Turnkey / Sound Control goes bust

Sad (-ish) news for British music gear buyers - Sound Control group, who own a string of enormo-shops and Turnkey, the UK distributors for Moog, DSI, Jomox and more, have appointed administrators after failing to find a buyer: "Following a review of the Group’s operations the Administrators have today made the difficult decision to close 10 of the Group’s trading locations and bring to an end its telesales and internet sales activities. These changes to the Group’s operations have resulted in 163 redundancies with immediate effect." The group has a turnover of £50m and employed 338 people across Britain. Obviously their competitors, like Dolphin Music and Digital Village are delighted. There's a very well informed thread over at the Sound on Sound forum which includes comments from various former staff.

kinda makes sense now why every week or so there was a promotional email landing in my email box from them ....
I remember having a Saturday job there in 1989. At the end of the day whoever had sold the least gear was punished by having to close the security shutters, which were invariably covered in the micturations of Friday night's west end revelers...grodacious!
And Slash from Guns n Roses passed out in the loos there once.
And there was a sort of after-hours speakeasy in the space above it it in the mid nineties frequented largely by minicab drivers and ne'er do wells. They sold stella by the can, individual fags for 20p and the white ball on the pool table was one of the yellows with a chalk-mark on it.
Good riddance. I resented having to buy my DSI P08 from Turnkey in London.

20 years of terrible service and rude staff. I hope DSI and Jomox and the smaller fishes out there can find better homes.
If you were DSI/Moog, who would you ask to be your UK distributor?
ditto, i found them nothing but atrocious, in terms of service, support and stock. i'll never forget the infamous afternoon that i went into the "flagship" turnkey store for a mic stand and an xlr cable, to be rudely told that they had neither, as if this were somehow self-evident.

dolphin deserve the business far more than turnkey ever did; friendly, well-informed people, who've never given me the offputting hard sell...
Have to disagree there; I never found the staff any ruder than anyone else in the Denmark Street area*. And now that Denmark Street itself is slowly mutating into a collection of glorified antique shops where am I going to go to gawp at synths on a Saturday afternoon?

Oh and if I was Moog I'd be asking me to handle all their distribution and warehousing in the UK. 'Specially if the guitar is real.

*The exceptions here being Macari's, Mairants and Hobgoblin who are always exceptionally pleasant. Everyone else obviously walked into the "Some Experience in Sneering Required" section of the JobCentre at the far end.
I used to frequent the Sound Control in Southampton. The staff were really chilled out and they'd let you play on anything you wanted for as long as you liked (unless it was like a Martin or something in which case you did have to ask) - exactly what you want from a music shop. The staff wouldn't go off on one and do a Joe Satriani solo for twenty minutes to illustrate just how good the guitar is either.

If my missus ever roped me in to going shopping on a Saturday, once I had seen too many fat people stuffing their faces with Maccers and blowing all their wages in Primark I would pep myself up by popping in their to watch the throngs of grunger kids smashing the living shiz out of the electronic drum kits. Priceless.
What's happening to customers who placed internet orders in the last few days or perhaps last week?

I almost bought a monomachine from them last week as it was 100 EUR cheaper than buying direct from elektron.

However, in the end I decided that I'd go with elektron as dealing with Turnkey's terrible service was not worth the 100 EUR.

I'm glad I made that decision.
Wow, I just got a refund for an order that I'd cancelled but Turnkey charged me for anyway.

Appalling service, they didn't even apologise.
brilliant new i think, they were rubbish.


Out of five orders, turnkey bollocksed four of them up and failed to manage my expectation on all of them. The best example of their shitness was when I phoned them to change a delivery address. The guy said my Alesis 8HD was in front of him, about to go on the van, which was also right there, yet it didn't arrive for a few days. Hm, a blatant lie then.
Another bit of crapness cost me a days holiday from work when they didn't change the delivery address when I asked and their chosen carrier, Parceline or whatever they're called these days would not deliver to my work address.

It's not that difficult is it? Just say you'll deliver on a certain date and then ensure you do deliver on that date. It's not rocket science. MANY companies manage it reliably.

Goodbye Tur(n)key.
I once bought a synth module from Turnkey, only to get home to find it didn't have a power pack!

They sent me a new one the next day, but the driver left it on my doorstep in the rain!

I must have spent a lot of time and money in there over the years, and in Molly Moggs over the road agonising over whether I have made a good purchase.
Do you think it will actually close? gonna leave a gaping music shop hole in that area if they shut down ( sound control also being just round the corner in virgin ). all the fopps and benji's dissapeared too - Yeah they weren't great, but what am I going to do when I'm bored hanging around central and want a shit sandwich and a tiddle!
Just had a vulture-like swoop past the Preston branch and it is closed. Would love to go in there if they have a closing down sale ;)

It is a shame to lose another chain as more competition is always better for the customer.

Having said, that Thomann have trounced Dolphin on every order iI have made (faster, cheaper and sell stuff they actually have in stock).
I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, most of my hardware was purchased at Turnkey, so it has a special place in my heart. On the other hand, they were really aggressive up-sellers when it comes to things like cables and stands, which is pretty rude of them, and that really left a bad taste in my mouth.

As for Sound Control, I've never been anywhere with less knowledgeable or helpful staff - I certainly won't miss them. That, and last time I went there I got a raging headache from the bevy of teenage guitar wailers.
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"It is a shame to lose another chain as more competition is always better for the customer."

Its that exact competition that is one of contributing factors to sound control bottoming out. 'Better for the customer', in terms of cost, means 'worse for the businesses'. Price matching crushes margins until you can't pay people anymore. With the increasing strength of the Euro against the pound, cost for many items must go up, and people are upset they may have to pay more for some items they used to.

The margins get reduced, costs increase, and staff get paid worse and worse. They have to leave, so you have high turnover and therefore get fresher and less inexperienced staff. Staff don't get looked after, the customer loses.

Frankly, customers need to learn to better respect prices. Eventually, there won't be any real shops left. Ever spoken to website for advice? Ever tried a keyboard online?

And to all the people who have had a bad experience at stores like these: believe it or not, you're in the minority. I worked at Turnkey, and 98% of my orders were fine. There were some problem orders like in every business. But the people who have GOOD experiences tend not to post about it on forums...
Ask for *advice* in a store? Sure, there may still be some dumb sheep who do that, but anyone with a brain isn't stupid enough to bother anymore.

Fact is I used to work at Turnkey too (about 8 years ago)... let's just say the 'advice' was rather highly influenced by whatever was easiest/most beneficial to sell (for example £5 or £10 bonuses for certain items). People really shouldn't expect to hear impartial advice from someone who gets the vast majority of their pay as commission on what they sell.

Overall, with the painful price-matches from Thomann etc, I got the impression that the gear retail business was very much 'hanging by a thread'.

Also I can say for a fact that just about every experience I had with Turnkey, as a worker and a customer, were pretty shit.
Thank goodness - poor service from staff that had no clue.

Hello DV247.com and dolphin.
"It's that exact competition that is one of contributing factors to sound control bottoming out."

But that is more an issue of poor management rather than a difficult market - German VAT is 19% rather than 17.5% in the UK. I have a feeling corporate tax in Germany is 5-10% more as well.

Sound control are (were) much cheaper than seemingly any other EU shop for anything Moog - for instance the phatty stage 2 is almost £200 cheaper on the sound controls site than Thomann. This isn't price matching by any means.

I guess it all depends on what you want of a music shop, somewhere physical where you can have a play, or a website that can deliver the goods and customer service at a good price - I am afraid I am in the latter camp.
Don't forget as the distributor in the UK for Moog, they did have a special relationship with them.

There certainly is poor management to blame though. Not so much to do with Moog prices, but the point I was trying to make by mentioning the raising prices for european products is that many dealers forget to raise their sale prices when their costs increase. In some cases they're afraid to, as other stores may still have stock bought at deal prices. In the end, they all lose out if they don't account for the increased buy price.

Price matching makes this harder and harder to do...
I'm not so pleased about this as some of the other people posting here. Right now Turnkey has £700 of my money and I can't speak to anyone there as I can't get past their automated phone lines.

Any advice from anyone who has been in a similar situation?
Phone 020 7692 6612, and ask for Mick Hughes.
Cheers Alex, I'll see if I can get through to someone. Ta!
They stole £700 from me as well, two days before the administration took over april 30th.

I went into the shop and was given the number of their administrators deloitte. It is a voicemail that basically states that I am not entitled to anything as an unsecured creditor. They will contact me in due course, but I wonder what that really means.

No way we will see our money. Forget about it and move on is my best advice.

Turnkey could have at least had the decency to pick up the phone and let me know, would have saved me a trip to central london. I was on hold on the phone for 30 mins while they were doing nothing in the shop.

They could have also let me know as soon as the administration went through rather than finding out 2 weeks after while searching the web.

Lessons learned:

Always, always use a credit card!!!!! - Dont use debit or cash

Never, ever pay in full for a deposit on a delivered item!!!!
Why not try www.umbrellamusic.co.uk they are new, adding products everyday!
The next few years are gonna be funny, I work for a major music retailer, and it's great, cos people come in and ask for my advice, which I give em, and I never see em again cos they buy online to save a tenner or so online. RIP sound control, and RIP being able to try stuff before you buy soon, and bye bye my job. Look foreward to my career in telesales, woo!
sound control Glasgow was a very well stocked music shop with Horrible!
staff.Was always a crap Experience full stop!
i've been praying every day for a liquidation sale
I mourn the loss, especially after they gave me two monitors for the price of one. I ordered a pair of ex-demo Mackie 624s from the website, but it turns out they only had one (I kind of already knew this since I'd seen the lonely sucker in the listening room on charing cross road) so i paid for two, they mailed me one and I complained. some guy called john at customer service was really helpful, refunded half my money and set about finding another one. eventually he found one at sound control in birmingham and express couriered it to me, but never charged me. I'd hate to think i was in anyway responsible for their downfall, but I got some killer monitors for £210!
Turnkey was the pits for service, the anti-sales prevention officers always out in force. Rude, arrogant and unhelpful. I took a half-mile round trip to get cash to pay something there once, to be greeted with 'Whaddyyou want!?' when I got back to the counter. Attitude like that and you wonder how they lasted this long.
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