One word: Sucks!!!!!! This link came to me via musician who I asked his expert advice about where to pick up a very cool instrument for Jeff. After having plowed through ebay and many online website stores - this site was such a wonderful relief. They have everything you could possibly want - and more. The problem is that they're not too good at getting things to you in a timely manner, or in one piece. Last year, my first order (and this was last minute holiday buying) was placed for a one of a kind instrument. They called two days later (keep in mind, this was a rush order that was supposed to go out immediately) that they couldn't find the instrument anywhere. I was crushed because it was a really cool instrument I had never seen before. Well, I placed a last, last minute order for another instrument. I'm not sure who ended up paying for that last, last minute shipping, because they do not enclose invoices in with their instruments. It was a Russian Balaliaka, and Jeff just reminded me that it had arrived with a broken headstock that he had to glue back onto the neck. This year I ordered a very cool Stroh Horn Violin. Some of Jeff's old band members were coming over for the holidays, so they picked out some music that would sound very cool with this unique instrument.

When Jeff opened the package, not only was it broken, it was broken BEFORE shipping, the broken piece wasn't even in the box! I called and left a message for the owner to call me, and he called me back the next day (as I think they were closed on Monday). I told him how disappointing it was to have given a broken present and what shitty timing it had been, basically what I got was an "it happens" type of excuse. He made it clear that the instrument was probably broken when it came into them and they just didn't check it. I guess that was also the case the year before? If you know instruments, which is something they claim, when they had wrapped this one for shipping (if there had been any kind of quality control), even the most cursory of looks would have identified the instrument was broken.

I asked Bill to send me the UPS guy to pick it up - he was very hesitant and then said it would take three days to get someone out here. I laughed when he said he'd pick up shipping (the item that had been broken before shipping) kidding.... What was more disappointing is that he didn't even offer to immediately overnight one that wasn't broken. It was really poor customer service - even though they clearly remembered what had happened the year before, although I had been too wrapped up in company business to make sure they heard about the broken Balaliaka.

The day after X-Mas I called and left a message, Bill got back to me on Tuesday, saying he'd call right up and send a UPS truck to pick up the damaged goods. It's Friday, I just called back - no one has come to pick it up and when I called Lark to get the tracking number, they say it was issued yesterday (Thursday - he waited three days to actually call it in). Customer service is least at Lark in the Morning. I also just noticed that their site uses third-party cookies - with Overture. Frankly, I don't know what their policy is, or what cookies they're dropping on my hard drive, but I'm always weary of sites that don't house information on their own servers because you never know how specific of info they're pulling out, and what their privacy agreement is with the cookie aggregation site. Who knows what anyone is trying to place on your hard drive these days, and with all of the spyware going round, I always find its best to avoid cookies via permissions all together.

Unless you're going into the store, I DO NOT suggest buying over the phone or online. Especially for an important day unless you have A LOT of time to spare shipping things to and fro and getting it right. Especially if you don't want to screw up someone's special day. Make note: You don't get an invoice with your instrument (at least I haven't with the two instruments I've ordered), and it seems as though this place is prone to SNAFUS unless someone is looking over their shoulder when they say they have an instrument, or when they're sending it. They get a very poor grade for how they complete a transaction, and how they handle their SNAFUS.

UPS finally got here to pick up the package and send it back. It was two weeks from the date I had contated Bill. He was all boo-hoo what can I do for you. I told him he could have watched his quality control in the first place. They sent another one with the bridge - the instrument (a violin family instrument) was shipped wih guitar strings instead of violin strings. The bridge just snapped in half. DO NOT ORDER ONLINE FROM THIS STORE. My overall Lark experience is a -10 out of 10. BUYER BEWARE!