The underground industry?

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Postby potholer » Aug 14, 2007 6:54 am

I've found the UK specialist caving vendors seem to be not only knowledgeable, but pretty uniformly honest. If they think something isn't perfect, they'll usually say so even if they're selling it. If they think it's a POS for some applications, they'll say so.
Having watched numerous relative beginners buying kit, if they don't seem exactly sure of what they want, and there's no-one obviously experienced advising them, the people in the shops certainly seem very cautious about suggesting anything, especially with things like vertical gear.
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Postby CaveGimp » Aug 14, 2007 1:23 pm

Stridergdm wrote:See and I've often found the exact opposite. Ma and Pa shops live and die by reputation. If a single dissatisfied caver convinces 100 cavers to stop shopping at Wal-mart, Wal-mart won't see a much of a drop in their bottom line.


Let me set this straight so we can get back on topic. I wouldn't expect a new pair of boots after using them for quite a while, but if on my first trip, be it a hike or a cave, and the boot blew out I would expect new boots. Another example is the APEX. We all know PT made the screws too long, which causes cracking. If I took my light on a couple of trips and I saw those cracks, I would head right back to REI to exchange it as it is a defect from PT. REI being large enough would just give me one on the shelf. A Mom and Pop shop might not be able to do that given inventory and cost. Instead they would be likely to help me work with PT for the warranty coverage.

Mom and Pop shops always deliver better customer service, they know the stuff they sell and can help you decide which is best so you aren't stuck buying a pair of boots that won't fit right and will blow out 2 miles on the trail.

Now back on topic, this is a great store in AZ, although they don't have online ordering. http://www.hikingshack.com/
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Postby driggs » Aug 14, 2007 2:13 pm

CaveGimp wrote:Let me set this straight so we can get back on topic. I wouldn't expect a new pair of boots after using them for quite a while, but if on my first trip, be it a hike or a cave, and the boot blew out I would expect new boots.


I'm sorry, but this is not setting the record straight. I'll remind you what you originally posted:

CaveGimp wrote:The X-marts and other box stores, REI, etc offer something the caver stores just couldn't afford. And that is returning stuff when it "falis to work properly" after a long cave trip. Heck, REI will take back my hiking boots after several years of hard use and give me a new pair. My wife bought climbing shoes, 6 months later we were pregnant with our first. Now her shoes no longer fit, so off to REI for a new pair. As we were talking to the guy he told us to bring in the old ones and they will exhcnage them for the bigger size.


You cannot say that returning a defective PT Apex, which was defective before even being used, and returning a pair of boots "after several years of hard use" are the same thing. The former is in the spirit of a retailer's warranty, the latter is abuse of that warranty.

Your first post seems to advocate abusing the warranty of large retailers, on the justification that they can "afford" the loss. I have news for you - large retailers post profits every single quarter; they pass those losses on to the consumer (you and me) as higher prices as well as on to the manufacturer who must raise prices (which means it gets passed on to consumers from every retailer).

Worse yet, if people like you continue to abuse these warranties, retailers and manufacturers will start to restrict them further, meaning that people with legitimate issues may not get replacements or refunds.
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Postby Amazingracer » Aug 14, 2007 4:05 pm

When i started caving I only knew of IMO, as they are only 30 minutes outisde of Atlanta. I have ordered all of my gear from them as they are very nice, knowledgeable, and friendly people. I could have gone to REI and bought my ascenders and carabiners there, with the warranty. But if my ascenders or carabiner failed for something (making it worth returning), that I probably not be alive to return it. And IMO had competivite pricing.

I have started shopping for harness, and was suprised at the underground market. I thought buying a harness was going to be easy as I was set on Petzl but I have had everything from Singing Rock to MTDE recommended to be, so Ive been browsing caving stores from a round the world. I was amazed at the number of stores.

And besides the customer service at the small stores is amazing, IMO has always been help and accomadating to special requests. I talked to the guy at Bernie's Cafe in the UK. Very friendly and knowledgeable people.

Also while I dont want to get in the arguement going on overhead. It may seem like you rip REI off by returning everything, but remember they have scratch and dent sales, which will allow them to get a significant portion of the refund back, or even make money. This does not mean I endorse returning for nonsense reasons, though.
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Re: $$$Karma

Postby NZcaver » Aug 15, 2007 1:44 am

cavedoc wrote:If the product survives normal use, it has been satsifactory. Taking something caving is not normal use for most products. I bought a pair of boots on the way to a week of lava tubing. At the end of the week there were holes in the toes. Were they defective? No. Had they performed satisfactorily for what they were designed for? Yes. Did I turn them back in for a refund or exchange? No.

Good example there, Roger. Guess I should clarify with a quick example of my own, so maybe the masses won't think I'm the devil incarnate.

I was lava tube caving in Hawaii earlier this year. I bought W Mart $20 boots and $10 construction knee pads. I wore the pads the first day, and they were toast. They wouldn't stay put either, surprise surprise. I found some better ones in the communal gear box, and they lasted me the month. I briefly considered just tossing the crap pads, but on the advice of fellow cavers I decided to return them the following month for a no-questions refund. The store person did raise an eyebrow slightly when I swore they had only been used for one day - which was the truth.

The boots worked out much better, but still wore out in a month. What the crawling in lava tubes didn't do to them, the walking on hot lava took care of. They required periodic patching with shoe goo to keep them intact. At the end of the month I delivered them to the dumpster, and promptly bought another pair for future caving and hiking trips.

Taking into account how useful these items were to me, I would say I was satisfied with the boots but not with the pads.
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Postby hank moon » Aug 15, 2007 6:44 am

large retailers post profits every single quarter; they pass those losses on to the consumer (you and me) as higher prices as well as on to the manufacturer who must raise prices (which means it gets passed on to consumers from every retailer).


yes - we are all paying for the "extended warranty" policies offered by the BFR.

Worse yet, if people like you continue to abuse these warranties, retailers and manufacturers will start to restrict them further, meaning that people with legitimate issues may not get replacements or refunds.


Yes and no. the "unconditional warranty" will continue in some form - no doubt about that. more likely, the conscientious vendors will cease to do business with the BFR and the quality of goods offered will decline. this is the end result of the "who cares, they'll replace it for free" mentality. there is no moral logic behind such an attitude, yet it is one fostered by BFR to help drive "business".


sidenote: in some countries (e.g. Germany), the limit on warranty for consumer goods is 10 years.

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Postby hunter » Aug 15, 2007 10:16 am

Bad Karma.


Hmm, I think I'm in trouble. A while back I was picking up my Swaygo (full of stuff) when it wasn't closed and I tore the closure. Anyway, I described the issue on one of the Swaygo threads a while back and Scott immediately told me to send it in for repair. I sent it in and got a full repair for free (taking advantage of the Swaygo big box store) even though the break was somewhat my fault for lifting the pack in a foolish way.

Anyway, I'm not certain I'm making a coherent point except that these types of warranties exist for some caver companies as well and the decision is whether to take advantage of it or not.

The flip side of this is that I love my Swaygo and have told my caving buddies both about the pack and the service. Perhaps people should also consider that REI and it's policies are well known and haven't changed. Returns are part of the appeal of the store and brings in business which would otherwise go elsewhere.

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Postby Scott McCrea » Aug 15, 2007 10:46 am

No worries, James. You were not taking advantage. Your closure failure was a manufacturing issue, not caused by you. Returns (for the right reasons) are an essential part of good customer service.
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Re: $$$Karma

Postby hank moon » Aug 15, 2007 12:06 pm

NZcaver wrote:Good example there, Roger. Guess I should clarify with a quick example of my own, so maybe the masses won't think I'm the devil incarnate.


too late!

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Re: $$$Karma

Postby NZcaver » Aug 15, 2007 4:28 pm

hank moon wrote:
NZcaver wrote:Good example there, Roger. Guess I should clarify with a quick example of my own, so maybe the masses won't think I'm the devil incarnate.


too late!

:devil:
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Postby hank moon » Aug 15, 2007 4:55 pm

REI and it's policies are well known and haven't changed


REI and its policies have changed a lot since its inception. Take a look at mec.ca to see what a *real* co-op should look like.
Last edited by hank moon on Aug 15, 2007 6:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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