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Vincent Krische
(vkrische)
Trailstar MLD Impressions on 05/25/2012 14:22:35 MDT Print View

I received my yellow trailstar 8 weeks after ordering which was 2 weeks sooner than I expected. It showed up with a round patch about the size of a quarter on one of the panels near the bottom, covering a small tear.

When I ordered I had never dealt with a cottage manufacturer, and didn’t know what to expect from the experience. I started to get an idea after sending an email to which I never received a reply, and after receiving the trailstar I am less than impressed with MLD.

I realize that I am ordering specialty gear but I assume a reasonable amount of follow through and quality is built into the price. For example the superlight bivy is in the ballpark as far as price, but the bristlecone bivy from Katabatic is the same weight (my superlight is 7.5oz not 7), $20 less, and what matters far more is backed with great customer service.

I am not totally bagging on MLD, they have some great items that really show the ingenuity of small businesses. After paying plenty, waiting forever, and receiving an item that is not quite what I ordered, I think being a little frustrated is understandable.

If I sent MLD an email stating my dissatisfaction with the patch hole on my brand new trailstar I am not sure I would get a response. If I sent them a message linking them to this post I am pretty sure I would, that is the power of BPL and having contact with a large part of their target market. It reaches a point, however, where I feel like I have to muscle them into giving me what I ordered. The fact is, if they read this post and wanted to send me a replacement I would decline, because I feel that it detracts from my point.

Is a trailstar with a small patched hole just as usable as one without? Yes, but it still feels like a bait and switch. How long does cutting a new panel take? How much does it cost? I can’t imagine the answer to either question is “lots”, so then why did it happen? I am guessing for the same reason my email went unanswered.

Saying “patch it, most people don’t say anything, and if they do we’ll replace it” is not an attitude that I appreciate. If you want to sell ‘stars with a patched panel, offer a discount, otherwise give me what I paid and waited for.

Resolution Edit:

Ron,

Thank you for post. I understand now that I received a mis-shipment. Given the circumstances I think my initial impressions to be justified, except for one. Until the end I phrased my frustration in a reasonably objective way, but the last paragraph became a condemnation of your assumed intentions which was, as most judgements are, incorrect.

Given that fact I am thankful for your patient response. No further action is required in order to make it right, I am happy with my Trailstar and I am sure it will perform wonderfully. I can almost guarantee that due to your excellent customer service I will return when I save enough for a solo tarp.

Regards,
Vince

Note:
Since this post appeared in your google search, and since I do not want it to reflect poorly on your company I plan on editing the original post to include my final words and to convey to anyone who reads it, my complete satisfaction.

Edited by vkrische on 05/30/2012 17:40:58 MDT.

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: Trailstar MLD Impressions on 05/25/2012 14:42:19 MDT Print View

Hi VIncent,

You are most definitely in your rights to be frustrated, even angry. When you order and pay for a new item, what you should be getting is a perfectly new item, without flaws. There should not be a patch on the panel, no matter how useable. If Ron wanted to ask you to accept the patch, he should have contacted you and told you about it, and then, if you accepted, gave you a discount. If you didn't accept it (after all you are paying a premium), he should have immediately offered you another version, flawless, without making you wait any longer.

But it's very strange. Ron almost always gives fantastic customer service... including going out of his way to add extras for causing you inconvenience. I've never had anything less than stellar service, and I've not heard of anyone else who has had a bad experience. It is very unusual for him not to communicate promptly, too.

It could just be the amount of emails he is getting at this time of the year. Maybe he is having a hard time catching up? I'd try again, plus possibly leave a message on his Facebook page. The best would probably be to call him (if you live in the States... I know how expensive calling from outside the States can be).

I hope things get worked out.

Richard Scruggs
(JRScruggs) - MLife

Locale: Oregon
Re: Trailstar MLD Impressions on 05/25/2012 15:10:07 MDT Print View

From your description, appears that you had not yet called or emailed Ron about the patch -- at least not as of when you posted your comment.

Is that correct?

First item I ordered from MLD (several years ago) was a bug bivy. When it arrived, I saw that it looked a "bit" shorter than described on the website.

And sure enough, as anyone who's tried to get into a "way-too-short" of a bivy would know, it just wasn't going to work out.

A quick check with my tape measure showed that it was in fact the bivy, not me, that had a problem.

Ron responded immediately when I brought the difference to his attention. He had me send the bivy back to MLD while he sent me a replacement -- all at his own expense. There was no delay or hassle at all. The replacement fit great!

Have since then ordered many other things from MLD, including shelters, and always with great communication and no problems at all.

Would wish you luck, but somehow I don't think you'll find that you'll need it once you contact Ron about the issue (assuming you haven't done so yet).

Edited by JRScruggs on 05/25/2012 15:14:31 MDT.

Scott Simcox
(Simco) - F

Locale: Nashville
Re: Trailstar MLD Impressions on 05/25/2012 15:10:24 MDT Print View

That's unfortunate. However, I wonder if a better choice would have been to try contacting him about this problem instead of assuming it wouldn't work.
Of course, if you had contacted him and he offered you a replacement, you say you wouldn't even want it...so I guess speaking to him would just be a waste of time for both of you.

Stephen Barber
(grampa) - MLife

Locale: SoCal
Very unusual on 05/25/2012 15:40:31 MDT Print View

This seems very out of character for Ron and MLD. You should definitely call them and let them make it right. Best if you had done so before venting in public.

Personally I have had nothing but top notch customer service from Ron and crew.

todd harper
(funnymoney) - MLife

Locale: Sunshine State
Re: Trailstar MLD Impressions on 05/25/2012 15:53:58 MDT Print View

I agree with most all of the above.

I'm sorry you got a 2nd of a "new" product. That said, I've seen so many positives from Ron's customers that my hunch is MLD inadvertently shipped you a repaired Trailstar.

Good luck (I'm sure you won't need it if you contact Ron), and if you didn't contact him about the problem prior to posting this, (not to be rude) then you should have. I know you mention him not responding to an earlier email, but I'd give 'em a chance - sometimes things happen w/email.

Todd

spelt !
(spelt) - F

Locale: SW/C PA
Re: Re: Trailstar MLD Impressions on 05/25/2012 16:03:48 MDT Print View

Am I reading correctly that your first action as a dissatisfied customer was NOT to contact MLD and give them the opportunity to make it right, but instead to post here and complain about it?

If the situation is as you say, MLD screwed up. However, I have little sympathy for someone who has the time to compose a multi-paragraph post bagging on the customer service of a company that has a reputation for stellar customer service, but who couldn't be bothered to actually contact said company for customer service when customer service is clearly called for. What do you want out of this? An apology, a refund, a new trailstar, or just to vent your spleen?

Darren M.
(dmacdaddy)

Locale: West
MLD on 05/25/2012 16:28:35 MDT Print View

Tough crowd. Point is, no company or person is perfect...mistakes happen. Top notch customer service is only as good as the last transaction. As a customer, If you don't get a response via email, try a different route. The phone number is clearly stated on the MLD's website. 540-588-1721 M-F. This is a small company, as you know. They don't have 24/7 overseas customer care centers answering emails and phones. Call Ron on Tuesday and get an answer. I'm confident you'll get a solution. It's really not that difficult.

Good Luck.

Edited by dmacdaddy on 05/25/2012 16:29:32 MDT.

Vincent Krische
(vkrische)
reply on 05/25/2012 16:43:07 MDT Print View

@ scott:
" I started to get an idea after sending an email to which I never received a reply...Is a trailstar with a small patched hole just as usable as one without? Yes, but it still feels like a bait and switch."


@ chaff... I mean, spelt:

"I started to get an idea after sending an email to which I never received a reply...I am not totally bagging on MLD, they have some great items that really show the ingenuity of small businesses...It reaches a point, however, where I feel like I have to muscle them into giving me what I ordered."

savvy?

spelt !
(spelt) - F

Locale: SW/C PA
Re: reply on 05/25/2012 17:13:30 MDT Print View

savvy?

Given that you say later in the post "If I sent MLD an email stating my dissatisfaction--", it is not at all clear whether the email you did send was before or after you received your order. And taking the time to send a single followup email doesn't qualify as "muscling" anything. You're overreacting. MLD is not a telecommunications company and Ron is not reading this thread twirling his mustache and chuckling evilly at how he screwed you over. If you actually want recompense, then take the standard steps to get it. If you just want to kvetch, congratulations, you've done it.

Ron D
(dillonr) - MLife

Locale: Colorado
Re: Trailstar MLD Impressions on 05/25/2012 19:18:38 MDT Print View

Ron Bell was at Trail Days and is probably just getting back and catching up on his emails now.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Re: Trailstar MLD Impressions on 05/26/2012 00:03:43 MDT Print View

>Ron Bell was at Trail Days and is probably just getting back and catching up on his emails now.

Oh snap!


Yeah, MLD has always been good. With everything. Rare fluke you got sent an item with a defect.

Donna C
(leadfoot) - M

Locale: Middle Virginia
Re: Re: Re: Trailstar MLD Impressions on 05/26/2012 06:36:26 MDT Print View

If I were you, I would call because Ron will be with Skurka on his Ultimate backpacking trip here in Virginia early June.

He may have been at Trail Days when the patch took place by one of his stitchers and they just sent it out. Just give Ron a chance to explain things first. When I purchased the Solomid, he helped me with the set up...and after I decided it didn't work for me, he agreed to let me return it, even though his policy says otherwise.

Edited by leadfoot on 05/26/2012 06:49:55 MDT.

Ron Bell
(mountainlaureldesigns) - F - M

Locale: USA
Re: Hi on 05/27/2012 23:43:30 MDT Print View

Hi Vincent.

We are sorry you were not satisfied and we always stand ready to help you however you would like. We can understand your frustration. Just contact us and we can help!

It's well after midnight right now in VA; just got back from a short Memorial holiday weekend with the kids in the woods and having just worked through 89 emails I'll keep it short.

It sounds like a mis-shipment. -One with a small patch slated for the seconds or free FB next-year-special-event-fun-box got switched with a new one for the shipments box after they were in stuff sacks - nothing more elaborate going on there. A simple shipping mistake.

Since I have not heard from Vincent directly via any of the many official MLD phone, FB, message, online or email channels about this I am not sure what he would like us to do to make it right but we would like that chance!

- I'll be back in the shop tomorrow.

- FYI - spotted this post on the google search - much appreciated if more replies could hold at least until we hear from Vincent.

Vincent Krische
(vkrische)
reply on 05/30/2012 17:39:44 MDT Print View

Ron,

Thank you for post. I understand now that I received a mis-shipment. Given the circumstances I think my initial impressions to be justified, except for one. Until the end I phrased my frustration in a reasonably objective way, but the last paragraph became a condemnation of your assumed intentions which was, as most judgements are, incorrect.

Given that fact I am thankful for your patient response. No further action is required in order to make it right, I am happy with my Trailstar and I am sure it will perform wonderfully. I can almost guarantee that due to your excellent customer service I will return when I save enough for a solo tarp.

Regards,
Vince

Note:
Since this post appeared in your google search, and since I do not want it to reflect poorly on your company I plan on editing the original post to include my final words and to convey to anyone who reads it, my complete satisfaction.

JD Schaefer
(JDRower) - MLife

Locale: North Carolina
Trailstar MLD Impressions on 06/09/2012 12:07:37 MDT Print View

4-years ago I bought a Prophet pack from MLD. The belt wouldn't stay cinched. I saw Ron at Trail days and showed him. Within 5-days I had a wider belt that did the job. When I saw Ron at Trail Days last month I was sure to buy from him knowing customer satisfaction would not be a problem.
JD Schaefer
Raleigh

Brandon Vidrine
(bvidrine82)
MLD impressions on 08/28/2012 17:05:05 MDT Print View

Everything I have purchased from Ron (duomid, solomid, innernets for both, various small items, bug bivy, soul bivy, and quilt) is of impeccable quality; I have never had a problem reaching Ron for questions regarding gear. I would recommend MLD without reservation.