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Benjamin Smith
(bugbomb) - F - M

Locale: South Texas
Re: hiding. on 05/26/2006 11:43:15 MDT Print View

I don't need to know who it is. That's not the point. I agree with ken, however, that to level criticism of someone who has not masked his identity from an anonymous position is "bad." Like I heard in kindergarten, if you wouldn't say something to someone's face, don't say it at all. I think that anonymous posting is as close to talking behind someone's back as you can get in an online environment. It disrupts the "community" (cheesy, I know, but I really like this board) and robs the rest of us of the confidence that we know who were are talking to. I value knowing who I'm talking to for all the obvious reasons - I know if they have a shred of credibility that I should be concerned about, I know other things they've said, I know what they have claimed to believe in other posts, etc. Anonymous post rob the rest of us of that confidence. It's obviously your call - it's within the rules of the board. However, know that it rubs many of us the wrong way, and you shouldn't expect your opinions to be valued.

Hopefully this was a reasonable response to the content of your post.

Ben


(Anonymous)
Re: Re: hiding. on 05/26/2006 11:49:08 MDT Print View

FOOD FOR THOUGHT.

Scott Toraason
(kimot2)
Is it worth the wait & hiding on 05/26/2006 11:50:03 MDT Print View

Last summer I purchased a Lunar Sole E from Ron Moak. I’m not advertising the merits of the tent, just the customer service. I received the tent within three days of my order and called Ron to tell him he sent the tent with the thin floor instead of the standard floor. I returned the tent to Ron and within days the correct tent was returned postage paid by Six Moons.

There are inventors, manufacturers, and businessmen, and Ron appears to have mastered all three as have other outdoor cottage industries. Unfortunately Big Sky appears to have great inventors who demonstrate manufacturing and business problems that really point to cash flow issues. I agree with everyone who has sent there money in and received no product, you deserve your choice of an immediate refund or a guaranteed delivery date.

I am also curious if BPL does or feels it has no obligation to do some minimal screening of the independent manufacturers like Big Sky who’s products it favorably reviews on its’ website?

Lastly, BPL knows who the anonymous posters are, and I agree not knowing who is writing can be confusing at times. Except for a few notable exceptions, how many of us have met face to face? Anonymous or actual names is just a way to clarify who is speaking, and I believe it’s more of a privacy issue for some folks as opposed to a way of hiding.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Is it worth the wait & hiding on 05/26/2006 14:01:53 MDT Print View

Big Sky is acting a little goofy I agree, but I think once they get production going things will change. A little benefit of the doubt is in order. But, they should also refund to anybody who wants a refund.

Anonymous #10
(not the same as anon from above)

Edited by jshann on 05/26/2006 14:02:29 MDT.


(Anonymous)
Getting back on topic here... on 05/27/2006 11:44:07 MDT Print View

Hmmm... I thought that freedom of speach (anonymous, or not) was an American gift. Maybe I'm wrong.

Anyways, I just checked out the BigSky website, and there is a new note there... "Note: we are currently going through a major upgrade of our web site so online ordering is not always available while we are going through this upgrade. Please check back in a few weeks or submit orders via mail. Sorry for the inconvenience."

What is up with that? Is that a subtle way to curb any new orders? Or are we, the paying public, financing Bob's endeavor here? I'm not a big fan of all the new and improved items he is advertising either. Are we financing his R&D also? I also noted that the "ship date" for the tents have slipped to July. March, April, May, June, now July. What's going on here? Why not say "sorry, no more orders are being taken until July"? I tend to guess that many many others are experiencing the same issue here. Pretty sad.

The BA tents are looking more enticing to me as the months drag on. May have to treat the loss of my "investment" in Big Sky as a learning experience. That would be a very bad thing.


(Anonymous)
Re: Getting back on topic here... on 05/27/2006 11:47:09 MDT Print View

Sorry, that should read SPEECH, not SPEACH. My bad. Figured I would cut the flames off at the pass, so to speak.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Getting back on topic here... on 05/27/2006 12:41:15 MDT Print View

Another good learning experience for you is to sign your name when you publically question another person's integrity. Cowardice isn't any better than deception -- which is what you are accusing of Big Sky.

Yes, there is freedom of speech. But a third lesson for you is that freedom comes with responsibility.

Edited by ben2world on 05/27/2006 12:42:41 MDT.

Ronald Davis
(rond) - F
Re: Refund! on 05/27/2006 17:35:09 MDT Print View

I received this message today from Big Sky.

Good luck to others who are waiting for their tents.

Ron





I just got back from Trail Days in Damascus, Virginia about midnight last night… I processed your refund and mailed your refund check today…

Sorry we were not able to make your required ship date, and for the delay in processing your refund due to my travels.



Bob

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Big Sky on 05/27/2006 18:28:17 MDT Print View

Sorry Anon., but I agree with Benjamin on this one.

Benjamin Smith
(bugbomb) - F - M

Locale: South Texas
Re: Big Sky on 05/27/2006 18:51:07 MDT Print View

Don't argue with the united Bens.

Ben

William Stoddard
(mstoddard) - F
Delivery dates on 05/31/2006 12:09:59 MDT Print View

Much earlier this year I favorably reviewed the tent, and noted the long wait to get the tent. I always got responses from Bob.Molen@Big skyproducts.com. The tent was delivered long after promised, and the footprint even longer, and I was as frustrated as the other posters. But my tent has held up in two unbelievable storms, it is easy to set up, and relatively light for its space and features. When Bob is out of the office, one gets the automated replies, but I think he is just swamped. The end result, at least for me, was that the wait was worth it.

John Thompson
(leebob) - F
William Stoddard's long wait on 05/31/2006 17:10:58 MDT Print View

William,

How long did you have to wait to receive your product and did you pay for it up front as many of us have?

I've been waiting for over three months and I haven't always received regular replies in response to questions via email and can never seem to get anyone to answer the phone during regular business hours (well, once, and the guy who answered seemed a little surprised that I was a customer and then proceeded to give me the old soft shoe).

Regardless of the reasons, good business practice dictates that the least a business should do is update it's paying customers on a regular basis if unexpected delays are incurred. Sure, it happens but how long is long enough? I'm less perturbed today than yesterday (thanks to Addie Morstadt for removing my original post at my request). I was honked off...

A suggestion to Bob Molen...rather than spending time and energy at any more shows like Trail Days to attract more customers, perhaps it would be better to take care of your established commitments which, based on the posts I read here, seem to stretch back a fair amount of time.

In addition...to all those folks who wish to debate the finer points of cowardice, honor, and ethics I would ask that if you've paid for and are waiting on the products like many of us then feel free to jump in and share your opinion...from my seat (the big, fat one that's been about $338+ shorter of funds for over 3 months but is lacking a really nice, sexy tent which received very favorable reviews from an outfit which has lightened the fat guy's wallet a few times as well) the rest of you who don't actually have a dog in the fight and are engaging in armchair debate...well, I really could care less what you think and I'll tell you why...until you've laid out your money, you're out nothing and haven't suffered one little bit over this issue. Wait until it happens to you...you might be surprised to discover you're not nearly as understanding as you might think you are...especially after getting the runaround a few times. Of course you could always just order a tent or two, wait awhile if nothing shows up and then weigh in with your opinion...

If our merchandise is indeed on the way as Bob Molen implied was the case to me in an earlier email (please note this is AFTER his return from Asia but BEFORE the Trail Days Trip) then please provide a shipping date. I think that's more than reasonable...

Jon Priest
(jwetzelp) - F

Locale: Central Arkansas
Some Progress... on 05/31/2006 23:22:15 MDT Print View

Backstory:

I had already researched the Evolution 1P extensively and had decided that's what I was going to order, despite the sketchy customer service. However, upon hearing of the revisions, I began to wonder if the new version was still going to be best for me. So, I just called Big Sky today and actually talked to Bob at length about what's been going on. I'll try to keep this short (yeah, right).

Phone Call:

First off, he described the changes to the product line as making the tents stronger all around. This includes better webbing, some different materials in the tent body (didn't ask what specifically...sorry, textile-iacs), and a design adjustment that only necessitates one guy-out for stability (although even more potential guy-out points have been added). Also, out of this design tweak, they have managed to change the point at which the poles are stressed. Most stress on the poles is now transfered to the point at which they cross, making it more wind-stable and snow-worthy. These changes come with no additional weight or price. Pretty cool, if you ask me. Finally, accessories (different stake types, guylines, and footprints) will be avaliable "a la carte" per customer request.

Now, for the explanation.

As some of you may know, the hold-ups are a direct result of the new tent models. He was trying hard to get them ready for the April ship date, but at the time, they were still 9% heavier than the existing models. Bob said he just wouldn't ship these sub-par products just to meet a deadline so he went ahead and did a couple more revisions/prototypes. Thank you Bob! Now that he has finalized the new designs, he should be shipping the new tents to fill back orders soon.

Although he can take orders by mail, he must finish work on a new online ordering system as he's no longer using PayPal. So, he's putting together information about the new products and will implement them as soon as possible with the new ordering system in a shiny new web format. If you e-mail him, he will message you when the new system is up, after which he will begin taking orders again and will fill them once the back log has been worked through. The new tents should ship in mid-July.

Now, when I asked him about billing, he said that due to the fact that they are a small company, the tents are "built to order." So, yes, it is his protocol to charge immediately upon receiving an order. He stated that this keeps prices low by making sure that supply exactly meets demand (rough paraphrase).

Regarding his lack of communication in previous months, he said that amidst gear shows, supplier snafoos, and R&D on the new stuff, he simply got covered up. However, he acknowledged and apologized for the crappy customer service lately (he used the term "terrible") and regrets that his contact with customers has been inadequate. He told me that he is thinking of ways he can deal with this in the future. He even mentioned that he is aware of forum discussions regarding is customer service and simply expressed his regret, because he seems to know that he's been handling things poorly.

My Impressions:

I know some of you are fed up with Bob and just want your money back or are of the mind that would never order anything from him in the first place. However, I was impressed that he spent so much time talking with me about each one of my concerns. He described his new designs in great detail since no information is yet available on them and even let me in on some new products (4-season, double-wall shelter and new 3-season, single-wall shelters). Bob struck me as a very honest, humble, and sincere person who regrets what has happened lately. Despite all that's happened over the last several months, the bottom line seems to be that he wants to put out the best product possible. Now, I don't think customer service should be sacrificed due to this as it seems to have been. But it sounds like Bob agrees on that point and is truly sorry that service was compromised along the way to better products, and seems determined to improve this aspect of his business.

So, based on the conversation described above, I for one am looking forward to ordering my new and improved Evolution 1P and I hope that all of you who are fed up with Big Sky will give them another chance.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Big Sky on 06/01/2006 00:35:17 MDT Print View

Jon:

I too have talked and emailed with Bob Molen in the past. He was kind enough to ship me a tent for testing, and as I have written in past postings, I am very impressed with it. I also share your perception that he is not a person who's out to con people.

However, I can't say that your post is all that reassuring. Firstly, something is wrong with the prototyping process if Bob is only finding out that his tents have gained 9% in additional weight AFTER months have passed by!

In a nutshell, even if prototyping is indeed finalized, folks who ordered in December are still in exactly the same position as they were six months ago! Production simply hasn't started!

If Bob introduces any more changes and tinkerings (something he can't seem to help), it may well be weeks more before production can finally begin.

Once production starts, it's probably reasonable to expect another month or more of waiting -- even assuming a smooth process (a big assumption since materials, etc. all need to be coordinated sufficiently in advance). Not that I know for sure, but given the size of Big Sky and its numerous and continuous tinkerings / changes, I assume the factory in China is probably a correspondingly small outfit as well. It's hard for me to imagine a factory of thousands that could accommodate Bob's relatively small volume, coupled with his endless changes.

Once everything is AOK, there will be another 3 weeks of waiting time for the ship to arrive, and a bit longer for stateside inspection, until the tents finally arrive at buyers' doorsteps.

Three suggestions for Mr. Molen to seriously consider:

1. Freeze your prototype as soon as possible -- if you haven't already. You've got a great design -- now start production so you can finally ship! Borrow a page from Henry Shires or Six Moon Designs -- Model 2's can always follow in another year or so -- but for heaven's sake, focus on production and quality -- and get those tents out!

2. Camp in China from now until shipping -- your website improvements can wait. Really! Just add a blip saying that production is behind and you are no longer taking any new orders until you have serviced existing customers!

3. Forget the 'a la carte' for now! Different footprint options? That will only eat up even more time when you are already deep in the hole! Ship what was indicated on your website. People are happy with the configuration. That's why they prepaid!

Edited by ben2world on 06/01/2006 01:14:58 MDT.

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: Big Sky on 06/01/2006 03:33:36 MDT Print View

Ben,

Hen hao, hen hao. Very good, very good.

IMHO, Good words my friend.

How's your Mandarin? Fluent, or a least Excellent, if i'm not mistaken. Perhaps, Mr. Molen could use a representative in China (PRC, right? or is it Taiwan where production is taking place?).

Amongst Engineers and Designers, there are those who are perfectionists. They produce great designs, but are sometimes slow because everything has to be correct/perfect the first time. In many/most cases (not all), better to get 95% of the way there with the first run, and step-wise refine the design subsequently (easy to do in software; harder and longer to do when something you can hold in yours hands is involved). I don't design tents, but it seems that your advice is in order. In many cases (unless there was a serious deficiency, but then maybe, in that case, the design is NOT 95%, but rather far less if the defect is serious), I'd rather have a 95% perfect tent right now, than wait for next year's model's improvements. Case in point, my '05 SMD Lunar Solo 'e' which had some improvements over prev. year(s) version(s); i'm very happy with it and haven't seen fit to get the '06 version which has further, lesser important improvements. My need (? - in a relative sense) was last year; not next year.

Some might like to wait for the perfect tent; others might NEED the 95% tent now, and would have made other arrangements earlier if they knew they couldn't take delivery by a specific date. So, your words, which i'm only echoing here, seem, IMHO, to be in order (to rephrase your point, they wanted the version that they for; it was more than adequate for their intended use).

My two Yuan/CNB/Reminbi.

Edited by pj on 06/01/2006 12:11:24 MDT.

John Thompson
(leebob) - F
Followup on 06/01/2006 12:01:45 MDT Print View

The fat guy is back...Yep, I spoke with Bob yesterday after posting my long winded discourse and I feel much better about having to wait. In addition to learning many of the items posted since my last epistle Bob told me that in an effort to get it right, the factory in Asia actually already has the materials. It's proven to be a pain getting it right and most of us who have chosen to wait seem to agree that it's worth the wait. I work in a high volume manufacturing environment and the only advice I could offer which might be of use (which echos what others have said) is that we run into the same issues whether the products are produced in your facility or someone else's. In addition we have to adjust to changing schedules and still deliver products on time. If we don't not only can the FTC come after us, but customers can be unhappy because they can't get the product they want. We have to determine effectivity dates which cause us to build to the old design until everyone (most importantly anyone in the manufacturing and supply base chain) is ready. Continuous improvement is absolutely required for continuing success but getting the goods to the consumer must come first. Big Sky has done an excellent job of filling a customer need in terms of the product design and has demonstrated a very agile approach to design...the problem and challenge is that manufacturing is just as important (and actually more so since this is where the money comes in). I totally agree with the "get it 95% right and then iterate to perfection". My experience in design has proven over and over that you get to the best design faster by getting as many things right as possible up front but you still have to get there first. Then you have to do everything to stay there.

Besides, continuous improvement tortures guys like me who have a terminal case of gizmosis...something cooler, lighter, faster is always coming out...now I gotta get this cool tent...I'm already tormented by the fact that Bob has other designs which could possibly meet my need better than what I ordered. If that's the case, so be it I guess!

William Stoddard
(mstoddard) - F
tent delay on 06/01/2006 15:11:30 MDT Print View

John T., I earlier tried to send a response to your question, but it appears my response was lost in some dark pit of electronic missent messages. In the meantime, it seems you may have satisfied your concerns, but I will go ahead and respond. I purchased an Evolution 2P and a footprint in August, to the best of my recollection, using a credit card. Delivery was in December, much later than promised, but, as I noted in my Jan. 16 reader review about the tent, Mr. Molen always replied to my emails. I got the footprint last Friday. I'll reiterate, for me, the wait was worth it.

John Thompson
(leebob) - F
William Stoddard replies on 06/01/2006 16:27:53 MDT Print View

William,

Thanks for the response. Your feelings about the performance of the product and the impression that the item was worth the wait played a significant part in my decision to continue to wait...that's why I value these forums - I wish I'd looked earlier but that's my own fault...the other part was talking to Bob Molen. He seems like a really good man with honorable intentions to do the right thing...until I talked to him I was operating on pure conjecture which I realize (always too late for some reason) wasn't very fair...the rest of it can be debated back and forth but, after talking with Bob at length I feel that he knows there are some "opportunities to excel" (sorry, too much P.C.-influenced training) and is working to rectify those concerns. Thanks again for your commentary as it made a significant impact to my decision...

Richard Sullivan
(richard.s) - MLife

Locale: Supernatural BC
Big Sky, no tent on 06/27/2006 18:41:42 MDT Print View

Has anyone received a tent yet? or should we organize a posse :(

Jen Schwartz
(jenjetcity) - M

Locale: Upper Left
Summit Shelters - one person's saga on 06/28/2006 11:56:38 MDT Print View

I ordered an Evolution 2P with carbon fiber poles on September 5, 2005. I received a PayPal receipt that same day showing Bob Molen had been paid cash. The estimated ship date at the time of my order was end of September 2005. Over the following months I inquired repeatedly about shipment. Bob always replied promptly and apologetically, offering various explanations for the delays, and eventually offered me a 20% discount on the tent. After several revised ship dates followed by notices of further delays, redesign, etc., I told Bob in mid-April that I was planning to buy a different tent as it was already spring and time to go backpacking in the PNW. He then offered to send me a loaner tent until a new one was available. The promised date for shipment of the loaner tent then came and went, and I again asked for an update on delivery. I got an automated reply saying they were at their factories in Asia. I finally received my tent (but no stakes) in mid-May, 2006. Took it out in the Cascades on a hot, gorgeous weekend in late June, and one of the carbon fiber poles snapped ten minutes after I got in the tent, under no load or stress whatsoever. I emailed Bob Molen to tell him of my disappointment, after waiting 7 months for delivery. I am now trying to decide whether to 1) get the CF poles replaced; 2) get aluminum poles instead, somewhat defeating the purpose of the UL design; 3) ship the whole *BEEP* thing back and go with my second choice. I'd welcome any advice on this situation and on another choice for a roomy 2P ultralight double-wall tent (I'm a newbie). Thanks!

Bob Molen's response follows:


Jen,

Sorry about the bad luck with the CF poles… we have had a small percent of CF poles fail like this lately under no load conditions and we are working with our CF pole manufacturer to resolve this issue… we think it may be quality problem with a particular batch since we have been using/testing this brand of CF poles for years without problems.

A couple of options:

1) The CF poles are guaranteed so if you send them back to us we will replace them for free

2) If you rather have AL poles, send the CF poles back to us, and we will send you a set of AL poles and refund the difference.

We are out of both AL and CF poles, but expect batches of each right after the July 4th weekend.

It is your option whether you want to send us the CF poles now or wait until we have replacement poles in stock.

Were you able to repair the broken pole? The easiest way is with a pole splice (short piece of larger diameter AL tubing that slips over the pole) and duct tape… I can mail you a pole splice if you want to keep using your Evolution 2P until we replace the poles.

We will ship you 8 – Ti stakes (no charge) when we ship you the poles… they are now an option, but were included in the price when you ordered your Evolution 2P.

Again, sorry for the problems,

Bob