When is a Genuine Part not a Genuine Part?

Side view of walking foot for Singer Sewing Machine

Singer? Walking Foot

My faithful old Husqvarna doesn’t give me a very good result when I’m trying to stitch in the ditch or attach binding. It’s a generic foot. That’s important here. Unhappy with my results,  I decided to invest in a Singer branded walking foot to go with my new(ish) Singer machine. I am not going to name the Melbourne sewing machine retailer that I dealt with, and here’s why.

I rang the retailer last year to get prices and find out what they could offer me. They told me I could have a generic walking foot or a genuine Singer one which would be about $35 (I asked). OK, I thought, not that big a price difference from buying online, so I’ll go ahead. Besides, I have not yet found an online retailer who offers genuine parts and is able to ship to Australia. If you know of one, please let me know.

The retailer rang me during the week to let me know my walking foot had come in so we did a dash to pick it up. The cost: $52.80. Gasp! But I have the pyramids cot quilt to finish and I want to quilt it myself rather than sending it out. Erica’s baby is due in March, so the pressure’s on. I handed over the cash and the retailer handed over a small paper bag.

White cardboard box with an illustration of a walking foot

Believe it's genuine? I have a bridge I can sell you.

I took the chance to open the bag when we stopped for some morning coffee. As soon as I saw the cardboard and the print quality on the box I was suspicious. Low gloss cardboard, no branding and no graphic design on the box. No place of manufacture either.

I opened the box. Same story, no branding. Looks to me  a lot like the generic low shank walking foot that I’m unhappy with on my Husqvarna.

Back we go, “There must be a mistake.”

“You can have your money back but I assure you we (the retailer) ordered this foot for you direct from Singer. All sewing machines are made in China these days, you know.”

Yes, I do know and I decided to keep the  foot. I need it, and I believe the retailer’s response to be genuine.  My best guess is it’s a matter of margins. The retailer gets stock from a distributor and if the distributor sources genuine parts, there isn’t enough margin in it, either for them or the retailer. If they stocked genuine parts, most likely they would be so expensive no-one would buy them.

I just hope the foot works. I’ll let you know.

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2 responses to “When is a Genuine Part not a Genuine Part?

  1. I had the same problem. I have a low-end Brother machine because I mostly hand quilt. I planned to do three or four of the channel-chenilled lap blankets which have to be machined, so I looked around for a Brother walking foot and found one at a sew/vac store — for $82!!! I only paid $140 for the whole darn machine! I had seen the reviews on Amazon for the generic ones that were not always spectacular. I wasn’t sure, but finally my mother-in-law gave me one of the generics to try out.

    It broke after a month or two of use, but I can replace it for under $15. I can buy five or six of the generics for the price of one branded foot. I’m happy to consider getting a new walking foot every few projects, just as I replace my needles often. There’s this grumpy old man in me about the branded feet, suspecting some sort of conspiracy of corporate greed. Of course, it’s probably because the branded feet are made in America by Mom & apple pie while the cheapies are made by thousands of Chinese preschoolers chained to a Victorian finger severing machine.

    • Jodi, your comment is going to prompt another rant.

      I’ll use fold up camping chairs as my example as this has happened to us. It could equally apply to generic walking feet.

      We bought a couple of steel tube and synthetic canvas fold up camping chairs a few years back for $15 each. They broke after a few years of use and we replaced them with some ‘premium’ $35 steel tube and synthetic canvas fold up camping chairs, one of which broke on its second outing.

      Let’s look at the path:

      – iron ore is extracted from Australia and sent to China for processing into steel
      – brown coal is extracted from Australia and sent to China for use in smelting the iron ore (brown coal is about as bad as you can get for emissions, as you probably know)
      – we have a climate change conference and berate the Chinese for not following Australia’s lead in setting carbon emissions targets
      – the steel is processed into tubing, also in China
      – a petroleum product is used to make the synthetic canvas (I don’t know much about how that works, but let’s assume that processing happens in China too)
      – the tubing and synthetic canvas are manufactured into camping chairs by workers at minimum wage (let’s assume not by pre-schoolers in this instance)
      – the chairs are shipped to Australia where mosaicthinking and tinkerer buy them and take them on a camping trip
      – the chairs break and we put them into the waste collection where they go to land fill
      – the steel tubing breaks down in land fill after 10 years (I’m guessing) but the synthetic canvas doesn’t break down

      The chairs break and the cycle begins again. Rather than calling this wasteful, we call it a triumph of the capitalist economy.

      This is why you occupy :-) Thank you.

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