Greetings CT-ers: I wanted to report my recent experience with the Blue Chip Company and their custom hotstamp product for the benefit of those of you who might be considering a purchase from them.
Back at the beginning of October, as part of the CT group buy special, I placed an order for 550 custom hotstamped chips with stock colors/edgespots in the heavier weight. I received the chips almost exactly a month later and was thrilled with the weight and the way they looked--I immediately posted some chip pr0n
for you guys! I was headed out of town later that morning and threw one of each denomination into my pocket to fiddle with and show off (brag about) to my friends.
Unfortunately, by the time I got to the airport 20 minutes later, I noticed a problem. The hotstamps were already seriously messed up. Upon closer examination I realized that the hotstamp foil wasn't adhered to or "bonded" with the surface of the chip. The stamps on the color sample set I had received had a very hard, mirror-like finish, where most of my chips' stamps were "soft" and textured (you can see the texture issue clearly in my pr0n post
in the closeup of the solid adobe color chip). The foil just rubbed right off or was very easily scratched.
I immediately contacted the Endy's and was asked to send photos illustrating the problem. I sent the following photos:
I got an email from Mike a couple days later:
Mike Endy wrote:
Hot stamps are great for simple designs and text, but not fine detail or large bold areas. The reason is because of what you are seeing with your chips. Nothing is defective with the tape or the chips, the problem is with the design. We let your design go through as is at the time because we thought it was marginal, where there shouldn't be a problem with the size of the sails and hull. We were wrong, we should have had you change it.
Okay. Bummer, but I could accept that. They offered 3 reasonable options: 1) redo the design as outlines and redo the chips; 2) remake them with another design entirely; or 3) replace the faulty chips with the understanding that this problem may occur in the future. I could live with a smaller ship and planned to submit a new design when I returned from my vacation.
On further inspection of my order, though, I became convinced that the problem wasn't in the design. The foil wasn't just coming off in the "bold areas" of my design, but also in the smaller areas and in the denomination stamps on the reverse sides. I told Mike as much and even made a video (click to watch the video)
that demonstrated the difference between the foil on my chips and the foil on the sample set I received. I explained that, although I don't know all the ins and outs of hotstamping, the foil of my chips just didn't seem to be right.
After a couple of phone conversations, Mike asked me to ship back the chips (at my expense) and they'd take a look. I did so and didn't hear back from them until almost a week later and after repeated emails asking for a status. Finally, a update saying that they redid the chips. (!)
Mike Endy wrote
Sorry, I was out yesterday. Charlie redid them yesterday and today. They should ship out tomorrow. I will send you a tracking number.
Blue Chip Co.
I thought I was supposed to make a new design?! The design must have been okay after all and they realized that something actually was wrong with the foil. Great! I responded.
Hi Mike: So, what did you decide went wrong with the chips? I'm
interested to find out what the cause of the issue was. How did you
solve the problem?
Also, did you just destroy the faulty chips? There were a percentage
that were still usable... I'd be interested in keeping them if you
didn't destroy them right away.
Thanks for the reply - I'm still looking for a tracking number...
Six days and 3 emails asking for a tracking number later, I got one, after
the chips had already been left on the porch of my empty house (I was in AC for a few days). Luckily, I was able to get my neighbor to grab the chips before somebody else did.
Once I arrived home, I examined the chips and found that they seemed to only have replaced less than half of the chips. Apparently they decided that the bulk of the chips (the Adobe $.50s and Almond $1s) were "good enough" and didn't warrant replacing. Again, I emailed Mike stating that they had shipped me back faulty chips. Mike replied, saying he had thought that I only had a problem with 3 of the 5 colors and that their production person ("Charlie") had "gone through the chips" didn't see any problem with the other colors. What I had said was that a portion (maybe 40% of the Almond $1s and Adobe $.50s) of those chips were "usable"--not right, but usable--meaning that the stamps were harder, but still easily scratched (see the photo of the almond edgespot chip
- the hotstamp easily scratched, but didn't just wipe off). I told them I was willing to keep the best of the faulty chips if we could work out a deal, especially if they were just going to destroy them.
I again offered to make a deal with them. I proposed that they remake half (160) of the remaining faulty chips free of charge and I'd get get to keep the faulty chips. I didn't feel like I should be expected to be responsible to eat another shipping charge and 30 days for what seems to me to be an obviously faulty product. (Plus, I wanted to play with my set at my weekly .25/.50 NL game!)
Answer from Mike another three days later: Ship them back COD and we will make replacements. "The bottom line is you don't get both the replacement chips and the defects." Fine... I was just trying to reach a compromise that was good for everybody. At least they realized there was a defect and now my order would be complete, right?
This time, I sent back the 320/550 to be replaced. 2 weeks later I got a call from Dave Endy, who kind of rudely asked me to "please stop scratching the chips" and that they'd be making replacements "right away." Well, 3 weeks and 5 emails requesting a status update later and I get the response:
Dave Endy wrote:
Please let me know how many of the adobe you say we owe you. I will ship ASAP.
So, now 4 months and $500 later, they not only don't know the status of my order (I'm still missing more than half my chips!), but they're seeming to imply that what I "say" is somehow less than the truth. My email response was a bit, well, testy... I got a response the next day saying the chips had shipped with "Direct Signature" service. Well, the chips arrived a week later and were left, again, on my porch unattended. Fed Ex tracking says: "Left at front door. Signature Service not requested."
Um, ok, no signature service, but at least I finally had my complete order, right? Nope. 116 of the chips were the same, original, messed up hotstamps, with my test scratches intact. I don't get it. The stamps are obviously defective and they've admitted as much. The replacements are fine, yet they keep returning me parts of the defective order. I immediately shipped back the remaining 116 faulty stamps and notified the Endys via email that we still had a problem...
Today, 5 days after they received the 116 remaining faulty chips and 3 emails from me requesting a status update, I get this response:
What? The defective chips are my fault? And I'm going to have to wait at least another week before they ship?
Mike Endy wrote:
I will replace the 116 chips this last time, and that is it. Finished, end of story. If you are going to destroy the hot stamp on the chips from this point on, than that is your fault and problem. I will be sending back your stamp with the chips as well. We will not make any chips with that stamp in the future.
The hot stamp machine is currently tied up with 2 large orders. We won't be able to get to your chips for a about another week or so. I will email you with a tracking number when they ship.
I frankly don't know what I'm supposed to do here. I'm hoping that they finally replace all the chips, like they said they'd do on November 10th, 2006, but I'm fully expecting to get half of the original faulty chips back again. And then what? I'm just out of luck? And if I want to augment my set I'm also out of luck? One of the reasons I spent $100 on a custom hotstamp is so I could easily get more chips as my game grows. Now I'm out of luck in that regard too? I'm feeling pretty burned by this transaction and I'm at a total loss as to what I should do about it. Furthermore, I really liked their chip product. Their colors and edgespot configurations are the best for the home market. I sell custom poker tables from time to time and was hoping to be able to offer matching custom chips as a sideline. Not after this experience, I guess.
If anyone in our community is considering a custom hotstamp purchase from the Blue Chip Company, make sure that you don't get faulty stamps. And if you do, be prepared for the run-around of your life.