Forum Index » General Lightweight Backpacking Discussion » Kooka Bay


Display Avatars Sort By:
Jon Foro
(fjoro) - MLife

Locale: PNW
There's a better way to use PayPal than that. on 01/14/2012 11:59:23 MST Print View

Regardless how PayPal works, it's poor form to take your money and go underground, even with the best intentions. If you need a fair comparison (and the Amazon comparison *is* fair--the foundation of its success is customer service), look at LightHeart Gear. It's a two-person operation, with one person (Judy) apparently handling all of the production, with an occasionally long line of orders. I ordered a custom tent from her last winter, and instead of charging me up front, Judy waited until she was ready to make mine before she sent the PayPal request. She got some money, I got a tent shortly after payment, and nobody got bent, even though the process took several weeks from order to delivery. I'd recommend her to anybody. Any other way is completely mystifying. It's so obvious.

Also: hello, everybody.

Dan Smith
(DCSmith)
Against PayPal on 01/14/2012 13:33:28 MST Print View

Under the PayPal terms of service, as a seller, you have to ship goods within 10 days of payment receipt or PayPal can cancel your account and freeze your funds for 90-180 days. You have to provide proof to PayPal that the items shipped. PayPal isn't a bank and plays by their own set of rules. While its convenient, PayPal has the worst custer service in the business should you need help.

Clayton Mauritzen
(GlacierRambler) - M

Locale: NW Montana
Re: Against PayPal on 01/14/2012 17:33:30 MST Print View

Not to take this thread drift too far, the best customer service experience (excluding REI--can't beat their 100% guarantee), was with PayPal. No need for details here other than being treated well and like a real human being.

If you feel really strongly, send Bender a few emails to get a phone call and explain your frustrations with his business model. It's a lot better than initiating a PayPal dispute.

Edited by GlacierRambler on 01/14/2012 17:36:21 MST.

Kyle Meyer
(kylemeyer) - M

Locale: Portland, OR
Re: Re: Kooka Bay on 01/14/2012 17:47:46 MST Print View

To everyone arguing that Bender produces a product and therefore should not be responsible for timely communication with his paying customers—you're insane. These threads pop up about Kookabay every couple months and it's frustrating to see. I wouldn't recommend his pads to anyone solely based on the way he treats people.

And yes, this is him intentionally treating his customers poorly. Even the busiest people on earth can send 20 emails a day. These threads are a result of him choosing not to respond to emails.

Michael L
(mpl_35) - MLife

Locale: The Palouse
Re: Re: Re: Kooka Bay on 01/14/2012 18:55:20 MST Print View

Reading comprehension. Bender/=amazon. Amazon is a stupid comparison


As you mention, these threads pop up every few months. So you easily knew what you were getting into. So please don't act surprised and complain kooka Bay isn't as good as Amazon.

Robert Carver
(Rcarver) - MLife

Locale: Southeast TN
John on 01/14/2012 19:11:59 MST Print View

I had read on this forum before that Lightheart sourced some of their production to China.

Jon Foro
(fjoro) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Kookabender. on 01/14/2012 20:21:12 MST Print View

"Bender/=amazon. Amazon is a stupid comparison."

No, it isn't (though your point stands: "Don't shop with someone with a documented, terrible record. Duh."). The nut of it is that people won't buy your stuff if you treat them badly, regardless of scale. In 1995, there weren't tens of millions of people lining up to send money through Internet tubes, and justifiably so. Amazon built trust, and consequently its business--all the infrastructure came after. The secondary point is that people seem to want him to succeed, and they're mystified why he seems determined to drive them away. It seems insane.

"I had read on this forum before that Lightheart sourced some of their production to China."

Their standard Solo tents, I think. Any custom orders are produced here.

Robert Perkins
(rp3957) - M

Locale: The Sierras
Kooka Bay on 01/14/2012 20:44:19 MST Print View

This is amazing that this kind of customer service is still happening with Kookabay. I gave him a second chance last year on a pad, and did receive a pad, but in the process of Benders poor communication skills and my impatience I got a pad that was 'overkill' for what I needed in weight and r-value. I sold it off and picked up a Synmat UL7 and haven't looked back. If it were me, I would get my money refunded and move on to a different pad, there are many better options now, for less money, IMO.

Kooka Bay has been the only 'cottage' manf. that I have had this problem with. I have had SUPERB customer service from MLD, Z-Packs, and Zimmer Built Packs, so the excuse of being a one-man shop doesn't 'wash' with me!

"And yes, this is him intentionally treating his customers poorly. Even the busiest people on earth can send 20 emails a day. These threads are a result of him choosing not to respond to emails." Kyle, I agree with this sentiment %100!

Edited by rp3957 on 01/14/2012 20:50:22 MST.

Michael L
(mpl_35) - MLife

Locale: The Palouse
Re: Kookabender. on 01/14/2012 23:16:08 MST Print View

"No, it isn't (though your point stands: "Don't shop with someone with a documented, terrible record. Duh."). The nut of it is that people won't buy your stuff if you treat them badly, regardless of scale. In 1995, there weren't tens of millions of people lining up to send money through Internet tubes, and justifiably so. Amazon built trust, and consequently its business--all the infrastructure came after. "

I guess we will have to disagree. One is a manufacturer. The other is a reseller. One is a one man job that is secondary to his education. The other even at the beginning was started by a hedge fund manager and had employees and did 1/2 million dollars in its first year.

About the only thing in common is that they use the Internet to sell stuff

Dirk Rabdau
(dirk9827) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Kookabender on 01/14/2012 23:51:48 MST Print View

Well, to turn this on the head. Let's compare Amazon to the treatment I got to the folks from Trail Designs. I bought something from Amazon. I received it in a couple of days (*NICE*). And I got an automated email a couple of weeks later asking me to "rate" my purchasing experience on their website.

The Trail Designs folks took it several steps further. I went to their website and ordered a sidewinder. On the order form, I mentioned I enjoyed the Caldera Cone. I received an email from the owners thanking me for the repeat business and asking some specific questions on how I thought the Caldera Cone could be improved. We proceeded to exchange several emails. I shared my experiences and they shared some of their product ideas, discussed proposed design changes and generally made me feel that my opinion is valued. They were genuinely interested in my feedback. Several days later I received the Sidewinder in the mail, as promised.

Thus, I would like Amazon.com to be more like Trail Designs...

Rather than comparing the small guy to Amazon.com, perhaps it would be more accurate to state that consumers have heightened expectations when it comes to customer service because of the customer-friendly efforts of Amazon.com / Apple / and other retailers. Thus, companies that ignore customer satisfaction and communication do so at their own peril.

Edited by dirk9827 on 01/15/2012 03:56:16 MST.

Jon Foro
(fjoro) - MLife

Locale: PNW
We actually don't disagree. on 01/15/2012 10:03:26 MST Print View

I guess we will have to disagree ... About the only thing in common is that they use the Internet to sell stuff."

We're just talking about different things. What they have in common is that they both manage direct relationships with customers, and one seems to value those relationships much more than the other (this may not be literally true, but that's the effect). Here, size doesn't matter: TD and LightHeart take advantage of their cottage-scale to create personalized transactions and happy customers.

John Vance
(Servingko) - F

Locale: Intermountain West
Kookabay on 01/15/2012 10:47:29 MST Print View

I have a pad and pillow from him that I like and the quality is great, but the process of purchasing leaves a bit to be desired. I wanted another pad from him this past year but after multiple emails and no response, I bought an Exped ul7 and just recently a Neo All Season.

This may be a situation where the "bigger" boys may fill a niche that the cottage guy isn't, namely customer service and product availability.

With the Exped UL down mat coming and the AllSeason here, Kookabay sales may slow to the point that there is time for email communication. In tha mean time, I have a 24"x60"x3.5" R6 pad I might part with if someone can't wait.

Jim Colten
(jcolten)

Locale: MN
Re: Kookabay on 01/15/2012 13:21:28 MST Print View

True, the Kookabay purchase experience is poor these days. True, folks like Zpacks and Tarptent are at the other end of that spectrum. I enjoy using products from all of them.

But, having decided that I wanted a not too heavy and somewhat custom DAM well in advance of when I needed it (end of last winter) and also having read tales of slow response from Kookabay I simply started the purchase process in early summer.

Waiting was frustrating, slow response to contacts was too. But I ended up with a 24oz 24x72 R9 DAM well before winter. It was simply a matter of recognizing the facts of the situation I was gonna have to deal with and accounting for them in my planning.

So yes, Kooka is not the place for impulse purchases. But some things are worth waiting for. I can only hope that he can get his act together so more gear geeks have the pleasure of using his products.

BTW, the purchase process was not nearly as frustrating as this snow drought we're experiencing!

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Kookabay on 01/15/2012 14:09:58 MST Print View

I bought a 1 oz pillow last year, but it was in stock.

Here is the problem with the start-up cottage manufacturers. They can design and construct a good product, but they do not know how to run a business. Some educate themselves before or immediately after, and others learn the hard way, thought the real-world process of hard knocks. Longevity depends upon good customer service at a minimum, and great for long term success. And this customer service must extend beyond the purchase experience to include after sales support. Also you cannot order a product if it is not in stock, such as Gossamer Gear. Some companies do a good job during the ordering process, drop out of sight, but deliver on time. So here is my experience and I will rank them performance and then sub-ranked by groups.

TOP TIER
1. McHale, on-going communication every step of the way. The best of the best.
2. ZPacks, ongoing communication... some products in stock.
3. Tim Marshall, ongoing communication.

SECOND TIER
1. Tarp Tents, in stock and good communication.
2. Gossamer Gear, in stock and good communication.
3. ULA (Frankel era), most in stock, out of stock delivered on time.

THIRD TIER
1. Nunatak, custom built, good ordering experience, on time with little communication.
2. MLD, some in stock, custom built good ordering, on time with little communication.
3. Six Moons, some in stock, custom built good ordering, on time with little communication.

Good personal buying experience with all above. Also with some of them I indicated I was in no hurry. Those companies that have a reputation of poor communication and late delivery I do not do business with. I can get a comparable product from someone else... and if it costs a little more, the service is worth the additional expense.

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: Melbourne
Kooka Bay on 01/15/2012 15:11:41 MST Print View

Apple

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-01-13/apple-opens-suppliers-doors-to-labor-group-after-foxconn-worker-suicides.html
"Apple also discovered at least 90 factories with records showing workers were exceeding its maximum of 60 hours a week and at least one day of rest per seven days of work. The company found violations of anti-discrimination rules for workers who were pregnant or had hepatitis B. Apple said it made the suppliers end the discriminatory screenings. "

(Apple getes its bits from about 156 factories...)

,Amazon :

http://www.mcall.com/news/local/mc-allentown-amazon-complaints-20110917,0,7937001,full.story

So there is a cost attached to that "love"

Would you work like that if you had a choice ?

This has really nothing to do with Bender .
My point is that if we take into consideration how we get those shiny toys and cheap prices from those big guys, we may make some allowances for the little guys...
Franco
Franco

Jason Elsworth
(jephoto) - M

Locale: New Zealand
Kooka Bay on 01/15/2012 15:26:01 MST Print View

I personally had a good experience with Kooka Bay. However, I was prepared to make some allowances for him being a one man band. I do agree though that he could be better at answering emails. Ben at Goosefeet is also a one man operation, but I have found his cutomer servcie to be much better. Generally, with one recent exception, I have had good experiences dealing with the Cottage Industry and I prefer to buy from them, as opposed to larger companies where possible.

Although I haven't purchased from them I have been very impressed at how Katabatic Gear have had a high quality product, generally in stock, and offered, by most accounts, excellent customer service.

Ron D
(dillonr) - MLife

Locale: Colorado
Re: Kooka Bay Defense on 01/15/2012 16:10:53 MST Print View

My personal experience with Kooka Bay has been excellent but I can understand the frustration of others with poor communication. But I'd also keep it in perspective, Bender makes an excellent product, he's willing to customize and some products like his Apex insulated mat are unique. You may have a short period of frustration up front but to me it's worth it to have a key part of my sleeping system comfortable, dependable and relatively lightweight for years. It's short term vs long term gratification.
Ron

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
The Harsh Reality on 01/15/2012 18:06:07 MST Print View

Part of my job is helping organizations put processes in place to deliver outstanding customer experiences.

In most retail businesses Completely Satisfied customers become advocates of the retailer. And in many segments the customer loyalty (repurchase rate) can be as high as 90%.

Very Satisfied and Satisfied customer retention rates drop to around 10%. How can that be, you might ask? Because these two types of customers are telling you that you met their minimum expectations, and they are easily switched to a competitor.

So instead of customers giving the company some 'slack,' the companies better wake up and provide outstanding service if they want to remain viable over the long haul.

And now you know why I rave about a couple of companies... their product AND service are outstanding.

Jon Foro
(fjoro) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Franco: on 01/15/2012 19:37:17 MST Print View

"My point is that if we take into consideration how we get those shiny toys and cheap prices from those big guys, we may make some allowances for the little guys..."

Of course. I don't think anyone (or many) here expects the same prices, speed, and convenience that Apple/Amazon/Wal-Mart al scale allows. In dealing cottage, allowances are built-in. But what one may reasonably expect is an e-mail explaining why delivery may be late, especially if money has traded hands.

John Thompson
(leebob) - F
Kooka Bay pads on 01/17/2012 19:20:05 MST Print View

Guys,

We've gotten WAY off topic. Here's the situation. I sent an inquiry to Bender about making an air-mat to my specifications and he promptly responded with details, costs, and lead time. I promptly remitted money which was delivered...the delivery method of the money is of no consequence and neither is the size of his operation...the money has been delivered...period.

I have requested a refund directly from Bender because of his failure to deliver ANYTHING (not even a response). Although it may sound uncaring and unsympathetic I don't give a crap about comparisons to Amazon, Apple, or anything else, either...that has nothing at all to do with this situation.

He has the money and I have nothing.