Consignment

In which Dave Hexom and I strike an agreement that he will sell my piano on consignment. Or: how I got myself into this predicament.

Summer of 1998
How do you go about getting rid of a piano? I didn't want to sell to a friend. I have a lot of hard feelings about that piano. I don't want to see the thing every time that I visit. Neither did I want to mix business and friendship. What if they didn't like the piano? Or thought that I wanted too much for it? Nope - friends were right out.

I didn't want to put an ad in the paper. I didn't want the phone ringing with silly questions and having to let strangers into my house to paw over my stuff. Blech. What if they hurt themselves or the piano while moving it? And if the piano didn't bounce, what if the check did?

Some stores buy used pianos. I was afraid that I wouldn't get very much money. I called several stores and most were unwilling to give any kind of estimate without seeing the piano. It wasn't very encouraging. I didnot bother to ask Schmidt Music, one of the bigger outfits, figuring that they'd be sure to gouge me. But I did find out that Schmidt sold similar pianos new for about $4000.

A woman from work has a husband who plays piano. I asked if she might know someone who sold pianos on consignment. She asked around and got a recommendation and a phone number for Dave Hexom, owner of Apache Music. The man who gave the recommendation is a well-respected piano tuner and musician.

That woman stopped talking to me. I never did find out why.

On or about October 4th, 1998 - Mr. Hexom Inspects Piano in My Home
It took me a while to get around to calling Mr. Hexom. In retrospect, it would have been better had I never bothered! When I did call him I got an addled old man who had difficulty carrying on a coherent conversation. I told him that I had a piano and was looking for someone to sell it on consignment. He asked what kind of piano it was. I described the piano. He asked what I hoped to get for it - my share of the sale. I told him that I didn't really know. That's where the conversation broke down and he seemed to lose it. I think that Dave fancies himself some sort of wheeler dealer super bargainer. He was very cagey about the value of the piano. My guess is that he didn't want to tip his hand about the value - hence his seeming confusion. After dancing around the issue for a while I told him that I was not interested in dickering and that if he couldn't tell me what he would give me for my share of the sale I would find someone else. He went on for a while about how I had a nice piano and that he often took cheaper pianos in trade and then financed the difference for a piano like mine. Said that he liked collecting the interest. Seemed to think that he was very clever.

Whatever.

He estimated $1600 for my share. That was almost exactly what I had hoped to get. We arranged a meeting at my house so that he could inspect the piano. He had to ask for directions three different times. Not the brightest bulb on the tree.

On or about October 4th, 1998 Dave Hexom came to my house to inspect my piano. He drove a beat up white Toyota. I had to be gone that eveningso my husband, Doug, let Mr. Hexom into the house. Doug described Mr. Hexom as a scatterbrained older man. I guess that he was just as impressive in person as on the phone. Mr. Hexom left a contract, including his signature, for me to review and sign if I agreed to let him sell my piano on consignment. Mr. Hexom took a polaroid picture of Doug, Lily, and the piano.

On or About October 5th, 1998 - I Sign Contract for Sale of Piano on Consignment
On October 5th, 1998 I signed the contract granting Dave Hexom 90 days minimum to sell my piano (a Baldwin 44" studio piano with Bench) on consignment. I would be paid $1600.00 within 30 days of the sale. The agreement granted Mr. Hexom 90 days minimum to sell the piano. The minimum time period prevented me from wasting Mr. Hexom's time by quickly changing my mind about the sale. After 90 days I would be free to cancel the deal if the piano had not been sold. I took pictures of the piano in my living room.

On or about 6 October 6th, 1998 - Movers take piano
Mr. Hexom arranged for movers to pick up the piano on or about 6 October 1998. Again, I couldn't be home and Doug had to let in the strangers. They came in a beat up blue Chevy pickup truck with a plywood topper and license plate number 447 PWX. The movers loaded up the piano and took the original signed contract. I kept a carbon copy of this contract.

That night Doug and I lauged about whether or not the piano had just been stolen. I figured that there was enough bad karma with the piano that it was unlikely that we'd ever see the piano or any money.

January 5th, 1999 - 90 Day Right to Sell Expires
Mr. Hexom's 90 day right to sell my piano expired January 5th, 1999. He never calls. We never go out. Something is definitely wrong with our relationship.

Early 1999 - I Call Mr. Hexom Several Times
Mr. Hexom has never contacted me since October 1998 when he took possession of my piano. Sometime around February of 1999 I called to ask about the status of my piano. He did not return my calls. I called again and left a message requesting that he call me, but did not leave my full name or specify the reason for the call. He returned the call and would not tell me the location of the piano. He would only say that people were looking at the piano and he was about to close a sale. I heard nothing from him.

Sometime around March of 1999 I called again. Again Mr. Hexom would not tell me the exact location of the piano. He said that my piano was in a technician's shop so that the technician could inspect the piano for some prospective buyers. What a goofy story - you bring the technician to the piano, not the piano to the technician! I requested several times he return the piano to me. He was very evasive, saying that he was about to close the sale.

March 24th, 1999 - I Sent Certified Letter Requesting Payment or Piano
I talked with my friend, Beth, about the best way to deal with a deadbeat piano dealer. She told me how I should try to reach this guy and to document that I did try to contact him. It is important to get documentation so that you can prove that you really did try to reach the guy if you go to court. Based on Beth's advice, on March 24th, 1999 I sent a certified letter return receipt requested to Mr. Hexom at the 3800 Silver Lake Road, St. Anthony MN 55421: the address listed on our contract. I requested that he pay me $1600 for the sale of my piano or return my piano within seven days. It cost $2.98 to send this letter.

April 9th, 1999 - Apache Music/Dave Hexom Not Registered with Sec. of State
On April 9th, 1999 I called the office of the Secretary of State to get a business address for Apache Music and/or Dave Hexom. Pauline A. tried to verify the registration. She said that the "address was not found on the active or the inactive database" for either name.

April 20th, 1999 - I Filed a Complaint with the Better Business Bureau
The Better Business Bureau automated system reported that, as identified by the phone number listed on our contract (612) 788-3274, Apache Music had an "unsatisfactory report" based on "no response" to a complaint reported to them by the Better Business Bureau.

Maybe you're wondering, "Gee, Kris, why didn't you call the Better Business Bureau BEFORE turning over your piano to a criminal?" Well....well...shut up and quit harassing me!

On April 20th, 1999 I filed a written complaint with the Better Business Bureau against Mr. Hexom and Apache Music for failure to pay me for the sale of my piano or to return my piano.

Late April, 1999 - Certified Letter Returned "Unclaimed"
In late April my certified letter was returned to me marked "unclaimed". There was a forwarding address listed as: 6804 Dovre Dr, Edina MN 55436-1715.

May 12th, 1999 - Better Business Bureau Unable to Contact Apache Music
In a letter dated May 12th, 1999 the Better Business Bureau notified me that the copy of my complaint which they had mailed to Apache Music had been returned to them by the Post Office.

May 18th, 1999 - I Sent the BBB Mr. Hexom's Edina Address
May 18th, 1999 I sent to the Better Business Bureau information about Mr. Hexom's Edina forwarding address listed on the mail returned to me by the Post Office.

May 20th, 1999 - I Sent Second Certified Letter Requesting Payment or Piano
On May 20th, 1999 I sent a second certified letter return receipt requested to Mr. Hexom at the Edina address listed by the Post Office on the original certified letter that was returned. Again, I requested that he pay me $1600 for the sale of my piano or return my piano within seven days. It cost $2.98 to send this letter.

Early June 1999 - I Receive Return Receipt for my Second Certified Letter
In early June 1999 I received the return receipt for my second certified letter. The receipt was not postmarked, but indicated that the letter had been delivered May 26th, 1999. The receipt seems to be signed by Dave Hexom, but the signature is very difficult to read.

That pretty much concludes my efforts to contact Dave Hexom. The certified letters and return receipts document that I made a genuine attempt to reach him. He did not respond.

Do you see where this is going?

More - On to Conciliation Court