 On the frequency of tuning visits - it IS important that organs are regularly inspected. A common cause of big disasters is water penetration through a leaky roof. Spot the tell-tale signs early and major damage can be avoided. Collapsing pipework, attack by vermin and suchlike can often be detected only by inside inspection.

 

 

 

H

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David, a few things I would disagree with you about :

 

1 20p a mile motoring costs - what century would that have been in ?

 

2 If the staff of a small firm are all out tuning, are the workshop running costs suspended? I think not. The tuner's work brings in revenue needed to keep the resources of the business alive. Those resources are needed (tools, machinery, materials) in order to facilitate proper repairs. What good to a client is a tuner without the proper resources to repair, overhaul, rebuild etc.?

 

3 In the case you cited of a plumber turning up - they usually make a minimum standard charge for the 1st hour and then hourly rate thereafter. You pay that first hour charge, even if it only takes 5 mins to solve the problem.

 

4 On the frequency of tuning visits - it IS important that organs are regularly inspected. A common cause of big disasters is water penetration through a leaky roof. Spot the tell-tale signs early and major damage can be avoided. Collapsing pipework, attack by vermin and suchlike can often be detected only by inside inspection.

H

 

1 - my 2.5litre Volvo estate does an average 35mpg, and taking fuel as being around 94p a litre, that's 13p per mile. I do 20000 miles a year on average. Adding up my insurance, AA membership, road tax and a provisional sum of £800 to cover maintenance, tyres and MOT costs, I arrive at about £1250 - 6p a mile. That's 19p a mile. If I had a diesel or a smaller car, it would be less. Then you can deduct the VAT on all those items as a VAT registered business user. Depreciation I do not include because the value of the asset and its depreciation are assessed as part of the value of the business. (This is cost I'm talking, not the usual 40/50p or whatever it is now which the IR allow you to claim as employee expenses when using your own vehicle.)

 

2 - fair comment, but surely those resources are maintained by the fact of having work to do in that workshop? Without the work, there is no point in having one (and indeed I know many tuners who just do odd bits in their garage or sub out - not that I would advocate the "rucksack maintenance" approach).

 

3 - quite right too. Fortuntately not many organs are tuned in 5 minutes. However, I think most people would probably consider that if there WAS a five minute problem, they would be happy to nip in and sort it out when passing at no cost.

 

4 - again, fair comment, but we all know there are plenty of instruments out there supposedly tuned four times a year and yet are still in a terrible state of repair with collapsed pipes and all the rest of it. I know one local instrument which I had to look at recently after its second tuning visit of 2007 where the person had inadvertantly revoiced most of the Open Diapason (the only unenclosed stop of a 1m 5-stop organ with no reeds) by leaning on it to get at the enclosed stuff. His belt buckle had evidently caught one of the pipe mouths which was torn and distorted beyond repair. However, the gentleman has a contract, so he'll be back in a few months (weeks) to do it all over again.

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