Customer service shout out

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Customer service shout out

Post by Sam » Fri Aug 17, 2018 2:27 pm

Hey guys,

I'll be perfectly honest, I'm pretty lazy when it comes to altruistic acts or community service, but the relentless generosity of certain people have compelled me to act.

I'm mostly a rock climber and readers of this forum are my, sort-of, community, I guess. So it makes sense for me to share my experiences here.

I'm on a wee cycling outing at the moment, currently in West Africa. I've been going for a while now and living a cheap, nomadic life. It's not glamorous, but it has its rewards. Conditions are harsh in this part of the world: torrential rain, dust storms, salt-laden air. Gear takes a proper beating, which segues nicely into the reason for this post.

There are some nice-to-haves on any mission, and I have my fair share of those: my Kindle, a super well designed little rechargeable lamp made by Trail Boss, cheese. (The list is actually embarrassingly long so I'll stop there in case I come off as totally soft!)

But there is certain gear that is crucial to sustaining this kind of lifestyle: a good tent, a reliable headlamp, mattress and stove (other stuff too, but for the sake of space...). I've had trouble with all. In fact, my tent fly currently resembles a sad, frumpled frock because of the habit of my tent poles to periodically snap at the ends. They are now many several inches shorter than they should be due to my equally periodic lopping off of the broken bits. The result: the fly sags, the rain pools and drips, and I get wet and grumpy: an epic Mountain Hardware fail, I'm sorry to say.

Most of us would be willing to concede (although perhaps a little grudgingly) that gear failure is to be expected under extreme conditions. It is how these failures are dealt with by the agents or stores where we bought the gear that is key. And I think most would agree that in RSA, on average, we are quite fortunate to have good 'returns' service, especially in the outdoor gear sphere. But even amongst this happy group, there are some stand-outs. And in a world of shrinking margins and shirked responsibilities, they deserve a shout-out.

My little whisperlite has been through a lot. Clean burning benzine is a long forgotten dream. I burn petrol. Well, it's called petrol (or the French equivalent 'super'), but it's actually a quirky melange of whatever the refinery and/or station manager decided on for that shipment. Profit maximisation, you know. Anyway, during priming, it produces copious wispy tendrils of sooty carbon that float dreamily upwards, then blow sideways into my tent (because I cook in my open vestibule; hey, there needs to be some risk in life, right?), sticking to my sweaty skin and other possessions. Carbon deposits are also being quietly lain down inside the fuel line, at an alarming rate, it turns out.

Now I'll be the first to admit that I don't always follow the manufacturers recommended maintenance intervals. Who does? But I do try to look after my stuff, subscribing to the cliched maxim: look after your gear and it'll look after you. But life on the road is busy! I go days (even weeks) with a squeaky brake or skipping gears before I get a chance at TLC. So with my stove. I'd noticed a reduced flame intensity, and when jet needle shaking didn't solve it, the likely culprit was a clogged fuel line. But, 'Ag, I'm buggered', tomorrow...

You know where this is going... Cue me, sweating bullets, as I tug with all my pliered might at the fuel line cable. By this stage I have Googled and tried just about everything I can imagine to free cable from sheath: I've soaked (even boiled) the assembly in soapy water, freeze-thawed, banged it repeatedly on hard surfaces, wicked in oil, braced it in a vice and tugged, straightened out the copper tube to reduce friction inside. Hell, I got close to praying about the issue! But...nothing. No movement of the cable. It is stubbornly and permanently bonded to the inside of the sheath. I could've cried.

So, emergency stations! DHL can ship to BUrkina, but it must happen tomorrow if it is to arrive by the end of the week. This little self-inflicted crisis is going to cost me. Literally. I shoot off an email, winch (it's Sunday evening) and message Nicholas from Eiger Equipment, MSR stockists in CT. NIcholas knows who I am. He's helped me before, swopping out a benzine burning whisperlite for the multifuel version at cost, and forwarding on several smaller parts to me earlier in my journey, free of charge. But this is going to be the straw that breaks the camels back. I mean, a shaker needle, jet cleaner and cable are fairly modest items, but an entire fuel line assembly...I'm going to have to pay for that, I'm sure. And I deserve it! Anyway, Nicholas gets right back with the good news that they have the spare part. He even offers to research the cheapest courier option first thing Monday and report back.

A long story slightly less long, Nicholas/Eiger Equipment/MSR provide the fuel line assembly part [i]free of change[/i], substantially softening the blow of the shipping. This in spite of my stupidity at not servicing my stove sooner. And what is equally noteworthy is that this ongoing service is provided without any fanfare or request for publicity or acknowledgement. It's just...policy, it seems. This kind of after-sales customer service is pretty much unheard of these days, probably because it makes no short-term business sense. But I can tell you that it breeds serious loyalty in the long run, to brands like MSR and suppliers like Eiger Equipment.

This is long post already, but I should also mention Simon Larson and RAM Mountaineering who replaced the flawed first gen. Black Diamond Storm headlamp for the substantially more expensive newer model, also free of charge.

Thanks guys and keep it up!


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Re: Customer service shout out

Post by Forket » Fri Aug 17, 2018 4:33 pm

:salut: to good service.

I can see why you don't have time for services. Your blog must be a book by now :lol:

Peace be the journey :pirat:

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