RE: Subject: [Harp-L] Harrison Harmonica's shutting down - open letter to Brad

Fair enough Elizabeth.  Admittedly I was pretty hot when I fired that off,
cooler heads have sort of prevailed.  You make some very solid points, ones
I have seen elsewhere as well.

You’re right that payment did not need to be in full, but this was a
birthday gift from my wife and she wanted to surprise me and paid in full
(also hoping that would speed the order up).

I appreciate the fact that Brad poured his life and soul in to this business
and am sad to see any entrepreneur fail, much less one that works in an
industry I love and especially as it means the demise of, as you called em
“objets d'art which is a B-Rad with its amazing reeds and everything else
brand new and different”.  My disappointment in the demise of his life’s
work would not have pushed me to write that open letter to Brad, it was his
complete and utter lack of customer service.  I see that you received
regular contact and updates….some information.  I received nothing other
than confirmation of my wife’s payment and a monthly newsletter stating that
production was trying to catch up.

I applaud your faith in Brad and the new company that will be producing the
Bradicals, however I have no such reason or evidence to think as you do.  To
the contrary, evidence would suggest that, if Brad had all of our deposits
and such a huge volume that he admittedly could not keep up and he still is
folding, then one of the following was true - either he could not manage
cash flow properly, was under funded, made some poor decisions in terms of
investment and growth or is misleading folks.  I never thought the latter,
and any of the former would not be cause for public castigation – businesses
fail all the time, I have failed at more than I care to admit – it happens.
But the complete lack of contact, or any information for almost a year
followed by an email from an address that is “do-not-reply” is just
unacceptable in today’s “customers have a voice via social networks” era.
Minimally Brad should have seen the writing on the wall and stopped taking
new orders – he wanted that cash flow and leveraged it buying new machines
and hiring new employees when he should have instead focused on delivering
high quality instruments to those customers that had already ordered.  As I
said in my email, I missed the opportunity to purchase a Joe Filisko – I’ve
known him for a while, took classes from him at the Old Towne School of Folk
Music in Chicago, but when I finally had the money to buy one of his
incredible instruments, he had stopped taking orders.  Joe knew he could not
keep up and he wanted to service his existing customers, I respect that
infinitely more than the way Brad has handled his business. Check out one of
Brad’s former employees Facebook page and
you will see others do share my opinion as to his customer service.  That
page has a link to a letter from the unemployment office showing an employee
had hours cut and is eligible for unemployment…dated February 6th, 2011 –
how many orders did Brad take between 2-6-2010 and August when he finally,
unceremoniously sent the goodbye email?  IMO – every one of those orders and
deposits he took between February and now is downright deceitful – clearly
he was in financial trouble, employees leaving, orders not being
fulfilled….yet he continues to take more money from unsuspecting folks.  The
cache of his Facebook page shows it was active on August 1st.  Likewise the
cache of his shop page shows he was still taking orders on

As to the hope that this new company (which we don’t know who they are, what
their capabilities are, or even if they know how to manufacturer and tune
harmonicas) will produce instruments to his exacting specifications – I hope
so too, but I doubt it.  Brad failed to keep the company going with an
enormous groundswell of desire from the community (he was on the front page
of – how do you think this new company will succeed where he could
not?  There are possible scenarios whereby they could produce the same if
not better instruments, but most likely they will need to make these
instruments profitably, and that usually means cutting corners, using
cheaper materials or in some way succeeding where Brad could not.  And now
they will have an uphill battle to convince people to buy the instruments.

I actually was willing to let the money I spent ride and wait for this new
magical company to send me my harps, but when I saw more and more mounting
evidence of poor management I decided to simply get my money back via
dispute resolution with the credit card company.  If this new company
actually manages to produce Bradicals and they continue to be handsome, well
crafted, tight, long lasting instruments, then I will be the first in line
to buy three….but I want my money to go directly to that new entity, not
Brad….I know many might not agree, but that is my prerogative.  I’ll let my
rant die here, I won’t waste any more of anyone else’s time or energy and I
will simply vote with the most powerful of resources….my dollars, which,
once refunded, will likely go to buying a set of 1847 silvers or Manji’s.

The whole thing is sad – I did not want to write a dismissive screed about
Brad or deplore his lack of customer service – I merely wanted a fine,
well-crafted American made harp.  Hopefully, maybe, that will still be
possible, only time will tell.


Drew MacFadyen

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