Friday, September 28, 2012

The Baby Lock Saga Continues

That email I sent to all the executive officers of the Tacony Corporation actually produced some results. I really thought it would be read by their assistants and that the actual people I sent it to would never see it.

The president of Baby Lock called me this afternoon from his cell phone since he was on the road. He had just opened my email and thought he'd better call because he sensed the urgency. That means he read the part where I told him I was a blogger and would be publishing my very honest review of his company online.

Dude was really nice and said he understood I'd been having some trouble getting my machine serviced. I was prepared to start my rant but didn't need to since he proved to be very solution oriented. He said it looked like the repairs I needed were covered under the warranty and if I would be willing to ship the machine to their corporate office, they would see if the parts I need are still available. If so, they will repair the machine at no cost to me and send it back. If the parts are no longer available he said we could "work something out". I would like to work out something along these lines:

Either one would be fine and since they retail in the $8,000-$9,000 range, I figure that should just about cover my pain and suffering.

I am now waiting for Mr. President's assistant to call me and arrange the exchange. I didn't expect to hear from her today but if I don't hear from her by noon on Monday I'll just give her a little ringy dingy. Or I'll call Mr. President back since I now have his cell number.

Just a couple of hours after I had reached this agreement with the dude and all was well in my world, I got a call back from the gal (the Product Support Supervisor) responsible for yesterday's email that sent me over the edge. You know...the one where she asked when was the last time I had my machine serviced? Yeah, that gal. Let's call her Sue.

Sue called late this afternoon and in a very chipper voice said that she could offer me the option of sending my machine to corporate where they would clean and service it for $125 and then assess what repairs needed to be done. She did not mention whether or not there would be a charge for those repairs.

Yesterday when I emailed a copy of my warranty to Sue I told her about one of our local dealers who offered to let me pay them $65 to see if my machine had any internal injuries that I was not aware of. In her chipper phone call, Sue suggested that I might want to take my machine to that dealer since it would be cheaper and I wouldn't have to bother with packing and shipping. Because she's all about customer service like that.

After I listened to Sue's almost giddy spiel, I thanked her for the offer and told her that it wouldn't be necessary since I had spoken to Mr. President earlier today and he is taking care of it.

Sue said, in a very NOT chipper voice, "You talked to him TODAY?"

I replied, in an unusually chipper voice, "Yes, he called from his cell."

Sue said, in an even less chipper voice, "Just what exactly did he tell you?"

I said (trying to tone down the chipper lest I be struck by lightening), "He told me that his assistant would call and make arrangements for me to ship my machine to him and he would see that it gets fixed."

Sue said, "Oh. Well okay then."

We said our goodbyes and I hoped that would be the end of our short tempestuous relationship.

The Saga isn't over yet but I sure hope the drama is.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Just Say NO To Baby Lock

I feel the need to rant again. I've been doing that a lot lately. However, I don't think it's me getting unreasonably frustrated with other people. I think everyone else just needs to quit pissing me off.

Today's rant is about my 22 year old sewing machine. I know, I know, I could get a brand new one with tons more features for under $100 at Wal Mart. But I don't want a brand new cheap sewing machine. I want my awesome old one fixed. The problem is that I want it fixed for free. Or partially free anyway.

It's not that I'm against paying for repairs. Heck, I'd even spend more than what that cheap Wal Mart machine costs just to get this one fixed if I had to. But see...I don't think I should have to.

Here is the warranty that I received with my machine 22 years ago. I also have the official proof of purchase certificate that came with it. And yes, I do realize how bizarre it is that I still have these things.

The way I read it, if anything on my machine proves to be defective within 25 years, except for the electrical stuff and the expendable parts listed, then Baby Lock will repair or replace them.

This little machine has run like a dream until just recently when these issues popped up. They seem to be pretty minor to me, in fact I'm pretty sure I could repair all of them myself if I had the right parts but no one will sell them to me and none of the online sewing machine places have the parts I need.

Here's my issues:

The plastic hand wheel knob thingie broke off and needs to be replaced.
The stitch reverse lever no longer works.
The feed dog lever will lower the feed dogs but will not raise them back up.

I might be willing to concede that the plastic knob falls under that normal wear and tear category that isn't covered under the warranty. And that's a big concession on my part since up until recently I used this machine maybe 4 times a year. Just drove it to church and back. The other problems are mechanical and the machine should function for at least 25 years, right? If they stop working before the warranty term is up and they are not victims of wear and tear then they must be defective. The feed dog lever is definitely defective since I just found it and used it for the first time a few days ago.

A service center would surely be able to see that my machine is still in practically new condition if I could actually get a service center to look at it. I called one of my local centers and told them about the broken knob. I said I felt sure I could stick a replacement knob on there myself if I had one and asked them if they would order it for me. The woman I spoke to recommended that I bring in the machine so they could do their $65 diagnostic service on it since the broken knob could be a sign of a more significant internal problem. I will take my machine to them as soon as I become a complete idiot.

I called another center and explained my minor problems to them. This place refused to even look at the machine since I didn't buy it there...even though they are an authorized repair center.

Instead of calling my last 2 local authorized centers, I called Baby Lock directly. I explained my situation to the woman on the phone who repeatedly told me that my machine's issues are not covered under the warranty since their machines now have only a 10 year warranty. I don't care if their new machines have a 10 minute warranty. Mine has a 25 year warranty which I now see was nothing more than a marketing ploy to sell machines.

This afternoon I spoke to a different woman at corporate headquarters. Baby Lock is owned by the Tacony Corporation, in case you ever need to know that. After going through the whole song and dance again she asked me to email her a scan of my warranty. I did so and and asked her to call me after she'd had time to look it over.

Instead she sent me an email that said, "When was the last time your machine was serviced? We recommend annual cleaning and oiling for all Baby Lock machines".


What does that have to do with anything?!! Is she trying to suggest that I have neglected my machine which would therefore void the warranty? Is she really that desperate to find a way to get out of covering my maybe $50 repairs?? This company sells computerized sewing machines and sergers that cost thousands of dollars. Do yourself a favor and don't ever, EVER buy one. If they will jump through these kinds of hoops to get out of paying for a lever that didn't work the first time it was ever used, I can only imagine what they would do if a CPU went out.

I replied (amazingly civilly) to this gal's email and told her that my machine has never been serviced. They may recommend annual service on their machines now, but 22 years ago they did not. I know this because I still have the original manual that came with my machine and there is no mention whatsoever of any kind of annual servicing. In fact, the only maintenance they mention is cleaning the lint from under the face plate which I have done many times. As for oiling it, my manual says in bold letters NOT to oil the shuttle hook or shuttle race. Whatever those are.

I fully expect to hear from her again tomorrow and wouldn't be surprised if she asked if I've ever spilled a Coke in my machine or used it in the bath tub.

On the upside, I did find email addresses for all of Tacony's executive officers on their website. I sent a nice long email (complete with visual aids) explaining all the details of my dilemma to the CEO, the COO, the Senior Vice President of Sewing Products and the Executive Vice President. If the janitor had an email address I would have sent it to him too. I will be up bright and early tomorrow morning waiting for my phone to ring. If it doesn't ring by 10 a.m., Tacony's phone will be ringing and will continue to ring on a daily basis until they get so tired of dealing with me that they'll take care of this just to get rid of me.

I will be like a pre-prom night cold sore.

Like an oozing zit on picture day.

I'll be a rash that makes the thought of poison ivy seem soothing.

I will be the non-stop loop of "It's A Small World" running through their brains day and night.

I will make them run to the 24-hour dentist office in the strip mall and beg for a root canal.

And if that doesn't work I might have to get a little annoying.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

200 YouTube Subscriber Giveaway

I'm giving away a couple of smash book/daybook/junk journals over on YouTube since that's where I've been spending most of my time lately. Well, there and in my art room. I've been making these kind of journals like a crazy woman but I'm not actually using them for myself so I guess they'll end up on Etsy pretty soon.

Want to win one?  Here's what you need to do:
1. Go subscribe to my YouTube channel.
2. Find the video called "200 Subscriber Giveaway" or something pretty close to that.
3. Watch the video then leave comment.
Easy, right? I made the process as simple as possible since I myself have trouble following all the hoops that some people make you jump through just to enter a silly drawing.

If you are an advanced free giveaway enter-er, then you can follow these next advanced instructions for an additional chance to win one of the journals:
4. After you leave a comment on the video, then leave a comment on this blog post and mention in it that you subscribe to my YouTube channel. The blog post comment will be your additional entry.
I hope that's not too taxing on anyone. Obviously the maximum number of entries you can get is 2 even if you comment a dozen times. I don't really need to say that do I?

Here are a bunch of pictures of the journals so you can see what you might be getting. They are handmade (by me) junk-type journals made from found papers and embellished with scrapbook papers, die cuts and copyright-free images. Most of the pages have been stitched with a sewing machine for a messy, stringy look. Each journal has a heavy white cardstock cover with scrapbook paper strips on it. The journal is hand bound in a long stitch with waxed linen thread. Some of the pages have pockets or envelopes and will include a few post-it type notes, tags, labels, stickers or other little pieces of ephemera.

The cover of each journal measures 5-1/2" wide X 8-1/2" long. They have lots of blank space for you to add your own photos, notes, embellishments and personal style. They also include plenty of lined paper for journaling or making lists. They would make a perfect smash book or daybook or even a written journal or an art journal for mixed media work.

The giveaway will end at midnight CST on Wednesday, September 26, 2012 so you have till then to follow all those complicated entry instructions. I will then post a video of the drawing and announce the winner. Good luck to everyone!

Don't Be Koi If You're Sharp Enough To Love Lettering

Gird your loins, I'm about to rant.

In case you haven't noticed, I'm one of those crafty types. Not crafty as in sly (well, maybe sometimes) but crafty as in paint and hot glue and stuff like that. I can't pinpoint the exact time when I discovered I was crafty, but I can remember my sister and I spending hours and hours melting colorful taper candles and crayons onto empty Chianti bottles, wine bottles, soda bottles and whatever almost empty booze bottles we could pilfer from the family liquor cabinet.

My mother didn't mind because it kept us occupied and out of her hair. We kept the mess confined to a table we set up in the sunroom which made Mom happy since she tended to get cranky when we made huge messes that the maid would have to clean up. My parents were (and still are) heavy smokers so we had an endless supply of matches, lighters and other incendiaries. I was 11, my sister 8 and my mother was oblivious.

Over the years I've had some of the best artsy/craftsy mentors in the universe. By sharing so freely with me they taught me to share freely with others. That doesn't mean that I would never teach some kind of class and charge people for it. I would if I was a better teacher. Unfortunately I'm really bad at it mainly because I have no patience can I say this? Ummmm....stupid people. I'm not talking about people who are a little bit slow and have trouble catching on. I have all kinds of patience for those who are really trying. It's the ones who are there and really don't care and aren't even trying that I want to strangle. And I think strangling a paying participant in my class might be frowned upon. Obviously I have some personal character issues to work on.

I've been doing lots of YouTube videos lately to share some of what I've learned over the years. Or what I learned just yesterday. There's always something new to learn. I'm not on any design teams nor do I have corporate sponsors on my blog so I don't have companies sending me free stuff in exchange for my art...and soul. I get no compensation whatsoever. I do it because I enjoy it and because now that I'm "retired" I have the time to do fun stuff like that. I do have an Etsy shop where I sometimes sell the stuff I make but that's mainly because if I don't get rid of some of my creations, they will take over my house. I create a lot. A LOT.

I do occasionally take classes, mostly online, to learn new stuff. Recently I signed up for a very popular class from a well known teacher in her genre. Let's call her Bob. Bob teaches classes on creative lettering, the kind you might use in an art journal. It's a self-paced class and I'm taking it slowly but enjoying it so far.

A few days ago I got a Facebook message from a friend, let's call her Sue. Sue sent a Facebook message to Bob asking her what kind of watercolors she uses. Most art/craft teachers have specific types of supplies that they prefer to use and I like to try the things they use because in my mind if I use the same supplies I will get the same results. I doubt that Sue is that naive, she just probably wanted to know if there was a better brand she should try.

Bob's reply to Sue was "You might want to take my [edited] class online, where I teach everything I use". Seriously? Bob refused to tell Sue what kind of watercolors she used unless Sue paid $35 for Bob's class. I was livid.

I can totally understand an instructor refusing to tell someone about a technique they invented and only teach in their class. That happens all the time and I might even do that. But to refuse to tell someone what kind paint they prefer? Why is that a secret? How is knowing that worth $35??

Well, I take Bob's class. Or at least I do now, I may be kicked out after this. And I will tell you for free what kind of watercolors she uses. I won't tell you her name or the name of her class because I don't want to get sued for libel, but if you love lettering you don't have to be too sharp to figure it out. Oh dang, I crack myself up sometimes!

Bob uses Sakura's Koi Field Sketch Box with 24 colors and a waterbrush. So now you know. The secret is out. I seriously doubt that I have caused Bob any kind of financial loss since most sane people would never pay $35 to find out what kind of paint she uses. Therefore I feel no guilt about talking about Bob behind her back and outing her without directly mentioning her name. Okay fine, I might feel a little guilt but that's just what I do.

Even though I am (or was) enjoying Bob's class and learning a few things from it, I guarantee you that I will never EVER take another class from her or give her one more dime of my husband's hard earned money. I have no respect for that kind of blatant greed. I totally understand having to make a living and would never expect her to give away her techniques for free. But knowing what kind of tools she uses will never enable anyone to copy or steal her techniques or class material.

Jackson Pollock used enamel house paint made by DuPont, Davoe and Reynolds.

Picasso used Sennelier brand paint.

Matisse used Linel paint.

Andy Warhol wasn't secretive about his technique for oxidizing copper paint...even though I could have lived my whole life without knowing that. You'll have to Google it for yourself.  

Shannon Green uses whatever she can find on the clearance rack.

Now you know.