Allegro Music in Chelmsford
I’m not a musician. There are deaf people that can sing better than me, and music was the subject responsible for my lowest ever exam result – 1% at an end of year exam in my first year at senior school (that’s year 7 to you youngsters).
That’s not to say that I never dreamed of being musical. Even at a young age I knew that the guitarists got the girls, and I figured that having a voice which could make ears bleed would never stop me learning to play an instrument, but then Championship Manager came along and took up whatever free time I had left over from playing Kick Off 2 on the Atari ST.
Now in my mid-thirties, I have come to accept that I will never learn to play an instrument. I’m far too lazy – and too tight – for lessons. My middle daughter has stated her intent to play something, though, and at the tender age of ten has requested music lessons for her upcoming birthday. She has a keyboard which she paid for herself (£1.04 on eBay, no less) and an old guitar that I leant her after it sat gathering dust in my spare room. A guitar that was leant on strict instructions that it should be taken care of. Naturally, a few weeks later a string was broken and I had a very apologetic daughter calling me to explain what had happened and – without prompting – telling me that she would buy and fit a new string.
I’ve never been to a music store before, at least not in any capacity beyond being bored to tears which Tasha was choosing a new guitar, and it was with trepidation that I stepped into Allegro Music on Chelmsford High Street a few weeks ago. Wandering past the downstairs piano and keyboard section, I was pointed upstairs to the guitar section where I gently nudged my daughter towards the counter.
“I’ve broken a string on my guitar and I’d like to get a new one, please.” She said. So far so good. Maybe I was wrong to worry about not being musical.
“Certainly. Which string was it?”
My daughter looked at me; I looked back at her and shrugged.
“The top one.” She replied.
“And was it a nylon string or a metal one?” At least I think that was the question. He could have asked the length, width, colour or if it was made of spaghetti and my mind would instantly have forgotten. I again shrugged at my daughter, and she replied that she wasn’t completely sure but that she thought it was whatever material he had said it was.
“If you’re not sure, come over here and look at the differences and see if that rings any bells.”
She wandered over to the guitars on show and ummed and ahhed before confirming that it was the correct type of string. The assistant then gave her instructions on how to fit it, what the best way of tightening the string was and a couple of other hints.
“If all else fails,” he finished, “come back and we’ll do it for you.”
The service in the store was excellent. The company I work for is in the middle of a massive training program around customer advocacy and yet here it was, living and breathing in front of me. I’ll admit that I was worried that the advice and expertise on show would cost me (or rather my daughter) an arm and a leg for the replacement string and was pleasantly surprised when 99p was quoted.
We left the shop and went on our way, and I tweeted about how great an experience it had been.
Two weeks later we were back in the shop, this time with the guitar in hand.
“I fitted the string,” began my daughter, “and I followed instructions on YouTube, but it’s already snapped.”
The guy behind the counter took the guitar and examined it, quickly determining that the string had been tied incorrectly. He got a new string, and within seconds had replaced it for her.
“Was there anything else?” he asked. Having had a strum of the guitar as he fitted the new string, I’ve no doubt he knew what was coming next and still had a hold of the instrument.
“Well I need to retune it, but I don’t have anything to check the notes against…” whether she was pulling the wide-eyed trick that melts my heart so often or not, I’ve no idea as I was stood behind her, but it seemed to work and five minutes later she got her guitar back fully tuned and working well.
The cost this time? For buying and fitting a new string, and for retuning the guitar it was just 99p again, and that was the cost of the string. Everything else was an added bonus.
I left the shop simply blown away by the customer service, and again tweeted how delighted I was. Allegro Music are – based on my two visits – market leaders in customer service, and have practically guaranteed my business for life. I noted that they also offer music lessons, which helps me take care of the upcoming birthday gift for middle daughter too.
If you’re musically inclined, or even just musically-curious, you could do far worse than check out Allegro Music.
Official website is here.