When asking for advice from a website:

I have had my website for nearly 20 years now, and for nearly all that time I have been receiving emails from people around the world about all kinds of saxophones. I do my best to reply to everyone, but I admit, there have been times when I’ve gotten too busy and have let some balls drop. For that I’m sorry. I’m only one person, and can only do so much.

By far and away the people who reach out to me through my website are nice. They are polite, and regardless of why they are interested in their saxophone (family heirloom, possible sale, general interest) I do my best to try to answer their questions.

Informational website vs. social media: yes, there is a difference

I am polite, but honest when telling them about their instruments. For some however, that honest information about their instruments flips a switch in them, and they seem to think that they’re suddenly responding to someone they are offended by on Facebook, Twitter, or other social media platform.

Please keep a couple of things in mind when you send an email, or submit a contact submission to the owner(s) of a website, and are asking them for information—for free:

  • People who have informational websites and do stuff for free, are doing you a service. Please be polite.
  • If you don’t like the information you receive, that doesn’t give you license to be rude.
  • When you send an email or submission through a contact button to a website owner, we know who your are. We have your email address and name. You are NOT anonymous.
  • If a website owner wanted to, they could out you by name and email address for the rude person you are. You’ve heard of dog and cat shaming? Well rude contact shaming might gain some traction.
anonymous, Guy Fawkes mask, shaming sign, rude people shaming

Original photo by: Pierre-Selim Huard Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/ Adaptations permitted

Given this day and age of social media, hiding behind a cloak of anonymity when dissing people has become the norm. Case in point, a woman, let’s call her Jane Doe, who sent me an email last week wanting to know about a Gallotone saxophone that she had.

Good day.

I have a original Gallotone Saxophone still in its original case for sale. I am guessing it to be 72 or 74 years old.

Kind regards… <snip>

Starts out very polite.

I reply with:

Hi [Jane}

Do you have any photos of this Gallotone saxophone that you could send? …. helen

She does, and it is a tenor sax with what appears to be significant damage to the neck. so I ask further:

Is there a serial # anywhere? And a Made In ……. Stamped somewhere?

Send me some shots of that, and I can tell you something more about it.

Also, am I correct in seeing some wrinkling in the goose neck?

She replies with:

A 7925. Made in Italy

<snip>

Yes there are some wrinkles.

I reply with:

<snip>

It was most likely made by Orsi in Italy. The letter in front of the # gives it away.

Unfortunately there are no serial# charts for Orsi, so we don’t know exactly when it was made, but a good guess would be late 40s, early 50s.

As far as the wrinkles goes, that’s a problem. Are you planning on selling the instrument?

Even if you’re not, the point is that those creases in the neck are a problem for playing. For wall décor it is fine, but as a musical instrument, I’m  afraid to say its days are over… Depending on number of factors naturally. But in most instances, this would be a “donor” horn, or a wall hanging. Sad but true.

If you plan to keep it as a memento, that’s a different matter, but as a musical instrument… nada… helen

I get this in reply:

Hi

Yes i want to sell it. It is very old so i guess this is a vintage collectors item more than using it for music purposes.

You are more than welcome to make me an offer if you want to.

Kind regards <snip.

To which I reply (and this is what sets her off):

That’s funny… Why would I want to buy it? Just because I am a saxophone historian doesn’t mean I buy everything I come across, or that someone sends me an email about.

Oh, and just as a point of reference. The Gallotone that I saw on Craigslist, and decided would make a good wall decoration in my foyer—which has NO damage, and could be made playable if someone was so inclined, and came with all its original accessories, including case, endplug, lyre, MP, lig, and MP cap—cost me $75 Cdn.

Actually, the seller didn’t even care if I gave him the money. He just wanted his old friend to go to a good retirement home.

I don’t know where in the world you live, but if you got $75 for the horn, you’d be doing well. It is not a “collector’s” item per say, it is raw material for a lamp, fountain, or wall hanging.

Her reply to me was:

There is no need to be rude to me. I was just curious in your response. You are probable to fucken old that you think you are talking to a sax right now.

I am glad that i never met you in person. You are an old woman that is suppose to be on retirement yourself.

If you need a dictionary and time to interpret this message i will understand and will expect a reply in 1 year (365 days)

Regards

Re-reading my email, I realized it could be misinterpreted. Email is not always the best way to convey info, and we have all been influenced by social media in the way we interpret information we receive through the medium of phones, tablets, and PC’s.

I decided to give it one more try, and yes, I admit I was trying to indicate that I wasn’t the one being rude:

I wasn’t being rude. I was being factual.

As for who needs a dictionary, people in glass houses and all that… Check out the difference between “to” vs. “too”.

And no, I’m not “too” old. So there… Now we can both go on with our day… Have a good one, and best of luck with the sale of your wall decoration….

By now you know there was going to be another reply, right?

My wall decoration are on bid or buy for more than what you can think of.

People like you need to work ( when you were still able to walk without aid) in a mortuary. There you can talk to people like shit.

Now dont waste your time to reply its already time for your chronic meds and catheter to be inserted.

Lol

Despite me not needing a catheter inserted, I obviously did not reply. It would be pointless. By this point Jane has probably listed her Gallotone tenor with the crinkled neck for a lot of $$ just to prove me wrong. My hope is that no sax player is desperate enough to buy it.

I don’t know where Jane lives, so I don’t know how plentiful saxophones are in her region. I do know that with the exception of mine—that did originate in the same place—all Gallotone saxophones that I have seen for sale are in South Africa.

Some concluding thoughts before you hit that “Send” button

I could have outed Jane with her real name, and if I was really unethical, I could have posted her email address as well. I did neither of those things because: 1. I’m ethical, and 2. I’m not mentally unstable.

That said, when you submit your questions to a website owner, you don’t know anything about them. Do you really want to run the risk and piss off someone you don’t know?

Let me answer this for you. No, no you don’t.

Please remember, websites are not social media platforms. I realize in this day and age of the Net it is sometimes hard to tell the difference due to the blending of the two in the comments sections. But if you’re really not sure, err on the side of caution and don’t be an asshat to someone. Save that for somewhere else.

I can guarantee you this, musical instrument websites are not the place to let you social media freak flag fly.

© 2019, Helen. All rights reserved.

Helen

Helen Kahlke is a professional horn player and sax teacher who lives in Abbotsford, British Columbia. She plays soprano, alto, C melody, tenor, baritone, and bass saxophones.

6 Comments:

  1. Well, there are mentally unstable people out there.

    I would say that if zero is perfectly nicey-nice Mary Poppins butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth, your e-mail that caused her to go round the twist was about a #2. A little asperity was evident, but then she took it from 2 to 11.

    If someone’s insane, does that mean they’re not an a$$h***?

    I’m sorry you had to go through that. I know in theory it’s just electrons, but humans evolved over the last 100,000 years or so to react to in-person communications and when some random person on the internet attacks you , 100,000 years of programming are going to trump 10 years of internet and it’s going to feel like someone right in front of you in the same room is screaming at you.

  2. Well, I did check something this morning, and in Jane’s defence, it seems my auto-responder is not working. I had no idea it wasn’t. I just spent the last 45 minutes trying to get it working, but for some reason it won’t work. I clearly need to do some more investigating, and maybe get my tech support involved if all else fails.

    Perhaps had she received an auto-reply from me to begin with, she would have less inclined to lose her shit the way she did, because she would have realized I am not a dealer, and I don’t buy horns… Sigh…

    Oh well, just another example of how communications in this information age is anything but guaranteed.

  3. After reading your dialog wih Jane I formed the opinion that the latter emails were written by someone other than Jane. My guess is that the writer of the latter emails is aged about 15.

  4. Hi Helen,

    Many thanks for the interesting (if scary) blog. Yes, i did e-mail you last week, i hope i am not your Jane Doe.

    Yes, there is a great deal of information available on ‘tinternet – “How do i remove the brake disc from XXX car or YYY bike ?”, “How do you make the perfect omlette ?” &c. Posters of replies are mostly anonymous, but our own intelligence prevents us from doing the “How do i fix my ZZZ gas boiler ?” – “Jam a screwdriver through here. (anonymous poster)” – Kablam !

    My Sax “EM” is NOT for sale, until they prise her from my cold, dead fingers.

    My question was simply, with your extensive experience of Saxophones and Sax players, had you seen such a modification on this type of horn ?

    Whatever your reply, it still gives me more information than i have already, that’s why i asked the question in the first place. Why should i ever curse or call out somebody prepared to give free information ?

    All the very best,

    Neil, Manchester, UK.

    • I’m sorry I didn’t get back to you Neil. I’ll have to check my emails and see what I missed. I thought I was caught up, but apparently… Oops…

  5. Thanks for sharing these lessons learned and the message in this email exchange.

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