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Chris Last




Location: Janesville, WI
Joined: 21 Jun 2004
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PostPosted: Tue 15 Nov, 2005 8:52 am    Post subject: A & A Spiked Mace - Rollercoaster of a repair ride         Reply with quote

Hello all-

First off if this is deemed the wrong section for this I apologize and ask that it be moved to where it should be. Happy

Several months ago (August 13th to be exact), my group and I put on a demonstration of how weapons work at the Bristol Renaissance Faire. (Original topic is here: http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=4620&highlight= ) Overall it was a great success, however there was a casualty besides the melons and leg of lamb we mutilated. Prior to the actual demonstration we tested some of the items we had to make sure they would work. I tested out my A & A Spiked Mace on a melon. The spike mace hit the melon and without even passing through the melon, the head snapped off and rolled towards the crowd. Luckily it didn't travel far and we had a small fence between us and the public.

Upon my layman's inspection of the head and shaft it looked like a very narrow weld held the head on in the first place. This weld failed when contact was made with the melon. There is an Arms and Armor retail booth at the Bristol Faire, and seeing as my group has done quite a bit of business with them over the past 10 years, I took the mace to them to see what could be done. I was told by the sales rep that he would send the mace back directly and find out from Craig what needed to be done. Seeing as it looked like a workmanship fault he expected either to have that mace fixed correctly or a new one sent back to me. As the spiked mace is a large part of our weapons shows and show and tell tent, I asked for a time frame as to its return. I was quoted 2 weeks or so.

The next weekend I talked with the sales rep again to hear about any progress. I was told that the mace wasn't sent back to MN yet, but that he had a few items going back in a bulk package this week.

The next weekend I inquired again about the status of my mace, and was told that nothing was received by the booth from MN, including a restock of some items.

The final weekend of the Bristol Renaissance Faire again saw me with no mace and no more information as to its whereabouts. When I talked with the sales rep, he said that we would get the mace from Craig in person at the WMAW (which we were all attending).

The next weekend and the WMAW's come. I spoke with Craig at the event, and he told me that with the WMAW planning and other events, he hadn't gotten around to getting the mace finished up yet. However he specifically mentioned the weld issue and said that it was horrible and never should have left the shop. He asked where he could send the repaired mace to, and I wrote my shipping address down on one of my business cards for him.

Two weeks later I emailed Arms and Armor about the status of my mace. I was told that the mace had been sent back to me a while ago. When I enquired about a tracking number to trace the package, I was told that after further investigation the item had never been sent back to the shop in MN by the sales rep. I was told it was being sent back directly and the Craig would work on it as soon as it got in house.

On Oct 3rd I informed A&A that I was about to start my school show season and needed the mace for those displays. Craig made it known that he would turn the mace around the same day he rec'd it and that he would do whatever he could to make sure I had it with time to spare.

On Oct 12th I again tried to find out the status of the mace. I was informed that Craig had not been able to get a hold of his sales rep in tracking down where the mace was. I was promised a stand in until mine arrived back if it did not show by the end of the week. The end of the week came and Craig sent out a loaner mace for my upcoming show.

I received the loaner mace on Oct 17th. When I received the loaner mace I was very concerned. Here is a copy of the email I sent:

Quote:
Craig-

I received the Mace, and while I appreciate the loaner, I am still very
concerned about it's durability. It looks like the mace head is again
separated from the shaft, and unevenly at that. My mace had this same issue
and when it hit a cantalope, the head fell off towards our audience at the
Bristol Faire. Now, luckily in my case it was a fendente type swing so the
head landed in the ground as opposed to a patron.

My group has always been big supporters of your company, at least for the 10
years we have been in existance, and now I am concerned to recommend the
equipment I'm seeing. Taking 10 weeks to get a replacement piece after being
told "next week" by sales people and yourself at the WMAW's has been extremely
frustrating and dissapointing. I realize you didn't have time to rework the
piece by with the WMAW schedule, but you had led me to believe that it was in
shop and I should have expected weeks ago.

What happens now? Do I continue to wait for my mace to be found and shipped
back to me, and then ship this loaner piece back? Are we just assuming that
my mace was either lost in transit, discarded at shop, or kept?

I'm hoping this isn't coming off as spiteful or anything like that. My group
owns many pieces that have come from your workshop and most of them have been
very well done. That in itself is probably why this has been so unpleasant of
an experience. I will keep the loaner in as pristine of condition as I can,
and wait for your reply as to how we will be proceeding.


Chris Last
Assistant Director
GSM-Bristol
http://www.gsmbristol.org

Come talk history! http://www.gsmbristol.org/forums


Craig's reply was very fast, and very concise which I appreciate greatly. Craig was very upfront about the situation validating my concerns and detailing his methods to fix and problems that may arise. He also apologized again for the inconvienience of the situation and expressed his concern for returning items through storefronts, and advocated contacting the home shop directly.

*The original email quote I had posted has been removed by my choice becuase I have not enquired to Craig for permission to use it.*

Less than an hour later I received and email from Craig saying that my Mace had finally shown up. He was astounded at the poor weld it had, and apologized very heartily for it ever leaving the shop. He said he was going to start working on it directly in order to get it out the door to me ASAP.

I received my repaired mace on Oct 21 as I was heading out the door to the show I was performing. The timing was impecable. The mace I received is much more heartily held together than the loaner in my opinion, at least it feels that way now. The weld job that was done to repair the mace looks clean, a lot cleaner than most of the welds on the percussive weapons form their Ren faire booth this past summer. Here are a couple of pictures of the mace head and the area of the new weld.



This is where the mace snapped off. There was a small (1 cm) gap between the head of the mace and the tube that surrounds the weld on my original and the loaner mace I received.




You can see how that gap is no longer existent, and also that weld is pretty clean. It is a bit more beefy in weight than the loaner I rec'd as well.

I sent the loaner back last week Friday to Craig, and according to USPS it was rec'd yesterday.

To sum up:

Arms and Armor has a reputation of doing good business and good work over the years, and they have earned it. In this instance most of the fault as I can see it lies with poor communication on the sales representative to the customer and parent company. this does however reflect very poorly on the parent company, especially when promises are made in person that don't get realized. If you ever have a problem with one of their pieces, contact the home office immediately.

I am pleased that my mace is back in my hands and in one piece. This particular piece was a gift from my best friend and holds a great deal of sentimental value. The only thing about the mace I am not happy with is a rattle that has appeared. It sounds like there is a loose bit of metal inside the shaft of the mace, most likely a remnant of the broken weld. I'm hoping I don't have the opportunity to open the mace back up again and get it out. Wink from looking at several of the pieces that were on display at the Bristol Booth, I will be going for custom pieces as opposed to A&A's stock for percussive weapons. The castings and welds I saw on some of the flails was unattractive and messy looking. From everything I have seen, in person and in photos, their custom pieces are top notch though.

A large and public "Thank You" to Craig to getting my mace turned around as quickly as he could.

" Hang fires are all fun and games untill someone gets their eye poked out... by charging calvary." - J.Shoemaker

Chris Last
GSM-Bristol
http://www.gsmbristol.org


Last edited by Chris Last on Tue 15 Nov, 2005 9:10 am; edited 1 time in total
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Patrick Kelly




Location: Wichita, Kansas
Joined: 17 Aug 2003
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PostPosted: Tue 15 Nov, 2005 9:03 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Chris,

I'm glad things finally worked out concerning your mace. These things can be frustrating in the least and dangerous at their worst. While I'm glad the situation has been resolved, and welcome your opinions on this issue, I will caution you on the posting of private e-mails on this public forum. While there seems to be nothing overly personal or private in Craig's response to you there is an expectation of privacy in e-mail correspondence.

And no, I see no need to delete the e-mail from your post at this point. Wink This is just food for thought.

Just for future reference: your post isn't really about the weapon itself but rather about your customer service experience with the company, hence the move the the OT forum.
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Chris Last




Location: Janesville, WI
Joined: 21 Jun 2004
Reading list: 8 books

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Posts: 264

PostPosted: Tue 15 Nov, 2005 9:12 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

No problem, thanks for the move Patrick.

A very good point about the email, and seeing as I would expect privacy as well, I have removed the email itself and put up a summary of the information. Thanks for the feedback Patrick!

" Hang fires are all fun and games untill someone gets their eye poked out... by charging calvary." - J.Shoemaker

Chris Last
GSM-Bristol
http://www.gsmbristol.org
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Craig Johnson
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Location: Minneapolis, MN, USA
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PostPosted: Tue 15 Nov, 2005 9:57 am    Post subject: The Spiked Mace         Reply with quote

Hello Chris

Just thought I would add a bit to this as it is a good opportunity to bring up a few issues of what its like doing business in this industry today.

In your case the repair coincided with another that was in shop at that time and that is why at one point I had thought yours was shipped back to you already. The weld issue on both maces was due to a problem with our welder that has been fixed. It was a short lived thing but as one can see repercussions are long lived from past sins Happy

The main issue keeping us from giving the type of service we anticipated was the difficulty in moving objects back and forth from the shows on a consistent basis with the all the details needed to respond to the problem. In the case of the Bristol show this year the need to restock was minimal (read slow year) and our usual mode of transport was interupted due to this. The result was things anticipated by us to happen at certain times did not and the Mace slipped through the cracks. In a small business like ours this does not usually happen as there are not that many of us to screwup but when it does it can be a while till we figure out what the H is going on.

The desire to help you out by the guys at the booth was genuine, as I usually have them ask the customer to contact the shop directly and have us deal with the issue. I have tried over the years to implement a couple of different methods to deal with this type of issue but it has always been best to get a hold of the shop direct, for us it helps to limit the down time and potential issues like the one that occurred here.

I am afraid you were a victim of our internal difficulties in communication and the busiest time of year in our production schedule. I am sorry this occurred the way it came down and have tried to adjust some things so it will not happen to others in the future.

I also must say thank you as well to Chris for his understanding and patience while we sorted out the problem and fixed his weapon.

Best
Craig
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Chris Last




Location: Janesville, WI
Joined: 21 Jun 2004
Reading list: 8 books

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 264

PostPosted: Tue 15 Nov, 2005 10:09 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Craig-

And my thanks to you for handling the situation is very genuine as well. As I said in the emails, and I hope implied it at least through the post here, once the situation ended up firmly in your hands it was resolved admirably. The Bristol run this year was dissapointing to say the least in performance as well as business, so I completely understand your interuption of shipping issue. I hope you guys didn't loose your hats too badly.

I would like to stress again, that the service on the mace that I received once the communication and logistical issues were resolved was fantastic. I am very pleased about how my mace looks and feels now, and hopefully in the spring I'll have another opportunity to exact my revenge on a new cantalope. Happy

" Hang fires are all fun and games untill someone gets their eye poked out... by charging calvary." - J.Shoemaker

Chris Last
GSM-Bristol
http://www.gsmbristol.org
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Patrick Kelly




Location: Wichita, Kansas
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PostPosted: Tue 15 Nov, 2005 10:19 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Although this isn't related to the specifics of this situation I think it bears mentioning.

On July 28 I placed an order with A&A for their Wallace ballock set. When the order moved past A&A's stated delivery time I contacted Craig and he told me about some of the issues he's related here. Last week I decided to cancel the order and I asked for a refund. Craig obviously sent the check out immediately because it arrived the next week. I mention this because I've done this more than once, with more than one company, and I have never had this kind of quick response. Last week I was placed in something of a financial pinch because of the state's incompetent record keeping and Craig's quick response really helped me out, especially this close to the holidays.

I didn't take the missed deadline personally and it won't influence my decision to do business with A&A in the future. What will influence that decision is A&A's excellent response to my request.
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Russ Ellis
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Joined: 20 Aug 2003
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PostPosted: Tue 15 Nov, 2005 11:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

As a big fan of A&A I think I am safe in saying that they have one of the best and most responsive attitudes in the industry and I've always been very pleased with their level of service. In fact recently there was a situation where an item was damaged in transit and Chris and Craig and company took it back for repair (minor but more time spent by them that they were not being paid for) with no questions asked.
TRITONWORKS Custom Scabbards
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D. Rosen





Joined: 08 Nov 2004
Reading list: 3 books

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PostPosted: Tue 15 Nov, 2005 1:36 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I really don't mean to be a jerk or hijack the thread, but I was somewhat dissatisfied with the A & A sales reps at Bristol this year. I understand they were from the Chicago Swordplay Guild, but they did not conduct themselves professionally as per their rankings in said guild, or as representatives of A & A. I visited the booth many times throughout the season, and on a couple of my visits, I was ignored until they had finished conversing amongst themselves. Also on several occassions, I witnessed them answering cellphones (which were in plain view along with other 'non-period' items, including cans of pop, etc. resting on the counter), on personal business in front of other customers while behind the counter. They also did not attire themselves in clothing appopriate to an Elizabethan atomosphere; something a simple item like a jerkin or a doublet would have easily fixed.The customer service I experienced when speaking with Craig himself, however, was friendly, prompt, and downright immpecable.

-Daniel


Last edited by D. Rosen on Tue 15 Nov, 2005 1:51 pm; edited 3 times in total
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Benjamin H. Abbott




Location: New Mexico
Joined: 28 Feb 2004

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PostPosted: Tue 15 Nov, 2005 1:38 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, I guess fruit has it out for A&A products these days.

I'm glad nothing in my bill actually broke.
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Bob Burns




Location: South Indianapolis IN
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PostPosted: Sat 17 Dec, 2005 10:15 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have only the finest things to say of Arms & Armor, whether it be quality of product, customer service or any other area and as a result of this, they will have my business so long as they are in business!

Sincerely,

Bob
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Bob Burns




Location: South Indianapolis IN
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PostPosted: Sat 17 Dec, 2005 10:20 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Chris, I watched your show last summer and you guys are really funny! In fact I watched your show on Saturday of the last weekend, we are there several times each year. As a matter of fact I was in the A & A Booth when you came over and were looking over the bludgeons for your show, where upon I kind of followed you over to watch the show and had some great laughs!

See you this coming summer if your there!

Bob
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Shawn Mulock




Location: Calgary Alberta, Canada
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PostPosted: Sun 18 Dec, 2005 9:20 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Russ Ellis wrote:
As a big fan of A&A I think I am safe in saying that they have one of the best and most responsive attitudes in the industry and I've always been very pleased with their level of service. In fact recently there was a situation where an item was damaged in transit and Chris and Craig and company took it back for repair (minor but more time spent by them that they were not being paid for) with no questions asked.


Yes and a bang up job they did of it too! The guys at A&A and a certain guy I know of at Tritonworks went that extra mile to get Fortune's Wail to me.

"It is not what you have, but what you have done".
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