Paying for Quality

To those of you who normally drop by for the hawt chastity porn, the pictures of hawt BBW models, the hawt pictures of Marina Sirtis, or the cool conversations: I’m not offering anything like that in this admittedly longish post. But I do hope that you’ll take a few minutes to read this because, while it’s not sexy on the surface, it does concern a more serious issue.

This is a detective story, one that you will not see on some TV drama show because few people will understand the implications. But it’s because of my informal education — not any special training — that there is a story at all.

Although you’d never suspect if from the skyline of office buildings and the endless shopping centers, the area around the Elm City has a number of small, old-school shops. Not chain drugstore shops, but small businesses that house little manufacturing, repair, and contracting facilities. I’ve been fortunate to have grown up in and around so many small businesses, in which I’ve seen all sorts of occupations from watch repair, to jewelry making, to upholstery, to shoe repair, to specialized machining. Sometimes, when I was younger, I would spend afternoons just hanging out, watching, or even helping when I could. I’ve repaired antique radios (the kind with tubes!), made and repaired jewelry, watched fabric being bought and sold, and even some furniture and cabinets being built. This background has given me an unusual perspective on the idea of quality. As our society has moved from industries which actually made things to industries that trade on information, I think that we have lost the ability to discern quality in material things, simply because we no longer have any feel for them, nor any idea of how things are made.

The idea of discernment — the ability to tell what’s important — is something that we are bombarded with in ads and commercials all the time; but what the marketers are really counting on is that we, as a society, have lost the ability to discern quality merchandise. They are hoping that, in not knowing the difference, we will simply buy what they throw at us, because their commercials are funnier, sexier, or more relevant. And in fact, fewer people than ever in the US and UK really understand how things are made, where they come from, and what kind of effort is needed. This is why reality shows like “Dirty Jobs,” “Ice Road Truckers,” “The Deadliest Catch,” and even “Extreme Home Makeovers” are so fascinating to us, most of us really don’t know how anything is built or produced anymore.

I don’t have any special skills, but I did pay attention to the older relatives, the neighbors, and the people that I met in those little shops. You might wonder what possible use it would have been, cluttering up my brain with seemingly useless trivia, but there have been times when it has been useful. For example, back in the 1980s, a friend showed up at our nightspot flashing a new-looking Rolex, which he claimed to have picked up “gray market” for only $1,500. Examining it, I handed it back to him and explained that this particular model was supposed to be self-winding, but that if you felt it carefully, you couldn’t feel or hear the counterweight that does the internal winding. Not that it mattered because mechanical watches have a sweep, i.e., a constantly moving second hand. His second hand made discrete movements each second, tick…tick…tick. What he had bought was a very nice case with a $10 Japanese movement.

Oddly, he was not pleased at my display of knowledge.

In the 1990s, several friends showed off examples of designer clothes or accessories that they bought, invariably at a severe discount from some place that was going out of business. This was before people boasted about buying designer knockoffs, a practice which I still can’t understand. Interestingly, none of my friends have ever appreciated being shown that the bags or jackets were counterfeit.

More recently, a young cousin stopped by to show off her new engagement ring. Diamonds being natural gems, they will have minor flaws — spots where the carbon doesn’t quite fuse. If you can’t see anything under 5x or 10x magnification, jewelers will tell you that they are flawless. They aren’t, really, it’s just that you need more magnification to see them.

I examined her rock. The color was very good, and I didn’t see any flaws under 5x. Intrigued, I didn’t see anything under 10x, either. In fact, even under 20x, the stone was perfect.

What, you don’t have a jeweler’s loupe at home? Odd.

Considering the job situation of her fiance at the time, I (tactfully) expressed some doubt that he would be able to afford such a high quality gemstone. Not surprisingly, she got a little ticked off and left in a huff. Eventually, several of her friends convinced her to have it appraised for insurance reasons. Yes, it turned out to be a very nice peice of cubic zirconium. Her now-ex-fiance explained that he had hoped to replace it one day with the real thing, and was affronted that she had it appraised. But that’s another story.

Anyway, the point is that years ago, when people knew how things worked and how things were made, such skills were more common; not that people weren’t fooled, but that people in general were more able to look at items and determine whether or not they were well made.

I buy a lot of things online, things that aren’t usually sold in local stores, so I don’t really have the opportunity to pick them up, kick the tires, or examine how well it’s made. Recently, I ordered a particular piece of equipment (a consumer product) from a reputable online distributor, from whom I’ve ordered things in the past. When I got it, I tried it out and while I was mostly satisfied, I decided to do some work on it. Any other customer would have used it out of the box, but this being Edge of Vanilla Labs, you know we had to make some minor improvements, a few tweaks, and poke around under the hood.

You ever see in old movies or cartoons, when somebody gets a coin, that person will bite it? In the old days, that was to test the gold or silver content; gold and silver being particularly soft metals would dent easily, while those alloyed with copper, zinc, or bronze would not. Before the days of national treasuries, coins were minted locally, and people needed to determine good coinage from fakes. I did my own bite test: I took one of the components and scratched it in a discreet location; this was to make sure that the material was what I had expected.

The item had several components to it. One one of them, the metal was heavy and shiny, and I decided to polish a section to round over an edge that I thought could lead to irritation. After a few minutes, I noticed some red streaks on the surface. Thinking it was excess polishing compound, I pressed that area against the wheel again. Instead of removing the red, the area grew.

Concerned, I pulled it into the light to investigate. Immediately I recognized the red of copper electroplate; I had polished through the surface to expose the thin base that acts as a “primer coat” for surface electroplate. Now I was confused, because the item had been advertised as stainless steel.

Stainless is, well, resistant to staining because when the raw surface is exposed to the air, it forms a tight bond with the oxygen several molecules deep to create a near-impenetrable skin. There are two main types of stainless (I’m keeping this simple); some versions will exhibit a bit of minor staining — they are generally found in tableware and cutlery, and will attract a magnet. The other type is non-magnetic, and is found in other kitchenware, piercing jewelry, and medical instruments. Except for some unusual industrial applications, there’s no reason to put electroplate on top of stainless steel; it’s like the joke about winning a gold medal and having it bronzed.

My next thought was to put a magnet to the item. No reaction, which meant it was not an alloy steel, but that didn’t mean it was stainless. I hefted it; this was definitely not aluminum or some cheap, light metal — but brass is not magnetic, and would weigh about the same for a small item. I took it back to the buffing wheel and polished off the copper in one area. Underneath, the metal was shiny again. Nope, this was not brass, nor was it alloy steel. Could the manufacturer have plated on top of the stainless after all, perhaps to improve the shine?

I finished some of the modifications, cleaned it up, and tried it out. After a couple of days, however, I had some irritation. I removed the article and discovered that the section I had buffed out was now black! Was this tarnish giving me a rash, or was it a section that hadn’t been smoothed down?

At this point, I took pictures of the unit and sent them to the distributor, with some explanation of what I had done, and some questions. The distributor responded immediately: Please include your order number on all correspondence.

Sigh.

Back at my workshop, I replaced some screws that I knew for a fact were made from stainless steel. I then removed another piece that appeared to be stainless, but could well have been causing the irritation from a rough edge. I replaced it with a section of titanium, making sure that it was perfectly polished before assembly.

What, you don’t have odd bits of stainless and titanium components hanging around your own workshop? Strange, I thought everybody did.

I again polished the sections, and took several pictures. Then, I made sure everything was perfectly clean by putting them in an ultrasonic tank with some light alkali solution — essentially a larger version of what jewelry stores use to clean your rings. After 30 minutes, I removed the article, and was dismayed to see the section I had polished to a bright finish was matte gray. The cleaning solution had affected the metal, but not the stainless screws, nor the titanium section. There was now no question that the base metal was not stainless steel. I took some more pictures, and sent them to the distributor.

Again I tried out the article, and again the polished sections turned black in a day or so. I took a few more pictures, and documented what I had done. By now I was getting frustrated that the distributor hadn’t been able to give me any satisfactory answers. Finally, after a couple of weeks they confirmed my earlier suspicions: they had to contact a sales agent who, on his next round of visits, would check with the factory where they were being made.

In China, of course.

Good old China.

As our society began to value information and service work more than material goods, companies have needed to find ways to lower the costs on those goods. A couple of generations ago, large factories began moving operations to the southern US, where the standard of living was lower, and the labor unions hadn’t created a situation of high-priced labor costs. As the standard of living increased, however, so did the desire for better wages, and companies began to move their operations out of the US into Mexico. After Mexico came the Asian Pacific Rim, and eventually, India, and then China.

An interesting thing about this movement; while Americans complain about immigrant labor and offshore factories, they continue to buy those low-cost goods at the various box stores. The cheap labor has made the unit prices on most consumer goods so inexpensive that we never think about repairing things anymore — even if you could find a shop that would do it. When was the last time you heard of somebody taking a blender, a toaster, a coffee maker, or even a microwave oven to be repaired? You toss them out and get a new one at the mall.

Yet the cycle continues; as the standard of living improves in the Asian countries, manufacturers need to cut costs, so they look for ways to save money. They replace what they can: Metal casings become plastic. Push button switches become small electronic keypads. Sharp edges are not smoothed over, cracks are filled with extra putty. And to keep the development costs low, they don’t bother with creating a new design; American or European items are simply copied and built with lower grade materials.

A secret of the aircraft industry is that there are thousands of counterfeit components being assembled into all sorts of aircraft on a daily basis; high quality bolts, nuts, fasteners, and other components are expensive items, and some companies have no qualms about substituting less expensive components that look the same on the surface. The steel is a lower quality, which means that it is more susceptible to stress, which means they have to be replaced more often. That is, if they don’t cause something important to fail, with catastrophic results.

While I waited to hear back from the distributor, I did some more testing on the unit. It appeared to be a cast or forged zinc alloy, which was then polished and plated with either nickel or chrome. Nickel can often react with body oils and cause contact dermatitis. The rivet hinges on the CB3000 cuff rings are made of brass and then nickel plated (yes, EOV Labs has drilled them open to check); I suspect that many of the men who complain about irritation from these rings are reacting to the plating, and not the edge of the rivet.

I held my component up to a brighter light to examine the surface more closely. While steel all looks shiny when polished, there are subtle differences that are noticeable when you hold them up to objects of different alloys. You might not be able to tell nickel from chrome plating, but when you hold them next to each other, chrome reflects very slightly in a blue tone, as compared to the gray or neutral that nickel displays. I compared the sections to other items that I knew were plated; the color indicated that it was probably chrome.

In order to test the other components that came with the set, I carefully cut, ground, and polished, and cleaned them. As far as I could determine, everything else was stainless steel as advertised. Once satisfied, I coated the non-stainless item with a plastic sleeve and tried it out. Not surprisingly, I had no other irritations.

Three weeks and half a dozen emails later, I heard from the distributor, who heard from the sales agent, who heard from the supplier, who heard from the factory. “Yeah, about those “stainless steel” rings? Sorry, it must have gotten screwed up in the translation. They are very shiny because they are covered in chrome plate. Oh, and they are heavy because they are a heavy zinc alloy. Stainless? No, sorry, we don’t have any stainless ones here. But these are nicely polished, so they look like stainless. That’s good, right?”

The distributor apologized, but of course, they had no idea. How could they? The units were designed to be used as is, right out of the box. Not one person in a hundred, maybe not one in a thousand would have noticed. I mean, who buys something usable and then modifies it right away.

Well… Edge of Vanilla Labs, apparently.

They offered to make good on my purchase, although all I could reasonably ask for was to have them replace the component that was now pretty much destroyed by my testing. I have no idea what the relationship is between the distributor and the supplier, but I suspect that it’s now a bit strained.

So ends my little detective story, a CSI case file that really won’t mean anything to most people. But still… there are few things to think about in all this.

Last year I had several arguments with some friends who were buying knock-off jewelry and bags in lower Manhattan. They justified their decision buy pointing out that the real items were too high priced to be affordable. Worse, I’ve heard that some women have home parties at which such knock-offs are sold. Sure, nobody wants to drop $1,200 on a purse, but by spending $75 for a knock-off, they are simply encouraging those suppliers to keep making poor quality products (and to keep capitalizing on the brand names). Eventually, counterfeiters will have enough incentive to market knock-offs of ordinary consumer products; and when that happens, people will no longer have any idea of what they are buying, and the few good companies that make quality products will go out of business.

I don’t really know what to make of this episode.

The Chinese company that made these items did not need to claim that they were stainless; they could just as easily said that they were a “chromed alloy,” and that would have been fine for most people. But I’m sure they never expected anybody to inspect it closely enough to determine what it was made from. They simply claimed the parts were stainless knowing it was a good selling point, or that they could demand a premium because stainless is the new black right now. And even though it won’t make a difference for 99.9% of the people who bought them, there’s a bigger issue at stake:

When we have lost the knowledge of how things are made, how do we know that we are getting what we have paid for? Or do we even care?

About Tom Allen

The Grey Geezer Dauntless defender of, um, something that needed dauntless defending. Dammit, I can't read this script without my glasses. Hey, you kids, get off my damn lawn!
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30 Responses to Paying for Quality

  1. Wendy Blackheart says:

    Yuck. I like knowing where and how and what my products are made out of – particularly the ones that go near my gentials.

    I wish we had those small places back, specialty stores that fix things.

    My mother has a vacuum that is almost as old as I am. It still works. I mean, its been repaired 3 times, but still. And she uses it all the time. She has a new one, that she got with points from her credit reward program, but she still uses the hulking monstrosity that she got when I was 6. (This vacuum even has gnaw marks in it from a dog we had who though vacuums were TEH ENEMEH TO BE DESTROYED!)

    Hell, *I* had a sewing machine that I know for a FACT was older than me. It belonged to my Great Grandmother. I had to have it repaired once myself (and i think she had it done once or twice) before it finally conked out on us, but this thing had to be at least 40 years old.

  2. Jz says:

    I absolutely agree that quality has largely gone down the toilet these days.
    But I have to admit to being distracted by the thought of you whipping out a jeweler’s loupe to examine the sweet young things ring…
    Are you sure you’re not secretly a member of my family??

  3. nursemyra says:

    I still own and use a blender that I bought before I had my second son. He just turned 25…..

    Anyway your story reminded me of a particularly nice piece of jewellery I bought to enhance my nipple piercing. I was assured it was stainless steel but after wearing it for three or four days I developed a horrendously painful mastitis infection in that breast and had to remove the jewellery. The piercing started to close over very quickly and the only I could keep it open was to insert a much smaller gauge ring while I waited for a course of antibiotics to clear everything up. That was about 10 years ago now, the piercing has given me trouble ever since 😦

  4. mosthandysub says:

    Tom…I enjoy reading your blog a great deal. We have quite a few things in common.

    I agree with everything you’ve said above. It’s a real shame. Your post made me think you might be particularly interested in reading a book called, “Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry Into the Value of Work.”

  5. J says:

    Personally I think we in this country (US) need to get a handle on two things – our regulatory system and our finance system. One is government, the other private, both are broken because too many people in them are taking productivity for granted.

    Our manufacturing hasn’t gone overseas just because of cheaper labor, but also because of unpredictable regulation here. I’m not saying too much regulation (that’s a separate argument), but unpredictable. Too many regulatory agencies make unaccountable decisions, and too many regulations are enforced by lawsuits with a lotto mentality.

    The sad truth is, it’s less risky for a distributor to outsource the manufacturing to China (where the standards are, as Tom discovered, shoddy) than to do the manufacturing itself under controlled circumstances here in the US.

    • Tom Allen says:

      I really didn’t want to turn this into a major political/economic discussion, but you do raise some good points. For example, manufacturing started leaving Connecticut a generation ago, and now the state is actually suing a large company to force them to stay here, instead of moving operations to a cheaper base down south.

      I remember reading a story about an agency that compelled a company to put a guard on a piece of equipment, only to be told by a different agency that such non-standard guards were unapproved and needed to be removed.

      Because it’s difficult to move all of the equipment, many states think that they can up the property tax on manufacturers, and those companies will simply pay up because it’s too expensive to move. So a lot of these producers are building in China (or elsewhere overseas) and simply selling off or even scrapping their existing equipment.

    • J says:

      “I really didn’t want to turn this into a major political/economic discussion…”

      I know, I’m a bit uncomfortable with it too, since political discussions seem to breed like rabbits on the Internet. But without getting into a my-political-party-is-less-evil-than-your-political-party diatribe, I think it’s safe to say that we’d be a lot better off if the people making things got at least as much respect as the people regulating things. As a socieity, we’ve become way too tolerant of people who think they need to tell other people how to do everything.

      Hmmm, sounds like a familiar theme actually. How many violations of the Chastity Police Directives have you rung up this week?

  6. susan's pet says:

    Tom, you are a dying breed.

  7. sulpicia says:

    for me this post mean something a wee bit different… i like the little stores. go to the butcher for the meat, the baker for the bread, the grower for the tomato etc… i can’t even begin to have your knowledge of metals and mechanisms. but i know excatly what you mean. i want the one who does it there, in my community… i want the pride of the making in the made object. i want to love the maker as much as what he/she has made. I WANT THAT WORLD BACK. Yeah… losing battle. but i want to continue to know the difference. it gets harder.

  8. Mykey says:

    Oh I do so agree. Things made well have a quality that is recognisable, if you know how. And so much isn’t.

    Apple know this, so people buy apple. Your iPhone ‘feels’ well made. Elegant and solid. Not sure if it totally is but I know touches that are. Subconsiously people crave quality but many are easily fooled. I also think it’s a shame. There is no shame in a product admitting its cheap cheerful but effective. In fact I rather like that it has a beauty of it’s own. Think early lada. Effecive, easy to fix, simple. But most peoplewant to pretend they are wealthy and can’t see that elegance, so allow thmskves to be fooled by tat pretending to be better.

    Re the iPhone, google about it’s anti scratch, oliphobic screen. Be impressed. Then ask yourslf why so many people put a cheap plastic screen protector on it, heheh.

    M

  9. Tom Allen says:

    I’m not suggesting that nobody should have cheaply produced goods. Do I need to spend $30 on a broom when a $8 one will work? As it happens, I buy some tools at the Odd Lot stores, simply because I expect to lose or break them. But I also have some expensive tools which don’t get tossed around so much.

    What bothers me is that as people become less and less familiar with how things are made, they no longer have any idea of what *good* things are, how much they cost, or how long they take to create.

    True story: It took me months of late nights and weekends to build a crib for my daughter (oak, cherry, and almost no hardware). When it was finished, some people saw it and said “Looks like you finally gave up and went out to buy one, huh?”

  10. Billus says:

    Sadly, it’s an IKEA world, we’re just passing through…

    • I disagree that the whole world is IKEA-like.

      Obviously things which require fewer skills, less time, and cheaper materials are likely to outnumber things which require more skills, more time and rarer materials. However, outnumbering is not the same as obliterating.

      I find that just as some people care a lot about high quality things, some people also care a lot about producing high quality things. I also find that those who care a lot about that kind of quality have always been outnumbered by those preferring to produce or consume cheaper goods. To me, this is old news.

      I think Tom’s story about his device was an unfortunate example of false advertising, but that alone is no evidence that all the fine craftspeople have vanished from the planet. Have a look at this man’s work. He’s working in the here and now, and producing incredible quality, hand-finished work within an accessible price range.

      If that kind of quality is important to you, then go out and find it. I promise you, it’s there to be found. In my experience those makers will always be out there somewhere, and they will appreciate your support. All you need to do is look for them, and if you buy their stuff then they can make more of it. 🙂

  11. Tom Allen says:

    I want to make clear that this was not false advertising. Rather, this is more of a case of people not knowing how to discern the details because they probably have no idea of how a product is actually produced.

    For example, if I *know* that a decent chef’s knife cost $100, when I see one in a store for $15, I can make some judgments about it because I know what a good knife is like, and how it’s made. That does not mean it won’t work, it just means that I should not expect the same performance.

    I also want to make it clear that I am not calling for a return to ye olden dayes when everything was made by hand at the shop in the village square. Mass-produced does not mean poor quality. I happen to like Ikea furniture. In fact, I have a computer desk, some end tables, a futon, and a coffee table that are all “kit” furniture, and all of them are good quality pieces.

    This post was not so much about quality, as about the discernment of quality. Too often, I see items for sale that are not made well, but people no longer seem to know the difference, and so they no longer have a sense of whether they are getting the value that they expect.

    • Did you mean that your post was not about false advertising, or that the item itself was not falsely advertised?

      I think one reason why counterfeit products are so popular is that people can feel they gain the prestige of possessing an item with a particular branding without having to pay the price associated with that prestige.

      And for some people, I find that paying a high price is prestige enough for them without caring about the actual quality of the item. I remember meeting quite a few people in the 80s with those fake Rolexes, and even if some of them disliked others knowing it was a fake, many of them were just pleased to have something saying “Rolex” on their wrist.

      I totally get that some people are less able than others to discern quality workmanship and materials, and that increasingly efficient and effective mass production methods make some of this specialist discernment more difficult for the less-educated consumer.

      I think that like you, most of us have some special knowlege or other which allows us to discern the actual quality of a particular range of items, regardless of how they are presented. For me that knowledge would probably include food items, stringed instruments, pro audio gear and corsets, but exclude photographic gear, jewelry, designer clothing, and fine art.

      I think some people will always care a lot about telling the difference, some will care less, and some not at all, and that’ll be part of that diversity we’re all supposed to be so fond of. 😛

      I’m not so sure I agree that proportionally fewer people can tell the difference or care about it, but I agree that it’s possible.

  12. Tom Allen says:

    The articles were not falsely advertised in the sense that the merchant did not realize that they were not stainless. They seemed to be quite surprised – and dismayed – at this discovery. It doesn’t affect the usability, but it’s like a bistro buying, say, Black Angus beef, only to be told later that it really was something else.

    Personally, I almost never buy anything without researching. I look at online reviews, and I try to see compare both the high and low end of items, simply so that I *will* be able to judge the quality and value of what I’m buying.

    And yes, there are a lot of people who only seem to care that they *spent* a lot of money, and not that they actually bought something good with it.

  13. JP says:

    I am sorry if this is not on topic but I was wanting to get on a email subscription and did not see another option.
    BTW I have just started my own blog “Your Penis 101” check it out please.
    JP

    • Tom Allen says:

      JP, in 5 years, I don’t think that anybody else has asked me for an email subscription. So, just for you, I added one — it’s down near the bottom of the left-hand sidebar.

      BTW, I checked your blog. There are only two posts. You might need to step it up a little to attract the visitors. Just sayin’
      😉

  14. boy brian says:

    Tom,
    Reading about the fake rolex spurs a question…what watch do you wear? Thanks!
    boy brian

    • Tom Allen says:

      Unlike Thumper, I rarely wear a watch. That’s what my phone is for.

      However, when I’m working out, or off on a bike ride, I usually wear my Sportline (the model no. is worn off) because of the built-in heart rate, stop watch, timer, & calorie counter features.

      For nice occasions (family functions, jacket & tie functions), I have a gold-toned self-winding Timex that belonged to my grandfather, and is probably almost as old as I am

      For formal occasions (dress suit or tuxedo), I have a super-thin Seiko that’s about 25 years old.

  15. Elle says:

    Ah, yes, I know exactly what you’re talking about. Obviously, having our things mass produced in foreign countries will have perverse effects. We may have lost (or never gained) the knowledge and feel for quality. I mean, how can I tell whether this item is better than this other if I’ve never known the difference? I could never tell the difference between stainless steel and a chrome-plated heavy zinc alloy (even though I worked in a mine as a student way back when).

    What pisses me off is when they trick us with a high price. Like, hey, this is expensive so it MUST be quality. Humph.

    But anyway, I guess I’d say for some things, I prefer to pay more and know it’s a quality product. Sometimes I know the difference, sometimes I don’t. I’m pretty good at it when it comes to food, guess it comes with cooking a lot with Boy Toy and usually eating good stuff 🙂 For the other things, he’s probably better than I at telling, because he’s very manual and has done a lot of things in his life that involves building, making, constructing.

  16. RogueBambi says:

    I wish I had the ability to determine when things are fake. We have an Ikea table, said to be wood. All wood. After a few years it has started to shread to tiny shreads in the corners. It might very well be out of wood, but it sure as hell was first cut into toothpicks and then molded in to the form of a table.

    I wouldn’t want anything, anything that’s modern, newly made in China, Taiwan or You Name It, near my tender areas. It’s good to have you keeping the watch, so to speak.

    What I decided on for now is just to buy things made in the 50’s. 😉

  17. Steve says:

    What fantastic research Tom. Did you know the a really well known range of Chastity Devices CB-6000 etc are actually made in Taiwan? Yes that’s the official versions (let alone the boot leg copies).

  18. Susan says:

    It strikes me that the maker of The Fort has done the really hard job of making the cage (Tube); then used a cheaper approach in making the rings. Clearly they want a product that looks good, but they are not interested in chastity as an issue, it’s just a market with potential.

    With Tom’s technical feedback, I would suggest buying the tube, then make and/or modify rings and pins from other sources. If you have access to a lathe, it is not that difficult and solid stainless rings are available.

    In reality the hinged rings of the CB3000 were often a problem for people in several ways. They are both thicker and weaker than the solid CB2000 rings; also the metal of the hinge pin cause some people skin problems. Like some others I bought and modified a solid ring (in my case from http://www.steelpleasures.co.uk) and made a workable system.

    Tom: I know from experience that smoothing and polishing the inside of a tube like the Fort would be quite difficult, so I expect the internal finish would be rougher on this metal device than the equivalent plastic CB3000 tube. What was your opinion of the internal finish on the unit you obtained? Did you need to do any work on that to improve it?

  19. ianpenfold says:

    I know what you mean about a lot of people losing the ability to descern quality. A few years back I had a conversation with a friend of mine who at the time worked for a well-known high-street toy shop. He was boasting about how he had learnt to discern just by looking at an item, what the consumer would have payed for it and not just for the types of products that his store sold either. I showed him my watch (just a run-of-the-mill practical timepiece, nothing special) and he was frighteningly accurate. He went on to explain that in retail, there is a kind of ‘knowledge’ of what the general population expect to pay for something, which of course that is manipulated by the retail sector, it has been ‘programmed’ in to the general population. I then went on to ask him, ‘no I said how much is it worth?, brand new?’ and he just laughed.

    But on a serious note, My problem with buying chastity devices in the UK is that none of them are made in the UK. I don’t have a credit/debit card and I sure-as-hell am not going to buy anything from ebay -asking my sister to order it for me! (actually I dont trust ebay for things of this nature anyway). I want to find either a manufacturer or even a shop in the UK where I can go there, look at the thing and pay for it over the counter. That way my money has parted my hands and I have recieved what I have already inspected at the same moment. I am much less likely to return an item if I have chosen it in real-time. However, so far I havn’t found such a shop so am trying to make a device myself (I do have some engineering skills). But this is limited because I am having to use materials that are already partly manufactured, such as metal tubing, as I don’t yet know how to cast something.

  20. Anony says:

    Tom-

    Do you by chance have Asperger’s Syndrome? Reading you count off the times in which you told people things you knew to be true then being exasperated when they didn’t want to be told the truth makes me think perhaps there is a great deal of intellect combined with at least a hint of social naivety in that brain of yours.

    No offense intended, just an observation.

    • Tom Allen says:

      :laughs:
      No, I’m afraid that what I was describing was the plain, old, ordinary naivete of youth and inexperience. I’m just a little dense at times, so it took me a while to figure out that, for the most part, nobody wants to be told that they made a bad decision after they have already made it.

  21. vidyadharan says:

    i wish to purchase male chastity device CB 60000. Do any dealers in India sell the product or how can I obtain one

  22. Pingback: Tally me banana: Part 1 – The Edge of Vanilla

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