Donald Trump is getting called out for cheating small businesses out of money he owes -- by the music store owner who rented Bruce Springsteen his first guitar.
Michael Diehl, the retired owner of a music store in Freehold, New Jersey, wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post Thursday saying that he “sold Trump $100,000 worth of pianos.” Then, Diehl claimed, the New York real estate mogul “stiffed” him.
Prompted by Trump’s response to a Monday night debate charge that he failed to pay a business that worked for him -- where Trump interrupted Hillary Clinton to say that “maybe he didn’t do a good job and I was unsatisfied with his work” -- Diehl disclosed the terms of the $100,000 contract.
Diehl recalled that in 1989, he was “thrilled” with the Trump deal, which meant supplying several grand and upright pianos to the businessman’s Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City.
“It was one of the biggest sales I’d ever made,” he wrote in the Post. “I was supposed to deliver and tune the pianos; the Trump corporation would pay me within 90 days. I asked my lawyer if I should ask for payment upfront, and he laughed. ‘It’s Donald Trump!’ he told me. ‘He’s got lots of money.’
But the business deal soured when Diehl requested his payment.
“[T]he Trump corporation hemmed and hawed,” he said. “Its executives avoided my calls and crafted excuses. After a couple of months, I got a letter telling me that the casino was short on funds. They would pay 70 percent of what they owed me. There was no negotiating. I didn’t know what to do — I couldn’t afford to sue the Trump corporation, and I needed money to pay my piano suppliers. So I took the $70,000.”
Diehl called the $30,000 loss a “big hit to me and my family” and said his store “stagnated” for a couple years after.
The New Jersey music store owner hasn’t been the only famous person to do business with Trump, however.
Yahoo News’ Andrew Romano first noticed that rock legend Bruce Springsteen was also once a customer of Diehl’s, whose store had done business in Freehold for decades before he ever contracted with Trump:
Springsteen wrote about “Diehl’s Music” fondly in his new “Born to Run” memoir.
Here’s what the rock star had to say about the first guitar he ever held at seven years old,:
“I convinced my mom to take me to Diehl’s Music on South Street in Freehold. There, with no money to spend, we rented a guitar. I took it home. Opened its case. Smelled its wood (still one of the sweetest and most promising smells in the world), felt its magic, sensed its hidden power. I held it in my arms, ran my fingers over its strings, held the real tortoiseshell guitar pick in between my teeth, tasted it, took a few weeks of music lessons… and quit. It was TOO F***IN’ HARD! Mike Diehl, guitarist and owner of Diehl’s Music, didn’t have any idea how to teach whatever Elvis was doing to a young shouter who wanted to sing the elementary school blues…
The sunny morning I had to return the guitar, I stood in front of six or so of the neighborhood guys and gals in my backyard. I gave my first and last show for quite a while: I held the guitar...I shook it...I shouted at it...I banged on it...I sang voodoo nonsense...I did everything but play it… all to their laughter and great amusement. I sucked. It was a joyful and silly-assed pantomime. That afternoon, sad but a little relieved. I dropped the guitar off back at Diehl’s Music. It was over for now, but for a moment, just a moment, in front of those kids in my backyard...I smelled blood.”
Springsteen, like Diehl, is on the record as a decidedly anti-Trump man.
“Well, you know, the republic is under siege by a moron, basically,” Springsteen said in a Rolling Stone magazine interview last week when asked about Trump. “The whole thing is tragic. Without overstating it, it’s a tragedy for our democracy.”