Jeer Jeers: Penn State Industries

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Talonstorm

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Joined
Apr 8, 2022
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20
Location
California
I have ordered quite a few items from psi. The ones I want to discuss are their crochet hook set and the mini scissors. Another hobby of mine is knitting and crocheting. I was really excited to turn the handles and try out these items. Here is the problem:

Scissors - dull to the point that they won't cut anything but thin paper. The tips don't come together, which makes them hard to use. They do not stay firmly in the handle when not in use. PSI responded by saying they have parts available. But those parts are not sharper, more functional scissors, so not helpful.

Crochet hook set - so poorly designed. The tips are very small and so not hold yarn well. Further, the hook size is determined by the size of the hook shaft, not the hook. With the shaft tapered to the bottom, the size of their hooks aren't even close to correct. It makes the set useless. PSI's response is that is isn't a "professional" kit. What?! Since when are there professional crocheters? And how does doing something as a hobby mean you want your project to be garbage due to faulty hooks. They are intended for use, but their design makes them impossible to use, end of argument. I purchased 2 of these sets and all the extra sizes hooks, so I'm out a fair amount of money.

My last comment is the one that is the reason I'll never buy another thing from them. I look at reviews on things before I buy them. The reviews for these items looked great. What I did not realize is that PSI has a filter preset to only show 4 & 5 star reviews, so you don't see the negative reviews (which would have stopped me from buying these kits). That is just dishonest. The kits being poor quality is one thing, but this is like lying to their customers and for that, they have lost my business.
 

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Drewby108

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Apr 30, 2022
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Spokane, WA
I was going to get the crochet set for my girlfriend a while back, but somebody on reddit said pretty much the same thing about usability. They also mentioned that the length of the shaft was too short for actual work.
 

Talonstorm

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Joined
Apr 8, 2022
Messages
20
Location
California
I'm pretty irritated with them. They refuse to do anything. They said that because I already turned the handles they won't take them back, but you don't know they are not functional until the handles are turned. No response on the highly deceptive review filter. I ended up filling a bbb complaint, not that I expect it to get me anywhere. *sigh*
 

Fine Engineer

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Joined
Nov 17, 2021
Messages
248
Location
Carson City, NV
I just went to the site and looked at the crochet hooks, and didn't see a star filter set. In fact the first reviews were 1, 2 and 3 stars. While the reviews site the main problem of tapering shafts (I would have to talk to the crocheters to see if that was an issue for them), the list seemed legit. I then went to a different product and there it was, just as you described. I'd have to look further to see if this is endemic, or just a few isolated cases, but it does seem deceptive.

The staff description seems a bit odd though. I agree that there is no such thing as 'pro' and 'amateur' crochet hooks.
 

Don Rabchenuk

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Joined
Aug 18, 2015
Messages
654
Location
Middleburg, FL
After reading this yesterday, I went to look at these to see the reviews. While there the star filter was set to 4 and 5. I changed it to see 1, 2, and 3. Could it be that the filter stays where the last person puts the checks? Something to ponder.
 

Lee58

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Joined
Dec 7, 2008
Messages
54
Location
Schertz TX.
I'm pretty irritated with them. They refuse to do anything. They said that because I already turned the handles they won't take them back, but you don't know they are not functional until the handles are turned. No response on the highly deceptive review filter. I ended up filling a bbb complaint, not that I expect it to get me anywhere. *sigh*
Just for your information and my experience with filing with the BBB is that they always side with the business or have every time I have filed anything with them. Not that I have filed very many complaints with them but will not waste my time using them as it does no good at all. Looks like the BBB has an unwritten policy that the consumer is never right, just my opinion!
 

Talonstorm

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Joined
Apr 8, 2022
Messages
20
Location
California
Just for your information and my experience with filing with the BBB is that they always side with the business or have every time I have filed anything with them. Not that I have filed very many complaints with them but will not waste my time using them as it does no good at all. Looks like the BBB has an unwritten policy that the consumer is never right, just my opinion!
I know, but at least my complaint will show up if anyone else searches for them. They also have a way to rate them, but on the bbb site that is likely going to be skewed negative.
 

jrista

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Joined
Aug 12, 2021
Messages
1,261
Location
Colorado
I don't think the BBB can legitimately take action, such as downgrading a businesses rating, until there is a plethora of evidence that the company is actually "bad" in some way or another. An individual report here or there is just that, an individual report here or there. A whole bunch of reports from a whole bunch of people over say a year or something like that, would be a stronger signal that a downgrade in rating is justified.

Even with a bunch of individual consumer reports, I still don't think the BBB could legitimately downgrade a business unless they also do their own investigation into the company, its leadership, and maybe dig into the history of all of them. A plethora of complaints could spur the BBB do investigate further... As IANAL, I can't say with any specificity what the legal landscape might be like for the BBB and the companies they rate, but I could see the BBB potentially being liable of they downgrade a company without good and justifiable cause.

So it is not surprising that an individual consumer complaint here or there against a particular company doesn't immediately result in a downgrade.

I have some issues with PSI. I've purchased a couple items from them that ended up being not just poor quality, but I would say defective right out of the box (i.e. brand new pen mandrel with curved mandrel right out of the box). I contacted them and have never received any kind of reply, for any occasion. That was a bit miffing, but...who knows for sure why. Things just falling through the cracks? Or is it a regular pattern that every customer experiences? I dunno, and I don't think it would be all that easy to figure out for sure. ;)
 

RunnerVince

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Joined
Dec 18, 2019
Messages
184
Location
Ogden, UT
I have some issues with PSI. I've purchased a couple items from them that ended up being not just poor quality, but I would say defective right out of the box (i.e. brand new pen mandrel with curved mandrel right out of the box). I contacted them and have never received any kind of reply, for any occasion. That was a bit miffing, but...who knows for sure why. Things just falling through the cracks? Or is it a regular pattern that every customer experiences? I dunno, and I don't think it would be all that easy to figure out for sure. ;)
PSI is not my favorite vendor. I've had issues with them with shipping, items not being up to spec, customer service being very condescending, etc. There are unfortunately a few items I can only get from them (at least I think they're the only ones that do the seam ripper and razor kits), and their bolt-action pens are a "known good," so I keep going back.
 

Curly

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Joined
Nov 20, 2010
Messages
4,571
Location
Saskatoon SK., Canada.
The BBB is a paid to belong group by business. Takes a lot for them to self criticize or they would loose the members, businesses, that keep them afloat. If they were independently funded and not subject to any influence I could see them being trusted but as I see it they are biassed because thy are.
 

Talonstorm

Member
Joined
Apr 8, 2022
Messages
20
Location
California
Psi is not accredited by the bbb, so it is all a moot point. It just provides an additional conduit for communication, assuming they even reply. As I said, I don't expect anything from it really. Condescending is a good description of my experiences with their customer service as well. Mostly, I'm just really disappointed in them because they have some unique products, but will no longer get my business. 😕
 

penicillin

Member
Joined
Feb 27, 2019
Messages
976
I ran some experiments with the reviews for the Interchangeable Crochet Hook Set at Penn State and learned that the Penn State website is interpreted and displayed differently, depending on which operating system and browser you are using.

What I did was open up the Penn State website, type "crochet" in the search box, click on the first search item that shows the kit with several hooks, and then look at the reviews for that crochet hook kit. This one:
https://www.pennstateind.com/store/PKCROCHET.html

Older Browser:
  • macOS 10.12.6 "Sierra" running Safari 12.1.2:
    • The listing for the kit was divided into "vertical sections" on the screen. Each section had a black bar divider with a plus sign "+" on the right side. Click the plus sign, and the section expands vertically, making the web page longer.
    • The reviews included all rating levels. The first two reviews shown were 2 stars and 3 stars, respectively.
    • I deleted Penn State cookies in the browser and re-ran the tests. The offer pop-up appeared, but the crochet hook set was unchanged.
      • Note that this browser seemed to have only one Penn State cookie (pennstateind). The other browser had two cookies (pennstateind and www.penstateind).
Current Browser:
  • macOS 10.12.6 "Sierra" running Chrome 102.0.5005.61:
    • The listing for the kit was divided into tabs on the screen, keeping the web page short. You click on a tab and that information displays in the frame. You can only view one tab at a time in the same frame, which keeps the web page the same length.
    • The reviews included only 4 and 5 ratings.
    • I changed the review filter by unchecking all of the rating levels, quit Chrome, and then repeated the test. The Penn State website restored the filter setting to "only 4 and 5".
    • I changed the review filter by checking all of the rating levels, quit Chrome, and then repeated the test. The Penn State website restored the filter setting to "only 4 and 5".
    • I deleted Penn State cookies in the browser and re-ran the tests. The offer pop-up appeared, but the crochet hook set was unchanged. The filter was "only 4 and 5"
      • Note that this browser had two Penn State cookies (pennstateind and www.pennstateind). The old Safari browser above had only one cookie (pennstateind only).
  • Ubuntu Linux 18.04 running Firefox 101.0.1:
    • Same as Chrome, above.
After the above results, I tried a current macOS with a current Safari browser:
  • MacOS 12.4 "Monterey" running Safari 15.5:
    • Same as Chrome, above.
 

talpha1

Member
Joined
Mar 27, 2022
Messages
11
Location
Oxnard, CA
Talonstorm’s sister here. A few other notes about Penn State Industries, and the reasons I will avoid them at all costs going forward.
I see by the comment above that perhaps the star filter isn’t an issue on some browsers, but is on others. It is not the previous setting, as I would not have ever set it to filter only good reviews (that really defeats the purpose of reading the reviews).
I’ve received 3 items from Penn State Industries that were patently defective. The crochet set, the scissors, and most recently a dragon pen kit. The first two are mentioned by my sister, so I won’t rehash that. The dragon pen kit has a very well documented flaw whereby the upper barrel will not sit flush to the center band. It took a fair amount of modification (grinding with a rotary tool) to get the pieces to seat together. My blanks were square, I tried thinning the metal in the tube a bit, and I had no sharp edges. My problem is mainly that Penn State Industries is very well aware of the issues with all 3 of these products, some of the issues going back years. Not only do they not care enough to correct the defects, but they continue to knowingly sell the defective product to unsuspecting consumers, all the while trying to hide the bad reviews with star filters. For those reasons, they will not get another cent of our money.
Finally, just a note about their customer “service.” I have had several instances of no reply, and we’ve had one instance where a rep tried to mansplain how to use pen blank drilling jaws that we had an issue with. Disagreeing with what we were reading directly from the description of the product.
This might sound like we’re complaining an awful lot. If it was one bad experience, well, I’m pretty understanding of things happening with larger companies, but this was many things, and the business practices of this company are downright dishonest, and that I simply will not abide by.

Edit: BBB worked. PSI has agreed to accept a return of the crochet kits.
 
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