Monday, November 10, 2014

Made in China

One cup coffee maker
With 30-cup capacity


Our aging West Bend 36-cup coffee maker that we used as a hot water urn finally gave out.

The Spouse went on-line and found a 30-cup replacement unit apparently is

  * Imported by Buffalo Tools for its AmeriHome brand

  * Sold by Wayfair

  * Ordered via Walmart

The Spouse made the selection based solely on price - it was cheap.

It turns out that the 30-cup coffee maker was able to produce only one-cup.

After the first cup, the spigot handle broke and no more water could be released. I suppose that's better than having the spigot stuck OPEN, dumping 85o F water on my feet and the floor.

Broken spigot handle - failed after one use

A coffee urn has a hard life at our home. It sometimes runs 72 hours at a stretch.

The made-in-America West Bend not only survived the extended use, but was quiet about it. The replacement made-in-China unit not only failed at first use, but it also was noisy. The Spouse likes quiet.

An equivalent capacity West Bend unit costs roughly $12-$15 more than the Chinese urn. Target is listing a West Bend 30-Cup Polished Aluminum Urn - 58030 for $32 plus tax but with free shipping. Walmart is advertising the same unit, sold by one of its partners, for $43.30 plus tax and plus shipping. A West Bend 42-Cup Polished Aluminum Urn - 58002 at Target is $46 plus tax.

Somewhere along the line the made-in-China urn allegedly went through "QC" - Quality Control - there's a sticker on the bottom of the unit that says so.

What the bottom of the unit omits are

  * Name of manufacturer

  * Name of importer

  *  Underwriters Laboratories (UL) approval

Underside of failed urn

Back in the day, Japanese products had the same reputation that Chinese products have today - shoddy workmanship using shoddy parts to sell cheap and still make a good markup for the owners.

In 1970 I bought, for a $125 advance from my employer, a Honeywell Pentax H3v 35mm SLR. The camera was manufactured in Japan and imported by Honeywell. Because Honeywell's association was advertised, Honeywell inspected each Asahi Pentax camera before it was released to the retail market. The bare-bones camera served me well for many years; I gave it to a friend who used it for years than gave it to his son-in-law. No problems were ever encountered with the camera. (I later [c 1972] bought a brass Canon F-1 - with Speed Finder - and a used Canon FtB, both of which served me well until I reluctantly went digital due to the cost and environmental impact of buying and processing film.)

This is NOT to say that everything that comes from Japan today has the QC of my cameras, just as there are made-in-America products that are less than they could/should be (auto recalls for example), but China's reputation is well-deserved: dry wall, tires, and toys to name just three imports.

The next coffee urn we buy will be a West Bend; it's one of very few brands still made in the USA. Others include Colony Coffee Urn, and at least some Focus Regalware urns.

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