Thursday, January 24, 2013

Sewing Machine woes

Here and there folks have contacted me to ask how things are going with my Pfaff Smarter sewing machine, purchased almost a year ago.  Thank goodness it's not quite been a year, because that means my machine is still under warranty!  I am traveling the 2 hours to Charlotte this weekend, again, to bring my machine to my dealer for care.  Unfortunately, this dealer is the closest reputable repair man.  He's been great to work with.  Always available and repairs my machine on the same day I bring it in (which is key since it's a 2 hour drive to get there).  But... the machine has been far from satisfactory.

Pfaff Smarter 1100 Pro

In October I updated my original review post on the Pfaff Smarter.  After getting "fixed", the automatic tension continues to be a problem.  This fancy computerized feature is supposed to deliver perfect tension for free motion quilting.  And, it does... when it works. When it doesn't work, it causes tension problems for the simplest straight stitch.  A machine that can't straight stitch reliably is a sad thing indeed. I've also had repeated problems with the auto thread cutter un-threading the needle.  This has happened on multiple machines and after multiple fixes.  So disappointing. 

Well, when I go in this weekend, I'm supposed to express my serious dissatisfaction with the machine.  The fact is that "fixes" to the auto tension don't last a week. What do you think I should expect or hope for from my dealer?  A new Pfaff Smarter machine (I think this one has actually been discontinued)?  That he send the machine to Pfaff to look at (that sounds like a long, possibly useless process)?  That I get my money back (yeah, right)?  I'm really having trouble dealing with this confrontation, probably mostly because I like the sewing machine dealer and feel he's not the one at fault.  Still, I bought a very expensive machine that just doesn't work.  What would you do?

One possible resolution would be to trade the machine in for something else.  Unfortunately, the machine I want is a brand he doesn't rep.  I want to try a Juki TL-2000Qi sewing machine, which is a lot like my Pfaff Smarter (large harp space, knee lift, auto thread cutter, etc.).  The key difference is that the Juki is NOT computerized.  It just does the straight stitch. It's supposed to be excellent for free motion quilting.  I have another machine I can use for buttonholes and zigzag stitch, etc.  I just want a big, workhorse machine for quilting and piecing and using a lot.  I think a non-computerized machine is more likely to hold up to frequent use.

from House of Fabrics
The Juki dealer is a 2 hour and 20 minute drive, up to House of Fabrics in Asheville.  Anyone been to that shop?  Looks cute, but I haven't been there yet.  Unfortunately, they don't have the Juki TL-2000Qi (or any Q-series Jukis) in stock for me to try.  And, no one within a 3 hour radius has it either.  I am getting so desparate that I'm thinking of buying that Juki off Amazon, where at least I can return it hassle free if I don't like it or it breaks right away.  Then I'd have to pay for repairs/maintenance at the shop in Asheville.  It's that or buy it from the shop in Asheville without getting to try it first and with no chance of refund, just so I get a year of free service?

Rock and a hard place. 

Any advice for me?

85 comments:

  1. No suggestions, just glad I read this review. I live right next to the Pfaff factory and was considering getting one to use until I am back in the states with my Janome. I guess I will think of another brand.

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  2. So sorry for your troubles. I've been eyeing that juki myself. I don't own it, but Juki's are amazing. I own a juki serger which is a solid and totally awesome. I have a older Pfaff which was exceedingly expensive back in 2004 and it still works perfectly, has a computer with 400+ stitches. The computer is most likely the first thing to screw up on any machine and become a large expensive door stop. Dust, lint, vibration, moisture all great stress on the motherboard.

    The Juki you are looking at has NO computer which makes it a workhorse with no real limitations. I've bought the two jukis I own online (serger, traveling sewing machine or when the other is being serviced). For the price, I have never regretted purchasing online. Without the computer, service is pretty old school and could be done anywhere after the warranty expires.

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  3. I have a Huskvarna Quilt Designer II (without the embriodery attachment) and it's great. I definitely don't sew quite as much as you do, but I have put this machine through the paces and have made several quilts, denim bags, and many MANY canvas crayon bags (upwards of 150, I would say, in batches of 40). Also fleece jammies and Halloween costumes. It has even repaired a cub scout hat, not sure how I pulled that off...

    This is what replaced the crappy Pfaff that I had for 15-20 years. Bobbin and tension issues that 4 mechanics in 3 states could not fix. It's free-motion quilting (I believe it was one of the first machines to claim to do this) was a joke. When I realized I would sew a lot more with a real machine (Pfaff was a high school grad present), I replaced it. I think I told this whole story when you were machine shopping.

    I have had the new one maybe 7 years? I wore out the first cutter/threader thing (a small piece of velcro that holds the thread when you use the "cut" buttn), and that has been the only thing replaced.

    Truly, I would demand my money back. Start there. The dealer knows it's crap. He needs to work on his distributor.

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  4. I also bought a Pfaff (Ambition 1.5) a year ago and have been less than satisfied with it. Mine is an ongoing foot pedal issue. This machine doesn't have the automatic tension but it is a tension monster. If I can get some money together by Feb 15th I plan to trade it for something else. Where I bought it they have a full value within a year for your trade in as long as you upgrade. I want so badly to go back to Brother since I had a cheap little Brother that I sewed on for 10 years without a problem and without a service!

    I sure hope you can get this resolved. I agree that it isn't the dealer's fault but they should find some way to make it right. The last time I took this thing in I actually cried (not on purpose) as I was explaining my issues and how frustrating it is to save and save and spend so much on a sewing machine (a lot for me anyway) and not have it perform the way I need it to. My getting emotional actually seemed to help them understand just how frustrated and important the issues were to me. Like I say, I hope I can save enough to go back to a Brother. The most important thing to me is harp space so I hope I can get something with at least 8" like this one has. I know I'll never buy a Pfaff again for sure.

    Good luck!

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  5. Here's my advice. Before you go to Charlotte call up the customer service at the Pfaff and see if they can refund you your money. That's a really long shot but worth a try (then you can go with the Juki). They may have to work with the store where you purchased the machine to do this. I'd be sure to mention (either to the Pfaff people or the shop you bought it) that you're a serious quilter who took serious considerations when purchasing this machine. Be sure they know how many hours you put into sewing each week, and that you teach so it's not just a hobby. Take someone with you for moral support and practice what you're going to say (so they can chime in if you forget what to say).

    I completely wholeheartedly suggest going with the Juki. I have a Juki TL89E (bought used), it's ridiculously consistent. I've never ever had a problem with the tension or anything. I tested their newer machines at a quilt show a couple months ago - they both are excellent. If you're thinking you'll sew at full speed I'd go with the TL2010Q - this one has an extra tensioner to keep the thread from twisting while going full speed (that's really the only difference). You're right in thinking that the Juki will give less problems because it's not computerized. My repair guy told me as long as I oil and dust her regularly she'll be sewing just a nicely in 30 years. PS - I don't think there's anything wrong with ordering it from amazon.

    Ok that was a pretty long comment, but I hope you find it helpful. Good luck!

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  6. I'm sorry to read that your new Pfaff has been so troublesome. I recently did a lot of reading/research and ruled out a new Pfaff (I adore my 10+ year old Pfaff 2042 for piecing) as it just seemed like they aren't as well made as they used to be.

    I have been sewing on my Juki 2010Q for about 10 days and I really love it! I wasn't able to test drive it and bought it online based upon reviews I'd read. It has a beautiful stitch and I am amazed at how easily it machine sews binding without any balking (my Pfaff got a little testy on the corners!). Love the thread cutter. Occasionally the needle unthreads but I find it's mostly my fault in how I'm starting the next seam as I am getting used to the knee lift.

    Good luck sorting it all out... I would be very clear to the dealer about the issues you are having and how you expect it to be resolved. Tension issues are the worst!

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  7. My only advice is to be strong when you go to the repair shop. You are right that it's not the guy's fault individually, and if he's a good shop-owner he knows that and should be just as unhappy as you are if he sold you something that isn't working. I'd press him on all of the available options and stress the disappointment. I hope it all works out to something agreeable.

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  8. well, i'm sorry you are going to have "the talk" with your dealer :( but, i will say, you don't need to worry about being near a JUKI dealer in my opinion....you won't need the dealer again, because your juki machine will be awesome. I have had my juki TL 2010 Q since about April and it has never given me a single problem. i also have a Juki serger that is excellent. the Juki machines are just solid as a rock....seriously, when i sew on my other machines (and i have 5 i think) they feel like toys compared to the Juki. It is sometimes a pain to have to switch to another machine for things that the Juki doesn't do, but it is worth it for how great the machine is.

    also, i wanted to recommend that you get the 2010....see below.

    from kathys quilts..."TL 2010 Q model is the exact same only it includes the 1/4 and 1/5 inch hopping feet (for free motion quilting). There is also a thread sub tensioner that helps you get even better stitches. The cool thing is the 2010Q is only about $50 more. Either one is great but for my money the 2010Q is the best value"

    GOOD LUCK!

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  9. I recently bought my new machine from sewingmachinesplus.com. I found them through Amazon - they had a listing there, but I bought through them, not through Amazon. I was very satisfied with the customer service - I was buying the machine without trying it, or even seeing it, and I had a million of questions, but the guy I talked to was very patient and knowledgeable. They are in San Diego, CA - which is far even for me from LA, but what I liked is they have techs available on the phone if you have problems. But if your machine breaks, you can send it in - free shipping, if under warranty. You also get a tuning a year (shipping free again), under warranty, and you can purchase additional wararnty (not expensive). Yes, you have to wait a few days for shipping/fixing and all, but if it's free, I think it's worth it. You would have an additional bonus because there would be no tax for you outside CA (they actually gave me a deal - some extra accessories and some cash back which was basically the amount of tax, because I had to pay it.) I was really happy with the whole thing. And I am not in any way associated with them, so I am writing this completely on my own. Hope this helps.

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    1. I got a Juki from this store via internet for Christmas. I went with a computerized one F-600 because I do need it for sewing clothes (button holes, zigzag, etc). Only tension issue was when I had loaded the bobbin wrong. Have not sewn too much but am really liking it.

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  10. Ugh, that's crazy annoying. I recently upgraded to a Janome MemoryCraft 6500Q. It has many of the features you like, and got excellent reviews (I ordered it online from Mr. Vac and Mrs. Sew). My regular machine was a Janome as well, and had not a thing wrong with it - I just wanted a lot more variety. There's a large harp space, thread cutter, etc. No auto-tension, though (at least that I've found yet--I've only had it a week).
    Perhaps your dealer could call Pfaff and ask if they've had complaints and issues with this machine, and what they're doing about it. I wouldn't be too afraid to ask questions--he knows it's most likely the machine's fault, and he probably will feel a little bad anyway that something he sold you is bring you so much grief.
    Good luck! And thanks for posting this--I was questioning if I should have upgraded to this as it seemed like a perfect machine when you reviewed it--I'm glad I didn't, but not glad for your experiences with it :)

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  11. I have become pretty good about dealing with customer service people, and it will really depend on what their policies are. I do think that you should contact Pfaff in addition to the dealer because sometimes manufacturers will take care of problems themselves and sometimes they give that entire responsibility to the dealer. It certainly wouldn't hurt to send them the link to this post and express that your opinion definitely holds sway in the quilting blog world. When most companies have a product with a problem, their solution is usually going to be to have you to continue to try to have it repaired or to offer a replacement. I doubt that either the manufacturer or the dealer would refund your money.

    I have a Janome Memory Craft 6600p. I have been using it for over a year and haven't had a single issue with it. I would have loved a Janome Horizon, but it is more expensive and in the end I read that there were more issues with that machine and I wanted a machine with the fewest problems possible. I hope that everything works out with you, and at least you have a dealer that isn't unpleasant to work with. Good luck!

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  12. Sorry to hear about all of your troubles, that is so frustrating.

    I have the Brother PQ 1500 S, which is almost exactly the same as the Juki, but I was able to get it for a couple hundred less on Amazon. It's a very consistent machine. I do like the Juki fmq feet better, and tried them on the Brother, but actually broke two of them, so I won't be going that route anymore. Both are great workhorse machines. If you have a Brother dealer closer it might be worth looking into. I have my Brother mounted on a frame and use it like a longarm, but it is a wonderful fast machine for all things straight and FMQ. Good luck!

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  13. Sounds soooo familiar- and I bought a Janome. The repair guy eventually said it just needed to work the kinks out and lots of new machines do- sigh. He also told me there was no hope in sending it back to Janome because a) they wouldn't pay for shipping (neither Janome, nor the shop) b) Janome exect their authorized dealers to fix things c) they would make it my fault no matter what. I just brought the machine home and have figured out a number of work arounds. It's mightily frustrating. Good luck- after that super negative response!!!

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    1. That is exactly what I've been doing with my Pfaff (Ambition 1.5) for the last year is working around it's issues and I'm mightily fed up with it for sure! Reading Rachel's post and the responses has given me more backbone to take mine in (AGAIN) and make them make it right! :D

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  14. So sorry for your troubles! I purchased a pfaff right around the time you bought your machine. I had a few problems with the thread cutter. My dealer contacted pfaff and they just sent me out a brand new machine! After I received the new machine I was winding some mono-filament thread on the bobbin wider (apparently this is a no no). While trying to get the bobbin off I broke something. It still worked fine but I did mention it to my dealer. A few months later he called and said I had a new machine waiting for me. Long story short Pfaff has been AMAZING to work with but my dealer is the one that came to bat for me on both accounts!

    Good luck!

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  15. Love my Janome 6500 never ever a problem.

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  16. My advice would be, since this is your business, go for a Bernina. My husband surprised me with one for Christmas 2011 and every single time I sew on it I think of him and how very, very thankful I am to have it. With four kids, including a baby who doesn't sleep well, my sewing time is super limited. I don't want to have to mess with any problems with my machine when I sit down to sew. With the Bernina I don't. I upgraded from a Brother and that was like going from a Kia to a Ferari. I absolutely love it and do not take having one for granted for a second. Seriously, every time I sit down to sew and it goes so well, I am both humbled and grateful to have such a stellar machine. I'm not into jewlery, fancy clothes or purses or shoes, but this sewing machine was soooo worth it. Good luck!

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  17. I have dealt with that very issue with the tension on my Janome MC 9500! It had always been a dream machine, up 'til August, when the timing freaked out and wouldn't sew a stitch at all. I took it in for repairs, and she's been a tension mess ever since. I've brought it back in multiple times; the last time they replaced the entire tension unit (not cheap!) and still I can barely get a decent straight stitch. Forget free motion quilting (I also can't sew knits at more than a snail pace) It is extremely frustrating!
    I'm in the same boat as you also, on wanting to purchase a Juki, but no dealer close by.(I am soo interested in the TL2010, but since my Janome has crapped out on me, I need the garment sewing capabilities of the exceed f600) I'm curious to see what you end up doing. And I am terribly sorry you are having to deal with this mess!

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    1. I commented below, but just wanted to say that I bought the Juki Exceed via HSN in October and it is a dream to me. Cutting capabilities in the foot pedal, leg lever to lift the presser foot, and that HUGE (to me, anyway) harp space has made me a very happy camper. BTW, I sew garments as well as quilts, just in case you wanted my two cents'. ;)

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  18. I would buy a Bernina 440 QE! you would love love it! It is a dream! So I second Rachel! BER NI NA! :)

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    1. thirded - I often think if the house was on fire the one thing I would grab is my Bernina! Definitely my BFF

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    2. I have the Bernina 550 QE and love it although the harp space is WAY TOO SMALL so I only use it for piecing I bought a Juki TL-2000 Qi for quilting and it's a dream!!

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  19. Gosh. It's such a horrible place to be in. I like to avoid confrontation too, but when you buy something and it doesn't work properly that's a real problem.

    I'm afraid I can't help with suggestions for a quilting machine. My machine is great for piecing, but the throat is quite small and there is no stitch-regulator.

    Have you read Leah Day's quest for the right sewing machine? Here are some of her posts about it. I think it speaks volumes about the challenges of finding the right machine for you, as well as the disappointment of broken machines and tensions along the way. http://freemotionquilting.blogspot.com.au/2009/12/quilting-machine-conundrum.html
    http://freemotionquilting.blogspot.com.au/2012/01/newoldbut-new-machine.html

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  20. I am really sorry to hear about issues with your machine! I really want a Juki as well and have been looking for one on craigslist. I found one that could potentially be in your area and just sent you an email. Good luck!

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  21. I'm sure in this case asking for your money back is appropriate. Your machine has not worked properly even after multiple services. The cost and time of maintaining it for you has exceeded any acceptable threshold and surely the dealer will be able to commiserate if they are as professional as you explained. It's unfortunate that things worked out this way for both you and the dealer, but really you shouldn't be stuck with a dud machine and a long bill.

    On a side note, I sew with a non-computerized Bernina and have had the same machine for 10+ years with no major issues. I maintain it at home with oil and regular dusting which is a major bonus to skipping the computerized models.

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  22. I am sorry you are having so many problems with your machine. I would contact Pfaff directly at this point. Make sure you tell them that your dealer has been helpful but that you have reached the end of your patience. I would let them know that you sew as a hobby (not a business because your machine is not meant for commercial use)and blog about your experiences and process so having a machine that works as it is supposed to is critical. Pfaff has a reputation to uphold and having a person who blogs and has 2500 followers is an important advertising opportunity for them. They should give you a new machine. Unlikely you will get your money back but you may get a newer model. My girlfriend bought a new Pfaff a couple of years ago and had no end of problems getting it to free motion quilt properly. She finally found inspira needles to be the only needles that the machine would FMQ with. That and several trips for warranty replacement of parts finally gave her a machine that worked. I am a Bernina devotee so highly recommend them. The new 730 is a beautiful machine with a nice sized harp and an even feed foot. It sews fast and beautifully but it is a bit pricey. If you are looking for a machine for FMQ, piecing and nothing else I have heard that Juki and Brother make great machines. Call the dealer that is 3 hours away and tell them you want to buy the machine but you want to try it first. If they want the sale they will order it in. If they won't then they don't really want your business. Best of luck!!

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  23. So sorry you're having trouble. That stinks. :-( I really hope your dealer will help you work this out in a way that feels right to you. Be assertive, whatever you decide!

    That said, just to throw in my two cents--I bought my Juki TL98Q on Amazon in 2010. Never tested one before purchasing it; just had read tons and tons of glowing reviews. This Juki is a quilting/straight-stitch workhorse and it has been a dream to use and to own. (For reference, I am a pretty hardcore quilter/sewist and have been sewing for almost 20 years, so I've used many machines over the years....) Anyway, the seller I bought it through on Amazon was Ken's Sewing and Vacuum Center. Highly recommend. I have had zero problems with this machine in the three years I've owned it. Just thought it'd be helpful to you to hear some feedback. Best of luck to you, Rachel!

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  24. Sorry to hear your machine woes - for the money you paid that isn't acceptable by any stretch of the imagination. As for the Juki - I've had a TL98E for many years - maybe close to 10. I use this machine constantly and I LOVE it. I piece everything on it. I love the fast speed and the automatic thread cutter on the foot pedal. Additionally it does do lovely machine quilting. I have also heard great things about Ken's Sewing & Vacuum Center. I currently considering buyiny a Juki F600. I have Janome 6500 which is a lovely machine but I am totally in love with automatic thread cutters in the foot pedal.

    Good luck with your search.

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  25. I test drove Juki's recently and the stitching was very straight and fast! Wow, was it fast. For the higher end mechanical ones, there was a speed control which I found useful and the inner body was die-case metal so there was little vibration and was not noisy. I didn't dive in yet to buy it because I would like a zig-zag stitch and these did not have a free arm for garment sewing, which I only recently got into. Best of luck!

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  26. Rachel, this whole saga sounds extremely frustrating. I don't really have any advice for you on what sewing machine to get, although I agree with your hunch that a non-computerised machine will be a better workhorse (I have a 25 year old Bernina, which I am convinced only still goes as well as it does because it is not computerised). However, I would recommend that you do some research on consumer law in your area, so that you know your rights. It might be helpful to make your discussion with the dealer less personal - you are not asking for what you want, you are asking for what you are entitled to as a matter of law. I would also read your warranty documents carefully and try and understand what they entitle you to. I can't comment on US law, but certainly here in New Zealand, consumer law often offers more protection than people anticipate. I hope you can get this situation resolved satisfactorily - I would go crazy without a reliable sewing machine.

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  27. I was actually shopping for a new machine back in October and noticed you had updated your post. I went to my Pfaff dealer and told her my concerns based on your post and she said the Pfaff Smarter is the worst machine Pfaff came out with and that she won't sell them to her customers. I thought that was interesting.

    My mom has a Juki she bought on Amazon and has had lots of luck with it. A total work horse. Though when she did her research the Q series sounded problematic. So you might want to look into that.

    Good luck with the dealer. I still haven't upgraded my machine. Similar to your situation in that it didn't live up to what they claimed it could do. Only mine was a less expensive machine. I tried getting my money back but they only offered to trade up and I really didn't want another machine from that brand.

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  28. When you bought that Pfaff you entered into a contract with them: you paid them money and they provided you with a product that reliably works. They are not holding up their end of the contract. Now you need to give them back their machine and they need to give you back your money. Take the fact that you like the dealer out of the equation. Pfaff is a huge company and sometimes they manufacture a lemon and they need to take the loss. Which is a drop in the bucket for them as opposed to the frustration and unhappiness you're experiencing.

    Simply ask for what you want and keep repeating it, nicely, until you get it: "This machine is not working. I would like my money back."

    I hate confrontation, and sometimes I practice saying things like this in front of the mirror until the emotion goes out of the issue and I can be a broken record asking for what I want. Try it.

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  29. Ugh-how frustrating! My husband surprised me at Christmas with an Elna 740 excellence. It is computerized but my other Elna last me about 10 years with pretty heavy use. So far I love it but I'm still a little afraid of it and haven't used it to its fullest ability yet! I hear great things about Jukis. I hope you are able to resolve this issue- too frustrating to pause for mechanical issues when you're trying to create!

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  30. Oh wow, that is tough indeed. I have no advice because I've never owned a really professional machine. I only have a big box store Brother that was a gift from back in the day. I've thought about getting a nice fancy machine, but it scares me. My sister has a Juki that she's happy with but it seems like a rocket ship to me! I can't figure out the bobbin to save my life. :)

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  31. I've had a Pfaff for over 10 years and love it. It has only needed a few tweaks here and there.

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  32. I had some issues with my Husqvarna and so did some of the other girls who had bought from the same dealer, so they were able to get the UK rep to come and look at the machines and fix them, so I think I would have it sent back to Janome, to see if an "expert" can get it sorted - if it's still in warranty they should be doing everything they can to get it to work for you. And if you really aren't happy push for the refund and get what you really want... I wish you all the luck in the world - you have a widely read and influential blog - it could be a good bargaining tool....

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  33. I have a Viking Platinum 775 and for 5 years of lots of FMQ, satin stitch appliqué, and regular ole straight stitch I haven't had many problems at all. The only issue I ever had was when the machinery got so packed with lint that I burnt out the motor that switches the needle position--but that was my bad, not the machines. I don't know anythings about other brands but mine is worth it's weight in gold as far as consistent performance goes. My only wish if I were to buy a different machine would be for a longer arm.

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  34. I'm so sorry you're having sewing machine troubles. I've been there before, too, both with a machine I've bought from a dealer and one I've bought online. I bought a Pfaff Quilt Expression 4.0 from a local dealer and had a lot of problems with the free motion quilting within the first year. So the dealer was kind and traded me for another brand new machine of the same model. I had the same problem with the new machine, too. She tried everything to repair it but couldn't fix it. I didn't feel like I could ask her for another machine, but I wish I would have spoken up about finding some other solution. She has since quit selling Pfaff machines. She said she has had nothing but problems with them and she is disappointed with how much the quality has gone down. They are now being made in China. So I wouldn't recommend getting another Pfaff.

    I have heard nothing but good things about the Juki machines and people say they are workhorses. I have issues about ordering sewing machines online, though, since my last negative experience buying one that way. When I bought a defective sewing machine online, the seller wouldn't stand behind it or take it back. I found a dealer here that tried to fix it a few times unsuccessfully. They ended up buying it from me and giving me a credit for a sewing machine in their shop, which I didn't really want, since I didn't like any of their machines.

    I wish you the best of luck and hope you find a good solution that makes you happy.

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  35. I love House of Fabrics. The ladies there are super helpful and kind, BUT I would not make the three hour drive here, particularly because they do not stock the Juki. No Asheville shop does. I eyed the Juki for a while, but went with the BabyLock Melody instead mainly because the shop (Asheville Cotton Co) has an in house technician and offers help, classes and amazing warranties. I hope your search proves fruitful!

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  36. i've been to house of fabrics... not impressed. very small modern fabric selection!

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  37. Im sorry you are having trouble :( thats the worse. I have the Juki TL-2010Q, I have had it for a few months now and I LOVE LOVE LOVE it. It pieces beautifully and the FMQ is a dream, especially after having a crummy machine that always had tension issues. I had to later get a machine that could do other stitches I got a Janome, but I do all my quilting on my Juki. It stitches through just about anything and I have only had to touch my tension a few times. I think the thread cutter has caused the machine to come unthreaded a few times, besides that the machine is awesome. I went with the 2010 as opposed to the 2000 because it has speed control, and I am really glad I did, with FMQ I like being able to turn it down to halfway and then putting the petal to the metal.

    Im not sure what I would do if I was in your situation, I think I would really push to try and get an exchange or reimbursement, because you have had to have it fixed already so many times. You may even have to contact Pfaff directly and work with them. Hope you find a solution!!

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  38. Hi Rachel
    Thanks for sharing.
    Here's some advice - work out what is best FOR YOU!!! If done with thought and sensitivity, the dealer will not be offended - I bet you a million to one they've had to deal with every manner of difficult customers, whereas you are basically saying the Pfaff is not doing what it's supposed to, what it's advertised to do.
    If necessary, write things down, phrases, points etc that are reasons for wanting a refund. Then persist, calmly and politely. If you hear a no, ask - who can I speak to who would be able to help me on this? Ask them for their help. You want to be a happy customer for them.
    I've found that if you keep to your wishes, keep firm but polite, things usually work out.
    Anyway, whatever you do, I wish you the best - nothing worse than having a bad relationships with a machine!!

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  39. I have a Pfaff, different model, but have had serious tension problems with it. My dealer sent it back to have the factory technician work with it. Seems that I have a choice, perfect tension for piecing and decorative stitches OR perfect tension for free motion, but not both. Pfaff in the U.S. tends to be very fair so I would ask your dealer what your options are? And ask to be connected with the Pfaff rep for your part of the country. Write letters explaining your frustration. But, Pfaff is dissapointing with their new machines.
    Hang in there and insist they make this right even if it means you don't end up with your Juki.

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  40. Keep us posted, I want to Buy a Good machine.. I thought my mind was made up when I read your blog.. Now, Mother boards... wow...

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  41. I bought this same machine from this same dealer and he is wonderful but the machine is like the girl with the curl in the middle of her forehead. When she is good, she is vey, very good but when she is bad, she is horrid. My first issue was that the computer board (?) went bad and they had to order me a whole new machine. During that two week wait, the dealer loaned me his store machine to use (he's wonderful). Now my automatic tension is the issue. I took it in last Saturday and he fixed it in the store on the spot but here I am a week later and it's acting up again. At least I'm only 30 minutes away but still...If I was rich, I'd buy a different machine from Bill, but I'm not rich. It took me saving all of my sewing money for 4 months to even get the Smarter. Feels kinda like we got rooked by Pfaff.

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  42. Hi Rachel,

    I would tell the dealer exactly what you've told us. You went into this with high hopes, and you love the dealer's service, but that the machine just never worked properly. Basic functions still don't work, and you can't afford to continue to have your machine in repair or make such a drive. And you shouldn't have to.

    Different dealers will have different relationships with their parent companies, but a truly non-functional machine is something that the dealer and parent company should work out between *them*.

    I would gently ask for money back. How much sewing did you have to do on your old machine when this one went on the fritz? How much did it cost to drive out to get the repairs done? The functions you talk about render the machine unusable. It's not reasonable to expect you to sew without thread in the needle! Or work with bad tension!

    The dealer may make a counter-offer based on percent of usage, but I think it is entirely fair to consider this machine a lemon. I would not accept another machine of the same brand in kind/barter/refund, personally. I'm sure the dealer will know already that it's not normal for a machine to have so many problems, and I bet he will be expecting something along the lines of 'money back please'.

    Buying machines without testing them is a gamble--I've only ever bought one untested, and it worked great for me, but then, my risk was small and the machine was cheap.

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  43. This sounds terrible, but to go in a different direction, your dealer sounds awesome!! He works on it the day you bring it in? I have a Bernina and live in Asheville. It just hit the 2,000,000 stitch mark and I want to have it serviced. You know, it's working great, but probably needs to be cleaned out and oiled in some places I can't get to. Anyway, they want me to drop my machine off and LEAVE IT FOR TWO+ WEEKS until they get to it. No freaking way! I have one machine and use it almost every day. That is totally not cool. I found a guy who is not affiliated with Bernina but who has good reviews who will make an appointment and keep it for only a day or two. I didn't even ask how much it cost, he'll get my business.

    I ask the rest of you-is this normal? Acceptable? Because I think it's a crazy way to do business, and it makes me not want to patronize Asheville Cotton Company, even though it's the only nearby place to get feet and bobbins and has a great fabric selection. This just makes me so angry...grrrr.

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    1. My service wait is 7-10 days. That's the Bernina dealer here, whom I've always taken all my machines to because I like him better than the Janome dealer.

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    2. I agree. My dealer - Charlotte Sewing Center - offers top notch service. I'm extremely pleased with what he can/does offer and I would buy a machine from him again in a second... if he had the right machine. Locally in Columbia, the repair man says 2-3 weeks. Haha, yeah, that's not going to work for me.

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    3. My older Bernina had to go in a few times for service. The dealer has a technician that comes to the shop, but he only comes out on a certain day and only if there are enough machines to make it worthwhile. It could be 3 days or it could be 3 weeks and they never know which it's going to be. Drives me insane.

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  44. So sad to hear of your sewing machine problems! I've also considered a Juki for "workhorse" straight stitch projects and machine quilting, keeping my computerized Janome for other sewing functions. Good luck!

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  45. You've been given lots of advice. Holy cow! If you get to my comment, I know what you are dealing with. I ran into the SAME problems with my Viking Sapphire. Eventually it was replaced with a new one, but that one still has the same problems as the first. I saved up and bought that same Juki. I bought mine for $850 from a local shop who was willing to match prices. I found an online dealer who sold for $799, and when I mentioned that, the owner brought down his price. My advice is to express your dissatisfaction, write a letter to the corporate offices, and start saving. The Juki was worth every penny. Also, don't know if you are a Dave Ramsey follower, but walking into a shop with cash is helpful. That's another reason I was able to get my Juki so cheap. Best of luck to you. Keep us informed!

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  46. Sorry to hear of the problems. Best wishes to you on getting things resolved one way or another. I would for sure go Juki if you can. I bought my Juki TL-98Q on line about 4 years ago... still running awesome with never a days issue.

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  47. I bought my Juki on ebay, when I need extra feet I bought them on line without problems. My Juki does not have a computer, so it's pretty low maintenance, just a bit of oil now and then. I've had no problems. I love it for it's simplicity, it's fast smooth sewing and it's no nonsense workings. good luck

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  48. Did you purchase it with a credit card? Some credit cards protect for purchases like these, there is a small chance that your CC will refund the cost of the machine.

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  49. I am on my 2nd Viking Sapphire. I piece and quilt 40-50 quilts each year, My first Sapphire is still good, I just bought the second slightly used since it is such an awesome machine. I have absolutely NO trouble with my Sapphire(s)! It has the large harp and is made for FMQ.

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  50. Remember that Amazon's return policy is only good for 90 days, which IMHO is not enough time to REALLY determine if you have a lemon or not. Ask me how I know. I am limping along with a Brother and was not able to return it to Amazon or to Brother when the thing started seizing up at 4 months of age.

    I heartily agree with the Bernina fans and have a 550QE on layaway. I don't think the 400 series is made anymore, but I could be wrong. My machine was $2,999, but they have gone up a couple hundred as of January 1. It will take me another 6-8 months to pay it off, but I am patient and I know it will be worth it.

    Good luck, whatever you decide. Sounds like you're due for some good sewing machine karma.

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  51. Rachel, I haven't looked at the specific differences, but since others have mentioned the TL-98Q, I should tell you there's one on CL here in Nashville for $600. It looks like it's in great shape, and it has been listed since December 15, so I bet the price is much better than $600 now. In case you're in the mood to see Nashville. :-)

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  52. I bought a Juki Exceed from HSN.com. I wanted to try out some different machines, but when I went to the local (30 min. drive) dealer, they had Pfaff and Janome in store, and sold Juki only via their website - which I think is very weird. I was lucky in that there are several machines represented at my quilt guild, and this model of Juki seemed to be what I wanted. I did a little research and since I couldn't find what I wanted here, I just went for it. I really felt pressured at the local dealer to buy what they had in stock. But when I looked at the features that I wanted versus the features that they wanted me to have, this machine was the one for me. Not cheap, but less than a thousand bucks. I filled out my warranty info online, incidentally, and there's a local fabric store (15 min. drive) that handles all types of repairs. I'm not too worried about that end of things, though, because Singer/Viking has/had a factory here for years so I feel like I have more options. I've had this machine since October, and have had no problems. I love it like it was my own child. Okay, maybe that's taking it a bit far, but since I don't have kids, I feel like I can get away with it. Good luck on your confrontation. One of the key reasons I didn't go with Pfaff was the issues that one of my guild members had when she got hers. On and on it went, with her machine in and out of the shop for repairs until finally Pfaff admitted there was a problem that was causing the headaches, but she'd had hers for for too long, and by that, I mean she'd moved out of state (relocated from east coast to here in Nashville) and she's still unhappy with that machine. I took that as a cautionary tale, and it sounds to me like your story may be similar. :(

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  53. I have a Juki TL-2000 Qi and love it, it is a workhorse and quilts beautifully! Sharon Schamber, an amazing award winning quilter also uses one for piecing, just Google her. Good luck, I'm looking forward to you decision!
    - Tabatha at BendingPins.com -

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  54. Sounds like you need to ask for a new machine. Good luck with that. Based on your readership here I think you hold a lot of clout.
    That being said , i have owned the Pfaff QE 4.0 for six months and i love it! The only issue i've seen is that the tread cutter doesn t work with FMQ, which dosen t bother me because i don t FMQ.

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  55. I am sorry to hear about your ongoing problems with your Pfaff. I purchased one last August partly based on your purchase and partly from research. I was mostly interested in being able to quilt my own quilts so the harp space was #1 with me. I bought the anniversary edition. It came with 12 hours of instruction. Even though I've sewn for years, I had no idea I should cut the thread by the spool and pull the thread down through the needle instead of lifting the spool off the machine and (yanking) pulling the thread up through all of those tension places. The instructor gave many practical reasons for doing this and I've had no tension problems that weren't of my making since then. I know everyone can't live within 20 minutes of a dealership but getting instruction from the dealership was truly eye-opening in so many ways. I also asked about thread brands. Pfaff's don't seem to like (per the dealer and personal experience) Aurifil thread. I hate that because I ended up giving several full spools away. This is just part of my great experience with Pfaff so I hope your experience this weekend meets the standards I've been shown. I wish you better luck this time.

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  56. Not sure that you'll be able to get your money back, but it may be worth trying to get a replacement machine. I do think that the dealer should be willing to buy the machine back from you to fix and sell used, though, and he should give you the best price he possibly can. Certainly he takes trade-ins, but you shouldn't feel forced to buy a machine you don't want just because he doesn't carry the one you do want. That being said, the Janome 1600p might be a good bet if you get stuck. You could also have him service the machine and then use it as a trade in at the Juki dealer for the machine you really want. (I too would suggest the 2010 over the 2000... Doesn't it also have needle up/down on the foot pedal? If you do end up buying the Juki online, get it from somewhere that stands by and services their machines. Good luck... I look forward to hearing what you decide!

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  57. When I was buying my new machine, I went and test-drove everything in my price-range (Pfaffs, Berninas, Babylocks, everything!) Then I went into the back room at the shop and asked the repairman what he works on the least often. He said that Pfaffs need constant repairs, and that the ones that never seem to have any problems are Babylocks. I bought a Babylock that day - 6 years ago - and it has never given me any problems ever. I use it almost every day, and I've quilted up to a queen sized quilt on it. I love, love, love this machine.

    I've sewn on a Juki, and they are amazingly fast and powerful! They quilt like a dream, but they are so fast and powerful that I would never let my kids sew on one! Id' be scared that their little fingers would go right into the machine. With the Babylock, I can set the speed on low when the kids use it. Just something to think about in case your kids ever get the itch!

    Good luck!

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  58. Rachel, what no one has mentioned and you need to keep in mind is that there is a big difference between what you are doing with your machine vs. the rest of us. You are running a business with your machine, this is your job. Every time the darn thing isn't working, you have to have it serviced is time that you aren't able to "do your job and are losing money." It isn't just a hobby for you. I agree with the other comments about just talking to the guy open and honestly because it truly sounds like you ended up with a lemon machine. Just keep in mind your sewing machine is your key tool in your business, it isn't just for fun.

    On the other hand, I've been researching that Juki machine plus the Brother PQ1500s for over a year now, because I want to buy one or the other. I will probably purchase from Allbrands.com because I have purchased from them before and am extremely happy with my serger, and their prices are great. Check out their website for lots of information about that machine. I also belong to a Yahoo! Group for the Brother machine, and I'm sure there is a Yahoo! Group for the Juki, you can find ALL SORTS of information on these machines in these groups and I have found it to be invaluable source of information. I am leaning towards the Brother version because it is cheaper and honestly I can't see much difference between it and the Juki. I have a project runway cheap Brother right now for over 5 years and have had NO problems with it at all, never serviced, I just clean and oil it myself. It does everything great, plus FMQ so great, my only complaint is the 5" harp, hence the reason I am wanting the non-computerized Brother PQ1500s with a harp of 9". Good luck with your decision and good luck this weekend! I do feel for you!

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  59. I think for the money you paid you should have total expectations to have a reliable machine. My machine cost $400 and it has been a DREAM to sew on. It is not the dealer's fault, but it is also his job, as a dealer, to help remedy the fact that he is selling a faulty product. I agree w/several others that I may try contacting Pffatt customer service FIRST and see what they have to say about their machine. I think you are a very influencial person in the sewing world and therefore they should really take care of you.

    I also am not a big believer in dealers. I kind of think it is an antiquated way to sell sewing machines. yes, it's nice you get to try out the machines, but you also can from Amazon and return it if you don't like it. I think that if you can find a reliable repair guy closer than 2 hours from your house that there is no reason to go to a dealer. (although, if the repair person is also a dealer, expect to pay an arm and a leg to get a machine fixed if you don't purchase your machine from them).

    My final thought is, while I love my computerized machine and my fancy stitches, those are not for everyone. Think about what your true needs are. If you really need a straight stitch for piecing and a drop feed system for free motion, that a non-computerized machine is prob. a much better bet! I woudl think I would also want a zig zag stitch, but that also should be pretty easy to get. How often do you use your button holes or other stitches? Non-computerized machines break less often, are cheaper and easier to fix, and tend to be stronger machines.

    Good luck! What a hassle. My machine did break earlier this year (apparently, it just needed to be oiled) ..... and it was a MAJOR hassle and it is NOT my business. So I feel your pain.

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  60. Rachel, it is a dilemma... but with your current machine I would suggest you be completely honest with your repair man. It is obviously not his fault, it sound like there is a definite fault with you machine, and he is doing his best to repair it for you. If it is still under warranty the you have a contrat with Pfaff and they have obligations to you and your machine. Even if you go down the route of getting it repaired properly or replaced by then you can still trade it in later if you no longer want it. But it would be better to have a good machine to trade in than an iffy one. Try not to shy away from your consumer rights just because it will be alot of hassle... just tell yourself the facts and decide how you want to deal with them.
    Good luck my dear... :) xx

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  61. I have a friend who bought a top of the line Pfaff machine that just did not work. The dealer she bought it at, after having tried to fix it multiple times, gave her a new machine.

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  62. Rachel--I am sorry to hear about your sewing machine troubles. I understand working around machine problems, I think all quilters do as part of the job description. However you should fight for what you want and see what the dealer will do for you. Just a bit of information for you. Pfaff is owned by VSP (Viking, Singer, Pfaff) and also acquired Husqvarna. They are all probably not manufactured on the same level of performance but perhaps the company would be willing to switch between models. Good Luck!

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  63. Rachel,

    This is always an uncomfortable situation to be in. Whether it's a $5,000 sewing maching (I don't know what you paid), or a $5.00 cup of coffee. It's YOUR money and you should get what you've paid for. You bought a certain type of machine based on certain criteria. Regardless of what the brand or cost is, you have expectations that the machine is going to work and not be needing repair work within the first year of it's life. Take the emotion out of it, its' all business. YOU know it's the the repair man's fault that your machine is not working properly and HE knows it's not his fault. I am assuming that the person who repairs your machine is also the person (or company) that sold you your machine in the first place. Short of them offering to exchange your machine (which I think they should have already offered you) for one that actually works most of the time, you should treat this like any other situation. You paid for a working sewing machine, and although you probably have not had to pay for the repairs that they have done on them, you have had to drive, take a day out of your productivity to deal with this, so on some level you are paying for this.

    I always approach these types of situations with "this does not have to be a confrontation" - meaning nobody has to be mad, or rude, or raise their voice or any of those things (which is what "confrontation" implies) - I just keep a calm, rational, business like tone and ask them what your options are. Go through your expectations of your machine, explain why you bought that particular machine and why you bought it from them. Then go through all the times you've had to have repair work done, sharing the cost for you to drive and the lost productivity time (from your sewing and your family obligations) and then ask them what THEY would have you do. Ask them what they think. It's possible that if they were to give you a new machine, or something similar that they won't be "out" anything from the machine that you have to return.

    What is the WORST thing that can happen? You have a machine that needs to be repaired often. They can say no to an exchange or refund or whatever and risk losing you as a customer (which no business wants) - but you will still have a machine that works some of the time. Its frustrating but not the end of the world right?

    Hope it works out for you - I wish I could come advocate for you. :)

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  64. I think you ought to get your money back since this machine is apparently a "lemon." If the dealer can't or won't do that, I would ask for a replacement machine. If worse comes to worst, I'd let the repairman send the machine back to the factory for service regardless of how long it took. Then, when you get it back, sell it or trade it in with a clear conscience that it is in perfect working order.
    If a machine started giving me that much trouble, I'd begin to hate using it. I definitely need good karma to sew.
    Good luck

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  65. Rachel I don't know how you'll have time to read all these comments? But I'll add my 2c worth...I think it's worth saying to the dealer like you've said it to us. Be straight about your predicament and that you like him.... You see it's difficult for him too but that you'd like your money back, or for him to suggest an alternative. This kind of tricky situation is always testing for me it's where we get to be adult, like the suggestion above. Good luck

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  66. My husband purchased the Juki TL2010Q for me Christmas from an online shop. I also have a Pfaff 2124 that was my primary sewing machine for several years. The Juki sews beautifully. I can highly recommend it. I tried to free motion quilt on the Pfaff many times and even took a class at the dealer but the Pfaff just never worked well for free motion. The Juki has been a dream. I thought I was just not good at free motion - turns out it was the Pfaff, not me.

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  67. racel, sounds like you are in nc like me. i'm not sure which part of the state you are in but you said asheville is about 3 hours. so we must be close to neighbors. i have a babylock serenade which i LOVe!!! and a juki which i use on my grace frame. would not trade them for anything. i have the best service man in cary nc. he is so fabulous. but..;. did you know there is/or was a juki dealer in lexington. it is at the quilters quest quilt shop. simple little shop with not great fabric selection but i know she used to sell juki. may be closer than asheville for you

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  68. I'm sorry you're having trouble. Unlike so many of your commenters, I have two Pfaffs and love them both -- no issues whatsoever -- and my mom's been sewing on Pfaffs for years with no issues.

    Sounds like you got a lemon. :(

    I hope you get this resolved to your satisfaction!!

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  69. That totally sucks! I would go crazy, actually I have, over that! Working for another brand dealer, you should be able to trade it back in....they should totally help you with that, but if you want some advice on another high end machine shoot me an email, annalee772003@yahoo.com, I would be happy to talk to you about that.

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  70. GET THE JUKI 2010Q!! I have had one since Nov. 2011. It is a workhorse and racecar of a machine! Prior to my Juki I had been sewing/quilting for the past 20 years on a 40-year-old Riccar....which is still a good machine...made lots of quilt with it. My husband said for years that I should ge a new machine. But, I am very technoligically challenged and the computerized machines did not interest me. I am more of a mechanical girl and was thrilled when I discovered the Juki 2010Q! I have learned to FMQ on it... which is pretty cool.

    With the amount of sewing you do, you need a reliable workhorse. Get the Juki!

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  71. FYI, your sewing machine dealer IS NOT YOUR FRIEND! S/he is a SALES PERSON first and foremost!

    I've dealt with many slimy sewing machine dealers. I've gotten the best results by going directly to the head office to make the complaint. Your dealer does not want to loose the profit he made from your machine. When I was having problems with a Janome dealer, I sent letters to both the Canadian head office AND the HQ in Japan. You would not believe the response I got! The Canadian rep DELIVERED A NEW MACHINE TO ME DIRECTLY!!

    If I were having your problems, I would write to Pfaff's head office in the U.S. and cc Germany. Email address are always available online. Also, as one person mentioned, take emotion out of the equation, just write down the facts -- dates, repairs, break-downs.

    Again, your dealer IS NOT YOUR FRIEND!!

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  72. I am so sorry you're having this trouble! I do have some suggestions. I bought a Juki 2010 in October. You would be just as happy with a used 98 if you can find one cheaper. I heard some people had trouble with the 2000 but I don't see how that could be the case. My one problem is with lack of lighting. I have had to add a goose-neck lamp.

    I bought mine online at sewingmachinesplus. They have a 60 day warranty. Keep all original packaging no matter who you buy it from!

    I have decided to buy a Baby Lock Symphony because I can't live without my compterized bells and whistles the way I thought I could when I sold my Viking Sapphire. I don't know if I'm going to keep my Juki or not but I am letting people try it at The Stash Bash.

    As for repair shops, for the all-metal Juki, you just need any good sewing machine repair person. I'm sure you have someone nearby that tinkers with old machines and would be able to take good care of it without your long drive.

    Anyway, if you want to talk more about machines or the Juki, email me. I hope you're doing well!

    Chris

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  73. Oh, one more thought. You might be happier trading the Pfaff in for a Janome at that shop if that's all he'll do. I have TONS of friends in my guild that love their Janomes. I have read many reviews of Pfaffs online that say that the quality has tanked since they began making them in Asia a couple of years ago.

    An unhappy machine is a struggle to use. I'm so sorry you're going through this!

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  74. I Live in Athens and I bought my Juki's in Atlanta..@SewingMachine.com. I don't Know how far you are from Atlanta but I drive to Shelby,NC It's about 2.5 hours from there. If you can see if you will be close to a Sew and quilt expo in the near future..If you have cash you can get a great deal on the machine. I wish you all the best luck.

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  75. Doing research on Juki TL2010Q and came across this... I wonder if you ever made a decision to buy a new machine or is your Pfaff cooperating now?

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    Replies
    1. Yes and Yes! I am getting the Juki TL2010Q and Pfaff did replace my machine with a new one. As soon as things are more finalized, I'll be sharing in a new post =)

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    2. Glad to hear your problem was resolved. I am interested in buying a juki but I need to be able to sew clothing as well as some quilting. Does anyone have any experience with the juki HZL F-600 Exceed machine.

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