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inside SweetwaterBy Chuck and Brenda Surack
Owners, Sweetwater Sound

   Nothing upsets customers, retailers and manufacturers alike more than the dreaded "vaporware" syndrome. We've discussed it here before, but it's worth talking about again since it's something that will more than likely always exist.

   Before we get into the entire subject, we want to give you the good news: Almost all of the most eagerly anticipated products ever designed are now shipping. That's right, if you've been hanging on, waiting for your Mackie digital mixer, Alesis M20, Event Electronics Layla, Roland VS-1680, or MOTU 2408 to arrive, your wait is over. These products are shipping right now and we expect to get caught up with all our back orders within the next few weeks or so (your order may even be at your doorstep right now).

   So why does this situation exist? There are several reasons. Maybe the one that gets overlooked the most is that manufacturers do not want to ship you a product that won't do what they've promised. They want it to work perfectly and continue performing for you for many years to come. That means they have to subject these products to an incredibly rigorous series of tests. If a tiny component fails — even a single IC chip or power supply — it can send the item back to the drawing board. More typically, because manufacturers often buy certain parts from other vendors, they have to wait until that vendor fixes the problem and gets them parts that will work correctly.

   Meanwhile, because of advertising deadlines that are at least three to four months ahead of the anticipated release date of a certain piece of equipment, the marketing people have to start doing artwork and placing ads, not knowing if a month down the road there might be a production glitch. Because competition
Mackie's Digital 8•Bus is one of the hottest products to come along in years — and it's shipping now!
Mackie's Digital 8•Bus is one of the hottest products to come along in years — and it's shipping now!
for musicians' dollars is pretty fierce these days, no manufacturer can possibly wait until all testing is complete and product is in the warehouse before beginning to advertise. They cannot afford to have thousands of mixers or recorders or whatever sitting around for three or four months while waiting for the ads to start appearing. Some companies could actually go bankrupt if that happened — yes, there is that much at stake.

   So they look ahead and make a "best guess" estimate of when their latest, hottest item might start shipping. Then they place ads. They tell us and we tell you. And then we all keep our fingers crossed.

   Because all of us want the best new gear, we just have to be a little more patient once in a while. When that bright, shiny new digital wondertool shows up on your doorstep and gets integrated into your studio, you want to be sure it's going to perform up to the manufacturers high standards. Thanks to all the intensive testing, odds are good that it will. A short delay in getting what we want might be a little frustrating, but having to send something back for repair is, at best, a hassle you can do without. So let's all be glad that manufacturers care enough about their customers to make darn sure that any product they release will give them years and years of trouble free service.

   On another topic, many of you can look forward to receiving a copy of our brand spanking new, up-to-the-minute "Welcome to Sweetwater" video. Because things have changed a lot around here a lot since our last video in 1994, we wanted to give customers a sense of just how things have grown and how we operate on a day-to-day basis so they can have a better understanding of all the many ways we go to extremes to take care of our customers. Videos will be shipping soon. Let us know how you like it.

   Which leads us to our next point (it's nice when it works out like that). We always, always want to hear from you. We want to know what you like, and what you feel we are doing right. But we also want to know if you're unhappy or if you think there's something we can do that will make dealing with Sweetwater an even better experience.

   As most of you know, the majority of our customers come back to us time and time again when they need something. But we are not perfect quite yet: There are about 130 people here now, and once in a while, one of them is going to make a mistake — which is only human considering the hundreds of orders that get filled on a typical day here. But in some cases this leads to misunderstandings with customers, who are also only human and therefore may get upset when something goes wrong.

   We can say with absolute certainty that every single person here at Sweetwater wants you to be happy with your new purchase. We even want you to feel good if you call us and get information about a certain item, and then choose not to purchase it from us. But the only way we can be sure that you are completely satisfied is if you let us know.

   We read every single letter, fax or e-mail that arrives here without exception. If there's a problem, it gets solved — immediately. If you're totally ecstatic (and almost all of our customers are), we let everyone know during our regular weekly meetings. This feedback allows us to better serve every single customer, now and in the years to come.

   So take a couple of minutes, sit down and let us know how we're doing. Our philosophy has always been: "If you're not happy, we're not happy." That's not some snappy advertising slogan made up by some ad agency, it's plain and simple our way of doing business every day!

Accurate pricing and availability of products shown here in Sweet Notes may fluctuate. Products may be discontinued or newer versions may be available. While we do try to keep this information accurate, please contact your Sweetwater Sales Engineer for current information.

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