This is the story of my recent frustrating customer service experience with a San Francisco based outdoor company. I decided to write about this not to name and shame the company, but to highlight the importance of customer service for the outdoor industry. In a time where we are trying to get more people outdoors, you can spend all the money and focus on getting a consumer to buy your product, but if you drop the ball on the back end, that customer is most likely not coming back and if a newcomer, may taint their initial overall outdoor experience.
Let me start by saying I love this company, from the people that work there to the company's involvement in the local San Francisco community. I already own 4 of their bags that I use on a regular basis, so it pains me to see them drop the ball so badly on the customer service side.
For my husband's birthday last March, I ordered a carry-on roller bag (at full price) from the company. The bag arrived within a few days and the husband was happy with his gift. Unfortunately, after only one trip with the bag, the top handle panel completely ripped open.
As the company prides itself on the durable quality of their bags, I decided to send an email to their customer service department (the only way possible to contact customer service) to let them know about the tear.
The initial response was fairly quick:
Oh no! That's not good at all. Could you possibly send us a photo or two of the damage? We can then best advise what the next steps will be once we see how it looks."
The same day, I sent two photos of the ripped bag in reply to the email. The next time I hear anything would be over 6 weeks later.
I receive this email:
I was just going through a bunch of emails that were lost in the system and found this, were you able to get this taken care of? I just want to be sure and not just assume. Please let me know."
I respond that no indeed nothing has happened and inquire what I should do next with my ripped bag.
I receive a follow up email telling me to go to the company website and open a warranty claim.
"When you're done reading this, head to our website and fill out the warranty information, then send your bag to us."
I head to the warranty services website and open a ticket. The response is an automated email that gives me an RMA number and tells me where to mail back the bag. The email finishes with:
"Once we receive your product, we will notify you via email. Warranties are processed within 7-10 business days upon receipt into our warehouse."
I had the bag personally delivered to the warehouse as I wanted to make sure that the bag arrived and I also did not want to pay a ton of money to ship a bulky package to a place less than 10 miles from my house.
Yet another six weeks go by and I have not heard anything since the bag was delivered to the warehouse. I decided once again to send an email to customer service to check on the status of both my bag and the warranty claim.
Response so far: Crickets.
So now the company not only has my money but my bag as well. What am I doing wrong?
This may just be a fluke bad experience from the company but frustrates me when compared to some other outdoor companies I think are particularly good at customer service such as JanSport, REI, and Backcountry.com.
How about you? I would love to hear about your outdoor industry customer service experiences, both good and bad.