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Member Since 08 Apr 2010
Offline Last Active Today, 05:27 PM

Posts I've Made

In Topic: 21 Century Customer... Perpetual Replacement Of Pottery

Yesterday, 09:23 AM

I have a relevant story from this week ... a customer emailed me because a platter she bought last December had developed a crack. She wanted to buy a new one. Yes she was willing to pay full price. I asked her to bring the platter so I could see the crack, and asked if she could explain what happened. She said she didn't know, but thinks her mom used it under the broiler.

She brought the platter to my house. The crack was obviously a thermal shock crack. It came in from the rim, then curved around the base of the floor. I thanked her for teaching me that I need to caution customers not to use my pottery close to a broiler element. And I offered her 50% off the new platter. She was thrilled. Then she said she needed to buy a gift for an incoming house guest, and she picked out a $105 vase.

So just because Tracy had a bad experience, take heart that there are great customers out there too. Trust me, I've dealt with the turkeys and crack pots too. But my experience is that far more pottery customers are like this example.

In Topic: 21 Century Customer... Perpetual Replacement Of Pottery

Yesterday, 09:13 AM


Art festivals and craft shows are alive and well! Yes they all suffered during the recent recession, and many of them disappeared. But the ones that still exist have recovered. Maybe it depends on the region where one lives. I'll just say that this year's ACC Baltimore show was mobbed with people carrying lots of shopping bags. I surpassed my previous sales record by quite a bit. Throughout all of last year, my sales were constantly exceeding my expectations at shows. I do shows from the $50 church shows, up to the ACC level. They were all good to great.

In Topic: 21 Century Customer... Perpetual Replacement Of Pottery

15 April 2014 - 09:19 AM

I treat these situations similar to Mark ... within a reasonable amount of time, and given the right circumstances, I will give a free replacement pot. Overall my policy is to have no policy, every case and every customer will be judged individually. My responses will range from "I promise to make this right" to "go away."

I think the 12 year old baking dish most definitely did not require a replacement. There's plenty of ways the owner could have mishandled it during 12 years. I would have offered a discount on a new one too, It think that was a fair solution. I don't know, if I had other customers in my booth, and I sensed that someone might make a scene, I might have given her a new baker too. Just to resolve it as quickly as possible. An angry scene only hurts you, no matter who is right or wrong. The only thing I would have done differently is, when handing her the new baker, say "I hope this resolves the matter. Please never buy my pottery again."

On the other hand, the mug that cracked within one year would get its day in "pottery court." Probably replaced. Although she would have to send the cracked one back first so I could see what happened to it. Did it crack when boiling water was poured in, or did somebody drop it?

I used to make an item that consisted of three parts. One of the parts was delicate and small. On three occasions, customers brought back the fragile part broken. I gave them replacements on the house. One of them started crying. Another one handed me a plate of brownies a few days later. The third one returned to my booth an hour later and bought a $250 platter. So this type of customer service can benefit you in some circumstances. I will add that I stopped making that item, due to its durability flaws.

I recently had an online customer who, although he had bought a good quantity of work, it became clear to me that he did not understand what he was buying, in ways similar to the customer who thinks a 12 year old pot should be replaced. I finally told him "this is your last order." (This is one of the reasons I closed my online store.) My point here is that sometimes it is appropriate and necessary to tell a customer their business is not welcome anymore.

I would speculate this attitude is growing because of the growth of online selling, not because of LL Bean. Online selling implies things are supposed to be convenient, and customers get served while they sit on their couches. LL Bean and REI have had their generous return policies for decades. Actually REI dramatically scaled back its return policy last year, because they finally realized customers were abusing the policy.

In Topic: Ftl Error Message

13 April 2014 - 01:03 PM

"FTL" error code means "Fired Too Long" Perhaps because your elements are dying, the slow program exceeded a time limit that is built into the controller? i.e. when the elements are healthier, the slow program will finish under the time limit. This is just a guess from me .... there are folks on this list who know a lot more about Paragon Kilns, so maybe somebody else could confirm this.

Changing elements is not hard to figure out, but it is labor-intensive. Make sure you have the right tools, and give yourself a whole afternoon to do it. If you can change thermocouples, you can do elements too.

In Topic: Ftl Error Message

13 April 2014 - 10:37 AM

. Normally takes around 9-9½ hours on fast but lately I've noticed it's taking around 10-10½ hours, so definitely slowed down a bit.

I think you need new elements. If they are 18 months old, they've had a good life already.

Yes a multi-meter is an ohm-meter (to measure resistance) and also measures volts and amps. Very handy tool for a kiln owner. When you install the new elements, record the resistance value of the brand new elements. Then over time, you can keep track of how resistance drifts as the elements get older, and the resistance of elements that need replacing. In the future you will have a clear way to answer the question "do I need new elements?"