Page 1 of 6 12345 ... LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 80

Thread: Tool buying ethics?

  1. #1

    Tool buying ethics?

    Here's a fun one just to stimulate some discussion. I'll use a personal example because I can, but the question can apply to many purchases. Here goes.......

    I'm still thinking about buying an LV shooting plane. Everyone has told me I'll notice the difference over the LA Jack and #6 I currently use. But what if I buy one, and after using it, I don't feel like it's enough improvement to warrant the cost? Is returning it taking advantage of a reputable company?

    Sure, they will gladly take it back AND pay the return shipping. That's a cornerstone of their business. But there's something uncomfortable to me in returning a fully functional tool that does everything it's supposed to just because of personal preference. I mean, it's not THEIR fault I bought something and didn't "like" it. OTOH, you can argue that's always been an inherent risk in the mail order business - that the customer will occasionally return something that "looked different than it was in the catalog", etc. And that having a "no questions asked" return policy makes the customer confident buying mail order.

    What do you think folks?

    Fred

    [An extreme example (IMO) is buying a tool just to try it out. For example, we had a new member here a couple years ago that bought 2 "similar" LV and LN planes, fully intending to keep only the one he liked best. He saw nothing wrong with that. To each his own, I guess.]
    Last edited by Frederick Skelly; 04-10-2017 at 10:41 PM.

  2. #2
    Use your own moral compass.

    personally, I would try a tool out like that for a long while before deciding you like or do not like it. Keep it for a year. Then sell it used if you do not want it. You will sell for so close to your purchase price my guess is a guy like you will regard the net rent you paid as a bargain price for a year long evaluation.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Dickinson, Texas
    Posts
    4,615
    Are you more interested in tool collecting or working wood?

    My own situation on buying tools is that I keep them, so I can't identify with sending them back. I never buy a tool that I don't really want.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Tokyo, Japan
    Posts
    1,321

    Post

    Quote Originally Posted by Frederick Skelly View Post
    Here's a fun one just to stimulate some discussion. I'll use a personal example because I can, but the question can apply to many purchases. Here goes.......

    I'm still thinking about buying an LV shooting plane. Everyone has told me I'll notice the difference over the LA Jack and #6 I currently use. But what if I buy one, and after using it, I don't feel like it's enough improvement to warrant the cost? Is returning it taking advantage of a reputable company?

    Sure, they will gladly take it back AND pay the return shipping. That's a cornerstone of their business. But there's something uncomfortable to me in returning a fully functional tool that does everything it's supposed to just because of personal preference. I mean, it's not THEIR fault I bought something and didn't "like" it. OTOH, you can argue that's always been an inherent risk in the mail order business - that the customer will occasionally return something that "looked different than it was in the catalog", etc. And that having a "no questions asked" return policy makes the customer confident buying mail order.

    What do you think folks?

    Fred

    [An extreme example (IMO) is buying a tool just to try it out. For example, we had a new member here a couple years ago that bought 2 "similar" LV and LN planes, fully intending to keep only the one he liked best. He saw nothing wrong with that. To each his own, I guess.]
    I think there are some fine points to consider.

    When we buy a tool sight unseen (other than pictures on a webpage or magazine), we face a dilemma because we of course ask ourselves: "How well is it made?" "Is it likely to perform as advertised?" Because we cannot actually handle the tool before purchasing, we experience doubts, and more often than not, choose not to buy something that looks useful because of these doubts.

    It is reassuring to know we can return a tool, after we see it and handle it, and we decide it is not what we expected. Online and catalog retailers know we face this dilemma, and so to encourage us to buy tools sight unseen, many of them allow returns IF THE TOOL IS UNUSED AND CAN BE RESOLD WITHOUT A LOSS.

    There are financial costs, and inventory management headaches, retailers with this understanding policy suffer. We should support retailers with a liberal return policy even if their products cost a bit more. Consider it insurance.

    Other such retailers do not allow returns. That is OK too so long as they have made their return policy clear.

    It is the duty of the buyer to investigate the retailer's policy in advance and comply.

    For a buyer to deceive the retailer by returning a tool that they have physically used, contrary to the conditions of the sale, and thereby depreciated, is unethical. Period. It is theft. Go straight to hell, do not collect $200.

    Stan
    Last edited by Stanley Covington; 04-10-2017 at 11:20 PM.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    New England
    Posts
    1,422
    Great question. Those that have no problem ordering two tools just to try them both and then sending the one they don't like back, have a very different view of life than we do. They view a company as an entity, while we view a company as a group of people.

    Nothing we can do or say wll change that.

  6. #6
    I think you are crossing the line if you use the plane. (I understand that this is just an example and you are not planning on doing this.)

    If you order the tool, it arrives, and without using it you think, "I shouldn't have bought this..." "It is ugly..." "It is too heavy..." "I would now rather have a belt sander..." then I think it is fine to return it. A liberal return policy benefits a company that sells good products, because you trust them, and will order more in the future.

    A relative works at Amazon, and they have these two odd phrases to describe their two classes of returns: (1) "exists in product" and (2) "does not exist in product". "Does not exist in product" means "the problem is not with the product." I personally would not take a product that does not have a defect, and then give it a defect myself (using it), and then return it. Doing so will cause you to be reborn in a universe filled with belt sanders.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Prashun Patel View Post
    Use your own moral compass.

    personally, I would try a tool out like that for a long while before deciding you like or do not like it. Keep it for a year. Then sell it used if you do not want it. You will sell for so close to your purchase price my guess is a guy like you will regard the net rent you paid as a bargain price for a year long evaluation.
    +1 That's what I've done. It takes me a while to decide I really don't want a tool. But it may be perfect for someone else and I can sell it for close to what I paid for it. And the buyer gets it for a bit of a discount.

    Mike
    Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    twomiles from the "peak of Ohio
    Posts
    5,380
    Of the two planes I have bought new....the WoodRiver #4 V3 I tried for a year, then sold on that auction site as used. The other? That Kobalt#4.....within a week, it was back at Lowes, as I could not make it work. Noticed they placed it right back on the shelf, even though I told them I used it.

    Rather hard to return the planes I rust hunt, now isn't it. A Type 9 No. 7c would be a little bit of a stretch to return to Stanley.

  9. #9
    Great discussion and I'm right there with you guys - if you use it, you bought it. Fair and square.

    Prashun - you're right, I'd view the slight loss as cheap tuition and it wouldn't bother me a bit to pay it.

    Lowell - "working wood" Sir!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Lubbock, Tx
    Posts
    741
    Quote Originally Posted by Frederick Skelly View Post
    Great discussion and I'm right there with you guys - if you use it, you bought it. Fair and square.

    Prashun - you're right, I'd view the slight loss as cheap tuition and it wouldn't bother me a bit to pay it.

    Lowell - "working wood" Sir!
    For the most part I agree that if you use it you bought it. I have returned one tool after I used it (only tool I've returned period). It was a LN #5 and I had an issue with the handle - for whatever reason it was just painful me to use. LN suggested returning it and I did. I was a very new woodworker at the time. Now I might have kept it and tried some solutions and sold it o if I couldn't get it comfortable. LN had zero issue taking it back.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Longview WA
    Posts
    16,387
    It is not in my tool buying 'moral compass' to order a tool with an intent possibly of returning it. If it is defective or a major disappointment only then would a return be considered. Some of my disappointments, from companies with rock solid return policies, still reside in my shop. That's just how I roll.

    If I wanted to evaluate a tool, then I might speak to someone at the company to see how they feel about doing this.

    As to your original hypothetical case:

    I'm still thinking about buying an LV shooting plane. Everyone has told me I'll notice the difference over the LA Jack and #6 I currently use.
    Do you notice enough difference between your LA Jack and the #6 to want something that might be a bit less effort than the LA Jack?

    In my case a dedicated shooting plane would be a nice addition. On the other hand I am not using a shooting plane enough to justify the cost. Maybe if more things were being done that required an extra degree of accuracy via a shooting board, my justification for spending would approved by she who must approve such things.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Location
    Edmonton, Alberta
    Posts
    203
    Very interesting thread Frederick. I only return woodworking tools if they are defective. Most of my new tools at this point are pretty high quality, and I have found myself not using a couple of planes etc. but I wouldn't return them if they had nothing wrong with them.

    Another interesting aspect of tool buying ethics is why we choose the brands we do. Of course, there is the quality aspect to it, but there are certainly other things that I take into account. Most of my tools are from Veritas. I buy them because:
    - High quality
    - Manufactured in Canada (as a Canuck I feel like I should do my part to support this, just as I'm sure a lot of you in the south feel about LN)
    - Great customer service
    - Other aspects of LV/Veritas, like their commitment to environmentally friendly products, commitment to good wages and working environment for their workers.

  13. #13
    If you ordered the tool in good faith and then you decide to timely return it for any reason that is within the vendor's return policy, I fail to see how you're taking advantage of them.

    I believe Lee Valley recognizes that many tools are a personal fit and difficult to evaluate from an image. Like a smart company, they don't want this to dissuade you from making a purchase so they've established their policy to allow you to buy with confidence.

    I once ordered a set of the PM-V11 bench chisels and sent them back just because I just didn't like the way they felt in my hands. There was nothing defective about them. I didn't order them with the intention of returning them. They gladly took them back. Now I buy almost everything for the shop from Lee Valley in part due to that experience. Smart business on their part, loyal customer on my part, everyone wins.

    If someone intentionally takes advantage of LV under their return policy, don't cry for them. Their eyes are wide open, they're an experienced company and they're taking a calculated risk.

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Frederick Skelly View Post
    [An extreme example (IMO) is buying a tool just to try it out. For example, we had a new member here a couple years ago that bought 2 "similar" LV and LN planes, fully intending to keep only the one he liked best. He saw nothing wrong with that. To each his own, I guess.]
    When the LV PM-V11 chisels did not work out for me, I went in for Ashley Iles chisels. There was no local place to hold them, and I could not decide between two different styles (MK II bench chisel vs American Pattern butt chisel). So I called the out of state vendor and asked what they thought about me ordering a set of each with the intention of keeping my preferred style and returning the other set. They enthusiastically encouraged me to do exactly that. So in your example, I wonder what LV and LN would say to a call from the customer who wanted to try each vendor's plane and return one. I would bet both companies would play ball, within their respective return policies of course. The loser, if a thoughtful company, might want to know what it was that made the customer choose the other plane, and add it to their knowledge base.

    By the way, the ending to the Ashley Iles story is that I received both sets and promptly fell so hard in love with both styles that I could not and would not part with either set. So the vendor, for their cooperative attitude, ended up selling two sets of chisels instead of one, no returns after all.

    Ed
    Last edited by Edwin Santos; 04-11-2017 at 10:32 AM.

  15. #15
    When I buy shoes online I order 10 pairs or so, different models, different sizes. Try them at home, in the house, run up the stairs a few times, etc. If one pair feels good, I will return the rest.

    Is this using the shoes? And therefore unethical? How would I decide on the fit without trying them on my feet? How is it different frim buying in the shop?

    Compare this to the plane. Hone the edge carefully and run it on your shootingboard a few times to get a feel for the plane. In the LV shop you would be allowed to try the plane too when you ask nicely.

    Where exactly is the moral limit? In my view, if you don't damage the plane, you are still fine and won't go to bandsander hell.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •