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Praise for Rio


All, I agree they have improved, the phone ordering especially.
Have discovered that Customer Service is very prompt and responsive.
That’s a good thing, because there seem to be some serious problems
in the stock-room ref. shipping packages. My last two orders for
casting grain were disasters. The first, for 30 oz. plus another
heavy item was sent with all that grain in one small, square, zip-loc

  • the heavy item on top. Before it reached me, the shipper had tried
    to tape the flow, but the grain was being cannoned out through the
    box, into every corrugation, and all over my studio on opening.
    Couldn’t believe it. It took me days to retrieve and calculate
    the loss, losing more hours of my own than it was worth. Second,
    recent shipment, brought me 50 oz. of regular sterling grain. It was
    marked as such 100-800. But, unhappily, it was not. Turned out to
    be anti-firescale which I don’t use. In checking it out a piece
    which had a long needle sharp point went into my finger most
    painfully. So, if this happens to you out there, don’t stick your
    hand into that bag ! I’ve always been an enthusiastic fan of Rio.
    They still have far and away the best catalogs and those are
    required reading for my students. I only dream that soon they will
    get all the problems ironed out and go back to the wonderful company
    I started doing business with 20 years or so ago.



Hello Orchidland, Rio seems to have regained their efficient phone
ordering process. The lady who took my order answered promptly, was
courteous and willing to answer questions. Now to see if my order
arrives in good shape and accurately filled. I do like Rio’s
attitude and am confident the “hiccups” are cured. Judy in Kansas,
who has sore muscles from digging and building rock
terraces… but does have tomatoes swelling on the vine!


I have yet to encounter a 'back order" problem. Back orders have
always been shipped on a timly basis. My difficulty with Rio, and
this may be resolved eventually, was that I purchased a Kiln-
specifically designed to use with PMC – this was the only kiln that
was available through Rio at the time.

My purchase was made after a Certification class, the kiln was
ordered by the Senior Instructor and the only time it had been used
was during the three day certification class (I was assured that
there was a full warrrante - but it was only for a year). That was
about three years ago. Since then, I used the kiln an additional
two dozen times and when I tried to fire the kiln last month,
nothing happened. It was “clicking” on and off, but there was
absolutely no heat – the digital read out kept showing the
temperature of my garage (67 degrees). I’m assuming that the
heating coils may be the problem.

I called Rio about the problem, I was told that I had purchased an
INFERIOR kiln. Now, I’m wondering . . .why was Rio selling the
"inferior" kiln? Was it made to “inferior specifications”? Of
course, NOW, three years later, there are more choices available
even through Rio.

When I purchased the kiln, I assumed that it would last for years!
Maybe mine was a lemon? I have sent the kiln back to Rio for
"evaluation" and still am not sure what will happen. Hoping for the best. . .


I feel understanding and gratitude for the way Rio (Grande) has
handled an unpleasent database migration. Data systems are complex
and almost always have unforseen problems during a migration of
data. A company usually has no idea what to expect from a
contractor when they contract for such a task. The important things
are that the same great people are working at Rio now as before the
migration and that the migration problems have faded into history.
I have a drawer containing hundreds of Rio invoices dating back to
the early 70’s. I have never had a problem with Rio that has left
me unsatisfied.

One of the few problems I had…a rolling mill casting that was
broken in shipment was not only promptly replaced, they even
reimbursed me for a pair of retaining ring pliers I needed to
replace the broken part. In somewhere near 30 years of doing
business with them, I have had 3 or 4 problems at least two of which
is that they sent me something extra and just told me to keep it.
Yes, last 4th of July was a disaster for Rio…I held off ordering
anything for awhile while they straighened things out. If making
jewelry hasn’t taught me anything else it has taught me patience. I
remain a faithful customer of Rio Grande.


Howard Woods Looking out my window at the faintest gloaming of the
sunrise over the beautiful foothills in Eagle Idaho.


I am writing this rant, just in case Rio really does monitor Orchid,
because they haven’t been responding to me. Having followed this
thread, I think I understand a little better about the back-order/out
of stock issue–if they’ve been installing a new system, there must
be zero communication between the computer in front of the person who
takes my order and the one used by the person who fills it. If I had
realized this, I might not be in the situation I’m in now, but I
admit that my fond feelings for Rio are pretty much gone as a result.

I put in a last minute order, and asked for overnight express,
before my last show, because I assumed that the reason things got
backordered was that someone else’s order got in before mine (i.e. it
was in stock when the nice person took my order, but gone by the time
my order was packed). And I couldn’t afford that. I had made x number
of g-f wire components and I needed y amount of g-f chain, so that I
could spend the whole day before the show assembling pieces.

Well, the box came the next day all right, except 1) no chain, so I
wasted all the effort I put into the components and couldn’t sell
them; 2) no packing slip, invoice, receipt, whatever; and 3) some
very ugly beads. On top of which, I paid overnight express for things
I didn’t need overnight.

So…first, I emailed, explaining the situation, and saying that
they could remove the bad taste in my mouth by sending me my receipt
and refunding my overnight express charge. No reply. Then I called,
and the nice young man assured me that they would deal with it and at
least send my receipt (so I could return the very ugly beads) and the
chain, which they had indeed charged me for. Not a word. So, finally,
I spoke with a nice woman at SNAG who said she would deal with it as
soon as she got back to Albuquerque. Still not a word–but I keep
getting one of those stupid things asking me if I still want to
backorder an item the person on the phone told me they no longer

If this were the first problem I had had with Rio, I would simply be
bewildered. During the years when I was “just a student,” I never
had a problem and I adored them. And I stayed calm through being put
on hold for 45 minutes during the pre-Christmas rush. But, aside from
the major problem I’m describing, there’s the niggling problem of
quality. I don’t like having to waste my time re-packing 14k twisted
gold hoops that don’t even remotely match each other and then
standing on line to send them back. Someone at Rio actually went and
looked at the stock and said, "oh, yeah, none of the pairs match."
Why on earth would they carry such a product?

Sorry, Orchidians, but maybe this will get someone’s attention.

Lisa Orlando
Aphrodite’s Ornaments
Benicia CA


LIsa, sorry you had that dificulty with Rio. Just want to assure
you that they DO monitor Orchid and support it and appreciate it,
even when we have less than flattering things to say, like I did
recently. After my mentioning the severe problems with the last two
orders here on the forum, I received a personal message from Eddie
Bell himself. I call him the head Grande now. Am awaiting permission
from him to post his letter here for all to see, and perhaps we’ll
all be comforted and a bit more understanding. They in turn should
realize that we’re not the enemy but truly want them to get the
wrinkles out and move on being the great company they were before so
many changes, loss of top people, and the necessity to let new
stock-room hires and others go unsupervised and untrained. Growth
pains are never fun, and being victim of them certainly isn’t either.
And the bad news travels fastest. If I had the chance, I’d ask
Eddie Bell to give us a customer questionaire to return - fairly
evaluate where the biggest problems are and prioritize the changes
necessary. It would provide an opportunity for pats as well as
pans. Know that every large company in this land does not run
perfectly as we’d wish, but we can all have a part in their
improvement, with constructive in-put. What do you all think of
that idea ? Let’s help Rio get well. Clearly we need them as they
need us.



Dear Pat, Eddie is traveling in Europe for the next few weeks, and
won’t be on e-mail – I didn’t want you to wonder why you were not
receiving a prompt response. However, I want to respond to the
"questionnaire" suggestion you have made. We do have an ongoing
customer feedback questionnaire – and if anyone wants to fill one
out and return it, please just e-mail me personally and we’ll mail
one right to you.

In fact, many of you did request the questionnaires last fall when
things were so rough, and we focused on your top issues then as well.
I am sorry that some of you are still experiencing problems. In
general we have made tremendous improvements in the areas you
identified: We have maintained an average time to answer a phone call
of 11 seconds (since late December), our backorder rate has gone from
29% to 8% (we’re shooting for less than 4%), the % of orders shipped
same day is 99.8%, and our shipping error rate has gone from 7.25% to
just under 3%. Our primary shipper (UPS) just shared their
statistics with us last week, and their service level performance
(the % of times they made the shipping guarantee) was low at 94%, so
we’re working on that now. As these were the areas you highlighted
as being most important to you, we have these statistics and goals
posted all over the building – every employee here knows what you
want and is focused on providing it.

Some of you also know that we regularly follow up on your new
product recommendations and are developing some of your suggestions
in R&D manufacturing as well. If there is anything we understand, it
is that your feedback to us is well-intentioned. Every company has
areas in which it needs to improve, and we genuinely appreciate the
assistance in focusing our energy on the areas that are most
important to you. So please – keep the feedback coming!

Andrea Hill
The Bell Group


After reading several “PRAISE FOR RIO” posts, I decided to give them
another try. Ordered two weeks ago requesting second day
priority. Nothing I ordered was unusual, French wires, chains etc.
Mr mailman has yet to visit my door delivering anything from Rio.
Improved? Show me.


Jerry, I have sent your shipping in another e-mail
directly to you as it contains personal Your package
was packed, shipped and delivered to your door a little after 5:20 in
two days. If you ever have a question on your order, you can always
contact us. If you provide us with your customer number, anyone that
answers the phone can give you your tracking number. We also have
the ability to track your package for you and can give up to the
minute info as to where your package is. UPS has a great website for
this and it only takes us a few minutes and we can put your mind at

If you ever have a problem with an order, we will try to assist you
with it at any time.

Thanks for listening.
Phillip Scott
Technical Support & Sales
Rio Grande


Please keep in mind that USPS Priority Mail is NOT GUARANTEED to
arrive in 2-3 days - that’s what the USPS “hopes” will happen…

We order from Rio anywhere from every week to once a month depending
on the time of year and have always used either Fed-Ex Next Day Air,
UPS Next Day Red, or UPS 2nd Day Blue service and only once out of
literally HUNDREDS of orders has the package arrived late - the
tracking showed that it was due to UPS, not Rio shipping

But, that’s just how our service has been - other’s will vary, I’m

As to our previous back-order issues that I’ve posted on this
thread… Our last 2 orders from Rio have had no backorders and
been filled 100% correct.

Dwain Coufal
D.C. Designs


RIO delivered. A little slower than anticipated however they did
deliver. Only one back ordered item. This is better.


Well, they certainly do monitor Orchid. I received 3 phone messages
yesterday and today I spoke with a very nice man who had a print-out
of my post in front of him. He says my chain and my invoice are “in
the mail”–free shipping–and he refunded my overnight express
charge. He also gave me some tips on how to avoid future problems and
said he would have the product manager check out those weird twisted

As I said to Pat, who also emailed me off-list, I have complimented
them several times on how quickly they have been answering the phone,
and I really meant it. I too want them to straighten up–they have
the only catalogs I can look at without getting a headache, never
mind show to my clients! And I also told them how gorgeous and
inspiring their new packaging catalogue was. On the other hand, if
they can put that much effort into a catalog, they can put it into
their product and system…so we can only hope that the training of
the “new hires” and the quality control upgrades proceed apace.

Lisa Orlando
Aphrodite’s Ornaments


I absolutely love Rio Grande; they have the coolest stuff, best
quality, and the best staff, who will answer any question, or find
the answer if they don’t know themselves. That being said, over the
years almost every order I’ve placed has had something that has to be
back-ordered, usually the one thing I needed the most (but that’s
probably karma-related). Nowadays, I just assume that I won’t get
everything I order. And sometimes those back-orders have taken a long
time to come in. But Rio has to get their stuff from other suppliers
so I don’t blame them too much.

My other petty complaints are that the photos and descriptions in
the catalog are often not helpful. For instance, I recently saw a
clasp I thought I could integrate into a new design
(handmade–utilizing casting!) but couldn’t tell from the catalog how
the clasp came apart or stayed closed. So I had to buy one.
Fortunately, I was able to buy just one, which leads me to my final

Sometimes I see something that looks really interesting or useful
and I want to try it out, but in order to do that, I might have to
buy 100 of them. Now and then, there’s a sample set of things (like a
new abrasive) that you can buy, but other times, the cost of buying
in bulk is too prohibitive and just means I’ll never get to find out
if that new thing is something I’d want or not.

But I do love Rio Grande, really…



Phillip - thank you ever so much. Rio is a tried and true
organization, one that we rely on. From the efforts I see, you
deserve our business. My last shipment did arrive. Being a bit
later than anticipated I assumed the worst. Shame on me. The
products ordered were first rate. Exactly what I wanted.

Shame faced jerry


Im sure there are pluss and minuss with any supplier (after all,
were all only human!) but personally Ive had MUCH better luck with
Fire Mountai n Gems than Rio Grande.

When ordering from Rio Grande, I would learn that something was on
back order only after receiving the package with the other items I
had ordered i n it. When I tried to find out when the back order would
ship, I could never ever get through by phone and didnt receive a
reply when I e-mailed them. With Fire Mountain Gems, they tell me
right away if something is going to b e a back order, giving me the
opportunity to decide if I do want to place the order or if Id rather
get it somewhere else due to time constraints. This is so appreciated
because its less hassle but more importantly it is invaluable to me
because it allows me to better serve my customers.

But my most frustrating experience with Rio Grande was this: I
waited appro x 6 months for some leather cording and when it was
finally about to ship, I received a call asking if I still wanted it.
I said yes and was asked do you want to add anything else to that?
so I did add a few other things. Then when I received the package, I
received only the things I had added, not the original leather I had
been waiting all that time for!

Of course everyone makes mistakes so normally I would not write off
a company after one or two mistakes. In the past it was always so
frustrating trying to get a response from Rio that I just gave up and
went with Fire Mountain. I cant say I have a TON of experience with
Fire Mountain yet but so far everything has gone smoothly- great
communication, delivery time, customer service and product.

Absolutely not Rio-bashing, this is just one persons experience! It
seems other people on the list may have had better luck than I so Im
glad to hear that!



I really like working with Rio, and have a good story to share about
them. Although I’m sure they don’t want a rash of people doing what I
did, I was pleasantly surprised recently. I had purchased $50 worth
of boxes and once they came in, my partner felt they were
ridiculously too big for our needs (I had second thoughts once I saw
them too). The item in the catalogue was not misleading in any way,
I just changed my mind once I saw them. I called sheepishly and asked
if anything could be done. They said ‘yes’ and that I could return
the boxes at their expense, because they want to keep me as a
satisfied customer. They won my loyalty right then and there.

Diana Lambert

    Sometimes I see something that looks really interesting or
useful and I want to try it out, but in order to do that, I might
have to buy 100 of them. Now and then, there's a sample set of
things (like a new abrasive) that you can buy, but other times, the
cost of buying in bulk is too prohibitive and just means I'll never
get to find out if that new thing is something I'd want or not. 

Hi, When I wanted some packaging from Rio Grand (about 400 pieces) I
called and requested samples of 6 different types of the bags I
wanted and they sent them for free. The samples weren’t really cheap
either, do they have anything similar for their findings? Have you



Hello all, Sorry I’m posting so often these past few days – I
usually just try to pay attention and learn, instead of “talking” so
much. But I wanted to let you know that on thousands of our products
we are willing to send out a free sample so you don’t have to buy a
whole pack first. We know that you are trying new concepts for
design purposes, and that sometimes you have to see something to be
sure it will work. Not all things are available for sampling, but
many of them are. Please feel free to ask your customer
representative if you can have a free sample sent to you – and if
you ever get a response that you think is too restrictive, then just
let me know and I will see if some additional training is in order.

Andrea Hill
The Bell Group


Now how about allowing the purchase of smaller quantities on most
items. Spring rings and jump rings are one thing, but I remember a
few years ago needing a base metal barrette hairpiece back for a
repair job. I ended up having to buy a large quantity, and still
have most of them. I used the one for the repair job, gave some to
our church craft group and still have the rest. That wasn’t the only
time, just the one specific one I recall. It would often be better
for me, and a lot of others, I think, if we could buy 1 or 2 of
something, even at an inflated per piece cost, than to buy a large
quantity and end up with boxes full of things we can’t use. My only
other alternative would have been to turn down the job. With some
customers, it is better to just accept the overall loss.

Irritation and frustration over the minimum purchases is what caused
me to stray away from Rio many years back, and I have only recently
started to purchase there again as I have been returning to silver
work. For me, an overall minimum order would be preferable to the
package units on everything. I usually don’t have any trouble
finding $25 worth of things I can use, for instance.

Another beef at this point is the inability to really shop on the
web site, or to make COD orders from the web site. Usually, I have
the numbers from the print catalogs, but it sure is nice to be able
to browse online as well. Those 2 features are present on the Stuller
web site, and are part of the reason they get most of my orders at
this point. Of those 2, the COD ordering is the greater issue for
me. Jim


Wow Andrea, Thanks for letting us know about the sample option from
Rio. That is a really helpful option!!! The catalog photos are
indeed very good, but sometimes the picture doesn’t tell the whole
story and having the actual object can make all the difference. I,
for one, would be happy to pay for a single item at the per each
price just to try it out, but didn’t think to ask if that would be
possible. Can we ask to purchase samples of things like patterned
wire - perhaps a length containing one repeat?

Judy in Kansas