The story I am writing is without a doubt the most objectionable purchase I have made online from an automobile parts supplier over the last nine years buying parts for my 1965 Mustang. Consider the facts for yourself and make your own determinations. I personally feel this purchase may very well qualify as a classic example of what is called "Bait and Switch".
Here is my story (along with supporting documents attached):
March 2019, I used a $75 coupon ("SAVE75") from CJPP, towards a purchase of $500 or more, on part number FR1497Q which is Flaming River steering box part number for a 1965 Mustang. On CJPP's purchase page for this item the image clearly shows "FLAMING RIVER" on the item casting. Additionally in the comments section 'Mark mdl' asks the question "Is this definitely Flaming River or is it another brand?" and a reply from 'jmg1' is posted saying "This is a Flaming River product.".
1) Part number FR1497Q is a Flaming River part number
2) CJPP product page for FR1497Q shows an image with a Flaming River box including "FLAMING RIVER" displayed on casting
3) Question and answer section on product page has question asking if the item is a Flaming River product and a posted reply states it is a Flaming River product.
4) Flaming River reference for FR1497Q part # 1965-66 Mustang Long Shaft Steering Box: 1" Sector - 16:1 Ratio - FR1497Q - 580 - 5427
Mid-April 2019 I received my order from CJPP and the installation of my steering box began. During installation the steering shaft had alignment issue that were not present with the shafts of two original equipment Ford steering boxes compared (one removed and another spare needing rebuild). Only after the alignment problem and during process of making a return with CJPP did I discover that CJPP substituted the Flaming River (FR1497Q) steering box I ordered with a steering box made by LARES with a part number of 19702. I found the LARES part number and company sticker on the side of the shipping box. Additionally, my CJPP invoice has an extra line with "(SB22 substituted for FR1497Q)". The "SB22" is a CJ Pony Part internal part number for a "CJ Classics Steering Box".
Over the last nine years and hundreds of orders for my 1965 Mustang I have never had a part substituted by a vendor for a different brand part than what I ordered. Moreover, especially without being notified of a change to my order before shipment!
1) I was never notified by CJPP of a substitution product being sent before shipment.
2) I received a LARES 19702 steering box instead of the Flaming River FR1497Q steering box I ordered.
3) I discovered the substitution product change to my order after the steering box did not fit when I researched LARES Corporation on side of the shipping box and discovered they were a different entity than Flaming River.
4) "SB22" is a "CJ Classics Steering Box" and "rebranded" LARES 19702 steering box.
5) CJPP shows the FR1497Q and SB22 steering boxes on separate web pages (separate product pages).
On CJ Pony Parts web-site the "SB22" steering box sells for $679.99 and is branded a "CJ Classics Steering Box". The page does not identify the SB22 as a LARES 19702 steering box, however the steering box picture does match the LARES 19702 steering box features I received including gold color plated screws on cap, grease cloth on shaft, and shaft without collar unlike the Flaming River product.
Without going to other web-sites it would appear CJPP "upgraded" me to a more expensive box (their own CJ Classics Steering box), however doing some investigation with "19702" part number found on side of shipping box here is what I found that is shocking:
1) RockAuto sells the LARES 19702 steering box for $210.79
2) CARiD sells the LARES 19702 steering box for $377.91
1) I ordered a FR1497Q part number for $539.99 with $75 coupon discount to purchase a Flaming River steering box from CJPP.
2) The part number, product picture, and Q&A section statement on CJPP product page supported my purchase as a Flaming River steering box. Additionally, the part # matches the Flaming Rivers product.
2) I received a "SB22" substation from CJPP for their "more expensive" CJ Classics Steering box and received a Lares 19702 steering box without being told before shipment that a substation was made.
3) The purchase price of the Flaming River FR1497Q steering box, even with $75 coupon applied, is substantially higher (based on Summit Racing, Amazon, Speedway Motors, etc. sales of the Flaming River steering box) to the prices that the Lares steering box sells for outside of CJPP (on RockAuto and CARiD).
CJPP did cover the UPS return of the steering box after I spent at least two hours of my work week on the phone getting the return approved. CJPP requested I E-mail them pictures showing that the steering box did not properly fit. Additionally, because I can only assume CJPP would not take my word for it, a picture of the two original equipment steering boxes that I told them did not have alignment problems was also sent upon request. Also, in case anyone is wondering, I would have additionally requested a return based on a substitution product had I known about the substitution details I discovered after encountering issues with the steering box alignment during install. I was not doing the install by myself and would have never suspected a substitution took place on my order. In hindsight, I am glad a problem occurred with install or I might have installed what I thought was a Flaming River steering box when in fact it was not!
As of today CJPP has issued a full refund credit.
The last person I spoken with at CJPP, as of writing this post, was Yupha. She identified her title as the Call Center Manager in Harrisburg, PA. Yupha told me several times on my call that it is common practice in the industry to make substitutions without notifying customers, and that my purchase was not "bait and switch", before she hung up the phone on me. While speaking with her I instantly realized the term she first used of "bait and switch" personally feels exactly like what did take place on my purchase!
I sincerely hope your experiences with CJPP are better than mine if you choose to do business with them! I strongly recommend asking CJPP questions on what brand product you are purchasing and will be receiving!
I would like to thank all the vendors that are alternatives to CJPP that put their customers best interests side by side with their business practices!