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Kitchen and Bath Remodeling in Lincoln, Nebraska: Frueer Faucet Review and Rating: China Flag
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Updated: 04/13/16

The End of the Asia Marketeer?


Spohn Global is an Asia Marketeer — an importer of fair to good quality, relatively inexpensive fau­cets from Asian manufacturers that it sells retail in North America, primarily through internet outlets, under its Freuer brand name.

There are a great many Asia-Marketeers in the U.S. today — over two hundred, up from three in 1999. About half of all the fau­cet companies selling in North America are Asia Marketeers, yet they account for only 6% of fau­cet sales.

The market segment is already very crowded and will likely get more crowded in the future as as new Marketeers enter the market, and as large Chinese factories introduce their own retail brands into North America. Asia-Marketeers can also expect rapidly growing direct competition from Chinese-based internet retailers selling their own brands of Asian made fau­cets directly to North American consumers through Asian-based English language retail sites on the internet.

We think the model is already starting to show signs of unraveling, and the problems for Asia-Marketeers will only increase over the next decade. There is a good likelihood that many of the Asia-Marketeers like Spohn Global will fail.

Why is that important to you as a fau­cet owner? Simple. If you buy an Freuer faucet and the company then goes under, your faucet is orphaned. There is no more warranty support and no parts supply for your faucet, so if it breaks, you are completely on your own.

For more information, go to Problems with the Marketeer Model.
Spohn Global Enterprises, LLC
5181 N.W. 108th Ave.
Sunrise, FL 33351
(954) 572-4084
(954) 990-8091

Warehouse:
800 International Parkway
Sunrise, FL 33323
(954) 577-1043

Brands
Freuer®


$50-$200

Kitchen and Bath Remodeling in Lincoln, Nebraska: Eurostream Faucet Review and Rating: China Flag
China

Warranty Score: Warranty Stars
(No Warranty Found)
Component Term
CartridgeNone1
FinishesNone
Mechanical2None
Proof of PurchaseN/A
TransferableN/A

1. There is no evidence that Freuer faucets are supported by a warranty of any kind other than a promise to replace the faucet if it proves defective on delivery.
2. Body, spout, hoses, etc.

Spohn Global Enterprises, LLC is a Florida company owned by James K. Spohn that imports a wide variety of Chinese consumer goods, from pet cages to tattoo equipment, which it sells over the internet under a variety of trade names. One of these is Freuer faucets.

Spohn Global is a company that makes a determined and sustained effort to fly well under the radar, and to insulate itself from any form of liability or responsibility for the products it sells.

Until very recently it did not not publish its telephone number. The only contract information was through its e-mail address. We had to research Better Business Bureau and chamber of commerce records to find a working telephone number, and then the machine answering the phone did not identify the business.

On its web site the company claims that it is "fully staffed by a team of designers and engineers" and is able to "… design fixtures that are bold, elegant and can withstand the test of time", but we can find no indication that it employs any designers or engineers or does, in fact, design its own faucets. The faucets Freuer sells are right out of its Chinese suppliers' general catalogs, in the box and ready to sell. According to U.S. Customs records and international bills of lading, Spohn Global buys faucets from Wenzhou Haijun Sanitary Hardware Co., Ltd. an faucet manufacturer located in China that sells faucets in Asia under the Haijun brand name. Spohn also may also buy faucets through Zhejiang Yuhong Import & Export Co., Ltd., a general export company licensed by the Chinese government.

After using the trade name for a number of years, Spohn Global registered the Freuer name with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office as of June 30, 2015. There is no requirement that a trade name be registered, but it is the common practice for marks in national as opposed to local or regional commerce.

In addition to the Freuer name, Spohn Global also trades under the following brand names.

Trade Name Type of Goods or Services
Sure-Max: Adhesive tape for sealing cartons for industrial or commercial use.
Smithbuilt: Pet cages.
Ace: Ear piercing and tattoo needles.
Hamzer: Electronic keyboards.
Invertio: Manually operated exercise equipment.
Axis Plate: Exercise equipment, namely: machines that produce mechanical vibrations.
Gyptool: Drywall tools used in the construction industry such as lifts, benches, dollies, and stilts.
Cloud 9: Amusement devices, namely: bounce houses in the nature of an air inflated cushion in an air inflated structure.
Saloniture: Hair and beauty salon furniture, equipment and accessories.

All of these products are sold through Spohn Global's captive web site, ElmBay.com, and most are also sold through an Amazon storefront named Mix Wholesale.

Spohn also sells on eBay as FixtureLand. At one time its eBay name was Faucet Artist, a virtual storefront that has now been turned into a blog on which no one seems to be blogging. Spohn also sells to other retailers that in turn sell Freuer faucets through storefronts such as Naweed333, Ronka_shop_2013 and Crierson, among others.

All of the various business aliases used by Spohn Global operate out of the same warehouse in Sunrise, Florida.

Freuer faucets get a lot of consumer interest because they are attractive, stylish, and inexpensive. But, while the style is there, the quality is not. They are not very good faucets. Reports of problems with Freuer faucets are numerous and widespread, as are reports of a lack of post-sale customer support. In our test of customer support, it took 5 days for the company to respond to our first e-mail, and then the response did not address the questions we asked. Our second e-mail was not answered at all.

Spohn Global says it will replace a faucet that is broken when you receive it, and will send replacement parts if some are missing or defective. These are things Spohn Global has to do in order to stay affiliated with Amazon and eBay. But, the company has no after-sale availability of parts to speak of or any sort of systematic replacement parts organization. Needed parts are simply scavenged from other faucets. If the faucet is out of stock or discontinued, there are no parts.

The company offers a 5-year limited warranty in bold print on faucets sold through eBay. But, in reading the fine print we discovered that the warranty does not extend to items offered for sale "as is", and, according to the company's "terms of sale", all Freuer faucets are sold "as is". If there is an actual 5-year written warranty anywhere, we can't find it. The company's eBay notice refers the reader to the "Return and Warranty Policy" on its eBay store site. But, while there are "Additional Warranty Terms" indicated on the page, there is no actual warranty document.

China Flag Lead in Chinese Faucets


Lead is by some accounts more dangerous than arsenic. The maximum acceptable level of lead contamination in drinking water in the U.S. and Canada set by the EPA and CEPA is 5 parts per billion (ppb) — that's billion with a "b".

Yet, that may still be too much lead. According to the World Health Organization, "[t]here is no known level of lead exposure that is considered safe."1 Regulators would prefer no-lead standard, But, the EPA's maximum lead level of 5 ppb in drinking water reflects what is do-able. It is about what current technology can achieve, but expect it to be set lower as technology improves.

Lead has deleterious effects on human health particularly of children, attacking the brain and central nervous system causing developmental and learning disorders and, in severe cases, dementia, coma and even death.2

In China, the source of most off-brand faucets sold in the U.S. and Canada, there is no lead limit in drinking water, and faucets made in China for the domestic market often contain large amounts of lead. Lead is still prized in manufacturing in China because it is plentiful, cheap, malleable, and resistant to corrosion. Lead compounds are regularly added to plastics and vinyl to make them more resistant to high temperatures. Because lead is heavy, it is added to cheap metal products to make them seem more substantial.3

Most Chinese (including doctors) do not recognize lead as a significant hazard. As a result, few regulations have been enacted to control for lead. There is no consumer product safety commission and no laws mandating lead-free buildings. Lead contamination is not taken seriously by the Chinese faucet industry or by government regulators. Acute lead poisoning of entire towns and villages from nearby smelters and factories is common in China. Chronic long-term exposure from smokestacks, lead paint, coal burning and contaminated water affects millions of Chinese citizens.

According to Human Rights Watch, Chinese parents seeking help for children with typical lead poisoning symptoms: loss of appetite, incessant fever, sluggish and agitated behavior, are commonly arrested rather that given aid4. By some estimates, as many as 1/3rd of all children in China are affected by some degree of lead poisoning5.

China has no EPA to help control environmental pollution, and nothing like OSHA to regulate exposure to dangerous pollutants in the workplace. Chinese government assessments of contaminants in the environment are known to be wildly unreliable. A recent study by Chinese scientists of water in the reservoir that feeds 60% of Beijing households found levels of lead 20 times the maximum set by the World Health Organization.6

Chinese faucet testing standards (GB18145) do not include a lead contamination standard. Shi Hongwei, Deputy Director of Quality Supervision for China's National Building Material Industry, Inspection and Testing Center indicated in 2013 that China would implement standards for lead content in plumbing fixtures in 2014. But, 2014 has come and gone without action by the Chinese government.7

No one, not even the most experienced expert, can tell by looking at a faucet whether or not it contains a dangerous amount of lead. The only safeguard is laboratory testing and certification by an accredited laboratory that a faucet is "lead-free" to the very strict North American standards.

If your faucet is not certified, it may very well be slowly and silently poisoning yourself and your family. Something to keep in mind when choosing a faucet.


Footnotes
1. "Lead Poisoning and Health: Fact Sheet", World Health Organization. Updated July 2016. World Health Organization. Web 22 July 2016.
2. "Lead Poisoning and Health: Fact Sheet", World Health Organization. Updated July 2016. World Health Organization. Web 22 July 2016.
3. Wang S, Zhang J. "Blood lead levels in children, China". Environmental Research. 2006. Web 2 Aug 2017.
4. "My Children Have Been Poisoned: A Public Health Crisis in Four Chinese Provinces", Human Rights Watch. Web 2 Aug 2017.
5. Amon, Joe. "China Is Hurting Its Future By Not Acting on Lead Poisoning". Huffington Post, 22 Aug 2011. Huffington Post. Web 20 July 2016.
6. Liu, Charles. "Beijing Says Tap Water is Safe, but Chinese Scientists Disagree". The Nanfang. 4 May 2016. Nanfang Limited (Hong Kong). Web 20 July 2016.
7. "Taps Become Heavy Metal Content of Peremptory Norms". Huao Sanitary Ware News. 17 Mar 2016. Huoa Sanutary Ware. Web. 20 July 2016.
Spohn's terms of sale are unlike any we have seen elsewhere, and we belive a homeowner would have to be out of his or her mind to purchase a faucet from Spohn under these terms. For example, the company's terms of sale disavow any responsibility for "latent" defects, that is, defects not evident from a visual inspection of the faucet. So even if there is a written 5-year warranty someplace, the most common faucet problems, all of which are latent, would not be covered. Another term provides that if you buy a Freuer faucet then give it to someone else who is injured by the faucet, you, as purchaser, agree to pay not only the cost of any damages caused by the faucet, but the cost of any litigation, including Spohn's attorney fees and court costs. You also agree that any lawsuits must be tried in Broward County, Florida in a non-jury trial. Spohn also disclaims any responsibility for
…damages, losses, costs, injuries, penalties, expenses, attorney’s fees and liabilities of whatever nature whether in tort, contract, warranty or strict liability, including without limitation those resulting from injuries or deaths of persons and damages to property resulting from, or arising out of or in connection with the use of this Item, loss or liability resulting from negligence, operational deficiencies or failures, acts of God, or other cause (whether such causes are avoidable or not) caused in whole or in part, directly or indirectly by Purchaser, Seller's employees, representatives, agents or third parties …
Whew! Even our lawyers are not entirely sure exactly what all this means, except it shows a clear and unambiguous intention by Spohn to avoid any and all responsibility for the failure of its faucets to perform after the sale. If you install a Freuer faucet and it proves defective at some point in the future, you are on your own.

We think that a faucet company that takes such extraordinary measures to avoid any possible shred of responsibility for the performance of its faucets deserves a pass. If you are in the market for a good faucet that is certified for use with plumbing codes, certified lead free, and one the seller stands behind, that is supported after the sale, and for which replacement parts are available, we suggest you look somewhere else. Buy a Freuer faucet only if the stars are in exactly the right alignment and you feel unusually lucky. Of course, if you feel that lucky, take the money and buy lottery tickets instead. It would probably be a far wiser investment.

The company has a very poor record with the Better Business Bureau, having been rated "F" by the Bureau until 2013 when the company evidently realized that poor handling of customer service issues was not a good idea. Since 2013 it has worked itself up to a A- rating, then down again to a C-, then up again to A-, which is its score at present. The BBB does not require that all customer complaints be settled to the satisfaction of the customer, but does require a business to make a reasonable effort to resolve a complaint. Spohn Global has not been accredited by the Better Business Bureau.

Most of the imported products that Spohn sells are unregulated. It's nice if they are UL Listed, but they do not have to be. Faucets are different. They are regulated products, and they are required by law to be tested and certified, if not by UL, then by one of the other six organizations that test and certify faucets. Freuer faucets have not been tested and certified. Spohn Global seems to make no effort to comply with the regulations that govern the importation and sale of faucets in North America.

Testing and certifying faucets is expensive business. It may cost as much as $5,000 to have a faucet certified. The testing is comprehensive, including tests for harmful, noxious and toxic materials, for high lead levels, for temperature stability (to prevent scalding, especially of children); for reliability of the faucet valves (which are tested through 500,000 on/off/hot/cold cycles) and resistance to leaking under various temperatures and water pressures. Without certification you cannot possibly know that the faucet is safe or reasonably reliable. But, some less than scrupulous faucet sellers ignore their responsibility to have their faucets tested and certified because the penalty for failing to do so does not fall on them but on the unsuspecting consumer who suddenly finds that his new faucet cannot lawfully be installed in because it is not certified to comply with the local plumbing code. We don't know that Freuer falls into this category of predatory sellers, but it's hard to imagine that the company simply "forgot" to have its faucets tested.

The faucets also violate federal law. Regulations under the Energy Policy and Conservation Act require faucet importers to certify for each faucet model imported that the flow rate of the faucet does not exceed the federal maximum of 2.2 gallons per minute. Spohn Global has not filed a single certification as of the date of this report. Its faucets may not, therefore, be awful offered for sale or actually sold in the U.S.


Chinese and Taiwanese imported faucets similar in style and price to Freuer but generally of better quality with an actual warranty include:
If you have experience with Freuer faucets, good, bad or indifferent, we would like to hear about it, so please contact us or leave a comment below.