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Buying a Piano?

Selecting the Piano

The actual purchase of a piano is very easy with Picarzo. Most purchases begin with a buyer selecting a Picarzo piano on eBay or through the Picarzo website. The buyer will then review the photos of the piano and, if available, listen to videos of my friends playing that particular piano. If the buyer likes the way the piano looks, and likes how it sounds on the video, the buyer usually emails or calls me and we chat for a while about the particular piano. If the buyer is still interested, I recommend the buyer come see and play the piano (if local), or have a Registered Piano Technician (RPT) from the Piano Technicians Guild (PTG) come and inspect the piano thoroughly. Local RPTs are easy to find based on the zip code lookup at the PTG website. The inspection report will be provided to the buyer, and the buyer will call the inspector with any detailed questions.

Finalizing the Sale

Once the buyer decides to purchase a piano, the buyer and I will execute a standard piano purchase and sale agreement. I will then call selected movers for the delivery timeframes, relay the information about the different movers, and we will select a mover. Payment is usually made by wire transfer for the full amount at the time of executing the agreement. Once full payment has been made, the piano will be picked up by the moving company and begin the journey to the buyer's home. Every week or so, I contact the moving company for a status and pass along the status to the buyer. Most local moves will occur within a week, and most out-of-state moves will take 30 to 60 days from time of pickup in Tampa.

Florida Residents – Sales Tax

Many of my piano sales are to non-Florida residents, so no sales tax is collected. For buyers where the piano is delivered to a location within Florida, I collect sales tax on the purchase and remit that amount to the state monthly. The state of Florida charges a 6% state sales tax plus every county has an additional discretionary sales surtax, ranging from 0% to 2%, based on the county of piano delivery. For example, Pasco County, where Picarzo is located, has a 1% surtax additional to the 6% state tax. If the piano is delivered to a customer in Pasco County, a 7% sales tax will be collected from the customer at the time of sale.

Preferred Payment Method – Wire Transfer

Wire transfer of funds from bank to bank is my preferred method of payment. (Wire transfer is the only option for a non-U.S. buyer.) This is my usual method for paying for the pianos I am buying, and the method I prefer for receiving funds for pianos that I sell. The pianos are priced assuming a wire transfer will be the payment method. There are three methods for initiating a wire transfer with your bank, depending on your bank. The first is to schedule a wire transfer online by completing a form. The second is printing a form from the bank's website, filling it out, and faxing it to your bank's wire transfer department for processing. The third is to go into a branch and work with a teller to complete a request form. All my banking is with a local credit union down the street from me, and they do not have option 1, which is ok because they have option 2, which I can complete from my desk. Option 3 is actually the same as option 2, only I go into the bank and the teller completes the same form and then faxes it to the bank's wire transfer department. I complete the form and fax it to the accounting department, who calls me to verify some information before processing. Wire transfers usually occur around 2pm EST at my bank, and the funds are removed from my account by the next day. The bank charges me $20 as a fee for either an incoming domestic wire or an outgoing domestic wire, no matter the size of the transaction, $500 or $5,000 or $50,000.

Other Payment Methods – Credit Card or PayPal

I use PayPal (both online and PayPal Here on my cell) to process credit card transactions. PayPal charges sellers 2.9% + $0.30 for every transaction completed through PayPal. And while that fee is insignificant on a $500 digital piano, it is significant on a $50,000 piano (nearly $1,500). Most companies will price this fee into the price of the item being sold, and so everyone will pay the credit card fee, even if paying cash. Better companies offer a cash discount. I prefer to list the cash (wire transfer) price for the piano, and add a convenience charge of 2.9% + $0.30 if the buyer prefers to use a credit card or PayPal to pay for the piano for convenience, or for travel points, or for cash back rewards from the credit card company. Some retail companies that sell expensive items (like car dealers or other piano dealers) will not accept a credit card at all for full payment (or for a deposit) because of the credit card fees to the seller. I do not believe that policy is right for the buyer, because that policy removes the convenience/points/cash rewards option for the buyer. In full disclosure, in my personal life I use a credit card for every purchase I can, because I receive 2% cash back on every purchase I make with the card, which equates to a 2% discount on every item I buy with this credit card. So if I were buying a piano on a credit card from Picarzo, I would pay an additional 2.9% + $0.30 for the piano to Picarzo, but then receive 2% cash back from Capital One.

Other Payment Methods – Buying through ebay

I list my pianos on ebay, and am quite willing to sell them through the ebay website. However, there are additional charges to Picarzo if a customer purchases through ebay using PayPal. The preferred purchase process is for the customer and Picarzo to execute a purchase and sale agreement for the piano, which allows both parties to be flexible on terms, and a wire transfer for payment. ebay charges the seller a final value fee of 10% of the selling price (up to $750) and PayPal charges a fee of 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction, as I mention above. Since there is a purchase and sale agreement/wire transfer option available (above), I add the ebay and PayPal fees on ebay as a handling fee for each piano as part of the shipping and handling fee in each listing. As an example on a $50,000 Steinway grand piano, the ebay shipping and handling fee would be $3,650.30 ($1,450 for shipping in the 48 states, plus the $750 ebay final value fee plus the $1,450.30 PayPal fee), and the non-Florida buyer would be charged $53,650.30 if this buyer hits the Buy Now button on ebay. Conversely, under the flexibility of the purchase and sale agreement/wire transfer process, the shipping and handling cost to the customer would only be $1,450 (the standard shipping charge for a grand piano), and the total cost to the buyer for the piano to be delivered to the buyer's door would be $51,450, or a savings of $2,200.30 (4% savings).

Other Payment Methods – Financing

(Also, please see my Financing A Piano webpage.) Financing the piano is an option for buyers who do not quite have the savings for such a large purchase. I am a piano dealer registered with the two main piano financing companies: Allegro Credit and The Piano Credit Company. Interest rates run from 7.99% to 11.99% depending on the term of the loan (up to 10 years). The prices I have listed for each piano contain a monthly payment amount that is calculated based on financing the entire amount at 11.99% for 10 years. I do caution buyers that the long term for repayment and the high interest rate will result in substantial financing charges additional to the purchase price. I always recommend paying with (1) savings first, and if that is not an option, explore the financing options (in this order) (2) a home equity line of credit or loan, in that securing the loan against your home will result in lower interest rates (usually 4%-5% currently) and lower finance charges, or (3) financing through one of the above piano financing companies at a fixed interest rate listed above, or (4) credit card (if the balance is not paid monthly), which will usually yield the highest, variable interest rates, and result in the highest financing charges to the buyer over the term of repayment. I am always happy to talk through all of these options with each customer before the time of purchase.

Other Payment Methods – Deposit to Hold Piano

I am flexible to payment arrangements on select pianos. There was a buyer who was waiting on a bonus payment from his company in three months, but did not want to miss out on buying a particular Steinway I was selling at the time. We agreed that, with a non-refundable deposit, I would set the piano aside, list the piano as ‘in contract’ status, and remove advertising for that piano for three months. The buyer received the bonus as scheduled, wired the payment remainder, received the piano and was very pleased at the flexibility of the transaction. The deposit-to-hold policy I now have is for pianos under $10,000 in selling price, the non-refundable deposit is $500 per month the piano is to be held in ‘in contract’ status. For pianos over $10,000 in selling price, the non-refundable deposit is $1,000 per month the piano is to be held in ‘in contract’ status. The deposit is non-refundable, meaning the money will not be returned to the buyer if the buyer decides, for any reason, not to complete the purchase the piano. The reason the deposit is non-refundable is that the deposit represents consideration for removing the piano from ‘for sale’ status, and I might lose a potential customer during the time the piano is held in ‘in contract’ status. The deposit could be made initially by check or wire transfer, or with PayPal or credit card resulting in the above additional fee.

Other Payment Methods – Layaway

Recently, a potential customer asked me about a Layaway option on purchasing a Steinway K. Being flexible, I was willing to consider the option. The terms I suggested were a term of six months, with six payments: an initial deposit of 50% of the total selling price, and five monthly payments each equaling 10% of the total selling price. There would be a ten-day grace period on the monthly payments, but if any payment were missed or if the layaway were canceled by the buyer at any time, I would return only 70% of the amount paid to that point in time, and keep 30% of the amount paid to that point in time as consideration for removing the piano from circulation from the time of Layaway contract execution to the cancellation of the Layaway contract. I calculated these terms based on a rough indifference curve between the Layaway and the Deposit-to-Hold piano options. As an example on a $20,000 Steinway K, the non-refundable deposit to hold the piano for six months would be $6,000. On the layaway if the person paid in the $20,000 over the six months but then canceled the transaction, I would keep $6,000 as the cancellation fee for keeping that piano out of circulation for six months. I would recommend customers considering both options to analyze the numbers on what makes most sense for their circumstances.


One thing I hope this page demonstrates is my flexibility to work with customers on a purchase strategy that works best for the customer. There may be other options that I have not considered yet, so please contact me. I am very watchful, however, for less-than-scrupulous potential customers, generally one inquiry per month, that usually materialize as offering to appear with a bank check/company check and a moving van. I am reasonably adept at identifying these individuals/organizations. I am very protective of my pianos, and want them to go to the right home. I have taken personal checks on occasion, but only after a vetting process with the individual, and a check clearing period. Let me know if there are any other options I could consider for your buying circumstances. I hope this information is helpful in making your decision!

- Mike P.

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