Wednesday 30 December 2015

Oh Noes!: Tamaki's Warped Leg

Friends, sometimes, mistakes happen. Sometimes, a ball is dropped and no one picks it up. Sometimes, details are overlooked and no one notices. Sometimes, people get lazy because they are human.

Luckily, when such things happen, there's a thing called communication. And disgruntlement. Communication and disgruntlement can get you far in situations where people are busy being human. Read on, for the full story.

This September, I decided to pursue an endeavour that I've kept in mind for the past few years: Obtaining Max Factory's Tamaki. She's a figure that I've always coveted but never really went about hunting. I had a slew of excuses. She was an older figure, and I didn't trust her quality. She wasn't a character I knew. Her price was steep (10k seems like a lot for a figure that's over five years old). But this was the year I finally said "Fuck it", and set my phasers to hunt.

Tamaki is a figure that has stubbornly retained her value over the years. Five years ago, she resold for 10k. Nowadays, she also resells at around 10k. I watched her prices for a few months to familiarize myself with how she rolled. As expected, it hovered around 10k before one appeared on AmiAmi for just under 9k. Hey, I thought to myself, some saving is better than nothing, and went for it. She was listed as A/C condition, which meant her box was a bit beat up but the figure itself was almost pristine. As someone who gives little value to boxes beyond their protective qualities, I went ahead and ordered her.

Fast forward a few weeks and a box appeared on my front steps. As per usual, I gleefully gathered the box, squirreled it away, and sequestered off a corner of my room to unravel my new bibelot. I removed and saved all the protective plastic bits, turned her around in my hands to ensure there were no noticeable flaws, poked at all inappropriate parts, giggled like an imbecile, and set her on my shelf.

Where she immediately fell on her face.


Out of curiosity, I set her back on her feet knees and observed the phenomenon. Yes, she faceplanted again. I balanced her out again. She faceplanted. That was when I noticed something very curious about her legs. They didn't match up. And my didn't match up, I mean, they didn't lie flat to the ground. If one leg was flat against the ground, the other wouldn't be, an vise versa. As such, she was dreadfully unbalanced, so badly so, that she had trouble staying upright without support.

Well, fuck frig.

Now, whenever I'm confronted with a problem, I assume the Thinker position and cry inside. But only for a second, because crying isn't productive, and I don't like dawdling on problems. I considered my hurt feelings for a little bit, then drew a conclusion.

AmiAmi listed her in A condition, which, according to their website, meant "Like New - Item is sealed and is unopened or appears to be unopened". Clearly, a warped leg warrants a B or C status (minor to conspicuously damage, not "like new"). Two things could have happened here. Someone noticed her defect and labeled her the wrong condition. Or, someone overlooked her defect and assumed she was like new without checking. Either way, there was a misrepresentation and I ended up paying for an A condition item without getting an A condition item.

Upon closer inspection, her warp is really quite noticeable. Had it been smaller, I may not have even been bothered, but considering she can barely sit upright, this was a significant flaw.

So I emailed AmiAmi.

Here's the thing, folks. I don't like being negative. Before I email anyone with a complaint, I think long and hard about the validity of my complaint. I ask myself, what am I upset about here? What is the root of my issue? And how upset should I be? Do I throw a tantrum over it (Hint: Never throw a tantrum)? What do I put in the email to convey that my complaints are reasonable, and that culpability rested in the seller rather than my own, stupid actions? And what do I require as compensation?

So I politely explained that I was disappointed because the item I received did not match the description that was provided to me. I explained that, according to their own definitions, I was given a certain expectation of their item, and that the item did not meet those expectations. I explained that I would not have ordered her at the price I paid had I known about her defect beforehand. I told them I know that she was a preowned item, so I didn't expect a replacement. But, I would like to see some sort of compensation in the form of a partial refund. I included the pictures above, with some additional red circles for clarity's sake.

AmiAmi emailed me back, also very politely, asking for proof of ownership, a.k.a. a picture of Tamaki alongside her shipping label. At first, I mistakenly sent them a copy of my payment receipt and shipping notification. at which they replied saying they could not accept print-outs or electronic screenshots as proof (whoops). To clarify, folks, the shipping label is the piece of paper that is attached to the outside of the box (which thankfully, I always keep).

Always keep these guys in case of emergency. Excuse the ugly strike-outs and blurriness.
After all the proper forms were sent, AmiAmi requested that I send the photos once more so they could let their warehouse and preowned teams examine them. At this point, I got a bit frustrated. Couldn't they just forward my initial email? I spent a long time trying to get the file sizes small enough to fit within my email limits. But it was a fleeting annoyance. If they wanted photos, it honestly wasn't much of an effort to resend them. For good measure, I included some prototype photos for comparison purposes.

Finally, after about a week's correspondence, AmiAmi replied with an absolutely stunning email. They had found a replacement figure, and were sending it over at no extra cost. (Sans box, of course, but who cares about the box at that point?)

Wow! What a response! I admit, I was apprehensive about what compensation I would receive, but AmiAmi really went above and beyond to resolve the situation. I've heard reviews of AmiAmi's customer service before, both good and bad, but I've never experienced it personally. Having now corresponded with them, I can say they were honestly very professional and prompt. I never waited over 24 hours for a response (honestly, some responses came hours after I sent them), and they certainly exceeded my expectation in finding me an actual replacement.

I have been with AmiAmi since the very beginning, and I've never had any issues with them. Luckily, this incident positively reinforces their immaculate status in my mind. There are many reasons I am so fond of them, and I am happy to say their customer service is now among one of them. A happy ending for all!

So now I have two happy Tamaki's sitting on my shelf. One in all her glorious perfection. The other, just slightly derpy.

In a side by side comparison, you can see the real difference between their legs. I wonder how my first Tamaki got so warped. Bad storage, perhaps? Or factory defect?

Of course, there's nothing a little creativity can't fix.


You know what, now that I've spent some time with her, I kind of like my derpy Tamaki. She's different. She falls on her face a lot. It's annoying. But there's also a lesson to be learned here. We all fall on our face sometimes, some more than others. But that doesn't mean we're irredeemable. We just need to find our chair. Derpy Tamaki reminds me that life is not fair, and that in this festive season, perhaps we'd all be happier being each other's chairs than judging and criticizing each others failures. During thing holiday season, remember this: Choose to be the chair. Preferably one with enough heft to hold up something much heavier than yourself.

This public awareness message was brought to you by: Slightly Too Much Wine. When you really want beer, but just can't forsake your class.

So. In the ever-learning spirit of Poke the Merch, what have we learned from this incident?
  1. Never be hesitant to write to someone when something goes wrong with your order. In all likelihood, the people on the other side are good people, and willing to help as long as you are not a total jerk about it.
  2. Customer service is a tough job. Always practice these 4 Ps when emailing others: Promptness, politeness, provide evidence, and patience.
  3. Derpy figures are cute.
I suppose at the end of it all I will try to fix derpy Tamaki, because despite my compassionate words, I simply can't stand imperfection. Nor can I overlook a challenge, especially when they second as a new experience. I've always wanted to try my hand at fixing a PVC figure, and derpy Tamaki is the perfect specimen. With a little science and hot air, she should be good as new in no time.

...But I suppose that's content for another post.

So, readers, tell me your stories? Have you ever had a preowned figure disappoint you? What did you do about it? Also, I would love to hear your stories of un-warping figures and/or otherwise fixing them after conspicuous damage has been done. I'm thinking of going the hairdryer route, for efficiency's sake.

Merry belated Christmas everyone. And a happy early New Year's.

Stay warm,


    1. First congratulations on acquiring Max Factories Tamaki, she's a super sweet figure darling (。♥‿♥。)
      I also bought her years after the release, back then I was bothered by her boobs size,
      such a statement from my former self feels ridiculous today, I really, really like it.

      Cool that you now have two of them, after the case was solved ^^
      After dealing with GSC customer service and recently the smartdoll customer service,
      I'm honestly fed up to deal with such things, I never complained at AmiAmi though.

      Once I bought a preowned Echidna figure at Mandarake, it had a serious green discoloration over her butt,
      maybe someone used lube or shampoo that caused this >.<. I sanded it off which solved the problem.

      I like the fact that "derpy" Tamaki has a slightly different viewing angle, thanks to her twisted leg.
      It makes her look more flirty and teasing (⁄ ⁄^⁄ᗨ⁄^⁄ ⁄)

      1. Her boob size also bothered me for a long time, but I slowly got used to them. I mean, there are way bigger out there. =P Her face is what won me over in the end. I love her expression. So cute!

        Although I detest dealing with customer service, I always feel obligated to try. It always makes me happy when things turn out better than expected. And if not, hey, at least I can get creative fixing my figures. I'm not sure I'm ballsy enough to sand my figures, but I've used rubbing alcohol to dissolve paint transfer before. =]


    2. Congratulation on receiving a replacement, ever since I switch from figure to dolls, I have not bought from amiami much nowadays; but it is nice to hear that they are improving their customer service. I also had a incident happened before whereas the figure they sent me was upside down inside the box(blister was in a reverse direction. Which was very weird, they didn't compensate for it as they mention that the box is only for transportable, but I couldn't justify the cause to assume that it was open before and put back for a certain reason.

      But anyways thanks for the laugh at the end. Keep up the good work!

      1. An upside down blister you say? That's a new one. I suppose it's possible for a tired worker to accidentally slip it in wrong, so there's no telling whether it was opened beforehand. Still weird though. =P

        Thanks for reading,