Gratitude: being able to absorb a loss…
Back in November, I wrote about searching for a clock glass maker. The glass business has changed from a couple of decades ago. “Mom and pop” glass businesses have almost completely disappeared. Consolidation into larger (distant, remote, online) firms has hit the glass industry like many others. After a lengthy search, I thought I found one of the few remaining artisan clock glass makers. There were even good postings about his business in a clock collectors forum. After all, many of them need replacement glass for clocks they are refurbishing. I contacted the proprietor, exchanged emails several times, had a couple of telephone conversations, agreed to a price, sent him patterns and payment in advance. (That last seems to be an industry standard.) He warned that he had a long backlog. So, I patiently waited a couple of months. … …
- The glass artisan I located in October was Tim Holder, of “Carter’s Clock Glass” in Gray, TN.
- Tim Holder, of Gray TN, is the son of Carter Holder.
- Carter Holder started “Carter’s Clock Glass” in Florida and established a long running and well deserved reputation.
- Upon Carter’s death, the business split, with Carter’s brother maintaining a glass business in Florida, and Carter’s son, Tim Holder, retaining the “Carter’s Clock Glass” business name and taking it and its reputation to Gray, TN.
- Tim Holder and I had an email exchange in October 2017 about the glass I want for this clock.
- Tim Holder and I talked by phone in late October 2017 and agreed to details about the glass order.
- Tim Holder cashed my check three days after I mailed it in November 2017.
- Tim Holder’s “Carter’s Clock Glass” website disappeared sometime in the past two months.
- Tim Holder no longer answers emails.
- Tim Holder no longer answers phone calls.
- Tim Holder has not produced the glass we agreed upon.
- I inquired again at the clock collectors forum about contacting Tim Holder and learned that a couple of other people have also had problems and have lost contact with him in recent months. The forum moderators squelched further conversation, probably not wanting to stray into legal territory.
- I inquired of Tim Holder’s uncle in Florida, that other glass business, about how to contact Tim Holder now. The answer was “We don’t communicate, and we’ve heard that some of his customers have had to call law enforcement to reclaim materials from him.”
- Carter’s Clock Glass now has an “F” rating by the Better Business Bureau in Knoxville, TN.
- Carter’s Clock Glass currently has 12 complaints noted by the Better Business Bureau in Knoxville TN.
- Six of those complaints are closed without satisfactory resolution.
- Mine is one of them.
Yesterday, I received the following notice from the Better Business Bureau in Knoxville, TN:
Business Name: Carter’s Clock GlassThe BBB has made several attempts to contact the business regarding the above referenced complaint. We regret to inform you that we have not received a response from the company.The BBB develops and maintains Reliability Reports on companies in our service area. This information is available to the public and is frequently used by potential customers. In the case of your complaint, the company’s failure to promptly give attention to the matter will be reflected in the report we give to consumers about them.
The BBB is not a legal agency and cannot force action on the part of any company. We can only suggest you seek legal counsel to further pursue this issue.
If the company has contacted you in the interim, please notify us immediately.
Sincerely, [remainder snipped]
Lessons: When dealing with a new supplier …
- Good news in a forum is not enough.
- Good news by email is not enough.
- Good news by phone call is not enough.
- Dig deeper.
- At minimum, do more than I did: check the Better Business Bureau.