10 April, 2009

New Chandelier for the Dining Room, Take 2

Remember the super nifty chandelier I bought on eBay more than a month ago?

The seller, who lives up in Canada, packed it really, really well. Better than most things I receive in the mail. The five shades were individually wrapped in specially fashioned cardboard containers, and the frame was double-boxed and packed so full with peanuts it would not shift in the slightest. The seller said it took her forever, but she was confident it would get to our house safely.

And yet, Fed Ex somehow managed to break it.

Part of the frame just snapped in two pieces.

It doesn't really look that bad, just a tiny little break. But the broken bit has a screw that attaches this arm to another part of the frame. Still, it's a clean break, and we figured we could probably glue it together. But because it is a 85-year-old light fixture, we decided to check in with some experts first. We first took the light to Marshall Electric Supply, Inc. (7400 N. Western, Chicago), an awesome place for hard-to-find electric supplies...

...and then on over to A Lamp & Fixture (3181 N Elston Ave), which specializes in vintage light repairs.

At both places we were told that because the frame is made of pot metal, it's essentially unrepairable. Neither would touch it. The pot metal could not be soldered because of its low melting point, and neither epoxy nor glue could be trusted to hold, not even the epoxies supposedly meant for pot metal. I Googled this afterward, because I'm stubborn, and found site after site and forum after forum that pretty much said the same thing. Unrepairable.

Technically, we could still hang it up and the other four arms of the frame would probably keep the light stable. But we didn't necessarily want to risk that, and having exhausted the options for repair, we decided to go ahead and put in the claim with Fed Ex for either full compensation, or partial compensation so we could keep the shades, which are lovely, and find another frame. I was glad we spent the extra couple bucks for insurance. One way or the other, Fed Ex would have to pay us something for breaking and devaluing the chandelier. This is where it got to be a pain in the butt.

The seller was, at this point, vacationing in Mexico so told me to go ahead and start the claim process. I did so through the Fed Ex web site, where it asked if I was the buyer or seller, and then had me upload photos and supporting documents. I then talked with a service rep over the phone and was told that someone would come by to look at it, but nobody ever showed.

The seller got back from vacation and tried from her end; after a great deal of hassle in which Fed Ex couldn't find the original claim, she finally arranged for them to come get the light for evaluation. Because it's an antique, they wanted to take it to their expert for an opinion. The receipts for what I paid, before and after photos, and evidence of what similar ones are worth, was not enough for them.

Still, nobody showed up. In the mean time, I got a letter from Fed Ex denying the claim because I was the buyer, not the seller. I was to start the whole process again through the seller, and Fed Ex would deal with the seller only. (Then why allow me, the buyer, to start the claim? I don't know.) This, in spite of the fact that the seller was now dealing with them directly.

The seller spent the next two weeks leaving messages higher and higher up the Fed Ex chain, and nobody ever returned her calls. Finally, completely frustrated herself, she had me pack up the whole thing and ship it back to her where she's going to take it to Fed Ex in person and show them the damage. She's already refunded me for the chandelier and for shipping both ways, but I worry what Fed Ex will say to her now that she has the chandelier back in her possession. I wish her luck. It's been over a month that we've been trying to get this settled, and I'm just glad that, from our perspective, it's over with.

Lesson: Always buy insurance when you buy big-ticket eBay items. One way or the other, the seller will have to find a way to compensate you.

Although bummed, I went back on eBay to see what else was out there. I wasn't feeling particularly hopeful, because through some sort of fluke in the first place our winning bid had been roughly half of what similar chandeliers generally go for; we were shocked at the time, and so excited that an original slip shade chandelier was within our price range.

So, I spent half an hour scrolling through auction listings for art deco chandeliers, and couldn't find anything suitable and affordable.

But guess what? Tucked amongst the other listings I actually spotted one for a 1920s chandelier to match the sconces (circa 1926) we just installed in the living room.

The Sconces:

The Chandelier:

I know, I know; it's a completely different direction from the slip shade chandelier we wanted.

It had a "Buy it Now" option for a little bit more than what we paid for the slip shade, and I went tearing upstairs, shouting for Mom and Ted, to take a look because I simply couldn't believe it.

Although there are some variations, it's obvious this is made by the same manufacturer. The ridges, the flowers, the arrow head designs, the fans. Both the sconces and chandelier have 'em.

And, unlike the slip shade light, this chandelier is made of copper and brass. We utilized the "make an offer" feature of eBay, and waited on pins and needles for all of two minutes before the seller got back to us with a yes.

What are the odds of finding this, do you think? It Fed Ex hadn't been such a pain to deal with and paid out the claim in a timely manner, we never would have seen this. It's fate. This chandelier was meant to be ours.

I still want to fit slip shade lights somewhere in The Box House, maybe the bedrooms. But for that, there is no rush. We already way blew the budget for the month on light fixtures. So no more chandelier shopping for me.

Unless I see a really cool one on eBay, that is.


Karen Anne said...

What an incredibly gorgeous find!

In FedEx's defense, a year or two ago I shipped something to someone in Norway. FedEx lost it for maybe four months, paid the insurance, and then found it.

Okay, so that's not good. What is good is that a couple of months ago I received a $100 check from them out of the blue. What's this, I said to them on the phone? It's because we failed to meet our pledge of prompt delivery, they said.

Jen said...

It was meant to be.
It is great when things work out for the best.

modernemama said...

It's wonderful it worked out. FedEx delivered one of a pair of ebay lamps damaged - despite great packing and the word Fragile stamped all over it the box looked like it had been dropped at least once-I received the full refund from the seller, I presume she got the insurance.

Jennifer said...

Well, it all turned out well! I hope the seller collected their insurance money.

us said...

These are all insanely beautiful. Love your taste!

Joanne said...

US--Thanks! I love the chandelier you guys picked, too. Looking forward to seeing it in place.

Jean Martha said...

Both lights are gorgeous, but I prefer the second one.

I had a similar situation with UPS. They left a (very expensive) painting out in my yard...in NYC...on a rainy day. Holy crap.

Joanne said...

Yikes. I'm not sure what shocks me more--leaving a painting in the rain, or leaving a package outside in NYC.

Johnetta said...

Wow!! It is gorgeous lighting for home decoration!! It is perfect chocie for dining room area!!