Top Menu

Archive | Amazon

Revere Ware parts … in Spanish? Or, why not to buy our parts on eBay

I suppose this was bound to happen.  We’ve written before about retail arbitrage, where some eBay sellers relist items available on Amazon.com for a higher price than you might otherwise pay there, and simply have the item “drop shipped” to you from Amazon.com, when you purchase on eBay.  This essentially means just purchasing the item on Amazon.com and entering the eBay buyers address as the shipping address.

Of course, there are websites that providing information on setting this up.

The most recent twist to this is that we’ve found listings for our parts now in Spanish.

Note that eBay’s official policy is that this practice is not allowed:

Drop shipping, where you fulfill orders directly from a wholesale supplier, is allowed on eBay. Remember though, if you use drop shipping, you’re still responsible for the safe delivery of the item within the time frame you stated in your listing, and the buyer’s overall satisfaction with their purchase.

However, listing an item on eBay and then purchasing the item from another retailer or marketplace that ships directly to your customer is not allowed on eBay. In such cases, we may remove your listings from search, display them lower in search results, or remove them completely from the site. We may also limit, restrict or suspend your ability to buy, sell, or use site features on eBay, and you could lose any special status and/or discounts associated with your account.

A more nefarious twist to this practice is that some scammers use stolen credit cards to purchase the items from Amazon.com to fulfill the purchase on eBay; this is called triangulation fraud.

The bottom line is that, it is generally a bad idea to buy our parts on eBay for a number of reasons.

  • There is a high risk of fraud
  • You get no guarantee at all if anythng goes wrong or you get a defective part.  These sellers are about as fly-by-night as they come, and will just close up shop and open a new account if their feedback becomes negative.
  • You are paying more than you would just buying it on Amazon.com
  • The sellers are selling in violation of eBay’s policy.

Please buy just from our website or from our store on Amazon.com.  We are the only authorized sellers of our parts and we don’t sell on eBay.  If you buy from us, we guarantee a good experience and will replace your part if it is defective.

0

More progress on the sales tax situation

It looks like more states have passed legislation mandating marketplaces like Amazon to collect taxes, and submit returns, on behalf of third party sellers.   Here is what we just received from them:

Dear seller,

Based on changes to Arizona, California, Colorado, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, North Dakota, Texas, and Utah States tax laws, Amazon will begin calculating, collecting, and remitting sales and use tax for all orders shipped to customers in these states on October 1, 2019.

Your existing tax calculation settings, order details, and payments reporting will update automatically to reflect this change. Changes to your tax settings or seller account are not required based on the state law changes. However, you may consider working with your tax advisor to determine if your business has any other ongoing tax remittance or reporting obligations.

Answers to common questions are available in the Marketplace Tax Collection FAQ.

For more information from Amazon or links to each state resource, see Marketplace Tax Collection FAQ

Thank you for selling on Amazon.

Regards,
Amazon Services

Since that now includes our home state, California, that is a relief.  I imagine now it won’t be long until all states require this.

But is still leaves us open to abuse from state tax authorities for sales through our website.  We still await a solution to that problem.

0

eBay drop-ship retail arbitrage

We wrote a post on eBay retail arbitrage, termed by them as drop-ship listings, in 2017.  Since then, the problem has only gotten worse, with something around 150 currently listed items on eBay that are merely fronts for our parts sold on Amazon.com.

To refresh your memory on how this works, someone lists something currently sold on Amazon.com on eBay, with a markup.  When the order is placed on eBay, they have software that automatically places the order on Amazon.com with the eBay purchaser as the recipient.

We don’t like it as we prefer our customers get the items at a more reasonable price, and it can result in some odd activity on the other end when such drop-shipping sellers leave us negative feedback on Amazon.com; negative feedback on Amazon.com is a huge problem as compared to eBay.  on eBay, most buyers are motivated to leave feedback, whether they had a good or bad experience.  An Amazon.com, feedback is not at all integrated into the ethos of the site; there are disproportionately more negative feedback reviews per sales volume than on eBay because most of the people with a positive experience don’t bother to leave feedback.

eBay has a policy against drop-shippers that don’t actually hold inventory.  However it appears they don’t actually enforce this policy (see the chat with eBay support in that article).

In any event, what we worry most about is the damage to our brand that a poor buying experience can have.  What I mean by that is, our primary purpose in selling these parts is to make people happy and to provide them with a satisfactory buying experience.  Given the pain that Revere Ware owners went through for decades before we came on the scene 10 years ago.  Most people are thrilled that our parts are available, and we don’t want to temper that with a bad experience.

So, please buy our parts from our own website or Amazon.com, not from eBay, as we don’t list any parts there.

0

Inferences from a wooden handle

A customer pointed out this listing for a vintage Revere Ware skillet with a wooden handle

It’s a beautiful handle, which gives the skillet a very pleasing and unique appearance.

You can see from the handle detail that this is a very old skillet, made within the first few years of Revere Ware production.

The spline, rather than being a straight piece on those handles, was the same shape as the actual handle.  This was the style that had two screws close to the pot, and a third screw in the center of the end, where the hook went through.  It appears as if this customization used the two screws for near the pot end, to hold the handle, forgoing the hook.  Here is a blurb on adapting our newer style handles to that older style spline.

Everything about this handle, including the workmanship, tells me this is something that would not have been offered by Revere Ware, but was custom made by someone who probably could not get a replacement handle.

Before we started selling our parts, we saw a lot of funky attempts to continue using Revere Ware pots despite handle issues.

  • At least one other home made wooden handle
  • People attempting to epoxy broken handles together using high temperature epoxy
  • Holding the metal spline on a pot that has lost its handle with pliers or oven mitts
  • A complex polishing and restoration process that involved 5 different grits of sandpaper

Because of this, when we first opened our shop for replacement Revere Ware parts, we got a lot of appreciation emails from customers.  While we still get one now and again, dealing with customers on Amazon.com has turned into a very different experience.  People are quick to pull the trigger on negative feedback over any issue, no matter how small, without even contacting us first for assistance, and then rarely respond when we follow with an offer to help after seeing their feedback.

We sell somewhere in the neighborhood of 10,000 parts a year these days across about 6,500 customers.  In our mind, that is 6,500 people we’ve had the opportunity to help continue to use their cherished piece of cookware.  We also answer somewhere between 500 and 1000 questions each year for people, whether they are customers or not.  The nature of a business like ours is service more than product.  Service to help people find the right part, service to answer questions and sometimes solve a historical mystery, and service to solve problems when they arise.

Retailing used to be about service.  Consider this bit from an article today in the Wall Street Journal:

Long before internet shopping, when a personal touch and pride of proprietorship were essential to successful local merchandising, Robert Lazarus Sr. was the president of the largest department store in Columbus, Ohio, my hometown. His name was on the building: the F&R Lazarus Co., among the most prestigious stores in the Midwest.

A dignified, respected man, he lived in a grand and tastefully decorated house. He kept his home number listed in the phone book.

Here is something his son told me, years after Robert Lazarus had died, and the store had disappeared.

One evening when the son was growing up, the telephone in their home rang. The caller, with nervousness in his voice, asked for Robert Lazarus, who came to the phone.

The man, almost apologetically, said he and his wife had purchased a tea set at Lazarus. They had never owned one before, but saw it on display and decided it was something they would like to have in their home.

Robert Lazarus waited to hear what was coming next. Was there a flaw? Was a cup or saucer broken?

That wasn’t it. The man said he and his wife did not know the proper way to serve tea—how to make use of the tea set when company came over. They sensed there was an etiquette to it, but no one had ever told them what it was.

Some of Lazarus’s customers had very modest incomes; to them, that downtown store was almost a palace, a place of aspiration, even if they were only looking. The tea set had represented a step up, a significant expenditure for this man and his wife. And they weren’t quite sure how it was intended to be used.

So the husband called the man whose name was on the store—at home, at night—for advice.

Robert Lazarus, his son said, stayed on the phone with his customer and, with great care, walked him through the steps of having a tea party, of using an elegant tea set. He told the man stories about tea receptions he and his own wife had given; he answered every question.

Then, before hanging up, he thanked the man profusely for having shopped at Lazarus.

I asked the son—by then an elderly man himself—if his dad had seemed at all bothered to have received the call in the middle of an evening with his family.

“Bothered?” the son said. “He couldn’t have been more pleased. He talked about it with great fondness for the rest of the night.”

I imagine the man who had placed the call did, too: The man who, in a time before customer service meant algorithm-generated email responses and endless waits for offshore call centers to answer, had taken a deep breath and dialed the phone, not knowing if he was making a mistake by imposing.

And who had been greeted, by the president of the F&R Lazarus Co., like an old friend.

Sometimes, dealing with customers on Amazon.com almost makes me want to quite the business.  I got in this business because I wanted to help people in a way that I wanted help myself years ago when I was looking for replacement parts for my Revere Ware.  With less business going to our website, where we have very few returns, almost no complaints, and the occasional praise, and more business going to Amazon.com, where we constantly struggle against abrupt and inconsiderate negative feedback and rarely a kind word, it is more of a burden and less of a joy these days.

While I love the convenience of ordering online and the benefit of being able to find things that used to be impossible to find, I had the impersonality of it all.  Perhaps this is what can save the malls and local businesses against the onslaught of  online shopping, good customer service and a very personal experience.

I’m trying to do my little part to keep business more personal.  While you can’t call me at home, I do answer every question, no matter how stupid you might think it is, frequently even during evenings and on weekends, and I try to make every customer happy if I can.

0

Please don’t buy this

World Kitchen, which owns the Revere Ware brand along with a number of other iconic brands of yesteryear, no longer sells the classic copper bottom cookware.  This is probably a good thing, as the quality of the cookware produced in the last decade was even worse than the rest of the post-1968 cheaper Revere Ware.  We have oft heard stories of copper bottoms which appeared almost painted on, or simply fell off completely.  I suspect they discontinued the copper bottom cookware because, after decades of poor quality, it had finally cheapened the Revere Ware name.

But you can still find new copper bottom cookware for sale.  Consider this one on Amazon.com.

I was shocked to see the high price and the 4-star rating on this piece.

Do yourself a favor if you are looking to replace a sauce pan, or any other Revere Ware piece; buy a used one from eBay or your local thrift store.  You can get one for less than half the price shipped and the vintage items (with the double circle process patent stamp) are readily available.  They will last you another lifetime.

1

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.

2

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.

0

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).

0

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.

2

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.

Update 3/27/18

I couldn’t help but add a couple of recent feedback ratings we got on Amazon.com.

That last one just kills me.  It makes you wonder, exactly what does it take to get 5 stars in this day and age?

Arrived promptly, was as described, was well packaged, was hand delivered by the seller, at no cost, very satisfied.

0