Sunday, May 17, 2015

Tweco Fabricator 141i Review


Now that I've had my Tweco Fabricator 141i (W1003141) long enough to try to the stick, MIG and TIG modes of operation, I feel that I can write an objective review.  Keep in mind that I'm new to welding and this machine is my first and this review will be written from that perspective.

The factory packaging is attractive.  The welder is well protected and arrived completely undamaged.  It comes with the power supply, stick electrode holder, ground clamp, new Velocity MIG gun, 20A to 15A adapter plug, manual, manual on CD, 2 drive rolls, extra MIG tips, gas regulator, gas hose, carry strap, Tweco hat and 4 sticks of 3/32 E6013.  Most of the items seem to be of good build quality and the manual is detailed easy to read.  The CD contains pdf copies of the manual in multiple languages.

The power supply/drive unit is attractive, light and build quality seems to be really good.  The chart on the inside of the wire feed door is excellent.  They give you settings for MIG, TIG and stick.  One complaint is that the locking thumb screw for the MIG connection is partially behind the plastic case front.  This makes it difficult to access.  I should note that the Firepower MST 140i (1444-0870) seems to be identical to this unit except for the MIG gun connection.  Firepower appears to use a MIG gun that screws on from the front and wouldn't have this problem.  The other is that the tension knob flips forward ending up behind the front cover also.  This normally isn't a problem, but once it wedged itself there and was a real pain to get back in place.













The leads, ground clamp and electrode holder are of good quality.  The Fusion MIG gun uses a new tip that doesn't screw in.  It is held in place by the nozzle.  The factory nozzle fits perfectly and holds the tip firmly in place.  However, the flux core nozzles I ordered don't hold the tip in place when tight.  When I tried to tighten one of them enough to secure the tip, the plastic grip, that is threaded on, started twisting and stretching over the nozzle.


I'm concerned over the 8-pin connectors used on the MIG gun, TIG torch and foot pedal.  They're kind of cheap feeling plastic and have a loose feeling fit when attached to the power supply.  Only time will tell how well they hold up.  Maybe I'l have to do a long term follow up at some point.


When I purchased this welder, the optional TIG torch was listed as having a rotary amperage control on the Victor Technologies site and many suppliers web sites.  That is not the case.  It has a push button that is used to activate the lift TIG.  After I brought this to there attention, Victor corrected the information on their web site (you can read about my dealing with Victor customer support here).  However, some of the suppliers still advertise it incorrectly.  If you want remote amperage control you must purchase the optional foot pedal.  The TIG torch is a 17V style, the V meaning that it has a gas valve on the torch.  This is because the welder doesn't control the gas in the TIG mode, only in MIG mode.  This is an annoying issue for a new welder like me, just one more thing to worry about is a lot when learning.  One interesting thing I have found is that the gas valve seems to have a post flow in MIG mode.  I don't know if this is normal, because I don't have any units to compare it to.  But it does seem that if the valve already provides a post flow, it wouldn't have been hard for them to link it to the TIG function as well.











As a new welder, I find it easier to use than I had anticipated.  I started with the stick mode and the included 3/32 6013 electrodes.  I was impressed that I was able to strike an arc easily.  I have run several beads on scrap with both the included sticks and some Lincoln Electric 6013 that I picked up at Home Depot.  I'm not very good at stick welding yet, but the 6013 seems to run pretty good.  The manufacturer says that 6010 and 6011 won't run well with this machine.  I had some old 6011 given to me and I gave it a try anyway.  I couldn't get it to run.  It was very difficult to start an arc with it and when I did get it started I couldn't keep it going.  I'm not sure if that is the machine or my complete lack of experience.



When it comes to MIG mode, the door chart is very helpful.  It's suggested settings got me close enough to make a decent MIG weld on my first try.  After running three practice beads on some scrap square tube with 1/8" thick walls, I put two pieces end to end with a 1/16" gap.  I welded them together on only one side and let them cool.  I tested the strength by picking them up and slamming one end into the ground like I was swinging a hammer.  They broke apart after four hits, but it wasn't the weld that broke.  The metal around the weld tore.  That indicated to me that the weld was pretty good and I credit that completely to the welder and the door chart, because I had no idea what I was doing.

I also ran some flux core wire using the recommended settings in the door and it seemed a little hot when running a bead on a flat plate.  I used the same setting for a fillet weld and it was better, but still seemed a little too hot.

I tested the TIG mode both with and without the foot pedal.  I don't really have a clue how to use it properly yet, but I found the lift start very easy to use.  The amperage control with the foot pedal seems a little touchy at the lower end of the travel, but that could have been me because I was trying to use it while standing.  I didn't have a chair or stool at the shop yet when I tested the TIG mode.  I has plenty of power for my needs.  I accidentally put too much power to the 1/8" plate I was testing on and almost melted a hole through it.

Overall I am really happy with this welder.  Considering it costs the same as most other big name MIG welders, the fact that you get stick function out of the box and the ability to add a TIG torch and spool gun make this a great value.

After I have had time to learn to weld and have used this welder a lot more, I will do a long term follow up.  So keep a eye on my blog and my YouTube channel.




Saturday, April 18, 2015

Customer Service Problems with Victor Technologies, JB Tool Sales and Amazon.com Part 2

In part 1 we left off with me waiting for a foot pedal promised by Victor Technologies and still fighting with JB Tool Sales and Amazon for removing my review.

I'm happy to report that Victor Technologies and parent company ESAB made good on their promise.  The shipped me a foot pedal at no charge.  While I wish that I hadn't had to take it as far as I did, I'm happy with the outcome and I love my Tweco Fabricator 141i welder.  If they had been more willing to help earlier, I would have been happy with a good discount on the pedal.  Since I don't have permission I won't say a name, but I would like to thank the person running ESAB's twitter account.  I hope they realise what an asset they have there.  

Now an update on Amazon and JB Tool Sales.  As you may remember, Jason at JB Tool sales sent me a passive aggressive email letting me know he got my review taken down.  In response I sent him an email letting him know I would take my complaints to all of my social media accounts.  His response:

"JB Tool Sales - Amazon Marketplace

As the saying goes, there is no such thing as bad publicity.


Thank you."

That may be true for someone trying to be a celebrity, but not in retail.  Is he really dumb enough to believe that?  My response:

"Anyone with real experience in retail sales knows that's a BS line and I doubt Amazon believes that.  If you're content getting bad publicity, fine I can provide it.  

I don't think Amazon is going to be too happy with the bad publicity they will be getting because of their part in this.  And I don't that Amazon is going to be happy if they keep losing good customers like me, because of a bad seller like you."

If you don't already know, all of these emails go through Amazon's email relay service and they can read all of them.  

In looking around the amazon site, I finally find a form to request contact with customer service.  I fill out the form asking why my review was taken down without contacting me in any way and that I'm very upset about it.  When you submit the form it tells you that they will contact you within 12 hours.  24 hours later, still no response.  So I submit another, this one I keep a copy of.

"    17V TIG Torch & Accessories (13 Ft., 8 PIN) 
Comments:I would like to know why my seller review was deleted.  If you carefully review the communication between the seller and myself, you will see that the reason for my review was his refusal to help as requested.  The manufacturer of the product was willing to help me, but needed the seller to call them.  He refused.  He wouldn't make one phone call.  
I would also like to know why I wasn't contacted before or notified after the review was deleted.  I found out when Jason at JB Tool Sales sent me a passive aggressive email to let me know he won.  It went through your system so you should be able to see it.  
It appears to me that you delete negative seller reviews at the seller's request and without telling the authors, why?  Is it to keep up sales and your profit?  This is a deceptive practice and renders your review system less that useless.  
Jason at JB Tool Sales doesn't care about customer satisfaction.  If you look at other review sites on the web, you would see that he is mentioned by name many times.  If the distributor he has drop ship his products doesn't screw up, the reviews are good.  Anytime there is an error made, he handles the situation poorly. 
Because I purchased this product through your site, and because you deleted my review without notice.  I have to assume that you are covering up for his bad behavior.  This is the second time I've filled out a form on this site with these same questions about this incident.  I have not received a response yet.  So I now hold your company as responsible for the bad customer service I received as his.  
Jason stated in a later email that he thinks any publicity is good, even bad.  Well I will provide him with all the bad publicity I can using my social media accounts.  And since you've apparently jumped into bed with him, your company will be mentioned in the same posts.  
It's a shame that you would value a bad seller more that your good customers.  If this is allowed to continue you will lose many more."

 About 14 hours later I get a response.  It sounds like they're just telling me what they think I want to hear, but they don't actually answer my questions.

"Hello, 

I'm sorry you've had a negative ordering experience with one of our sellers; we do take reports such as yours very seriously. 


From your comment's, I can understand your negative review is been deleted without your knowledge. 


I've forwarded the details you sent us to our investigations team. Each report they receive is investigated and the appropriate action is taken. If you'd like to send more details to this team, please use the form below and choose the "Report a violation of our rules" option: 


http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/reports 


We do take the feedback and performance records of sellers very seriously. We monitor seller performance and we'll close an account when warranted. 


I hope you may understand our limitations in this regard. 

This team deals with possible violations of our use policies. Each report will be investigated and the appropriate action will be taken.


Amazon.com provides oversight of Marketplace transactions. Credit card information is held on Amazon.com's secure server, and is never shared with Marketplace sellers.


We also stand behind seller transactions made on our website by offering customers the A-to-z Guarantee (http://www.amazon.com/a-to-z-guarantee).


We value and respect your time, efforts and above all the trust you have on us. I apologize for this disappointing experience. This is certainly not the Amazon's Standard of taking care of customers.


We look forward to seeing you again soon.

Best regards,

Kogul S."
That was on March 31st.  I haven't heard anything from them since.  They seem to have no limitations when it comes to taking a negative review down.  But they can't be bothered to notify the author, or even explain why when asked.

I'm continuing to send out updates on all of my social media accounts complaining about their handling of this, but they evidently don't take that seriously like ESAB did.  JB Tool Sales has blocked me on Google+, but that doesn't stop me from calling them out by name.  It just means that he doesn't have to see my posts any more.  In searching about JB Tool Sales on the web I find information like this on manta.com:

30230 Hathaway Street
LivoniaMI 481503093 
Email: info@jbtoolsales.com
Write a recommendation
Jason Petta updated this company profile
Memberships
  • Ericthecarguy.com
And using that name I get reviews like this on Reseller Ratings:

"Ordered 1/4 x 3/8 adapters on Dec 27, 2013. Was told up front that it would take 7-10 days to get my order qty available. I stated ok and 10 days went by. Now here it is Jan 24, 2014 and still have not received my order !! Was given a direct phone number by Jason but when I call I keep getting different people. They stated that Jason Petta doesn't work here and they are the distributor that they can't help me, called back again in five minutes and now they know who Jason Petta is and proceeded to give me the wrong extension. I called back and told them to give me the correct extension. This time I got through to Jason's voice mail.. VERY unhappy with this kind of service. Waiting for a call back from Jason to hear his side of the story to see if I use them at all for future orders.
Their lost, as I will spend a lot of money on ordering.
"

So, now we know his full name.  And we know that my experience is not unique.  Other resources list him as the company president and state that they only have 4 to 5 employees.   That would seem to confirm my suspicion that this is a drop ship operation.

How many more sellers like this is Amazon.com covering up for.  Sellers will never care about their customers as long as they can get Amazon to remove bad reviews.  New customers will be fooled by the reviews they can see and will order from them.

As bad as my experience was with JB Tool Sales in this situation, I'm actually more upset now with Amazon.com.  They appear to be purposefully deceiving customers to keep sales up.  I have been a good customer and Amazon Prime member.  Now I'm finding other ways to purchase the things I need and will probably not let my Prime membership renew this year.  After the thousands of dollars I've spent with them over the last few years, to have my review silently deleted and then be ignored when I ask why.  I'd be better off ordering from Walmart.com.

That's it for now.  I will post an updated if anything changes.