A discursive look at Napoleonic & ECW wargaming, plus a load of old Hooptedoodle on this & that

Monday, 9 May 2016

Hooptedoodle #220 - Thaddeus Returns (briefly)

In which I have another visit from Thaddeus, my personal Junior Executive Marketing Sprite, who appeared in a blog post here in March, and even received some fan mail.

…ah – there you are, Thaddeus – goodness, you took your time!

This is most irregular – I’ve never been summoned before – I am usually sent to follow up on some kind of Episode – are you having an Episode…?

No – not at all – today I am very pleased because I feel I have scored a small personal victory against the evils of Scam Marketing, and I wish to share my satisfaction with you.

Are you sure you are not having an Episode? – I can’t get a reading on the Event Analyser…

Please – sit down, there by the toothpaste, and I’ll tell you the Tale of the Broken Bog Seat.

Erm – OK – will this take long?

No – it is a simple story – but you’d better get your little iPad fired up, so you can take notes. This morning we had a small domestic mishap here – the toilet seat in the downstairs bathroom was found to have split – we have no idea why – but, as always, it happened at the start of a week when we have visitors coming.

Is this toilet seat covered under an extended manufacturer’s warranty?

Please, Thaddeus – if you do not mind – I shall be grateful if you do not interrupt. The toilet seat is over ten years old, so the breakage is what is legally termed Wear and Tear, I believe – and no, before you ask, we have no special toilet seat insurance, though I seem to recall that my bank branch once tried to sell me something which sounded very similar, apart from the toilet seat bit. Our toilet is from McFarlane-Hendry’s Montana range, which was all the fashion when it was installed, in 2005.

It is impressive that you are so well informed on this – clearly your interest in bathroom fittings is more active than your grasp of, for example, models of razor.

I shall overlook your interruption at this point, Thaddy-Boy (you don’t mind if I call you Thaddy-Boy, do you?) – I shall overlook it on the grounds that it confirms that you are paying attention, and I shall refuse to react to any whiff of sarcasm. As is the way of these things, TB (there you are, that’s shorter and more businesslike than Thaddy-Boy), the Montana range is no more – it has been superseded – it is OOP, as we say in the World of Toilets, and you will not be surprised to learn that you cannot fit a replacement seat which is from a different range. I reasoned that McFarlane-Hendry cannot expect us to replace the entire bathroom suite, so there must be some other possibility. I searched long and hard for it online, and eventually, after some fishing about, I found that the official Montana replacement seat (part #S401001) is not available, as I expected, but an alternative was offered – namely the seat from the Orion range from the same manufacturer, which is still in production – this, to be exact, is part #S404501, and is offered for sale at some £27 + tax + shipping. To be on the safe side, since the small product photos were not very clear, I sent an email to the customer service people at the makers, just to check that the Orion seat would do the job (so to speak), and I received a prompt reply from one Emily – she was very professional and courteous.

Emily, whose specialist subject is lavatories - not bad...
Emily replied that the Orion was indeed a possible substitute, but that I would get an even better match if I purchased a seat from yet another model, the Saturn (part# S404001 – are you getting all this?) – which was rather more expensive – in fact they could offer it to me for the princely sum of £100 + tax + shipping. Well, TB – I have to say I smelt a rat – a little furry chap with big teeth and a long tail. Armed with this most helpful information from Emily, I jumped in my van and drove to my local Plumb Centre – just down the road, and the nice man in there allowed me to look at and measure a sample of the (cheaper, and less desirable) Orion seat, and do you know what?

No, but I am waiting to hear, in a state of some excitement.

Well, I’ll tell you what. The Orion seat is exactly the same as the Montana seat – identical – I would say it came from the same mould, in fact. It is difficult to see how the Saturn could be a better match than the exact original seat, so I drove away with it, having paid some £20 plus tax – got home in about 20 minutes, and had it fitted within a further 25. Result. The toilet is as good as new, and that metallic sound you can hear is the extra £100 or so which I saved, rattling in my pocket.

I am glad that you are pleased, but did you call me just to tell me this?

Perfect example of a bathroom which is nothing at all like the ones at Chateau Foy
Well, TB – it seems to me that the manufacturers of bathroom fittings are yet another example of just what I was on about last time we spoke – they are given to the energetic marketing of current ranges – which are up-to-the-minute and attractive and just what one needs in one’s home – and these ranges, like all fashionable items, have a fairly short catalogue life before they are replaced. The spares industry which supports this is a minefield for the customer – but it is deliberately made artificially complex. I now have evidence that there is a small number of fairly standard toilet seats, for example, which are used widely across the various ranges, and a great deal of roguery is created by the pretence that the supply of a suitable replacement part for your out-of-catalogue toilet is a tricky and expensive thing to arrange. Why else would the manufacturer recommend an alternative costing £100 more, on the grounds that it is superior to, or more exactly compatible than, the original item, which is still on sale under a different name?

I regret that I have no answer to your question, but I have noted your experience, and I suspect that McFarlane-Hendry may well be in line for some kind of industry award – certainly, recommending an alternative replacement part costing £100 more than necessary is a fine piece of work. Exemplary, in fact. Thank you for bringing this to our attention – WHAT ARE YOU INTENDING TO DO WITH THAT TOILET DUCK?

And – once again – he faded from view…

I'm sure he'll be back.


  1. I'd have bought 2 of the buggers! Just incase........

    1. I'm kind of hoping the Orion (or some equivalent) will stay in production for a while - I feel I've sussed the industry just a bit. The trouble with buying 2 is that it is evidence of turning into my dad, which is not a priority! If you are going to buy 2, maybe better go for 3 etc. When we cleared out cupboards and things after my dad died, he has multiples of all sorts of things - just in case they became unavailable. Thus, for example, he had several lifetimes' supply of spare washers for a really cheap and nasty hose system which actually should have been completely replaced by a decent quality one at the first chance. He also had gallons and gallons of diet lemonade, all years past its sell-by date, and enough turpentine to float a battleship.

    2. I suppose another trouble remembering where you left the second loo seat???

    3. Exactly, Ray - you are right on the money. We have spares for various things in our garage, and I am sure of neither where they are, nor if they really exist. Our garage is not constrained by the usual laws of Nature, I think - things move about and/or disappear in mysterious fashion - I'd be terrified to spend a night in there. I recently threw out a large number of tins of solidified household paints and bags of solidified lawn treatment, which has given us more space, and we have enough old cycling helmets to open a shop. There's a lot of stuff in there that might come in useful one day - you know how it is.

      That's done it - I have become my dad after all.

    4. Where to put a spare loo seat? Easy. Use it as a frame for a picture of your mother-in-law!

    5. I like it - you rascal...

  2. I agree with Ray, having been victim to such an occurrence. Is your new seat a 'silent close' model? Ours are 'silent close' models. Not sure how they work, but they're in great demand at our B&Q and 'nearly' five year olds can't slam them.

    1. I'm prepared to place a bet that normal, sensible toilet seats would not fit our WC - it's got some strange kind of mounting pillars. I'd also risk a sneaky bet that my son could slam a "silent close" toilet seat without any problem. He has been known to slam his bedroom curtains.

    2. Having just fitted a new seat myself I was totally unaware of the many types and shapes of the humble toilet seat , - took two visits to B&Q , the first time I was oblivious to the many shapes and size, the second time I went with a photo of the old one to make sure I got it right , Tony

    3. It's a toilet jungle out there - you have to be prepared. Taking a picture of the old seat is sound, and less embarrassing than taking the old seat for comparison.

      For no sensible reason, I recall that when I was a callow youth - deep in the last century - my employers of the day spent what was considered an outrageous amount of money on putting new toilets next to the boardroom, for the directors - these had telephones in the cubicles (discuss!), which was thought to be a bit over-the-top, but the thing I remember best was that the lavatory seats had to be repleced, because they were the wrong shape - we never found out what it was that was wrong with them, in fact, but there were some wild theories about the qualifications for the job.

    4. Since I am fired up on this, this morning I was discussing this very topic of 'silent close' toilet seats with Dod the Gardener, who recently installed one at home and is favourably impressed - only downside, says Dod, is that when he visits other people's houses he tends to slam the toilet lid.

    5. Yes, it's a real risk; I often do the same at my daughter's. Haven't had a requirement to enter into combat at my son's place yet. Young Henry hasn't had this peoblem yet because, as a young, but red blooded male, he always leaves the seat up at home - not here because Nana shouts at him ;O)

  3. Prof De Vries emailed to say that his uncle's house in Lokeren, Gent, has an ancient toilet at the bottom of the back yard - it is certainly pre-war - and they recently bought a replacement seat for it, right off the shelf, from their local Brico store - no problem. That can't be right, surely - let's see what the marketing boys would make of that.