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LED Filaments: Whoops

Five bucks delivered three sets of five warm-white LED filaments from halfway around the planet:

LED Filaments - 3x5 sets

LED Filaments – 3×5 sets

Unfortunately, the “Top Rated Plus” eBay seller just popped three ziplock baggies into an unpadded envelope and tossed it in the mail:

Unpadded LED Filament Envelope

Unpadded LED Filament Envelope

Which had pretty much the result you’d expect on the glass substrates within:

Broken LED Filament 1

Broken LED Filament 1

Turns out every single filament had at least one break:

Broken LED Filament 3

Broken LED Filament 3

Indeed, some seemed just as flexy as the silicone cylinder surrounding the pulverized substrate.

I reported this to the seller, with photographs, and got a classic response:

can you use?

No, I cannot imagine a use for broken LED filaments.

The seller proposed shipping replacements that would might arrive just after the eBay feedback window closed. I proposed refunding the five bucks. The seller ignored that and sent the replacements in an untracked package “as it is an economical shipping, we have to reduce our loss, so is it ok?”.

No, it’s not, but he / she / it didn’t actually intend that as a question.

Were the filaments intact, they’d pass 15 mA with 50 to 60 V applied in one direction or the other, for 1 W average dissipation. That’s probably too high for prolonged use in air (spendy bulbs with similar LEDs have argon / krypton fill for better heat transfer), but I can surely throttle them back a bit.

Perhaps the replacements will arrive before the feedback window closes?

I did order another batch from a different seller that might arrive intact before then. We shall see…

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  1. #1 by Keith Ward on 2017-01-21 - 08:57

    My normal mode of operation is to open an ebay case as soon as I discover these things, that is in spite of the seller’s plea of not doing so. The last time this happened it took a week of similar partially intelligible message exchanges and then after 20-30 days it was resolved with replacement parts. There have been times that I would just avoid buying ebay listings that indicated China as the location but there have been a number of times where it must have been drop shipped from there any way. Similar but often easier to deal with situations have occurred with Amazon as everyone is already aware of.

    • #2 by Ed on 2017-01-21 - 09:29

      Sellers have no motivation to resolve a problem after they punt it beyond the 60 day Feedback limit. I’ll let them (try to) resolve the problem, but if the parts haven’t arrived within 60 days, total, then the one-star hammer comes down.

      I now use eBay as a source for parts that can take a month to arrive and pay Amazon’s premium for fast delivery and (generally) hassle-free resolution. Some “Amazon Marketplace” sellers charge Amazon prices for slow-boat delivery from the Chinese mainland: not what I’m looking for!

      • #3 by Keith Ward on 2017-01-21 - 10:26

        It really is just a gamble between price, quantity, available data (sheets) if any, and time, when looking for electronic components as many of us have found out. Another one of my strategies is ordering from two different sellers/suppliers at the same time even though I’ll end up with a lot more spares. This is the price to pay for getting good deals I suppose. I’m not even sure if Mouser, DigiKey, Newark, etc. would even have some of the items that some of us are looking for. If they did, I can only imagine the price.

        • #4 by Ed on 2017-01-21 - 14:04

          In some cases, reputable US-based suppliers have the same parts and a lower price, at least for some quantities, but then shipping from a “nearby” warehouse collides with Free! Shipping! from halfway around the planet. Despite my experience with those counterfeit FTDI chips, I’m unconvinced the US-warehouse parts will differ significantly along any axis.

  2. #5 by TravelingServiceMan on 2017-01-21 - 09:20

    And here I thought it was only me. I get the PWM controller in a plastic bag and no support for the (now broken) poti. Silly me, I just ordered a bag of potis extra. Should have had them resend :-)

    • #6 by Ed on 2017-01-21 - 09:33

      They’ll generally offer to refund or resend the order, without the formality of returning the parts, which suggests they really don’t want less than five stars. I don’t buy anything from China I care about, though.

      We’re now entering the two-month period where I don’t buy anything from China, because their entire eBay economy jams to a stop around the Chinese New Year.

      • #7 by Keith Ward on 2017-01-21 - 10:32

        As far as I have heard, the one star rating does seem to eventually put the hurt on them. Good tip regarding the Chinese New Year. You might find this documentary interesting on how the Chinese operate. Not all of it is a total surprise, it is a bit long though (~1hr): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SGJ5cZnoodY

        Hope your spam filters don’t trap this out Ed.

  3. #8 by Pete Willard on 2017-01-25 - 08:47

    4 months ago… I bought and received the exact same order… shipped exactly the same way with similar results on my end. Tried to work with vendor and received similar responses. Lesson learned.

    • #9 by Ed on 2017-01-25 - 13:42

      Another order from a different seller arrived, with the filaments safely packed in an air-cell burrito: some folks have a clue. The clock is ticking on the replacement; I expect an identical flexy envelope full of smashed filaments.

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