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Very unpleasant experience with Six Moon Design (SMD)
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Josh Brock

Locale: Outside
Re: SMD Disappointment - A case of benefit without commitment. on 05/29/2013 18:01:28 MDT Print View

Hmmm not the response I was thinking would be posted by Ron.. Especially over such a small sum of money. And having read all the dialog between the two parties(which ran is not contesting) it would be my understanding that I was getting a refund for the total amount regardless of whether or not the future purchase was going to take place.

" After we get the shelter in we can reimburse you for shipping costs. The shelter should fit nicely in a priority mail tyvek envelope and only weight 1 lb."

No where in that response does Brandon Moak state that this refund is contingent on Yang getting the cuben tarp.

Given the dialog I don't see Rons response as relevant to the given situation or acceptable.

"Neither party to a transaction can be obligated if the transaction is unenforceable by either party."

If you want to say that then fine but the transaction being discussed is that of the refund not the future purchase of the cuben tar. Which is why its important to either deal with all this stuff your self or stand by what your employees say as if its your own mouth saying it.

Unfortunately this thread put a bad taste I my mouth about smd and Rons response made it worse for me. I doubt I will be doing business with a cottage gear maker that wants to act like a lawyer over 20 dollars worth of shipping.

Thanks for the post Yang

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Customer Satisfaction 101 on 05/29/2013 18:06:17 MDT Print View

Win the battle with a customer and lose the war.

Some of my thoughts on the cottage industry I wrote a while back...Open Letter to the Backpacking Cottage Industry

John Abela
(JohnAbela) - MLife

Re: Re: SMD Disappointment - A case of benefit without commitment. on 05/29/2013 18:16:57 MDT Print View

So I just wanted to share this, and then I will be done.

I am by no means intending to attack the OP of this discussion. Rather I am trying to get across my feelings that this type of posts do not even (in my opinion) belong here at BPL, especially such minut issues such as this one.

Let us break this down. There are three issues that the OP brought up, and two of those three issues are really only one issue.

The first issue should not even be an issue. That issue is the defective product. If this post was about nothing more than the defective product none of this hoopla would even be taking place. Why? Because SMD did right by that issue, they replaced the defective product. I buy thousands of dollars of gear a year from mainstream and cottage companies and I on a monthly basis have to send gear back because it is defective or the order is wrong in some way. This does not dismiss any wrong doings, but SMD has done *nothing* wrong in regards to this first issue - they did right, they replaced the defective product.

SO that leaves issues #2 and #3. When it comes down to it, this is nothing more than a he-said, he-said, he-said issues... all over twenty bucks. Yeah, there have been a few times each year when I have had to pay to send one of the products I bought back to the company - it sucks, I admit it. But it does not justify me coming onto BPL and smack talking the company about it. So, keeping in mind that issues #1 is for all and intent purposes a mute issue, all of this is just over a stupid little he-said-this-and-he-said-that-and-i-said-this issue... for a lousy twenty bucks. Is BPL really the kind of place that we want to turn into a place where this kind of posts about this kind of an issue is to become? How petty of an issue is this folks. For twenty bucks you can hardly buy a weekends worth of Mountain House, or buy and have shipped a set of stakes for a shelter, or whatever. Yeah, times are tough for some folks, but (and again) the last thing I want BPL to turn into is a website for a bunch of crying about interactions between hikers and cottage companies over twenty bucks.

To me, BPL is just not the place for these "Very unpleasant experience" unless there is a very solid case to be made against the company. And in the vast majority of cases I have seen that has just never been the case - including this one, as I have herein (hopefully) presented. If SMD had not done right by replacing the defective product, ok give it some serious consideration before hitting the "post message" button. But that is just not the case here.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: Re: SMD Disappointment - A case of benefit without commitment. on 05/29/2013 18:19:47 MDT Print View

I like the Tom Peters "In Search of Excellence" approach to business-- don't just meet the customers expectations, exceed them instead. Some business folk allow themselves to become embattled and create "rules" that are counter to good customer service policy. A very small percentage of customers can be very hard to deal with, but you don't want to punish 98% of your customers with policies designed to handle the problematic 2%. Rules like, "you can't return it if it was used" taken as an absolute just paints both parties into a corner. Each issue must be taken on a case by case basis.

Online sales are always on shaky ground compared to brick and mortar transactions. Neither party has eye contact with the other and written communications can sometimes seem terse, even angry, when that may have not been the author's intention. Communication is key to keeping the customers trust and delays in communication tend to break any good will.

I am at a loss to the cost of the shipping. $21 seems steep unless it was international or perhaps that was both ways? I would have sent a UPS call tag to the customer. In many cases the cost of shipping is a minor issue compared to the time and effort to ship the item. It seems like a simple thing to the vendor who does it daily, but many people aren't used to shipping and don't know the options or have the materials to ship an item. You can't go to the post office and get a Tyvek envelope. They have Priority Flat Rate boxes only on hand; the envelopes must be ordered on line.

I'm reminded of the issue with the POE air pad where the CEO got into it with the customer on the forums here. It certainly did damage to POE's public relations and in fact, they aren't around any longer. It would have been far better to take the customer's side, override a clerk's poor decision and just send the guy a new mattress. The minute a business person gets a chip on their shoulder they lose, regardless if the customer has a valid complaint. It just ain't worth it!

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
place on 05/29/2013 18:34:05 MDT Print View

this is PRECISELY the place to bring up such issues ... we have all the BPLers cheering on certain companies, going RAH RAH RAH buy this and that and how theres great service ... you CANNOT ask to censor the problems should they arise

unless you want to turn BPL into a one stop advertising promotion where poor experiences cant be posted because certain members dont like it

as to the original situations ... small companies live and die by their customers ... make sure they are happy

its that simple ;)

Ron Moak
(rmoak) - F
Re: If you want to get legal on 05/29/2013 18:47:12 MDT Print View


Edited by rmoak on 05/29/2013 18:55:05 MDT.

David T
(DaveT) - F
SMD on 05/29/2013 18:49:59 MDT Print View

Defective product, company pays for return shipping. It's pretty simple.

And I agree with others that the OP attempted to communicate and have the valid issues addressed by the company prior to posting here. We need to hear about negative experiences (i.e. Big Sky) in addition to the usual positive experiences with cottage gear makers.

Ron Moak's response (above) and customer service in this case is sorely lacking, and suggests caution when dealing with that company.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
My experiences with SMD have been pleasant on 05/29/2013 18:52:20 MDT Print View

I, too, once received what was apparently a defective product from SMD. It was a pack, and after the second trip with it I noticed that the stitching between the pack body and extension collar was starting to unravel.

I emailed Ron about this, just for his information--it was only a few stitches and I intended to do the repair myself. To my surprise, he offered to repair it for free, even though the pack had already been used. I originally said I'd bring the pack in--I live east of Portland and Ron lives just west of Portland. I decided, however, that I'd rather ship the pack than buck the horrible traffic through downtown Portland, so I mailed the pack. I didn't even think of asking Ron to pay the shipping charges. I received the pack back a few days later, with no charge to me either for Ron's shipping it to me (I could have driven over there, after all) or for the repair. The repair has held up, too!

The return policy published on SMD's website clearly states that shipping is at the expense of the customer.
"... if for some reason your purchase from Six Moon Designs does not meet your needs, you may return any unused items within 30 days for a full refund (less shipping charges)."
It appears to me that the original offer of free return shipping, contrary to the firm's published policy, was made only because the customer ordered a replacement item. Since the customer canceled the order for the replacement, he voided that agreement. That leaves the original published return shipping policy as the default.

I urge everyone to check any vendor's website for their complete policies before ordering anything online. This is just plain common sense, along with making sure they have a phyiscal address, a working phone and that their odering site is secure. If you disagree with the vendor's return policies, don't order! Expecting instant return of emails or phone messages (I've rarely had this from big corporations, either) from a one or two person firm is extremely unrealistic. Most of these small firms have no employees to cover such things while they're gone.

No, I have nothing to do with SMD except as an extremely infrequent customer. In fact, I've bought only two items from them, one being the above-mentioned pack, still going strong after 7 years. I tried one of their tents for a year and it didn't suit my sleeping style, so I sold it. There was nothing wrong with the tent; it just didn't work out for me. The current owner loves it, although he claims he's still finding my dog's hair in it!

I do know that SMD has an outstanding reputation in the backpacking community, and it appears to me that this gentleman's problem has quite a bit to do with misunderstanding the communications and possibly taking insufficient time to check the firm's policies before ordering. Whatever your opinon as to what a firm's policy "should be," it's their standard published policy that governs the buy/sell contract.

K ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
Wording on 05/29/2013 18:53:59 MDT Print View

Seems like the problem lies in the interpretation of " does not meet your needs"

Edited for spelling.

Edited by Kat_P on 05/29/2013 18:56:24 MDT.

Willie Evenstop
(redmonk) - F

Locale: Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem
Very unpleasant experience with Six Moon Design (SMD) on 05/29/2013 19:00:32 MDT Print View

Thanks for the explanation Ron.

You explained your view well.

Your employees can not be trusted to be acting on behalf of your business. The agreements they make have no value, because you don't honor their word as the company.

Oh, and you gouge in shipping and would rather keep $20 than the word a family member gave to a customer.


Edited by redmonk on 05/29/2013 19:11:20 MDT.

Josh Brock

Locale: Outside
Re: Re: If you want to get legal on 05/29/2013 19:03:08 MDT Print View

"If someone can show me where we've broken a promise, let me know and I'll certainly make good." Ron Moak

Below is the email from your employee/family stating to expect a refund. That is a broken promise. Its in writing.

From: []
> Sent: Thursday, May 02, 2013 3:57 PM
> To: Yang Lu
> Subject: RE: Six Moon Designs: A couple flaws on my tent
> Yang,
> After we get the shelter in we can reimburse you for shipping costs.
> The shelter should fit nicely in a priority mail tyvek envelope and
> only weight 1 lb.
> Please send to
> Six Moon Designs
> 8250 SW Nimbus Ave
> Beaverton, OR 97008
> Thank you,
> Brandon Moak

Philip Marshall
(philthy) - MLife
defective products on 05/29/2013 19:05:26 MDT Print View

I'm not sure how consumer protection laws are in the US, but where there is a defective product, the manufacturer should surely pay for return shipping. In a case like this, where the tent would not be fit for purpose straight out of the box (holes in the netting meaning insects could enter), the manufacturer should try to put the consumer back in the position they were in prior to purchasing the item. I don't believe any future intention should have any bearing on this.

I can imagine numerous different scenarios where the consumer would want to make an alternative purchase (time constraints, loss of confidence in original manufacturer etc) and these should not be precluded by the loss of money on return shipping because the manufacturer sent them a dud. SMD made the mistake, not the customer (though it could increasingly be argued that the original mistake was with the customer in purchasing from SMD)!

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: If you want to get legal on 05/29/2013 19:06:02 MDT Print View

Ron, if the guy just wanted to change his mind, he should pay the shipping, but in this case you sent him a really amateur looking product and you should do the right thing and refund his money. You've blown any chances of selling him the Cuben version and created a little PR disaster for yourself here. I would be embarrassed to turn out a product like that. Geez man, the whole UL world is watching!

It's about good customer service and just plain common sense, not "promises." You can toe the line of your warranty statement all you want, but if you play absolutes it will only create ill will for your company.

Everybody in business screws up once in a while. It's how you fix your mistakes that makes the difference and you have passed up a prefect chance to be the hero. I chalk up the cost of business fixes to advertising.

David T
(DaveT) - F
poof on 05/29/2013 19:20:18 MDT Print View

And... poof! go Ron's two responses above (edited away).


Yang Lu
Re: SMD Disappointment - A case of benefit without commitment. on 05/29/2013 19:29:11 MDT Print View

"The reason that Yang didn't get a refund on the shipping for the return of his items, is really pretty simple. I believe that in both his mind and in his conversations he was attempting to merge two different and incompatible transactions into a single one."

You were right that I indeed wanted to combine the two transactions. The reason I wanted to do that was because I cared about your business and offered to buy a more expensive product from you, and wanted you to make more money. I cannot believe you think about this negatively!

Forget about the cuben thing because I will never order anything from you. Now, the refund case was pretty simple: a seller sends a defective item to a customer, and the customer wanted to get refund. So who should cover the shipping cost? At the minimum shouldn't the seller cover the return cost?

diego dean
responses on 05/29/2013 19:32:28 MDT Print View

Id really like to know what those posts by Ron said.... for my future purchasing decisions.

Willie Evenstop
(redmonk) - F

Locale: Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem
Very unpleasant experience with Six Moon Design (SMD) on 05/29/2013 19:35:12 MDT Print View

Paraphrased "He didn't like my net tent, and thought my stitching was crap. I'm emotionally damaged and upset. Screw this guy. I don't care what my kid said, I have a policy and that is that. NO shipping refunds for modified orders".


Edited by redmonk on 05/29/2013 19:35:44 MDT.

(jpovs) - F

Locale: Arrowhead
Re: responses on 05/29/2013 19:35:41 MDT Print View


Edited by jpovs on 06/15/2014 14:22:40 MDT.

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: Very unpleasant experience on 05/29/2013 19:36:45 MDT Print View

This thread was fun.

pun intended.

Philip Marshall
(philthy) - MLife
Let's hope on 05/29/2013 19:37:09 MDT Print View

Lets hope this means a refund is on its way.

This reminds me of a completely different experience I had with a small supplier of ultralight fabrics and materials - I had ordered some silnylon and was disappointed when the fabric that arrived wasn't quite the colour I had expected - I emailed to check whether the wrong colour had been sent but was told that the right colour had indeed been sent but it didn't quite match what was on the website. As a gesture of goodwill, the supplier offered to pay for the return shipping (contrary to their returns policy) from Australia back to the US! I was so impressed with the gesture that I decided not to chase it up further and would buy from them again in a heartbeat.

Given the uncertainties of purchasing goods over the web, where you have no chance to see, feel, try out the items in a physical store, it is such a reassurance purchasing from companies that have a proven track record in customer service.