The series of blogs you just read featured the opinions of ordinary salespeople who strongly objected to the claims of Yamaha Corporation of America. Their appeal is ordinary too: they appealed to your common sense.
Yamaha Corporation of America conducted a marketing strategy in 1999 which, in hindsight, was underhanded, unethical, inflammatory and just plain stupid. Marketing strategies are not supposed to create a controversy that persists for so many years. In that truth you will find the proof of my assertion. They used poor judgment. Yamaha Corporation of America acted as it did because the threat was real. Legally imported used Yamaha pianos offer the American consumer a chance to buy a very good piano at a greatly reduced cost.
How do you reconcile a dispute that has persisted for such a long time? It is most likely that it can’t be done unless all parties want to reconcile. The marketing strategy of Yamaha Corporation of America has been very successful. The term “gray market” pianos is part of the piano selling language. Yamaha salespeople use that phrase to describe used Yamaha pianos that are legally imported for resale. “Seasoned for destination” is also a term that has persisted even though no technical information has ever been published that supports the claim or records the success of the manufacturing process. Yamaha Corporation of America still refuses to provide parts for pianos they did not import, but as was shown earlier, tuner/technicians are advised by their associates to circumvent this inconvenience by using the serial number of a qualifying piano in order to obtain parts for a non-qualifying, legally imported used Yamaha piano.
Seasoned for Destination
Many tuner/technicians and dealers have toured the Yamaha facilities in Hamamatsu, Japan and strenuously assert that Yamaha does in fact season their pianos based on that piano’s scheduled destination. It all depends on who you believe; there are no facts, there are only opinions. What seems relevant is to compare apples to apples. You cannot compare a “seasoned for U.S. destination” piano made in 2014 to a piano made in 1984 that was seasoned for a different destination. You would have to wait 30 years to see how the 2014 piano held up.
It is generally understood, and I do concede the point, that Yamaha seasons its pianos for one of four different world regions. What Yamaha Corporation of America and its supportive dealers will not concede is that there is absolutely no evidence to indicate that the seasoning procedure has any bearing on the quality of a piano as it ages. To repeat, if Yamaha pianos are seasoned according to different regions, it has not yet been established as an industry standard to the end that the seasoning process is known to be effective or warranted. Maybe that is why no other piano manufacturer (including Kawai which is also located in Hamamatsu, Japan) employs a similar drying process for their pianos.
The term “Gray Market” has a literal meaning and a common meaning. The consumer is likely to infer that used Yamahas are imported illegally; that they are not serviceable, that there is something inherent in the manufacturing process that makes those pianos ill-suited for this climate, and finally, that the quality of the piano itself is sub-standard and unworthy for consideration as a valuable purchase.
In truth – a truth that may never reach the ears of consumers – is that 1.) it is not illegal to import used Yamaha pianos, 2.) Used Yamaha pianos can be serviced by the same technicians that service every other piano in America, and 3.) It has never been established that “seasoned for destination” has any impact on the condition of a piano as its ages, and 4.) The quality of a used Yamaha piano is not sub-standard – in fact, its quality can be quite remarkable, well worth the limited investment dollars of any consumer.
There is enough circumstantial evidence that is contrary to Yamaha Corporation of America’s claims to support the notion that their marketing campaign was deceptive, intentionally misleading, and wholly self-serving.
And it is particularly of note, especially to men and women of integrity, that when a company employs unscrupulous methods to sell its wares, it is probably best to be skeptical of all of its claims. Yamaha of Japan and Yamaha Corporation of America have had plenty of opportunities to set the record straight. Having not done so, the controversy persists. By their hand, they have drawn their own integrity into question.
The verdict in this debate about Yamaha pianos depends entirely on you. You must choose who to believe.
I knew Wilton Syckes. I worked with him for a short while in my capacity as an independent sales representative. I sold used Yamaha pianos, and other pianos, to dealers in the southwest territory. I do not agree with everything he wrote, but I understand and appreciate the spirit with which he wrote it. Wilton and I had many things in common, but one particular common trait is relevant to this discussion: we were both consumer advocates.
Wilton believed, as do I, that competition is good for the consumer. You sell your product and I will sell mine. That is a simple rule. But do not lie about my product. When you lie about my product, you are lying to the consumer. Do not intentionally deceive a consumer. Do not mislead the consumer. No consumer is ever served through the use of deception, misinformation or lies.
Updated: A Conclusion Which Favors Yamaha
Part 6: FAQS about Previously Owned Yamaha and Kawai Pianos, by Wilton Syckes
Part 7: Seasoned for Destination, by Tom Donahue
Part 8: Gray Market Yamaha Pianos – What is the Truth? By Craig Whitaker
Part 10: A Conclusion Which Favors Yamaha