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Thread: "Item not as Described" Stories?

  1. #1
    rjb
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    "Item not as Described" Stories?

    Do you have a story about buying a mail-order item that wasn't quite as described?
    Not necessarily a horror story- but something that made you say "WTF?"

    Here’s one:

    I just ordered an "open box" iRig Acoustic Stage mic from MF. Their one-word description of the unit was "mint(?)". I tried calling for more information, but got fed up with "waiting for the next available representative." I figured the mic had never been tested on return, and decided to take a chance and check it as soon as it arrived.

    The package arrived in this condition: Inside the sealed packing box was a crumpled piece of kraft paper, a packing list, and the retail box with its lid slightly torn and taped shut. Inside the retail box was a mini product catalog, a registration card, a "Quick Start" manual, and a cute little black cardboard carrying case with a red plastic handle. Inside the cute little black cardboard carrying case with a red plastic handle was a round inspection sticker (Inspected by 2) and a black cardboard cradle. Nestled in the black cardboard cradle was air.

    For just a second, I got this queasy feeling like a ping pong ball of yuckiness that starts at the esophagus and rolls down to the pit of the stomach. I then irrationally pulled the cradle out of the carrying case just to be sure the mic wasn’t hiding underneath. “WTF?” sez I, “You might expect this from a sleazy eBay seller. But not from a major retailer.”

    So I call customer service, and press 2 for returns, and listen to a loop of crap-metal while on hold until the next representative picks up. The line is noisy, and we can barely hear each other. The conversation goes something like this:
    “Hi, I’m Chris. How can I help you?”
    “I just ordered an open-box mic from your web site, and you sent me an empty box.”
    (Totally unphased) “OK, that’s cool.”
    “No, that’s not cool.”
    “I meant (unintelligible)...”

    Between both of us saying “Hello, hello?”, “Are you still there?”, “Oh, I thought I had lost you” and such, Chris apologizes for having to put me on hold about a dozen times. That’s OK- I love crap-metal. He asks me to describe the package condition and says something about filing a claim with UPS. I tell him we both know who screwed up, and the mic wasn’t lifted during shipment or while on my front porch. He says “Oh no, I have to file a claim. I’m going to send you a new mic.” “Thanks, I didn’t hear that part” sez I.

    So I check my email and find that MF has sent me a Return Authorization Number with boilerplate telling me to return the package in original condition, with tracking and insurance, and that their cost for “free shipping” would be deducted from my refund. I guess that was just some auto-crap, because a while later I did get an order confirmation with tracking number.

    Since today is Thursday and the mic is still in Kansas, I doubt it will arrive by Friday as I had hoped. If all goes as promised, I’ll eventually have a brand new mic for 40% off retail - the same deal I’d have gotten if it were a MF “Stupid Deal of the Day”. As they say, “All’s well that ends.” But is that any way to run a business?

    -rb
    Last edited by rjb; 10-12-2017 at 09:59 PM.

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    No mail order, but I bought a bunch of broken amps from a guy a couple months ago. One item was a Randall stereo power amp that was described as "one channel not working". I didn't really look at it when doing the pickup, but when I finally got around to checking it out I found that the channel wasn't working because someone had completely removed the PCB for that side with all the bias and driver transistors on it. Presumably they took it out to fix it, but never got around to it and just put the cover back on and used it as a very heavy mono amp. I can't be too upset since I was basically considering that amp as a freebie anyway, but there were several other odd things about that deal as well.
    Last edited by glebert; 10-12-2017 at 10:16 PM.

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    Old Timer olddawg's Avatar
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    When I collapsed a while back playing.... one of the things that turned up missing was my Hohner Marine band Af Harmonica (this band down tunes a half step). Since I was going to play last Saturday I ordered a Lee Oscar through Amazon Prime. It was supposed to arrive last Thursday via USPS. On Friday I checked the tracking and realized that it said "delivered". I called my Post Office and found out it was delivered to the wrong house, miles away, even though it was addressed correctly. They knew this because all deliveries have GPS tracking. BUT.. they told me there was nothing they could do about it! I emailed Amazon and they sent me a replacement overnight! Luckily my old harp magically appeared in the back seat of my truck Friday evening! I'm really sold on Amazon Prime. USPS sucks. I get other people's important mail all the time. I got a neighbor's military retirement documents last week. God help us if these people ever control our health care, lol!

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    Supporting Member John_H's Avatar
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    Internet sellers rely on their reputation to put food on the table. Excellent service is normal now. With companies like MF that are big, and have many employees that are probably underpaid who don't care, you'll get the worst service. On the other hand, I recently bought a lot of 10 Indian Rosewood fret board blanks on a close-out sale. $35 plus shipping. They were described as "2nd's". I assumed 'they can't be that bad', and rolled the dice. They arrived this week. Eight of the ten look great. The grain is tight, and dense. The other two are still better than what I've been getting from my regular supplier. They far exceeded the quality that they described.

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    Supporting Member The Dude's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by olddawg View Post
    When I collapsed a while back playing.... one of the things that turned up missing was my Hohner Marine band Af Harmonica (this band down tunes a half step). Since I was going to play last Saturday I ordered a Lee Oscar through Amazon Prime. It was supposed to arrive last Thursday via USPS. On Friday I checked the tracking and realized that it said "delivered". I called my Post Office and found out it was delivered to the wrong house, miles away, even though it was addressed correctly. They knew this because all deliveries have GPS tracking. BUT.. they told me there was nothing they could do about it! I emailed Amazon and they sent me a replacement overnight! Luckily my old harp magically appeared in the back seat of my truck Friday evening! I'm really sold on Amazon Prime. USPS sucks. I get other people's important mail all the time. I got a neighbor's military retirement documents last week. God help us if these people ever control our health care, lol!
    I have the same trouble with my local USPS. They're total crap. I have a host of their customer service numbers on speed dial. Last year, I had to go door to door to find Christmas presents that were delivered to the wrong address. I get deposit checks from our booking agent every so often. I had to tell him to start sending them via registered mail requiring a signature so that they couldn't be delivered to the wrong house. If I'm on the road for a while, I have my mail held. They have NEVER (NOT ONE TIME) delivered the mail when the "hold mail" expires like they are supposed to. I have to go down to the post office and get it. Last time, the lady at the counter said, "Well, we can't get it right every time". I told her that we should just start with once and work up from there.
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    rjb
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    Quote Originally Posted by olddawg View Post
    I emailed Amazon and they sent me a replacement overnight!
    So, how did they deliver it? By drone? Bicycle courier? Teletransporter?

    -rb

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    rjb
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    Quote Originally Posted by glebert View Post
    ...stereo power amp that was described as "one channel not working"....
    ...the channel wasn't working because someone had completely removed the PCB for that side...
    Yea, I might make a distinction between "not working" and "missing".

    Kinda reminds me of a tenor sax I "won" on eBay. The seller said all the pads were good. Most of the pads were OK, but were falling out of the cups because they had been installed with the wrong type of glue. Plus, all the corks were shot or missing, springs broken, etc. But even considering all that, it was a good price for a nice sax. I think the seller wasn't a player and honestly didn't know how to evaluate the horn's condition.

    -rb
    Last edited by rjb; 10-13-2017 at 05:45 AM.

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    rjb
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    Here's another story:

    One January, I decided to get myself a post-Christmas present by picking up one of those Squier Mini Strats that glut the market every December, and converting it into a 5-string mandolin. On Half.com, I found a good deal on "Starcaster by Fender" guitars- which looked like Mini Strats with (non-standard) gold metallic finish. But the ad copy was a bit vague and fishy, so I didn't immediately jump on the deal. I don't remember how I got the phone number, but I called someone at Fender, who confirmed that the Starcasters were actually Mini Strats built for Costco and other big-box stores. But by that time, the Starcasters were sold out. Bummer. A gold electric mando would've been way cool. Plus, I could've covered the "cast" on the headstock with asterisks, so it read Star****er. You know, like in reference to the Stones song "Star Star"? Yes, I do have a sixth grader's sense of humor.

    So I hunted some more, and found a B-stock Mini-Strat in Torino Red. I don't know how this works, but every big on-line music store, including WWBW and Best Buy, had a listing for this same guitar. The copy said it was a store floor demo model, with condition "no output". I figured "how hard can it be to fix a guitar with 3 pickups and a master volume and tone?" So I picked a vendor that offered free shipping (I forget which one) and ordered Little Red.

    When LR arrived, I plugged it in to an amp and verified "no output", as promised. I pulled the output jack, and found that the insulation on the signal lead was stripped too far back and the jack twisted around so that the lead shorted to the ground terminal. Boy, was that easy! Took care of that little issue, plugged in LR again. Still no output.

    Pulled the pickguard, and found that basically all the connections were cold solder joints. Took care of that little issue, plugged in LR again. Still no output.

    Encountered some red herrings.... WTF? How did a dust bunny embedded with gold flakes get in the control cavity? Could a hidden bit of metallic confetti be creating a short somewhere? Nope, doesn't seem so. The back of the pickup selector switch seems precariously close to the surface of the shielded control cavity- could it be shorting there? Nope, doesn't seem so.

    All the wiring looked fine, but still no output. Got out the DVM, measured resistance between Volume control's wiper and outer legs. Found that wiper was not shorted to ground, but pin 3 was. But what could be shorting pin 3 to ground? Seemed odd that coax cable was used for the short connection between the volume and tone controls, especially in a guitar with a shielded pickguard and control cavity... Eureka. Hidden from view, the insulation around the coax cable's center conductor had been nicked at one end, and a strand of shield wire was touching the center conductor. Problem solved.

    So why do I call this guitar "not as described"? The description did say "no output".
    But it also claimed the guitar had been a store demo model. No way this guitar was a demo. First of all, the finish was immaculate. The strings were immaculate. The frets were immaculate. Not a hint of a scratch or ding anywhere. No way this guitar was ever touched by a kid. But moreover, saying "demo" implies the guitar had been working until it broke. No way this guitar ever had output, not the way it was wired. This guitar was never tested before it left the factory.

    I'm trying to think of a punchline, but sometimes true stories don't work out that way.

    -rb

    PS: Once again, all's well that ends. Little Red ended up being a fun toy (once I sleuthed out and silenced the rattling truss rod that was causing dead spots on the neck). But that's another story.
    Last edited by rjb; 10-13-2017 at 03:56 PM. Reason: changed tense in some paragraphs
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    rjb
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    Quote Originally Posted by John_H View Post
    ...They were described as "2nd's".
    ...They far exceeded the quality that they described.
    Bah, humbug, a positive story!
    I've also bought "2nds" and thought "what's supposed to be wrong with this?"
    But I can't think of a specific example off hand.
    Last edited by rjb; 10-13-2017 at 03:59 PM.
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    Apology

    Sorry for the 2 long stories. I meant them to be mildly amusing dry humor, but they came out boring and whiny. I should have followed the rule "Just because it happened to you doesn't make it interesting."

    -rb

    PS: UPS tracking sez the iRig went out for delivery this morning. Yea.
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    g1
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    Sea-monkeys.
    Funny to see the words "mail order" which used to be something quite different from online retailing.
    Anybody get a surplus jeep?
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    Old Timer Leo_Gnardo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by g1 View Post
    Anybody get a surplus jeep?
    Oh yeah, I remember those. Only $29.95, jeep-in-pieces-kit, thoroughly slathered with cosmolene. What's cosmolene? Thick pasty brown grease intended to keep steel & iron from rusting in storage or in transit, much beloved (?) by the military.

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    rjb
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    Quote Originally Posted by g1 View Post
    Funny to see the words "mail order" which used to be something quite different from online retailing.
    Well, the goods still arrive by mail, usually.

    -rb
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    rjb
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leo_Gnardo View Post
    ...thoroughly slathered with cosmolene.
    I take it you have first-hand knowledge?

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    Old Timer Leo_Gnardo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rjb View Post
    I take it you have first-hand knowledge?
    Not first hand on the jeeps. Back in the times when such things were offered I read an article by someone who did buy one. Probably in Popular Mechanics - the ads were in the back of the mag for a couple decades. Somewhere in my dim memory, I think radio raconteur Jean Shepherd had something to say about his and or friends/fathers' adventures with these.

    Other things that were offered cheap surplus, knives, guns, gun accessories like bipods & tripods could be mail ordered or bought over the counter at mil surplus stores, cosmolened, wrapped in wax paper & boxed. Some of my friends' fathers indulged in these items. It was handy to have a friend with a garage that had a solvent-wash sink otherwise you'd spend all day and a couple rolls of paper towels getting the cosmolene off. Of course anyone who handled an item with the cosmo on it invariably ended the session with brown stains on his hands, shirt & pants. Oh what fun, like playing in the mud.

    For real first-hand, ask around some veterans, especially those who dealt with vehicles, guns or artillery. I'm sure they remember the mighty cosmolene.

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    Senior Member Enzo's Avatar
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    Cosmoline was like Vaseline and axle grease combined, but worse. Really difficult to get off, but the metal wasn't rusty when you got there.

    I remember those jeep offers when I was a kid. We were always gonna, but no one I knew ever did.

    I remember sea monkeys too - dried brine shrimp if I recall.

    Mail order. Used to be you mailed in your order. Some magazine ads even had a little order form you could cut out. Include a check or money order. But back then COD was very popular. Mail man shows up and you hand him $3 and he hands you your package. There were no 800 toll free numbers to call. Mail was it. You could prepay with cash too. You might order 89 cents worth of stuff. 50-60 years ago that really happened. You would tape coins to your order and slip it into an envelope.
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    Better Tone thru Mathematics bob p's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Dude View Post
    I have the same trouble with my local USPS. They're total crap. I have a host of their customer service numbers on speed dial. Last year, I had to go door to door to find Christmas presents that were delivered to the wrong address. I get deposit checks from our booking agent every so often. I had to tell him to start sending them via registered mail requiring a signature so that they couldn't be delivered to the wrong house.
    I have the same problem. but it's not the carrier's fault. all that the carrier does is to load up their truck with flats of sorted mail for their route, and deliver them. the process of sorting the mail is actually done by someone in the back office. they prepare the sorted flat boxes that the letter carriers deliver from.

    the problem is that these back office people aren't very attentive. essentially, if the postmaster doesn't keep on them the employees will let their performance slip. and if the postmaster doesn't bother to stay in the post office during the day, and slips away to do other things, then the problems can really get bad.

    i live in a town where there are two nearly identical addresses on the same street, with the only difference being that one address has a "north" modifier on the street name and the other one has a "south" modifier. the mail sorters don't bother to pay attention to that. they just toss the mail into one box or the other, and half of the time they get it wrong.

    the result is that i get the other guy's bills and he gets mine. i used to have the local postmaster on speed-dial to complain. she told me to drive across town to the other guy's house to get my mail. (!) as this kept happening she eventually labelled me as a "troublemaker" and stopped taking my calls.

    when she became unresponsive I called the postmaster general's office in DC. they routed me to my state supervisor who was very responsive to my complaint. they investigated and found out that the local postmaster was chronically absent from her desk. a week later my postmaster was standing at the door to the post office, saying hello and welcoming everyone to the post office as the came in, as if she were the greeter at wal-mart. she had to be hating that.
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    Better Tone thru Mathematics bob p's Avatar
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    I've cleaned cosmoline off of surplus parts. it's not really a grease like vaseline or axle grease, which are solids that are somewhat fluid at room temperature. cosmoline is more of a dirty looking brown wax, more like dirty parrafin. it's probably what was left at the bottom of the fractionating column when the oil refineries distilled off the gasoline and oil fractions. cosmoline is melted and applied as a liquid at high temperature and then solidifies when it cools to room temperature.

    it was the standard method of preserving rust prone metal parts by the military. parts coated with cosmoline were "relatively" easy to clean when the finish was newly applied, and the part was kept in a sealed plastic bag. the problem is that if cosmoline gets exposed to air, then it dries into a solid wax that has to be chipped off of the part. it's a royal pita to remove.

    in the war era GIs had to use a penetrating oil to remove the cosmoline off of new parts. in the field penetrating oils were never available, so they had to use gasoline or a gasoline-oil mixture. my Dad used to tell stories about how much time everyone wasted cleaning off cosmoline in WWII. the ongoing joke was that the brass invented cosmoline to make the enlisted man's life miserable.

    being a kid that used to play with all sorts of surplus stuff in the post-Korean era, I've cleaned my fair share of that stuff off of all sorts of things.

    prior to 1968 you could buy all sorts of fun stuff through mail order surplus. as a kid, one of my friends bought a 20mm Boys anti-tank rifle through one of those magazine ads. they were refitted with a .50 cal barrel for mail order. probably leftovers from the Marines in Korea.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boys_anti-tank_rifle

    oh, for the good ol' days when you could mail order an anti-tank rifle.
    Last edited by bob p; 10-14-2017 at 04:13 AM.
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    Old Timer Tom Phillips's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bob p View Post
    ...oh, for the good ol' days when you could mail order an anti-tank rifle.
    Or when you could buy a P51 for $3,500!
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    Better Tone thru Mathematics bob p's Avatar
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    the Boys rifle was probably $60 back in the 1960s. It was never an effective anti-tank rifle ... in that respect I think it's abilities were exaggerated, but it sure was fun to shoot.

    I never realized you could buy a P51 for $3500. Wow! I never thought about them until I saw one for sale at the Wright Patterson air show in the 1980s, with an asking price of $500,000. What a bargain! I saved my spare change. But when I rechecked on the price recently, it was in the millions of dollars. That change jar will never be that full. Sigh.
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    Old Timer Tom Phillips's Avatar
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    It was a really long time ago and I only heard second hand stories including one where someone took delivery and it still had live rounds in the ammunition containers. Like I said, they were stories.
    I remember when a local company was using a P-38 to do commercial areal photography. They kept it parked outside on the ramp at our local airport in the 1960's & 70's. That was the same era when B-17s were used as fire bombers.
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    Better Tone thru Mathematics bob p's Avatar
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    when I was a kid i remember seeing a B-17 fly over our neighborhood every year on December 7th. we always looked forward to it. sadly, it doesn't happen anymore. hopefully the plane has found it's way to a flying museum, as it's original owner is probably gone, and the plane would be too valuable now for someone to use for joy rides.

    i liked going to airshows as a kid. somewhere in the archives i have a snapshot of me from c. 1968-70 standing at my local airport with a lockheed constellation in the background. it belonged to the Black Panther Party.
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    Old Timer Leo_Gnardo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bob p View Post
    when I was a kid i remember seeing a B-17 fly over our neighborhood every year on December 7th. we always looked forward to it. sadly, it doesn't happen anymore. hopefully the plane has found it's way to a flying museum, as it's original owner is probably gone, and the plane would be too valuable now for someone to use for joy rides.
    There's an outfit called "Collings Foundation" that collects old planes etc. They're based in Stow MA maybe 30 miles west of Boston. Collings takes a flying collection of P-51, B-17, B-24 and B25 around to airports where you can tour the insides of the bombers and snoop up close to the Mustang for a nominal charge @ $15. They just spent a week at the local airport only a couple miles east of my house. You bet, it's a thrill to see and hear them in flight, and they do offer rides, for a price. Last I checked you got half an hour in a bomber for $450. Their Mustang is a rare 2 seat trainer, half an hour will set you back around $1350. For about a week in early October I could look out my window every now and then & see one of these beauties zooming by. I'm sure you can contact Collings and see if they visit an airport near you. In the meantime you can look 'em up on Wiki: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Collings_Foundation Hey, they got cars too!
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    rjb
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    Quote Originally Posted by Enzo View Post
    You could prepay with cash too. You might order 89 cents worth of stuff. 50-60 years ago that really happened. You would tape coins to your order and slip it into an envelope.
    This wasn't strictly kosher, but on our RFD route if you ran out of stamps you could tape coins to the envelope.

    -rb

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    Senior Member Enzo's Avatar
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    I forgot stamps. Used to be people used them as currency. If you ordered $2 of stuff, you could put $2 worth of stamps in an envelope instead of cash. Eventually, most order forms said "no stamps please".
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    Better Tone thru Mathematics bob p's Avatar
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    taping coins to an order form only worked back then because coins were made of silver, and the money was worth more than it is today. today you can buy a stamp with the same amount of change but that's about it.
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    Old Timer Tom Phillips's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leo_Gnardo View Post
    ...Collings takes a flying collection of P-51, B-17, B-24 and B25 around to airports where you can tour the insides of the bombers and snoop up close to the Mustang ... and they do offer rides...
    OK now this is where we circle back to "Item not as Described" stories. The Experimental Aircraft association (EAA) does tours and rides similar to the Collings foundation. Their site is https://www.eaa.org/en/eaa/flight-ex...17-bomber-tour . I took the B-17 ride and if was a better than described experience. Shortly after wheels up you were allowed to unbuckle and wander around the plane during the whole flight. You could go anywhere except in the belly turret and the tail gunner's station. The interior is restored pretty well with authentic equipment, inert bomb load and machine gun ammunition. You do need to be fairly agile to make your way around but it is great fun as the wind whistles through all the openings amid the sound of four 1,200 HP radial engines. There were only around 8 riders on the flight and there was plenty of opportunity to move about and see everything. I spent a good amount of time sitting in the Bombardier's seat. The view out the plexiglass nose is spectacular. During the ground tours you can't even go into that area. Overall, a better than expected experience and I'm glad I went for it. It seems like just last year but I took that ride in 2010.
    b-17-bombardier-nose-gunner-position.jpg
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    Senior Member Enzo's Avatar
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    taping coins to an order form only worked back then because coins were made of silver, and the money was worth more than it is today.
    Nah, they weren't melting the coins down for specie value. Coins had cash value just as a dollar bill or a check. Certainly a check has no intrinsic value, but it has cash value nonetheless.
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    Old Timer Leo_Gnardo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rjb View Post
    This wasn't strictly kosher, but on our RFD route if you ran out of stamps you could tape coins to the envelope. -rb
    Or loose coins left with the outgoing mail. One suggestion for those who like to go coin hunting with metal detectors - check areas nearby old letter boxes or where they used to be for coins that got spilled.

    Coins as payment? Sure thing! "Hey kids, just mail in two box tops and one thin dime and you'll get your Junior Birdman of America wings in no time!" Also Dick Tracy decoder ring, Red Ryder bandanna, all kinds of comic book & cereal box promos.

    Early 70's I'd send in orders for all sorts of electronic surplus stuff to PolyPaks near Boston, with a couple bills and whatever change taped to a piece of paper. As bob p says, it costs as much in postage now to mail a couple coins. Plus it's a hassle for the folks at the receiving end, just imagine.
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  30. #30
    Senior Member Enzo's Avatar
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    Oh PolyPaks, I forgot about them.
    Education is what you're left with after you have forgotten what you have learned.

  31. #31
    Old Timer J M Fahey's Avatar
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    Some cosmoline equivalent was also used here.
    Up to some 10/15 years ago you could buy absolutely unused 1891 Berlin made Mausers, still floating in a sea of thick grease and wrapped in waxed paper.
    A friend bought one: absolutely perfect, as if just leaving the Berlin Mauser Werke more than 100 years ago.
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    Juan Manuel Fahey

  32. #32
    rjb
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    Quote Originally Posted by Enzo View Post
    I forgot stamps. Used to be people used them as currency.
    Thank heavens the conversation hasn't veered off into nostalgic ramblings about S&H Green Stamps.
    Oops.

    Then there were the Raleigh cigarette coupons.
    I'm sure we all know of someone who saved up enough to trade for an iron lung.
    Parum-dum.



    If you can't beat them, join them,
    -rb
    Last edited by rjb; 10-15-2017 at 02:55 PM.

  33. #33
    rjb
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    Quote Originally Posted by Enzo View Post
    Oh PolyPaks, I forgot about them.
    Something to jog your memory:
    4455981283_02ef3930cb.jpg 4456018777_d6f5a450c0_o.jpg

    Then there was Edmond Scientific, the place to get supplies for groovy hippie light shows.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edmund...ic_Corporation
    edmund66catalog.jpg


    -rb
    Last edited by rjb; 10-15-2017 at 02:52 PM.
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  34. #34
    Senior Member Enzo's Avatar
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    Just remembering iron lungs is something. Those were pretty scary, and very real in the 1950s.

    I do recall cigarette coupons, my mom saved a few. But S&H Green Stamps were a big deal. We also had the yellow Top Value stamps too. We kids got to paste the stamps into the booklets. For you youngun's, retail stores, mainly grocery stores, gave out these stamps based on your purchase amount, like a stamp per dime. You saved them up and could redeem them for goods. They mailed out catalogs full of blenders and blankets, and flashlights, and what not. In larger cities like my Washington DC area, we had S&H stores wher you could spend your stamps.

    PolyPaks was great surplus, and Edmunds was cool too.
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    Education is what you're left with after you have forgotten what you have learned.

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    We had Green Shield stamps. The catalogues were full of tantalising goods, from pens to colour TVs - all listed against how many books of stamps you needed. I never knew anyone who could have spent enough money in a working lifetime to buy any of the more 'expensive' items. I had an uncle that would only buy stuff from places that issued stamps. He also harvested books and loose stamps of friends and relatives. Kind of an obsession. In about 5 years he got enough to redeem against a chrome pedestal ashtray, probably made in Hong Kong at that time. The kind that you pressed down a button on the top and it opened up and spun round.

    We used to think how far out of his way he used to drive to fill up his car, or how much he could have saved by getting a better deal on places that didn't give stamps.
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