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USPS changes

The USPS recently implemented new standards for First Class mail.

Single piece first class mail traveling within the same region will still have a delivery time of two days.

This affects only letters and flats, not packages.  They are apparently still holding the standards the same for First Class Packages (2-3 days).   I don’t think those standard are anything close to the reality.  In our recent shipping time review, we found that even within the same region we ship from (west coast) still took an average of 3 1/2 days, not the two they claim, and cross country packages took 4-5 days on average.

Price hikes: They’ll be in place until at least Dec 26. And it could cost anywhere from 25 cents to $5 more to ship packages depending on the service. But don’t expect costs to go down much in the New Year: the agency plans to adjust prices twice a year, in January and July.

Since our shipping cost calculator queries the USPS system in real time, orders will reflect any price increase by the USPS.

Over the holiday season, postal performance sank: 71 percent on-time delivery for two-day mail and 38 percent for three-day mail during the last week of December.

Like we said, order items for the holidays very early this year.

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Shipping companies release holiday ship-by-dates

We recently wrote about the current state of USPS shipping (which is how most of our orders are shipped as it is the lowest cost for packages of the size we ship).

An article in the Wall Street Journal today presents the official ship-by-dates as release by the USPS, UPS, and Fedex, for packages to arrive by December 24th, in time for Christmas.

The U.S. Postal Service is recommending domestic mail for destinations in the contiguous U.S. be sent by Dec. 15 for those using its ground service. The recommended date is Dec. 17 for first-class mail, Dec. 18 for priority mail, and Dec. 23 for priority mail express.

If this holds true, it will present a much better picture than last year, where many of our shipments shipped in early December took 2 weeks or more (some took 4 weeks) to arrive.  But I remain skeptical given the general disarray that is all things supply chain, are this year.

My advice, order by late November to insure delivery by Christmas, just to be sure.

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There is so much wrong here

There are quite a few listing of our parts on listed eBay by sketchy sellers, that are drop-shopped form our Amazon.com listings, when ordered.  We aren’t happy about this but eBay (and Amazon) don’t seem that interested in stopping it.  The downside is that people pay more than they have to and get zero support from the seller who knows nothing about the parts.  Returns can be difficult if they are allowed.

But this one I found today takes the cake:

 

So that’s one of our stock photos, and the listing text is straight off of our website.  But the price!  Can you believe that price?  Who is going to buy a replacement handle for that price?

Also note that the price is listed in Canadian dollars, but the item is shipping out of the UK.

I can’t pretend to understand in any way how this listing makes sense to anyone.

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The State of the USPS (what to expect) and the coming difficult holiday season

I’d been a difficult year and a half with regards to shipping via the US Postal Service, with much slower service, some extremely long ship times around the 2020 holiday season, and the somewhat more frequent unplanned world tour for some packages.  I thought I’d take a quick gander at some of our recent shipments to see how the USPS is doing in the last couple of weeks.

First, let me say that, we ship almost all of our packages via the USPS because it is far cheaper than either UPS or Fedex.  So, despite issues, there really isn’t a better option unless you want to pay three times as much.  And even UPS and Fedex had issues last holiday season.

On average, shipments leave our fulfillment center about one business day after the order is placed.

It used to be the USPS promised first class delivery to anywhere in the US in 2-3 days. So how are they doing right now?  About double that.  The average delivery time to anywhere in the US among all packages was about 4 days.  Individual regions varied:

West Coast: 3 1/2 days (as few as 2 and as many as 6)
Midwest: 3 days (as few as 2 and as many as 4)
South: 5 days (as few as 4 and as many as 6)
East Coast: 4 1/3 days (as few as 4 and as many as 6)

We also had one package going from Nevada to the East Coast take an unexpected trip to Hawaii and another that was delivered to the USPS in Nevada and hasn’t moved in 5 days, so these anomalies are still happening with some regularity.

As we head into what is likely going to be a very chaotic holiday season, expect things to get worse.  It wasn’t unusual last December for some USPS shipments to take 3 or more weeks in the continental US.

Another factor is that the disruption may start earlier this year.  There is a lot of information starting to appear that container shipping is very messed up right now, with the average time on the water going from 41 days to over 70 days, and 100 ships off the cost of Southern California waiting to be unloaded.  Retailers are going to have a very hard time getting everything restocked for Christmas, which means many things will be unavailable and people will frantically be ordering what they can.  Furthermore, in response to this, it seems likely that a lot of shoppers are going to start doing their Christmas shopping early, which means November might see an extraordinary number of packages shipped and see extended delays as well.

Also consider that, despite the global pandemic in the last 18 months, personal income and savings are way up due to all the extraordinary measures the government has taken, and the fact that people aren’t spending a lot on transportation, vacations, and other things. This means that there is more than the usual amount of money out there for holiday spending ,which will push up purchases and therefore shipping volumes.

The USPS seems to have held about steady with first class shipments in the US with the above numbers for most of the year.  I would expect October to be about the same, and then things start to get worse in November.

What you can do

First and foremost, please be patient.  Everyone should know by now that shipping anything is taking longer.  Even the coveted Amazon 1 and 2 days shipments are often late these days, and some Amazon shipments do seem to get lost with some regularity.

Second, ask us for help.  If your package seems to be permanently stuck and not making progress getting to you, give us a shout.  We have been known to drop a second shipment to try and resolve situations like that.  You may now know this, but if you receive a package, mark REFUSED on it, and put it back in the mail, it will go back to the sender. That is what we will ask you to do to one package, if both packages we send you for a single order arrive, eventually.

Third, order in October for the holidays.  Seriously.  My kids are working on their Christmas wish lists right now, and we hope to be done in the next couple of weeks, after which we will start ordering presents.  Also get your orders for things like Harry and David or Swiss Colony (my favorite) in early and set the ship date for early December.

With a little planning, you can get ahead of the expected difficult holiday season and skip all the mess.

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Fixing old Revere Ware sometimes requires some DIY

Amazon.com product returns have always been a black box.  People return items and often choose a category for the return for which they don’t have to pay anything to return it.

Defective item and Inaccurate website description seem to be favorites, and provide us with almost no information as to what went wrong.  We suspect that most returns are people simply not reading our product pages to make sure they get the right item, or buying things despite the warnings that it won’t work on anything but Revere Ware.  (In contrast, we have very very few returns from items sold on our website, and people almost always ask for help if they have a problem.  Even if they don’t, we often are able to avoid a return by providing suggestions along with the return info.)

Buried within the Amazon returns there are some people that have a problem they just need some help with.  We recently started putting stickers on all of our Amazon.com products that list our Gmail address to contact for help, and we’ve gotten a few responses and have been able to help some folks.

As much as today’s consumers like expect things to just work, those of us familiar with vintage things, know that it sometimes takes some time and effort to fix things.  Sometimes, you aren’t sure exactly what you have.

The part wasn’t defective.  It just didn’t fit my pot. I assumed it’s a Revere Ware pot; it certainly looks like it.  However, since the writing on the bottom of the pan is totally worn off, I could have made a bad assumption.

Sometimes you can’t find the right part and have to find an alternative.  Sometimes things break and you have to find a work around.  Sometimes you have to build something yourself.  And sometimes, even specially made replacement parts like ours don’t fit.

Pot handle that won’t fit on one side

Take this example from a very nice Amazon customer that contacted us for some help.  He ordered our single screw pot handles, and one side fit just fine, but on the other, the hole in the handle didn’t line up with the screw hole in the bracket.

He tried the working handle on that side and it also didn’t line up.  It seems the bracket on the pot is different between the two sides.  This leads me to speculate on a couple of things; whether our replacement handles are less flexible in situations like these than OEM Revere Ware ones, or perhaps  these situations happened in the factory on occasion and they just accommodated a slightly different bracket by modifying a Bakelite handle to fit.

The latter is what I suggested to the customer that he try, and widening the hole in the Bakelite just a bit allowed him to get the screw in and all is well.

I decided to get out my Dremel tool to demonstrate some modifications for a situation like this.  You can either widen the screw hole, as the customer did, or enlarge the area where the bracket fits, so the handle can slide down a bit.

The one one the left has had the screw hole widened upward using a round Dremel bit, but a round file will work just as well.  The one on the right I ground down some of the bottom ledge of the recessed area where the metal bracket on the pot sits, so that the handle can slide up a bit, thus centering the hole in the Bakelite on the hole in the bracket.  The nice thing about both of these modifications is that they are at the back of the handle, and won’t show, and / or will be hidden by the screw from the front.

As a reminder, whenever sanding, filing, or grinding Bakelite, like other materials that will generate a fine particulate dust, always wear a safety mask, preferably an N95 type. We’ve all got some of those around these days.

Knobs that won’t screw on

Another situation we’ve run into a few times recently is when our knobs won’t screw on customers Revere Ware lids.  While we do see the rare defective nut insert that is missing threads entirely, this isn’t very common.  I’ve tested our knobs on quite a few of my lids lately and haven’t yet found a knob or a lid that won’t work together.  But I have found some that are a bit difficult to screw on.  This can be caused by rust developing on the threads, making them slightly larger.  Because water can often get under the Revere Ware lid knobs and that area doesn’t dry out easily, rust can develop.  Yes, even stainless steel can rust given enough opportunity.  Rust can also develop when you have dissimilar materials touching, like stainless steel (screw) and aluminum (nut insert) together.

To get past this, you can try “sanding” the rust off with  some WD-40 and a green Scotch Brite pad.  Sometimes screwing the knob on a little, then backing it off, and screwing it on some more, repeatedly, can get it on.  One customer sent us the knob that didn’t work for him and it worked fine for me on all of my test lids.  The point is that usually it isn’t the knob that is the problem.

In conclusion

One point of all this is to give some perspective.  Things don’t always work the way they should but often a solution can be found if you just ask, or do a little web searching.  We are always willing to help solve your problems, whether you buy from us or not.

 

 

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Anatomy of an eBay listing / used Revere Ware skillet

It’s worth taking a look at an eBay listing for a used Revere Ware piece to see what we can learn before we buy.  Take this skillet for instance.

When I see “unmarked” I immediately think two things – it is either a knock off, or it has been used enough that the copper layer has worn down past the stamp.

This piece, with the distinctive two screw handle and knob, is clearly not a knockoff.

So what about the bottom:

Definitely no stamp, so this piece has been used plenty, and some of the copper has worn off. It is probably still thicker than the post-1968 cookware, but still something to be aware of of you are prizing a piece like this for its thicker copper layer.

However, notice the wear pattern on the bottom:

The fact that the rim around the edge is showing some wear whereas  just inside of it is not, is indicative of a warping upward of the center of the pan.  Let’s look at the inside:

The way the light is reflecting, almost guarantees this skillet has a pretty significant warping upward in the center.  Probably not a great skillet if you value a flat bottom.  Here is an example of a skillet on eBay that looks to be much flatter, with little, if any, warping.

If you are buying a used piece on eBay, it may be worth asking the seller if the bottom is warped at all; if they say no, and it come warped, that gives you some recourse t0 return it.

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