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Betsy the Quilter said:
Thanks to Oberon for being so responsive to our thread here. And I'm sure they are receptive to any serious suggestions for their product line. :).

And let's remember that, just as in any conversation, the discourse might occasionally wander a bit off topic. Easy enough to bring back by adding a comment about the original topic.

I don't think I'd mind the cardboard, but I'd have to see one in person.

Betsy
We need to have another get together. I have a new one coming this week.
 

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LOL Stacey.. Zipper .. Sure we will get right on it. After we perfect our scuba version as per your requests. I'm thinking maybe an acrylic glaze to help with that.. Or one of the 10 inch thick glass windows they use on submersibles in the ocean. ...  oh the possibilities ;) .. Thanks for the laugh which I needed! You are the best.
 

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I'm posting this here instead of in the oberon picture thread because I think it's less off-topic here. :)

OberonDesign.com said:
We are unable to customize due to costs. We are a very small company. The dyes are expensive and they are ordered to fit the plates for each item. So if you order a cover and you are the only one who ordered it in red we are stuck with that dye.

We simply can't keep every dye for every design. So we limit the colors to three and in some cases two.

Also to customize other items takes time. If it's one person it seems easy but add thousands of custom orders to our small staff it's not something we feel we can do in a timely manner.

I hope this clears it up
Actually, not quite. I mean, I understand what you are saying but your answer doesn't really match the question...

To be honest, sometimes when you answer questions about customizations I get the feeling that you have a pre-made text (the one about the cost of dyes) and do not properly read what people were really saying.
People were talking about leaving the pewter button and bungees off. That would actually save you money and time, so those factors shouldn't be an issue. It doesn't appear to be a problem to leave off the wool, why not the button/bungee, too?

Regarding color customization, since you brought it up: I get that you cannot customize covers for free - but from what I've read online you don't take custom orders even if people offer to pay for all your extra costs. I don't mean to be rude but when people say "Well, I would like to order cover xyz and I wouldn't mind paying the extra costs" it does feel like a bit of a slap in their face to go "we don't do that because it's too costly", you know? If the customer wants to pay extra, why not let them? Or at least give them another reason, one that makes sense to them. Such as "We get so many orders in every day that we just don't have time to do customizations like that as it involves a whole lot of extra work, such as calling the dye supplier, ordering the special dye and cleaning the drum we dye our leather in more often than we usually do" or whatnot. Those are reasons that people would get. But saying "it's too costly" when people would happily pay for all the extra costs is just a bit meh, you know?

I think a few people misread other people's posts. Here as well as in the other threads discussing Oberon's customer service.
People aren't necessarily miffed about not receiving plastic inserts or not being able to order their covers with custom colors, without pewter buttons or bungees. They are miffed because they feel that their concerns are not even read properly, they are being brushed off or not taken seriously.

I mean, I was one of the first people (if not the first person) to point out that cardboard was a greener alternative to plastic inserts and that I personally liked the change but I still think customer communication may be a bit of the weak point of the company. But from what I've read on these forums, this only applies to web communication though. People appear to be very happy with the results of their phone calls. So I can only assume that the medium leads to problems with the message here. :) The subject of my final examination in linguistics was online communication and you would be surprised how badly things can go wrong just because you're talking on a forum instead of on the phone or face to face. :D

That said, I think think that Oberon certainly never intended to deceive the customers. Their products are outstanding in every way - even I can tell, and I haven't seen their work in person yet. :)
Plus, to be honest, I'd rather work through a few miscommunications than receive a product I'm not happy with. So even if there are misunderstandings, the mere fact that Amy(?) posts on the forums explaining company decisions and answering questions (some of them over and over) all the time shows that Oberon do care about their customers.

Oh my, this turned into quite a rant. I'm sorry. I promised I'll try to be better. And I promise I'll order at least one Oberon cover before the summer's over.
 

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Feylamia - some excellent points and observances esp regarding where they are having communication issues!  When you look at the web site for Oberon they talk about no returns because each item is hand made "to order" which IMO does imply that some control/cusyomization should be possible in that porcess while in reality there is very little other than with or without the wool but many don't even know that is an option.
 

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My thoughts on customization. Please note that  I have no clue how the Oberon produces its products or nor am I involved with the company in any manner but I am simply throwing out ideas why customization is just not feasible on so many levels.

As far as customization goes on the bungee and pewter button.  I could see where this would not be possible if the design is done in a press type tooling because more than likely the holes are cut into the cover at the same the design is pressed/tooled into the leather so the holes are perfectly aligned.  Tooling leather in any manner is not easy. And for color choices. in order to maintain even and consistent color dying they probably dye in small batches. It also could be that the dying process is done at the same time as the pressing/tooling, so for each color they have to have a different plate to avoid the mixing of colors. (You wouldn't want to find red on your beautiful blue). Plates are extremely expensive to have made.  If they would have only one plate and have to extensively clean it each time they change colors it would be very time consuming to do just one custom color. Therefore the cost of the products would have to raise or the cost of a custom color would be outrageous.  The wool being left off is just a matter of not being sewn onto the inside leather piece of the cover.  

You have to realize this is a small company and if they would get into doing customization, its going to add many man hours just to have someone take care of dealing with billing of each item accordingly. To you and I asking for something a little different might seem like a very small request but when your a small company, as Oberon is, dealing with thousands of orders any type of customization means additional man hours, an increase of cost in order to maintain the same excellent quality (if the cost would not be transferred to their customers it would mean a decrease in the quality of materials), additional equipment/supplies they have to maintain,  as well as orders taking a lot longer to produce before they can be shipped out to you. Instead of getting your product shipped out to you within a few days of your order it might be weeks.  

Oberon is a small company that offers an excellent, high quality, beautifully crafted product at a very reasonable cost.  By staying that way, they are able to maintain these standards for their products that you and I have come to know, love and enjoy.  


 

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I a a big supporter of small business and buying US made products.  I also recycle and buy reusable bags for grocery shopping.  I am all for making decisions that are better for the environment when possible.

If the company was looking for a green option (and cared what customers thought/wanted) than some alternative options to the cardboard were given here.

For those that threw out the plastic and will now throw out the cardboard, this isn't a concern BUT, for these, wouldn't having the option to not have either be a better "green" solution.

However, for those of us that feel the plastic stabilizer is part of the product, this change is a concern.  Did the company need to disclose or tell us why?  Of course not.  But there are alot of things a company does not have to do, that they can do to be sure they are relating to what all of their customers want/expect.  This can be more critical for a small company.

The intial explanation was that this was a survey and the decision was based on that.  Later it appeared that this was a company decision and if there was any input from customers, they only cared about those that agreed with what they were wanting to do.  For the others - too bad.  The plastic/cardboard is not sewn in so people were going to find out.  The company should have been prepared for how they would handle this. 

The rep that posted here felt giving an explanation of why they did this was good enough.  When someone agreed with him/her the rep acknowledged that post and thanked the poster.  But for those that did not agree, it was pretty much, I explained why we did it and it doesn't bother some people so what is wrong with you that this silly little thing bothers you.  Not said in those words but that was the message coming across - at least to me.

So yes I was disappointed in the change but had this been handled in a better way I might have been able to see that even the cardboard isn't necessary or I would have been willing to just make my own plastic insert.  This becomes a less green option for the world because there would be waste that gets thrown out.

How this was handled and the posts here by their rep became the issue.  If you agreed you were highly praised.  So it appears the company only wants people that agree with them or praise them.  They don't want to hear from others or listen to other options that could be a better all around solution.  That is why they lost me as a customer.  And they may think that is not a big deal to lose a customer or two over this.  But now when someone asks about a cover or admires mine, my response will not be to give them the info to the Oberon site but to say - "It's an Oberon but I would never buy from that company again."
 

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maries said:
The rep that posted here felt giving an explanation of why they did this was good enough. When someone agreed with him/her the rep acknowledged that post and thanked the poster. But for those that did not agree, it was pretty much, I explained why we did it and it doesn't bother some people so what is wrong with you that this silly little thing bothers you. Not said in those words but that was the message coming across - at least to me.

How this was handled and the posts here by their rep became the issue. If you agreed you were highly praised. So it appears the company only wants people that agree with them or praise them. They don't want to hear from others or listen to other options that could be a better all around solution. That is why they lost me as a customer. And they may think that is not a big deal to lose a customer or two over this. But now when someone asks about a cover or admires mine, my response will not be to give them the info to the Oberon site but to say - "It's an Oberon but I would never buy from that company again."
Wow. You've made it clear that you will never buy from Oberon again. Your characterization of the Oberon Rep responses on this board is, frankly, a fantasy and utterly ridiculous. That is MY opinion, before you or anyone else starts complaining that someone is trying to silence you.
 

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Feylamia said:
I'm posting this here instead of in the oberon picture thread because I think it's less off-topic here. :)
Actually, not quite. I mean, I understand what you are saying but your answer doesn't really match the question...

To be honest, sometimes when you answer questions about customizations I get the feeling that you have a pre-made text (the one about the cost of dyes) and do not properly read what people were really saying.
People were talking about leaving the pewter button and bungees off. That would actually save you money and time, so those factors shouldn't be an issue. It doesn't appear to be a problem to leave off the wool, why not the button/bungee, too?
Actually, customizations of this nature do NOT save time and money, because somebody has to handle the request and put in a change order on the process, and you have to pay that person, which certainly costs more than the button and bungees.

Regarding color customization, since you brought it up: I get that you cannot customize covers for free - but from what I've read online you don't take custom orders even if people offer to pay for all your extra costs. I don't mean to be rude but when people say "Well, I would like to order cover xyz and I wouldn't mind paying the extra costs" it does feel like a bit of a slap in their face to go "we don't do that because it's too costly", you know? If the customer wants to pay extra, why not let them? Or at least give them another reason, one that makes sense to them. Such as "We get so many orders in every day that we just don't have time to do customizations like that as it involves a whole lot of extra work, such as calling the dye supplier, ordering the special dye and cleaning the drum we dye our leather in more often than we usually do" or whatnot. Those are reasons that people would get. But saying "it's too costly" when people would happily pay for all the extra costs is just a bit meh, you know?
Does "too costly" seem like less than a "slap in the face," than being told that your $68 cover is now going to be $185 for the custom color? Because it's not a $5 upcharge, that's not how leather dying works. And NO company is required to lay out all the reasoning that went into a business decision, that's utterly ridiculous. Can you imagine trying to bully Nike™ into an online justification of why they changed the spring color in this year's line of Shox®? It would never happen, and I doubt you'd get anyone to take your call more than once.

I think a few people misread other people's posts. Here as well as in the other threads discussing Oberon's customer service.
People aren't necessarily miffed about not receiving plastic inserts or not being able to order their covers with custom colors, without pewter buttons or bungees. They are miffed because they feel that their concerns are not even read properly, they are being brushed off or not taken seriously.
How on EARTH could you possibly think this issue has been brushed off or not taken seriously? They have repeatedly answered the question. A few people just don't like the answer. Instead of ignoring repeated (same) complaints from these people, they have come back here again and again to explain why they made the decision. These few people just don't like the answer so they're going to keep on and on demanding a response until they get the answer they like, or until they can, what? punish Oberon enough for not letting them make the decisions for Oberon?

I mean, I was one of the first people (if not the first person) to point out that cardboard was a greener alternative to plastic inserts and that I personally liked the change but I still think customer communication may be a bit of the weak point of the company. But from what I've read on these forums, this only applies to web communication though. People appear to be very happy with the results of their phone calls. So I can only assume that the medium leads to problems with the message here. :) The subject of my final examination in linguistics was online communication and you would be surprised how badly things can go wrong just because you're talking on a forum instead of on the phone or face to face. :D
Perhaps people are angry that the Oberon rep is not groveling enough about their business decisions. It's much more difficult to demand groveling when one are speaking on the phone, and it's obvious that the company rep is being 100% reasonable. But online, one can bury his head in sand and expect them to grovel because important customer is important! I think you're probably 100% right about web communication. Finger might be pointing the wrong way though.

That said, I think think that Oberon certainly never intended to deceive the customers.
Most important part. They have been very transparent here.
 

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maries said:
Feylamia - some excellent points and observances esp regarding where they are having communication issues! When you look at the web site for Oberon they talk about no returns because each item is hand made "to order" which IMO does imply that some control/cusyomization should be possible in that porcess while in reality there is very little other than with or without the wool but many don't even know that is an option.
"To order," means they make it when it's ordered and don't retain a large backstock, not that they offer customizations. In business, these are two very different things, and "to order" doesn't at all imply "customization."
 

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mommacomet said:
My thoughts on customization. Please note that I have no clue how the Oberon produces its products or nor am I involved with the company in any manner but I am simply throwing out ideas why customization is just not feasible on so many levels.

As far as customization goes on the bungee and pewter button. I could see where this would not be possible if the design is done in a press type tooling because more than likely the holes are cut into the cover at the same the design is pressed/tooled into the leather so the holes are perfectly aligned. Tooling leather in any manner is not easy. And for color choices. in order to maintain even and consistent color dying they probably dye in small batches. It also could be that the dying process is done at the same time as the pressing/tooling, so for each color they have to have a different plate to avoid the mixing of colors. (You wouldn't want to find red on your beautiful blue). Plates are extremely expensive to have made. If they would have only one plate and have to extensively clean it each time they change colors it would be very time consuming to do just one custom color. Therefore the cost of the products would have to raise or the cost of a custom color would be outrageous. The wool being left off is just a matter of not being sewn onto the inside leather piece of the cover.

You have to realize this is a small company and if they would get into doing customization, its going to add many man hours just to have someone take care of dealing with billing of each item accordingly. To you and I asking for something a little different might seem like a very small request but when your a small company, as Oberon is, dealing with thousands of orders any type of customization means additional man hours, an increase of cost in order to maintain the same excellent quality (if the cost would not be transferred to their customers it would mean a decrease in the quality of materials), additional equipment/supplies they have to maintain, as well as orders taking a lot longer to produce before they can be shipped out to you. Instead of getting your product shipped out to you within a few days of your order it might be weeks.

Oberon is a small company that offers an excellent, high quality, beautifully crafted product at a very reasonable cost. By staying that way, they are able to maintain these standards for their products that you and I have come to know, love and enjoy.
QFT.

*applause*
 

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Wow. Where to begin.

maries said:
I a a big supporter of small business and buying US made products. I also recycle and buy reusable bags for grocery shopping. I am all for making decisions that are better for the environment when possible.
If this were true, you wouldn't be beating up on THIS small business for making a trivial change that they have decided was better for their company and the environment.

If the company was looking for a green option (and cared what customers thought/wanted) than some alternative options to the cardboard were given here.

For those that threw out the plastic and will now throw out the cardboard, this isn't a concern BUT, for these, wouldn't having the option to not have either be a better "green" solution.
And they have decided not to offer this option, based on decisions they made, based on their volume.

This is not just about what the customers do with the plastic inserts, this is about what the company has to do. When they custom cut the sheet plastic, there's waste. Edges for a smooth cut, the overages where one more row of plastic won't fit, and all of the little round corners have to be disposed of - for hundreds of product. Or they have to pay a specialty recycler to come take it all away, which is outrageously expensive, and if you do your research you will find that for this type of plastic, there's still not an environmentally good way to recycle it. With cardboard, you can recycle ALL cutting waste, and if your customers don't like the inserts, you know that they also can recycle.

However, for those of us that feel the plastic stabilizer is part of the product, this change is a concern. Did the company need to disclose or tell us why? Of course not. But there are alot of things a company does not have to do, that they can do to be sure they are relating to what all of their customers want/expect. This can be more critical for a small company.
But they DID tell you why, you just don't like the answer. So how many times are you going to demand an explanation? Until you're satisfied you've created enough pain and suffering for this small US business?

The intial explanation was that this was a survey and the decision was based on that. Later it appeared that this was a company decision and if there was any input from customers, they only cared about those that agreed with what they were wanting to do. For the others - too bad. The plastic/cardboard is not sewn in so people were going to find out. The company should have been prepared for how they would handle this.
I think the company probably (logically) had no idea that a few people would be so very DEVASTATED about two little removable pieces of plastic/cardboard.

The rep that posted here felt giving an explanation of why they did this was good enough. When someone agreed with him/her the rep acknowledged that post and thanked the poster. But for those that did not agree, it was pretty much, I explained why we did it and it doesn't bother some people so what is wrong with you that this silly little thing bothers you. Not said in those words but that was the message coming across - at least to me.
Wow, selective memory. What I saw was the rep coming here MULTIPLE times and saying "this is why we made this decision, I'm sorry we've upset you. No we can't change it." That's how businesses respond when somebody doesn't like a new product. They don't change it back, they don't grovel. And when others support them, they thank their supporters. What did you want them to do, thank you for being so angry about this that you've made multiple posts about the Catastrophe?

So yes I was disappointed in the change but had this been handled in a better way I might have been able to see that even the cardboard isn't necessary or I would have been willing to just make my own plastic insert. This becomes a less green option for the world because there would be waste that gets thrown out.
But what you are saying here is the only acceptable answer on their part would have been to change their business decision and do what you say. Does that sound like a good way to run a small business to you?

How this was handled and the posts here by their rep became the issue. If you agreed you were highly praised. So it appears the company only wants people that agree with them or praise them. They don't want to hear from others or listen to other options that could be a better all around solution. That is why they lost me as a customer. And they may think that is not a big deal to lose a customer or two over this. But now when someone asks about a cover or admires mine, my response will not be to give them the info to the Oberon site but to say - "It's an Oberon but I would never buy from that company again."
I wonder how many hours the Oberon rep has dedicated to the Cardboard Catastrophe, and the few former customers who are angry about it? The only business mistake that I saw committed by Oberon is that they kept trying to explain to people who don't want explanation, but only will be satisfied with capitulation. A single simple "I'm sorry you feel that way, we strive to produce a superior product, both for customers and for the environment, and this was a decision we made after much thought. I'm sorry, we won't be offering the old inserts anymore," full stop, end sentence, would have been a perfectly good response.

Instead, what you see is them trying to make unreasonable people understand a business decision, not realizing that those people would NEVER be satisfied with the answer. Yet still, they persisted with trying to communicate with (former) customers.

This has been a textbook example of superior small business response. I'm absolutely astounded at the level of vitriol that is being directed at Oberon because they made a business decision (and an environmental decision) to change two little removable pieces of plastic to two little removable pieces of cardboard.
 

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As with anything in print, each reader interrupts what they are reading in many different ways.  While one person may read a comment and find it to be just a fact stating comment another person my find that comment as a personal attack on their issue/feelings.  It's almost impossible for everyone to read the same information and come away with the same meaning/feelings.

We all have things we love about the products we buy and its upsetting when there are changes to that product.  Sometimes we understand why the changes were made and other times we don't and most certainly not everyone is going to agree.  And not everyone is going to agree on whether the explanation on those changes were good enough or properly addressed.  I have seen both the pros/cons on these pages of the board to why some prefer plastic, others cardboard and others that don't care either way because they are fine with both or throw them away regardless.  On the consumers side there is going to be someone unhappy with the decisions made, which is understandable, and with the company there is just no way to please everyone, understandable as well.  What is to us a small matter to a company can be a major factor that could just snowball into other major issues.

While I most certainly agree that it would be nice if they could offer, in this case, both cardboard, plastic, or a no insert option.  I also understand that it probably wouldn't be cost effective for the company (and the customer) in order for them to do so.  As in most things if you order less of a product (which if offering both plastic and cardboard) they would be ordering less of both products so their purchase price would increase.  On top of which if they have a person in charge of final inspection and inserting the stabilizers into the final product, if they have to stop and read each order (no insert, plastic, cardboard) the time per item at inspection would also increase.  All of this would directly, of course, effect the price of their products.  I looked at a lot of covers before deciding on an Oberon kindle cover and although a little more costly than others felt that it was well worth the extra few dollars, as I am sure most would agree.  But if the cost of their product had to dramatically increase due to trying to carry both types of inserts (their cost, man power of customized orders, etc) I may and many others may not be able to see that purchasing their products as an affordable option.  For a small company, this could be disastrous. 

Whether you choose or not to order from Oberon is like everything thing else a personal matter.  It is what it is. It's basically a we choose to agree that we disagree on this matter.  Our personal opinions are what makes us all unique and who we are.  As far as the company thanking someone for a post and not someone else,  it might not be because they felt that the person who was upset was wrong or out of line or their opinions and feeling didn't matter but because the person that posted in favor or gave explanation was able to get a point across in wording that they couldn't.

In my own opinion I can't see not buying a quality product because of an insert that is not a permanent part of the product and I can in effect change it out by making my own.  I also can't see not buying a product because I personally didn't agree with how the explanation was handled by a company representative.  Especially if up to that point I had been nothing but happy with the products I had purchased and with the company. 

 

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Folks,

It's a rare thing in Accessories, but I'm going to lock this thread.  When a thread deteriorates to the point that people are picking apart each others posts, that thread has jumped the shark. 

So, let's move on from this issue....

Betsy
Accessories Moderator
 
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