Saturday, 16 July 2011

An Eggbeater Whipped Me Good...

I spent this morning writing a post for this blog that discussed the rebuild of the Miller Falls No.2 eggbeater that I purchased last year.  I spent about 4 ½ hours writing it, as not only did I have to write it, but also follow an email trail, reading each to determine the gist of their content, as well as establish the timeline. 

Once completed, I felt that the facts it listed did not reflect well on the tool restorer that did the work on the drill, so I sent a copy of it off to him, allowing him an opportunity to refute any of the points I had listed as untrue before posting it.

I have since trashed that article because I had made two major mistakes with it. My first mistake was writing it. My second was sending it to the restorer.
This is a compilation of the drill as it was
before I sent it off for restoration

So what are my problems with all of this?

To try and make a very long story shorter…

July 18, 2010
I purchased a very rough Miller Falls No.2, circa 1910 ($30)

August14, 2010
I spoke to the leading restorer of Miller Falls drills
I was told a mechanical and cosmetic restoration - quoted $180

August 15, 2010
I spoke to the restorer again to discuss not doing cosmetic work
Restorer agreed to only a mechanical restoration - quoted $180
Told 3 month turn-around
Told once drill was apart, he would contact to discuss cosmetics

August 20, 2010
Shipped drill to restorer ($34)
Paid restorer’s invoice through PayPal - $180 plus $25 shipping ($205)

January 18, 2011
No drill, no contact – emailed to request delivery date
Restorer stated he broke his wrist in October which put him behind

May 26, 2011
No drill, no contact – emailed to request delivery date again
Restorer stated he planned to start work the following Monday

June 9, 2011
Received email from UPS stating shipping label had been issued
Emailed restorer to ask what was going on as still no contact
Restorer answered I should “relax”, only the label was issued

June 11, 2011
Received call from restorer to discuss cosmetic requirements

June 14, 2011
Received email with 10 photos of completed drill attached

June 20, 2011
Received email stating drill was in transit

July 4, 2011
Drill delivered by UPS

As you can see from this ridiculous list, I sent the drill to the restorer almost a year ago and paid out $269 at that time to buy it, ship it and pre-pay for its restoration. I did this because I took this guy’s word on face value that the drill would be returned to me in 3 months. Needless to say, that didn’t happen.

On top of that, I felt like the guy was treating me like a mushroom; keeping me in the dark and feeding me poop. Here’s a guy who broke his wrist, an injury that I would assume would pretty much shut him down for 6 weeks or so and he didn’t bother to let his customers know this had happened, at least not this one. What kind of businessman has so little concern for his customers that he does something like that?

The biggest issue, however, is that the drill arrived broken. As I was unpacking it, pieces fell out of the box onto the table. The handle’s cap had been broken in three pieces during transit.

I had sent the restorer a very tired drill that had a very worn handle and no cap. What I had in my hands after waiting a year and paying out a couple of hundred bucks was a refreshed drill with a new handle and a broken cap. As far as I was concerned, the cap was toast as a broken cap is not that much above not having one at all.

The most important part of all of this was that this broken cap negated my investment in the tool and meant the time, effort and money I had invested in it was wasted. Let’s be real here. Even whole, this drill will never see a value that will even come close to what I have invested in it during my lifetime, and possibly my son’s. Without a proper cap, that loss is even worse.

Although I consider it garbage, to be able to live with it, I glued the cap back together so I could at least live with the drill until a replacement arrived. Obviously, at this point, I was still under the impression I was dealing with an ethical businessman. I also took the pictures you see displayed here, one with the broken cap and shipping box and the other with the cap clamped together with tape to hold it together until the glue set. You can easily see the cracks where it was broken. I then emailed the restorer to inform him of the problem, attaching the photos.

Sadly, here is how things came out of the box
I did a glue up of the cap so I could live with it,
but anyone can see this cap is toast. It would
appear that the restorer has lost his pride
for his work as he was quite comfortable
leaving me stuck with it.
His answer back was pretty simple; I should glue it up myself, and if that doesn’t work out, I should pay to have the drill shipped back to him so he can do something.

At first my reaction was just simple shock. As time went by, the shock was replaced by anger. After I sent him a copy of the write-up I had done about this experience this morning, he called me. By the time I hung up on him, I was just downright furious with the guy.

Because I don’t want to relive it, I won’t bore you with the details of that discussion, but to say that an apology wasn’t in it would be more than an extreme understatement. Yes, he believed there were some mistruths in the article, one of them being I stated the bill was $187, and it was only $180. Can you imagine someone writing an article to post on a public forum that completely brings into question your business ethics, and the first point you bring up is a discrepancy in the figures of 7 friggin’ dollars????

The gist of my telephone conversation with him was that this entire fiasco, by his estimation, was entirely my fault. Huh? Hello? Customer screwed here…hello?

I know I’m screwed and he knows I’m screwed, and here’s why. The cap is rare. I have spoken to a few in the business and they have told me that these caps are almost impossible to find. My best chance is to find another No.2 that is trashed, but happens to have a good cap, something that rarely comes up. If I do find one, I can expect to have to pay out another $40 or $50 to get that stupid little cap landed on my desk.

It was obvious from the get-go that the restorer wasn’t going to take any responsibility for the broken cap. It might be possible that the space inside him is so full of knowledge about Miller Falls tools that there isn’t any room left to hold ethics.

I can’t even go back to PayPal and open a dispute, as their customer transaction “Protection” is only good for 45 days from the date of the transaction. In 35 days, this transaction will have its first year anniversary.

Nope, I’m nailed to the preverbal barn door on this one.

Giving this nonsense some serious thought, the old adage, “…he has read so many of his own press clippings that he has started to believe them”, comes to mind. We all get a bit carried away with our own reputations when they raise us above the norm. It is only natural to do so. What separates the great from the imitation, though, is the knowledge that it takes as much work to maintain a good reputation as it does to create it in the first place.

The biggest irony of all here is the fact that I didn’t even want this drill in the first place, but bought it only because of superstition. Well over two years ago I started looking for a Stanley No.624. One of the first in the business that I contacted was this restorer, asking him if he had a Stanley 624 with a spoked pinion. The fact that I never heard back from him at all should have been an omen to me. After over a year of looking and not finding a Stanley, I bought this Miller Falls thinking that if I bought what I didn’t want, what I did want would turn up. While the Miller Falls cost me way more than I ever imagined, within weeks the Stanley I was looking for came up on eBay and I bought it. I was going to send that drill to the restorer for the same treatment once the Miller Falls came back, but hey, life is way too short to have to go through that nonsense again. I’ll deal with it on my own.

So there you go. Admitting that I have been very quick to praise those that I have had successful business transactions with, I realize that I have to be just as quick to let you guys know about the ones that didn’t turn out as well. This is the first negative report on a member of the vintage tool community I have had to do and after living through this experience; I truly hope it is the last.



Added the afternoon of July 16th, 2011...

If you would like to know the name of the restorer, please email me at I will be more than happy to supply his name.

When I wrote this post last night I glossed over my last telephone conversation with the restorer for the reason of brevity. Having thought about it this afternoon, I realized that there was an overall theme to his statements to me that, in hindsight, I think explains a lot. Reviewing his excuses for just about every one of my complaints, almost all can be paraphrased as; I didn't do anything wrong because you never complained to me about anything. Having spent over 40 years in the past dealing with the public, and having the bad habit of watching how people act in the checkout lines to-day, I have to say that it is astounding that anyone connected with the public today could even come up with this as an excuse, let alone use it. I think stating that because I wasn't bitching about anything, he didn't think it was necessary to act ethically is about as lame as you can get.