|"Excellent site for ordering. You have a very fine selection of items. Having fought my way through a number of websites specializing in double reeds, yours was a pleasure to use."
- Joe Hassey
|"I've enjoyed surfing and ordering from your website. For my taste it is the most well-designed of all the double reed websites."
- Anna Pennington
|"It was very nice talking to you today and getting a few of my zillions of cane questions answered. I have tried talking to people in other shops who were annoyed by my questions, perhaps unsure of the answers and did not want to appear ignorant, or just too busy to answer the telephone. I was so discouraged that I never did business with these people. It was refreshing to speak to someone who has the knowledge and is also willing to spend some time with the customer!"
- L. R., Toronto, Canada
|"I'm writing to express my utmost disappointment in my order that I placed on Thursday, July 5th. As of today, I've received one of the three items that I purchased and am aware that another of my items will be arriving on Friday of this week. The third item continues to be on backorder. Today is July 17th. It has been about two weeks since I originally ordered. I had planned on beginning to make reeds, but these plans have now been put to a halt because of the lack of my purchased items. As a first-time customer, this first impression that you've established is not quite the one I'd expect from such a highly regarded double-reed provider. I'm very displeased with the service that has been provided to me. I expect that I will not be charged extra for requiring the UPS delivery service come to my house two more times in the coming days and weeks. I also sincerely hope that my third item arrives by the end of this month. Quite frankly, first impressions make or break a customer's opinion of any company. It is quite unfortunate that your reputation has dropped in my mind. But, being such a large corporation that provides for the entire nation, this e-mail will likely mean nothing and be cast into the discard folder with the rest of the people that have been unhappy with their orders and service. I just merely wanted to take the time to let you know that, because of this one poor experience with your company, I will likely never order from Charles Double Reeds again. Your hopes to "exceed my expectations" certainly did not work out. Thank you for your time. I hope that your other customers will be served better than I was."
Sincerely, **name withheld upon request**
Here's Our Response To This Customer . . .
"I am very sorry to hear about your disappointment and also very appreciative that you wrote to me. The first impression that you've given me is much better than I've given you, apparently. Our company is a small, family run business with 24 years of service to the double reed community. Since 1984, when I started the company while I was at Juilliard as a dual oboe and bassoon student, I've seen an amazing rise in service levels and expectations as well. I vividly remember sending off a check (no one took credit cards) to a double reed company in New Mexico. It took three months for a response (they listed no phone number) and the response was a package of cane that contained the leftovers from a few different batches - none of which I had ordered. I made reeds with that bunch of junk, and wondered if there couldn't be a better way. I started Charles Double Reed Company when working part-time for Charles Ponte Music Company in midtown Manhattan. You can read a lot about the history at THIS LINK. The idea was to serve double reed players the same way I wanted to be served: with good communication, fast service and great products. Over the years, we've led the way in bringing up the caliber of double reed companies, being first to have a website, first to offer all major credit cards, first to send email confirmations and order tracking, and always with the idea that we want to provide the type of service we would expect for ourselves.
Our statement about "exceeding expectations" can not be met every time, obviously, and in this case, we appear to have failed miserably. However, I assure you that we are not a huge faceless corporation, your email will not be trashed, your voice has been heard, and this is a matter that we will all discuss here, in an effort to overcome the obstacles that led to your experience. As much as we want to provide immediate service on all products, there are vast segments of the double reed world that operate at a very slow pace. We pre-order as much as possible from certain factories and family cane growers in Europe and some hand craftspeople in order to always have enough on hand for us to satisfy every order that comes to us. In this case, we failed, and I sincerely apologize for our failure. Not only did we damage our own reputation, we created a situation for you that none of us would feel comfortable with ourselves. As a reedmaker, I personally understand your frustration. As a provider of services and as a fellow member of the world of double reeds, I offer you my humble apologies. Please let me know if you have any questions or comments. In addition, may I have your permission to share your finely worded and very compelling email on our website? I would like to let people see both our successes and our failures."
With Sincere Best Wishes, Brian
And The Customers Response . . .
"Thank you very much for your response. The time you put in on such an eloquent e-mail obviously shows that you are not at all a faceless corporation. Your willingness to deal with customer comments is something that I'd like to see in more businesses. My original e-mail probably came off as sounding very scathing and angry. This was not at all the intent. When I wrote the message, I had just gotten home from work and was quite tired. I probably should not have even sent the message, especially given my tendency to be quite impatient. Also, I am still quite young (I'll be a freshman in college this fall); I have many life lessons yet to learn. Given the fact that I'm now aware of the situations with some of the double reed companies that you have to deal with, I will, in the future, be more patient and willing to wait for hand-crafted items. I totally understand your situation on the business side of operations. Unfortunately, I jumped the gun on sending such a negative e-mail without thinking through your end of the situation.
I appreciate all that you do for the double reed world and business in general. As I said earlier, I wish that more businesses would be willing to communicate with customers about issues or comments. My saying also that I would never purchase from your company again was a bit outlandish. While I don't enjoy making excuses, I was merely in the heat of the moment with my impatience.
Please know that I would be willing to order from you again and that the issues lie on my end, not yours. I apologize for any problems I have caused you and your company. If you feel that your website will benefit from posting my e-mail, please feel free; just don't put my name on it, if you please. As far as the free shipping, please do not worry about it. I've come to the realization that the problem rests on my shoulders. Thank you for the kind gesture, however. Thank you again for your speedy response and your ability to communicate well. I look forward to ordering from you in the future
- Name Withheld
|"I like the Charles double hollow ground knife very much. I find myself using the Charles knife to finish my reed tips, and using an older Swiss knife to do the backs and heart. The Charles knife is very sharp and holds its edge well. It takes a nice burr. I control the burr with the Razor-Edge steels. I've squared off the end of the knife with a diamond stone--just like the Swiss knife--to get a 45o tip, slightly rounded, which works better to peel the cane out of the windows. This knife is well designed--very similar in shape to the heavier Swiss knife, for half the price, with a deeper hollow grind for a sharper, easier sharpening knife. Still, for a light, sharp knife, it has a heavy back which makes it work better on cane."
- Edward B. Flowers
|"You have always provided me with great service and products, I appreciate that a great deal. One of the most difficult factors to control on the oboe is stability, so when you provide consistent, quality products and service it makes my life that much easier. By the way, I never thanked Brian Charles for repairing my reed case about 3 years ago, it is fantastic and still serves me well. Thank you and have a great day."
- David Cyzak
|"I'm a fairly new oboe player and I just wanted to let you know that I absolutely love your reeds. I was a clarinet player for nine years and I switched to oboe thirteen months ago. At first I accepted the less-than-good sounds that I was producing knowing that it was partly due to the reeds and partly due to being new to the instrument. I didn't realize how much of that was really due to the reed until I borrowed another person's oboe one day and was amazed to discover that I could make a good sound. After that I started searching for a legitimate site to order quality reeds from when I came across this one and decided to try a few. That was seven months ago and now I can't imagine ordering from anywhere else. I actually made it into the pit for our school performance of Sweeney Todd this year and my band director would have never put me in there with my previous sound. I also got a freshman oboe player to switch to your reeds after convincing him that how much a reed affects your sound by making him play on one of mine. I wanted to let you know how much of a difference your reeds have made to me and that I would recommend them to anyone and will continue ordering them, especially the way my own attempts at reeding have gone."
- Sarah, United States
|"Outstanding service and products. Always look forward to contacting you, and will look forward to seeing you in Ithaca (IDRS conference 2007)."
- Lenny Hindell (2nd Bassoon, ret. NY Phil.)
|"Just wanted to thank you for an informative and well organized website. My 9-yr old son is a budding oboist, and we need to learn a lot about the care and feeding of oboes!"
- Lisa Fairhall
|"Easy to use website. Product descriptions were helpful. Thank you! I also received a Charles black leather 10 reed case; it is hands-down the best reed case ever (and I have lots of various cases.)"
- MaryBeth Hollinger
|"Very pleased with your products and services. All three of my children are strong music students, with the youngest playing the oboe. The oldest at 19 is a percussionist at the Indiana University School of Music, next is a 17 yr old French Horn player, and last is my 13 yr old with the oboe. They all three have played the piano since age 5. Needless to say I have purchased boatloads of music and various music supplies from many different companies. I really appreciate how easy your web site is to use and the quality of your products. We live in a rural area, and access to quality products is limited. My daughter (with the oboe) just started private lessons and her teacher was most impressed with her ability to tune (your tuner)and what nice tone she was able to produce (your reeds). Thanks for helping her to be successful!"
- Julie Horn
|"Thanks so much for your nice service prior to my recent purchase of your "first" Fox 800 oboe. It's a wonderful instrument, and it was nice to be able to buy it from you."
- Michael Jones
|"One of the best web sites for ordering that I've used. Very organized and logical. Easy to follow and find your products."
- Michael Gathings
|"Hello, I wanted to thank you for shipping the two oboe reeds which were missing from my original order so promptly, and for including the gifts! That was so thoughtful of you. I look forward to doing more business with you in the future. Thank you again for wonderful customer service! It's a rare thing to find these days."
- Carol Shrembek
|"Thank you so much for the wonderful reeds you made for me. I placed an order about two months ago for two oboe reeds. I have had the chance to really use them and I absolutely love the sound and the range they provide. I haven't played in years and I never learned to make my own reeds. I am thankful to your company for the beauty and quality you provide. I am sure I will be ordering from you in the future. Thank you again"
- Jennifer Middlebrooks
|"Thank you for producing such wonderful reeds, far superior to the mass produced reeds I have tried in the past and considerably cheaper, and this includes Air mail postage to New Zealand. Very fast order processing as well, my order arrived only 9 days after being placed. Keep up the good work!"
- Tony Kissell
|"Thank you for the friendly help over the phone. I am happy to find a company that takes the time to offer personal assistance in product selection. Not all large oboe supply companies are as helpful. I have ordered from Charles Double Reed Company before and most definitely will order again in the future."
- Susan Mahan
|"Your web site is so easy and convenient! The other company I was going to order through would have taken 4 weeks....yours is only a few days! Thanks!"
- Ruth Clifford
|"This is only my second time ordering from your web site. I find it very user-friendly and my order is processed and shipped within a timely manner. My son is the oboe player and he is very pleased with the products we have ordered."
- Paula Miller
|"I just wanted to say that I am incredibly impressed with your amazing service! I've been doing business with [competitor] for a while and it's ridiculous because it usually takes about a month to receive ANYTHING. Anyway, thank you for being awesome. I will definitely be ordering from you again!"
- Catheryn Gaylord
|"I love your store! I can always find just exactly what I need. Thank you so much."
- Callie Malone
|"Charles Double Reed Company has everything we're looking for: great personal service; good products; and good prices. Keep up the good work."
- Catherine Bowman
|"My dad and step-mom placed an order with your company for some of my Christmas presents this year. Thank you for all your help making sure the order was correct and arrived here on time! My family doesn't have a musical bone anywhere in their bodies but your company made it easy! Your awesome customer service is why I continue to use your company!"
- Sarah Knoblauch
|"I appreciate how easy it is to use your web site. I can quickly find what I am looking for. When I had a question about what the inside of
the Pro-Tec bassoon case looked like, you all sent me a picture of the inside. That really helped make my decision to purchase this case easier."
- Kristen Peto
|"I am an oboist from Germany and I have bought items from Charles before. I have always been very pleased with the quality and choice of the items on offer as well as the speedy service. It is always a pleasure to come and dig around on your site trying to find new and interesting things."
- Eugene Tomasson
|"I placed a Christmas order last week (my second order from you) on 11/24/04. All steps of the process were easy and uncomplicated. Prices and products are nice, especially being able to buy Oboe/instrument specific items. I received everything ordered on 11/30, what a nice surprise. My wife will love it all, I will look great and every one will be happy. Thank you, I feel confident buying from you over the net."
- Jim Liddle
|"Thank you, Thank you, Thank you for the wonderful job you did on my oboe. I almost didn't recognize it, it was so beautiful. I told my husband that I think it's in better shape now than it was when I bought it. I played it last night at rehearsal and almost started to cry because I could finally play the notes and have them sound the way they were supposed to. I truly appreciate how quickly you did the work and how accommodating you were to my crazy schedule. I will definitely choose your services again. I look forward to meeting you in the future."
- Laurel Dodge
|"Your check for the sale of my bassoon arrived and turned our 2.5 inches of rain yesterday into showers of blessings. Thank you for handling the repair and sale with such promptness and courtesy. We simply did not know how to go about selling it ourselves. We hope that the one who purchased it will enjoy many years of playing it. The pleasure of having met you and spent some time in the store with you is a memory we will both cherish. May our paths cross again. Thank you."
- Lorabel Casey
|"I found your web site on Brian's Double Reed Suppliers page. I spent a long time, going from site to site, trying to find the GEM swab that I wanted for my bassoon. Your page was very easy to navigate and I was able to find exactly what I wanted. Plus, I love having a picture of the item I'm buying. Thanks!"
- Heather Malody
|"I have sincerely appreciated all of your efforts to help us with reeds for the bassoon my son is playing. The care you give to a customer is most impressive! Your knowledge and expertise is also valued and appreciated."
- Dave Curry
|"I received the check for my Heckel in the mail yesterday - what a nice surprise! Thank you so much for taking such good care of it and me while I was trying to get it sold. If I hear of anyone looking for a place to help sell their instrument I will let them know that I had a great experience with you."
- Judy Stoffel Loewen
|"I would like to thank you for selling my oboe with the utmost professionalism, greatest customer service and with unexpected expediency. You company operates with honesty, integrity and first-rate service. You did everything you said you would do as you said you would do it and better, which is rare these days! I will not hesitate to recommend your company with the highest endorsement."
- Laurie Sears
|"Excellent web site. Very customer friendly ordering process, especially with respect to payment options and ease of inputting credit card
- Robert Henricksen
|"Cleanest, easiest navigation of any retail site I've ever used."
- Dane Philipsen
|"Great site. I almost bought that Kohlert bassoon. What I think is great is that you gave me an honest appraisal of the instrument. That's something that is lacking on a lot of sites."
- John Diaper
|"Thanks for your continued superior service! We really appreciated the care package of tokens you sent for my reed class this
summer. The students have had TOO much fun with the magnets! I'll send all my students your way!"
- Kay Werth
|"I wanted to thank you for your excellent service over the last few years that I've done business with you. I'm impressed by your eagerness to please your customers. I look forward to doing business with you all again."
- Jessica Russell
|"Thank you for have such great products at low prices. I compared your prices to 3 other sites, and added the same items to my shopping cart at all 4 web sites, and yours came out the cheapest."
- Ronnal Ford
|"We have been very happy with the service and the products we get through your site. We have tried other companies that specialized in double reeds and have returned to Charles. Thank you for your prompt and professional service. It is very much appreciated."
- Veronica Carter
|"One of the easiest ordering process I've ever encountered!"
- Toni Buzzard
|"I find the web site clear and easy to look through, the catalogue is the same. I have been very pleased shopping with you and appreciate your prompt returns."
- C.J. Werle
|"You all have a good selection of products. I have bought my reeds from you all for a few years now and I believe that your reeds play better and last longer than any others on the market."
- an anonymous oboist
|"Easy to follow, has everything I would need for my bassoon.
Interesting. This is the first time I saw [the web site] and decided to buy my
reeds. Will certainly look at other features of the site at another
- Sarah Leone
|"Great web site, easy to use. Easy to find various products."
- Leslie East
|"Your bassoon reeds are the best we have experienced!"
- Connie Margowsky
|"Your web site is wonderful, very easy to use. I have always been pleased with the products and the service I have received from you. I look forward to doing business with you now and in the future."
- Marian Pendell
|"My oboe and EH reeds just arrived... and right on time for my performance of "Fiddler on the Roof", which opens tomorrow night. Thank you for the extra effort that you expended to rush the reeds to me. I can't wait to try them. I love your oboe reeds, and I am sure that your EH reeds will be equally as gratifying to play."
- Randy Beecham, President - Blayman Stands
|"I love your web site, particularly the history of Charlie's shop in NYC..."
- Mitch Halpern
|"I'm happy with your services, and I like your new site. Having surfed extensively and purchased from other sites, I find you most professional AND courteous: a rare jewel in this world.
- Mary Mendenhall
|"The oboe arrived safely and your accompanying letter was a delight to read. I am grateful to you for your extreme patience (with the instrument) and skill, and I thank you for restoring it at such a relatively modest cost . . . I was a little concerned, since I don't often contract work over the internet, let alone send my precious oboe off to unknown parts. You restore my faith in the natural goodness of most humans, at least as I would imagine it to be, and I would be happy to provide a referral for any of your customers who might have doubts. Best wishes and continued success in your business"
- Bob Vehse
|"With best wishes to you and thanks for the quality of your US customer service."
- Louise Braithwaite
|"Your reed has arrived safe and sound! (No pun intended!) We were away until this past Tuesday night, and it took the small sub-post office a little while to find it. However, I was able to try it this morning for the first time, and I'm very pleased with it. The response is everything that I hoped for, and it is quite the best reed I have ever bought. So very many thanks indeed!"
- Roger Steed
|"I was very pleased to hear you had sold my EH and that you would be forwarding my check today. It takes a real leap of faith to send a valuable item several thousand miles to another country to have a total stranger sell it on your behalf on the Internet. I must say you came through with flying colors. I was most impressed with the prompt and professional manner in which you in which your were able to sell my English horn at a very fair price."
- Malcolm McIntosh
|"Remember the phone call from Japan about a week ago? Thank you, thank you, thank you so much for being willing to work with us . . . Samantha just opened her present today and was very surprised and thrilled to get her own oboe. She is upstairs playing it right now. We have always had prompt, reliable service from you and this even went beyond that. Thank you so much for all your help. You'll be hearing more from us."
- Jodi Arthur,
Misawa Air Base
|"The package of reeds arrived safely. We are thrilled to have this material and I know it will add a very interesting dimension to the forthcoming Rembrandt exhibition. My first efforts at making a reed pen were very successful - a little more practice and I hope to have a near-perfect implement for our collection. Thanks ever so much for your generosity."
- Marjorie Shelley
Conservator of Prints & Drawings
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
New York City
|"I want to thank you for "going the extra mile" and getting my daughter's oboe reed to us in time for her audition. She attributes a portion of her good sound to your reeds. Even her teacher noticed a better quality of sound after switching to your reeds. She will now only play with your reeds which is fine with me as your company always delivers what it promises. Your staff seems very helpful and congenial every time I have had contact with them. Thank you again for getting the reeds to me. You now have a customer for life."
- Nancy Davis, mom of oboist