Wobbly wheel – Part trois: Dialoging

I recently posted that the wheel I purchased from Clay-King wobbled. I emailed Clay-King on Oct. 23 about my observation, attaching video proof of the wheel wobble. Three days later, I received a response from Shane at Clay-King:

“We are sorry to hear about this! We have contacted Shimpo about your wheel, and we would like to see a video without the bat on the wheel head before replacing. If you don’t mind, please send a video with the bat removed from the wheel head.”

I could see where this was going.

I replied, “It is hard to tell from the wheel itself, but if you look at the shadow to the right of the wheel, you can clearly see the wobble, which is affecting every single Dirty Girl bat in the 10-pack I purchased, as well as the two blue plastic Shimpo bats that came with the wheel. All bats appear to wobble substantially more at their edges than the wheel head itself, which is far more discernible to the naked eye.” I closed with a polite demand: Replace my wheel or give me a full refund without restocking fees or shipping.

This time Erin responded: “I don’t see a wobble from the video. I sent it over to Vijay at Shimpo and he doesn’t either. If you want to take a video from the  side that would be helpful.” Erin asked me to email the next video to Vijay.

Me to Erin: “I clearly see the wobble, and so do two others who have seen the Shimpo. I don’t otherwise know how to explain the fact that every single bat I’ve tried wobbles, including Shimpo’s bats. I acknowledge that it’s difficult to see the wheel wobble in the video because of the glare on it, but the shadow very clearly shows wobbling.” I told Erin I did not want a refund. I wanted my wheel to work properly.

Vijay to Me: “Thank you for those videos! They were perfect.”

A good start, but then Vij writes, “I hope you’ll agree with me in that the issue is more in the bat than in the wheel head itself. That is, there is no appreciable amount of movement up/down – side/side in the wheel head, without the bat. With the bat on, yes, I definitely see movement. Regardless, I can send you a replacement wheel head and a new set of bats if you would like.”

Me to Vijay: “I strongly but respectfully disagree … there may be a mechanical defect … concerns about its integrity, useful life … how is it that all twelve bats are the culprit, not the wheel? … haven’t been able to use for two weeks … disappointed … something is wrong … do not want my money back; want equipment that is problem-free … Shimpo must account for product quality. Nothing less will suffice.”

I then called Runyans in Clio, Mich., and asked if Tony could take a look at my Shimpo. Granted, I didn’t buy it from Runyans which, at that point, I regretted. Tony said he’d take a look but would have to charge me $48 for the first half hour; more if more time was needed. I chucked the wheel into my car and drove 71 miles northeast to Runyans. Tony took a look at my wheel, then at the two Shimpos on display. It was immediately clear that all three wheels demonstrated the Same. Exact. Problem. Tony grabbed his tape measure and measured the distance from the rim of each of the three wheels to the outer-most rim of the two bat pins anchoring the wheel heads in place. In each case, there was at least a 1 cm difference in the distance measured. Mystery solved. And while Tony devoted more than a full hour of his time to attend to my dilemma, he wouldn’t charge me the $96 I rightfully owed. He wouldn’t charge me a cent.

Before I left Runyans, Vijay was in my inbox: “I informed our warehouse to pull and test an Aspire to replace the one you have. It will be fully inspected before we ship it.” Vijay promised to send two replacement Shimpo bats.

Me to Vijay: “Given what I learned from Tony, I would prefer Shimpo to consider a replacement wheel head after all, making sure that the plate is completely level and the bat pins are properly drilled and equally distanced to eliminate the wobbling. I think this would be the most efficient solution for Shimpo, Clay-Works and me. I will not require replacement Shimpo bats as the wheel head appears to be the problem and not the bats.”

Vijay to Me: I will make sure we send you a new wheel head and confirm the holes are drilled properly. As well, that thumping is likely a “kink” in the belt. It occurs when the belt is sitting for a while (from our factory, across the pacific, then to us) in one position. The “kink” develops at the point of the small pulley.  More often than not, through use, the thumping smooths out as the belt warms up. If it doesn’t, a new belt can remedy the thumping. I will send you a new belt as well.”

They say persistence pays off. It can, I agree, but the path to resolution requires a willingness on both sides to meet somewhere in the middle. Vijay is innately a standup guy. His reputation precedes him. While it took us a hot second to see eye to eye, he was professional, polite and respectful. As soon as the replacement wheel head arrives, I’ll take her for a spin – fingers and toes tightly crossed – and share my impressions.

The crow commands, the captive must obey. – George R. R. Martin


Published by Lolo Robison

Crackin’ Crow Pottery is a Greater Lansing clay studio owned and operated by ceramic artist Lolo Robison. What’s a crackin’ crow? Simply put, it is an alliterative translation of “good crow.”

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