Hi, Albert and Mitsie. We’re the Loves, Hill and Carol. My darling bride of 42 years and I have been very happy and proud members of the Park West Gallery family for over 18 years now! Best we can tell from our records, we made our first purchase from PWG on April 10th, 1998 while aboard the Celebrity Zenith. Among our purchases that day was “Endless Summer” (108/500) by the Hanna-Barbera Studios. That wonderful piece of animation art still hangs happily and prominently in our home. Over the years by way of cruises and VIP land events we’ve been fortunate enough to have been invited to, we’ve amassed 50+ pieces of art from PWG – ALL of which remain near and dear to us. And not just because of the artwork itself. The entire PWG sales experience – on land and at sea – wraps itself around its family of buyers in a way that all at once feels quite soothing and exhilarating at the same time. It’s a unique and continually-wonderful experience for those of us that have been fortunate enough to have been wrapped up in it so many times.
So why am I writing to you now, after 18 years of happiness with many facets (much like a diamond!) of PWG? Quite simply because my wife and I cannot stand idly by any longer while trying to turn our cheeks to the anecdotal naysayers and ne’er-do-wells on ships and especially on the Internet that almost corruptly hide behind the walls of anonymity while savagely impugning the good name, reputation and yes, even the integrity of Park West Gallery. To be sure, some – as in a small percentage of the “hate mail” is based on legitimacy and fact. Mistakes, miscommunications, errors and even outright screw-ups do happen, just as surely as all of them happens at different points in time to PWG. Even so, I am convinced that the seemingly-continual uproar of dissatisfaction with PWG originates from less than sincere malcontents that are unwilling to accept legitimate acts of contrition and compromise from PWG, instead of opting for the “my way or the highway” version of “diplomacy.” So much for decency, much less the “truth, justice and the American Way.”
Differences of opinion do exist, but to those of you that are quick to use such terms as “slip-shod,” “greedy,” “uncaring” and “negligent,” Carol and I have a much, much different story to tell the world. Albert, Mitsie, we humbly encourage you to use any/all of this letter and attachments to enhance PWG’s reputation, impugned by too many hollow criticisms.
In our 18+ years as part of the PWG family, we’ve purchased at forty plus (40+) artworks, of which at least thirty-five (35) of which were sent to us in frames. We have another 10 – 12 pieces of art that we were given as promotional pieces and/or that we won as part of the PWG contests and drawings. Only once in all of those years has a frame arrived with any damage of any kind. PWG’s response? Customer Care (not Customer Service, Customer CARE) immediately apologized for our inconvenience, sent us a brand new frame and new matting and backing, and $100 to have the artwork professionally transferred to the new frame. And all we asked fro was a replacement of the one piece of the original frame that was damaged.
Earlier this year, FedEx delivered a piece of art in a box that literally appeared as if it was in a commercial where a gorilla or some other very large and mad creature had intentionally tried very hard to destroy it. The FedEx driver has become a friend of mine, in large part to the large number of PWG art he’s delivered to us over the years. He told me that even though it was strictly against FedEx policy to let customers open packages before signing for them, he could not in good conscience let me sign for a package in such poor condition without thoroughly examining the artwork first. I almost became physically ill looking at the package because I knew that inside it contained by beloved “Annecy Park” by Sam Park. I very reluctantly opened the package . . . and discovered a perfectly-intact piece of art. So much for “slip-shod” PWG packers in Miami Lakes.
Beginning last year, our insurance company (USAA) suddenly began taking a very keen interest in the minutia of the frames surrounding our artworks. That presented what was a seemingly major problem because none of that detail is contained in PWG’s standard appraisals. Major problem? More like “No Problem” because another wonderful PWG family member, Virginia Freyre. She was excited – literally excited – to help us obtain the framing details of some of our recent art purchases. And she consistently provided us with those details overnight. And no, she never asked us to pay a dime for her help. So much for those falsely claiming of being continually transferred to yet another uncaring employee just looking for a paycheck. Uh-huh, sure.
Also, last year USAA decided to increase their scrutiny of our PWG artworks collection by questioning the (sometimes) 300+% difference in between the purchase price of a given piece of art and the appraised value provided after-the-fact by PWG. I asked them point-blank if they were now – as a matter of policy – refusing to accept PWG appraisals at face value. I was told that if the purchase price was less than the appraised price and the appraisal was less than 5 years old, they would only insure those artworks at their respective purchase prices. That in spite of the fact that USAA had been habitually insuring our PWG artworks at their respective PWG appraised values, I turned to PWG for help and quickly discovered the very wonderful, friendly and extremely detail-oriented Joni Dewan. After I appraised her of the situation, she essentially (and maybe literally) brought USAA to their collective knees by pointing out that although the title of those documents is “Appraisal,” the heart of those documents is the phrase “retail replacement price.” When confronted with that statement of fact, USAA “elected” to retreat entirely from its “purchase price only” position, reverting back to the PWG appraisals “retail replacement prices” as the standard for insurability. Ans no, she didn’t charge us a dime, either, for her help. Another uncaring, unsympathetic, too-busy-to-help PWG employee? Nope, not this time either.
Carol and I know that the Art Directors aboard ship and at the local VIP events (which we LOVE! 😉 are very skilled and likely highly-trained in both the art and science leading (and sometimes carrying 😉 prospective buyers to their nirvana coves of coveted art. That’s their job, and it’s honorable. They’re also unquestionably taught and encourage to be very friendly with their customers. Maybe so, even so, nobody taught the incomparable Rob Ducat and Jason Betteridge to be absolute, no-holds-barred masters at their craft. Forget “smoozing,” “cajoling,” “intimidating” and the like. Those two gentleman are consummate professionals that Carol and I are proud – yes, proud, to be associated with. But wait, there’s more! Other Art Directors of positive note with us include Jessie Van Rooyen (she’s a hoot!) Willem Greeff (he even helped us with art questions long after our cruise with him ended!) and Melissa Warren (a woman well worth listening to!) There are, of course, as sooooo many wonderful ADs. Our next cruise (our 38th! 😉 begins aboard the Carnival Freedom from Galveston, TX on Saturday, November 5th. We can’t wait for our next set of PWG auctions!
Thanks, Albert. Thanks, Mitsie. And our heartfelt thanks to you, too, Marc, Albert Molina, Nicky, John, Colleen, Morris, Donna, Charlie, Luis, Lisa and Maureen for your combined leadership in propelling Park West Gallery into a sun shining so brightly that you have to wear sunglasses even when you’re inside! 😉
With our devotion and respect,