If by fleeced, you mean overcharged
I do not. If people want to pay an extra hundred dollars for the convenience of not having to make a few phone calls and soak a plate in vinegar, that's not my concern. For many, $100 is a good chunk of cash, and you'd think a couple of hours of labor would be worth that, but I can see how, for people with the money but not the time or inclination, it's a worthwhile service. But I'm not talking about overcharging.
When I say fleeced, I'm talking about misleading and fraudulent advertising. His advertising has changed over the years, and it's less fraudulent now (after I screamed bloody murder for months, as well as after Chris Young/Nathan Myhrvold corrected most of their outrageous claims in Modernist Cuisine), but for quite some time, Andris was publishing patently false claims as to what Baking Steel could achieve.
The most egregious claim, which has been on his site until very recently, was that 1/4" steel could produce wood fired Neapolitan pizza in any home oven.
Even if you defined 'Neapolitan pizza' in the most broadest of terms, there's no possible way that 1/4" steel can bake Neapolitan pizza in every home oven. For anyone purchasing his steel with the hopes of creating Neapolitan pizza in a home oven- and didn't have the right home oven- they got fleeced.
Even without past 'Neapolitan pizza' claims, his copy, to this day, is still misleading:
It comes standard at 16 inches X 14 inches, fitting most conventional home ovens, as well as barbecue grill surfaces.
Craig, you know enough about thermodynamics to understand what happens when you put steel on grill. Even by talking about how steel fits most grills, Andris is implying that steel can be successfully used on grills- and that's not being honest.
Our Baking Steel heats evenly and produces what I think is the best pizza ever made at home.
Throughout all of Andris' advertising and public comments, he has never once qualified which home environments aren't suited for steel. There has always been a constant implication that steel is for every oven. Steel is NOT for every oven. Beyond being disastrous in grill settings, steel is counterindicated for any bottom heat scenario. Do you know how many people don't have broilers in their main oven compartment? Many. A misleading implication may not break any truthful advertising laws, but this sin of omission ended up ripping off a considerable number of customers who just didn't know any better. Adam Kuban is a pretty smart guy, but even he took the bait and ended up with an expensive door stop. If a smart guy like Adam got suckered in, you can imagine how many other broilerless people got duped as well.
Steel is also a complete waste of time for anyone with an oven that can hit 600. There's not many people out there with ovens that break this barrier, but they exist. Yesterday, we were just chatting with a hotter than normal oven owner who fell hook line and sinker for the 'steel is for everyone' BS, and bought steel when he didn't need to.http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=30381.msg303073#msg303073
So, yes, I'm comfortable with the term 'fleeced,' and if either you or he are expecting any kind of apology, I wouldn't hold your breaths.
a piece of scrap that they then have to go home and clean only to then wonder if it is safe.
Craig, with your intellect and bs-meter to end all bs-meters, I'm dumbfounded you'd say something so incredibly misguided. Both here and on Slice, vinegar soaks are the well established method of cleaning steel- vinegar removes the mill scale and rust and takes the steel down to the bare metal. Bare steel is perfectly safe. I can see Andris and Kenji spreading this kind of ridiculous FUD, but I expect a higher level of accountability from you.