Friday, 5 April 2019

REPLICA RIP-OFF? SEND FOR STINGRAY (UPDATED)...



Take a look at the above box.  It's a 'replica' box, and my LONE STAR STINGRAY looks right at home in it.  It's a handsome looking box, but a closer inspection reveals that it's not printed from the best scan in the world.  Also, it wasn't assembled with 100% accuracy, resulting in a one-and-a half-millimetre protrusion on the right-hand side of the bottom of the box where the connecting lip is glued in place.  This meant (quite apart from its aesthetic appearance being compromised) that one side of the end flap, when inserted, didn't stay in place (though the other side of the same flap was okay).  I relieved the tension on the unobliging flap by gently bending it in further, but it made no difference.  As the area on one side of the box wasn't a close fit, that side of the flap's lip (steady) had nothing to hold it in position.

What was I to do?  I could return the box for a replacement, but that would've cost me £6.50 (going by what the seller charged me), and as I would've expected him to refund me (after all, it wasn't my fault that the box had a slight fault), then that's what it would've cost him.  However, that would mean inconvenience and expense for both of us, which I wanted to avoid.  I therefore contacted him and explained the problem, suggesting a partial refund of a fiver (which was less expensive than the return postal costs he'd incur having to reimburse me) to compensate me for the box's imperfection, for which I said I could provide photos.  He wasn't having it, and here I'm going to let you read his own words so that I can't be accused of misrepresenting him.

"hi oh thats odd it was closed up fine when I made it.

Mind you these things can happen though if they are posted immediately after being finished + its hand made which isn't as exact a science as factory made and sometimes they settle a bit.

This fix should work: stand it on end on the flap. 99% guarantee it will then stay in place. I do it all the time. You might have to leave it for a couple of days but it will work. Or you can gently massage the crease of the flap but you'd have to be very careful.

I probably didn't crease the flap fold quite hard enough as you can crack it if you do it too hard.

Hope thats ok."


Not an exact science he says.  Note that we're talking only about gluing two ends of a piece of card together, so no real science involved at all in the process.  Note also his claim that he resorts to his suggested fix 'all the time', which indicates a recurring problem.  Now, I'm quite prepared to accept that what he says is true - when the problem is caused only by the flap-fold not being creased 'quite hard enough', as he says.  However, when the problem is exacerbated by by a larger than normal gap in the space where the flap folds into (resulting in the lip of the flap not being gripped properly), then his suggested fix just isn't applicable.  And mind, I'd tried that even before he suggested it, so I knew it didn't work.  Same goes with his direction to stand the box on its end for a couple of days - wouldn't have made any difference as there was no grip around the flap's lip.  And standing it on its end wouldn't have relieved the tension to any greater degree than folding it in further.  I explained this to him and this was his response.

"if you do try massaging the crease you have to be very careful - its a quicker fix but it is possible to damage the box so it would be at your own risk  (As stated, I'd already tried this.)

standing it on end is slower but totally safe

I'm still bit surprised as it stayed in fine when I made it and the flap would go between the outer box and the yellow inner which would normally hold it just by friction"


Perhaps, but once again he was overlooking the fact that, because of the excess space, the 'yellow inner' wasn't in proper contact with the flap's lip.  At your own risk he says.  Now, excuse me, but if someone sends you something that isn't right, then suggests a way to fix it, shouldn't it be at his own risk?  After all, he's responsible for sending a faulty item - a faulty item that he hasn't automatically offered to replace with a perfect one.  That's a bit like selling someone a new TV, and when it's discovered not to be working properly, telling them to bang the side of it (a guaranteed fix, works every time) - but as it's fragile, it's at their own risk.  It seemed to me that he was unwilling to accept responsibility for his carelessness in assembling the box, and was suggesting all sorts of options to deter me from returning the box for a replacement (no doubt because he has a 'no returns accepted' policy).  I put it to him that, at £35, I shouldn't have to flaff (Scots variant/synonym of 'faff') about so much just to make one side of a flap stay in.

"It is a slight faff but its a handmade item. The effect I'd say is similar to when you buy a new shirt and the creases have to drop out.

You could always just put a small piece of paper in to hold the flap until it settles down - again being very careful.

That said it will stay flat if you just leave it overnight on end.

Let me know how you get on - if its a real problem I'll sort it but I've seen this many times and the fix I'm suggesting always works."


I reiterated my point that it might always work in the case of a properly fitting box with too much tension on a flap, but as I had the box in front of me and had examined it carefully, the problem in this instance was that there was no grip on the flap because he had left too much space around it.  I repeated that I had already lessened the tension on the flap to no avail, and that merely standing the box on its end was unlikely to work in this particular case - in fact, it was certain not to work.  I was beginning to get annoyed at his unwillingness to accept that it was indeed a real problem (and his dismissal of my informed observation on the reason for it), as well as his reluctance to offer to replace it outright without me wasting my time trying out suggested remedial action that was redundant.  Also, the other side of the same flap (as well as the flap at the other end of the box) likewise had tension and it didn't stick out - why?  Because the box was folded with more precision on that side and the flap was therefore held in place.  However, he persisted in his dogmatic explanation.

"it will possibly take a couple of nights to flatten and stay shut - if I was there I could massage it and fix it in 20 seconds but I wouldn't advise you try it unless you are very gentle with it - if the print cracks its not my responsibility

the reason it won't stay shut is because the 'hinge' of the flap is too strong - standing it on end will flatten it


I really really know my stuff and the reason the flap won't stay shut is not because of the reason you are stating

if the hinge was creased harder it would stay closed - there isn't a genie inside the box pushing it out - the tension on the hinge is pushing it out  (Yes, but it's only pushing it out because the box is too big on one side to hold it in.  To repeat - the problem is only on one side of the flap, not both.) 

when I packed it it was all neatly tucked in and no problem  (It couldn't have been - he just never noticed - just like he never noticed the box hadn't been assembled properly at that end.) 

I've explained how to fix it and its a very simple and trivial fix so I won't do a partial refund but if you like you can send it back  (If I like - as if I'm making a fuss over nothing, but he'll indulge me.  Note that he completely dismisses my assessment of why the flap won't stay closed on one side, even though it's right in front of me and I can see what the problem is.  He just won't accept responsibility.)

please bear in mind though that to get a refund it has to come back to me in the same condition I sent it  (Seems to me he's laying the groundwork for a refusal in advance.  You see, he only gets each box printed when it's ordered and paid for.  To replace my box with another one, he'd have had to get a new one printed, assemble it, then spend another £6.50 posting it to me.  Then he's stuck with a box that won't close properly, so might not be able to sell to someone else.  He just doesn't want to go the bother or expense.)

I don't really understand your approach because to sort it out is way less hassle than returning it"  (I understand his approach only too well.)


Less hassle?  So is giving me a fiver partial refund instead of reimbursing me for the £6.50 it would've cost me to return.  Anyway, bear in mind that I'd already tried 'massaging' the crease even before he had suggested it and it simply didn't work.  He was completely ignoring the fact that the box hadn't been glued together with the necessary precision to hold the flap in place.  Note also his refusal to accept responsibility if his suggested 'fixes' resulted in the box not being in the same condition sent, which was practically inevitable if his advice was followed.  If you bend a crease in, it's bound to be more noticeable, so he could (and I suspected he would) have used this as an excuse not to refund me.  And he didn't so much offer a refund as 'capitulate' to one, knowing that following his suggestion would likely result in the box not being in the (exact) same condition as it was sent.  Not that it would be damaged, but it would be 'different'.  Besides, I wouldn't have been looking for a (full) refund, I'd simply have been looking for a box that closed properly. 

Anyway, I could see it was a lost cause, and I was unwilling to expend the time and trouble to return the box only to have it sent back to me, so I told him I'd just keep it, but that my dissatisfaction would be reflected in my feedback and that I'd relate the events of my experience on my blog.  So here it is.  If you're thinking of buying a box from slats.2008, you should be aware that if you have any problems with it, he's not prepared to accept that he's responsible, and will try and dissuade you from returning the item, instead suggesting redundant fixes that will provide him with an excuse not to refund you.

Another thing:  the box isn't a true replica, because it isn't printed on the same kind of card as the original (and the inner tray is much thinner), nor do the end flaps fold into the box in the way that the original's did.  He has simplified them, admitting that it's beyond his ability to reproduce the way in which they were done.  (None of which I knew until it arrived.)  I think that's more of a reflection on him than the box though.  Note also that you're likely to receive a barrage of emails (I received over 20 after I ended our initial correspondence), repeating the same thing over and over again, even if you ask him to stop contacting you.  I reported him to ebay, who told me that action was being taken on his account.  They must have warned him, because after I was told this (his messages were still coming in during my chat with ebay), they abruptly stopped.

It's a shame, because despite its imperfections, it is a fairly good box (though expensive) - or it would be had the maker assembled it properly.  Failing that, at least taken responsibility for his carelessness, and not tried every which way to blame it on something else.  In the end, I disassembled it and glued it together properly (problem fixed, which proves I was right).  However, I notice that, even with careful handling (and note that I'm a comics collector who washes his hands before touching them) the colour tends to fade in places, so I'd suggest he changes to another outside printer to avoid this.

See?  Helpful to the end, that's me.


******

All afternoon, the seller has been besieging me with messages, endlessly repeating what he's already said in previous messages.  It's as if he thinks that if he repeats something often enough, then that makes it true.  Or maybe he believes that it will constitute a body of 'evidence' to which he can appeal with ebay in order to justify his behaviour.  Here's the most recent message I received from ebay:

"As discussed in chat, I’ve gone through each and every message between you and the seller and I’d like to share that we warned the seller for messaging you continuously even after you asked them not to.

Rest assured, seller will not message you again and an appropriate action has been taken on their account.


I appreciate your understanding and patience in this matter.


Kind regards"

5 comments:

Christopher Nevell said...

Kid, It’s all explained in his username Slats2008 - he’s only 11 !

Kid said...

He certainly acts like it, CN - he's been pestering me with messages all afternoon, despite ebay saying they'll take action against his account. All I wanted was a box that closed properly and didn't look too high on one side. Was that too much to ask? I knew I could fix it, but I felt that a fiver refund was appropriate considering it was sent to me with a fault. It would have cost him more to replace it.

Colin Jones said...

Perhaps you could make your own boxes in future, Kid? You've made book covers and Christmas cards so try a box next.

Kid said...

I can and I have, CJ, but only when I have an original box to scan and print. I bought a few replica boxes from someone who has them professionally printed on the right type of card, but he's bloody hopeless at cutting the flaps with any degree of skill or consistency. That seems to be the thing that lets most replica boxes down. That, and when the original box has a lot of wear, because that shows in the copy unless some digital manipulation is applied.

Kid said...

In fact, CJ, if you look at the post 'Fred Flintstone's Fabulously Fantastic Friction-Drive Flivver...', you'll see a replica box I made a few years back.

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