Natalie Solent

Politics, news, libertarianism, Science Fiction, religion, sewing. You got a problem, bud? I like sewing.

E-mail: nataliesolent-at-aol-dot-com (I assume it's OK to quote senders by name.)

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( 'Nother Solent is this blog's good twin. Same words, searchable archives, RSS feed. Provided by a benefactor, to whom thanks.
I also sometimes write for Samizdata and Biased BBC.)

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Tuesday, January 03, 2006
I'll catch up with the email in the next few days. But this one from John Costello was at the top of the pile.
I work for a store which sells various forms of furniture, most of which we put together, as well as the actual packs that people can take home. Since most of our customers have trucks or SUVs or have relatives with said, there's little problem bringing pre-assembled furnishings home (Remember me? Hessians. Am writing from the US.)
Hessians, yes, and the unforgettable Ronco Vegematic.

One of my various jobs is putting toether furniture for both display and sale. Most of our product comes from China, Malaysia, and now some is starting to come in from India. We also sell items made in the US. Haven't seen anything from Britain yet (there was a brief fad with British home decorations some years back, but really everything was too flowery and it wilted. But the national chain that sells bangers, haggis, brit made indian curries etc. does quite well.)

I would say that one piece out of ten or, from some manufacturers, one piece out of five, is badly manufactured. Not just mis-allignment of holes (with some pieces this is intentional -- having to 'drift' the pieces together [meaning that two strong men sweat pushing two metal pieces together while the third tries to insert a screw] allows you to put extra tension on the metal or wood and adds to the strength) but very badly out-of-wack and unusable. Or the marble top bathroom stands where the marble was not properly affixed to the wood, so that when one person lifted it up I heard a 'thunk' and turned to see the marble broken in two on the floor. Sometimes we have to cannibalize two packages to get one piece.

I've also bought 'flatpack' bookshelves etc. and had to put them together, and from my experience as a customer, I would say my experience in retail is typical. One bookshelf required far more space on the floor to put together than I had. Another required a cardboard backing to provide tensile sterength to the wood but the cardboard was cut wrong and would not do the job (my solution to the problem was far less-tech than your husband's.)

When a customer returns a piece we either immedeatly replace it, provide the missing part, or return the money. Anyone in the store who knows what they're doing is authorized to do that (of course, some people do _not_ know what they are doing. This is retail. The only thing lower are a) the temps hired by retail for Christmas or b) PHDs who go to work for colleges and universities and are paid by the 'line,' that is by the actual courses they teach, dirt cheap, with no tenure, no benefits, and no hope .) We want the customer back, and we seem to be doing a better job than Homebase.

John Costello