The Internet is a very public place. It was once said that you should
not say anything on the Internet that you wouldn't scream across
a crowded room. In my case that's likely to be "More gain on
the sax monitor...and get me a pint in!".
The thing is, you never know who's reading - and not so long ago
I found out precisely who was reading an article posted on one of
The newsgroups, in case you are unaware, are a sort of public noticeboard.
People can 'post' queries and comments and others can reply...either
to give advice, commiserate, warn...or, regrettably, hurl abuse.
On the whole though these newsgroups provide a friendly forum for
like-minded individuals to exchange information.
But it's not just the punters that browse these groups.
Some time ago, on a saxophone related newsgroup, a poster asked
if anyone had any opinions on a particular model of saxophone. A
common enough query, and one that was responded to by myself and
a few others - with a variety of opinions. All par for the course.
However, a few weeks later I received an email from the manufacturers
of the saxophone in question. One of the respondees had criticised
this particular instrument, the manufacturer had seen the post and
was concerned that one of their instruments had failed to satisfy.
The email was sent to me in error...easily done, as people tend
to quote what others have said and it can sometimes be hard to know
precisely who said what. But I was rather impressed with the email
- that a manufacturer had taken the time and trouble to contact
a musician with a defective instrument.
Is such a thing unheard of? Possibly not, but it must surely be
a very rare thing - it's usually the domain of the purchaser to
make known their gripes to the manufacturer. As the email wasn't
strictly anything to do with me I wrote a response that suggested
they had got the wrong chap, and complimented them on their commitment
to customer satisfaction.
I can understand their concern - the things people say on the Internet
are there for the whole world to read, and in such a small marketplace
that is the woodwind business a bad comment can have potentially
serious repercussions for the manufacturer.
That's why I try my utmost to be as fair and as balanced as possible
with regard to my own comments when it comes to reviewing instruments.
I make a point of highlighting the pros whilst steadfastly pointing
out the cons. Sooner or later I am sure that someone will want to
take issue with me - but given that I restrict my comments to that
which I can observe and demonstrate I'm none too worried. I would
be only to happy to report that a manufacturer has seen my comments
and taken steps to correct an obvious defect in their production
On the whole I don't regard it as my role to complain to the manufacturers
- I simply assess their workmanship, it's up to the buyers to make
their dissatisfaction known and to vote with their wallets if satisfaction
is not forthcoming.