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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Sorry I haven't been on the forum in a while. I've been busy making canes and trying to keep my real job under control.

I need some advice. Here's the deal.

I sell walking canes on my website and on Etsy. I recently sold a cedar cane to a lady as a gift for her mother who was injured in an accident and needed a cane to walk. One month after I sold it the lady contacted me to let me know her mother had dropped the cane and the handle broke. Even though I don't normally offer replacements for damage caused by the owner, I replaced it with another cedar cane where I laminated 2 pieces together for the handle to make it stronger. I also paid her return shipping and the shipping cost to get the replacement to her.

Today, the lady contacts me again and tells me that her mother again dropped the cane and broke the handle. I contacted the mother directly and offered to replace it with another cane made of walnut or oak (stronger). She said she would be walking unassisted in a few weeks and would rather me just refund the money to her daughter.

Would you do it or tell her to suck wind?
 

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Ouch.

The canes did not fail when used for their purpose. I gather the relevant term is "implied warranty." The cane didn't fail while maintaining balance, or even providing support, which I've seen being the description of purpose for many commodity canes.

Seems to me that you have been more than honorable and reasonable. Supplied an improved replacement w. free shipping, and then offered an even better item.

If I brought back a failed or incorrect item to a local big box store, the most they would offer was a replacement or a store credit. No cash.

But I have no idea how turning them down your vendor reputation might be damaged by complaints.

I suppose you may want to place statements on your sites that are quite explicit about the proper purpose and use.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thank you for the advice. I believe you are right. My concern is that the purchaser will leave negative feedback on Etsy but I guess I'll have to deal with that if it happens.
 

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I have have also had customers damage a cane. One fell out of a van while rolling... broke the handle. Anyway here's my 2 cents. You're rep is all you have... protect it if at all possible. Another thing I have wondered about is your handle design. Specifically, the grain direction I've noticed in some of your cane handles creates a weak spot in the curve of the handle. Horizontal grain direction in the handle would be much stronger. Perhaps you have debated this detail, but you will sleep better when you solve this. Medical canes are always dropped! I've noticed some cane sellers advertize there work as "not a medical cane" or "no medical claims".
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Yes, I've thought about the grain direction. I prefer the looks of the vertical direction but horizontal is much stronger. I started making the handles from 2 pieces of wood laminated together to improve the strength. I may have to go back to horizontal just to prevent this from happening.

Thanks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I have have also had customers damage a cane. One fell out of a van while rolling... broke the handle. Anyway here's my 2 cents. You're rep is all you have... protect it if at all possible. Another thing I have wondered about is your handle design. Specifically, the grain direction I've noticed in some of your cane handles creates a weak spot in the curve of the handle. Horizontal grain direction in the handle would be much stronger. Perhaps you have debated this detail, but you will sleep better when you solve this. Medical canes are always dropped! I've noticed some cane sellers advertize there work as "not a medical cane" or "no medical claims".
Jeff, you know I admire your work and I also respect your advice. One day I hope to use my cane building hobby to help support my retirement so I decided to minimize the potential damage to my reputation and refund the lady's money. I'm also going to change my design so that I don't have unsupported grain in the vertical plane on the handles. I'll either run it horizontal or reinforce it with steel allthread in the handle. I really like the look of the canes when the grain in the handle runs with the grain in the shaft but I've got to make sure it is strong enough.

Thanks again for the advice.

Bill
 

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Dang... I'm sure that hurt. Woodworking is full of harsh lessons. I have had to learn many the hard way and I expect to have to endure many more. I suppose I have made more than 500 canes and I still learn how to improve on some minor detail. I think this is what keeps me interested in cane making. I am always interested in what you are doing and will be very interested in seeing your improved design.
 
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