I just stumbled upon this thread and even though it is fairly old now, I thought I should comment.
First of all, few really care and fewer yet would have the time to read the entire history of SP Tech / Aether Audio were I to take the time go through it all here. That's my personal hell and for the most part, it's probably best kept that way. Besides,if you are a manufacturer, most of your customers only really care about what they want and/or when they will receive it - and that's it - regardless of how they may present themselves at first. I know because I have worked since 2009 to this day as the Support Manager for a well known audio electronics manufacturer.
Fair enough. Business is business. I was younger and naive enough once though to believe that I should NOT and/or did not WANT to have a "reciprocal" view of customers. Customers were, on a certain level, my "friends" in this little community such that I wanted to do all that I could for them. "Good music and audio is one of life's greatest gifts, and I want to do what I can to make the world a happier place." I spent countless hours on the phone giving free advice, etc. and a big chunk of my retirement giving discounts. Sure... to a point that's just good "PR," but I didn't see it that way. I was on a "mission" and "to God be the glory - Hallelujah!" Uh, I'll be back in a minute. I have to take a break as I think I'm gonna puke.
OK, I'm back with intestines still intact. ANYWAY, seeing that our primary investor from Europe went "bankrupt" after only 9-months into establishing SP Technology, all but those 9-months were always pretty tough going until the last coffin nail was finally driven back in the fall of 2008. The investor "promised" he could carry us for a year or two... "whatever it took" to get the company up and on its feet. OH well. Folks usually mean well and to this day that man is as decent a guy as you'd ever hope to meet. Nevertheless, going broke before you even get out of the gate does have its consequences.
So, after all the investors had fled leaving me to pick up the pieces, I trudged along under the Aether Audio banner with the only driving motive being to fulfill the last of all the orders we had taken money down on. After all, if I didn't have the shop and all of the equipment, how was I ever gonna fulfill my obligations - right? Well, when you can barely get things done with 2 or 3 workers, you ain't gonna do any better with only one. Sooner or later the landlord wants his back rent money in-full, and that day came January 2012. By July 2012 he had received the last of the funds raised by selling off the big CNC and all of the other shop equipment. Must have come close to netting the $55K he said I owed him (he never did tell me how much he made from the sale)because he never did file a lawsuit against me (which, by law he easily could have).
During that spring I was pretty busy taking pictures and Photoshopping them all so everything looked good for the online auction. That was the deal. He now owned all of the shop equipment for payment of back rent and I worked my ass off seeing to it that the auction brought in as much $$$ as possible... hopefully enough so that he (the landlord) would let me off the hook and not sue me.
In the mean time my wife and I had also moved to a new house that had an out-building on the property so I could have a place to work and thereby, at least a "hope in hell" of finishing those old speaker orders (by this time most of the enclosures were done - thank God). Problem was, the house needed repairs (just one more straw on the camel's back) before the bank would write the loan, and since the sellers were already broke that meant we had to make the repairs ourselves (under contract with the sellers) or no house deal and therefore - no work shop - no speakers get finished - no dignity for Bob.
Right about then I pretty much hated all things audio, and speakers in particular. About as broke as we could be while still moving forward, we had to scrape for every penny just to buy the materials to get that house in condition to be approved for the loan. Either that, or let the deal fall through and have no clue when I'd ever get those guys their speakers - if ever. You just can't do a decent job of building speakers in your living room or kitchen, and before this new house we had no garage or basement either.
So right smack in the middle of this "sweating bullets" period and almost out of nowhere I have...
... hitting me up for the $200 bucks I owed him for the external EQ circuit he wanted me to build for him several YEARS back."Uh, hello? Hey - long time no hear from Mr.M. How ya doing? Huh, OK... I'll do my best to scrape up the funds and get that to you ASAP." Never mind the fact that he had changed his mind and didn't want/need the EQs after I had already purchased all the parts OR the fact that I had already knocked something like $7K (33%)off the MSRP for him in the first place.
Yeah, I was a real charlatan and "took that sucker to the cleaners - Yeah baby!" And he wonders why I was in no mood to be there for him to pull on my ear ad infinitum. Hey Sprinkbok10... did you miss the memo? The company you purchased your speakers from went bankrupt! I didn't know it was part of bankruptcy law that the poor schmuck left holding the bag had to also provide ongoing Customer Service for years to come - DUH! You buy a pair of speakers and along with them comes a guy's ass for the rest of his life, eh? I don't think so.
Nevertheless, I don't (didn't) think about such things like that back then, even though my butt was still sore from the whole speaker building fiasco. So, "No big deal, I'll find a use for those parts one of these days." In fact, I never did tell him that I had already bought the parts. That's just the kind of guy I (once) WAS.
Ya know, even then it wouldn't have been a big deal except for his lousy frick'n timing (not his fault). So, finally, I managed to get the funds together and sent him a check for the full amount. HA! - Jokes on me... the check came back as undeliverable - address unknown.
Maybe he died? Gulp. I still don't know one way or the other. Before that though his last message was pretty (very) nasty, so I guess with all of the hell I was going trough at the time I just couldn't muster the energy/attitude to track him down so I could give him the $200 I owed him. Sure hope that didn't mean that he didn't get the pacemaker he was needing and that's why his check came back - Ooops! God's gonna get me for that one for sure!
Even then I probably would have tracked him down, except as misfortune would have it that miserable spring/summer, my old piece of crap PC took a crap and I lost all of my e-mail contacts AND my convoluted and overly complicated password to my gmail account... that I couldn't remember. Another lesson well learned - KISS - Keep It Simple Stupid.
So... SPRINGBOK 10... YOU STILL OUT THERE MAN??? I GOT YOUR $200 BUCKS IF YOU STILL WANT IT AND ARE STILL PUMPING BLOOD!!! I NEVER MEANT TO CHEAT YOU. HONEST - GOD AS MY WITNESS. EVEN THOUGH, TO BE HONEST, I DID TAKE A TRIP TO PARIS AND BOUGHT A MERCEDES WITH THE REST, I ALWAYS MEANT TO PAY YOU BACK!
And that's why... true to my promise... to this very day I haven't and I won't sell another new pair of speakers until the last customer has been repaid (very close now). I never meant to cheat anybody and I never made enough money at speakers or my day job to be able to just write everybody I owe a check and be done with it. Otherwise, I surely would have if it would have gotten this monkey off my back that's been perched there all these years. Also, once those debts are finally paid I can try my hand at the speaker business again and prove once and for all that i was a fool for trying the first time around :-))
OR... maybe this time I'll do it right and not take a penny of money down from anybody until the speakers are ready to ship. Yeah, that's the ticket. See, I'm a fast learner:-) Having had a ton of overhead at the time and seemingly no other choice, I was once desperate (and stupid) and made the big mistake of taking down-payments. Never again. Oh yeah... and this time EVERYBODY will pay full price too. After all, life is too short for discounts - right? ;-)