warranties and ethics
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Chris Jackson
(chris_jackson) - F
warranties and ethics on 06/10/2006 22:46:09 MDT Print View

I've been very happy with the performance of a 3 oz titanium canister stove since purchasing it on sale about two years ago. I didn't actually weigh it until today (shame on me!) at which point it turned out to be 0.75 oz heavier than the manufacturer's spec's. I subsequently double-checked the manufacturer's spec's and reweighed the stove on two balances which agreed to within a fraction of a gram.

In your opinion, does this constitute a manufacturing defect? If so, what are the ethics of asking the manufacturer for a replacement, given that I've used the stove for two years? I'd be particularly interested to hear from those who work in the outdoor industry.

Bill Fornshell
(bfornshell) - MLife

Locale: Southern Texas
warranties and ethics- WXtex Pneumo Dry Bags on 06/11/2006 06:55:02 MDT Print View

I have two WXtex Pneumo that I have had for some time. One is a 50 L and the other one is a 15L.

These are like the 65L bag Rayn and crew are using for their pack bags.

The bags are really nice but both are way over the weight listed on the packaging. The 50L is listed as weighing 260 grams and it weighs 284.5 grams. The 15L is listed as 141 grams but weighs 164.5 grams.

When I first got the bags I called the company and the CS guy just blew it off as a slight increase when they went into final production. It didn't seem to matter that the increase in weight was almost a full ounce heavier for both products. When I said that an increase of almost 1 ounce on a product listed at 5 ounces was a high percentage. I got No real reply.

I only kept the bags because they work well. I am about to replace them both with new bags I will make out of a new Cuben product that has a stronger layer on one side. The weight for the 50L bag should go from just over 10 ounces to under 2 ounces.

Edited by bfornshell on 06/11/2006 20:26:33 MDT.

Stephen Eggleston
(happycamper) - F

Locale: South Bayish
Re: warranties and ethics- WXtex Pneumo Dry Bags on 06/11/2006 10:41:19 MDT Print View

I have actually had a similar experience with Pacific Outdoor Gear(maker of WXTex), but with a different outcome.

I bought an insulmat max about 2+ years ago. At the time I bought it because I liked the listed weight of the full-size mat. Well, when I got it home the actual weight was significantly higher(sorry can't remember specifics now.) So being the fanatic that I am I contacted the company via email expressing my dismay. They replied by saying that the mat's weight was far outside of their normal allowed manufacturing weight variance and offered to replace it for free. I mailed the mat back to them and what followed was the ultimate in customer relations. I received back in the mail a new mat, a check for my shipping costs, an inflatable flamingo and small WXtex Pneumo bag. Wow, it was like christmas. Well the new mat was lighter than the previous one but was still somewhat above the listed weight. I did notice that they increased the listed weight of that mat in a later catalog

David Bonn
(david_bonn) - F

Locale: North Cascades
Re: warranties and ethics on 06/11/2006 11:34:11 MDT Print View

I can see both sides of this problem.

From the manufacturer's standpoint, they have to deal with the fact that the marketing materials and packaging were probably produced before the gizmo actually went into production, as well as completely independently. If aforementioned gizmo is actually produced by a factory in China or Vietnam they probably won't know the *actual* weight until they receive a shipping container full of them.

Add that to the fact that I suspect that there might be quite a bit of weight variation between "batches" of a product it is hard to know what weight they are supposed to put on a product. And given that early production runs were probably made by a different factory than the big production runs probably makes things even more confusing.

I also strongly suspect that any last-minute design changes, especially ones that either make a product more durable or easier to manufacture, increase the weight.

Until pretty recently few gear-buyers actually bothered to weigh their purchases anyway, and that is probably why most manufacturers don't really know what to do when you call them on it.

On the other hand, if you bought company Y's gizmo over company X's based on weight, and the delivered product from company Y weighed more than company X's advertised weight, you certainly have a right to complain to company Y.

Probably the best way to deal with this problem is to vote with your money, and buy gear from companies that stick pretty close to the published weight for their products. At the same time, naming and shaming companies with outrageous variations in the marketed weight and actual weight is also very helpful.

Chris Jackson
(chris_jackson) - F
time delay and percentage weight on 06/11/2006 18:35:38 MDT Print View

On reflection, the question I posed above is probably better divided in two.

First, is it reasonable to wait for two years before claiming that an item is defective? (Items such as Goretex which come with a lifetime warranty are a special case.)

Second, is there a generally accepted percentage tolerance for manufacturers specs, and if so what is it: 10%, 20%...? (The 0.75 oz discrepancy for the stove corresponds to 25% .)

On a 'lighter' note, I hope that Stephen E's inflatable flamingo was an ultralight!

David White
(davidw) - F - M

Locale: Midwest
Re: time delay and percentage weight on 06/11/2006 20:15:58 MDT Print View

In answer to your question "First, is it reasonable to wait for two years before claiming that an item is defective?"

The question really depends on the definition of "defective". If the defect results from a change in condition (i.e. it breaks or wears out and fails to perform as when new) and it falls within the warranty period, then yes a warranty claim should be allowed.

However in your case the condition of the stove hasn't changed and you even stated that it has served your purposes well. Although I agree that it should have weighed closer to the advertised amount, I believe that any claim for a design VARIANCE should have been made within the first 30 days.

Yours is an excellent and legitimate question and I really, really hope you don't think I'm flaming you. However, I'm a business owner myself so I've seen extreme warranty requests. If a business was to honor any warranty request, for any condition of the customer's choosing, for any length of time; the price of that product would have to be increased 10-fold. At those prices, no one would be happy ;-o

I WOULD make sure before doing business with this company again that they've resolved their weight issues.

In the meantime -- keep enjoying that stove!

Stephen Eggleston
(happycamper) - F

Locale: South Bayish
Re: Re: time delay and percentage weight on 06/11/2006 20:54:40 MDT Print View

When it comes to the ethics of returning gear I generally consider the condition of the product, the use I've gotten out of it, and the reason for the return. I usually only return stuff if it is in resaleable condition. A serious defect is a different story. For small malfunctions I usually request a repair and will sometimes get a full replacement. Generally if I think I've gotten a decent amount of use out of an item or much time has elapsed I will resell my unwanted item. There is quite a market for cheap used camping gear.

Yes the flamingo was light, actually it is meant to fit on a large stake and camping decor. Go figure!!!

Chris Jackson
(chris_jackson) - F
Re: Re: time delay and percentage weight on 06/11/2006 21:36:49 MDT Print View

David, I was hoping that someone who works in the outdoor industry would lend their perspective, and hence am delighted that you took the time to respond.

I think that you've clarified the issue by making a key distinction between a defect and a variance. An item with a design variance should be returned in new condition within 30 days, whereas a defective item could be returned for repair within the warranty period. Gram weenies take note!

Your point about the need to increase prices to cover the cost of excessive returns is well taken. That's one of benefits of getting the perspective of a business owner.

Chris Jackson
(chris_jackson) - F
Re: Re: Re: time delay and percentage weight on 06/11/2006 21:39:23 MDT Print View

Stephen, mountaineers sometimes decorate their snow wands with those flamingos!

David Olsen
(oware)

Locale: Steptoe Butte
warranties and ethics on 06/12/2006 12:00:08 MDT Print View

When I buy cases of fabric, it often varies in
weight by 5%, sometimes more and always on the
side of heavier. The manufacturer
of the fabric is most concerned that it meet specs
for function as well as weight. If they are making
fabric used in dry bags, it has to have a minimum
coating to provide a proper heat seal, so they tend
to add a little extra coating if in doubt. Same for
parachute cloth, which must meet strict specs for
air perm. The fabric manufacturers think they are
giving you extra value when they put a little extra
coating on the fabric, sort of like including an
extra nut in a box of fasteners. In times past most
hikers would accept this as a bonus to durability
and function.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Used gear market on 06/12/2006 15:04:19 MDT Print View

"There is quite a market for cheap used camping gear...."

I'll say! Ebay abounds in the stuff. I haunt thrift stores and yard sales ('tis the season). I went to Goodwill yeasterday and found a North Face 700 down vest in perfect condition-- for $10. The high end stuff like North Face, Patagonia, or Mountain Hardwear is much in demand. Items from second tier manufacturers like Columbia or Sierra Designs still sell, but not with the frenzy seen with the high price spread. I have a local shop that does a brisk business in used gear, buying, trading, and selling the stuff. They are market wise and take just the hot movers and they are very fair on all facets. It's nice to see the gear get out of the closets and used. Students and others without the means get a chance to get out in the woods with some quality equipment and it doesn't end up in the landfill.