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#197087 - 06/16/06 11:34 PM Is there ONE good El Morro piece???
Danny Offline
Wacko

Registered: 10/15/04
Posts: 141
Loc: Wichita, KS
As usual, the resident Damage Fairies have taken up their habitual positions at the back door of the Harbour Lights factory, where they liberally sprinkle their meaningless "Inspected" tags among the outgoing boxes of product. I recently ordered and received the El Morro piece from Nags Head, and the balustrade at the top had been chipped and nevertheless painted over at the factory like the damage didn't exist. This was not the fault of an extremely reliable dealer, who additionally eats the cost of shipping. Not happy with that piece, but thinking it was not badly enough flawed to send it back and generate additional shipping costs, I ordered a second El Morro piece from a dealer in St. Charles, MO. It arrived today, with a very evident factory generated chip in the same balustrade---in a different place---which again had been painted over by their evidently blind and uncaring staff, with, as well, a couple of conical roofs on the small turrets whose molds were incompletely filled, leaving little gaps in their edges. Again, this puts me in the position of having to pay the postage to return the piece and to pay the postage for a replacement piece, since the flaws are not the dealer's fault. I requested both pieces unsigned specifically to reduce the handling of them...a futile exercise, apparently! This is precisely the reason why I despise the whole notion of special events, which necessitate one's obtaining the pieces without the benefit of inspecting them first. I have received, in the past, three damaged pieces from Lighthouse Depot, who was not at fault for the damage. In one, the power pack was not placed in its special compartment in the styrofoam liner but was packed loose in the same area with the lighthouse tower, decapitating the lantern during shipment. When I received my event piece last year, the tower rocked back and forth and there were cracks in the paint. My dealer had to request a replacement, of course.

Since Harbour Lights has increasingly abandoned the notion of a carefully checked products, I am becoming hard pressed to justify maintaining a collection of their pieces. The prospect of seeing all the cracked and bent struts in the upcoming Galveston Jetty piece nearly makes my stomach heave. Collecting Harbour Lights was supposed to be an activity of pleasure and anticipation. Any more, it is becoming one of dread and disappointment. The actual product--- when one can get a good, intact, unflawed example---is still well done, but the execution and delivery processes are undermining the whole business.

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#197088 - 06/17/06 01:43 PM Re: Is there ONE good El Morro piece???
SDudley Offline
Wacko

Registered: 03/19/05
Posts: 176
Loc: Alexandria, Virginia
I too am finding this more of a problem with every piece. The chipping, mismolding and flaking of paint is becoming a bigger problem with each piece coming out. Nothing more takes away from the enjoyment of the piece than to find it chipped or having a problem with it. Damage and poor quality of workmanship is the reason why I stopped collecting another collectable line. It is good to know in a way, that others are having problems thought and it is not just me being overly critical (which I know I can be). This growing problem is truly something Harbour Lights should be concerned about.

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#197089 - 06/17/06 03:27 PM Re: Is there ONE good El Morro piece???
flacoastie Offline
Saint

Registered: 10/02/01
Posts: 6115
Loc: Ocala, FL 34471
Over the years that I have been collecting(1994-present) I have had only four pieces damaged. All of my pieces are shipped to me from my dealer. When I first started having them shipped I asked my dealer to look at every piece to check for damage. Two the four that were damaged where done by the dealer removing and repacking them during the first year I was buying lighthouses from them. Most dealers use people that are not careful with your product or do not know how to handle them correctly. I immediately asked my dealer not to check these pieces before shipping them to me. Since 1995 I have only had 2 pieces arrive damage(a chip out of the base and a broken tip on the lantern room roof). I touched up the tip and Harbour Lights cheerfully paid for the shipping back to them and for sending me a new piece(same number).

I guess what I'm trying to say is don't be too quick to put the blame on Harbour Lights when it could be your dealer's people unpacking and repacking the piece to check for damage. I have even chipped a piece myself while checking it over so quite possibly you could also cause some damage to your piece. Don't get me wrong when I say that you could cause damage, but, it is possible.

I am amazed at the little damage that I have seen when you compare it to the amount of pieces that have been packed and shipped over the years. I am extremely happy with the record that Harbour Lights has established.
_________________________
Rich

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#197090 - 06/17/06 11:13 PM Re: Is there ONE good El Morro piece???
Danny Offline
Wacko

Registered: 10/15/04
Posts: 141
Loc: Wichita, KS
Rich,

For several years, now, I have been checking all the pieces when they come in [anywhere from four to eight per piece] for my dealer. My dealer relies on me to spot the problems, and I am the first one to open the boxes. The instances which I discussed, above, were all clearly flaws and damage that occurred before the pieces ever left the factory. It's not hard to tell when a piece that has been chipped or incompletely poured has been nevertheless painted and sent out the door, or when the ramming in of excessive foam packing has pushed, bent, and broken the more fragile parts of the pieces. One of the worst cases of the latter problem was Whitefish Point, whose tower was damaged and the paint was cracked by the wads of nearly inextricable foam in six of the eight pieces that my dealer received. [I'm surgically careful when I remove the foam!] Another clue is the tiny breakages that are evident deep in the foliage of trees and bushes, where the foam has been stuffed into them. There is a difference between the white spots that have been overlooked during the painting process and the crisp, clean demarcation of cracked paint around a break.

Thus, I have the good fortune of being able to avoid the factory-generated flaws for most of the pieces. It's those special, various "event" pieces that must be mail ordered that are becoming more and more a problem. In the El Moro pieces that I received, it is crystal clear that the chipping occurred before the paint was ever applied. I have even noted when the painter has literally tried to fill in chips with globs of paint. Also, I doubt that a dealer like Lighthouse Depot, who handles a volume of orders, is going to check the pieces.

Again, from the way that I have seen most people, including the dealers and the Youngers, handle the pieces, I couldn't be assured that the damage did not happen at that point. When I received the "Hatteras-On-The-Move" piece, it was clear that the metal sign had been bent over at a right angle when the piece was flipped over and signed. I have witnessed all of the Youngers sign the pieces on various occasions, and as much as I love them, I don't want them to handle mine! They clearly assume that the sculptures are far more resilient than they are. This is why I specifically request all my pieces to be unsigned. It was no small miracle, several years ago, that my Point Arena piece survived the dealer's picking it up by the tower, like a Halloween noise maker, and plopping it into the bag and box.

When one pays anywhere from $55 to $100+ for a piece, one has perfectly reasonable expectations in anticipating its being in mint [essentially flawless] condition. I started collecting in 1995, and I have noted that condition issues are becoming more and more a problem.

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#197091 - 06/18/06 03:23 AM Re: Is there ONE good El Morro piece???
flacoastie Offline
Saint

Registered: 10/02/01
Posts: 6115
Loc: Ocala, FL 34471
I'm sorry that you have had such a bad time with your pieces. I have had no problems except the ones that I mentioned so I guess I can count myself lucky.
_________________________
Rich

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#197092 - 06/19/06 01:11 AM Re: Is there ONE good El Morro piece???
beachcomber Offline
Member

Registered: 01/23/01
Posts: 2904
Loc: Houston, TX, USA
The Cheboygan Crib piece is another good (or bad) example of the damage done by the foam packing. An inordinate amount of that shipment was damaged by the forceful stuffing of the foam into the trees. I, too, have cringed at the way certain folks handle the pieces - have even been told that picking up a model by the tower is perfectly okay. I've noticed damage of the railing around the towers precisely because of this careless handling. So, it's difficult to know what to do. In the past, I could inspect my own pieces but since most of them have to be shipped to me now, I hate to ask that they be inspected beforehand. The people doing the inspecting can be very careless.
_________________________
beachcomber

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#197093 - 06/19/06 01:32 PM Re: Is there ONE good El Morro piece???
Bob M Offline
Saint

Registered: 01/01/70
Posts: 12331
Loc: North Attleboro, Mass.
I've been on auto ship since the end of 2001. For about a year my auto ship came in from Ohio. I then switched to a lower auto ship number from Oregon in the latter part of 2002.

I've been on auto ship for roughly five years and the only damage I have experienced is on the Alpena HL. The damage was the area where the very back edge of the sail connects to the stern of the boat. Probably a small dab of super glue would reattach the piece, but I just left it alone.

I sincerely believe that damage to new pieces occurs at the dealer with improper handing. I remember watching sales clerks handling pieces I bought from displays back in the past. Some had the motto, "If it's stuck, force it; if it breaks, it needing to be fixed anyways."

Personally, I think the styrofoam molds was the best packaging to ever happen to Harbour Lights. They serve their purpose very well when the HL is put in the mold the exact way it was suppose to be.

smile Bob smile

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#197094 - 06/19/06 02:05 PM Re: Is there ONE good El Morro piece???
Webmaster Offline
Saint

Registered: 01/01/70
Posts: 13047
Loc: Arizona
I passed on a link to this thread to Tony Constantino and he's asked me to post this response:

Quote:
Thank you for the keen observations!

This morning, I will go out into the warehouse and inspect several El Morro replicas; I apologize to each of you for the inconvenience. I will report my observations, sometime this afternoon!

Harry left for the factory on Sunday, and Don Devine will be leaving Tuesday to join him in China.

I have forwarded the postings to both Don and Harry so that they can discuss these quality issues "one on one" with factory management.

A. J. Constantino
Director of Sales and Marketing
_________________________
Webmaster@LighthouseKeepers.com

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#197095 - 06/19/06 11:16 PM Re: Is there ONE good El Morro piece???
Webmaster Offline
Saint

Registered: 01/01/70
Posts: 13047
Loc: Arizona
Here's the report from Tony:

Quote:
As promised, I inspected six El Morro Replicas in the warehouse.

My sampling was random and I found each piece to be perfect!

However, my less than scientific exploration does not diminish the collectors' difficulties at purchase.

Company President, Don Devine did make a copy of your postings; he leaves for China in the morning and I am positive that the issue of quality will be discussed with the factory management.

Additionally, I sent Harry a "heads up" by email!

Warehouse Manager, Dave Rand has also suggested that if possible, Collectors send me a picture of any less than perfect piece, in order that we learn more.

E-mail: tconstantino@harbourlights.com

A. J. Constantino
_________________________
Webmaster@LighthouseKeepers.com

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#197096 - 06/19/06 11:35 PM Re: Is there ONE good El Morro piece???
WackoPaul Offline
Saint

Registered: 01/01/70
Posts: 8949
Loc: Indy
While at two Bill signings in Michigan this last weekend I made sure to check out each El Morro as they were being signed by Bill. There were probably twenty or so at each store and each was perfect, I could find absolutely nothing wrong on any of them which encouraged me that it wasn't a wide spread problem...

BTW, Danny, El Morro has two r's in it...
_________________________
Onward to The Land of the Midnight Sun!

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#197097 - 06/19/06 11:58 PM Re: Is there ONE good El Morro piece???
Danny Offline
Wacko

Registered: 10/15/04
Posts: 141
Loc: Wichita, KS
Although I did not plan to comment further, and now at the risk of absolutely hammering home a point, I submit the following. This morning, my dealer at Candle Nook, Laurence Webster [Wichita, KS...316/945-8510], who owns the business, called to advise me that two of the Staten Island pieces had just come in. I have only just come from examining these pieces---edition numbers 415 and 416---which I did while Laurence looked on. Number 415 had the following flaws: the upper railing around the lantern had been glued in place so far off-center that it was touching the glass of the lantern on one side and was leaking off the platform on the other. It had been painted in that misplaced position. Additionally, the edge of the lantern roof closest to the residence had obviously been chipped at the factory and had been patched with a clumsily applied wad of resin, with little attempt to shape or blend it. This had obviously been done at the factory...whether before the rest of the roof had been painted or after, I can't say, but I am suspecting afterwards. There were a very few, tiny pepper-sized specks of the roof color on the resin patch, as though an attempt at painting it had not been successful and the paint did not stick. In short, the lantern roof looks like it has an unpleasant mass of proud flesh on one side. Number 416 had small chips in the bushes both in the front and the back. Anyone may call Laurence to confirm this, in case there is suspicion that I am prone to exaggeration or over-reaction.

Laurence further advised me that one of his long time collectors, Peggy Wise, had come out to get her special order membership piece, Old Boston Harbor, and when she opened it for the very first time, the weather vane had been bent over at more than a right angle, and the paint was flaking off it.

Laurence is requesting replacements for the Staten Island 415 and the Old Boston Harbor.

The boxes for all three of these pieces were in fine condition and showed no mishandling in shipping.

I have taken the Staten Island with the slightly chipped bushes, and will wait to see the replacement for 415 to see if it is better.

But...there you have it. My last three, consecutive Harbour Light pieces acquisitions have---every one of them---had flaws. Each piece has come from a different source: Nags Head NC, St. Charles MO, and Wichita KS.

Observations?

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#197098 - 06/20/06 01:04 AM Re: Is there ONE good El Morro piece???
Webmaster Offline
Saint

Registered: 01/01/70
Posts: 13047
Loc: Arizona
I don't question you at all Danny. And I'm certain HL will make good on whatever there is out there that is bad and gotten by.

Photos would be a great help. Especially in the next day or so. Harry and Don will be meeting at the factory in China in a couple of days and having some proof to show them of what is getting by will help assure it won't keep on happening.
_________________________
Webmaster@LighthouseKeepers.com

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#197099 - 06/20/06 04:44 AM Re: Is there ONE good El Morro piece???
beachcomber Offline
Member

Registered: 01/23/01
Posts: 2904
Loc: Houston, TX, USA
John, I think it's great that you alerted Tony and Harry about this so quickly. It appears that some of the problems which Danny mentioned (not all) may be of recent origin, i.e., patching flaws with globs of resin or painting over damaged areas. Perhaps the factory has become lax because they feel that standards will not be as stringent as they were during the Younger era? We know that, under the watchful eyes of Harry, Tony and Don, it ain't gonna be so. Maybe the factory doesn't know what we know? They'll be set straight very soon, I suspect!!
_________________________
beachcomber

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#197100 - 06/20/06 08:34 AM Re: Is there ONE good El Morro piece???
sandy Offline
Cruise Director

Registered: 12/10/02
Posts: 1964
Loc: Kent, CT
Just opened and inspected each of the eight pieces I ordered from the dealer I work with which included a Staten Island Range and a First Boston Light. All eight pieces are perfect. I know for certain that this dealer inspects each piece before shipment--not because I asked him to, but because that's how he chooses to operate his business. Had any of the pieces had damage, he would have had a replacement sent before shipping to me.

I can understand Danny's frustration, especially since it seems to be happening frequently. I'm hoping he'll wait to see what the new owners do to rectify the issues he's raised, as well as to replace the damaged items he has. I'm also hoping he'll keep us informed.

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#197101 - 06/20/06 05:34 PM Re: Is there ONE good El Morro piece???
Bob Ott Offline
Cruise Director

Registered: 03/03/02
Posts: 3102
Loc: Piscataway, NJ. USA
Well Folks,

I received my El Morro yesterday -- and it was in PERFECT condition.

bobo

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#197102 - 06/21/06 06:12 AM Re: Is there ONE good El Morro piece???
Jim Awrey Offline
Member

Registered: 11/17/03
Posts: 155
Loc: Cape Cod
As a dealer who does inspect every piece that arrives in their store, I can honestly say that the number of broken pieces that arrive from Harbour Lights is almost nonexistent, especially with some of the recent horror stories that many of you have mentioned here. We did experience the disconnected sail dilemna of Alpena, as Bob M. had mentioned, and, out of 48 Christmas pieces that we inspected last year, only 1 had a problem. The "house" had a flashing light and the "lens" had a solid light (sounds like a one-of-a-kind collector's item).

I respect the fact that everyone has their own preferences on how they want their pieces "handled" before they are shipped out. Personally, I would feel more than a little foolish if one of my customers was the first person to notice a flaw in a Harbour Lights piece. I feel that this is my job; to inspect and find these flawed pieces, so that my customer doesn't have to. Isn't that part of my job as a dealer?

Sure, the first few Harbour Lights pieces we sold in the store were an experience; trying to figure out where to safely grab it, and being sure that it's facing the right direction before you push it into the styrofoam. Now, after thousands of pieces inspected, you learn a few safety tips. If you're buying a piece in person, and the sales clerk looks a little suspect, STUDY THE POSITION of the piece while it's sitting in the styrofoam, before they pull it out. Chances are, once you've spun it around to inspect it, they'll forget how it went in. I'm sure this is what happens when inexperienced clerks inspect these pieces before shipping.

One additional thought for those who don't want their Harbour Lights inspected. . . . If these pieces are basically coming directly to you, without inspection, aren't you actually bypassing the dealer network? Would you prefer that Harbour Lights ship them directly to you? I realize many of you probably stipulate the "non-inspection" because, if you tried to find a more careful dealer, you would lose your autoship number.

Just a thought, that if Harbour Lights considered their dealers to be a liability, they may feel that their customers would rather deal directly with them. ??

Jim

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#197103 - 06/21/06 03:45 PM Re: Is there ONE good El Morro piece???
Webmaster Offline
Saint

Registered: 01/01/70
Posts: 13047
Loc: Arizona
Quote:
Just a thought, that if Harbour Lights considered their dealers to be a liability, they may feel that their customers would rather deal directly with them. ??
I hope you are saying this as an emphasis on how important the dealer network is to Harbour Lights, not that the company would like to do away with them, Jim.

Everything I hear from HL is that the dealer network is a major reason for the company's existence.
_________________________
Webmaster@LighthouseKeepers.com

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#197104 - 06/21/06 05:49 PM Re: Is there ONE good El Morro piece???
Jim Awrey Offline
Member

Registered: 11/17/03
Posts: 155
Loc: Cape Cod
Quote:
Everything I hear from HL is that the dealer network is a major reason for the company's existence.
Just hoping it stays this way.

Jim

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#197105 - 06/21/06 10:47 PM Re: Is there ONE good El Morro piece???
Danny Offline
Wacko

Registered: 10/15/04
Posts: 141
Loc: Wichita, KS
John,

I don't have a digital camera nor do I have access to one. Otherwise, I would photograph the flaws and damage and post them. I sent one of the El Morro pieces back to the dealer, today. What with the additional shipping expenses for return and replacement, a $75.00 piece is now costing me $97.35. I can't afford to do the same for the other El Morro piece, especially since that dealer has already eaten the first shipping cost. Laurence will already have "disposed" of the flawed Staten Island piece.

It would be nice to believe that I would have no further occasion to photograph anything, but time will tell.

Danny

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#197106 - 06/24/06 10:22 PM Re: Is there ONE good El Morro piece???
Danny Offline
Wacko

Registered: 10/15/04
Posts: 141
Loc: Wichita, KS
As a melancholy, new installment to the ongoing saga, yesterday I had a phone call from Angela at Jansens Clocks, in St. Charles, MO. She had received the flawed El Morro piece that I had returned. After checking ALL her remaining El Morro in-stock pieces, she discovered that they ALL had various and sundry similar flaws and factory chips and that not one of them could serve as a viable replacement for the one that I returned. She has contacted Harbour Lights and requested that they hunt down a good piece to send to her, so that she can send it on to me.

There would seem to be a message, here, huh?

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#197107 - 06/25/06 12:14 AM Re: Is there ONE good El Morro piece???
flacoastie Offline
Saint

Registered: 10/02/01
Posts: 6115
Loc: Ocala, FL 34471
I would be very interested in seeing what you are talking about for chips and flaws. Does your dealer have a camera that he/she can photograph these defects? I occasionally receive a piece that might have a spot on a tree that is missing some paint because of a minor chip or that was missed by the artist or a small chip on the base or grass/water area. I don't consider that a reject and either does the collectible books that I have. A reject would be a major chip(larger then 1/8 inch), a crack or a broken piece of the structure, tree, outbuilding, tower, etc. Now remember, this is my criteria and yours may be more strict then mine and it sounds like it is more strict. If I get a railing that is a little out of alignment or a flagpole that is bent, I will straighten it out. No one can tell after the straightening out is complete and that is satisfactory to me. That is why I, and many others I'm sure, would like to see what you are talking about in pictures rather then your interpretation of what is a defect. I am not trying to say that what you are discribing is not defects but I would like to see some of these defects. I am buying $70.00 - $100.00 Harbour Lights and not $300.00 - $500.00 Lladro pieces. You cannot expect the same quality in a Ford as you get in a Lexus.

Again, please borrow a camera from someone or have your dealer send some pictures so we can see some examples of what you are discribing as damaged pieces.
_________________________
Rich

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#197108 - 06/26/06 11:45 PM Re: Is there ONE good El Morro piece???
Danny Offline
Wacko

Registered: 10/15/04
Posts: 141
Loc: Wichita, KS
Rich,

As I mentioned, I don't have access to a digital camera. My 35mm hasn't been fired up for 8 years because of a sticking shutter. I don't travel much any more to justify buying a camera, I am single and don't have a family to photograph, and I can assure you that there isn't anything really compelling in Wichita to capture, image-wise!

With regard to the El Morro pieces, one had a chip out of the outer edge of the balustrade, adjacent to the building, which was about 3/8 in. long and which "bit" clear through the projecting molding edge. The other had a chip out of the outer edge of the balustrade, right where it curves, about 1/2 an inch...again, taking the molding edge with it and making the curve look almost straight.

With regard to flagpoles, railings, etc., I was told in person by Kim and Nancy that these should not be bent back into place because of the possibility of snapping the metal. In most cases, to boot, the bending has caused the paint to crack and flake off.

With all due apology, I don't buy your relativism with regard to quality and price. By extending this reasoning, one could anticipate that anything within a lower price range could be excused for inferior quality. My KC sirloin must be perfectly done, but it's okay to burn my hamburger? A Schaefer pen should write flawlessly 100% of the time, but it's okay for a Bic to write 50% of the time. Etc. $60 to $100 is not a casual purchase for the greater majority of us, and I feel that we have every right to expect top quality for the money. How does one otherwise establish exactly what extent of damage or flaws is acceptable for the price? The pieces can be produced and distributed without flaws. That's why Harbour Lights has gone to the trouble to secure them in custom, foam packaging. Carelessness and mishandling at the factory, and/or ill-concealed damage, don't seem to me to be valid components of the purchase price. I can tolerate micro chips, etc., although I don't like them. I don't reject a piece on that account alone. But when a curved balustrade is no longer curved because someone has knocked it off, or because the mold wasn't completely filled, I don't believe that I have to accept it as the "luck of the draw" and fork over $75.00 for it, while others may be getting an intact piece.

Without any coaching from me, the dealer in Missouri---with whom I have not previously done any business---apparently determined on her own that her remaining pieces had problems. I merely asked her to send a replacement, and left it to her discretion to select a good one. Evidently, she also saw what I was seeing.

When I show any degree of damage to my own dealer here in Wichita, I leave it to him to decide what needs to be returned and what could pass muster. More often than not, he agrees that the flaw/damage should not be passed on to the customer.

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#197109 - 06/27/06 01:30 AM Re: Is there ONE good El Morro piece???
flacoastie Offline
Saint

Registered: 10/02/01
Posts: 6115
Loc: Ocala, FL 34471
I'm not questioning your flaws and the degree of them, only wanting to see some of them. How can any of us know to what degree you are talking about when we can't see some examples. When the Cheybogan Crib came out and contained major flaws and damage we posted pictures so all could know what to look for. It's possible that maybe someone from the Regional got a damaged piece and will post some pictures. Does you dealer have a camera and could they send you some pictures for you to post? If this is a major problem we need to make others aware for what to look for and what better way then by pictures. Also, it might help Harbour Lights by letting their factory see these defects.
_________________________
Rich

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