Olympia Express Parts and Support Issues

A haven dedicated to manual espresso machine aficionados.
bobcraige

#1: Post by bobcraige »

There has been much discussion and speculation about Olympia. I too have waited long periods and in fact am now waiting for parts for a very long time. While this can be annoying, it must be taken in perspective. Olympia is a tiny artisan company who basically hand builds new machines of exceptional quality to order. All of the vintage machines that we seek parts for predate the current company. They range from about fifteen to forty years in age. Olympia is committed to supporting these old machines, but it is a huge and often thankless task. In todays throw away world, no one supports products of this age. You are lucky if manufacturers support products beyond three years after they are discontinued. As Olympia's primary business is building new hand crafted machines, support of these older products must fit into the limited resources of the company.

It has been my experience that they go out of their way to provide support and parts, BUT often it takes time. What many fail to realize is that original spares stocks for these machines have long ago been exhausted. This means that many parts must be fabricated from scratch and no longer with the economies of production quantity runs. When the machines were originally built, it was normal to order enough parts for the production run and a quantity of spares for the reasonable future. Forty years later is not the reasonable future. While one may just need a replacement fork and be very impatient why Olympia just does not send it, often it requires Olympia start from scratch to remanufacture a new small production run of forks. The normal answer from manufacturers is that the part is no longer available, but Olympia endeavors to fill these orders-as time, resources and production schedules permit. Most customers understand and are grateful that Olympia cares enough to provide this unique support for machines that are often older than their owners. Unfortunately, there are some customers, who believe it is Olympia's obligation to immediately and instantly drop everything and fill their parts order. Olympia has found that ninety percent of its problems have come from ten percent of its customers. By simply not dealing with these customers, the majority of problems immediately go away. They choose to not deal with these customers and will not respond to problem customers. One has to understand that in business, you simply cannot put five hours labor into selling a hundred dollars worth of spares.

Some customers, who apparently have nothing whatever to do, chose to resurrect absolute junk machines despite all indications to the contrary. While it is their choice to do so, that does not mean that the manufacturer cares to waste endless time dealing with such crusades. Worse still, at least one such customer felt it prudent to publish a report of the performance of Olympia in servicing his crusade. Another has spent endless hours arguing with Olympia that their web site did not work. Indeed, it works very well, though it takes a little work to figure it out. Give Olympia a chance, and they will do a great job for you, but give them a hard time, and you will find them totally unresponsive. They receive thousands of emails a month. This is a monumental job to wade through. Many of these are spam, some valid, some not. As a small manufacturer, they simply cannot afford the time to answer endless emails asking questions that are answered on their web site, in these forums and elsewhere. They also cannot afford the time to give daily updates on parts orders.

I know first hand that Olympia desires to support not only their current machines, but the older products as well. One vendor has even been quoted as saying that Olympia does not support it's old machines to force the sale of new ones. Nothing could be further from the truth. As owners of these special machines I think we can help this by being understanding and patient so that Olympia does not follow all others by deciding it is less work, expense and aggravation not to bother taking care of us. The endless stream of speculation, conjecture and complaints only serves to aggravate a company trying to help its customers.
Bob Craige

LMWDP #7

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TUS172

#2: Post by TUS172 »

I understand and agree with this statement. As I stated in a similar thread last night:
I would think that a business entity that specializes in the high end - low production of machines throughout their history is going to have issues about how many parts it wants to keep on hand for their older models. I know that not all of the parts are different but there are enough to significantly impact the bottom line on their balance sheet under "Parts inventory-on hand". It can cost a significant amount of money to hold parts for repair and individual requests. Perhaps they got burned in a previous year and decided to lower their inventory on parts for older machines. Then when the news hit the media about how great they were in the past couple of years they were not prepared for the influx of requests for older machine parts.
I would assume that Markus is working on correcting the issue if that is the case. But such production can be costly when it is outsourced to production contractors. The more widgets that are produced... the cheaper the cost per widget. How many widgets do you gamble on inventorying when you have a small operation with a spike in demand for parts.
This is a serious matter and I have only to hope for a good resolution. I have not attempted or prosecuted any further communications with Olympia, since their response that my order was received and going to be processed, because I understand their plight.
Business decisions are made on cold hard facts and I would want to be the last to encourage Olympia to forget those of us who truly appreciate their highly refined product. But still a few prayers for others never hurt... do they?
Bob C.
(No longer a lever purist!)
LMWDP #012

Espresso Vision: the perfect cup of coffee starts with understanding your roast
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peacecup

#3: Post by peacecup »

As the saying goes, "If you want it fast go to McDonalds". It is unreasonable to expect Olympia to have in stock and ready for shipping an inventory of parts for machines sold 30 years ago (under different ownership?), especially those that have not been maintained. That said, they might realize a small niche market for parts for older Creminas now that the demand has grown. Also, if the demand for their new machines is very great, they could consider adding production staff.

In realty, those who want a machine that works right out of the box either need to buy new, or wait and pay for a good used machine. I personally did the former, and since the Olympia price tag was not in my budget, I went for the Ponte Vecchio. These machines, although not up to the quality standards of Olympia, make great espresso and are virtually indestructible. They are also from a small manufacturer, however, and I'd anticipate waiting if I ever did need parts.


PC
LMWDP #049
Hand-ground, hand-pulled: "hands down.."

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TUS172

#4: Post by TUS172 »

Doing business in international markets is both complicated and undeniably unpredictable. If Olympia would have been missed by the media acknowledgement; that they are truly a magnificently built machine, may have avoided a stream of events that are intepreted as a travesty of sorts. On the other hand if they had not gained the recognition they might have continued quite happily in their niche; profitably and without further complications. Who is to say or know what happens after such notoriety is gained? I just hope that Olympia (Markus) understands that we really appreciate the marvelous machine that we enjoy and hope that production continues despite the current torrent of speculation. My thoughts are with you...
Bob C.
(No longer a lever purist!)
LMWDP #012

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TUS172

#5: Post by TUS172 »

Bob Craige wrote:
Some customers, who apparently have nothing whatever to do, chose to resurrect absolute junk machines despite all indications to the contrary. While it is their choice to do so, that does not mean that the manufacturer cares to waste endless time dealing with such crusades.
One person's junk is another's hobby or treasure. I have resurrected a few 'Junk' machines. They are now fine working and absolutely delightful additions to my and others homes. What is the harm in that...? :?
Bob C.
(No longer a lever purist!)
LMWDP #012

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Kaffee Bitte

#6: Post by Kaffee Bitte »

Thank you Bob C! You answered a question I had posted in another thread very well. I had been wondering about Olympia after reading many many posts about delayed parts. I was impressed with the talk of these machines and impressed with their look. Now though I am most impressed by the company itself. No wonder they are named Olympia. Such efforts are certainly to be considered god-like.
Lynn G.
LMWDP # 110
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mogogear

#7: Post by mogogear »

I hesitate a little to respond.
Bob makes genuine arguments in defense of Olympia and the people that represent them. Their machines have always spoken for themselves and or through the writings of many satisfied owners here and elsewhere on the web. I count myself among them.

Since I own two junk machines that I admittedly spend too much time on, as I do this web-site, I am guilty of resurrection efforts. My wife chides me about espresso, but not much really. I am working with my head and my hands and other people, figuring these projects out. Just like I have done in the past restoring old sports cars. That is a constructive way to spend some of my "spare time" when not working my day job, or my hobby job hand-building backpacking gear for MoGoGear or helping to raise a 5 year old daughter. It helps me to unwind from being so bored...... :wink: !. Espresso passion is pretty innocent as "internet obsessions "can go.

We all live in a "connected / digital" world- it is shrinking every day. It is not so unusual for many of us to come to expect more timely responses. Old members and new ones included. Maddening email sent or received, unscrupulous ebay sellers, lackadaisical Craigslist buyers that never show, poor customer service in other areas of our lives can set us all up to judge and expect things too harshly and quickly. I have tried to learn this too. As you just did, I have been replying to new members that had concerns of the "no harm intended" situation with Olympia as it builds it's machines and gets it feet back underneath itself. Many can vouch for the numerous times I have asserted your reflections. It is still a world ruled by public opinion so better communication of the situation directly or on their website would benefit their future business position with all that consider joining us as Olympia owners. New or used.

I would ask one thing of you Bob. Let's be a little more constructive in characterizations of others. Anyone that has been too impatient or critical would probably prefer to stay out from underneath the bus please. I have done my best to re-edit my threads long ago so that they will further, not detract from, the understanding you ask for. We all have LWMDP #'s and are on the same side. We should probably try to give Markus an honorary number for dealing with this motley crew- if he would take it!

Sorry to ramble - I am done- really.......... :wink:

Peace, Baby 8)
greg moore

Leverwright
LMWDP #067

Baratza: skilled in the art of grinding
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peacecup

#8: Post by peacecup »

Just heard a report on the radio. Someone from the UK just re-did a study on walking speeds in 30 cities worldwide. The found that people, on average, walk 10% faster than they did 30 years ago- an indication of how much faster-paced our life has become. I have the happy vision of the artisans from the Olympia factory walking home just a little more slowly. My solution:

A hand grinder, a lever espresso maker, and three minutes of quite reflection.

Peace,

PC
LMWDP #049
Hand-ground, hand-pulled: "hands down.."

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mogogear

#9: Post by mogogear »

With a nice classical soundtrack no doubt... just a hunch
greg moore

Leverwright
LMWDP #067

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espressme

#10: Post by espressme »

peacecup wrote:Just heard a report on the radio. Someone from the UK just re-did a study on walking speeds in 30 cities worldwide. The found that people, on average, walk 10% faster than they did 30 years ago- an indication of how much faster-paced our life has become. I have the happy vision of the artisans from the Olympia factory walking home just a little more slowly. My solution:
A hand grinder, a lever espresso maker, and three minutes of quite reflection.
Peace,
PC
People are 10% taller than they were 30 years ago! :twisted:
my 1¢
richard
PS Turkish Zass on the way and LaPeppina parts are here!
richard penney LMWDP #090,