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Kooka Bay
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Ben H.
(bzhayes) - F

Locale: So. California
someone should let bender know about this thread on 01/18/2012 16:38:45 MST Print View

It sounds like some of you have a good relationship with Bender... if you do, you should let him know about this thread. He is really skirting on the edge of destroying his business and that would be shame because as I understand it, he has a great product. Read the POE customer relations thread and see how viral these things can get. In this day and age, customer service is very important, because bad customer service experiences can get easily communicated to potential buyers. I certainly had been planning on purchasing a kookabay pad when my economics made sense, but based on this thread I will hold off until bender gets things in order. Many people have said he is a good guy, so I will give him the benefit of the doubt that he just got overwhelmed. But he has to make things right before I will ever consider buying a pad from him.

John Thompson
(leebob) - F
Kooka Bay is just more vapor-ware on 02/06/2012 20:36:13 MST Print View


Just an update on my attempt to purchase an air mattress from the elusive Bender...

I've emailed him repeatedly both through his contact page and directly at and I've received nothing...not so much as a peep.

I have repeatedly asked for either the product for which I paid or a refund. I have received neither. Now that I own a new Thermarest Neo-air, I really don't need anything but a refund from this guy.

Since Bender is a life member here at Backpackinglight, maybe he'll read this sad tale and honor his part of the bargain in some way...

This same thing happened to me with Big Sky a few years ago...although I finally got a refund after a few months of excuses...

I guess all of this just means I'm a sucker...but you don't need to be.

mike curiak

Locale: Western Colorado
Huh. on 02/13/2012 23:46:59 MST Print View

I'm glad I checked in here, though I didn't expect all of the OT bickering.

I ordered and paid for a Kooka pad back in October. Bender told me it'd be 7-8 weeks.

After ~10 weeks I sent an email and contact form through his site. No response to either. Figured it was the holidays and I'd give him the benefit of the doubt.

Last week I tried to contact him again, still with no response. Can't think of a reason to give him the benefit of the doubt after 4 months with zero communication and no pad to show for it.

I own and run a small business and I understand that things can spiral out of control quickly. I don't expect him to perform miracles or ship product if he's somehow busted up. And that's what I came here looking for--some tale of woe that would explain his lack of response.

Has anyone actually spoken to him or heard from him to know that he's alive/OK?

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Huh. on 02/14/2012 00:36:32 MST Print View

He hasn't posted here in over 3 months. Looks like PayPal shut down his shopping cart too. Bad news for those you paid for items and did not receive them.

david delabaere

Locale: Northern VA
Re: Re: Huh. on 02/14/2012 11:06:39 MST Print View

That's a real shame.
It's events like these that does make me reluctant at times to order a product from these kinds of outfits (Though I was lucky enough to get a Kooka Bay pad).

One sentence could go a long way...

Travis Butler
sounds similar on 02/14/2012 11:30:08 MST Print View

Anyone ever heard of the name Matt Chester? Sure is similar. Good luck to those that have already ordered from him. Hope you get your issue resolved.

I try my best to support small shops. Revelate Gear, wheels from Mr. Curiak up above, Tee Wa quilts, bike frame from a local guy...but it's always a risk for me. I've almost always been totally satisfied with the product and will continue to support small shops but it IS a risk with my hard earned cash.

John Thompson
(leebob) - F
Kooka Bay on 02/15/2012 16:04:55 MST Print View

Well, I know his real name now (though it seems that he doesn't have a phone) and it sounds like there was some intentional theft since he's done this to other people and did it BEFORE emailing me telling me about this wonderful bit of vapor-ware he could make me. I called Paypal to tell them about this guy so, at least it sounds like he can't do this to other folks. Now I have to go through my credit card company to stop payment since I'm outside the (45) day PayPal window.

Misery loves company (though I really wish that none of this had happened to anyone else). The guy doesn't seem to care about the only thing that really matters when you come right to the crux of things...his word.

Sorry for the sermon, folks...

John Vance
(Servingko) - F

Locale: Intermountain West
Sorry to hear this on 02/15/2012 16:23:36 MST Print View

Bummer for all involved....

Bob Bankhead
(wandering_bob) - MLife

Locale: Oregon, USA
Kooka Bay on 02/15/2012 16:52:50 MST Print View

Ever bother to consider he may have died? With a one man business, there's no one to pick up the slack.

It's only one of many possibile reasons for the lack of contact. The internet is limited to earthly addresses.

Kier Selinsky
(Kieran) - F

Locale: Seattle, WA
Re: Sorry to hear this on 02/15/2012 16:58:02 MST Print View

Big time bummer... I was gonna finally order some pillows from him. For what it's worth, I can only imagine something's gone quite wrong if not physically then at least emotionally/stress. I've had a few offline conversations with him and even had his home address at one point (we used to be practically neighbors), so he really didn't strike me as the type to cut and run like this. I never met with him face to face, but this is really surprising.

...and no, don't ask for his address. I already checked and I don't have it anymore.

Jeffs Eleven
(WoodenWizard) - F

Locale: Greater Mt Tabor
Re: Re: Sorry to hear this on 02/15/2012 17:28:11 MST Print View

I sent my pad back to have one of the new valves put on. Sent it the day after xmas. Haven't heard anything since.

I wonder if its just chillin on his front porch, or what? Yep, thats my $250 pad... chillin.

It sucks too, cause that thing was AWESOME.

For some reason I'm more curious than pi$$ed.

Surely there is a legit reason he fell off the earth... right?!?

Edit- I wanted to +1 Travis's post below me, and say that I'm more upset that I had potentially the baddest 2 person backpacking pad in the world- but now I don't. :(

Edited by WoodenWizard on 02/15/2012 17:52:00 MST.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Re: Sorry to hear this on 02/15/2012 17:36:07 MST Print View

This is really too bad. I honestly hope he's ok, and it's a shame some people are left without money or product.

I began dealing with Bender a few years ago and was one of the first people to get a DAM with the 30D material. I ended up ordering a few more pads from him and he was always on the ball and nice to deal with. Once he upgraded his valve and came up with a way to prevent down migration between the baffles, he went so far as to upgrade my old pads for free. I'm still using these pads and have never had an issue--quality was really good.

He never came across as the swindling type, and until we find out otherwise, I'm inclined to believe something happened that was out of his control.

In any case, the entire situation is sad.

Jolly Green Giant
(regultr) - MLife

Re: Re: Re: Sorry to hear this on 02/16/2012 06:57:28 MST Print View

I've already mentioned that I'm in the same boat. Had a great Taperlite, the first inflatable that I could actually sleep on, but the value never worked right and Bender was supposed to replace it....back in Sept/Nov. Haven't heard a peep since.

Since everything else has already been discussed, how about the next obvious topic: Is there anyone else who could manufacturer custom inflatables other than perhaps Stephenson?

Edited by regultr on 02/16/2012 07:00:20 MST.

Ben Smith
(goosefeet) - MLife

Locale: Georgia
Re: Re: Re: Re: Sorry to hear this on 02/16/2012 07:22:45 MST Print View


I've thought about doing some of this, but I haven't figured out the best equipment to use to do it properly. I may eventually start at some point...

Jolly Green Giant
(regultr) - MLife

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Sorry to hear this on 02/16/2012 08:29:07 MST Print View

Ben - You know you have my vote.

Kier Selinsky
(Kieran) - F

Locale: Seattle, WA
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Sorry to hear this on 02/16/2012 08:40:29 MST Print View

Ben - if you dig through Bender's old posts, he openly discussed a lot of his methods and (I believe) equipment

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: Re: Sorry to hear this on 02/16/2012 09:35:14 MST Print View

I'm with Travis on this. I simply don't believe Bender has intentionally defrauded anyone. Something has happened, and unfortunately, we don't have the means to find out.

Clayton Mauritzen
(GlacierRambler) - F

Locale: NW Montana
Re: Re: Re: Re: Sorry to hear this on 02/16/2012 09:48:31 MST Print View

I agree with Doug and Travis. When I ordered the pad from Bender, he was well behind his estimated time, but the pad did come in, right around the first of the year. I never got the sense that he was defrauding people. I mean who makes unique, quality lightweight backpacking mattresses, and--once he gets his reputation up and gets reviewed in the SOTM report--drops off the face of the planet just to keep everyone's money? There are much better scams.

Something has happened, and it's really unfortunate for everyone involved, Bender and his customers. I hope he's in a place to get things back together and make amends. He has been a valuable part of this community.

Chad Anderson

Locale: N. California
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Sorry to hear this on 02/16/2012 10:29:00 MST Print View

This is too bad. I wanted to buy a pad from him.

However, the website does leave much to be desired, especially in terms of contact information. Most of the cottage names around here have prominently displayed contact/owner information. Has anyone tried the whois lookup for the domain name? There is a name and number listed.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Kooka Bay on 02/16/2012 11:47:00 MST Print View

I agree with Doug, Travis and Clayton. Something has happened--illness? accident? serious family issues? fire? His website simply says "closed for the holidays." From the dealings I've had, I definitely don't believe the accusations of fraud. Something beyond his control has gone seriously wrong!

Edited by hikinggranny on 02/16/2012 11:48:57 MST.