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Should you buy a new set of Revere Ware?

If you’ve read just about anything on our site, you likely know that the quality of today’s Revere Ware pales in comparison to that made in the pre-1968 era.  We’ve heard lots of stories of quality issues like the copper bottom falling off.  But let’s say you don’t care about the quality and just want a set of Revere Ware cookware because you like the look.  Is it cheaper to get a new set, or a used set from eBay.

Here is a new set on Amazon.com.

This set costs $95.55 with free Amazon Prime shipping an option if you are a Prime member.

Here is what we put together from eBay:

4.5 quart Dutch oven with lid: $33 shipped
9″ skillet with lid: $31 shipped
1.5 quart sauce pan with lid: $$20 shipped
1 quart sauce pan with lid: $20 shipped

That gives us a total of $104 shipped.  Withe the tax you’ll likely pay on Amazon.com, and the potential to find better deals on eBay (there are lot of Revere Ware pieces listed at any given time) we’ll call the costs roughly even.

If you wanted to replace all the handles and knobs, that would run you about another $50, although all the items we found on eBay had Bakelite handles and knobs that were in reasonable condition.

If you scoured your local thrift stores, you could likely find all the vintage Revere Ware items for much cheaper, but there is a time cost involved.

It seems to come down to preference – buy a set that will last a few years before it starts falling apart, or buy as set that will likely last many more decades and has a strong history to it.

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Revere Ware retail arbitrage on eBay

Arbitrage is the exploitation of economic inbalances.  An example would be borrowing money from a low-interest rate country and investing it in a high interest rate one.

The appears to be some kind of economic arbitrage happening with our parts for sale on Amazon.com and those parts being listed on eBay.  Here is an ad for two of our lid knobs on eBay.

The ad is identical to our listing on Amazon.com, including the title, pictures, and down to the description.  We sell the pair of knobs on Amazon.com for $10.49; on eBay they are listed for $14.49.  Similarly to the fake web store we found a couple of months ago listing our products from Amazon.com, it seems likely that the back-end systems of this seller simply place orders on Amazon.com with free Prime shipping whenever an eBay order is placed, and make a few dollars on the difference between the prices.  This particular seller has 3 other products of ours from Amazon.com listed, all of which are our top sellers (so they are being smart about it).

We can draw a couple of possible conclusions from this phenomenon.

  1. Our prices are too low.  Given the proliferation of our products (and we are the only maker of Revere Ware replacement parts) on eBay at higher prices than we sell on our website or Amazon.com, perhaps the market can bear higher prices.
  2. We should start selling on eBay; there is clearly a market for our parts there.

Doing a little searching on the subject reveals that Amazon-eBay arbitrage is actually a pretty common thing.  There is nothing wrong with it, per se; people are selling a listing something on eBay and then fulfilling the terms of the sale via Amazon.com.  The only problem we have with it is that the un-savvy shopper is paying more than they need to, and that any issues with the sale may track back to us via our Amazon.com sales channel.

We would actually love to use Fulfillment by Amazon as a way to fulfill eBay sales, and the difficulty of fulfilling them separately than how we handle our own website sales (via a fulfillment company), and Amazon.com sales (via fulfillment by Amazon) is what keeps us from listing our products on eBay.   As of yet, there doesn’t appear to be a way to do this that is supported by Amazon.com.

The moral of this story is, if you want the best price on our parts, avoid eBay and go straight to Amazon.com or our website.

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Fake web store?

Plenty of our parts are available on eBay, as we recently mentioned.  Most appear to be parts that were likely obtained through us, or through our store front on Amazon.com, and are simply being resold (at a higher price).  So we aren’t totally shocked that other people are selling our parts.

But we recently found a site that lists all our parts, at substantially higher prices

 

They list a lot of other kitchen related items as well.

Given that we don’t currently sell wholesale, and those are clearly our stock pictures, it seems unlikely that they are fulfilling from inventory. That leaves a couple of options.

Our first thought is that it is a completely fake store and they will just harvest your credit card number and keep your money.

Our second thought is that, it is just a storefront sitting on top of Amazon.com fulfillment.  If they simply order the parts through Amazon and have it directly shipped to the end-customer, they don’t have to carry inventory for any of  the items they are listing.  So far, we haven’t been brave enough to try purchasing something to see if it arrives in an Amazon box.  But if someone is willing to try, we’ve love to see what happens.

The store looks pretty fake, as do the reviews.  It all looks as if someone tried to make it look like a legitimate store, but didn’t quite succeed.

Their contact page lists a German address and an emails: [email protected]  When I go to the tsc-retail page, it is a fancy presentation with text overlay talking about bringing the world closer together through retail … and the video shorts are of Seattle.  Hmm.

In any event, just a word of caution: We are the only folks that make these Revere Ware replacement parts presently.  We sell them through this site, and on Amazon.com.  The items we’ve seen for sale on eBay appear to be legitimate second market items.  But I would stay away form any other outlets (and the prices are much higher anyways).

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Expect good customer service

Just a reminder to our customers or potential customers that we do our best to provide good customer service.

If a product arrives damaged, we will replace it.

If a shipment fails to arrive, we will ask that you work with the Postal Service to locate it, and it that doesn’t work, we will replace it.

If a part fails and you weren’t abusing it, we will replace it.

If you are having an issue installing or using one of our parts, we will do our best to help you, and if that doesn’t work, we will take it back for a refund.

If you have a question, even one that isn’t related to one of our parts or won’t result in a sale, we will do our best to answer it.  However, we do shy away from giving marital advice.

The only thing we ask is that you give us a chance to solve your problem before giving up (and leaving us negative feedback), and that you are kind in your communications.

I wish more people who purchase products online would expect good customer service (and hold businesses accountable when they don’t provide it).  If everyone did that, businesses that didn’t provide good customer service would not survive.

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Amazon feedback – don’t believe what you read

We’ve ranted before about the effect of negative feedback.  In the last few days we’ve seen some perfect examples of undeserved negative feedback affecting our Amazon seller rating substantially.

Here is an example of someone giving us the feedback that should have been left for another purchase.

In this next example, the customer was confused and thought 1 was the best possible feedback.  Thankfully, they retracted the feedback when we brought this to their attention.

These two reviews dropped us from 100% positive feedback for the last 30 days to 87%.

Unlike eBay, in which feedback is very frequently mutual, Amazon customers have very little motivation to leave positive feedback when they have a good experience.  That means that negative feedback has an oversized effect.  When see the feedback rating of an Amazon merchant, it will look something like this:

 

With the eBay feedback system, I expect that about the same percentage of happy customers leave positive feedback as unhappy ones leave negative feedback.  So, if I see a 92% feedback rating, I assume that there are a heck of a lot of unhappy customers and I tend to avoid sellers with ratings like that.  Even a 98% rating can indicate a history of issues with buyers.

But with Amazon.com, probably 10 or 100 times fewer satisfied customers will leave feedback than unhappy ones.  Let’s make some assumptions and see what a real feedback score would be like if everyone left a review reflecting their experience.  For example, let’s assume that 1/2 of all customers with a bad experience leave a negative review.  We had 14 neutral or negative reviews in the last year, out of 3768 purchases.

That assumption gives is 28 bad experiences out of almost 4,000 customers, or a real feedback rating of 99.26% (compared to our 92% rating as shown above).  Put another way, you would have a one in 135 chance of having a bad experience.

But that’s not the end of the story.  Almost no-one that leaves us negative feedback contacted us first to see if we could resolve their issue.  We are very helpful (if we do say so ourselves) and are always willing to solve a problem that is our fault, and usually solve issues that aren’t our fault as well.

That means, with us, you have almost no chance of having a bad experience.  I’ll bet a lot of other Amazon merchants are also very willing to work with their customers and have similar frustrations with the Amazon feedback system.

That reminds me, I am way behind on leaving feedback on my eBay purchases.  I’d better get to it.

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