They don’t make epee blades the way they used to

In all the years that I fenced as a child, I have not broken a single blade. And I didn’t practice back then any less than I do now. Now, on the other hand, I broke four blades just this year. I checked on fencing forums – people write that a blade typically lasts for about 8 months – three of those four blades lasted about that long – strange, maybe I was just lucky as a kid, and someone else in the neighbourhood was breaking a blade almost weekly to compensate for my anomaly, and now things just returned to normal. Yesterday at practice broke another blade – this one was very cheap and yesterday I learned why … After the first strong touch the blade got a “kink” that could be straightened, but would appear again in the same spot after any strong enough touch – poor quality of steel… Anyway, the blade lasted for five or six days of fencing practice and I’m not buying cheap blades any more.

Published in: on October 8, 2005 at 1:16 am  Leave a Comment  

Letter from BBB

Yesterday I got a letter from BBB (Better Business Bureau). They don’t seem to have any real power, but can do bad things to company’s reputation. Here’s their letter:

The Better Business Bureau has attempted to present your complaint to Alexandr Sport Store in an attempt to resolve this matter to your mutual satisfaction. Unfortunately, despite our efforts to achieve a mutually satisfactory resolution of this matter, we have received no response to your complaint. We have attempted to contact Alexandr Sport Store through written correspondence twice on your behalf. We have also attempted to contact this firm by telephone. Despite such repeated efforts, we are compelled to close this matter in our files. This does not minimize the importance of your concerns to you, nor is it any reflection upon the validity of your dispute. We wish to provide you with prompt notification, as you may wish to pursue this matter through an alternative resource.

The Better Business Bureau is a private, nonprofit organization without the powers of an enforcement agency; as such, we cannot compel a business to grant you a particular settlement or to respond to your complaint. BBB mediation is a voluntary process requiring the good faith and willing participation of both parties to a dispute. A central function of the dispute resolution process is to enhance communication between the parties and, in so doing, foster a greater appreciation of contradictory positions. Utilizing such efforts, we often attain a mutually satisfactory resolution to disputes brought to our attention; not all matters, however, achieve such an outcome.

Please be advised that this firm’s failure to respond to your complaint will be reflected in its BBB record. Accordingly, we will report that this firm has an unanswered complaint to consumers, businesses, banks, government officials, and members of the press who inquire about them. In addition, firms failing to answer even one such complaint will generally receive an unsatisfactory rating, the Bureau’s lowest mark. Your experience may, therefore, alert other consumers seeking information through the BBB.

Why did I contact BBB? Several months ago I ordered some fencing equipment via Internet, quite happy to find the stuff so cheap (on-line store, selling via eBay). My order (3 items) got delivered fairly quickly, but instead of electric epee I got sent a practice one (it was almost twice cheaper than the one I ordered). I immediately contacted the store (one-person company – Russian business in New York) and asked for return shipping label. He argued with me for a long time and kept requesting that I should send the epee back to him at my expense and promising to repay my shipping costs afterwards. I’ve dealt with some small stores that handle returns that way, so this wasn’t something new, though it is unpleasant to do business in this mode, but finally I agreed.

After he got the epee back – nothing. To my email reminders he first replied that he was going to send the correct item real soon, and then stopped responding.

In the mean time, the deadline for making a complaint via PayPal (my payment method) has expired – I thought that eBay and PayPal have the same complaint period – no such luck. The amount in question was fairly small, about $35, but one cannot let crooks just get away. I complained to eBay, they made a pretense of trying to mediate (I was responding to their inquiries immediately and he was playing for time and responding at the last moment), and then they wrote to me that since they could not resolve our conflict and the amount is less than $50, they are not going to do anything about it.

That’s when I wrote to BBB. Well, not only – I also wrote about this story on fencing forum – hopefully it will help someone not to get ripped off.

During the five-six years that I had been buying on Internet (and I do that fairly often), I ran into crooks only twice. Both times they were small Russian companies from New York. I made my conclusions.

Published in: on August 19, 2005 at 1:21 am  Leave a Comment