Oozing Goo - The Lava Lamp Syndicate

Hello everyone! This is Steven from the former company If the Personality Fits. We have received some emails recently from our former customers as to why we do not have any lava lamps for sale and when I told them why they told me that I should tell others or post something up detailing our explanation.
First and foremost: We love lava lamps. When we first started selling them we did not know much and it kind of grew on us like mold. We had to keep 1 of each lamp that we sold and we even picked up a colossus.
When we first started selling the lava lamps we ran into a few issues. The worst of all was cloudyness and was the most common problem. Back when Haggarty Enterprises was around they did a lot of our replacements for us. For a while they were pretty fast at it however as time went on the slower the replacemts came. We used to have our customers run the lamps for a small duration of time and even referred them to this very web site for advice on how to clear it. Well......no matter what, they never cleared and we arranged for everything to be taken care of with no questions asked. The most common cloudy lamp that we dealt with was the 52 oz Black in Clear. We even gave it a
mandatory inspection before we shipped them. But that only goes for so long.
The next problem we encountered was the 52oz Red/Clear. For some reason this lamp didn't want to move. The frustrating part about this lamp is that Haggarty began shipping replacement globes to them and our customers kept receiving the globes with the same non-motion issues. So we started to send them out ourselves. We started to test these before we shipped them. Both replacements and new alike. At first they worked great. The flow was awesome and really put on a show. So I let my wife keep one and we felt that we had the best method to to deal with the problem first hand. Then a couple weeks later my wife's lamp stops flowing and at the same time we get smashed with emails from our customers stateing that their red lamps they purchased from us are no longer flowing. All of this is happening at the same time as well as dealing with the issues with the 52oz Black in Clear.
Here's the next problem and I think this pretty much was the beginning of the end: The replacement lamps either began taking too long or did not come at all. Haggarty had a good replacement program to help our customers out. If they received a bad globe they would replace it. As time went on the longer it took them longer to replace them. At times, I kid you not, took 3 months because they never communicated that they were out of that particular color. So to those who did not want to wait any longer and being the good buisness people that we are we refunded their money with no questions asked.
When we began selling the chrome lava lamps we had a very good spike in buisness. All was going well until the pink/purple w/ black chrome seemed to develope a non-motion issues so "here we go again." Same problem as the 52oz Red/Clear.
When Lava lites took over the company we started to ship all of the replacements ourselves. If a customer received a bad globe we offered the same color combination or a different color combo as well. People loved that. They didn't want to risk getting the same globe with the same problem plus it built a foundation of trust between our company. If the replacement was bad we would then offer a refund so our customers never really had anything to loose. We heard a lot of horror stories from our customers who purchased lava lamps from other sellers and some of these stories sounded like one of those nightmare on elm street movies. Poeple getting stuck with bad lamps and no refund to show for it. So we wanted to have a policy that benefited our customers as well as us by demonstrating our trust and integrity to keep our customers happy.
Then the crap hit the fan. We were seeing more and more problems with the lamps. Keep in mind that this is not a smear tactic to Lava Lites. They are the best company that I have ever dealt with. The people are professional and for all of the lamps that we had problems with, we received refunds.
The grande lamps began to give our customers issues. Both cloudyness and non-motion issues. The black in clear lamps were still having the cloudy issues and the 52oz Red began arriving cloudy, and that was after solved the non-motion issue. It felt like it was just one thing after another. Then a lot of our other best sellers were starting to down the tubes as well. The 520z White/Blue would not monve. Our 20oz chrome lamps were arriving cloudy and some of those began having motion issues so at that time our strategy was to eliminate the lamps from our stock that had the most defections.
Let me point out one thing. When I say that there were a lot of defected lamps: I'm referring to at least 60 - 70% of the stock we received so we're looking at a very wide spread issue.
A short while later we were informmed that they were going to be making a new mixture for the lava lamps. This was apparently going to cut down on the cloudyness issues that were popping up and for a while things were great. Then I received an email from someone stateing that their lava lamp was not the one they ordered and not the one represented in the picture. I asked if she received the Red lava in Clear liquid and she said that the lava was transparant and more of a neon color. I thought it was odd, but a complaint unlike the others we received on a normal basis. The new mixture did reduce the cloudyness that was being received but didn't entirely eliminate it. We (again) began receiving complaints that their globes were not moving, once again becoming a wide spead issue. Then the real headace came: People began complaining about the neon/ transparency of the wax.
I did tell everyone earlier that I love lava lamps. I have a pretty big collection. I have the swirl lamps, the snake skin lamp with the chocolate lava, along with some of the resin lamps. So I decided that I was going to keep one of the new lamps. I set it up next to our old ones in my collection and I think, (in combination with all the other issues) is where it ended. For the first time, I really really hated the lava lamp. I got a first hand glimpse of the transparency/neon color of the wax. It did not move right at all and to add insult to injury the older lamps out-performmed the new 52oz lamp I decided to keep. I allways heard people say that the American made lamps were better and I honestly never gave it much thought untill I saw it for myself.
So here's the question that we faced: If we are a Christian company that demonstrates our trust by being there for customers and earning their trust then how do we look selling products that our customers come to hate? So to cut our losses we had to say Goodbye. We paid our last invoice off and we pretty much had the largest giveaway in the region. And I mean a very Large giveaway. All of our lava lamps that were in our stock we handed off for free. How can we charge people for this stuff? And besides: People love free stuff.
So once again: this is not smearfeast on Lava Lites. Those people over there are great and the best that I have ever had to deal with. They are there for your problems and they stuck by me. I had a blast
with them. But honestly: these lamps have to come back to the states and I feel that everyone will probably not argue with me on that issue. I would honestly pay $50 for a lava lamp that will last for years on end rather than paying $20 for a lamp that will last for 3 months. So if the Lava Lamps begin to be manufactured back here in the states we'll be back at it again but untill then: it's not an option.

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I purchased a few lamps from you Steven and luckily I never had a problem. Your service and ship time was great. I agree with your decision to stop selling lavalites, with a 60 to 70% failure rate what is the point ?

Check into what Astrobaby suggested about Mathmos lamps, its rare to find a good honest business person like yourself. If you could sell Mathmos in the US , that would be great.

Agreed, this coming from a US-based collector whose collection is 99% US-made lamps: Look into selling Mathmos, made in the UK. Their products have a very different look and feel than the US-made lamps, and the flow is comparable to vintage US models of the 1960s. High quality metalwork and vivid colors, and no flow issues. The only issue with them is that, if shaken while hot, it takes more work to get the resulting cloudiness to go away. AFAIK, they always arrive working and clear when new. Prices are significantly higher than the US-made Lava Lites were (don't confuse this name with the current owners' company name - "Lava Lite" WAS the official product name before the influx of new import lamps, and some new naming laws, forced them to begin calling their product the "Lava brand motion lamp") but the quality matches the cost.

And yes, the new Mathmos Fireflow is exciting. Lava Corp., in the 1960s, produced a cordless non-electric model called the Continental (aka Savoy, the variant sold to the commercial trade). In the late 90s, Haggerty tested a 52 oz. version, which never hit the market but did work. Mathmos is now making the Fireflow in a few bright colors and two models, a silver rocket (looks more like an old-fashioned aerial bomb) and a modern design with a globe suspended by its top inside a clear cylinder, giving a sort of visual disconnection from the candle. Since Lava is going downhill, these are really the only other commercial option, but they're beautiful. The Fluidium is nifty, too, a visual joke as it's shaped like a rising lava blob. It's a BIG lamp, bigger than a Century.
We honestly attempted to get in contact with Mathmos. When we first began having these issues with our China lamps we found that Mathmos would be the next step. We managed to make contact and cooperated with all of their requirements and unfortunantly we were given the cold shoulder. We made several phone calls along with many emails throughout 2008 and we received nothing in return so I'm not really sure what happend but I feel that it may some how be related to the fact that we are in the United States. When I initially talked to a rep she didn't exactly sound thrilled so that's my only guess. So we tried but so long.
In response to what Bohdan said about the fact that a lot of retailers are not selling Grandes and Colossus, that's exactly correct. There were so many problems with the Grandes that Haggarty Enterprises and Lava Lites gave retailers the option to have it dropshipped from their warehouse to our customers............failed miserably. We dropshipped 3 Grande lamps and that did not help. They still arrived cloudy and with numerous other problems. All 3 warrantys failed. The replacements arrived in just as bad and if not worse condition than the first. So that means that we had to issue refunds. Thank god nothing major happend with the Colossus lamps that we sold. We sold quite a few that were dropshipped but the only problem we encountered is the incorrect base and cap being shipped. Our customer ordered and granite base and cap but since they were out and failed to tell me, they just decided to send her a silver base and cap. At the time the different base and caps cost more than the silver so I was relatively disappointed when I heard this.
I was pretty bitter too when they opend up their new site. Haggarty used to sell the lamps they couldn't get rid of on their site however when Lava Lites took over they decided to sell just about every product they had to offer. If you recall Haggarty made it much easier to find their internet retailers by simply clicking "where to buy". Lava Lites will provide that option only if the product is out of stock. I talked to several other retailers aother retailers and they too saw a drop in their buisness so it was a pretty good kick in the balls all around.
In my opinion buisness iworks like this: Buy a product at whole sale,, resell it for profit, ship it, arrives in perfect condition: thus the customer is happy.....................at least that's how its supposed to work. So if the product cannot meet this criteria then its a failed product. And the warranty will only get you another globe full of ugly. Oh well.
Hey Ant, any idea when the interview will air on Discovery?

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