Monday, April 28, 2014

Consumer Review (Public Service Announcement)

I am a firm believer in giving credit where credit is due.  I am a consumer just like many of you reading. I hope to alert the public about a serious, customer service issue so you can avoid wasting your time and money like I have.

If you are reading, you are aware that I have been working on restoring a 1968 Caravel. Some parts are very hard to find. Others are widely reproduced. Not all, are produced the same. Above you see the original lens for the over head lighting fixtures side by side with one of the reproductions. The company selling this reproduction charges $25.99 each and the shipping cost is astounding. They are exported from California so it must justify the extreme shipping and handling costs. 

In the description it says;  Ceiling Light Lens '67-'68(Triple thickness from original) These lenses are designed to fit over the base and are slightly taller than the original, this provides better heat disappation, a longer switch may be required

The new lens is significantly taller. 

This is how the switch protrudes from the original. There is exactly enough thread for the retaining nut and the knob covers it all giving a clean look.

On this one the switch is 1/4" below the reproduction when the base is laid inside the lens. It said in the description I would possibly have to replace the switch. Now go out and find a 4 way rotary switch, and spend an hour re wiring the fixture? This brings the actual cost of lens to around $125 each.

To make it even better, the base is actually 1/4" inside of the lens so you will need to get a switch 1/2" longer than the original one. 
I rejected these lenses and called the seller wanting to return them. I expected to get clipped with a 15% restocking fee but instead was told I could not return them. I had a similar experience with this seller before. That time I was told "too bad, make it work". First time, shame on you. The second time, shame on me. There will never* be a third chance to shame me. I will never* do business there again. A hard, costly lesson learned. If I cannot find the part I need some place else, I will declare it does not exist.

Next Reproduction

Above is the reproduction lens from Vintage Trailer Supply. It is virtually an exact copy. 

Here is the product description; We've had this inside light cover made for our customers with 1967-1971 Airstreams.  It is also used on early 1970s Streamlines.   Click on the MORE PHOTOS button to see if your light base is the same.

It measures 6-3/4" square and fits inside the edges of the base.

It is made of strong, heat-resistant Lexan® polycarbonate, rather than the original low-grade plastic which melted in the heat. It is the only replacement available that fits on the original base using your original rotary switch and requires no trimming or modifications.  It will make your fixture look brand new. 

You may want to drill vent holes in to match the original to further enhance ventilation to the fixture.

Please note we also carry switches for this fixture.

Cost pre lens; 19.95 each. Shipping and handling was very reasonable.

The only negative thing I can say is one corner of one lens was just a little short of the corner. If I were to ask to return it I know there would be no issues. I had an issue once with an item and they over nighted the replacement to me before I sent the rejected item back. Do not expect that every time, but that shows you the level of customer service dedication at Vintage Trailer Supply.

I hope this will help some of you in your reproduction parts searches.

* my Grandmother chastised me once for saying 'never'. I rarely use 'never' since it is finite.


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  2. I always have excellent customer service at Vintage trailer supply.

  3. I know how hard it is to find parts, sometimes I have to make them myself. I have had to deal with several dealers in California where I live. One in particular stands out as the worst I have ever dealt with. I won't mention his name but complete jerk bitter old man. I have found that restores such as my good friend Frank are the best source for parts and advice. They share the love we have that keep the vintage trailer world going, so many thanks to you Frank!