There are four characteristics that are important when talking to piano dealers and while many of them will have all four of these traits, it is critical that I find one that offers all four of them because I will regret it later if I do not.
1) Manufacturer & Dealer Warranties
While all the pianos I would look at are high quality instruments of exceptional craftsmanship, having warranties in the event of fluke accidents is important because of the size of the investment I am making. Most dealers offer both new models as well as refurbished and pre-owned instruments. Having a warranty on my instrument offers me the protection and peace of mind I am looking for.
2) Trade Up Policies
There have been times where I talk to individuals who want a piano, but don’t have the resources to purchase the piano they want at the time they are shopping for one. Because situations like this are not uncommon many piano dealers have instituted trade up policies that allow individuals to buy a piano they can afford today, but receive their full purchase price if they decide to trade up to a higher-end model as the years go by.
There are dealers who will offer "fair value" for the used instrument, but I would prefer to work with a dealer who will allow me to trade in my initial purchase for the full price I paid rather than a lower "used" rate.
3) Tuning & Installation
Anyone who has ever moved a piano will admit it is not the most pleasant experience, especially if there are stairs involved. If individuals look for pianos in classified ads or on secondhand sales sites, they will quickly realize that the moving of the instrument is up to them. If I am going to buy a piano, I know I am making a significant investment in the instrument, and I would rather not have to spend the money to hire a truck, spend the gas and the time and effort to move it myself. Most quality piano dealers will include free delivery and installation into their costs so that I don’t have to worry about how to navigate it into my living room, it will be taken care of for me.
Once a piano is moved, it needs to be tuned, every time. The quality dealers that offer to do the installation for me will also offer a complimentary piano tuning. Without the tuning benefit, after the piano gets paid for and installed, I would then have to call a piano tuner to handle the tuning for me. The good piano dealers prevent me from having that additional expense.
It is important that the piano dealer I work with has a proven track record and is going to be around in the coming years when my instrument needs to be serviced, repaired, or even traded in. The "trade up" benefit is of limited value if the piano dealer I bought from isn’t in business when I go to trade up to a higher quality instrument.
When seeking the perfect piano for my home, I have to keep in mind that I am not just shopping for an instrument that will last a lifetime, but I am also looking for the right piano dealer who will stand the same test of time that I expect from the newest addition to my family.