Service with a smile

smileIt’s been my observation that outdoor equipment companies flat-out stand behind their products better than any other manufacturer.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining!

Despite the fact that their products are subject to a lot of wear and tear, most outdoor gear companies take a liberal view of their warranties. At least that’s what I’ve seen so far.
I’ll give you a couple examples.

A few years ago I was backpacking in Big South Fork when my MSR Dragonfly stove broke. (This was in my pre-ultralight days. The Dragonfly is a heavy stove.) When I returned home I called MSR’s product service department. The conversation with the guy on the other end went something like this:

Me: “My Dragonfly broke on my backpacking trip.”

MSR: “Really? Oh gee, I’m really sorry! When do you need to use it again.”

Me: “In about a month.”

MSR: “Hmmm. That’s not enough time to make an exchange. I’ll tell you what, I’ll call (name of local retailer) and tell them when you come in they need to give you a new one.”

And just like that, a few days later I had a brand new Dragonfly.

Recently, I had a similar experience with Outdoor Research. I was checking out their Web site when I came across their Lab Rat program, which is a way to give feedback on their products.

I figured I’d give it a try, but didn’t have expectations that anything would come of it. I posted a review of their Rocky Mountain Low Gaiters. I have had reasonable but not spectacular satisfaction with them and I tried to give an honest assessment.

In my review I mentioned that the Velcro was coming apart from the binding. A couple days later I received an email from a customer representative, telling me that if I wanted to return them, all I needed to do was call for a return authorization.

The gaiters are sitting next to me now and soon I’ll send them off to see what happens. From what I’ve seen so far I’m pretty sure they’ll be fixed up just fine.

These companies are smart. That’s effective marketing. The other day, when I saw a pair of OR’s Meteor Mitts on sale, with that Lab Rat experience fresh in my mind, I didn’t hesitate to buy them.

Now I have another test for an outdoor company and it will be interesting to see if it plays out in the same positive manner.

Today I sent my Black Diamond Terra CF trekking poles back to Utah. One of the poles snapped at the lower, binary locking mechanism on my last hike.

According to Black Diamond’s Web site, I didn’t need a return authorization; just send them in. I thought that was a bit odd. But they have a one-year warranty and I can prove I bought them less than a year ago. In fact, I bought them at the company store in Salt Lake City on the cross-country trek Mrs. Cutter and I made in March.

I’ll report back when I find out what happens.

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4 Responses to Service with a smile

  1. eArThworm says:

    I had a pair of OR gaiters for over 5 years, when one of them pulled loose from the stitching at the top band. I called and got a return authorization, mailed them, and shortly I received a brand new pair. I found out after the fact that if I’d wanted a repair rather than a replacement, I needed to have put that in a letter enclosed with the return. So if you want a REPAIR not a REPLACEMENT, let them know!

  2. cutter says:

    Good tip, eArThworm! Thanks.

    But of course, unless you have sentimental attachment to your gaiters, it seems to me new is better.

  3. eArThworm says:

    Well the old ones had the OR trademark label on the outside of each leg. The new ones they sent are a “women’s” design with a cutsie-pie little flower on them. I don’t like cutsie-pie. 🙂

  4. cutter says:

    Ooh! I see what you mean. I hope they don’t send me a cutsie-pie version!

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