Purchase assessment & new Go bibliography
Purchase assessment of the Kaya table Go set from YMI
I received my five replacement Yunzi stones from Yellow Mountain Imports on the evening of the 14th, just five days after I reported the problem of broken stones. I left them positive feedback on eBay for the auction.
Now that the transaction is fully-closed, let's do a recap and overall assessment.
- I'm very satisfied with the set given that I paid $153 for it, shipping and tax included. There were no visible defects and transit from Los Angeles to the San Francisco Bay Area was fast.
- To date, of the eight people that have communicated their purchase experiences to me, four reported damage to their sets. Of those four, three worked with YMI to get satisfaction and they either got replacement gobans/parts or decided the damage was minor enough not to bother with a full replacement.
- The sets seem to be priced close to what you might buy them for at full retail in China.
- The gobans themselves are heavily finished. Although your eyes will be pleased with the beauty of the grain, you're divorced from the other sensual dimension of a waxed kaya or spruce board - its scent. This is why I decided to add a scent to the oil I used on the stones.
Thumbs Up or Down?
Overall, I recommend YMI with reservations. For myself, my set is a great value and they've really disrupted the US market by offering these at attractive auction prices.
However, based on the research and feedback that I've gathered, it's obvious that, as of this writing, your shipment has a 50% chance of suffering from handling damage and that's rather high. To their credit, the folks at YMI seem to make a strong effort to satisfy their customers; offering the options of return or exchange. It's just that some of us find it a hassle to have to return a package and and wait for its replacement.
(Photo c/o frankiii)
(Photo c/o Snakeeater)
It's not like these problems can't be overcome. YMI needs only to carefully select its gobans from their inventory, handle them carefully, and ship them in more protective packaging.
My table goban seemed to have been very well protected in transit. I suspect that YMI has made a better effort to package these carefully as was snakeeater's (4k) exchange experience. Packaging for the floor gobans may need improvement; three of the four damage reports were for the floor gobans.
I wish I could give YMI a more solid nod but perhaps we'll soon hear of improvements to their selection and packaging.
Another vendor to consider in this price range
For now, if you're notably risk-averse or just find exchanges a pain, and you're only searching for a table goban, you may want to consider the auctions offered by The Go Gamestore. Three of their customers that I know have been very satisfied with their products and reported no shipping and handling problems. You might pay a bit more (they seem to have lowered their prices slightly) but I think the odds are in your favor that you won't have to return a defective product.
The Go Gamestore also auctions nicely-discounted seconds (i.e. slightly blemished merchandise).
A new Go bibliography makes its debut
Nemir (8k?) has launched a new Go bibliography website in an effort to continue the work started by David Carlton (creator of GoBooks.info). Nemir's site is still in its beginning stages with reviews and write-ups still sparse. Still, it is quite an impressive start and I would recommend that you have a look at it and see if you can contribute some input.