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Harrison Harmonicas is Out of Business

Several members of the Harp-L internet mailing list have written to the list to say that they’ve received messages from Harrison Harmonicas, makers of the much-heralded and unquestionably innovative B-Radical harmonica, to the effect that the company has been sold. Many of the people who put down hundreds of dollars for a B-Radical harmonica or two haven’t taken shipment, and it’s unclear at this point whether they will, or whether the instruments they eventually get will be the same ones they paid for. (Harrison’s website makes no mention of these events, but enough people have written to Harp-L to make it clear that it’s happening.)

Harrison’s email to these customers says that the company basically ran out of money, and of course underfunding is one of the leading causes of failure in new businesses. The customers, some of whom apparently sent their money in pretty recently in response to the company’s claims that delivery was imminent, are understandably upset.

When I started using computers in the mid-1980s, I learned through harsh experience that it’s never a good idea to pay in advance for a product that hasn’t yet been delivered. If you do that, you’re not buying a product, you’re investing in the company, and investments by definition are a lot riskier than buying a product that’s in full production. Until the product is widely available through established sales channels and in adequate supply, there’s no way to know if you’re going to get what you think you paid for.

I’m not saying in any way that the people who paid good money for a B-Radical are responsible for their own misfortune. Their loss is the company’s fault. I’m saying that their sad experience is a reminder to us all that there’s many a slip ‘twixt the cup and the lip, and investing in a new company whose products haven’t yet come to market is a big risk no matter what kind of product you’re talking about.

Fortunately for harmonica players, there are other sources of good instruments out there. And maybe the company that bought Harrison Harmonicas will add to those soon, and the people who spent good money for B-Radicals will get the instruments they wanted. In the best of all possible worlds, that’s what would happen next.

Comments

32 Responses to “Harrison Harmonicas is Out of Business”

  1. Jane Banks says:

    I’m one of those trusting idiots who paid money for one of the B-Radicals. I ordered the harp LAST August, putting down $100. In February, I sent an email asking when the product would ship. I was told it would be June or July. I emailed in July, asking the same question. I was told I needed to pay the balance of $80 before they would engrave and ship. I argued with them but eventually paid the balance. I then started emailing, asking why my harp hadn’t been shipped only to receive “Out of Office” replies. The next thing I know, the dreaded email arrived telling me they were out of business but not giving any details about who had bought the company. At this point I have no hope of getting my $180 back or my harmonica. Lesson learned.

  2. Lois Friske says:

    I ordered and paid formine in July of 2010, got the same assurances as Jane and have absolutely no information where or to whom my order has gone. Who bought of company? I’m frustrated.

  3. Vin says:

    I too ordered 2 harmonicas . When you order online your required to pay. I thought nothing of this . I did contact the credit card company to see about getting my money back. Theyare investigating.

    I first found out about this company from watching CBS Sunday Morning Show. I have sent them an email requesting that they follow up on Harrison and who purchased them.
    Maybe I and others will be able to get some answers and our money back.

  4. Two Toots (UK) says:

    I ordered 3 of the dream harmonicas on the release of all the news they were coming to radicalise the harmonica world, years ago.! They certainly did that alright! I got a T-shirt and a CD and one engraved B-radical and it is a real beauty..! I feel for that guy Harrison because his ambition was spot on but the demands of producing a customised harp proved to be too much. I hope somebody picks up the pieces and fullfills my order because it is/was a great instrument for us all. Two Toots!

  5. olivia says:

    I too am another victim of a company cashing my money order in good faith but no harmonica, no courtesy call, if you cash the check then you seemingly have enough time and energy to contact your customers about your product availability, a simple phone call….this is robbery without a gun! I am 84 years old and do not have the convieance of a credit card, i did as i was requested, and i am out $ 267.00 which on a fixed income is ROBBERY. If anyone has any info on how i may help my grandaughter fight to get my money back i would appreciate your help.
    Thank-you

  6. Roger Skinner says:

    I ordered a B Radical harmonica through Harrison Harmonicas in April 2010, paid the $190 they required and all I have is “egg on my face.” They sent many emails stating they were shipping and kept extending the shipping date, etc. Then, I too, got the dreaded email stating they had sold out the company. I’m very unhappy about this and even contacted the Better Business Bureau about it, but there’s nothing they can do as the company is non-existent. I was hoping they could tell me the name of the company who bought him out. I think it’s horrendous that he can advertise on television and then take the money from hard working people like me. It is ROBBERY! Is there any recourse for us? People like Michael Peloquin make it difficult for respectible companies to do business!!!

  7. Gary says:

    I too ordered and paid for 2 harmonicas on 5/23/2010, I did receive 1 harp after persistent hounding them, looks like no on the other. I received an E-Mail informing me the company was sold, no mention to who, did say I would receive information in the next coming weeks, about the new company and that they were going to honor Brad Harrisons backlog of orders for harps. That was on 9/13/2011 no word since. I also E-Mailed the Sunday Morning CBS show, for help an follow up, nothing from them either. So much for truth or caring in television!!!

  8. Richard Hunter says:

    You can’t blame CBS news for Harrison’s problems. CBS reported on the company a couple of years ago, and otherwise is in no way connected with Harrison. At the time they reported on the company, the situation was completely different.

  9. Colin says:

    Yeah it’s all great to vent people but no one seems to have the answer to the question as to whom has bought out Harrison Harmonics if in fact this is true. I think the guy is just a criminal and just pocketed all our cash. Karma is the equilizer. Nice way to treat fellow musicians.

  10. Jeffry says:

    I also put a down payment on the harmonica. Instead of complaining, a class action law suit needs to be filed from all of the victims. Does anyone have any information regarding where Harrison is, what his other holdings are, or who the others were who were involved with this company. I’m in and willing to do some heavy lifting.

  11. Neil burnie says:

    My condolences to all those who have lost money on this fiasco……But let’s all try to somehow find out what is happening to the IDEA of the AMERICAN harp. I just purchased a pair of the new Crossover Marine Band harps….great but no replaceable reeds.I would pay $200+ for a harp if I thought it would last me the 20-30 years that my Saxophones last( with replaceable reeds!!)
    Though Harrison is gone I really hope the B radical emerges like a Phoenix from the ashes of the company.

  12. Brandon Stevens says:

    I wish I knew how to get in contact with the company to buy the rights and technology to produce this instrument. I would love to manufacture and ship a great product like this in the USA and for the price of $200 per instrument, someone should be able to produce a reasonable product for this price. Bring this business to Indiana and well do it here!

  13. Rebecca says:

    I too, paid in full only because Brad called me personally. Still have his cell #, voicemail full. That was right after the first time it was on CBS, June 2010. Ugh. My son keeps asking when his Birthday present is going to get here.

  14. Ralph Siferd says:

    I ordered a custom from Brad in ’08 just before he started the company and he offered to change my order to a B-Radical. Two years later the company offered me a free harp because of the long wait and on account of I was one of their first customers. I did eventually get the free harp, a C, and in all fairness it’s a beaut. I eventually got the one I ordered, an A, and it isn’t all that great. I have MBs as good. No response from HH when I emailed them about it; now I see why. I guess I’m one of the lucky ones though from all I’ve read. And it’s a real shame that such a great idea fell prey to the uncontrolled greed of the money markets.

  15. Richard Hunter says:

    I’m not sure what was the most important cause of the company’s failure; there are of course many possible causes. The complete story has yet to be written.

  16. We too have been taken advantage of. We ordered one for one of our church members who played his french harp at his sisters funeral. We were all so touched, so decided we would present him with and engraved radical. We ordered the b radical 8-30-2010 and sent a check for $197.00. I had a few conversations with them and was assured that we would have it by the first of March, well needless to say that month came and went and then was told they moved to a new factory and was behind again. Here we go again , was told should have it by July. Well, we are in the same boat sounds like. Such a shame that people are trusting and are being taken advantage of. Oh well like the old saying goes, Live and Learn. Learn we have. Sure now that he is out of business we just lost the money.

  17. Lindsey Miller says:

    I first heard about harrison Harmonicas on the CBS morning show. I bought one for my daughter to give to a friend. Like others, I paid $197. they gave me the run around for about a year. Kept telling me it was coming and we kept telling the fir3end it was ordered and being made. What a bunch of jerks!!

  18. Richard Hunter says:

    LIndsey, that is a shame, and you have my sympathy. I hope the joy the harmonica gives you (or your daughter’s friend) outweighs the pain of this incident many times over.

  19. John Alley says:

    I too have lost money with the unfortunate closing of Harrison Harmonica, while I hope someone did buy the company and will make my harmonica for me someday, I am not mad, but disappointed for Brad and his dreams of making the best harmonica in the world and making it in America!
    When I paid for mine it was a vote for what he was trying to do, and I thank him for that. If it wasn’t for entrepreneurs like him we wouldn’t be America! I for one hope for the best for Brad his employees and his customers, with such great concept we just have to connect the right pieces of the puzzle to still make this dream come true!
    John

  20. Pat wende says:

    Wish my story was different, but it is the same as all of the rest of you. I am soooo disappointed :(

  21. I made final payment and was told mytwo harmonicas were being tweeked; Brad was very particullar about shipping the highest quality???? That was a lie; the sale of company was done and the were still taking money; the do not answer phone or email;
    ( majic jack phone) This is not the American entrepernur, failure to communicate means
    there is no other company. Shame on Brad. I’ve posted my points with other harmonicas
    at hgordon999 youtube

  22. Kevin says:

    Class action! Tell me where to sign! I own a business as well, and I don’t get to behave in this manor… what gives? Wait… can I do this too? Anyone want to buy a harmonica? Just kidding, those frauds took my money as well.

  23. Hal says:

    Yep, I’m in the “blues club” too, $180.00 blow’in in the wind. He sure is a sad example of an American buisnessman and indvidual. Every dog has its day and what goes around comes around ……… hows that great reputation workin out for you Harrison? What no comment? I’m not surprised……………

  24. rick schubert says:

    I ordered and paid for 5 and managed to get 3, so I did better than some people. The really sad thing to me is, they are fantastic harps – i love mine.

    Does anyone actually know who bought out the company or bought its assets? I have never been able to find out. I would gladly purchase more if someone actually started making them again.

  25. V. Fuller says:

    I too lost my $100 deposit after more than a year of promises. I hope the new company (R&R Opportunites, LLC) begins manufacturing.

  26. rick schubert says:

    I sent an email to the people at R&R Opportunities last year and never received a reply. If I had the rights to this, I would at least consider making parts kits available to custom builders so that they could assemble them and sell them – given what they sell for on eBay, it seems there’s a ready market to pay premium prices for these harps.

  27. Bionic Pete says:

    Hey i’m sorry for everybody who spent allot of money for these harps but just remember this in the future. Lil Walter problaly never spent over 15 bucks for a harp! it’s supposed to be cheap. If you want to look professional remember strength in numbers. Meaning your better off buying a bunch of cheapies and play hard!! Hey for what it’s worth!!

    -Bionic Pete

  28. Richard Hunter says:

    I disagree with practically everything in this comment. Little Walter didn’t have any options for harps, and if he did there’s no telling whether he would have chosen to use the cheapest. if you want to play hard, you’re a lot better off with a harp that’s made to take the load. If you really want to look professional, get harps you can rely on. But if you’d rather buy cheap harps, suit yourself. As Tony Glover said, it’s your money, blow as thou pleasest.

    And of course Little Walter probably never spent more than a buck or two for a diatonic. When I bought my first marine Band in 1967, it cost me $2.50. But I suppose a chromatic might have been $15 back then. If you can find a playable harp for two dollars now, you should probably buy a truckload.

  29. Jib says:

    Sorry to see them go…they were always good to me and me band mates for all our harp needs (we do psychedelic blues with up to three harp players at once). Brad was a good bloke and I was in contact with George for a while – he’s as crazy as ever.

  30. James says:

    I have a harrison b-radical harmonica I’ve never used for sale.

  31. Richard Hunter says:

    @James: I recommend that you post that comment to the Harp-L list at harp-l.org and see if you get any takers there. Regards, HR

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