The first guitar I ever owned was a Washburn acoustic that I got for Christmas when I was 12. I didn't do much with it for the first couple of years; I knew how to play the basic chords and could cheat my way through "Wild Thing" and "Gloria" and easy stuff like that, so it was fine. When I was 15, I got an electric guitar (which I still have) and the acoustic rarely got touched after that. The Washburn was a good guitar, but it wasn't very fun to play.
The strings were really hard to push down and I couldn't file the nut down without the strings dragging along the frets, so it got played less and less. Then it just started to break down. One of the tuning keys broke off and I had to replace it with one that looked nothing like the rest of them. Another time, my friend Chad came over, put on Motley Crue, grabbed the guitar and started dancing around and hit the bottom on the corner of my desk. It put a nice sized hole in the body, but didn't affect the way it sounded, so I wasn't too bummed.
Cut to all these years later and I don't really have a band anymore and I live in an apartment, so I never hook my guitar up to an amplifier. I tried playing my acoustic a few times and it just wasn't fun. Still hard to play and even harder to keep in tune. So I decided I needed a new one, especially if I was going to become a successful singer/songwriter like that dreamy Dashboard Confessional fella.
I've never been a huge fan of Guitar Center, but I feel its a necessary evil. Whenever we had to stop there on tour was always my least favorite thing to do. We'd end up there for hours and about halfway through, I'd always be back in the hot van waiting for the rest of them. I drove to the one in Salt Lake a couple of weeks ago, which takes about 20-25 minutes to get to from my house. Not a huge deal, but it's not a quick trip either.
I went in to the acoustic room, looked around and played a couple for a few minutes before I found one that I really liked. I grabbed it and the guy behind the counter (who was one the phone) waved me over. I stood there for about 5 minutes while he finished his phone call before he started to ring me up. My GC card had been deactivated, so I had to go through the process of reactivating it, which wasn't a big deal, but I had to follow him to three different spots around the store before we finally got back to his counter in the acoustic room. He asked if I wanted a case and the three-year warranty in case anything happened. I agreed to both of them, he grabbed the guitar from the back and case from next to the counter and sent me on my way.
When I got home, I immediately opened the box, excited to embark on my solo career. One problem: it was the wrong guitar. It was the guitar that I picked out, just not the right color. Not the biggest deal, but if I'm buying a guitar, I want it to be the one I want. So I called back out there, talked to the guy that sold it to me and asked if they had the right color. He assured me that they did and told me I could come back out to exchange it. He was concerned and wanted to make it right, but I'm not sure he ever said the words "I'm sorry," but I could be wrong. I packed the guitar back in the box, grabbed my receipt and headed back out. Before I left, I got on the computer real quick and posted a little comment on Twitter. All it said was this:
Those sons of bitches at Guitar Center are really putting a damper on my future career.
Nothing drastic and I didn't think anything of it.
It was rush hour by the time I got back on the road and it took me between 45 minutes and an hour to get all the way back there. Went in, found the guy and had to wait another 10 minutes while he finished with a customer. He took my receipt and fixed it, gave me the correct guitar and I was on my way.
When I got back home, I opened the box and thankfully it was the right one. I tuned it and played it for a good half an hour or so before I had to leave. Grabbed the case, opened it and tried to put it inside, but it wouldn't fit. I stood there looking at my guitar laying on the top of case for about 30 seconds, just letting it sink in that they had fucked up twice and I was going to have to drive back out to Guitar Center for a third time.
By then, it was about 7:15 or so, and since GC closed at 8, I wasn't going to have time to go back that night. I called back and asked for the guy, again, and he eventually got on.
"Hey, so and so, this is Trevor. You sold me a guitar earlier that was the wrong color and I had to come back and get the right one?
"Oh yeah, what's up?"
"This guitar doesn't fit in the case you sold me."
"Dude. What happened?"
I didn't know quite what to say so I didn't say anything for a few seconds.
"I don't know man, you're the one that works there. I figured you'd know which case goes with the guitar you're selling."
"Yeah, sorry about that, you can bring it back out and we'll exchange it."
The other problem was that when he exchanged my guitar the first time, for some reason he took the case off the receipt and I asked him if that was going to be a problem because I couldn't get back out there for a few days. He said no, and I believed him.
After that, I checked my email and I had one from someone at Guitar Center. Apparently, someone had re-tweeted what I wrote and someone from GC saw it and got in touch with me. He asked what happened and I told him the story. I figured that would be the end of it, but the next day I had two e-mails and a voicemail from people that worked at Guitar Center, including the store manager. He apologized and said that he'd be more than happy to make it right and if I didn't want to drive all the way back out there, I could take it to a UPS store, send it back COD and he'd mail the correct case to my house. I said that wouldn't be necessary, but I didn't have another day off until the Monday after Thanksgiving, so that would be my earliest chance to return it. He said that was fine and that was that.
Yesterday, I finally made it back out to Guitar Center. The first employee that I encountered was the girl that checks things as you leave or checks the receipt as you come in. I told her what happened and why I was bringing the case back and her response was, of course, "there's not a case listed on this receipt."
I explained the situation and she sent me back to the guitar counter, provided I leave the case with her. I found someone to help me and told him that the guy had sold me the wrong case.
"What do you mean he sold you the wrong case."
"I mean, I got home and tried to put my guitar in the case and it didn't fit."
"How didn't it fit?"
"The guitar is too big."
"Oh, well you'll probably have to bring the guitar in so we can make sure which case you need."
At that point, I was livid. I don't like taking things out on people that don't deserve it, but Jesus Christ, that was the third time I'd been there for something as simple as a guitar and a case. It's fucking Guitar Center. All they do is sell gear. They should know which piece goes with what, for Christ's sake.
I asked him to just look it up on the computer so we could just finish and be done with it. When he went to look it up on the computer, he noticed the same thing, there was no case on my receipt. He passed me off to someone else, and it took him a few minutes but he figured out what had happened.
Then, he asked me if I wanted to buy the 3-year warranty for an extra $60.
"I bought that the first time. I should have."
"Nope, it's not on here. You want to get it now."
"No. I want my guitar case and I want to get the fuck out of here."
"Okay. I'm really sorry about all this."
That was the first time I'd heard a sincere apology from anyone other than the store manager and some random GC guy in California the entire time I'd dealt with them. He fixed everything, gave me my correct receipt and sent me on my way.
I got back up front, handed my receipt to the girl at the front and she looked it over. When I first came in, I had a case, but there was no case listed on my receipt. As I was leaving I had a new case but on my receipt there was a case and guitar. So, naturally, she didn't know what was going on and I had to wait at the front door for another 5 minutes while she figured out what happened.
I'm grateful for the two guys from Guitar Center that actually showed concern, but the rest of the employees treated me like I was an asshole for trying to fix what they fucked up in the first place.
The entire experience was fucking awful and I guess the moral of the story is, don't shop at Guitar Center anymore. I won't be.
But on the bright side, I've got a new acoustic that is really fun to play. I just wish I'd bought it somewhere else.
*UPDATE* I wrote an update about how this whole ordeal played out over here. Jeremy and Mike were awesome, helpful and did everything in their power to make it up to me only to see their employees tear it right back down. Still, I appreciate what those guys did.