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Solving problems, advanced edition

I must say, the customers that are brave enough to purchase parts from a small independent website like ours seem to be made of heartier stock than their brethren that quietly retreat to the safety of Amazon.com for such purchases.

We know for a fact that those of you that purchase from us directly seem to be better at reading, as you rarely ever return items just because you didn’t fully read our product pages and ordered the wrong item.  On some products on Amazon.com, returns approach 15% of purchases; on our site we sit comfortably south of 1% of total orders being returned.  Even the characters that buy from us on eBay hardly ever return items, so this is definitely an Amazon phenomenon (phenomazon?).

But, there are some Amazon.com returns that are truly based on difficulty with our parts.  Granted, trying to replicate a line of replacement parts on a shoestring that was once developed by a huge corporation is bound to result in some imperfections.  But I give you our website customers credit, you seem to either figure it out or contact us for help (which we dutifully supply in droves) and rarely ever give up and just return the darn things, like your cohorts at Amazon are more likely than not to do if there is an issue.

So we’ve made some changes to try and engage with Amazon.com customers more; we now put stickers on every part with our Gmail address to make it easy for people to contact us for help, and we contact every customer who returns a product (that Amazon will allow us to in their infinite wisdom) to ask what went wrong.

And it turns out, we’ve been able to identify some small issues that are worth noting from al this.

Knobs that won’t screw on easily

Sometimes, the lid knobs just don’t seem to want to screw on.  I suspect it is corrosion on the lid screws that is the ultimate culprit here.  When you see a screw that looks like this, you know there will be trouble.

I suspect the tolerance on our embedded nuts is a little tighter in our latest production run vs prior runs.

Here are some things to try if you are having hard time

  • Use some WD-40 or household lubricating oil
  • Scrub a rusty screw with a green Scotch-Brite pad to try and remove as much of the rust as possible.  A wire brush might also be helpful
  • Push the knob onto the screw to try and engage the threads
  • You can always remove the screw, drill a hole, and use a separate screw from the hardware store, as we detail here, if your screw is too far gone.

If it still doesn’t work, contact us for more help

POH-2 pot handle won’t fit flat against the pot or the holes don’t line up

This one is another head scratcher.  We’ve had a few customers where the handle fits on just fine, but the hole in the handle isn’t line up with the hole in the bracket.

If this happens to you, you can sometimes get the screw to fit in just enough to screw down, and it holds fine.  Another solution is to nibble away at the inside hole of the Bakelite handle with a Dremel tool, or a round file, to provide extra room for the screw; usually you just need another 1/16th of an inch.

We’ve also had customers for whom the handle won’t fit all the way over the bracket. Here is the bracket of one such customer (who also had the hole won’t line up issue).

I measured several brackets from my test pots and they came out at 1.75″ x .5″ x 3/16″ (deep) the same exact measurements as the customers bracket.

In this case I sent her a replacement handle that worked, so it was probably just a little extra Bakelite on the inside of the handle where the bracket fits in that was preventing it from going all the way down. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have this problem.  If you are a DIY type person and don’t want to wait for another handle to try, use a Dremel tools to remove some of the Bakelite material from where the bracket fits to get it to seat all the way.

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The timelessness of Revere Ware

We put some of our Revere Ware cookware to good use this Thanksgiving.  Here is my 12 year old daughter working on the filling for an apple pie.

This is such a great picture because she was featured in some of the early pictures we did when making stock photos for the new replacement parts.

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Cookware fails

I’ve seen lots of ways old Revere Ware can fail.  For example, when the aluminum disk in the Tri-Ply cookware melts all over a stove top.

We had our own fail last week with a popover pan.  My wife loves making popovers and the kids really enjoy them. She has used her favorite popover pan many times, and always starts by putting it in the oven while the oven is heating, as per the popover pan instructions.

However, a few days ago, this process seems to have gone awry.  When she opened the oven, she noticed a red coating on the oven door and much of the inside of the oven; the popover pan has a red finish.  The coating seems to have vaporized and settled on everything.

Here you can see how the pan finish has mostly disappeared in many areas.

The oven racks seems to have taken much of the red finish, but the door got quite a bit as well.

We were left scratching our heads.  We checked the oven controls; did we accidentally put it on self-clean?  Nope, the self-clean setting is all the way around the dial from the bake setting.

I suppose it is possible our oven malfunctioned and reached a temperature far higher than it should have, we may never know.

In our case, the deposit of red finish seems to scrub off pretty easily with soap and water, so there is no real damage done other than a ruined inexpensive popover pan.

 

 

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Shenamazonigans

When a customer returns an item to Amazon, warehouse staff evaluates the item to see if it is OK for resale or not (fulfillable), or they are supposed to. Since we started getting our unfulfillable Amazon returns send back to us, we’ve seen some strange things come back that were supposedly our parts.  Either customers get mixed up and return the wrong item with the wrong label, or people are intentionally returning something different than what they got so they can keep the item.  Probably some of both.

What is troubling though is when the Amazon staff returns things to inventory that are either damaged, missing parts, or the completely wrong thing.

A few months ago we started putting a sticker on all of our parts with our Gmail address so Amazon customers know how to contact us if they have an issue.  We got an email from a customer this morning that seemed really strange.

I only received the yellow part. Missing the brake part of the device

We don’t sell anything yellow and I have no idea what on our parts might be considered the brake part.  So I asked for a picture.

Well the knob looks familiar, but the yellow thing is part of a steering wheel lock.

So it appears that someone ordered that item, and our knob, and returned part of the steering wheel lock and our knob in the same return.  Amazon staff somehow evaluated this combination and found it fit for resale.

As a seller, I find much to be desired with Amazon’s Marketplace for 3rd party sellers.  As a customer, I’ve become more and more cautious about what I buy from Amazon and always try to use a service like Fakespot to vet items.  This one example shows a little bit of all that is wrong with Amazon these days. Clearly, they have chosen quantity over quality, at the expense of customers and sellers.

What I mean is that they have prioritized growth in sales volume, number of sellers, and number of products while making it harder for honest sellers and for customers, and virtually ignoring abusive sellers that do things like massively fabricate reviews and steal other sellers stores and ruin their reputation with cheap knockoff products.

Why would they do this?  Perhaps because they are the 1000 pound gorilla now and they can.  Perhaps because they have been able to deflect criticism thus far and have been taken to task over their failures.  Perhaps because they are making a conscious decision that it would just cost too much to provider better customer service for sellers and to put more effort into cracking down on abuse and fraud.

Last night my wife and I both found the same food for one of our pets, me on Amazon, and she on Chewy.com; same price in both places.  The choice was easy; whenever we can, we will divert our spending to another retailer over Amazon.com.  We still give them a lot of business, but less than we used to.

 

 

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Nice set of aqua sauce pan | skillet handles

At the prices they are typically listed for, I’m not one to go in for the fairly rare (and sometimes just painted) colored Revere Ware Bakelite handles and knobs that appear on eBay several times a year.  But I like the color of this latest set, and the price is pretty reasonable given the rarity.

 

My best guess on the size would be equivalent to our medium or large handles.

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Funny eBay drop shipper listings

If you aren’t familiar with the practice of eBay drop ship listings, sellers take items they can buy off Amazon.com, and list them on eBay for more.  When an order is placed, they simply place an order with Amazon.com with the eBay buyers address as the shipping address.  All this is done behind with automated software, making it very easy for these sellers to list tons of items and handle sales with a minimum of effort.

But of course, they just make money from unsuspecting buyers that don’t know to look directly on Amazon.com for a cheaper price.  Returns can be difficult, and you will get no support from the seller typically.  We recommend you stay away from cheesy looking listings like these on eBay.  But sometimes they can be rather funny in how inept the listings look.

We also do sell some of our more popular parts directly on eBay.

Much of the time when people list products from our Amazon.com listing on eBay, they just copy everything over.  But sometimes, seemingly to attempt to make them more attractive, they embellish them.  I found two such embellished listings that makes it clear the people doing this are just doing it en-masse and don’t really check the content for accuracy or to see if it makes sense.

Okay, great, top seller and fast shipping.  Does anyone really believe claims like that anymore?  It’s like adding L$$K or RARE! to an eBay listing title.  Personally, I avoid all listings like that.  And what exactly do this icons mean in the context of a product like this?

But now look what they’ve done to the content?

I got a chuckle out of that.  I’m guessing that no-one is really buying from listings like that.

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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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