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January 7, 2011
about 5 years ago
I had the opportunity to purchase this iron at another well-known, online site for about $20 less, but I didn’t. Why? Because of the comments I read whenever looking at products like this, specifically the courteous and genuinely concerned responses from SparkFun employees anytime a negative comment is posted. To me, this spoke of great customer service, and I throw my business to any company who treats their customers so well.
Boy, am I glad I did.
For it turns out that I got an out-of-the-box, dead-on-arrival lemon. I was so psyched: I had several projects that were half-finished and would be a cinch to take care of with this iron…or so I thought. I connected the tip, mounted the cable to the unit, plugged it into the outlet, smiled, took a deep breath, flipped the switch, and nothing. Absolutely nothing. No amount of unplugging, replugging, unseating, reseating, praying fervently or shouting intensely did anything to bring it back to life. It was dead, Jim.
That was on a Friday. I called SF the following Monday. I fully expected to get the standard the-customer-undoubtedly-broke-it interrogation that most of us expect without thinking. I also expected that I would be told that I would not get a replacement until the first one was received, verified to be in good order, with original packaging, etc. I was ready for a really unpleasant hassle.
That turned out to be totally unnecessary. Lindsey, the customer service rep who took my call said in her very first sentence: “Aw, I’m sorry to hear that it didn’t work for you; let me send you another one right now.” Wow. I was stunned. It arrived Wednesday afternoon. I was bowled over by the absolutely outstanding customer service! Honestly, I can’t remember the last time a company treated me the way I should be treated. I am most definitely a loyal customer now, and am really, really pleased with SparkFun.
OK, as to the iron itself. the second one I received is almost miraculous as others have stated. Just a few seconds after turning it on, you will hear the beep letting you know that the tip has reached a temperature of 350 degrees! This thing is a joy to use. It is a precision instrument, with the peak temperature delivered to the very tip of the iron. Soldering the tightly spaced legs of a chip was a breeze. Normally I worry about solder bridges or overheating it and ruining it (both of which I have done in the past). Not with this unit. touch the tip, touch the solder–bam, you’re done, move to the next leg. Seriously, it is that quick: a nice solid joint delivered quickly and precisely.
I love this unit, and it is worth every bit of the $99.
Also, if any SparkFun execs read this post, GIVE LINDSEY A RAISE! Seriously, she was great.
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