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Thread: When gear goes wrong...

  1. #1
    Member 6XLeech's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Eagle River

    Default When gear goes wrong...

    A serious and humorous stab at figuring this out in 3...5 short paragraphs. A friend, an experienced outdoorsman, told me a story recently - about gear he bought at a good local shop, but later had trouble with. He didn't take it back but commented to the owner a couple of seasons later. The owner (a fellow with a good local reputation) responded with "Why didn't you tell me?" and expressed his willingness to make things right.

    To me, when you have a customer willing to provide feedback, and a seller who's willing to make things right, you have the best situation. But not every customer, or seller, or product is perfect. How we handle it matters, because it's a negotiation of sorts. But it can be a hard problem - to be reasonable in showing consideration for all sides. What can we do when gear fails?

    Things to know/consider:
    1. Any item can fail-even in an otherwise good product or from an otherwise good company. Might be a bad day at the plant, bad lot of materials, bad design, or probs after they switched producers. That doesn't make it OK when your gear fails, but helps me keep things in perspective. Good companies effectively improve their product in time. The best companies address product problems right away.
    2. Anyone can have a bad day.
    3. Anyone can misrepresent the truth - unintentionally; misunderstandings, or sometimes premature conclusions - not enough facts. I consider that I might not have all the facts yet.
    4. Anyone can misrepresent the truth - intentionally. On the good side, these are called embarrassing incidents-they slant the tale to de-emphasize an embarrassing detail. But sometimes, they're trying to sell you a snark, a load of BS, know. People in customer service roles, likely see this often. I try to keep this in mind when talking to sellers about a product problem.

    Things that work, more or less:
    1. Take it back right away. Provide receipts.
    2. "Do you think this should happen?" Tell the owner or manufacturer what happened as factually as you can. Try to present the problem and focus on resolution. Go in with fair, realistic expectations and a plan B in case the owner's response isn't helpful (plan B: write letters, contact manufacturer, etc). Be disciplined about fairness when you analyze then describe what went wrong. A carefully thought out, rationally presented complaint should be hard to ignore. A lot of times - that's all it takes.
    If the owner isn't willing to help: I don't think there's much worth doing if the owner doesn't want to help. You can: a). huff, b). puff... But most aren't going to write letters, complain to the manufacturer, or take someone to small claims court - at least for inexpensive items.

    3. Piss and moan and sigh (PMS). This one is popular - and I've done this too, but as I get older, if I'm not willing to act, then it's time to move on. Life is short enough and better spent elsewhere. 'Course, sometimes there's a basis for PMS. The better job you do of sorting out the problem fairly to begin with, the more likely you're justified. If so and you want to pursue it, equip yourself with information -ask questions, talk to people, then act - write letters, call the manufacturer; organize and act.

  2. #2
    Member Roger45's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Palmer, AK


    My experience is that "where" you buy is as important as "what" you buy. Saving 50 cents is not worth it if the company doesn't stand behind what they sell. When a product fails in the Alaska bush, you can be in a world of hurt real fast. It happened to me once...lesson #1) NEVER NEVER NEVER go out with untried clothing into a remote area where you will be stuck for an extended period. I was fortunate enough to have a partner that had a little extra gear that I could barrow! Otherwise, I would have had to stay in the tent the whole time. Lesson #2) a reputable company should never balk at taking back any product that fails to live up to what it was sold for (under reasonable use) after one trip. Period IMHO. Big companies like Cabela's best offer is that they have a 30 day no question asked return policy regardless of what you may have done.
    "...and then Jack chopped down the beanstock, adding murder and ecological vandalism to the theft, enticement and vandalism charges already mentioned, but he got away with it and lived happily ever after without so much as a guilty twinge about what he had done. Which proves that you can be excused just about anything if you're a hero, because no one asks the inconvenient questions." Terry Pratchett's The Hogfather

  3. #3
    Member EagleRiverDee's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Eagle River


    Great posts- I have two things to add.

    One- make sure the person you are speaking with has the authority to actually do something to resolve your situation, or ask for a manager who can. Many cashiers do not have the authority to give refunds and some won't take the initiative to call a manager.

    Two- once you have stated what went wrong and what your ideal solution is, go silent. In negotiations, typically the person who speaks first is the one who capitulates. People typically don't like uncomfortable silences and the other person will say something if you don't. Usually it's in your favor.

    And as mentioned previously, some companies are better than ever. A certain outdoors store in town has a fabulous reputation for taking damaged products back and replacing them- even when signs of wear are obvious and the product obviously has lived its useful life. A certain grocery/department store chain in town has a similar policy and will do exchanges and refunds with few questions asked. I patronize those stores because of their no-hassle policies.
    "If snowmachiners would adopt the habits of riding one at a time and not parking at the base of avalanche prone slopes, the number of fatalities would likely be whittled by at least a third, if not by half." ~ Jill Fredston, in the book Snowstruck, In The Grip Of Avalanches.

  4. #4
    Member Cast&Blast's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Fricking Texas - temporary

    Default Good advice...

    I picked up a $350 pair of boots for $100- because the original purchaser wore them once and they tore up his feet....local shop would not take them back because they were "used". They fit me well and I'm stoked....I hesitate to purchase anything from that "local store" solely d/t the poor return policy.

    I shop where they honor their products, simple as that.


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