Harp FRAUD ALERT - Please Spread the Word
I hate to have to reach out to all of you about this but harp fraud is becoming a serious and recurring issue. Rees Harpsicle® Harps are being fraudulently copied by a company in Pakistan. These copies extend to our Sharpsicle™, Flatsicle™ and Fullsicle™ harps as well. At least one of these companies goes so far as to steal product photos from our website and the descriptive text as well! They do everything possible to make you and your friends in the harp community think you are purchasing a genuine Rees Harpsicle® Harp.
The fact is that these instruments are of distinctly inferior quality. They do not sound like our harps, feel like our harps when being played, and they definitely do not hold tune or maintain stability like a genuine Harpsicle® Brand Harp. We have already had folks bring these instruments to us and to our dealers requesting repairs and support. In most cases the harps have been so poorly made that the repair would cost more than the harp is worth. Additionally, though the manufacturer says differently, our strings will not work on these harps. The string tension of our string sets are higher and the fraudulent harps just pull apart under the stress.
If you ever wonder about a specific dealer or on-line source, do not hesitate to check with us for verification. We are actively in the process of supplying to our dealers worldwide “Authorized Dealer of Rees Harpsicle® Harps” identification that they can post in their stores so you can shop with confidence. And just in case you are you have been told differently - every Harpsicle® Brand Harp is made in Rising Sun, Indiana. We absolutely do not have any of our harps made in Pakistan or anywhere else.
Specific Scams and Fraud
The most recent eBay fraudster, AmericanChampStore, has stolen images from our website and often descriptive wording as well. Here’s a tip about fraudsters - if the price on a new harp is way below that of all the competition, the chances are very high the harp is a fraudulent copy. I’ll let you in on a little something, we sell a lot of our Harpsicle® brand harps and this has been the case since we introduced them to the harp world in 2003. Still, to this day none of our legitimate competitors make a comparable harp at the same price. This is for a reason, they don’t feel they could make the same quality of harp and still have a reasonable profit margin. The fraudsters build something that looks like our harp but is of inferior quality and that is how they can both drop the bottom out of the price and still make money. The harps sold by AmericanChampStore are made in Pakistan but, beware, they change the company name frequently so the real issue is the harp itself and the warning signal is the low price.
The other new fraud comes from a man who calls himself “Peter Anthony.” He appears to be from Dubai and claims to own a store called “One Store Trd.” (or at least that is what his email says.) Mr. “Anthony” claims to want to purchase harps, both new and used. As we understand it, he creates a document that makes it appear that he has wired money to your bank account. Then he claims to have wired too much and requests a refund of the difference. Of course, no money was ever sent in the first place and he just pockets the refund. This is a new and oddly specific variation on the Nigerian prince scam and just as disgusting. I suspect that Mr. “Anthony” picked harps because they are a relatively high-ticket item though not so much so that they would draw a lot of attention.
There is Good News However
I do want to say here that we have recently reached an understanding with Halifax & Co, Pvt. Ltd., which builds harps, among many other instruments, in Pakistan. Let me be clear, Halifax did not make the copies which we have recently seen on the market. They have agreed that they will concentrate on their own line of harps and we do not anticipate future issues with them. It is our sincere belief that the harp world is big enough for all of us to thrive and we hope that Halifax will continue to prosper making their own, unique contributions to the harp community.
There IS a lot of room in the harp world and competition is essential because it pushes all of us to be better. This is a growing market and we welcome competitors…as long as they build their own harps and they come up with their own designs. When they copy us they are just thieves.
The harp community is a tight one. We ask that you pass this information on to everyone you know within the harp world and ask them do the same. Hopefully, if we act as a collective group, we can discourage fraud and prevent customers from being disappointed while at the same time encouraging creativity.
Thank you for your help with this awful situation. It is heartbreaking to have to ask but I have faith that if we stand together as harpists, harp teachers, harp dealers and harp lutheries we can make a difference. - Pamela Rees