Good customer service

15 11 2012

After our last toaster nearly blew up the house (!), I bought a Sunbeam 4-slice toaster (‘Toastum’ model 6410) about 14 months ago from Harvey Normans for about $70 (not the cheapest toaster, but not the most expensive either). Sunbeam has always been a reputable brand, in my eyes, but these days everything seems to be made in China or somewhere where labour is cheap so I’m not sure that brand reputation means all that much anymore.

I’ve only used the toaster maybe once a week, and my husband doesn’t use it at all — I’m the only one who’s ever used it. So perhaps it has toasted bread/naan bread maybe 50 or so times. I learnt early on that it had to be plugged into the power and the power turned on before the handle would go down and engage. Even then, sometimes the handle is tricky and I have to press it down hard a couple of times to get it to stay down (see someone else’s rant about this toaster’s handle here:!topic/melb.general/LZMyj8pdXq4 and other reviews here:

Well, after about 50 uses, the handle snapped off the other day! That is, the plastic handle piece that goes over the metal lever. This handle piece is ‘painted’ the same as the stainless steel of the toaster, so I had assumed it was also metal, but no — it’s plastic! And it snapped right off. I now have a useless toaster.

I checked the warranty, and guess what? It’s only for 12 months, and this happened about 14 months after purchase. I figured I’d at least call the Sunbeam support line to see what I could do, and whether taking it back to Harvey Normans would be an option. Well, I got such a surprise!

I told the support guy what model toaster and that the handle had snapped off. And he immediately said he’d send me out a replacement and asked me for my postal address! No questions about how it happened, no discussion of the toaster being out of warranty, nothing.

So either this is a known issue for Sunbeam or else they are aware that social media and internet reviews can really damage their reputation. Whatever. I just know that I was impressed with the helpful and ‘no questions asked’ response I got from their customer support person. Well done, Sunbeam!

Would I buy another Sunbeam toaster? Maybe. And that decision would mostly be based on this interaction I just had with them as I think the toaster I have is average at best.

It’s always difficult with an appliance like this as you can’t test it out first. Toasters range from cheap $10 jobs to $250 or more, so you really don’t know whether you’ll like it until you get it home and actually use it. Reputation becomes quite important — we purchased a Fisher and Paykel washing machine purely based on the reputation and experience we’d had with all our other F&P appliances, including our previous 20-year-old washing machine. But I don’t think F&P make toasters 😉

Overlay taped onto HQ Sweet Sixteen table

15 11 2012

For those who were asking… Here’s a quick photo of my Handi Quilter Sweet Sixteen overlay taped onto the table, using painters tape.

And my thoughts on the overlay and the HQ Sweet Sixteen table height differential:

I have the overlay for my S16 so I feel I can offer some thoughts from a position of having used it as versus looking at pictures on the internet and assuming I know what it does etc.

It’s retail price in Australia was about $100 (I think it was $99). I don’t know what the price is in the US.

Do I regret buying it? Not a bit! Do I use rulers? Hardly at all. Did I use the SupremeSlider? Yes, but I don’t now. Were my quilts getting ‘caught’ occasionally on the table? I didn’t think so, but since having the overlay they move much more smoothly over the surface and therefore under the needle. The overlay is not a laminate or melamine – I don’t know what it is, but it’s very smooth… much smoother than the SupremeSlider. I’ve also sprayed the overlay with silicone spray and that makes it doubly as smooth.

Did I try various methods of lowering the height of the machine? Yes, but with little success (anything paper-based was going to squash down over time), and removing the rubber feet was awkward (though likely a one-off task). Why did I want to lower the machine (or raise the table)? Because there are two issues – one was that the machine base was just a tad too high (and this affects ruler work, but remember, I rarely use rulers); the other was that there’s a slight gap between the table and the machine as there has to be as the machine throat base is slightly curved and table is square. And sometimes a quilt gets caught in that gap. And lint gets caught in that gap. With the overlay, there’s NO GAP for anything to get caught in and the height difference between the machine and table is eliminated.

Could HQ design a better match between the table and the machine? Perhaps. But from what I’ve been reading here, some people say the height is too high by 1/16 or 1/8 or ¼ an inch, while others say it’s too low by similar amounts. How does HQ deal with that? To be honest, I think the real problem that HQ have is with the rubber feet. If those feet come from the manufacturer in slightly different sizes or are screwed in slightly differently from one machine to another, then each machine will sit in the table in a slightly different way. If, for future purchasers, HQ raise the height of the table a tad, will it actually solve the problem if the problem is really with the height and setting of the rubber feet? And don’t forget that the feet may well compress a little over time, and you’d still end up with a height differential between the table and the machine again. Has anyone used one of these sit-down machines for 5 or 10 years – long enough to see if the feet compress over time?

As far as the Tiara is concerned, I’ve only seen the same pictures/videos on the internet that people have shared over the past few days. And as someone who has the overlay, I can categorically state that all the pictures/videos of the Tiara I’ve seen ALL HAVE THE OVERLAY. Babylock have done nothing different with the table that I can see.

One final thing about the overlay… My dealer advised me NOT to secure it permanently with the tape that’s supplied as she said it WILL tear the laminate on the table top if ever I wanted to take the overlay off. I followed her advice and have it secured with about 10 small strips of blue painter’s tape (see above), which I can add/remove at will – cheap, quick, easy. Though having used the overlay now, I would never go back to quilting on the ‘bare’ table.

Remember, I don’t do ruler work but in my opinion the overlay is worth every cent I paid for it. And in my opinion it’s an optional extra (like in a car), just like the TruStitch is an optional extra.