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Why you can’t buy a thermapen on Amazon (2016) (thermoworks.com)
410 points by carabiner on May 11, 2021 | hide | past | favorite | 301 comments



The real reason they don't want their thermometers sold on amazon is because they are merely official US distributors of the Thermapen which is made by a British company, ETI.

https://thermometer.co.uk/99-thermapen-thermometers

You can buy them from European distributors in bulk for less than MSRP and sell them for the same price as thermoworks on amazon and still make a profit. The only reason they were going for $179 previously is because thermoworks was buying the thermometers from sellers and reporting them as counterfeit. Thus making it difficult for sellers to sell them which keeps supply low.

They have fraudulently filed copyright removals and counterfeit accusations on amazon multiple times for Thermapen listings that don't use the "thermoworks" name.

You can see that thermoworks does not own the Thermapen trademark.

https://tmsearch.uspto.gov/bin/showfield?f=doc&state=4803:hv...

Edit: apparently, you can't link to a trademark search directly, so you would need to go to the basic search and enter"Thermapen".

https://tmsearch.uspto.gov/bin/gate.exe?f=login&p_lang=engli...


They discuss the relationship between the companies on their website https://blog.thermoworks.com/thermometer/thermoworks-eti-ltd...


Interesting to see this and contrast it with all the HN posters leaping to the conclusion that the unsubstantiated accusation of fraud from the GP poster is true and upvoting it. If one follows the link from the accuser, all it shows is that the trademark for "Thermapen" is registered to ETI, which is explained by the blog post on Thermoworks web site. Zero evidence of wrongdoing has been presented.


The evidence is right there in their own blog post.

They are a distributor of the ETI Thermapen and nothing more except 'good friends' with the owners of ETI and that they have contributed design ideas to some versions of the Thermapen. Just as any distributor does. Note how they try to make it sound like they have some sort of ownership of the product, but the only thing they have ownership of is the Thermoworks name and a contract with ETI to be the sole US distributor.

What in their blog post makes you think they have the right to claim copyright infringement for someone selling a Thermapen they bought directly from ETI?


If they’re the sole US distributor doesn’t that mean they’re the only ones allowed to sell them in the US?


I don't know why you're getting down voted as it's a common misconception.

Sole distributorship means your company is the only one in a particular territory that the *manufacturer* will sell to directly - usually in exchange for KPIs around marketing, distribution and maybe service in addition to sales.

Anyone else can buy it in an outside territory - for example from another distributor or even from the manufacturer itself (strange things are known to happen when people's incentives are tied to sales targets) and sell it in your territory. While this is often called "grey channel" or "parallel imports", this is perfectly legal if the importer pays customs duty etc and invariably seems to happen if there is significant price differentiation between territories.

The way to combat grey channel is to price right across territories in a way that it's not worth anyone's while to do parallel imports.


It also generally means you have no warranty from the manufacturer, as they generally write the agreement to be non-transferable.

As a consumer you may have some rights even with gray market, but it's not like a US court is going to be able to force a UK company to honor a warranty they never offered in the first place because they never sold directly into this market.


> it's not like a US court is going to be able to force a UK company to honor a warranty they never offered in the first place because they never sold directly into this market

And if there is an official distributor, they suddenly need to start investigating where every customer got their widget from, because they can't afford to provide warranties on items they didn't get the original markup on


In this case though Thermoworks has their own branding on Thermapens sold through official channels. If someone were to copy that branding I believe it would be a legitimate counterfeiting situation.


Going back to Amazon, this brings up another issue: Amazon’s resellers sometimes claim (or try to imply) that gray market imports are domestic versions of the products being sold. I sometimes see gray market cameras being presented as domestic; I only know they’re gray market because of the price, and because the seller is a known gray market reseller.


This isn’t an Amazon issue, per se. I remember shopping for SLR’s from the back pages of Popular Photography in the 1980’s - all of the best deals were gray market imports.


Even large retailers like Costco do this sometimes.


Not necessarily true. If there are patent and/or trademark licenses involved, the sole distributor may the the only one legally allowed to sell in the territory.


Not true. There’s a principle called “first sale doctrine” that basically says that IP rights are exhausted in the first sale of an item. So, as long as they are buying legally made copies of the product, then the company has no legal recourse. You can’t stop someone from buying something in country A and then importing it into country B and reselling it.


In the US most famously decided in the Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. decision. Publishers often charge significantly different prices across different countries for their owm books and this basically prevented them from blocking parallel imports.


First-sale doctrine says if you buy something, you have the right to resell it. I'm not exactly sure what sole distributor means. I think it means that ETI will try to refuse bulk sales to anyone else in the US.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First-sale_doctrine


As always with the laws, there are exceptions and it is more complicated than one might expect.

https://www.thefashionlaw.com/resource-center/gray-market-go...


First sale is only for consumers right? I mean it wouldn’t apply if you’re doing it multiple times for profit.

Honest question, I really don’t know


First sale doctrine applies to businesses as well.


ah good to know! I found "Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.", I wonder if it's related, or if physical goods were already considered resaleable anyway

One side question: how do you manage the warranty? Presumably as the reseller you will need to handle the legal minimum warranty (how long is that in the US?) by shipping the article yourself back to the UK?


> you will need to handle the legal minimum warranty

With the exception of specific types of products (cars) or situations where consumers are gravely at risk (recalls), there is no mandatory warranty in the US. Your only requirement as a reseller is to pass on any warranty from the manufacturer, and allow customers to read a written warranty before making a purchase.


Not true. There are implied warranties of merchantability and fitness.

It’s one of the reasons why Amazon takes such pains to make the questionable assertion that they are at arms length for every transaction. Fraudulent or grey market stuff often fails the fitness test.

The same crap used to happen with fake cameras and electronics in Manhattan. The stores would “go out of business” and reopen the next day under a new guise to avoid legal consequences. Now you just create a new merchant on Amazon.


Not if it's a fake Rolex. Trademarks provide a lot of wiggle room for firms to make a legal nightmare if they chose.


I think fake Rolexes are illegal in the first place. So illegal to sell and resell.


Yes, I was trying to make the point that the First sale doctrine doesn't magically make all things ok.


So if I buy one, I'm not allowed to sell it after I'm done with it? That's irregular, to say the least.


Not on Amazon. They do make actual no-sale agreements with manufacturers (looking at you, Warner Media) to not sell used product and boot anyone who tries. Which, ah, is great right until they're a near monopoly.

But this looks more like the reseller is trying to wreak havoc with lawful competition sans an agreement with Amazon. They may not look kindly on it if they see what's happening. Competition where it's not being intentionally stifled is the business model.


Do we all agree, dear reader, there's a distinction between distributor and you selling your used kitchen tools?

If you, dear reader, had a sole distributor agreement with an OEM would you do what you could to protect your reputation and the brand?


Genuine question: what is the distinction between a consumer and a distributor in the context of rights of selling an item that they own?

Which law prohibits the distributor from selling thermometers that they own?

How come an agreement between ETI and Thermoworks have any legal power over anybody else?


An exclusive distributor agreement usually means within a given territory, only a single party may buy product from the manufacturer or buy at below MSRP (depending on the agreement). This is not enforced by law, but by a contractual agreement.

You can always buy the product at retail, from another country, or directly from the manufacturer (if they will sell to you) and sell the product at retail.


It doesn't. If you don't have a contract with pricing stipulations, then you have no obligation to sell at MSRP or MAP.


> "They are a distributor of the ETI Thermapen and nothing more except 'good friends' with the owners of ETI and that they have contributed design ideas to some versions of the Thermapen."

The text of the blog post also says "Today ThermoWorks also operates its own product design studio in Utah where innovative professional thermometers and timers are created for both companies." so Thermoworks is more than a distributor. jjeaff's representation of the blog post is clearly incorrect and should only increase suspicion of the original accusation of fraud.


I'll translate the corporate speak for you: We have no ownership in the Thermapen, which is our flagship product. But there are some other insignificant products that we have some ownership of which we won't name because no one has heard of them. We just wanted to muddy the water a bit and make it sound like we own the Thermapen and aren't just a retailer.


And yet, I like to see a commenter making one claim and the comments rebuking it, instead of the comment being downvoted into oblivion or outright removed. Seeing the process in action. It also helps that HN doesn't hide comment threads by default, so every comment and its responses are out in the open.


That doesn’t explain why you can’t buy them on Amazon.co.I’m

> The only reason they were going for $179 previously is because thermoworks was buying the thermometers from sellers and reporting them as counterfeit. Thus making it difficult for sellers to sell them which keeps supply low.

That’s a pretty severe accusation to throw around - have any proof to back it up?


I'm a professional cook (I do professional BBQ competitions and own a food truck) and I own at least 5 Thermapens and several other Thermoworks products.

For me the Thermapen is worth every penny to me. It's fast, accurate, and reliable. I know that if I pick it up it is going to work and that alone is worth a premium. I've also had good experiences with their customer service - they will replace or repair them with little or no hassle.

Yes they are expensive but my oldest Thermapen is at least 10 years old. If you keep an eye out it's not hard to get them 25% off or more.


I use a thermometer that looks like a thermapen knockoff and costs about $15. I’ve used it regularly (but not professionally) for four years and I’ve seen it give the exact same readings, swiftly, as one more expensive thermometer of the same kind, a cheaper one, and a body thermometer to measure fever. What makes the Thermapen worth every penny? I haven’t had this break, but if it does I will probably order one of the same, which will arrive in a day or two without needing to (a) contact support or (b) send something in the mail. What am I missing? As a professional, what would you be missing if you used a cheaper model?


I think it is mostly an issue with quality control. I've had horrible luck with thermapen knockoffs. Temps all over the place, battery compartment loose, miscalibrated out of the box. If you found one that works, awesome! But I'd venture to guess that most people weren't that lucky.


Excuse my complete ignorance but how does measuring the temperature of food help you with cooking? When I do a BBQ, I've only ever judged by colour and appearance. Usually the challenge is not to burn the outside while the inside is undercooked.


Large chunks of meat are best done by temp. A brisket, for example, can look the same if the internal temp is at 150 vs 210. One is pretty much inedible. Same for large chunks of pork. You want to cook these to where they are tender, but not dry. For brisket, that is normally around 203-210 when measured at the largest part of the flat. You would just be completely guessing without a good thermometer.


I mean, if you know what you are doing because you have made for instance BBQ many times before, especially even on the same equipment, it's not exactly "completely guessing".

People did make good BBQ for many years before digital thermometers existed, and without using meat thermometers! I suspect professional experts barbequing all day probably still don't use thermometers. They are have the same heat source many times, and know how it cooks and know how to judge the size of meat, because they've done it hundreds of times.

But yeah, for those of us who are less expert, a meat thermometer can get us much better results.


You can go by feel and sometimes appearance (and pretty much have to for some things like pork ribs), but the size and shape of large chunks of meat vary quite a bit, so does the weather, heat source, etc...

If you're a restaurant that is constantly smoking meat, you probably don't need a thermometer, but you probably have one. If you're an ordinary person, I would recommend a decent one at least. I have a thermapen. I don't regret buying it. If my fire dies and I don't feel like chopping more wood, or if I just put the brisket in the oven to finish overnight after it gets smoke, I can still know exactly when it's ready. I don't have to repeat the exact same process every time for a good result.


Sure, if you have the same heat source, in an environment with the same atmospheric conditions, working on a piece of meat similar to what you've cooked many times before, you likely don't much need a thermometer, not that it'll hurt.

But a thermometer let's you transfer those skills much more easily to environments with varying conditions, It's especially common for professional cooks to be expected to cook in varying conditions.


Not a professional, but I find meat thermometers even more useful because I don't know what I'm doing. I don't know what every type of meat looks and feels like when cooked, especially with different marinades and seasonings changing the appearance. I also hate overcooked meat. With a thermometer I can try a new technique and always pull the meat off at the right time. I'm also more comfortable letting the outside get crispy if I know I'm not overcooking the inside.


Everything I cook is temperature + feel. For example on pork once it hits 200-205 (depending on what temp I'm cooking at, the higher the cook temp the higher the finish temp) the thermapen becomes an expensive toothpick to feel for tenderness. Color is used as a element when I might move on to the next step but not at all for when it is done - for example I wrap pork once it hits 160 + has the color I want.

It has to be a repeatable processes, especially if you are doing it commercially and you need to train other people. Temperature is a measurable thing vs look or feel which is subjective.

For some things accuracy is extra important, one or two degrees won't make or break a pork but but can greatly impact something like steak.


In every modern recipe for cooking almost any type of meat, there is an internal temperature listed at which the meat can officially be considered "safely" done. Restaurants, etc., have to follow such guidelines per government food safety standards.


The difference between amateur and professional grillers is that professionals use instant-read thermometers for everything. One, because the difference between a rare and medium-rare steak is only about 5F internal temperature, which is too small to eyeball. Two, because if you’re not checking internal and hold temps, then it’s way too easy to poison your guests.


It happened to me. The name of the purchaser came up in a Google search as an employee of Thermoworks.


So let me get this straight, you were selling thermapens on amazon, and therefore have a dog in the fight?


If you exclude everyone who has a dog in the fight, then who is left to give their evidence?


You don't have to exclude everyone who has a dog in the fight, but it's a bit rich to open up their post with "what thermoworks doesn't tell you is..." but then leave out their own involvement in the market.


Only a bit rich if you believe that he is actually selling counterfeits.


There are a bunch for sale on amazon.co.uk

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/aw/d/B01MQN9MLL/ref=psdcmw_31871...


Only seller available is ETI. How is this evidence?


Amazon does allow companies to register their brand and prohibit others from selling it on amazon. Or maybe ETI is pulling the same stunt and claiming resellers are selling counterfeits when they are actually just reselling the same product.


Why should ETI allow others to sell their product on Amazon? It's better both for them and customers, unless you believe it's somehow inflating price (which doesn't seem to be the case?). I don't see how this is any different from direct-to-consumer brands that own the exclusive sales channel to their customers (regardless of whether the sale takes place in a marketplace).


This sounds great in theory and we know how it works in practice.

Amazon head 2M counterfeit items to destroy in 2020 only. What do you think how many counterfeit items were sold on Amazon in the last 10 years?

They joust found 10 billion items. Nothing to see here, the policy that you are referring to is working perfectly. These numbers are a tiny fraction. Right?

https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2021/05/amazon-seized-an...

https://www.wsj.com/articles/amazon-has-ceded-control-of-its...

https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news/amazon-blocked-10-bil...


Weird, when I checked there were none - all listed and ‘unavailable’


Ok so the thing that Thermoworks markets as a "Thermapen Mk4" -- how much does that cost shipped to the US from a European vendor selling ETI products?

I think I paid $60 for one on Thermoworks's web site during what they said was a sale, and I generally don't regret it vs. the crummy experiences I've had with cheaper food thermometers.


https://thermometer.co.uk/thermapen-thermometers/1145-therma...

So that we compare like for like, I’m assuming you paid $60 pretax. £55 is $77.65 at present, which seems in line with paying $60 on sale.


I bought a thermoworks dot and it has been a revelation for grilling.


I thought you were joking about the price. But nope it’s actually a $100+ thermometer.

Like I get paying that much for lab or industrial use if it’s highly accurate/precise. But for cooking…nobody will taste the difference between 0.1 degrees. And I’m not even sure it’s that accurate. It looks like a 10$ thermometer and I doubt it’s much better than one for cooking.


I've tried just about every sub-$50 thermometer money can buy, and I had a bad time with all of them. They're either laughably inaccurate (to the point of being effectively useless) or crap out suddenly or sustain minimal battery life or have some other fatal usability flaw. And I haven't found one that can tolerate any amount of moisture, so cleaning is always a risk.

So I bought a thermapen. I knew about them because I used to work in kitchens, and it's pretty much exclusively what we used there. After my experience with other thermometers, I can appreciate why.

It's expensive, but it's super reliable, pleasant to use, and lets me focus on other concerns as I'm cooking. Compared to my experience with other cheap thermometers which, last Thanksgiving, went something like "fuck, it died on me again, let me dig out my backup... fucking hell, that one's dead too"


If you used to work in kitchens then you know that you should only buy digital thermometers that support calibration. Follow the manufacturers instructions on proper cleaning and don't submerge them.

I have at least 3 floating around that ran me $12ish dollars each on Amazon and use them daily.


It's super reliable until you get water in the hinge. I lost mine that way.

I'll probably get another one when the cheap ones that I'm using annoy me one too many times.


could you fill it w silicone?


I don't understand the downvotes. I have an $18 Amazon food thermometer which has read with identical speed and accuracy as my Thermapen for years. And I like it better because the Thermapen is a pain to switch between F and C whereas it's simply a face button on the cheap one.

https://www.amazon.com/Saferell-Thermometer-Backlight-Calibr...


Switching between F and C should be difficult. This is something you set once and pretty much never change. If it’s easily changed, it’s easily changed by accident.

If I’m ever cooking a recipe that is written in imperial units, I will convert them all to metric prior to starting. (This includes turning nearly all measures into grams—including and especially cups and spoons.)


Why should it be difficult? You might not change it, but other folks do.

My scale is easily changed. I pick it up, turn it over, and push a button. However, it is pretty difficult to change it by accident, and honestly, I just check the display before I weigh just to make sure.

And honestly, do you think that folks are sitting down with pen and paper if they need to convert? Nope. Google will do this work for you.

I'll also mention that it isn't worth it to weigh everything in the home kitchen. Small amounts - the ones you are using spoons for - are too light for the average kitchen scale, and the sensitive scales are expensive (and also have associations with dealing drugs, which turns some people off).


It's a tool designed for professionals. Professionals operate with standards, so in a professional kitchen in America, you will never, ever need or want to read a temperature in Celsius. In the rest of the world, nobody will ever use Fahrenheit.

Having a button that changes it with a single press is actually an impediment to working quickly, and only introduces uncertainty and anxiety about the tool. Measuring temperature isn't like measuring weight - seconds matter. A moment of confusion could be enough to ruin a process, and a failure to notice the change in settings could create a dangerous situation. Nobody wants a button to see the wrong number.

Think of it like compile-time config. It's there, you can change it if you want, and everyone will have a preference, but if you need to change it often, you're not the target market.

In the rare consumer case in which you may be using foreign measurements you can change it once at the beginning of the recipe.


This idea that because a commercial kitchen doesn't mix F and C and thus nobody else should ever have to is ridiculous and is a form of gatekeeping. I download recipes and measurements are sometimes F, sometimes C. Sometimes ounces, sometimes grams. Sometimes cups, sometimes mls.


I think if you could need to change it occasionally, you could easily be in situations where you change it frequently.

Shadow kitchens that make recipes for multiple different restaurants could have measurements in both.

To not have the button at all would make sense(compile time config), but if there are situations where you need to change it, those can come up as frequently as every time you use it


No.

Every commercial kitchen complies with and is inspected for compliance with food handling regulations.

Any recipe in commercial use is written specifically for the kitchen in which it is made. One might even consider them a complete vertical unit: if the recipe is designed as a chain or franchise standard, the kitchen standard is designed in tandem to match.

You will not find a commercial kitchen in America using Celsius for anything.

If you don't want professional tools don't buy them.


It shouldn't be difficult, but it should be foolproof. Someone not paying attention could mistakenly get a Fahrenheit reading expecting Celsius, and serve undercooked food to others.


In food applications, I should think that even the most hopeless cook can tell the difference between 75 degrees F and 75 degrees C. One is cooked and the other is room temperature.


I have very cheap 0.1g precision scales and reasonably cheap 0.01g precision scales.

Tablespoons (for example) are often equating to 10-25g which even the cheapest, nastiest 1g precision kitchen scales can handle with greater precision and repeatability than using an actual tablespoon

It’s only when measuring half teaspoon stuff where I’ll either just use a teaspoon or pull out precision scales—it all depends how important it is to be accurate with an ingredient.


Is density not a concern?


Yes, which is precisely why I eschew cups and spoons for grams. There are standard conversions for most common ingredients, I’ll tend to use those for ingredients with the potential for high variation in density, like plain flour.

Obviously, the main concern is with repeatability in baking. But for me the biggest benefit is being able to pour all ingredients directly into your bowl (sitting on scales) without dirtying up a pile of measuring cups and spoons.


To provide the correlate to @simondotau’s answer: in cooking, density hardly ever matters. All recipes should actually be solely in units of weight, never in units of volume. Professional chefs, and especially professional bakers, work solely in weights.

Liquid measures by volume are mostly ok, since liquids vary hardly at all in density (for a given liquid).

Solid measures by volume are a joke. It’s easy to be off by 10% or more, depending on how fluffy or packed down your ingredient is. When you’re baking a loaf of bread, this is the difference between a soggy mass and a dry pile of crumbs.


I have a 0.1g precision scale from AWS which ran me about $25 dollars, and it has been indispensable both for the small ingredients and also for weighing stuff like frozen berries, where the gaps can make it hard to determine how much you actually have.


AWS or Amazon?


"American Weigh Scales" is the manufacturer. It has nothing to do with Amazon Web Services.


> Switching between F and C should be difficult. This is something you set once and pretty much never change.

No, because my own experience says otherwise. And this idea of accidental changing is hogwash, again because I've used this for years. Experience is worth a thousand opinions.


Cups and spoons are volume measures; you can't trivially convert them to grammes.

I can't use recipes that use cups and spoons. I don't own measuring spoons or measuring cups, and drinking cups and spoons from the cutlery drawer don't cut the mustard.

In addition to a thermapen, I have an instant-read infra-red thermometer. I use this to check the temperature of my pizza oven, before launching a pizza - I launch at 450C, which is way too hot for any contact thermometer.


> is a pain to switch between F and C

Why would you ever switch it to F?

Feigned confusion aside, I love the absolute simplicity of the Thermapen. It does one thing, and does it good. Absolutely zero distractions, compared to the one you linked. You open it up, it switches on. You stick it into things, it tells you the temperature at the tip. What's not to love?


My Thermapen is fine, so is my one with the F/C button. Because I happen to need both and so this supposed distraction is a big benefit. Super simple is nice, except when it's too simple for a given user. Reminds me of how Apple stuck by their guns with single button mice for years but two button mice with scrollers won out because the one button was too simple.


> What's not to love?

The extra 80-90$, presumably...


Because not all things are written with Celcius temperatures. It is easier to push a button than to look up the conversion.


Probably because you never need to switch between F and C


Thermapen is an excellent thermometer. It's fast, nice ux, robust, and just works. The $10~ dollar thermometers I've used are too fragile, grossly inaccurate or annoying.

I suppose there's room in the market for a cheaper thermometer with the same features/performance as thermapen but it's probably not worth it to the manufacturers and re-sellers that could actually pull it off. The markup for the thermapen is not particularly shocking or worrisome. More importantly, the consumer is not getting "ripped off" at that price if it's a solid product that lasts for years and years.

I'm not sure what to think of their Amazon antics. They're aggressively keeping Amazon from selling thermapens so they can keep the price at a premium in the American market? It's not like I cam blame them. They just want to make a buck and not bend over for Amazon. Competitors, including Amazon Basics, are free to sell a product and eat Thermapen's lunch, but they don't. I expect because it's not worth it.


First, there is a difference between precision and accuracy. I’ve had cheap thermometers that are 10-20 degrees off. That does make a difference. Second, for the thermapen it’s really about very fast readings and durability more than accuracy or precision. It’s very valid to feel that it’s not worth the cost, but it is untrue that the difference isn’t noticeable.


a thermometer thats 10-20 degrees off is likely just broken.


Not necessarily. I have used cheap food thermometers that took upwards of 60 seconds to settle on a temperature. If you weren’t aware of this flaw you could easily read the temperature after 10-15 seconds when it seems to be settling down and end up way off from the real temperature.


I always have this conundrum when cooking a steak on a hot pan: Is the thermometer still settling down or is the internal temperature actually just rising quickly?


That's exactly why I got a Thermapen. I don't need to ask that question anymore.


more likely out of calibration


The thermapen pro-grade unit also detects temperature much faster than most other units. Many cooks (myself included) use a food thermometer every day, and it's totally worth paying more for a durable, accurate, and fast unit. My current one is over 5 years old, and shows no sign of wearing out.


Assuming you're actually asking, the appeal of the Thermapen for chefs is how fast it is - $10 thermometers are as (or more) accurate, but they'll take several seconds to stabilize on showing a certain temperature. Thermapens are crazy fast. That's very useful when your hand is near/in a hot oven or hovering over a hot stove.


The $20 knock-off I picked up on Amazon for a Christmas rib roast reads quite accurately based on a calibrated scientific thermometer I compared it to and stabilizes to a reading in about 1-3 seconds. I didn't realize it was a Thermapen knock off, just searched for a meat thermometer for a Christmas rib roast I wanted to turn out perfect (and it did).

The old digital thermometers did the awhile but I think some of the new ones are pretty fast (and accurate).


There are too many chefs that swear by them to so easily dismiss the value. The often quoted feature is more speed than precision. Like everything a big chunk is going to be marketing and paying for a little extra quality control on top of slightly higher tier components.


Couldn't it also be a perfect example of the bandwagon fallacy?


No. I’m not making absolute statements but casting doubt on one persons claims that a product is probably bad they have no experience with vs. a large number of professionals who use it as a tool every day including several organizations conducting comparative equipment tests.


Professionals are prone to confirmation bias.

Stanley, Black and Decker, Dewalt, Irwin, and Porter Cable are all tool brands made by the same company in the exact same factories. People have ran extensive "scientific" tests on job sites and on YouTube on the battery life between them. Everyone has a favorite that lasts the longest or is best under load. Aside from the metal contacts and plastic housing to make the batteries unique to each brand - they all contain batteries from the exact same two suppliers.


Serious question:

Do professionals use those brands? I'm sure passionate amateurs will use those brands (I have a drill from that list) - but pros?

I ask because I know a professional mechanic and I asked his favorite wrench brand, and he went off about various brands I didn't recognize.

Also, regarding your list, have you accounted for variability in quality within a product run?


I suspect consistency of product is part of the reason thermapen have their reputation and other brands mostly don't. You can often get cheap products that are good, but there might be a lot more variability.

Binning is a related topic.


I have worked in a position where I repaired all of these brands, and can say that at least in the last two decades Stanley Black and Decker Inc. has been very strategic with product positioning and continued support for all of their brands. DeWalt is supposed to be their professional (or probably prosumer) line that's built to last, or at least to be repaired. Black & Decker, which had been a higher-end brand before the 90s, is now pretty much all "happy homeowner" tools built out of less durable plastic and often without replacement parts available. Porter-Cable seems to fall in the middle, a bit closer to B&D.

There's a certain 20V compact leaf blower that I've seen branded as a DeWalt, Ryobi, and Milwaukee. I'm not sure about the motor or controller but the plastic casing is almost identical aside from the color and battery connector. It's also interesting to note that the B&D and the Porter-Cable 20V batteries are identical except for a plastic tab that prevents interoperability.


Same four* suppliers actually, just about every rechargeable embedded battery is made by Panasonic, Sanyo, LG, or Samsung.

Most common type/size is the 18650, used in everything from drills, powerbanks, to Teslas. Second most common type is the 21700.

A "scientific" test isn't even necessary, just tear down the battery pack, see what cell they put in there, and read the spec sheet. The big 4 battery makers will sell you a whole range of batteries in that size with varying mAh/Amp.

Googling teardowns, I found a Black & Decker 1.5A MAX Lithium simply uses a bunch of Sanyo UR18650W2 (1500mAh rated at 18A) cells, while a teardown of a Dewalt pack shows they used the more expensive LG HB4s (1500mAh rated at 30A).

There literally no reason they can't use the better cells in the Black & Decker, other than they're building it to a cheaper price point. The fact that they're built in the same factory is besides the point.


In candy making, the difference of a few degrees is the difference between a sticky unpleasant hard candies, hard brittle ones and caramel.

I've used shitty thermometers trying to make candy. It sucks. If you want it to come out consistent, you need a good thermometer. One that lasts longer than a few months is always nice too. I dunno if a $150+ one is reasonable. But a quality thermometer helps for sure.


What you spend on a thermometer, you save on cooking pans.


It’s not the accuracy (although that’s obviously table stakes). It’s the quality & reliability.

There are a ton of cooking thermometers on Amazon. A majority of them are awful. Either they’re woefully inaccurate, or they fail after only a few months of use. You only have to read the reviews (when they’re not completely gamed by the sellers) to see this.

So you can either a) buy cheap thermometers one after the other until you happen to hit on one that works or b) buy a quality product first time that professional chefs rave about.

Sure, you might get lucky with option a), but after two or three duds, option b) starts to look increasingly sane.

Thermopens just work. They do one thing & have been honed to do that one thing incredibly well. When you buy one, you know exactly what you’re getting & you know that the company will stand behind their product. WHat you’re buying is a combination of certainty & quality. Why shouldn’t they charge a premium for that?


I'm a medium experienced home chef, and I have a Thermapen, and really like it. It's a better thermometer than the $10 one, or even a $30 one. The accuracy doesn't matter very much, but the reading speed does matter, and Thermapen reads extremely quickly.


I bought my wife a Thermapen for Christmas and it’s revolutionized her cooking (and mine). She’s using it for everything except toast and boiling water. Chicken, steaks, roasts, fish, fudge, cakes, casseroles, anything where complete cooking can be determined by internal temperature. The margin between perfect and overcooked fish can be slim, and she likes steak as rare as possible. This thing lets her nail it every time with no fiddling around.

Yes, we have cheaper thermometers. The difference is night and day. More than anything, it’s the speed with which it settles, but the unit is also calibrated, which gives us confidence. (I spent some time looking for a cheap alternative, but didn't find anything with consistently great reviews. I decided it was worth the extra money to buy less hassle, and I went with Thermoworks. No regrets!)


If she likes her steaks as rare as possible you should look into buying here a sous vide setup. You can get the whole steak to whatever doneness you want and then just quickly sear the outside. It gives me consistently good results.


I’ve been finding that reverse searing does a pretty good job without the sound vide


sous vide. Means "under vacuum". https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sous_vide

Edit: I read a bit more on this, and was mistaken. Here is my original explanation: Basically a vacuum pump to lower boiling temperature; this puts a ceiling on achievable temperature for water-rich foods.

Actually, nowadays it looks like it's just slow cooking vacuum-sealed food in a temperature-controlled water bath.


Even as someone who has a sous vide set up, and uses it a lot, I prefer the results of reverse searing for decent quality steaks.


I have a sous vide set up as well, and while I find that it works great for chicken and duck, I agree with you that sous vide does something weird to steak. It's something about the texture. I know Kenji has written a few articles about how meat changes over different sous vide cooking durations, but I also wonder if the length of time changes the way fat renders somehow. I don't think it's been well studied. Searching the internet reveals I'm not the only person who has noticed this, but some people do not notice it, so there's not really a consensus on what's going on.


Wouldn't "as rare as possible" mean getting the steak to room temperature and then just searing? I always assumed the sous vide was more useful for those who liked their steaks more cooked.


Pretty much. A bleu steak is around 30 degrees internal temperature and really doesn't gain much from sous vide. Sous vide really only comes it its own for internal temperatures above 41-42 deg c. The advantage (compared to just searing/grilling) is that you can hold the steak at that point for longer, giving the protein more time to denature.


> likes steak as rare as possible

For pan searing, a quick and accurate thermometer doesn't actually make this much easier. I also have a Thermapen, but pan searing to a certain level of doneness is still a bit of an art because the final interior temperature after resting can be quite a bit different than the pull temperature due to residual heat at the edges of the meat. Even trying to get a consistent interior temperature using the same pan temperature (using a Control Freak induction cooktop) is difficult because the shape, thickness, and moisture content of meat can vary significantly. There's a few new gadgets that attempt to resolve this (e.g., this predictive thermometer with 8 sensors https://combustion.inc), but honestly having a lot of cooking experience is probably the best way to get a feel for when to remove the meat from the pan under rapid cooking conditions.

Of course, sous vide and reverse sear are completely different and while you can indeed get a precise temperature, those methods have their own trade-offs (namely, it's difficult to get as thick of a crust).


She has her methods. Mostly grilling. I don't interfere. :-)

She loathes sous vide.

The nice thing about the Thermapen is that it reads so fast that it's easy to explore the temperature gradients in the food. It's a learning process, right? In my own cooking, I'm correlating the measurements with technique and results, and when I finally cook something well I can reliably repeat it.

(Full disclosure. I have the surface temperature version of the Thermapen and a 4-channel recording thermometer, and I've profiled the oven, the griddle, etc. :-) We now focus on improving other aspects of cooking, confident that temperature is handled.)


> it reads so fast that it's easy to explore the temperature gradients in the food.

I was amazed when I discovered this. If you have a thick steak on a pan, knowing what the temperature gradient looks like inside is very valuable, compared to just knowing the temperature in the middle. Just slide your thermapen out slowly, and you can get a good reading on the gradient.


You're not paying for the accuracy so much as the speed and reliability. The packaging matters a lot. A $10 knife and a $100 knife are fundamentally both just chunks of metal, but they definitely don't perform the same way. It's much, much better than a $10 thermometer.

There's a $30 Thermapen (the Thermopop), for what it's worth; it reads in 3 seconds, versus low hundred milliseconds.


I hope you are kidding. I have had Flukes that sell for twice the price and aren't as practically good and useful for cooking as is the Mk4 Thermapen. It is unmatched.


There is a nonzero percentage of people reading this that know that Fluke is a brand of scientific/industrial test and measuremnet gear. https://www.fluke.com/


It's like the Sam Vines theory of Economic Injustice: https://wiki.lspace.org/mediawiki/Sam_Vimes_Theory_of_Econom...

Pay for quality. It's cheaper in the long run.


The market adjusts. People pay for "quality" in an environment of information asymmetry - cheap stuff will be polished and given a high price tag. Products can do a better imitation of quality than people can discern it.

Even the value of "brand" is diminishing: decent corps are bought and gutted all the time.


It's not about accuracy, it's about speed of reading, and simply not breaking. Yes, the price is ridiculous, but anecdotally, I've bought six other thermometers, including a couple expensive ones, and they were all awful on one or both counts. But maybe I'm just bad at research.


The new model thermapen has features I want but I won't upgrade as long as my existing one keeps working. It's been many years so far and there's no sign of it degrading at all.


Yep. I had an older thermometer (now tossed) that would tick up in 2-3 degree C increments. It'd take 30 seconds or so to reach the ballpark of cooked meat from room temperature. That's a lot of oven heat lost unless I close the door and leave it in. Which I did, so it melted, hence the "now tossed". I got a cheaper probe one which seems much better.


It's really about the speed here. I have one that takes ~6 seconds to stabilize, which is by no means bad but is still a noticeable pause.

The Thermapen is rated at 3 seconds, which I imagine feels much better when you quickly want to get the temperature of a steak or something while preparing other components at the same time.


Digital thermometers are mostly a perfected technology by now. There's less than $10 worth of parts in these regardless of how much they are selling them for. You can buy a $5 multimeter with a type K thermocouple probe and it will have the same accuracy as any other, since it's intrinsic to the material itself. Hence the propaganda campaigns by companies who stand the most to lose from it.

...and downvoted for speaking the truth. Yes, it's all marketing BS, a tiny "bead" type thermocouple probe has next to no thermal mass and reads as instantly as you'll ever need for cooking purposes. Go buy a cheap one yourself if you don't believe me.


Did you not read the other replies? Many people's experience is that the difference is in the speed of reading, not the accuracy. This is borne out by buying many cheaper thermometers.

Regardless, I don't think the self-righteousness is called for. "Downvoted for speaking the truth"? We're talking about thermometers.


No doubt there are cheap ones that are utter crap; what I'm saying is that a fast settling and accurate thermometer is not some ultra-difficult thing that only a single company can make for a ridiculous price.


Can you recommend a competing thermometer of similar quality, speed, and accuracy?


Yet no one else makes them.


Is "speed of reading" a function of the probe, or the silicon?


Agreed. Hence the shock on people paying the markup. It’s not like this comes with some costly certification. There’s likely 1000s of products that offer the exact same capabilities at a 1/10 the price.


If you can find the cheapest ones that are just as durable, accurate, and fast you can replace the market leader amongst pros and serious hobbyists. That's worth a lot of money.

Get the right influencer/review site on your side and it's all downhill from there.

ETA: the thermapen isn't the Wirecutter recommendation. They recommend the entry level, $35 thermoworks option. So that's the price point to compete with and the $100 thermapen is the quality mark to hit.


The thermoworks dot option is also manufactured and sold by ETI in the UK. Thermoworks just slapped a different name in it.


It sounds like you're just making a seemingly reasonable assumption about something you don't know a lot about. There actually are not a lot of different kinds of good quality fast-reading thermometers out there.


You speak as if $100 is a lot of money when it's not.

Well it's true that you may be able to get something of equal quality for less, paying $100 for a high quality thermometer then I can always return and have replaced for years on end isn't that bad of a deal.

I have alwaysp been bothered by this. There's the strange masculine trait of pointing out how cheap you got something or how much something costs as if it Is a significant amount of money when it's not.

We get it! You're cheap and you would rather buy a mountain of disposable crap than spend money on something handmade to last! You're so cool and thrifty!


>"as if it matters when I'm making 150k+/yr"

Who gives a fuck how much you make. There are many people making way less and not because they are in any way inferior.

>"You're so cool and thrifty!"

I do not even want to say in public what I think about this.


Wow, this is out of touch. Even without the weird implication that everybody makes 150k, the implication that "if you can afford it, it's not overpriced" is ridiculous.


I was saying the lifetime warranty and time saved paying $40 more for a product that I don't have to research as heavily is worth i.

Honestly, I was using speech to text while having a drink so my comment came off as kinda stupid.


> There's the strange masculine trait of pointing out how cheap you got something or how much something costs as if it Is a significant amount of money when it's not.

On the other hand, there's a group of people who have fallen for the classic car salesman logic of "I'm actually SAVING money by spending more!" As if there's this epidemic of devices constantly failing, and they're the smartest people in the world for having come up with this novel idea about "spending more on quality." But being able to signal on social media about the nice things you have is an added bonus, so maybe there's something to it.


>fallen for the classic car salesman logic of "I'm actually SAVING money by spending more!"

The vast majority of people admit they are spending more to get more - not to save money.

>As if there's this epidemic of devices constantly failing

As far as I've experienced: There is. Maybe not "epidemic", and maybe not "constantly", but you appear to be using exaggeration for effect.

>they're the smartest people in the world for having come up with this novel idea about "spending more on quality."

What's with the hostility toward these people you're envisioning? I've never seen this group of people who think spending more to get a higher quality product is genius and novel.


So all things are of the same quality and the only reason someone would purchase a more expensive item is to signal their wealth on social media?


> You can buy them from European distributors in bulk for less than MSRP and sell them for the same price as thermoworks on amazon and still make a profit

This sounds like the kind of business plan that breaks down once you consider returns and warranties. I see 3 possibilities, either

(1) you make it clear to your buyers that they are not buying from thermoworks US, and that they must notcontact them for support and that you will meet the guarantees that Thermoworks promise (two years according to their website?), and therefore you will have to ship items back and forth across the atlantic (or just send free replacements), eating into your profits.

(2) you don't make this clear, in which case Thermoworks US will receive "fraudulent" warranty claims (ie legitimate issues, but from people who did not buy from thermoworks). Maybe as the sole distributor in the US, thermoworks weren't even checking where people bought their thermometers from

(3) you don't give the same warranty as Thermoworks, in which case is this crystal clear to the consumer?


It is a well made product, returns and defects were minimal (less than 1%) when I was selling them. I simply replaced any returns and would occasionally repair them myself or send them back when I had a box full of defective ones. Most defective returns were actually just a bad battery or misconfigured unit.

When I sold them, my listing made no mention of Thermoworks. So I felt no obligation to spend time clarifying that the products could not be returned to Thermoworks for warranty servicing. Just like Walmart doesn't make it clear to buyers that they cannot return their product to Target. But I did actually match the warranty length that Thermoworks offers. Though I don't think I ever got a warranty claim outside of the 30 days or so that Amazon allows customers to return an item.


> The only reason they were going for $179 previously is because thermoworks was buying the thermometers from sellers and reporting them as counterfeit. Thus making it difficult for sellers to sell them which keeps supply low.

Do you have anything, that supports this claim?


The search says it expired.. but nevertheless this is pretty bold.


USPTO search results aren't directly linkable, unfortunately. You can see it through the "Basic Word Mark Search" at https://tmsearch.uspto.gov/bin/gate.exe?f=login&p_lang=engli...


Just because Thermoworks isn’t the original manufacturer of Thermapens doesn’t make their claims any less valid. They are presumably authorized to use the Thermapen trademark in the US, and are right to be angry at Amazon for allowing counterfeit products to be sold using that trademark.


genuine products being sold by an unauthorized retailer is not the same thing as counterfeit


Amazon was serving ads for their trademark “at up to 50% off” when in reality only the knock-off brands were that cheap and the authentic versions sold by unauthorized resellers were going for 200% MSRP. That seems like an appropriate thing for them to be upset about from the trademark alone.


Sure, they can be upset at Amazon for misusing their brand name is product results, but that has been done for so long, i doubt there is any legal path to stop it from happening. Amazon is well within their right to show similar products when you search for a brand name.

As for the high prices, tough luck. I'm America, when you buy something, you have the right to sell it at whatever price you want, for the most part.


> when you buy something, you have the right to sell it at whatever price you want

As a consumer to other consumers, yes, but not as a business. Otherwise we wouldn't have things like MAP (minimum advertised price), which is enforceable by manufacturers. First-sale doctrine only covers so much.


MAP is only enforceable if you have a contract or agreement with your supplier.

Any business can buy any product off the shelf and resell it for whatever price they want.


… and even then MAP isn’t enforceable, seeing as how it is basically price fixing, which is illegal.

MAP agreements typically don’t say anything about the selling price, they more typically govern marketing funds provided by the manufacturer. So, for example, Logitech might give my computer store $1,000 to feature their new mouse in my weekly newspaper circular, but only as long as I stick to MAP guidelines. If I don’t, they’ll rescind the advertising credit.


Wow! Hackernews always delivers the real goods!


Not really. OP later confirmed:

> jjeaff 2 hours ago [–]

> It happened to me. The name of the purchaser came up in a Google search as an employee of Thermoworks. reply

A disclaimer in his initial post would have been far more appropriate.

Not so much savvy consumer as much as it he is disgruntled former competitor.


not only that, but they seem to be ignoring any questions related to warranties..


I didn't ignore any questions related to warranties. I always offered full replacement if there were any issues.


Has anyone else started to change their buying habits to buy direct from brands websites instead of buying on Amazon?

I simply don't trust Amazon for certain purchases. I feel like it's actually made me trust brands more instead of commoditized products.


I buy direct from the manufacturer whenever possible. When that's not possible, I go for a retailer with a somewhat "verified" supply chain. Walmart, etc. will do. Even Ebay is better because at least your purchase isn't coming from a comingled inventory.

This is coming from someone who used to buy from Amazon over everyone else because it was so darn convenient.

After seeing all the horror stories and having friends receive counterfeit or obviously defective, returned, and resold as new items; I just can't trust them anymore. Especially for things that go in or on my body. Or my pets for that matter.


I've been buying a lot of tools lately, and I've found myself in the spot where I trust Harbor Freight's supply chain more than Amazon's.

Never thought I'd see the day where I was choosing Harbor Freight for quality.


Some of my favorite tools are from harbor freight. As an example, the 1/4" ratchet with composite handle is such a pleasure to use compared to any other ratchet I've owned. I thought it was a gimmick, but I gave it a shot and now it's now my favorite ratchet.


harbor freight is excellent for some things, and abysmal for others. my cart saved my back, it's worth every penny of the 20 or so dollars. The dremel bits were just trash - I couldn't get one use out of them, same with the bench grinder.


gotta get that Harbor Freight gold plated ratchet though.


I extend this rule to any electronics above $30 and any chargers for said electronics. Sometimes cables too, I've seen horror stories about miswired USB-C cables, and some of the cheap micro-USB cables I've bought were uselessly bent up within 2 months. $3 cheaper isn't worth the risk, or the e-waste.


The last straw for me was receiving and obviously used (and gross) $800 kitchen appliance. They took the return but I took my business to the manufacturer.

I basically only buy books from Amazon now, and even there I don’t think they make print-on-demand obvious enough, and I won’t buy print-on-demand if the book is otherwise available because I’ve gotten too many bad printings.

The last time I posted about it here people defended Amazon because of their return policies. Well, the printing errors aren’t always immediately obvious. One reference book o purchased was missing a page but had a duplicate of the previous page. When printing errors are obvious, I feel like either Amazon is trying to see if I’ll complain or they’re trying to get me to do their QC.

And even if they don’t make me return the bad one... waiting another day or two isn’t great. I’d rather wait three days knowing I have to wait three days than wait one day, have to contact Amazon, and wait one more day.

I have a kindle, and I love it, and I buy books for it. I have Prime mostly because when I was buying a lot it made sense and now I sometimes watch Prime Video. But anything else is just too much work to read through fake reviews and worry about counterfeits or used goods masquerading as new.


About the fake reviews, there’s a website which is pretty good for finding those: https://fakespot.com/


Now that you mention it, "things that can start a fire" are also on the no Amazon list for me. Mainly electronics and especially if it's something that will stay plugged in.

I suppose that category also includes safety critical items. Like batteries intended for weapon lights, or offroad recovery gear.


I bought a power strip on Amazon with a surge protector that didn't work that fried some of my electronics, and it was under $30.


And yet, apparently selling counterfeit crap to rubes is better business than selling legit product. I may not trust Amazon to sell me anything these days, but I trust them to know their market and to mercilessly maximize their margins.


In my experience, the chances of getting something counterfeit on eBay is higher than it is on Amazon. I had an issue where I bought a blu ray on eBay to save a couple bucks; the product the arrived was clearly a pirated BD-R. Another time, I bought a couple of batteries for my laptop on eBay; the batteries were clearly counterfeit and of inferior construction than the more expensive original batteries.

I have never had experiences like that with Amazon, but I have read stories on the internet. I believe Amazon making it easier to leave negative feedback than eBay is one reason this kind of nonsense is less common on Amazon.


I think it's the lack of price vetting on Amazon's part that makes me hesitant to buy certain things there, e.g., groceries. That wariness happened after buying several packages of dried beans that were also available at Walmart (a retailer in the US), and then realizing I had paid literally three times the Walmart price.

Now I buy directly from Walmart if something's available there, because I have more confidence that their usual price controls are at work.


Amazon is a marketplace. There is no price vetting. If a third party wants to sell beans on Amazon for more money than they cost elsewhere, that’s not Amazon’s problem. They do not set prices for third-party sellers.

In fact, most of those beans are probably being drop-shipped from Wal Mart.

For items that Amazon is selling first-party, you can bet that they know exactly what all of the other major retailers are selling for, and they’ll be within pennies of their price, if not beating it.


If amazon is so bad (and my experience agrees that it is), why hasn't anyone stepped up to offer a viable alternative? The closest competitor I know of is walmart, but given the items they carry in their stores, it's hard to convince myself to visit their website when I want to get something quality.


I don't think it is possible to have a viable alternative to Amazon without running into the same problems Amazon has.

The alternatives that more and more people seems to be preferring is specialty sites focusing on just one or two product categories or the manufacturer making it easier to buy directly from them.


I think you'll get a lot of one variety of responses so I feel compelled to share:

I don't dismiss any of the concerns regarding Amazon and authenticity and quality. But I have yet to have it affect me after hundreds of purchases for many thousands of dollars.

Maybe it's just the kinds of things I buy. Maybe I don't notice the occasional knock off. Maybe I'm just naturally good at avoiding dark corners.

As a result I haven't changed my behaviour at all.


Same. I'm probably close to $100K in purchases over the last 15 years from Amazon.

There is one product I've bought that I'm reasonably confident is a counterfeit based solely on the build quality, and unfortunately it's a Leviton GFCI plug [1]. Not exactly something I want to risk to inferior quality control.

1 - https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0037NXKY0


Well do you actually verify the authenticity of your purchases? It depends on the product category somewhat, some categories are absolutely rampant with Amazon knockoffs in a way that you literally cannot avoid by scrutinizing listings or eyeballing it. The first and only PC thermal paste that I bought on Amazon was from an official listing but I was delivered a straight up knockoff. The thermal paste company is a common knockoff target so they provide serial numbers that you can use verify the authenticity of your purchase. The knockoff product had the audacity to include a fake serial number, presumably because they know most people wouldn't bother checking. The knockoff paste is a slightly different shade of gray, but I only know that because I had previously owned a (verified) authentic paste as a point of reference.


Did it work just as well?


I don't know, I'm not going to risk expensive PC hardware and waste time trying to find out.


I take the approach of how big a deal it is if I get a counterfeit. If not a big deal and/or it’s likely all coming from the same Chinese factory anyways I just go through Amazon. If I want to maximize the chance that I get the real deal I try to get as close to the source as possible


>I take the approach of how big a deal it is if I get a counterfeit.

You could lose your global entry / TSA precheck privileges.

[0] https://www.racked.com/2018/1/8/16849298/amazon-counterfeits...


> Maybe I don't notice the occasional knock off.

That’s likely. Many of the knock-offs are very convincing, especially if you don’t compare them side by side with the original.


Yes, I buy everything above 50 euros straight from the manufacturer.

Nowadays, most companies sell directly to consumers, shipping is fast enough and you generally get a genuine, updated and properly stored item.

I usually make the following choice:

For the item I want, is there a brand I trust, eg that designs and produces a high quality item, if possible locally? For example, I know some companies for speakers, kitchenwares and appliances that produce here in the EU (and I know people working there). I buy from them directly, since I care about not getting a fake.

Or, is every product just a rebranding of the same thing from one or two factories in China anyway? If so, I go to amazon and buy one of the dozen identical trashware versions and accept that it will break. This bounds my willingness to spend.

This strategy works for me. Only choosing Amazon as seller of last resort has reduced my issues with products to zero.


Yeah, recently I bought a knife from bladehq because I was worried about getting a knockoff off Amazon.

Two weeks later I got an email from bladehq that they had been exploited and my credit card was now known to hackers.

So, fucked if you do, fucked if you don’t.


I've been using the pay with PayPal option whenever a site has it for this reason.


PayPal will not help you if you inadvertently buy a scam product.

I bought a TV light strip doodad for $20. What arrived was an empty box. It shipped from the US, but they wanted me to ship it back to China. PayPal could not have cared less. They agreed I needed to send it back to China. I escalated very far up their chain. Nothing.

Apparently this is a common scam and PayPal does zero to help.


I use my credit card with PayPal purchases, so I think a chargeback would cover that.


Paypal, Privacy.com, and Blur can solve that problem. I'm sure there are others.


That's like getting food poisoning when you go out to eat, so you just assume all restaurants will give you food poisoning.


Not even food poisoning, more like your car for broken into, but nothing was stolen. The meal was fantastic, however.


There are other stores that specialize in particular items.

Jetpens for stationary. Technical books can be bought directly from the publishers. Microcenter for computer parts. Uline and Office Depot for office items.

Amazon has benefits from big brands who can police their stuff better than small brands. But smaller brands all seem to be complaining about Amazon these days, so I do try to buy direct I'd possible.


Yes, I gave up on Amazon recently because their outsourced customer service has become so bad.

Unlike generic customer service, they used to solve problems.

Now they simply go through the motions of appearing to solve problems.

It’s really evident when a company’s customer service priorities change in this direction.


I’ve had good luck with the outsourced service reps. It’s over chat usually and they know which canned responses to use for common scenarios (didn’t arrive, DOA, counterfeit, etc).

What problem were they unable to resolve?


I ordered an item for Mother's Day. A few days later I noticed it still had no shipping date, and I was unable to upgrade the shipping option to 2-day shipping.

I contacted Live Chat and they said:

* "I will add rush delivery notes for you"

* "we will do the rest for you with a rush delivery"

Then it was the Friday before Mother's Day and I got a notification the item will be delivered some time the following week.

I contacted Amazon Live Chat again:

* We never promised you a specific delivery date.

That's completely true, Amazon.

Turns out "I will add rush delivery notes for you" and "we will do a rush delivery" is a meaningless customer service thing you can say like, "your call is important to us".

This doesn't require taking any action to expedite the order or, failing that, telling the customer who is asking you about delivery for Mother's Day that they need to order a different product if they expect it to arrive in time.

So basically Amazon Customer Service is now no better or worse than any generic chat bot you can use to accomplish (or fail to accomplish) the same thing.

It's my own fault: if an item had no delivery date the week before Mother's Day, I should have canceled earlier.


Not the poster you replied to but in my experience (missed delivery estimates, or more often missed/ignored delivery instructions) the only weapon in their arsenal is offering a $5 gift card to spend on your next Amazon order.


My favorite way to buy is when manufacturers have their own store on amazon and maintain inventory in Amazon warehouses via Prime.

On Amazon, I can see the seller's name at a glance and I can tell if it's the official seller. Buying it via Prime means I get free shipping and it often comes in the mail literally the next day (since I live in a major city with Amazon warehouses).

If something is wrong, I know I can just drop the package off at the UPS Store down the street to return it and the refund immediately shows up in my Amazon account without any hassle.

Buying directly from the manufacturer's web site, on the other hand, is a huge hassle. I have to create an account, enter my address and shipping info, and add my payment info (great, now my credit card info is stored in yet another place that could potentially be hacked), and the pay for the item. This whole checkout process is unique for every vendor web site, and when the item is shipped, I'm lucky if it arrives within two weeks, much less next day. Returning the item (if something is wrong with it) is also a huge hassle, and many third party vendors won't cover the return shipping costs, and may only replace the item for an identical one.

I've never once encountered a fraudulent product when ordering directly from an official manufacturer on Amazon Prime. That only ever happens when I buy from third party sellers or buy used products.


I have yet to come across a brand which offers reasonable shipping options and good customer service on their website. Despite all of Amazon's other problems, their logistics and support moat is deep enough that there is still no good option B.


Unfortunately no -- Amazon is often ~20% cheaper than a brand's website, plus offers free shipping which brand sites often don't, and (very importantly) I can trust that I can return an item with zero hassle if it doesn't work as advertised.

Also the majority of brands don't even sell directly, only through retailers like Amazon, Wal-Mart, or Target anyways.


Yeah I loved Amazon but have moved away from them for everything but things that have really low risk like Kindle, video games, or toilet paper.

I used to still use Amazon for research and reviews but now reviews are useless.

Now my biggest reason to visit Amazon is for price comparison and price history via camelcamcelcamel extension.


Recently I have started comparison shopping more and I almost always find Amazon is the most expensive option. I have Prime as well. For example I was shopping for dishwasher detergent and found Amazon was more than double what Target charged, and Target offers free shipping if your order is at least $35. And yes, I was comparing unit prices.

I also find Amazon prices with free shipping almost always end up being a tad higher than other places when you add in their shipping costs. ie item is $8, shipping is $4 at some competitor, where it will be $13 with free shipping at Amazon.

It's gotten to the point my wife and I pretty sure we are cancelling Prime and no longer shopping at Amazon.


imo it's worth paying a little more just to get AMZL shipping. for my address, it's the only option that actually gets here in two days, and every day is a business day for them. UPS is usually two days, but misses the estimate a good fraction of the time. fedex is a little worse, and USPS priority mail is more like 10-12 business days.


Amazon still has two day shipping? Could have fooled me. It is usually 3-4 days minimum, but usually more. "In stock" wiper blade, ordered yesterday but won't arrive until Monday. Probably won't even "ship" until Sunday.


I've been an Amazon customer since at least 1999. I've been shipped many counterfeit/knock-off products that were sold as the real thing. I lost my honeymoon pictures on a fake SD card, that was over 10 years ago. The problems of fake products have only gotten worse.

Its now rare that I buy anything on Amazon that costs over $100 and I always cross shop for those things. Amazon is good at commodity items but not much else. If I'm buying a name brand product over $100 I won't buy it on Amazon because its most likely fake or has no warranty.

I really do not appreciate that Amazon has become Aliexpress in the last few years.


If I'm buying the usual consumable goods, I'll buy from Amazon. There's not much point in counterfeiting those for the most part, and the financial risk is very low in the first place. Anything more expensive than $100 or so I'm going to try and find a) high quality materials and b) made as local as possible. It's not always possible. For those type of product, though, I'd rather spend 3x the amount, 1/5 as often.


The most counterfeited good I’ve found on amazon is moderately priced shampoo. It’s cheap and bulky and I have no idea why it’s faked but it’s super common.


i just avoid Amazon flat out for most purchases. No way to tell what you're buying is genuine, and I've been burnt far too many times.


Absolutely, direct or trusted retailers only now. I don't trust Amazon for any purchase anymore. I got tired of putting in so much effort to researching products and still feeling like I was rolling the dice.

The video streaming service is the only thing keeping my Prime subscription active, and I'm hoping to drop it before the renewal date in July this year.


100%. I've been thinking about this a lot lately actually. I remember how happy Amazon used to make me, and now you can't trust any of the reviews and worse you can't trust the merchandise.

Not to mention that Chinese knock-off manufacturing has only gotten better over the last 5 years. Take a look at the Benchmade knife comparisons on youtube.


I tried that but a lot of companies just aren’t set up for it anymore and actually offer better customer service from Amazon or eBay because they are held to some sort of dispute process. I recently bought something that went on sale for a few hundred dollars less literally a week after I received it. I emailed and requested a refund and it was a huge issue and hassle. Same thing wit canceling an order for a backordered baby product and the company mailed it weeks after I requested to cancel it then refused to refund it despite it having now gone to an address I no longer lived at... I now prefer buying from Amazon. I bought a $1400 tv and it somehow broke like 5 months later but Amazon sent someone out to pick it up and refunded the order. BestBuy would never do that.. they’d tell to take a hike and deal with the manufacturer. I bought a bbq and it was delivered days later whereas Ace Hardware needed weeks..


I’ve never had problems with fraudulent items or anything buying off Amazon, but I do find myself buying from it less and less.

Sometimes this is because I simply can’t find what I want. More often, this is because the biggest benefit I gained from Amazon, namely the next day or two day shipping via Prime does not seem to be as common anymore.


I buy directly a lot. Shopify has made this easier. For electronics I buy most of my stuff either directly, or through someplace like Best Buy. They aren't always the cheapest, but they at least they don't send me counterfeit products. I mostly order stuff from Amazon stuff that I might get on Alibaba. All I order some music stuff from them. I prefer to order from Sweetwater, but they've been having stock issues due to demand during the pandemic. Although I'm still more likely to order from Guitar Center than Amazon.


I'll compare prices and if the price difference (including their shipping cost vs Prime) for the manufacturer/brand website is only $10-$15 then i'll most likely use the manufacturer website (especially if they use a not-horrible storefront system like shopify). This doesn't happen often, though, as even USPS shipping for medium or large items is expensive.


I buy from Amazon purely for 30-day return policy which is quick and painless to process (single click, drop it to UPS store, done. Don't even need printer, tape or box if the original package it still intact.)

Can't say I have the same experience from other ecommerce websites, brand ones or aggregated ones like BB or Newegg.


Absolutely. Amazon is as good as street corner counterfeits for most things.


I only use Amazon when they're the fastest shipping option and I'm in a hurry, when they are a lot cheaper, or when I'm actually looking for the no brand Chinese knock off.


I haven't used Amazon in over 18 months.


No, because most sellers have:

- Incredibly slow shipping

- Painful return processes


- Expensive shipping

- 3rd party customer service that has no power to do anything

The fact that companies are paying / making me pay retail for logistics is the dumbest thing ever. The whole value of a "store" (i.e. a place that holds stuff) is the logistics and customer service. If you just want to be a manufacturer that's totally fine power to ya but then get your products to distributors and stores.


I'm definitely in the same place.

My philosophy is Avoid Amazon for everything at this point. The counterfeit is out of control


> We DO have carefully selected, authorized resellers.

USA is a free market. Everyone is authorized all the time to sell every safe product. The term "authorized reseller" is a linguistic manipulation which benefits manufacturers at the expense of everyone else in society.

> We cannot vouch for the quality of products sold by unauthorized resellers, therefore, we cannot provide warranty or technical support on any products sold by unauthorized resellers.

This is not true in California. Manufacturers must honor the warranty on all products they originally sold in USA, no matter who later re-sold it. And for products they sold for >$99, they must provide technical documentation for 7 years. I wrote about this in [0].

[0] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=24426635


My Thermapen Mk4 is one of the best kitchen purchases I've made, and that's quite a statement considering my spend on kitchen gadgets, tools, etc. People buying knockoffs or trying to go with lesser options are the perfect example of being "penny wise and pound foolish". For $65 shipped on sale, it was well worth the cost, and absolutely is world's better than any of the lesser options I tried before. Getting a rib roast just right, making candy, and doing BBQ are all areas where it's excelled and I've struggled with prior options.

One thing I've learned across all my many hobbies and in my professional life is that it's always worth the money to buy quality tools. They last longer, work better, and reduce the likelihood of error and failure in your work. There's a reason I don't buy junk, and I thought I could get away with it at first with cooking and learned the hard way not to. Now I have a Thermapen Mk4 along with other proper cooking tools, and it's massively upped my game and simplified the task of pulling off complex recipes.


an alternative approach to "always buy quality tools" that has worked for me:

1. start with a cheap tool

2. use it until it breaks or until you can't tolerate its shortcomings anymore

3. use what you learned from #2 to research and purchase a high quality tool

if you never get to #2, then you didn't really need anything more than the cheap tool for this particular use case


I used to do this but life is too short and there is no joy.

Some products take years to get to #2, they just are really poor at what they do and you don't even realize that they are terrible until you see someone with a better version.

Examples: Toasters, Knives, Cars, Chairs, Mobile Devices


I’m curious about your example - I have a cheap toaster and it seems OK (I think it was $40 new on Amazon?) What am I missing out on?


Well, the Cadillac of that category might be the Breville Smart Oven Air. In which case you might be missing out on a lot.

Having said that, there are sometimes cases where the cheap item does the job perfectly well, and for you, the cheap toaster might be that.


I have a cheap $12 toaster from walmart that I've used for at least 10 years making toast several times a week, it's still kicking and works fine. Also love my toaster oven that I got for $100 around the same time, I use it way more than my regular oven. I didn't need to buy a $300 "20 mode" toaster oven, just a timer, temperature, and convection works fine.


That's good when your money is unlimited. But when I have $2000 to spend and I can buy one Festool tool or five Bosch tools, I'd think twice, especially if I have no idea what I really need.


My method is more like the following, which I believe is the better way to go:

1. Do research to understand your options

2. Purchase a mid-grade but not garbage quality version of whatever tool you need.

3. If you find out you use it often or that it has any annoying shortcomings, go back and buy the highest quality version you can afford and gift the mid-grade one to a friend who might need an upgrade from their average/low quality option from the box store.

This is how I ended up with a lot of Tekton hand tools and after I got more serious about racing cars and doing work on cars I upgraded to Hazet, Wiha, Wera, Nepros, Mitutoyo, Engineer, and Asahi tools. But at no point did I just go to Harbor Freight and fill up my trunk with random quality junk made in China ready for the landfill. I was then able to pass on the Tekton stuff to friends in need as I replaced it with higher end German/Japanese made tools and it's still more than capable of getting the job done even if it's not the utmost design in terms of speed or ergonomics for doing that particular work. All of the mid-grade stuff I've owned along the way has been reliable enough to last until I gifted it onward, or to stay in use up until now (and beyond).

There's WAY WAY WAY too much disposable quality drek on the market at bottom barrel scraping prices that people buy and then just throw away and buy another cheap one, thinking that the lifespan of a pan should be 2 years, that you should just buy a new set of cheap knives when the old ones don't cut well anymore, or that it's normal for an adjustable wrench or ratchet to eventually have the gears strip their teeth out.

I'm fortunate to be able to afford to buy twice and I'm nice enough to pass along my tools to others, but if you can learn anything from me, it's that it's worth not buying the absolute bottom barrel stuff in the first place. It's all garbage and in so many little ways adds to cognitive load and stress in your life, especially when trying to do hobbies you're supposed to enjoy, and it's just not worth it. It's actively bad for your life and it's catastrophically bad for the environment. If you can, buy it once and buy it for life. If you can't, buy it twice, and make sure the first option was at least good enough you could pass it along instead of throwing it away.


I wholeheartedly agree. I have tried the cheaper stuff which when it breaks for no reason after a few years, is not really cheap at all.

I use mine for bbq, meats, egg based sauces, baking, and probably a few other things that I didn't plan on using it for when i bought it.

What other tools have you spent a little extra on to get quality, if you don't mind me asking :)


Not the OP, but in the kitchen, knifes. Makes a huge difference.

Tips for inexpensive but quality kitchen tools:

The iSi basics silicone spatula is the best spatula that you could ever use, and is like $11 on Amazon. Get the larger version.

Don’t buy non-stick pans. Get cast iron and/or carbon steel, learn how to use it, and you’ll get non-toxic non-stick performance in a pan that you can give your grandkids when you die. Carbon steel is always inexpensive, and with cast iron the price goes up to have a nicer finish but is quite usable even at $25.


Victronix knives are relatively cheap and good. Cast iron (when well seasoned) is frigging awesome and will last for generations, cheap wood (bamboo) cutting boards are great and indestructable as long as you put some cutting board oil on them every couple months and wash with soap and water only (no DW), I love the cheap air fryer I bought. I love my 4 "cups" (20 oz) Mr. Coffee mini drip maker. Things don't have to be expensive, if you're willing to do a little reading on the internet. I suppose most of the HN crowd doesn't have to worry about budgeting for kitchen items though. I just take it as a challenge to be a frugal consumer. :) . I won't cheap out no drills, dremels, or power cutting tools though. Tend to go with brand name, middle of the road tools there. Which are great for hobbyists and probably last decades under hobby usage. Crockpots are also pretty cheap (including the crockpot brand :) )


> What other tools have you spent a little extra on to get quality, if you don't mind me asking

At this point, pretty much everything. It's on my on-going todo list to write an article for my site about it since I added a cooking section awhile back. I found a community that's apparently been around a long time in Chowhound and that exposed me to a lot of the details, and I bought some representative cheaper items to experiment with and I learned a lot. Among other things I learned why gas is better than electric for a stovetop and the shortcomings of induction electric burners, which I had previously thought were marvelous. During the course of 2020 I really took cooking seriously and decided to go all-out, enrolled in online culinary school in my free time and learned how to do all the things I had previously neglected. I'm not a pro cook, this is just for at home, but with new techniques and new understanding of what is available it became really obvious what the shortcomings of my tools were and where it was making certain recipes I wanted to try impossible or massively more difficult.

The short version of what I would probably write is that your priority order for paying for quality should be pretty much:

1. Knives

2. Cookware

3. Ovenware

4. Anything else that is exposed to heat

5. Everything else

The most interesting thing I discovered though is that quality is more about materials and construction than price, and a lot of the best stuff is actually really affordable if you buy through restaurant supply houses instead of on Amazon or similar. Additionally, many of the best quality products aren't sold in the US for odd reasons, especially in Cookware, or at least are hard to come by. Personally I ended up with a pretty eclectic collection of cookware because cookware sets might get you where you need to go, but are never going to be optimal for each item.

For instance I found that for doing a lot of stocks and soups, a disc-bottom stock pot (Fessler is my preferred brand there) was significant better than other options because it made heat control easier to prevent burning the soup and made it heat so evenly it didn't require constant stirring. But by the same token when I wanted a good saucepan, clad stainless steel is better than all other options, and for a skillet it's hard to beat single-piece construction carbon steel or cast iron, although the 7-layer clad stuff is close. For a dutch oven nothing beats enameled cast iron. In my opinion for disc-bottoms, Fessler is the good stuff, for clad it's All-Clad or Demeyere, for cast iron it should be Field or Lodge, for enameled cast iron it should be La Creuset or Staub, and for carbon steel I'm a huge fan of Solidteknics.

Unfortunately, no cookware set is going to be this exact, so it's better to buy one piece at a time and focus on the most essential and most used pieces. I think everybody should have a really high quality 2 qt saucier or saucepan, a good skillet, and a dutch oven, and a stock pot. You can get everything else over time if you find you need it.

Knives are kind of similar, don't buy a set, buy individual knives. Everybody could honestly get by with just two good knives if they take care of them, a chef's knife or gyuko of some kind and some kind of paring or utility/petty knife. With knives there's a lot to learn but some of the good starters are really reasonably priced and are honestly good enough you may be fine with them for the rest of your life. You really can't go wrong with Tojiro VG10 knives if you want stainless steel or the Dao Vu knives if you want carbon steel and are okay taking care of it. Both are very reasonable, like under $100 for a knife (typical high-end knives are > $300). There's certainly reasons to buy something more, but honestly these are what I use as "daily beaters" in my kitchen and I only have one more expensive knife and while it's fantastic, I use the Tojiro just as much if not more. What I definitely recommend against is buying expensive sets you find at Williams-Sonoma or whatever, because they're very much not worth what you paid for them, even if they're decent.

In any case, once you buy quality stuff you really do need to take care of it properly. I have a calendar reminder once a month on a Saturday to do "kitchen maintenance" which is when I do things like treat my Boos cutting board with mineral oil and wax, oven season the carbon steel and cast iron pans, and deep clean all the clad stainless steel stuff with barkeeper's friend or white vinegar, and sharpen my knives, among other things. Other than that, day to day, you should do research on how to take care of things. Cast iron isn't really as finnicky as people make it out to be, for instance, and if you take care of it properly it's really amazing to cook with, knives are easy to care for properly as well. For the most part the main thing is most of the quality stuff is intended to be hand washed, not go in a dishwasher, or if it's dishwasher safe you should still rinse and wipe it dry afterwards to ensure it doesn't leave any caustic residues from the dishwasher.

The long version of this is something I'll write some day maybe.


I've owned a Thermapen for many years now and extremely happy with it.

I brew beer, roast coffee, smoke meat, bake, etc. and accuracy is really important to me. I've gone through so many thermometers before I got this.

My breaking point was when I owned 3 random ones from Amazon and they all gave me different readings, and they weren't even linearly different either -- like at 140ºF it would be 15-20º apart and at boiling it was 5-10º, so it was impossible to infer the true temp. I tossed a batch of beer down the sink out of frustration because of this.


Agree. I bought one in February 2012 on Amazon "Sold by: ThermoWorks, Inc.", apparently before counterfeits became an issue. It's fast and accurate and still working fine.


I don't think counterfeits for Thermapen have ever been a problem. Just unofficial distributors selling Thermapen from ETI or reselling after purchasing from Thermoworks.


How can you state this?

You've commented multiple times and only once disclaimed that you were a former competitor to Thermoworks trying to sell the thermapen also.

You are poisoning this conversation. PUT A DISCLAIMER IN YOUR COMMENTS.


In this case, that wouldn't be a disclaimer, it would simply be a claim of direct knowledge of the practices I alleged. Which I do have.


No need to shout.


How is he poisoning the conversation? The detail he is neglecting to mention only strengthens his position.


Seconded. This is one of the things you buy in life and keep forever and are never unhappy with it. Worth every cent.


I blame Google here as well. Their practice of selling ads on searches for trademarked brand names of competitors, forcing brands to pay for their own ads to (only partially, as seen here) mitigate the negative effects is clearly predatory. I wouldn't even expect them to necessarily proactively screen for these cases, but it should at least be possible to demonstrate that you're using the trademark being advertised on (by demonstrating that you own the .com, or by submitting a trademark registration number), and henceforth prevent anyone else from advertising on that keyword. Of course, Google has a financial incentive not to do that.


It depends. It's legal and IMO ethical to use another company's trademark if you're an authorized distributor or a competitor using the trademark in a non-scammy way. For example, a "Better than Thermapen" ad would be a legit (if weak) form of competition.


Using that sort of ad copy is fine IMO. What I take issue with is advertising using competitors' brands as keywords, so when someone searches for "Thermapen", your ad comes up above their organic result.


Eh, in some markets trademark genericisation would mean that someone searching [BrandName] might genuinely be looking for any product that fills roughly the same function. If I google "Blu Tack" I don't care if I get the stuff made by Bostik, and I don't even know what the generic term for that product __is__.

Maybe you could argue "well, that's the reward [Brand] gets from insanely successful organic marketing and/or being first to market", which I suppose has some merit, but I don't think it's inherently unethical to market at brands in that context.


Yeah, that's fair. I guess like anything there are grey areas. It's definitely frustrating when you have a more niche brand like thermapen though, where that's definitely not the case, and you can see knockoffs bidding on your keywords and essentially taking advantage of people looking for your product/service.


One may argue this as problematic, the other may argue this as increasing competition.


Cannot say enough about their customer support. In 1:45 I called and got a replacement part shipped to me free of charge. That's one minute, 45 seconds. About 30s of that was me telling them I had ordered something earlier that day and them checking if it had shipped already.

Great products as well.


Birkenstock had a similar story - too many resellers, lots of counterfeit trash, so they stopped working with Amazon (they still work with Amazon subsidiaries though)

https://footwearnews.com/2020/business/retail/birkenstock-am...


(2016)

The warning banner mentioned in the first paragraph doesn't appear to be on the Thermoworks website anymore. However, it looks like you still can't buy a Thermapen on Amazon.


The banner might be gone, but the first row under the carousel contains a big box with an 'Amazon Warning' which leads directly to this blog post.


Good call out, I didn't notice that.


Buying direct from Thermoworks is not a great difficulty.


Sure; I'm just trying to clarify which parts of the blog post are still accurate.


Article is from 2016. Searching Google/Amazon these complaints seem to have been resolved since this was posted.


They may have finally gotten setup with Amazon Brand registry. As a past seller of used items (camera gear, electronics, and the like) on Amazon, there are large categories that I can't sell anymore, due to Brand protections that prohibit all sales by non-authorized parties, even just simple used goods that I was the original purchaser of.


They havent, or at least any search on 'thermapen' or 'thermoworks' does not list that as a brand in the sidebar.


Really? On Amazon US, I still can't see any Thermoworks Thermapens available for sale. Just lots of similar devices.


Yeah, it’s just a bunch of cheap (and some not-so-cheap) knockoffs.


Thermapen is fantastic - it really reads in a second or two. For years I was resigned to the fact that "fast read" thermometers take nearly 10 seconds and fall apart, after buying a bunch from Amazon. I've had the same experience with other kinds of things. For many categories, Amazon simply does not sell high quality products - at all. You have to find the brands using your own research (good luck getting past the top-10-of-2021 hell hole), then buy directly from them.

My impression is that it used to be that it was only this hard to discover sources for obscenely high end products. Now it's the case for anything that isn't ultra-cheap garbage.


Here in the UK, ETI Ltd (the manufacturer of Thermapens) often sells refurbished units cheaply through eBay. I’ve bought several this way and they are fantastic!


ETI Ltd (the actual manufacturer) also sells them on Amazon.co.uk

https://www.amazon.co.uk/sp?_encoding=UTF8&asin=B01MQN9MLL&i...


Thanks for the tip, just purchased one of the eBay refurbs - always happy to buy manufacturer refurbished items.


I've certainly been bitten by other types of counterfeit items on Amazon, and would definitely not purchase something like a Thermapen on there simply because I couldn't be sure I was getting a genuine product. For companies like this, I can also see how it would be a disadvantage to have large numbers of Chinese knockoffs featured next to their product for a lot less. Personally I've changed my shopping habits to never shop on Amazon unless I can't get that item any other way. Almost everyone has reasonable shipping times, and I don't need 1-day delivery or whatever new decadent level of convenience they're offering. Purchasing directly from a manufacturer or from other retailers gives me more confidence that I am buying a real product. Finally I also don't like the idea of giving Amazon as much power as it has - I'd rather avoid fueling their middleman role and reward innovative small companies directly.


Makes me wonder. My Thermapen sucks. I got it as a gift 5-10 years ago, and it seemed to come in nice official packaging. It has never met the settle time claims.


What have you tried it on? Mine works extremely fast when it's _in_ something that it can read (like meat, or hot oil), but the Thermapen doesn't work for air temperature (not enough heat conduction, I would guess).

I also have a ThemoWorks/ETI ChefAlarm, and the difference in read time between the two are very apparent.


Mine works well enough for taking air temperature. Obviously not instant read, but if you leave it out for a minute or two before reading it, it gives pretty accurate results. (I guess that's no different from any ordinary air thermometer?)


Yes, you are correct, I was just talking about the 'instant read' part of it.


If you wave it around frantically in air it works well enough, certainly not the intended application and if that is your main use then there are better tools.


It’s probably either counterfeit or defective


I do own a much older generation Thermapen - the automatic switch is failing, so I need to open it up and fix it... but I do find it a useful tool.

For the HN angle, my understanding on how these devices get such a fast reading is to have a decent calibration of the thermal mass of the probe tip, some reasonably quick and precisely timed readings and then using some math to interpolate the exponential curve to predict what the probe temperature is. After a few seconds thermal equilibrium is reached, but it is likely you've already been looking at something close to the final value.

[edit] after doodling on paper, not sure it is necessary to know the thermal mass of the probe. Time to do some experiments!


If you don't want to fix it yourself Thermoworks will repair it for next to nothing. I think I paid like $10 to have one with a similar issue fixed. Normally it is something with the case around the pivot point that causes it to stop turning on (try squeezing it in that area to test that theory).

The speed compared to most other thermometers is that that is uses a thermocouple vs a thermistor. The cheaper ThermoPop uses a thermistor and takes about twice as long to get a reading.


If you are pedantic AND loves experimenting, ThermaPen will at the same time ruin your life and make you so much happier.

The first week I got my thermapen I made and drank so much tea I was getting high from caffeine. Then came endless number of over baked chickens; still a folklore in my house the winter where chicken was plenty and oven always roaring.

My kids use it to assess how cooked chicken nuggets are. I even wrapped it in foil once to check automatic transmission fluid temp in a pinch (don't tell my wife). It reads as fast as it claims. It works consistently and without fail.


I gave my Thermapen to someone as a gift, ended up buying a $20 one on Amazon and don’t miss it one bit.


As someone who got heavily into baking bread / pastry and occasionally meat during the pandemic, I can't recommend Thermapen enough — it's the ultimate cooking thermometer. Also, I live in Europe so I ordered it from the UK, and ETI's support is awesome and they ship really fast.


At least a couple years ago (when I bought a thermo-pop from thermopen as a gift) you couldn't buy them from amazon.

Though the Amazon "review of thermometers" still list the thermopen as a top pick is is unavailable to buy [1]. They removed the thermo-pop which works quite well.

[1]https://www.amazon.com/ospublishing/story/e5498f9e-e69c-442b...

maybe its SEO? But there it is.


I have the Dot (https://www.thermoworks.com/DOT) and it worked great for many months and during that time I cooked lots of perfect pieces of meat in the BBQ and in the oven. Then it started failing and now it works about half the time, which is really frustrating especially when you’re expecting to hear the alarm and it just never rings. No, it’s not the battery.


Have you reached out to them? I'm not affiliated with them at all but it seems like they really want to provide good customer service and offer a 2 year warranty on the DOT.


For what its worth, I've bought 5 of these. 2 for myself, and 3 I've given as gifts. They're amazing and have completely changed the way I cook. Nothing compares.


This might be an unpopular opinion.

I bought a Thermapen back when they were new. It was Good! It measured temperature fast.

Then it broke, and I bought a cheap one.

And it’s basically completely the same. Actually more reliable - the thermapen stopped turning on reliably when I pulled the needle out.

This doesn’t mean it’s Ok what Amazon are doing, or for companies to rip them off. But I don’t think most people (any people?) need to spend that much money on a thermometer anymore.


If you still have the Thermapen they will likely replace it or repair it for free or cheap (like $10).


Did not know that! Thanks! My new one probably cost less than that anyway though.


How can a thermometer cost 79 dollars, and who is actually willing to spend that?


I was/am! It's an instant thermometer, it shows the temperature reading in less than a second or two. They're really useful for cooking.

I'm sure there are cheaper brands which are just as good, but Thermapen has brand recognition among home chefs. (Probably mostly due to America's Test Kitchen's endorsement of it.)


Alright, yeah I guess it makes more sense that speed is the selling point, I mean cheap thermometers are also quite accurate.


I have one, the speed is indeed the selling point. You can slowly insert the thermometer and find the coldest point. It is also so fast and easy you can use it where you would never bother before - such as checking to see if you microwaved your food enough.


I routinely used one and it lasted 10 years. I recently replaced it. Few $/yr seems like a decent deal. Its nice to use, reads quickly and apparently accurately.


What risk should consumer worry about more? Increased risk of PII & financial data loss, or increased risk of purchasing fake & overpriced products?


Did anyone else just buy one?


I'm surprised ligma isn't on this list.


Amazon / eBay arbitrage is a thing.

Made some really good money until my Amazon prime account got banned.


You're the reason we can't have nice things. Or not really you, but Amazon's marketplace business model that enabled your arbitrage. IMO the value from marketplace arbitrage and FBA "entrepreneurship" is less than the market damage caused by counterfeiting.


That's fucking rich.

Amazon was built on dropshipping.

It's the same damn thing.

Every bookseller on Amazon and eBay buys their books from one of 4 major publisher.


Every time this article shows up here or on Twitter I email them to complain about my broken thermapen, which stopped working 11 years ago after I owned it for only a year. Over the years they've changed the supposed contact address from service to support to techsupport but one thing remains the same: they never answer. From a company that makes such a big deal about how great their support is, all I have from them is a broken expensive thermometer and silence.




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