Asked for X, got Y (where X equals help and Y equals grief) June 3, 2008 2:11 PM   Subscribe

Ordered X, got Y. Not only the title of the thread, but a good description of some of the answers received.

If someone is looking for ways to pursue a refund/exchange on a product they paid for, the answers linked below are not proper answers to the question as stated:
*Telling the poster they shouldn't care because they're blessed to have money
*Suggesting they paint the item themself
*Telling the poster they shouldn't care because their kid probably won't care
posted by ThePinkSuperhero to Etiquette/Policy at 2:11 PM (179 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

I was just going to prune that thread a little.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:13 PM on June 3, 2008


Sometimes supplemental advice is helpful-- but when a poster clearly outlines what kind of help they need, if you can't give it to them then you should just move on.

AskMe is sometimes Offbeat-OpinionMe, but shouldn't always be.
posted by [NOT HERMITOSIS-IST] at 2:14 PM on June 3, 2008


And now I did. sorry cortex.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:15 PM on June 3, 2008


The poster's question includes the words 'Now what?' That question, I think, is the one that those answers are trying to address.
posted by box at 2:18 PM on June 3, 2008


Is this what things have come to? You have to lock all the doors AND the windows to keep the snarkers out?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 2:20 PM on June 3, 2008 [2 favorites]


Maybe, box, but I think it's mostly snark. Obviously the poster is asking what can be done to change the situation, not people piling on to tell him it's no big deal and he should live with it.
posted by misha at 2:20 PM on June 3, 2008


Good answers to "now what" sorts of questions should not include ther phrase "relax" in them, among other things. I think this is a pretty loose constructionist view of "now what?" "Relax" may be good advice you'd give to your friend, but it's an off-topic (and quite possibly snarky) answer to almost every question on AskMe and the internet in general and should be avoided if the goal is helpfulness.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:27 PM on June 3, 2008


My comment, which was deleted, merely read, "So, what does your daughter think about this?" Perfectly f'ing valid question. If the daughter doesn't care, what does it matter? The OP is having a simple "can't see the forest through the trees" problem, likely because SHE PAID $85 FOR TOY BLOCKS.
posted by mkultra at 2:27 PM on June 3, 2008 [4 favorites]


btw-

when a poster clearly outlines what kind of help they need

Pretty much nothing about that post qualified as "clear".
posted by mkultra at 2:28 PM on June 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


You're probably right, misha, but I like to try to give people the benefit of the doubt. (Full disclosure: I posted a response in that thread. It's probably one of the responses that TPS refers to. But I meant it sincerely--I really think that sanding blocks is a better use of one's time than hassling people for refunds.)

This kind of thing seems to be an ongoing concern, and it seems to recur with many different question archetypes ('Can my abusive relationship be saved?' 'I want to pound a nail. No hammers.' 'My ex-boyfriend is following me in his car. How can I improve my gas mileage?'). I don't doubt that there are plenty of snarkers, but I think people sometimes misuse that word the same way they misuse 'troll'--there's a difference between wisecracking and telling people something they don't want to hear.
posted by box at 2:30 PM on June 3, 2008 [3 favorites]


Shouldn't you hipster kids be out buying ironic t-shirts?
posted by Burhanistan at 2:31 PM on June 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


Hooray! My answer-deletion devirgination. While I still think my answer was valid (now what? let it go), and while there are still some answers in that thread that have basically that advice, I respect the decision.

Sorry it sounded snarky.

I should have put in a little more empathy, or sympathy, whichever is the right word - I used to get all wound up about crap like that too, and then realized that wow, I can just not... care... I didn't save for months to buy those blocks/that guitar/that bad dinner, and I am free to be disappointed for a while and then move on.

And, in case you visit, OP, your daughter really won't care. And she'll like Mega Blocks just as much as Legos, until she gets old enough to know the difference. And she'll play with the cardboard box that the toys came in. And she'll break your heart by disdaining the non-toxic wooden toys you've surrounded her with and plead for THE BIG PLASTIC BARBIE HEAD THAT GROWS HAIR that she saw at her friend's house.
posted by rhys at 2:32 PM on June 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


The OP is having a simple "can't see the forest through the trees" problem

That is your judgment, and is not a helpful answer to the question.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 2:32 PM on June 3, 2008 [5 favorites]


The OP is having a simple "can't see the forest through the trees" problem

That is your judgment, and is not a helpful answer to the question.


There has to be some kind of quadrangle grid for determining if the former is in fact the latter.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:35 PM on June 3, 2008


That is your judgment, and is not a helpful answer to the question.

I'm glad you've appointed yourself arbiter of what is and is not helpful around here. Shall I send you all future postings in advance for your approval?
posted by mkultra at 2:36 PM on June 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


Maybe it's more of a 3 layer color wheel.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:37 PM on June 3, 2008 [2 favorites]


I didn't appoint myself arbiter. There are rules here that stand independently of me. Which is why your answer was deleted by someone other than me.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 2:37 PM on June 3, 2008 [4 favorites]


I didn't get a chance to read the answers that got deleted, and I definitely don't think HURF DURF BLOCKBUYER should be allowed, but what's wrong with suggesting that the OP color or sand the blocks? It seems like it's kind of a "make lemons into lemonade" suggestion that could actually help the OP without being offensive or snarky.
posted by burnmp3s at 2:38 PM on June 3, 2008


It's fairly clear that the OP is not asking "how can I cope" but is in fact asking "what else can I do to resolve the problem that I have outlined."

The offending toymakers appear to be in Vermont so I suspect kmennie and I will work out some sort of Frontier Justice solution to the latter problem which may also solve the former one.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:39 PM on June 3, 2008 [2 favorites]


Eh, I still like the idea of providing links to how to get the same thing cheap and DIY, which I did without snark or rancor. If the poster here was so into these blocks because they had a sustainable, well-designed, boutique quality, there's no reason not to share info with how to get all that just right on one's own, not the way the question was phrased. I think that's especially true in light of the fact that she didn't initially provide some relevant history on her interaction with the company in her initial question.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 2:40 PM on June 3, 2008


I didn't appoint myself arbiter. There are rules here that stand independently of me. Which is why your answer was deleted by someone other than me.

OK, I'll bite- Jess/Cortex, care to chime in? Why is it, in fact, unhelpful to tell the OP to take her daughter's opinion into account?
posted by mkultra at 2:41 PM on June 3, 2008


I'm glad you've appointed yourself arbiter of what is and is not helpful around here. Shall I send you all future postings in advance for your approval?

She's just helping you with your writer's block.

Seriously though, this kind of passive aggressive moderation kinda sucks, especially when the question isn't so narrowly defined as some claim it to be.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:41 PM on June 3, 2008


Is this what things have come to?

It's always been like this. I have been flagging stuff like that in AskMe since flagging started. I have been guilty of dropping some straight noise into Ask myself and have frankly seen very many notable members do the same over the years, including some people who seemed to have some kind of a problem with following the "if you can't say something helpful, say nothing" credo. People are going to occasionally cross the line out of passion over some personal hobby horse, or being over-enamored with their own sense of humor (guilty), or being drunk, or whatever. In my experience pretty much everything truly egregious gets canned: the best possible thing everyone can do (OPs especially) is to flag and otherwise ignore it because it will probably go away and talking about it just amplifies the noise. Does anyone actually think another MetaTalk post about crap in AskMe is going to do anything to improve that signal to noise ratio?
posted by nanojath at 2:42 PM on June 3, 2008


AskMetafilter : Home to opinionated axe-grinders, with more baggage than Denver Airport.
posted by Dave Faris at 2:42 PM on June 3, 2008 [3 favorites]


Golly, especially if suggesting she buy the crappy Toys 'R' Us ones is going to stand instead.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 2:43 PM on June 3, 2008


I thought some of the deleted replies were judgmental, if not exactly snarky (I had to bite my tongue not to join in on that front).

But is there really no situation in which a "perhaps you should shift your perspective" response is appropriate? If someone's AskMe is "I can't solve x problem and I'm freaking out about it," and a bunch of replies try and fail to offer solutions for x problem, couldn't suggesting "maybe x problem isn't the enormous crisis you think it is" be, in fact, the most helpful answer?
posted by neroli at 2:43 PM on June 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'd love to know what that comment said that was telling the OP that they should feel blessed to have money. that kind of shit cracks me up.

Q:Listen, some guy robbed me in the middle of the street. I'm not sure what the cops will ask for information wise when I go to them. What should I be prepared to tell them?

A: You should feel blessed to have money for them to rob! Ingrate!
posted by shmegegge at 2:45 PM on June 3, 2008 [2 favorites]


SOME PEOPLES WAS BORN WITHOUT MONEY!
posted by shmegegge at 2:46 PM on June 3, 2008


They should start wooden-block businesses. I hear the markup on those is obscene.
posted by box at 2:47 PM on June 3, 2008 [2 favorites]


OK, I'll bite- Jess/Cortex, care to chime in? Why is it, in fact, unhelpful to tell the OP to take her daughter's opinion into account?

In principle, I don't think it's totally out of line to go there. Hell, I did, when the poster got to asking in a followup comment specifically about whether anybody really believes the kid wouldn't care.

In practice, your comment came off as pithy to the point of being a zing, and had a bunch of flags on it. The difference between having a point and raising it in a constructive manner is kind of an important one in askme in general, doubly so if the asker already seems a bit like they feel like they're on the ropes.

For that matter, Jess nuked my followup exchange on the same subject with the poster, and I think she was pretty much right to do so at that. So I feel your pain, but, yeah.

And now I did. sorry cortex.

I am so going to write an angry mefimail right now.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:48 PM on June 3, 2008 [2 favorites]


My comment, which was deleted, merely read, "So, what does your daughter think about this?" Perfectly f'ing valid question. If the daughter doesn't care, what does it matter? The OP is having a simple "can't see the forest through the trees" problem, likely because SHE PAID $85 FOR TOY BLOCKS.

Save the outragecaps, please. People who spend more money than you would on things are still entitled to 1) get the things that they were told they would be getting, and 2) get responses in AskMe that answer the questions that they want asked.
posted by 23skidoo at 2:48 PM on June 3, 2008 [17 favorites]


And for context, there were a couple of comments deleted prior to this callout that were a lot more flat-out obnoxious than the stuff TPS linked above.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:51 PM on June 3, 2008


My observation in situations like these is that people here get cranky or come here to blow off steam and take any opportunity to act dense and be contrary.

This means that if the poster had asked, "Okay, I paid for an item and received something different. I'm just going to make my own blocks -- how do I do that?" she'd get a truckload of responses telling her that idea is stupid and she needs to stand up to the company and demand a refund on the basis that she did not receive what she ordered.

In this case, she said, "I didn't get what I ordered and paid for. What now?" and people are just having a field day, including telling her to make her own blocks and to swallow the cost of the ones she's already bought.

Honestly, I just think this is another frustrating example of members just wanting to find fault and be judgemental and snarky and finding a post to do it in.
posted by loiseau at 2:51 PM on June 3, 2008 [3 favorites]


Why is it, in fact, unhelpful to tell the OP to take her daughter's opinion into account?

Because the OP doesn't want help with that.
posted by 23skidoo at 2:51 PM on June 3, 2008


shmegegge, I was going to repaste my comment here, but it's gone unless someone has it cached somewhere. It wasn't as nasty as it sounds, but it did get 7 favorites in the few minutes that it lived, which usually indicates that it's about to go bye-bye. Basically, it was, you just spent $85 on blocks. You are fortunate to be able to do that. Given that you are able to do that, your best course of action may be to let it go, give the blocks to your daughter and move on. Tea was also mentioned.

I thought it was more along the lines of what neroli is saying, a meta-solution to the problem, if you will. But, in all likelihood, it didn't come across that way. Especially since I used the word blessed. I don't know why I did that, I hate that word.
posted by rhys at 2:52 PM on June 3, 2008


I am so going to write an angry mefimail right now.

Actually, if you could take it to MetaTalk, that would be awesome to watch unfold.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 2:53 PM on June 3, 2008 [2 favorites]


ut is there really no situation in which a "perhaps you should shift your perspective" response is appropriate?

There have definitely been cases in the past where the poster has asked for X and almost the entire response was Y. The difference, I believe, was that respondents weren't being dicks about it and it might have obvious that OP was naive or clueless.

If someone asks for foo and there are responses like "I've had foo, didn't like it, you might wanna try fi" or "i've heard bad things about foo" or "foo?! that stuff does damage to your fingernails, here's a link explaining" or "Fi is actually better, for these reasons" those will probably work because they're still being helpful without being shitty or judgmental or snarky.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:54 PM on June 3, 2008 [2 favorites]


Strange coming from me, because empathy has never been my strongest suit, but if more people just considered how they'd feel if they were on the receiving end of some of the judgemental snark that's dished out on AskMe, we'd go a long way to solving this problem. Luckily, we have moderators who stay on top of it.
posted by Dave Faris at 2:58 PM on June 3, 2008 [3 favorites]


Next time, I'll say "...and I'm a single mother making minimum wage, and saved my tips for weeks," and see how "blessed" me and my blocks are.

For the OMG-$85-blocks crowd: these were not a minor purchase. Based on what they've sent me in the past, I was expecting something nice.

And when I didn't get something nice, I was expecting a quick apology and the missing colours FedExed or the whole thing taken back on their dime, not the bullshit I got.

But I wasn't surprised by snark so much as I was the repeated suggestion to make my own. I am in the middle of painting some shelving in just four different colours, and it is a messy pain and a lot of money spent on paint, and not the fancy non-toxic kind of paint. Is the ability to saw neatly really that widespread these days, too? Clearly nobody advising "make your own" actually makes their own...

I also remain surprised at the assertion that kids don't care. Come on. Shoddy toys are shoddy toys. An uneven number of colours in a set of blocks like that is a fuck-up. I would be humiliated to give these dinged-up blocks as a present, so why should I feel good about giving them to my kid?
posted by kmennie at 3:03 PM on June 3, 2008 [11 favorites]


I cried because I had inferior blocks, until I met a man who had no blocks at all.

And then I clutched them to my chest and screamed "MINE! MINE! MIIIIIINE!"
posted by Atom Eyes at 3:03 PM on June 3, 2008 [6 favorites]


$85 on blocks for kids is actually kind of sweet.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:05 PM on June 3, 2008 [3 favorites]


Look! Blocks! Blocks are fun. Many nifty kinds of blocks have been made.

http://www.architoys.net/toys/toylist1.html
posted by rhys at 3:05 PM on June 3, 2008


But is there really no situation in which a "perhaps you should shift your perspective" response is appropriate?

Of course there are. For example, to the question, "Is it hard to set a broken finger at home? How do I do it?" it is perfectly appropriate to say, "GO TO A DOCTOR."

In human-relations-esque questions, "shift of perspective" answers are often really helpful, because it is so clearly the poster's own perspective that he or she is seeking to have corrected or validated.

But a hit-and-run answer in a specific, practical question had better be either solicited, or a goddam useful creative solution, or else it has no point being there. It's often pretty arbitrary, which is why we have ThePinkSuperhero the mods on hand to make those calls. (j/k TPS!)
posted by [NOT HERMITOSIS-IST] at 3:07 PM on June 3, 2008 [3 favorites]


I like Megablocks more than Legos.

And Imaginext are adorable.

And Knex rock.

Just sayin'.

orange blocks are kinda ugly, though. Also lazy. Might as well leave 'em wood-colored if you are going to go orange...
posted by misha at 3:08 PM on June 3, 2008


I may not be the arbiter of acceptable answers, but I am arbiter of who gets a plastic fedora at the next NYC meetup. Tread carefully, [NOT HERMITOSIS-IST].
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 3:09 PM on June 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


kmennie, as a recipient of almost exclusively shoddy toys in my youth, I totally feel your pain.

For my 11th birthday, I begged for a lava lamp (they had come back into middle school vogue) and received a camping flashlight that my dad bought with his Marlboro bucks.
posted by [NOT HERMITOSIS-IST] at 3:10 PM on June 3, 2008 [3 favorites]


I would have loved a camping flashlight. All I got to play with was fire.
posted by neroli at 3:15 PM on June 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


I wanted a Nintendo, and my parents bought me Labyrinth. Did you know the box for a Nintendo and the box for Labyrinth look strikingly similar when wrapped and placed under a Christmas tree?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 3:15 PM on June 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


Fire! My parents let me sniff the ashes after they had put the fire out. Fire. Lucky bastard.
posted by rhys at 3:18 PM on June 3, 2008


Clearly nobody advising "make your own" actually makes their own...

Harrumph. Actually, I made a set of blocks about a year ago (friend's kid's birthday). Fancier than yours, though--multiple shapes and sizes. There were probably more handmade presents than not at the kid's party, too, including a rocking horse, an easel and a whole bunch of clothes. When I was a child, I had a set of blocks that my grandfather hand-made for me. Then, later, a chess set that the other grandpa carved. Admittedly, I run in pretty crafty circles, but please take my word for it when I tell you that making a set of wooden blocks is a pretty simple project.
posted by box at 3:19 PM on June 3, 2008


Parents! The undertaker let me sniff their ashes after the fire. Parents. Lucky bastard.
posted by matthewr at 3:20 PM on June 3, 2008 [3 favorites]


my parents bought me Labyrinth.

But did it come with David Bowie in tights? Because that would have made up for the lack of Mario.
posted by GuyZero at 3:20 PM on June 3, 2008 [3 favorites]


My children will be primed for their futures as ruthless outlaw bikers by playing exclusively with Chinese blocks coated in lead and bathtub crank.
posted by The Straightener at 3:21 PM on June 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


I got a bunch of Star Wars toys, which then had burn marks applied to make'em more "realistic looking".

Sorry about the patio mom, dad. and the cat
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:22 PM on June 3, 2008


My kids have a set of blocks they got when the youngest was born. To say I could have created something half as nice with a couple 2x4's from home depot is to imagine I could build a Lear Jet in my back forty with some rebar and pig iron. Those blocks are still in heavy rotation and will probably deserve most of the credit for their eventual admission into Harvard or for their first escape from San Quentin.
posted by docpops at 3:22 PM on June 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


Admittedly, I run in pretty crafty circles, but please take my word for it when I tell you that making a set of wooden blocks is a pretty simple project.

My dad used to refine his own gasoline but it's not really helpful to tell people that their car problems are best fixed by DIY.

The point is not that TPS is passive-aggressively moderating anyone but that people are not answering the damn question. JUST ANSWER THE QUESTION.

note that I am a huge violator of this principle but nevertheless it's a legitimate beef.
posted by GuyZero at 3:23 PM on June 3, 2008


Blocks are not hard to make (though finding good, non-toxic stain that is safe for a small child to chew on can be tricky sometimes). That said, telling someone to make their own isn't a particularly helpful answer to a question about refunds.

That said, there is nothing unreasonable about wanting a company that sends you something not so great (and has a satisfaction guarantee in their catalog, apparently) to either replace the item or to give you your money back.

My experience has always been that the shipping cost is mine to eat in both directions -- a few places will pay return shipping, but not usually -- but that getting a refund or replacement for the item is almost always really easy. If there is a replacement (rather than refund), my expectation is that the company at fault will eat that shipping cost (since it's their fault for sending something crummy), but that some places are inflexible on that policy. In those cases, I usually just ask for a refund, because paying a third piece of shipping gets a bit rich for me.
posted by Forktine at 3:28 PM on June 3, 2008


Feh. Too many "that said"s.
posted by Forktine at 3:29 PM on June 3, 2008


For my 11th birthday, I begged for a lava lamp (they had come back into middle school vogue) and received a camping flashlight that my dad bought with his Marlboro bucks.

My poor younger brother wanted a Mitre soccer ball for his birthday, because all his friends had a Mitre soccer ball. My dad got him an Adidas ball, perfectly fine but that it lacked the Mitre trademark. After some complaints, my dad, in a moment of infinite wit, took a fat permanent marker and replaced "Adidas" with "Mitre" in big, block letters.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:32 PM on June 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


I can't believe people are actually arguing over whether being a completely judgemental asshole is really all that bad, or, you know, totally justified because, like, this person is clearly speaking from a position of privilege just by dint of being able to read MetaFilter, because, like, there are plenty of people who can't even get online and if you're able to get online and you don't feel incredibly guilty about that EVERY SINGLE WAKING MOMENT you are clearly an ingrate who fails to understand how INCREDIBLY privileged you are because you're in a position to even APPRECIATE your privileged status, you privileged privilegerist person of privilege who I am condemning even though I possess precisely the same level of privilege and hey wow you can see the whole town from up here on the back of this here horse that someone happened to leave standing around.

Jesus Christ on a bicycle, people: if you can't manage to give an answer without lecturing the questioner, the problem isn't with the questioner. And, before you come racing to the keyboard so fast your pants actually burst into flame to self-righteously mock me for doing exactly the same thing, guess what: the situations aren't congruent. I'm not sitting here passing judgement on someone who just asked for some simple advice. I'm sitting here mocking people who apparently didn't get enough attention as children, and are thus compelled to go around giving unwanted advice to people who don't need it about how they should live.

No amount of "but when I give this advice, it's different and special because I have insight into the human condition" excuse-making will make you less of a self-righteous ass. It's simple: answer the question that's asked. Save the moralizing for your own blog.
posted by scrump at 3:36 PM on June 3, 2008 [12 favorites]


Well, my own snarky (?) comment in the original thread was deleted but it was basically this:

When people were giving the OP shit, I couldn't imagine them putting up with the same treatment themselves, had they ordered some product that was just as meaningful to them as the blocks were to the OP, or to her daughter.

If you ordered an iPod and someone sent you a shitty, beat-up generic mp3 player, but it still worked and played music, would you accept that? Highly unlikely, I bet.

This is one of the only things about askme answers that really pisses me off; it's not the not answering, but the clear holding of others to a different standard than you'd hold yourself.
posted by peep at 3:39 PM on June 3, 2008 [9 favorites]


I am so going to write an angry mefimail right now.

Take. A. Number.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:39 PM on June 3, 2008 [2 favorites]


Exc-ee-yoo-se me, I ordered my MeTa Drama extra juicy, please. So far I am not satisfied with what I got.
posted by Wolfdog at 3:42 PM on June 3, 2008


Take. A. Number.

I would like 364, please. It has a nice mixture of curves and straight edges; it looks a bit like it might be divisible by three but OOPS NO; it has two different squares as overlapping substrings; it's almost a year but not quite. Just lovely.

Good mouthfeel, too; ambitious, but not pretentious.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:45 PM on June 3, 2008 [13 favorites]


I ate an entire set of Lincoln Logs when I was little, and I turned out fine.
posted by sciurus at 3:46 PM on June 3, 2008


I would like 364, please. It has a nice mixture of curves and straight edges; it looks a bit like it might be divisible by three but OOPS NO; it has two different squares as overlapping substrings; it's almost a year but not quite. Just lovely.

this is just to say
that I totally left
the possibly-hurty
"rainman" epithet
out of my reason
for comment deletion

in the thread
in question here and
now I am thinking
perhaps it's better
if I put it back in. With my mind.

It's so apt
and so fitting.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:50 PM on June 3, 2008 [7 favorites]


Dear jessamyn:

I hope your head falls off.

-- scrump
posted by scrump at 3:51 PM on June 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


I ate an entire set of Lincoln Logs when I was little, and I turned out fine.

That's almost certainly because the set had an appropriate and even variety of colors. Otherwise, you would have died.
posted by neroli at 3:57 PM on June 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


Making blocks might be easy if you have a circular saw, or at least a hacksaw and a miter box. Step one, purchasing said equipment with some nice wood, would be more than $85 alone. People just don't think things through sometimes.

To follow through the perspective angle (entendre!), a few things that those blocks (minus shipping) equate to:

- 5 packs of NYC cigarettes
- 4-5 movie tickets
- One or two decent live shows
- One $.50 CD inscribed with $49.50 worth of software
- 10 MeFi subscriptions
- on and on and on...

So let's not get snarky with the relative costs of things. Personally, thinking back to when I was a kid, a good set of wooden blocks was priceless.
posted by self at 3:57 PM on June 3, 2008


I'd just like to point out that my recent askme question had a bit of a case of ordered x got y. I asked a philosophical question about dishonesty and got a lot of responses focusing on my depression issues. I'm not sure whether this is a feature or a bug.
posted by By The Grace of God at 4:03 PM on June 3, 2008


364 = 30+31+32+33+34+35
posted by Wolfdog at 4:06 PM on June 3, 2008 [10 favorites]


Jesus Christ on a bicycle

Matt sure is full of himself these days.

It has a nice mixture of curves and straight edges; it looks a bit like it might be divisible by three but OOPS NO; it has two different squares as overlapping substrings; it's almost a year but not quite. Just lovely.

So, you'd write that?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:08 PM on June 3, 2008


"Clearly nobody advising "make your own" actually makes their own..."

I have a cousin with Down Syndrome who worked for several years at a "factory" where they had developmentally disabled folks making high-quality blocks, staining them and shipping them out.

And in high school, with the scraps from theater set building, I made blocks and sold 'em (well, really Block-Os, the least exciting action figure available).

So while I didn't comment in your question, and while I would have tried to help you get your money back had I commented, yes, it's really not hard at all to make your own blocks. It's, like, the very easiest woodworking project you can undertake, perhaps aside from whittling a poking stick.
posted by klangklangston at 4:10 PM on June 3, 2008


Clearly nobody advising "make your own" actually makes their own...
I've made wood puzzles for my kid and have a bandsaw jig for making blocks similar to this. It isn't hard, if you try. Did you try?
posted by boo_radley at 4:11 PM on June 3, 2008


I've made wood puzzles for my kid and have a bandsaw jig for making blocks similar to this. It isn't hard, if you try. Did you try?

OMG YOU SHOULD FEEL BLESSED THAT YOU ARE IN A FINANCIAL POSITION TO BE ABLE TO AFFORD A BANDSAW JIG WHATEVER THAT IS BECAUSE I AM WILLING TO BET IT COSTS A LOT MORE THAN FIFTY FUCKING DOLLARS WHICH IS REALLY NOT THAT MUCH TO SPEND ON A TOY WITH A POTENTIAL LIFESPAN MEASURED IN DECADES JESUS FUCK WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE
posted by dersins at 4:18 PM on June 3, 2008 [13 favorites]


Clearly nobody advising "make your own" actually makes their own...

This was really sort of an open door, I think.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:19 PM on June 3, 2008


As a small business owner, I can't tell you how much I would love it to have some of you folks as customers. Most of the customers I deal with hold our company to an incredibly high standard for quality and expect us to follow through on our promises, particularly the ones that are in writing. I'd much rather deal with folks like you whose reaction to not getting products they paid for in the condition they were advertised is, "No big whoop". Seriously, I would love it if I could get a call from an irate customer screaming, "The speakers you installed for us aren't working" and have them be satisfied by my responding, "Well, we don't accept returns or offer any warranty service, but you'd be surprised how easy it is to make your own speakers".

I'm also going to call bullshit on the "The kid won't notice anyway" responses to the degree that they are irrelevant to the issue of whether or not the poster was ripped off by receiving a product in a different condition than was advertised and not being offered a refund due to the mistake.

Just yesterday I returned a toy to Amazon.com because it arrived DOA. According to many of the responses here, this was an inherently selfish act on my part since my 3-year-old, despite the electronic portion of the product not working, sure did love playing with the box it came in.
posted by The Gooch at 4:21 PM on June 3, 2008 [8 favorites]


"Making blocks might be easy if you have a circular saw, or at least a hacksaw and a miter box. Step one, purchasing said equipment with some nice wood, would be more than $85 alone. People just don't think things through sometimes."

Well, no, a circular saw (or bandsaw even) is nice, but not necessary. And I may be mistaken, but I think you can do most of it with a jig, a rip and a crosscut. You can build your own miter box pretty cheaply (the cost of wood, nails and a pencil and compass or protractor). Oh, and two dollars worth of sandpaper.

I would like to again emphasize that while I can do light theater carpentry, I'm not a mechanical genius or anything. But blocks are, like, the very bottom of what you can do with wood.
posted by klangklangston at 4:23 PM on June 3, 2008


likely because SHE PAID $85 FOR TOY BLOCKS.

FFS, I've just read a post from mathowie talking about how he spent $200 on a laptop bag made from an old raincoat. Did I read any horrified cries wailing 'OMG, $200 for a bag made from a skanky old raincoat!!!1!'?

No, all I saw was a whole lot of posts saying stuff like:
'Mmm, nice bag, matt.'
'I'd love me a $200 raincoat bag like that.'
'If I had $200, ima buy myself a Blue Peter style laptop bag as well!'
'Them hippies at Etsy sure do give good value for money!'

By comparison, $85 for some wooden blocks sounds like an absolute bargain.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:27 PM on June 3, 2008 [2 favorites]


how many single mothers own a damn bandsaw jig?
posted by desjardins at 4:27 PM on June 3, 2008


See? All this wonderful snark and testimony about the relative ease of making a cube green and another one red might never have been born if my egregious comment touting the heirloom-quality and perfect result to be obtained from trying these non-toxic dyes to batch dip some of these blocks had stood.

I was wood shop student of the year in 8th grade but I will NEVER sand 2" cubes of wood finely enough for a toddler's mouth.

There oughta be some kind of Kinko's for carpenters.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 4:36 PM on June 3, 2008 [2 favorites]


Hmm. I think I'll make blocks for my newborn once he shows up. I've been wondering what to use my sawsall for.
posted by sciurus at 4:37 PM on June 3, 2008


Here kmennie, awesome flash blocks for your child to play with. If she solves level 33, please mail me the solution.
posted by BigVACub at 4:41 PM on June 3, 2008


There oughta be some kind of Kinko's for carpenters.

There is, in Sunnyvale. Alas, you moved away.
posted by jamaro at 4:42 PM on June 3, 2008 [2 favorites]


desjardins -

Allow me to roll my eyes at the single-mother bit. Past posts include questions about what to get, leatherwise, now that her Coach bags are no longer appropriate. Buying a house. Hiring a doula. Her Kaboodle wish list has a $700 stroller on it. My point is not to berate her for having money, my original point in the askme post was to point out that because she has money, she can be free of having to worry about stupid crap like this and do other things with her time. At some point customer service stuff turns into spiteful crusades that waste more time than they are worth. My mistake was to put anything in about how much the blocks were.
posted by rhys at 4:44 PM on June 3, 2008


klangklangston: I'll pay you $500 for your blocks and send them to kmennie if you can create a set that match the quality of the Novanatural blocks. We can send them to some third-party to make the determination. And you'd have some limited amount of time--say, over this coming weekend.
posted by mullacc at 4:44 PM on June 3, 2008 [2 favorites]


with a jig, a rip and a crosscut
I don't even know what that means. And I'm the kind of guy who would say "$85? I could make my own damn blocks!"
posted by dirtdirt at 4:44 PM on June 3, 2008


Allow me to roll my eyes at the single-mother bit.

Wow, rhys, I had almost bought that you weren't as nasty as you sounded in your AskMeta comment. So much for that.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 4:47 PM on June 3, 2008 [2 favorites]


And I should've made it clear, my offer is for blocks made using the tools/techniques described in this comment. Make-your-own mitre, a crosscut saw and $2 worth of sandpaper.
posted by mullacc at 4:51 PM on June 3, 2008


Past posts include questions about what to get, leatherwise, now that her Coach bags are no longer appropriate. Buying a house. Hiring a doula. Her Kaboodle wish list has a $700 stroller on it.

Well, hello there Mr. Creepy McStalksalot!
posted by dersins at 4:52 PM on June 3, 2008


rhys, your argument holds no water. Having discretionary money and/or having expensive tastes doesn't preclude you from the right to get exactly what you paid for in the condition it was advertised in. It's not a "spiteful crusade" to try to rectify a situation in which a company screwed you over by delivering a product that differs from how it was presented on the company's web-site. I'm honestly not understanding what you see the OP doing wrong here.
posted by The Gooch at 5:01 PM on June 3, 2008


Ordered X, got Y.

After seeing this post and before I clicked on the question I assumed that it was going to be about what to do when you find out your call girl is a tranny.
posted by euphorb at 5:02 PM on June 3, 2008


If I spent $85 on something and then received no reply from the company when I asked to return them, I too would be really upset and want recourse, definitely.

But, more importantly, this whole affair has made me become conscious of a tacit principle by which I have already been living: if you gotta worry about it ending up in the kid's mouth, it doesn't really matter how much of it is orange.
posted by Ms. Saint at 5:06 PM on June 3, 2008


Forktine writes "(though finding good, non-toxic stain that is safe for a small child to chew on can be tricky sometimes)."

Commercial products can be tricky but it's pretty easy to make milk paint out of milk and food colouring that can be sealed with shellac, which is food safe, or beeswax.
posted by Mitheral at 5:08 PM on June 3, 2008


Ah, yes. I knew my "Help me buy a DILAPIDATED house" would come back to haunt me... I have a house, a shitty house, so I have to have shitty blocks? WTF? Let me clarify, why I don't know: the single mother etc thing was a what-if.

There's an opportunity here for somebody -- point me to some Visa fine print about chargebacks that lets me get my $85, send me a set of nice blocks, and you can have my $85. Christ. Oddly, Mr Kmennie did suggest making blocks some time back, and I scuttled the idea as requiring an excess of tools, money, skills and time.

If my $500 LITTLE LEARN3RZ TALKIN' TEEVEE toy did not work as advertised, I could understand some sniping. But who goes after a parent for wanting nice wooden blocks? Hand-me-downable blocks, not ones that start off as garage-sale quality?

A few years ago I would've taken my $85 and blown it on a lipstick and a night on the piss and I don't think anybody would've suggested I stay at home, brew my own beer, and stick to Chap Stick because, well, who cares what it looks like?
posted by kmennie at 5:11 PM on June 3, 2008 [6 favorites]


it's really not hard at all to make your own blocks. It's, like, the very easiest woodworking project you can undertake, perhaps aside from whittling a poking stick.

Story time! One time, when I was in junior high school, I had to do a project about native americans. I was lazy and a procrastinator, so at the last minute I tried to make "native american tools" which basically consisted of pointy poking sticks of various sizes. While Carving the first one with a swiss army knife my parents had given to me as a christmas present in the depths of their foolishness, I snagged the knife on a knot and it turned around on me and sliced my thumb open badly enough to require an immediate hospital visit and stitches.

I have no moral or greater point for this story.
posted by shmegegge at 5:12 PM on June 3, 2008 [2 favorites]


I also remain surprised at the assertion that kids don't care. Come on. Shoddy toys are shoddy toys. An uneven number of colours in a set of blocks like that is a fuck-up. I would be humiliated to give these dinged-up blocks as a present, so why should I feel good about giving them to my kid?

Nine colors is the standard ROYGBIV plus black and white. Only seven colors makes the blocks worse than useless as an educational toy because one of the most important features of the blocks would be familiarity with the colors of the spectrum alone and in combination.
posted by jamjam at 5:15 PM on June 3, 2008


Good answers to "now what" sorts of questions should not include ther phrase "relax" in them, among other things.

Unless they involve reaching orgasm or Frankie Goes to Hollywood songs (or, more likely, both - I can't believe nobody brought this up before me)
posted by wendell at 5:17 PM on June 3, 2008


When I was a child, I asked for blocks. Instead, my mother provided me with a reciprocating saw and some hardwood scraps. The gift of creativity and self-reliance was something she couldn't have purchased in any store. Sometimes, the greatest gift you can give a child is the chance to make something with their own hand and the strength to stand on their own foot.
posted by stet at 5:18 PM on June 3, 2008 [9 favorites]


When we were kids we had two kinds of wooden blocks -- the ones that came from the Sears catalog, and the ones made from scrap wood from some project Dad did.

We loved the Sears blocks and HATE HATE HATED the scrap wood blocks. The scrap wood wasn't fully sanded down, had splintery edges, and was crap for building things out of.

So when my daughter came along, I spent the $20 on a bucket of blocks rather than cutting and sanding them myself with the tools I don't have.

$85 seems extreme for a block set for a kid's block set. But given we have a $300 stroller and I've bought $20 dresses for my four year old she won't wear next year, I'm not in a position to judge.

(And yes, that $300 stroller is worth every penny.)
posted by dw at 5:19 PM on June 3, 2008


Unless they involve reaching orgasm or Frankie Goes to Hollywood songs

You have been reading my MeMail, clearly.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:20 PM on June 3, 2008


After seeing this post and before I clicked on the question I assumed that it was going to be about what to do when you find out your call girl is a tranny.

You can't order those, that's a DIY project.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:21 PM on June 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


You can't order those, that's a DIY project.

Well, except when you pick them up at a nightclub, get more than you expected (but maybe have some sexual activity first), get into a big argument with them over payment, and the police are called, and everyone accuses everyone else of illegality:

Brazilian football star Ronaldo has been caught up in a sex scandal with three cross-dressing prostitutes.

Having dropped off his girlfriend at her house in Rio de Janeiro on Monday night, the 2002 World Cup winner picked up three prostitutes.

When they all booked into a motel, the AC Milan striker discovered that the prostitutes were in fact men.
(Source)
posted by Forktine at 5:33 PM on June 3, 2008


I'm sorry, I should clarify, too: She's entitled to some response from the company, of course. It might be that the box (bag?) says something to the effect of "contents may vary from depiction " or similar.

It also seems that the description on the web site's been revised -- there's no specific number of color mentioned. Maybe this is a direct result of her purchase, I dunno.

I guess, having missed the AskMe originally, seeing that price attached to that product startled me. I'm a diy sorta guy, and the amount of effort I'd have to put in to make these blocks is a lot less than $85. I'm not saying anyone is lazy, or stupid for not knowing how to make a jig, or even what one is.

It's also worth saying that this sort of price isn't that unusual for toys like this -- Kaplan Learning sells tons of wooden toys that are overpriced in my eyes, including wooden blocks.

Jessamyn was right, complaining that someone clearly hadn't tried is a bit of an "open door", and I should have responded a bit differently.
posted by boo_radley at 5:43 PM on June 3, 2008


Allow me to roll my eyes... Past posts include questions about what to get, leatherwise, now that her Coach bags are no longer appropriate. Buying a house. Hiring a doula. Her Kaboodle wish list has a $700 stroller on it.

Oh, no, dear rhys, allow me! I insist!

This attitude would fit right in at any number of gossip blogs for which the stock in trade is mocking the consumer choices of D-list celebrities like Tori Spelling and Julia Allison -- but a mother trying to buy a non-toxic toy for her toddler is who drew your ire? At MetaFilter?

Get my coat, Nelson. I swear, the proletariat umbrage is just so banal and uninspired these days.
posted by pineapple at 5:44 PM on June 3, 2008 [2 favorites]


also nobody would suggest chapstick instead of lipstick. we're not insane.
posted by boo_radley at 5:45 PM on June 3, 2008


Only seven colors makes the blocks worse than useless as an educational toy because one of the most important features of the blocks would be familiarity with the colors of the spectrum alone and in combination.

You'll be surprised to learn, then, that not all cultures use the same colours in describing the basic colour set; and that no cultures base their colour sets on the colours of the rainbow (what with rainbows lacking black, white, and brown).

The Japanese, for example, have six basic colours: black, white, red, brown, blue, and yellow. Green and blue are considered the same colour in different shades.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:45 PM on June 3, 2008 [3 favorites]


Ok, let's see. Person orders product, person receives shoddy quality product that is incorrectly packed as well. Person emails customer service to get a refund and customer service tells them to suck it.

This seems like an issue AskMefi could offer help with. And yet, we're more concerned with how much they paid for it? What I want to spend my money on is my business, now just answer the damn question I asked about how to pursue my refund. Leave your own baggage at the door, folks. Sorry your mommy and daddy didn't hug you enough or buy you that pony you wanted. Kthxbye.
posted by CwgrlUp at 5:51 PM on June 3, 2008


nobody would suggest chapstick instead of lipstick.

Chapstick on its own? No.

Chapstick mixed with crushed bugs? Perfectly reasonable.
posted by CKmtl at 5:52 PM on June 3, 2008


This is just to say

Parodies of this poem never get old to me. In high school we used to call the poet Bill Chuck Bill.
posted by Pax at 5:55 PM on June 3, 2008


"I am arbiter of who gets a plastic fedora at the next NYC meetup. Tread carefully, [NOT HERMITOSIS-IST]."

Dammit, I want one!
posted by mr_crash_davis at 5:56 PM on June 3, 2008


I suppose now you are regretting all those jokes about drinking shots out of my navel, eh?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:03 PM on June 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


I ran into no "colour may vary" disclaimer. From their e-mail:

As to the color selection, the nature of this business is such that products can change from the time they are printed up to when they are shipped to us.

I actually find that kind of unlikely given that I'm 99.99% sure the blocks are from "Grimm's," not a one-off produced exclusively for Nova Natural, and every other company that sells us that sort of Eurowoodentoy manages to ship out something that matches the pic. And colour is a big deal for that sort of toy, which I think escaped some people. I buy Euroweenie because it looks pretty, and at that price, tell people you can't fill their order. Take it off your web site. It is not something made in China where you expect "may vary" by -2 colours and x2 one colour.

Their attitude has been very "Yeah, so what? We think they're nice," which I find distressing:

I'm sorry you are disappointed with the blocks you received. It is true, the colors in the block set that came to us differed slightly from the description which was entered before we received the actual shipment. The handcrafted nature of many of our products results in some variations, since the items generally do not come off an assembly line.

The stain has been intentionally diluted slightly to soften the colors. With wood being a natural, living material, this process yields subtly varied shades of each dye hue being taken up. From our point of view, these nuances only add to the beauty of the blocks.

I hope this information sheds some light on the block set, and perhaps allows you to enjoy the lack of uniformity as part of the intended craftsmanship.


Uh huh, Nova. That has nothing to do with -2 x2, not as advertised, etc.

As for the price being not unusual, I am almost ashamed to admit how much block-shopping I did before ordering these. It was surprisingly hard to find a good-sized set of wooden cubes, no odd shapes, that were too large for my still-young daughter to swallow, not cheaply lacquered, free of stupid cartoon design, etcetera. I decided the colours were nice enough to justify the shipping ripoff. That they charged $35 for what was actually $25 in shipping only added to the insult.
posted by kmennie at 6:05 PM on June 3, 2008


I have a hacksaw, a 2 x 4, a pile of dust, several flesh wounds, and many assurances that blocks are easy to make, but frankly things aren't going well so far. Also, my 2 x 4 actually measures 1.5 x 3.5, which has thrown all of my calculations off. Please advise.
posted by A Long and Troublesome Lameness at 6:10 PM on June 3, 2008 [6 favorites]


When I was a child, I asked for blocks. Instead, my mother provided me with a reciprocating saw and some hardwood scraps. The gift of creativity and self-reliance was something she couldn't have purchased in any store. Sometimes, the greatest gift you can give a child is the chance to make something with their own hand and the strength to stand on their own foot.

Excellent advice. However, it might be worth knowing how old the child is, unless you're suggesting (for example) that my 2-year-olds should be given hardwood scraps and sharp saws rather than pre-made wooden toys. I mean, come on, they still bite each other on rare occasions and are only recently potty-trained (and not always successful at that.)
posted by davejay at 6:18 PM on June 3, 2008


How to make your own replica AskMe blocks, 1 3/4" cubes, 64 total.

Materials:

4 board-feet of 8/4 hardwood lumber: hard maple, preferably, but ash or alder can be substituted. Price: Anywhere from $6 - $11 per board foot, though you may have to buy 10 board feet, but we'll ignore that. $24 - $44

Universal Tint Dye set: This will allow you to mix dyes to create the various colors you need. Price: $40

Shellac: Dye this with your universal dye kit, and you'll have a decent finish for your blocks. $15

Sandpaper and other finishing materials: Figure very roughly one 20 sheet pack of each grade, three grades required, at $4 per pack. $12

Assembly, power tools:

Use your table saw to rip your board into strips, each about 2" wide. Use your jointer to flatten one edge of each strip, and then put that edge against the jointer fence to joint another side. Using the flat edges against the table, run the boards through your thickness planer to bring them down to 7/4.

You'd probably want to use a small diameter round-over bit (1/8" or smaller) in your router table, shaper, or hand-held router to relieve the edges of your strips; this will save some hassle later.

Next, use your table saw to cut the strips into 1 3/4" cubes. Leave just a smidge of extra to allow for sanding the cut smooth on your disc sander.

You'll probably want to create a jig for holding your new cubes so you can use the round-over bit to relieve the newly cut edges. Alternatively, you can do this by hand at the disc sander, though that will take longer. Remember each cube has 12 edges that need to be rounded over. Having a jig which allows several cubes to be worked on at once will speed the process (indeed, make it possible, I'm not going to be the dude trying to rout the edge of a single 1 3/4" block).

Assembly, hand tools:

Place pistol in mouth, pull trigger.*

* Do you really want to hand smooth over 768 edges in addition to the work required just to get the blocks themselves flat and smooth?

Finishing:

Sand the blocks smooth.

Mix your dyes from the primary colors included in your dye kit. Add them to the shellac in the proscribed amounts; a little goes a long way.

Apply the finish, let it dry and sand lightly between each coat. Three coats will probably be enough, remembering that the color will darken with each coat, though clear shellac can be applied as top coats over the dyed shellac.

Time:

Probably a casual weekend to make a complete set of blocks in your woodworking shop, allowing for drying times, etc. Several years for hand tools, allowing for bouts of depression and self-medication induced comas, etc.

Conclusion:

This would be a fun project for a woodworking hobbiest. For anyone else, it's going to be torture, especially as a first-timer's results will most likely end up being "these are the crappy blocks my [parent of your choice] made me, let's watch TV instead."
posted by maxwelton at 6:22 PM on June 3, 2008 [12 favorites]


For fuck's sake, her kaboodle list is the 5th hit for "kmennie" on google. Her flickr page is the 9th (which I did not go and look at, for further fuck's sake). Her past posts are linked every time her name appears on this page. This is not stalking, this is the internet. She is not an impoverished single mother, by her own admission, and for her to suggest she IS an impoverished single mother is a bit ridiculous and possibly slightly insulting to people who are trying to raise a kid on one low income. That was my only point from the last post.

I DON'T CARE how much you spent on your blocks. I just spent $300 on toys for my 5-year old's birthday. Not to mention the party itself!

I wish no one here any ill-will. I hope you get satisfaction from someone in this matter. I hope you get as much joy from your daughter as I have gotten from my two. I am going to to take my own advice now and go relax in the workshop. Maybe I'll cut out some blocks. Really, truly, sincerely, my apologies for my initial suggestion and everything that followed. I'll stick to the letter of the law in the future. Good night.
posted by rhys at 6:27 PM on June 3, 2008 [3 favorites]


I sliced my finger open pretty badly trying to put another hole in a watch band using a kitchen knife. I don't think I need to be around wood working tools.
posted by puke & cry at 6:27 PM on June 3, 2008


On preview: Christ, what an asshole.
posted by puke & cry at 6:28 PM on June 3, 2008


maxwelton: you can save yourself a lot of time by sanding the wood before cutting -- you'll save a lot of time and effort.
posted by boo_radley at 6:31 PM on June 3, 2008


"I suppose now you are regretting all those jokes about drinking shots out of my navel, eh?"

Well, no one mentioned the possibility of a plastic fedora before.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 6:33 PM on June 3, 2008


LOL BLOCKHEADZ!!!!1!!11
posted by Mister_A at 6:36 PM on June 3, 2008


CKmtl: a lot of weird stuff is used as dye. Did you know that invertebrate snot was so highly prized that the secret of working with it defined a civilization? The world's a crazy place.
posted by boo_radley at 6:37 PM on June 3, 2008


drinking shots out of your navel: not bad.
shooting drinks out of your navel: internet stardom.
posted by boo_radley at 6:38 PM on June 3, 2008


I wanted a Nintendo, and my parents bought me Labyrinth. Did you know the box for a Nintendo and the box for Labyrinth look strikingly similar when wrapped and placed under a Christmas tree?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:15 PM on June 3 [+] [!]


Oh, I hated Labyrinth! We had it for years, and I could never ever get that marble through.

That said, I was pretty terrible at Nintendo. But I would have loved to meet David Bowie or, even better, Hoggle.
posted by jb at 6:47 PM on June 3, 2008


Not just plain old invertebrate snot. Invertebrate snot that has been left to rot in water and ash for over a week. The alkalinity of which was tested by tasting it and feeling its slipperiness on the tongue.

Mmm, mmm, good.
posted by CKmtl at 6:50 PM on June 3, 2008


you're suggesting (for example) that my 2-year-olds should be given hardwood scraps and sharp saws rather than pre-made wooden toys.

Those who can, do. Those who can't, get their 2 year olds to do it.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:54 PM on June 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


When my brother and I were kids in the 70s we used rather inexplicably call figurines like these "Jokes". Once my brother got me in trouble because I tried to flush a Joke down the toilet and thereby plugged it.

My point is... okay, well I didn't actually have a point but I felt like telling that story.
posted by loiseau at 6:54 PM on June 3, 2008


OK, full-on plate o’ beans time.

Since you’re reading along, kmennnie, and the Meta thread seems a place that allows for more dilatory comment than AskMe, here are my thoughts.

You have every right to be pissed at the company. They didn’t deliver what they advertised, and they sent you a bullshit letter to cover their asses. Trying to get satisfaction from them is totally legit.

People questioning your choice to buy $85 blocks are totally out of line. People making a larger issue of your other consumer choices are even more out of line.

It’s really interesting to learn about how to make blocks yourself, but that has nothing to do with your question.

But...

I’m still on the side of: Your daughter won’t care how many colors are in her block set.

I don’t have kids myself, but I spend a lot of time with friends’ kids. For young children, playing with blocks involves: stacking them up (although this is usually done by adults), knocking them down (much more fun), and throwing them across the room (the most fun of all).

Personally, I think that any claims of educational value inherent in particular kinds of blocks--beyond what’s learned from the above activities--is just a sales pitch.

This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t care that this company treated you in a rather shoddy way. You should try to get a full refund, shipping included, and you shouldn’t buy from them again.

But you may have to just suck it up--and if you do, it really isn’t a big deal at all. You got a less-than-ideal product: unfortunate, but it happens.

Most of the new parents I’ve known have been incredibly anxious about anything related to their children. They take umbrage quickly and powerfully: “Oh my God, it’s about the kid!” And a lot of the time, this is totally warranted. Parents have a lot of real stuff to worry about, particularly when it comes to safety. (And if these blocks were not painted with non-toxic paints, or were smaller than advertised, I would tell you to take those fuckers to the Supreme Court.)

But these parents I know, as their kids got older, and as other kids came along, and as real crises happened, learned to chose their battles, and let the smaller annoyances go. And, given what is certainly going to come your way, this is a very, very small annoyance.

You bought blocks for your daughter. But you bought hand-painted, European, beautifully-colored, maybe-passed-down-to-the-next generation blocks for yourself. (Which is totally fine. It’s nice to own lovely things.) You didn’t get what you wanted, but your daughter did.

If you gave your daughter blocks painted with the tackiest cartoon characters, she’d be just as happy with them.

So when it comes time to deciding when and if you need to just cut your losses, it might be useful to think about what your daughter would prefer: a set of imperfectly-spectrum-assorted blocks, right now, and a calm, carefree Mommy...or a set of gorgeously-varied blocks, some time in the future, maybe, and a tense, angry Mommy.
posted by neroli at 7:17 PM on June 3, 2008 [2 favorites]


My sister was pretty happy with the block of wood I gave her for her (3rd?) birthday and it's pretty crappy looking. I did hammer in the nails myself!
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:24 PM on June 3, 2008 [2 favorites]


I am interested in providing you with overpriced versions of everyday objects. Please contact me at your earliest convenience with a list of items you would like to pay lots of money for.
posted by electroboy at 7:31 PM on June 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


A partial refund on the blocks seems like it'd be a fair settlement. Especially in light of the ridiculous shipping charge.

I, too, believe the kid won't care about the colours: heck, I doubt a 2 year old has many ideas about colours at all — you ever seen their fashion sense? Atrocious!
posted by five fresh fish at 7:41 PM on June 3, 2008


Really, truly, sincerely, my apologies for my initial suggestion and everything that followed. I'll stick to the letter of the law in the future.

Bravo. After your bizarre judgmental idiocy throughout this little rumpus it's delightful to see that you now regret your rude response to a reasonable question, and equally delightful to see that you've publicly promised not to shit up AskMe again.

*clap*
*clap*
*clap*

Really. Truly. Sincerely.
posted by mediareport at 7:42 PM on June 3, 2008


Leave Hillary alone.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:55 PM on June 3, 2008


Really. Truly. Sincerely.

She apologized, leave it. Brand New Evening.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:01 PM on June 3, 2008


davejay: Clearly a reciprocating saw is inappropriate for a two-year-old. They lack the strength and motor skills to use a handheld reciprocating saw. Two-year-olds should be limited to table saws, TIG welders, and portable sawmills. What kind of parent would let a toddler loose with a SawZall? That's absurd.
posted by stet at 8:16 PM on June 3, 2008


Consumer Reporter: Well, I guess we could say that all of your toys are really unsafe and should rightfully be banned from the market. I guess I would just like to know what happened to the good ol' teddy bear.

Irwin Mainway: Hold on a minute, sister. I mean, we make a teddy bear. It's right here. [ picks up giant teddy bear ] It's got a nice little feature here, you see? I'll hold it up here. We call it a Teddy Chainsaw Bear. [ revs chainsaw in teddy bear's stomach ] I mean, a kid plays with saws, he can cut logs with it, you know what I mean.

Consumer Reporter: Well, this is certainly a very sad situation. One of the precious joys of Christmas warped by a ruthless profiteer like yourself.

Irwin Mainway: Well, that's just your opinion, you know what I mean?

Consumer Reporter: Well, I just don't understand why you can't make harmelss toys like these alphabet blocks. [ points to blocks ]

Irwin Mainway: C'mon, this is harmless? Alright, okay, you call this harmless? [ holds block in hand ] I mean.. [ plays with block and fakes injury ] Aagghh!! I got a splinter in here, look at that! This is wood! This is unsanded wood, it's rough!
posted by never used baby shoes at 8:21 PM on June 3, 2008


It wasn't as nasty as it sounds, but it did get 7 favorites in the few minutes that it lived

Some comments stay up for years and receive no favorites at all. You should be immensely grateful for the favorites yours did receive in its short lifetime, you ungrateful wretch. I hope your head falls off.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 8:36 PM on June 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


Make blocks out of Jell-O. Then you can make all kinds of pretty colors, and you can eat them! You'll just have to keep making them again and again and again...

You can also make a substitute for human flesh out of Jell-O, for use in testing the size of cavities created in the body by bullet wounds.

I'm reading a neat new book.
posted by Evangeline at 9:05 PM on June 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


What kind of parent would let a toddler loose with a SawZall?

Not a SawZall. That'd be absurd. I'm pretty sure he meant a jigsaw. Perfect for your two year old handyman.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:26 PM on June 3, 2008


A jigsaw does not reciprocate. It is a selfish lover.
posted by stet at 9:50 PM on June 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


When I was a child, I asked for blocks. Instead, my mother provided me with a reciprocating saw and some hardwood scraps. The gift of creativity and self-reliance was something she couldn't have purchased in any store. Sometimes, the greatest gift you can give a child is the chance to make something with their own hand and the strength to stand on their own foot.

When I realised I've been on the 'net so long I no longer know if this sort of sarcasm or not, I cried a little.
posted by rodgerd at 9:54 PM on June 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'd like blocks from 85 folded-up $1 bills.

Seriously, though, I think that suggesting a change of perspective is fine in this case. By giving up on Consumer Justice here, she could end up with a happy kid and much less stress and shipping.

(Actually, I am serious about the bill-blocks, too. If you have them, please send them to me. I will send you $85.)
posted by ignignokt at 10:03 PM on June 3, 2008


I don't get the snarfysnit stuff about the cost of the blocks.

But if anyone would like to submit all expenditures from 2007 to Metafilter, I'm sure there's plenty of people would would enjoy mocking the need for the laptop/dinner/Wii/engagement ring/diapers/shoes/snowboard/school tuition/vibrator/whatever.
posted by desuetude at 10:19 PM on June 3, 2008


rhys - I wasn't implying that she was impoverished. I don't care about her income. I still don't know any single female that owns a jigsaw, bandsaw, table saw, or any kind of saw. (Heck, I live with a guy and I don't think we own saws of any sort.) Not that there's anything wrong with that, but for people to suggest she make her own is just kind of stupid considering she's extremely unlikely to own the requisite equipment.
posted by desjardins at 10:22 PM on June 3, 2008


When I was young, we were so poor we had to eat pavlova out of the little plastic egg.
posted by turgid dahlia at 10:27 PM on June 3, 2008


Now see what you meanies have done! rhys's account is disabled. Well, maybe it is just blocked.
posted by Cranberry at 10:28 PM on June 3, 2008


Titled X, asked about Y. Learning the banjo is like pulling teeth? Funnily enough, the next question was about banjoes.
posted by tellurian at 11:04 PM on June 3, 2008


"klangklangston: I'll pay you $500 for your blocks and send them to kmennie if you can create a set that match the quality of the Novanatural blocks. We can send them to some third-party to make the determination. And you'd have some limited amount of time--say, over this coming weekend."

Alas and alack, my tools are back in Michigan. That and, while I have no doubt of the veracity of folks offering wagers on the internet, the way I'd do it (were I to be entirely serious) would be buying scraps from the hardwood flooring place (since they sell by the pound and not by the foot, and they're usually already sanded) and either using a friend's woodshop or getting in to use one of the universities'. If I were really motivated here, I'd still just buy the scraps from the flooring places here, then ask my co-worker's brother (carpenter by day) to size them and shape them, and have my pal the printer dye 'em.

Social capital, sure, and I'd still end up paying for the wood and a token amount for the labor (since I've helped both of them with their schemes). But given that Kmennie's already sunk $85, is "spending" more every time she deals with this, and Novanature didn't even bother to live up to their own standards? I'd can the "heirloom" blocks and spend that money on heirloom tools. Or, I dunno, call up a Steiner school and have them do it for me.

"I still don't know any single female that owns a jigsaw, bandsaw, table saw, or any kind of saw. (Heck, I live with a guy and I don't think we own saws of any sort.)"

Really? I mean, I guess I only know one now, but that's because most of 'em have partnered off. I guess it's slightly less common than owning a power drill, but saws are one of the basics, and jigsaws are, like, the easiest and smallest. But out of my college/high school group of friends? At least half of the girls owned their own saws (and wrenches and clamps and sanders). Living here in LA, this is the first time in my life where it would take any kind of real hassle to find someone with a wood shop who'd be willing to, like, let me use their lathe for an afternoon. It's not like it's laser-cut plastics fabrication or a jacquard loom or anything.

And again, it's not like I'm all into woodworking or anything. It's just something that "normal" people have access to.
posted by klangklangston at 11:37 PM on June 3, 2008


I own a hacksaw! Actually two, because I forgot I had one and bought a second. They're cheap, like less than $10 CAD.

I also own wrenches and screwdrivers and measuring tapes and a hammer e&, but no clamps, and my sanders are just sandpaper blocks.

I'm 33 and I've lived alone since I was 17. I'm desperately lonely and frequently talk to the cats and the TV but at least I can put on my own bike basket and build my own window screen. It's something...
posted by loiseau at 11:45 PM on June 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


Dude, clamps were the best thing that I bought in terms of making home projects look substantially less jankity. I was pretty pissed when my old roommate moved out with them, but I kept his toolbox, so things were equal.
posted by klangklangston at 11:59 PM on June 3, 2008


It's something quite wonderful loiseau. Good for you.
posted by Cranberry at 12:00 AM on June 4, 2008


I don't own a saw, because I never have the need to saw anything. If someone gave me a saw, I'd use it as much as the saw that I currently don't own.
posted by 23skidoo at 12:01 AM on June 4, 2008


the way I'd do it (were I to be entirely serious) would be buying scraps from the hardwood flooring place (since they sell by the pound and not by the foot, and they're usually already sanded)...

...and I'd dip them in food colouring as dye, and give 'em to my kid just as they are. Because when it comes to making towers and little walls and roads and forts and stuff, it really isn't so important that the blocks be all identical or fit together like neat, colourful jigsaw puzzles, as it is that one have lots and lots and lots of them, and a good variety of shapes, too.

Fortunately, I don't have kids, so I get to keep 'em all to myself anyway. Boo-ya!
posted by five fresh fish at 12:19 AM on June 4, 2008


klangklangston said "Dude, clamps were the best thing that I bought in terms of making home projects look substantially less jankity. I was pretty pissed when my old roommate moved out with them, but I kept his toolbox, so things were equal."

Oh, I forgot to add that I store my tools in a real toolbox. It's exciting!

Also, I have heard that wood glue and clamps is the key to making self-assembled furniture look and act more like real furniture. I keep forgetting to buy some.
posted by loiseau at 2:01 AM on June 4, 2008


To everybody suggesting the AskMe poster go and buy a hacksaw: Don't. It's the wrong tool for the job; you want a tenon saw or a crosscut saw.

And when I was 5 or 6, the best present I ever got was an axe from my grandfather. He then made me promise to only use it on the pile of logs under the house for grandma's wood stove, and not his boat.
posted by Pinback at 5:24 AM on June 4, 2008


(is a single female with a jigsaw, a dremel, a hacksaw, a full set of metric wrenches from when I replaced the fuel pump in my car, plus a bunch of other tools, and who was taught how to mitre a joint by her mother and how to fix her brakes by a female roommate.) It was hardly a useful answer to "How do I get resolve my unsatisfactory mail-order experience when the customer service reps are nonresponsive?" to tell the poster to stop buying products and start making them instead. That has fuck-all to do with woodworking, which I hate, or the owning of tools. I do love to sew, but I don't make my own clothes and I love to cook, but when there is a hunk of sausage in my dining companion's vegetarian dinner, I don't cook him a replacement, I expect restaurant management to fix it or compensate us.
posted by crush-onastick at 6:13 AM on June 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


Here is a photo of the blocks that I had when I was three. I think I turned out okay. I got a dremel for holidaytime this year.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:33 AM on June 4, 2008


the way I'd do it (were I to be entirely serious) would be buying scraps from the hardwood flooring place (since they sell by the pound and not by the foot, and they're usually already sanded) and either using a friend's woodshop or getting in to use one of the universities'. If I were really motivated here, I'd still just buy the scraps from the flooring places here, then ask my co-worker's brother (carpenter by day) to size them and shape them, and have my pal the printer dye 'em.

I'm in agreement with you that blocks are easy to make. But I wouldn't use flooring scraps unless I were completely sure that none of them had come anywhere near the really toxic stuff they use to pretreat flooring. (Also, flooring usually comes in a 3/4" thickness, which is really small for a block for a small child.) I'd be equally reluctant to get them dyed by a printer, without a lot of reassurances about the dye being safe for eating (which most isn't).

What I'm saying is: making blocks is easy (all you are doing is cutting squares, sanding, and using child safe colorings -- you need nothing more than a chopsaw or tablesaw, and some sandpaper). But every piece of it takes some careful thinking -- the sizes of the blocks, the kind of wood, the kind of dye/stain/paint -- because small children will chew on the blocks. Too small and they will choke, wrong wood will splinter (or maybe even be slightly toxic), wrong paint will be toxic.

I'd make my own, but that's because I have the tools already, know where to buy the wood, and am willing to spend some time reading about non-toxic colors. If I were to buy them, I would worry that they came from a factory that used lead in the paint, or something; I'd rather spend an afternoon doing it myself. But even so, suggesting that someone casually take on a woodworking project, if they have no tools or interest already, isn't the most helpful of advice to offer.

When I was a kid, I had some blocks that came from a store (with letters and numbers on them), and a bunch of blocks my grandfather had made in his woodshop -- natural wood color, two different sizes, really nice hardwood. I liked the homemade ones better, but a different kid who cared more about status and the nice things advertised on TV might well prefer the bought ones.
posted by Forktine at 6:54 AM on June 4, 2008


crush-onastick writes "It was hardly a useful answer to 'How do I get resolve my unsatisfactory mail-order experience when the customer service reps are nonresponsive?' to tell the poster to stop buying products and start making them instead. "

This is interesting because in the last few years I've been put off by the retail experience so much (both lack of quality and service) that I've walked down this road a good ways. It's not that I want to spend a week making a dining room table per se; rather I refuse to pay more for one than I paid for my car in order to get decent quality.
posted by Mitheral at 7:08 AM on June 4, 2008


This is just one of a large number of pieces of shit I have purchased in the past year.

My house is shit, my furnace needs $900 in repairs, my new MacBook Pro doesn't close, my nice down parka came out of the wash junk, my new dryer slashes up my clothes and nobody can figure out the problem so fuck me and my dryer and slashed clothes, my overpriced nursing bra offers all the support of a 12yo's training bra, all cotton knit baby clothes I buy pill like mad, all cloth diapers I buy leak or the snaps fail quickly, my front-loading washer doesn't wash well, Multigrain Cheerios are sugar cereal but don't say so on the box, my bed fell apart, one side of a massive shelving unit was warped so it fell to bits after being assembled and raised, my water softener doesn't soften water, my machine-washable sweater shrunk like mad, our car has suffered three separate hit-and-run damages in one year... I want my money back.

I'm at the point where I go out of my way to shop at places that do not necessarily have good products -- nobody does, consistently -- but that have good return policies.

Clearly the solution is partially to buy a sewing machine and take some carpentry classes, but.

These goddam blocks actually mark each other or anything else you care to rub them on, I now notice, so at this point my "change of perspective" is not "I'd like a refund, pretty please," but "Stop sending little children useless garbage, asswipes."
posted by kmennie at 8:02 AM on June 4, 2008 [3 favorites]


Mitheral:

I think you may be misreading crush-onastick's comment a little bit. It's not that DIY projects aren't worthwhile, it is that offering DIY advice to someone who has asked for assistance in helping to resolve a consumer dispute with a mail-order company amounts to a non-sequitur.

If kmennie, prior to purchasing these blocks, had come to AskMe with a question along the lines of, "I'm looking for get a good quality set of blocks for my infant daughter. Any recommendations of where to buy?", then sure, telling her that making your own blocks is a relatively simple process would be totally valid advice. When she's asked an entirely different, unrelated question, it doesn't really serve much purpose.
posted by The Gooch at 9:07 AM on June 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


Actually, I wasn't too fond of kmennie's answer to my question a while back. Nevertheless I'm sure she's a very nice person who just didn't read my question carefully and let her personal opinion get in the way of answering helpfully. I don't really think callouts like this do much good in the long run, although I certainly understand the motivation behind them.
posted by JanetLand at 9:38 AM on June 4, 2008 [4 favorites]


And, of course, when I say "for get", I mean "to get"
posted by The Gooch at 10:26 AM on June 4, 2008


JanetLand, I was all prepared to tsk-tsk you for harboring grudges and dragging them out inappropriately after the fact, bygones, etc. But after reading kmennie's answer to your AskMe... I pretty much have to concur with you, and I figure she ought be fairly relaxed about opinionated non-answers in AskMe. (which, to kmennie's defense, necessitates that I point out that she's not the one who posted this MeTa, so maybe she is laidback about it.)

Though, I still think that anyone questioning why kmennie spent $85 on blocks... or rooting through her posting history to decide whether she's justified in spending anything at all ever... or suggesting that she should just suck it up because a 2-year-old can't tell the difference anyway... needs a head-falling-off.
posted by pineapple at 10:30 AM on June 4, 2008


To get it, The Gooch; it's Chinatown.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:31 AM on June 4, 2008


"I'd be equally reluctant to get them dyed by a printer, without a lot of reassurances about the dye being safe for eating (which most isn't)."

Yeah, though she's an art printer, and some of the folks she works for specify non-toxic, biodegradable ink (mostly soy-based, if I recall correctly). Granted, that'd impact the "heirloom" quality (in that these prints are already supposed to fade naturally), but I'd feel relatively confident about them. The point about flooring being treated is a good one however, even though I thought they stopped doing the pressure-treating to flooring in the late '90s.
posted by klangklangston at 10:32 AM on June 4, 2008


The Gooch writes "I think you may be misreading crush-onastick's comment a little bit. It's not that DIY projects aren't worthwhile, it is that offering DIY advice to someone who has asked for assistance in helping to resolve a consumer dispute with a mail-order company amounts to a non-sequitur."

I see that, I was just having a new epiphany about how I see the retail experience spurred by crush-onastick's comment.
posted by Mitheral at 12:36 PM on June 4, 2008


Pressure treated floors? Reciprocating saws? You people know less about woodworking than you do about the price of blocks.
posted by electroboy at 2:40 PM on June 4, 2008


Technically, many power jigsaws are reciprocating (though that's not what most people think of when they think of reciprocating saws).
posted by klangklangston at 4:31 PM on June 4, 2008


Yeah, but you wouldn't use one of those to make blocks either.
posted by electroboy at 5:15 PM on June 4, 2008


Well, color me ignorant then, because I'd use a jigsaw to make these blocks. What's the better tool there?
posted by klangklangston at 5:26 PM on June 4, 2008


Yeah, a few years ago I saw an awesome set of Guggenheim building blocks that were probably cut with a jigsaw. Now I can't find any trace of them on the intarweb and I wish I had bought them.
posted by GuyZero at 5:34 PM on June 4, 2008


An update to my block bother.

JanetLand, I remain mystified by your pants taste, but that was far more snark than was called for and I apologise. I do admit to liking a decent snark, though. I am one of those awful people who tends to favourite the rapidly-deleted. I sniggered for hours once over (summarized):

Q: "I never blister. Is this unique?"

A: "Why don't you put your hand in a frying pan and see what happens, you bloody boasting bastard!" [rapidly deleted, natch]

Surely there were more obvious snarks to be made on me, though, mostly at my telephonephobia...
posted by kmennie at 6:28 AM on June 5, 2008


I totally have crushes on all the women in here who own saws and make stuff.
posted by desjardins at 7:28 AM on June 5, 2008


What's the better tool there?

Scroll saw.
posted by electroboy at 7:29 AM on June 5, 2008


JanetLand, I remain mystified by your pants taste...

So you managed to apologize for one snark and at the same time, throw in another. Bravo!
posted by Evangeline at 8:04 AM on June 5, 2008


I am one of those awful people who tends to favourite the rapidly-deleted.

Consider all this karmic retribution, then. Now let it go.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:07 AM on June 5, 2008


I remain mystified by your pants taste

kmennie, I remain mystified by your lack of reading comprehension skills. I wasn't even a participant in the original thread, and still managed to walk away with the understanding that JanetLand wasn't advocating any particular style of clothing; she just picked some qualities at random to demonstrate the level of detail she was hoping to find in an online clothing search.

I do admit to liking a decent snark, though.

I think most of us do. The problem is when it's brought inappropriately into AskMe. You can't complain about receiving one type of non-answer (make your own! the kid won't care!)... and then ask for a pass on providing another (you have no fashion sense!).
posted by pineapple at 12:29 PM on June 5, 2008


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