My TOTO Drake II Arrived Trashed from Amazon - What a Disappointment!

Discussion in 'Toilet Forum discussions' started by RogerPDX, Jun 25, 2014.

  1. Man-o-Man... Remember when American workers made a decent wage
    and put out good products? Remember when the Japanese were known
    for their tight quality controls?

    Today my new Drake II arrived via FedEx - 2 boxes. The boxes look like
    they were packed at the TOTO factory.

    The tank was in a good quality shipping box, stuffed with good quality
    packing foam. The quality of the tank itself is poor, as it has spotty porcelain sprayed on the back side (it is not completely smooth) and the lid has a piece of ceramic or glaze bouncing around inside - so when you lift it you hear a cheap rattle. The underside of the lid has sloppy glaze dripped onto the unfinished ceramic. Looks like a cheap Chinese product - but sadly, it was made in USA
    and it was not cheap (in price).

    The bowl came in a separate box, that was inside a larger master carton.
    The large master carton has TOTO labels glued onto it, but no TOTO
    blue printing on it. The master carton is not damaged.

    Inside the master carton was a lot of really good foam packing holding
    a TOTO box that holds the bowl. The inner box has TOTO labels glued
    onto it and blue box print, by TOTO... (Made in USA, This End Up, etc.)

    The inner box has one end that is so trashed, the carddboard is broken open.

    There are broken pieces of toilet inside the master carton & inside
    the inner box! This inner box looks like some underpaid factory worker
    just put it into the master carton, not caring if it was broken or not!
    ($10 an hour might be w-a-y more than he'd make in China, but it's still
    only 10 bucks here in the States, so who's taking any pride - I guess)

    What a disappointment. And the workers at Amazon must have heard it
    rattling... and they too took no pride - they just shipped it.

    Now the fun begins, as to "who's fault" this is... my livingroom is a mess
    with toilet chips, packing material and boxes - and I've still got to get it
    repacked to send back to Amazon.

    I hate to say it - but the TOTO toilet seat (Made in China) was delivered
    in perfect condition... Made in China!

    This is a sad day for the American worker - that's for sure!

    Guess I should have taken my neighbors advice and bought an
    American Standard over at Home Depot. At least I could have chosen a
    toilet that was not broken, right in the store. I would have saved a boatload
    of money AND aggravation!

    Jeez....
  2. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Messages:
    7,334
    Location:
    Yakima WA
    Don't blame Toto! Terry Love gave up shipping toilets long ago because of breakage. If you had heeded the advice given you on your early query, and gone to Terry's and got your toilet from him, you likely would have save money and, most importantly, you would have an intact toilet. Toto ships by the truck load and their packing is such that they just don't have breakage. And, if by chance there is a broken toilet, the wholesale house catches it long before the customer sees it.
  3. wjcandee

    wjcandee Wise One

    Messages:
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    Location:
    New York, NY
    Wow.

    Okay, I know you're upset so I will forgive your irrational statements.

    First, NOBODY glazes the BACK of the tank. (Technically, it has glaze on it but not a smooth white finish like the front.) Sorry, the quality of Toto products is unparallelled. You want a piece of crap toilet? Go get that AS at HD, and dare to tell me the quality is even CLOSE to your Toto, at least when it was in one piece. :)

    Second, buying toilets from Amazon is classic "assumption of risk". They will happily send you another, but you have to assume that there is at least a 20 percent chance that it's going to arrive broken. Amazon's toilet prices keep going up, because they are learning the perils of shipping the stuff. That Toto box is the box that sits on a pallet of toilets which is expected to be delivered, on a pallet, to a local distributor, and it almost certainly arrived at Amazon intact. Had you bought the thing from, say, Terry, he would have received it like that and put it in your car like that. Online sellers put that Toto box in another box, foam it or load it with styrofoam, and hand it over to UPS or FedEx. No matter how much internal packaging they add to the box, if it gets hurled into a tractor-trailer or dropped off the lift gate, it's going to break. It just is. Just like if you hit a wall in your car at 30 mph, your seatbelt may hold you in place and you won't have any crushing injuries -- your outer box is intact -- but your organs (brain, heart, etc.) are not going to survive the deceleration sufficiently unscathed for you to live. It's a 30-pound piece of china -- if it gets dropped from more than a few feet, it's gone. It's just a matter of the draw as to whether it's going to get there in one piece.

    Third, America's Most Trusted Plumber, Terry, could have delivered and installed your toilet, or loaded one in your car, INTACT. And guaranteed. If I could use him for all my plumbing, I would, but I'm not as close as you, living as I do in New York City.

    Anyway, this isn't about American workers and Japanese and all the other jingoistic stuff in your post. It's about the simple fact that it's risky to get porcelain fixtures delivered by UPS and FedEx. Chances are that if you email for a replacement, you'll get one, and you stand a chance that it will arrive in one piece. No need to figure out who to email: just use Amazon customer service. It's their problem to quarterback, and it is a COMMON ONE for them.

    Hope you feel better, and hope you get a good replacement soon. Your original choice of toilet was right; your choice of vendor was at least somewhat risky.

    PS That American Standard that you were thinking about is likely made in Mexico. Toto has plants there, and Vietnam, and Japan, and China, and South America (the Entrada model), and here. What is interesting is that the Japanese quality control is such that I had the experience of receiving two Toto Drake tanks, one made in Vietnam and one made here. They were both exceptionally-well made, and they were flat-out identical. Most other manufacturers of porcelain products don't get the tolerances that close, particularly if the products aren't made in the same place.
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2014
  4. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
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    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    Hey Roger,
    I have sold thousands of these, and the stuff I get is not broken. We tried to tell you that shipping single boxes of porcelain was a bad idea. I guess you're a slow learner. :)

    And, I can't tell you how many times you people that don't support local business order online and then try to get the local guy (me) to replace the broken mess on my dime when I didn't supply you. Shame on those people.

    I do get calls around the country, people wanting to support the web site. As much as I would love to sell them the products I chose to write about, I can't. Toilets break when you hand them over to a truck driver.
    You may get a few through, but not enough to make it worth while.
    We deliver the entire Puget Sound area, and it's all perfect.

    And just so you know, I won't buy anything from Amazon. I like to support the local guys. If we don't support our neighbors, how will we expect them to support us?
    I've worked with the same people for decades, trusting them to keep doing the great job that they do. Amazon has approached me and offered to take all my sales away, and resell them back to me at 50%
    It sounds funny when you think it's the other guy. But guess what, he's coming after your job too. Amazon is even putting doctors on their web site so they can take a cut of that.

    Good luck on your life Roger. I hope you're retired and don't have to worry about your job. Amazon is coming after it.

    This is my motto.

    [​IMG]
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2014
  5. Wallijonn

    Wallijonn Member

    Messages:
    136
    Location:
    Arizona
    My local guy refuses to sell on line. He said that they tried that once and ended up with 95% breakage. 9 out of 10 sales would get returns. Think about that - what would you do if that were your business? You would be on a first name basis with UPS and FedEX and their insurance departments. What's the turn around time on getting money from them? 90 days? 120 days? 180 days?

    Before I bought my Toto, locally, I ordered a Kohler through Amazon. I waited all day, having taken a vacation day from work. No toilet. No phone calls. No emails. Finally, after the Sun went down I got an email saying that the toilet was broken and the Amazon deliver/sub-contractor didn't want to deliver it. Amazon asked me if I wanted to get another. I requested a refund. I used up a vacation day and wasn't about to use another, seeing as the same thing would probably happen again.

    I don't order toilets or TVs online. If it's fragile it will probably break. [If you buy a TV from Amazon it can have up to 5 dead pixels before they will replace it. If I buy locally I can return it if it even has 1 dead pixel.]
  6. Thanks to all for your thoughts. I was in the porcelain and fine ceramics business (European & Japanese mfg, USA & Canada import, and wholesale to the largest stores in North America) for the better part of my professional career. I know a couple of things about quality control and porcelain tolerances, even though I've been retired for 20 years.

    Darn right I was a bit upset about the quality of the product (vs the QC that I experienced 100's of time with Japanese consumer products) and the possible QC at Amazon (if it was Amazon who put the smaller boxes into the master cartons). The QC was totally unacceptable - by both parties. I never opened the toilet bowl box as the bowl was so broken up - but I would love to check the QC on that item too. The QC on the tank lid was so bad, that I did question (to myself) the QC on the internal glazing of the bowl trap. Who's to say...

    In my business we shipped full truckloads/container loads, or for smaller customers - full pallet orders. One single time wee shipped a few boxes via UPS. Most of them came back to us broken/returned. UPS explained that they have to be packaged to withstand "8" three foot high "drops", or they are not packaged correctly for a UPS claim. Amazon is so organized, that I just assumed they would understand that QC concept.

    I'm sorry that I originally did not understand that this board is actually a TOTO board. I should have caught that one - up front. I truly thought this was an independent forum, setup by a plumber in Seattle. Sorry to offend the loyal. It was not my intention to slam anybody's perception of their favored product. Again, my apologies.

    When we talk QC, we must always beware of our personal loyalties, as they can sometimes make us short sighted and blind us. I realize that TOTO is a great toilet, with fine designs, engineering and the like. There is no question there... but I was expecting Japanese porcelain perfection. Not a problem - a learning experience. A lot can be lost, or misinterpreted using text vs speech. I too drank the kool-aid, as the loyal participants on this board put TOTO so high on their personal pedestals. The glazing drips and rattle in the tank lid was sloppy QC, for such an expensive item. - plain and simple. When a consumer sees this type of sloppy QC, it rings all sorts of "other" alarms ie: the coveted internal trap glazing and so on.

    Terry - you have an interesting concept about Amazon taking control of the world. I'll give that some thought. It's a scary thought, but you might not be far off the mark. They have certainly revolutionized the 'mail order' business. Compound that with corporate greed and who knows what might happen. Since the advent of Citizens United, it is nearly evident that the only vote we really have is through our spending habits. I'll think more on this topic.

    As to the remedy from Amazon - They are sending me another toilet today, to arrive tomorrow. Originally I took the item '2nd Day delivery' via my son's Prime Account... Amazon will ship my replacement 'Next Day', on their nickel. That's good customer service, even if they don't get to take over the world! If this next one is broken, I'll have to locate a dealer who stocks the item.

    ...all this for a toilet!
  7. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    14,911
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    It boils down to returns on products I can pick up from my wholesalers. Some brands are 99.9% usable. Some not so good.
    If you have returns even on 5%, throw in the labor to make a second trip out, and return the product, run back and reinstall, it eats up any profit for the day.

    If you don't have to pay employees to run back and forth, it doesn't matter maybe. But I run a business, and not a sort through boxes business. A plumbing business.
    Before Amazon, I would get the sale on the product and the normal labor charge. Amazon comes in, takes the product profit and wants half the labor, and holds the money. If there is an extra, like so many times on newer construction where the shutoff can't be reused, we can't do the job. Amazon is holding the money, and we can't guarnatee the job to the insurance company. It's stupidity at its highest.
    We have a guy in an office that never worked a day of construction in his life determining how life goes on in the big city.
    We work this way, we only work for customers direct. It's one on one with our customers. Either that, or move to India. At least I could live there on Amazon wages. Maybe.........
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2014
  8. wjcandee

    wjcandee Wise One

    Messages:
    1,828
    Location:
    New York, NY
    Ooooooh....snarky Roger.

    Roger, it's not a toto board. Read Terry's review of certain Kohler toilets, Caroma, Inax, etc.

    It's a board where people share their experiences. Many of the pros on here have had horrendous experience with AS quality control. Terry will order and install it for a customer, and of course sells a few Glenwall wall-mounted toilets because AS is one of the few vendors in this category, but I understand that the defect rate is significantly above normal. Particularly when Kohler, AS, etc. were making 1.6gpf toilets that didn't flush, Toto was a light in the darkness and many on here developed their affinity for Toto from that.

    Now that AS is owned by Lixil, which owns Toto's biggest competitor in Japan, Inax, perhaps over time they will improve the QC. But I suspect it will be a slog.

    Anecdotal evidence is generally meaningless, until you amass enough anecdotes to have a statistically-valid study. Nifty thing here is that there are a lot of anecdotes on this board for people to read. Over 600 on the Original Drake. However, beyond what anyone here says, the industry averages such as I have been able to discern them support my assertions about Toto's overall quality control, over a much bigger sample.

    The Drake II tank lid isn't meant to stay in one spot like the cap on a soda. Not designed that way. Our old AS toilets, there is one position in which the lid is "on properly". Different design for Toto. Some people care, some people don't. It isn't falling off the tank; but it isn't locked in place either. Don't know if that addresses your concern.

    As I mentioned, some Amazon warehouses seem to pack toilet components like they would pack any other item, which as you indicate is a mistake. Other online vendors, including a division of the biggest Toto wholesaler, partially foam the box, insert the toilet, then foam it till full. Unpacking it is like taking something out of a mold. Even those guys have a substantial damage-in-transit rate, but I understand that it's a little better than Amazon.

    Terry, for what it's worth, Amazon has been spectacularly-unsuccessful trying to do the install side. They have taken a couple of runs at it with national networks and it just hasn't worked out. Sears has been doing installation since before I was born, so it's possible to assemble nationwide networks of contractors -- and Amazon isn't unique in trying to do this, as Home Depot, Lowe's and others want to make the same crappy deal with you that Amazon does -- but for some reason Amazon just hasn't ben able to do it, and I suspect that they may give that side of it a rest for a while.
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2014

  9. WJ - The QC problem with the Drake lid was not to do with the small tabs that help keep it in place.
    My issue is/was with the sloppy glazing, drips of glaze, and chips of lid glaze. Additionally INSIDE the hollow lid was/is a chipped piece of glaze/porcelain that rattles around inside the lid when you lift and move the lid. Unacceptable.

    I was involved with may delicate items in my past life. A big outfit like Amazon is completely missing the boat, in not demanding from TOTO a "TOTO" shipping package - for the Amazon marketplace. Amazon is a giant buyer and could/can demand this of TOTO, "if" TOTO wants to sell to Amazon. I "assumed" that this detail would have certainly been done - especially since realizing all the negative things that people on this board have been saying about the pitfalls of shipping a "toilet" via UPS, etc, etc. I was mistaken - but the Amazon GMM should have TOTO design a shipping carton for the mail order industry. It's not rocket science. (It takes more than just repacking a pallet box into a padded master carton...

    Home Depot actually does not make crappy deals with contractors. HD contracts people who are willing to do a job for X$. Those contractors have the ability to say no, as has Terry. Others elect to do it. That's just contracting - business. Sometimes a merchant will sell an item for a high profit, sometimes for a low profit. It's just business. Nobody twists anybody's arm to contract to install for these companies.
  10. wjcandee

    wjcandee Wise One

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    Location:
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    Roger, your point about the packaging is well-taken. A manufacturer could even create a "ship to home" box (i.e. prepackaged for shipping to homes) for all the vendors that sell directly to consumers. One of the bigger ones besides Amazon is however a Toto wholesaler that sells to plumbing supply places and sub-distributors, and it may be to their advantage to hold the stuff in only one packaging format. That said, given the breakage rate it might behoove them to reconsider that practice if that is indeed the issue.
  11. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    14,911
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    Yes, there are always quite a few workers in the Home Depot parking lot. You bring them home with you and they use your tools. Non of the parkling lot handymen are licensed though. And you better have good home insurance.

    TOTO had a better reputation before they allowed Amazon purchases. I had a customer today that wanted a new toilet because she had heard about the problems with Amazon. I had installed the toilet for her and all it needed was to be cleaned.
    She was so freaked about about stories from Amazon customers that she had assumed it was a fault of the manufacturer, and not Amazon and the way they ship. TOTO's name is going downhill doing business with Amazon. My son cleaned the bowl, shined a powerful light on it, and showed her the perfect glazing. It did need to be cleaned. Maybe time for a maid service? It was in a bathroom that guests used, so it had very little use, but long times between the bowl being flushed. Some of the minerals in the water had dried.
    I will say that the last few Kohler products I picked up at the wholesalers seemed to be fine, as were the Cadet Pro's that I have installed. It used to be that most toilets were very low margin for manufacturers. The market now allows for a premium product, with better design and better inspections.
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2014
  12. wjcandee

    wjcandee Wise One

    Messages:
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    Location:
    New York, NY
    Wel, Kohler sells on Amazon, too. You can get almost any Kohler there. And AS sells on NBS. They're all out there. At least Toto can't be found where most people go buy stff cheaply: HD and Lowe's. At least not in significant part.
  13. ankhseeker

    ankhseeker Member

    Messages:
    78
    Location:
    California
    A friend of mine told me that the Amazon warehouse in Nevada has *NO* people working in it. Robots fill the orders. More jobs taken.
  14. dj2

    dj2 Member

    Messages:
    409
    Location:
    California
    ...And if Amazon gets its way, you'll get your stuff delivered and dropped down by a drone, one day...

    At the moment the FCC bans the use of drones for delivery, but one day...
  15. JerryR

    JerryR Member

    Messages:
    242
    Location:
    Florida
    I've had 5 Toto toilets shipped because I couldn't find local dealers with reasonable pricing. They wanted almost $200 more than what Terry sells them for. Those 5 toilets would have cost me $1,000 more locally and I would have had to pick them up.

    Of the 5, one bowl arrived in pieces, delivered by UPS. It was "dropped" at my front door with the arrow that states this side up laying horizontal. That one was sent from Amazon and when I called they sent me a new bowl and tank Fedex a Overnight at no charge. I left the old one outside and they had UPS pick it up.

    When I questioned the UPS driver about not paying attention to the "this side up" arrow he said they were not required to pay attention to these arrows or labels indicating "fragile."

    Amazon's policy is to ship replacements overnight if damaged due to their fault.

    I buy locally when it makes sense. Last week I bought a 48" LED TV. Amazon wanted $80 less than local stores where it was on sale. I went to a Best Buy, they pulled up the Amazon page and matched the price.

    We bought a new home last summer. Without Amazon is be spending all my time driving to stores.

    Just since this February I bought the following from Amazon as a Prime member, free 2 dat shipping.

    Hunter Ceiling fans
    Garage door openers
    Security cameras
    Alarm systems
    Dod food
    Pool floats and supplies
    Battery chargers
    Specialty halogen bulbs for landscape lights
    Bathroom towel bars and fixtures
    Bathroom and kitchen faucets
    Washing machine hoses
    Multiple books
    Dell computer
    Pressure cleaner hoses and accessories
    Specialized electrical hardware
    Bird food
    Bed sheets
    Repair kit for waterpik
    Multiple plumbing supplies
    Underwear
    Specialty tools
    Garage door rollers
    TV wall mounts
  16. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    14,911
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    Well Jerry, You must be retired too.
    What did you sell when you had a job. I'm sure the friends and family, people from church, all appreciate you doing business out of state.
    Wait, the two churches I go to reccomned buying from Amazon, and then they pass the plate. So the message there too is, buy out of state, and we need more money for expansion.
    It's all pretty short sighted if you ask me. I buy local and keep my neigbors working too. I'm not so cheap that I want to live in a place like India, or a third world country where you have extreme poverty, and a few really well to do people with servants.
  17. DJ- I recently read that Amazon "actually" made application to the FCC to begin drone delivery!
    That's just what we need - 1000's of flying drones buzzing around the air.
    I hope to God that the FCC holds strong against that activity. Picture a metropolitan city-scape buzzing with drones... Great for business - horrid for the citizens peace of mind. (Not to mention the dangers, learning curves and so on)

    UPS, FedEx & Amazon are frightening political lobby's in DC and the politicians in DC bend to their demands all the time. The UPS lobby (headed by the infamous Paul Ryan's wife) is very close to shutting down the US Post Office - in favor of UPS taking over the US Post. If that happens, we will have drones everywhere.
  18. JerryR

    JerryR Member

    Messages:
    242
    Location:
    Florida
    Yes, I am retired too. I retired as a Field Manager of Technical Services for a large corporation. At one point I had 60 technicians working 24/7 reporting to me.

    I don't consider myself cheap. If I could buy locally wholesale I would not be buying online.

    I spent over $40,000 with local providers in the last 10 months. We contracted kitchen & bath remodel, 2100 sq ft of travertine floors, 1500 sq ft of carpeting, all new appliances etc.

    I spent an additional $8,000 purchasing items online that I installed myself. Many items were not available locally.
  19. Terry, buying trends change. With the advent of the internet, the old
    "mail order" purchasing has returned. We always had mail order, it's
    just with the internet - now far more prevalent.

    Look at the big box trend. Some years back we had hardware stores &
    lumber yards (local commerce) today we have Home Depot (not local).

    Fred Meyer began as a small merchant, then grew to the big discount concept.
    It was still local, but is not Kroger (not local).

    Small local merchants will have to adjust their MO. Could mean lower
    your margin and make it on installation; could mean lower both. When
    the masses count their shekels, they always come up short - hence the
    need for merchants to adjust their pricing schedules.

    When Marco Polo went east for different or cheaper goods there was a new
    merchandising perception that had to be met. It's been this way forever.

    If I were in the retail plumbing parts and installation business I would begin
    with my wholesale suppliers and let them understand why they too should
    participate in lowering their prices to me, or give me better terms - or both.
    If they are going to be hurt by this new mail order trend, they too must take
    heed and work with their dealers, like yourself. You also have to rethink your
    retail pricing. Making less - but staying in business, might be the way it is for
    a while. Maybe forever, I don't know.

    We all love Costco (unless we are in the small store retail business). Same holds true
    with hardware stores, lumber yards and so on. A customer can buy from anybody or anyplace, but they must buy locally when it comes to installation. Sad & bad news, but a marketing reality.

    I always said, don't see how much you can get for the item, see how little you
    can mark it up and go for the volume. The public loves that concept and returns
    time & time again.

    A problem with your type of durable goods is - once they buy, they are gone...
    so you have to constantly be working the numbers to find new customers. A hard
    game, but it has been working for a long time with many product lines.
  20. Quick question...
    When everybody (including TOTO) talks about the trap being
    glazed... what does that mean? Can anybody answer this?
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