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#82058 - 10/30/07 11:28 AM WM Has No EMail?
TomD Offline
Moderator

Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
Ok, I was going to hijack the original WM thread and thought better of it. I read the thread on WhiteBlaze (link on the orginal WM thread here) about WM and it's lack of email and this got me wondering.

The OP on WhiteBlaze seemed highly offended that WM didn't use email, so he (or she) was going to buy something else. Other WM owners seemed unconcerned. Somehow, the lack of email and an up to date website is now a sign that a company doesn't have good customer service or a good product. When did this happen?

Sure, a fancy website is nice, but ultimately meaningless. I have seen great fake websites, as well as sites owned by companies I know for a fact are little more than someone with a garage full of stuff for sale. Many people with eBay stores are like that.

A classic example is Blue Sky. Fancy website, email, nice pictures and all, but one problem-poor customer service and big delivery problems.

When I really want to find something out, I have this great device on my desk. You punch some buttons on it and then talk into it. It's amazing. I also have a little one kind of like it too. It's even more amazing-no wires at all.

What I found funny about the WhiteBlaze poster was that he/she was posting online, but said they didn't have long distance phone service. Now that is really strange.
_________________________
Don't get me started, you know how I get.

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#82059 - 10/30/07 11:36 AM Re: WM Has No EMail? [Re: TomD]
midnightsun03 Offline
member

Registered: 08/06/03
Posts: 2936
Loc: Alaska
Quote:
What I found funny about the WhiteBlaze poster was that he/she was posting online, but said they didn't have long distance phone service. Now that is really strange.
Not necessarily. Not all internet services are associated with phone service, and alot of people eschew paying extra fees for land-line phones and/or long distance. Or they may be using a friends or public computer or wi-fi at an internet cafe... lots of reasons why someone might have computer access and not long distance phone service.

MNS
_________________________
YMMV. Viewer discretion is advised.

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#82060 - 10/30/07 12:41 PM Re: WM Has No EMail? [Re: TomD]
ringtail Offline
member

Registered: 08/22/02
Posts: 2296
Loc: Colorado Rockies
Tom,

You and I are probably internet immigrants. The internet came to us late in life. My daughter is an internet native. She has never used an encyclopedia or dictionary.

I do not have long distance service on my home phone. I have tried to convince my wife to go without landline service at home. It seems to me that we are paying so that charities, politicians and surveyors can reach us.

It is a business decision whether to have a site or not. I choose not to have a site for my business. Referrals are my best clients, but yellow page clients tend to be price shoppers.

It seems the Western Mountaineering knows they make their living making high quality down products and not horsing around on the internet. I admire that type of focus.

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#82061 - 10/30/07 01:18 PM Re: WM Has No EMail? [Re: midnightsun03]
Bearpaw Offline
Moderator

Registered: 07/25/04
Posts: 1732
Loc: Tennessee
I have long-distance capability through my cell phone, but I would NEVER have a landline any more. Bellsouth has the worst customer service of any group I have ever dealt with. I would pay $75 a month for phone service and still need a slow internet service provider for dial-up. I get superfast connection with cable internet for just over $50 (dramatically faster than dial-up or DSL) and pay just over $40 for my cell phone (which I can take with me). Land lines stink........

As for no long-distance to call WM, well, any convenience sells calling cards (which I used on many long-distance hikes before I got my cell phone).
_________________________
http://www.trailjournals.com/BearpawAT99/

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#82062 - 10/30/07 01:58 PM Re: WM Has No EMail? [Re: TomD]
Heintooga Offline
member

Registered: 04/15/02
Posts: 470
Loc: GSMNP
My local WM rep says that WM prefers that customers use the retailers for customer service.
_________________________
...ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein... (Jeremiah)

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#82063 - 10/30/07 02:38 PM Re: WM Has No EMail? [Re: Heintooga]
Trailrunner Offline
member

Registered: 01/05/02
Posts: 1835
Loc: Los Angeles
Quote:
My local WM rep says that WM prefers that customers use the retailers for customer service.


That makes perfect sense to me and IMO is not a sign of poor customer service.

Eons ago I worked in a bicycle shop. It was a Schwinn dealer. When customers had problems with their bikes they contacted us, not the Schwinn factory. The factory and local distribution center really took care of their dealers and the dealers took care of the customers. At that time Schwinn bikes had a lifetime warranty and excellent customer service. The system worked.

Of course I can't vouch for the quality of WM's customer service. I'm lucky enough to own two of their bags but I've never had to use it. A few folks over on that Whiteblaze thread appear to be happy with it.

My only criticism of WM is this: If they choose to handle customer relations through dealers, they should clearly and prominently say so on their web site. Indeed, the lack of contact information on the WM site may lead some to believe that they are not interested in their customers.

I own a Honda Civic and my local dealer has excellent customer service. Just for fun I checked the Honda America corporate site. I found a phone and fax number there.

But no email <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />
_________________________
If you only travel on sunny days you will never reach your destination.*

* May not apply at certain latitudes in Canada and elsewhere.

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#82064 - 10/30/07 04:24 PM Re: WM Has No EMail? [Re: Trailrunner]
TomD Offline
Moderator

Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
I prettty much agree with all of you. Before the Internet, we used to order by mail. One great thing was sending in a mail order card from a magazine like Backpacker, then waiting for all the catalogs to show up.

When I was a kid, my dad was in the military. When we were overseas, it was a thrill to get the Sears catalog, especially at Christmas, and look at all the toys. Now people get upset when they can't get something overnight.

Phone cards are great. I use them to call friends overseas. Way cheaper than direct dial. I can call Spain for about 10 cents a minute, instead of $3 or whatever ATT or Verizon charges. Same for Australia. An incredible bargain. The best cards I have found are MCI-got one at Costco and another at Long's Drugs.
_________________________
Don't get me started, you know how I get.

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#82065 - 10/30/07 05:15 PM Re: WM Has No EMail? [Re: TomD]
Rick_D Offline
member

Registered: 01/06/02
Posts: 2802
Loc: NorCal
It helps them maintain that aire of exclusivity <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smirk.gif" alt="" />

In the inevitable comparison of WM and FF, the latter is clearly more tuned to direct and custom sales, and they're no marketing and communications champs themselves.
_________________________
--Rick

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#82066 - 10/30/07 05:24 PM Re: WM Has No EMail? [Re: ringtail]
hootyhoo Offline
member

Registered: 12/14/06
Posts: 686
Loc: Cyberspace
Is there such a thing as a cell phone that does not have free long distance. I could walk out my door and borrow a cell- phone from anyone I know to make a quickish call if I had to. I have cell phone and it has always had free long distance. whats up with that?

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#82067 - 10/30/07 05:29 PM Re: WM Has No EMail? [Re: hootyhoo]
midnightsun03 Offline
member

Registered: 08/06/03
Posts: 2936
Loc: Alaska
hooty... your long distance isn't free, it is just "pre-paid."

I got a special deal on my plan where my 500 "long distance" minutes can be out of state or in state. Without the deal the long distance is only within AK.

MNS
_________________________
YMMV. Viewer discretion is advised.

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#82068 - 10/30/07 05:37 PM Re: WM Has No EMail? [Re: midnightsun03]
Glenn Offline
member

Registered: 03/08/06
Posts: 2617
Loc: Ohio
Actually, cell phones drove the realization by phone companies that they were always in the business of selling Time, not Distance. That's why you now pay for minutes.

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#82069 - 10/30/07 05:42 PM Re: WM Has No EMail? [Re: Bearpaw]
Trailrunner Offline
member

Registered: 01/05/02
Posts: 1835
Loc: Los Angeles
I have a land line but no long distance carrier. I was paying over $10/month in fees and taxes before I even made one long distance call. Now I use my cell for short LD calls and a prepaid card for longer ones.

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#82070 - 10/30/07 06:22 PM Re: WM Has No EMail? [Re: Trailrunner]
hikerduane Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/03
Posts: 2123
Loc: Meadow Valley, CA
What's a cell phone? I have a couple devices that I stick my finger in a wheel with holes in it for a number and it goes click, click, etc., then I repeat for the next number and so on. Redial is a bear.

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#82071 - 10/30/07 11:25 PM Re: WM Has No EMail? [Re: TomD]
billk Offline
member

Registered: 08/20/03
Posts: 1196
Loc: Portland, Oregon
Quote:
Somehow, the lack of email and an up to date website is now a sign that a company doesn't have good customer service or a good product. When did this happen?


Sometime in the last 10 or 15 years. The fact is that today, if a company isn't internet savvy, they don't have good customer service. And many don't, fancy web site or not.
Many manufacturers don't want to deal directly (that is, be bothered by) the end user, sometimes for good reason, but I think it's bad business for a company like WM. Your local WM dealer probably doesn't know any more about WM gear than you or I, so when a manufacturer provides no way to contact them (like WM) or doesn't respond (Moonstone comes to mind) they're in effect saying "We don't care."

Quote:
When I really want to find something out, I have this great device on my desk. You punch some buttons on it and then talk into it. It's amazing. I also have a little one kind of like it too. It's even more amazing-no wires at all.


I used to have a better one. You just hit one button and a nice lady would connect you to almost anybody. We're just getting older, Tom <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

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#82072 - 10/31/07 12:16 AM Re: WM Has No EMail? [Re: billk]
TomD Offline
Moderator

Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
Bill, I think the last real telephone exchange went automatic not all that long ago. Sometime in the 80's maybe.

Email isn't always the best for customer service, but it can be more efficient. I still like getting someone on the phone, if you can. Now, the automated systems make that almost impossible.

A few companies still answer their phones. Voile is one-no automated system, just a guy answering the phone. It's actually hard to believe. Snow Leopard (an online store) and MSR are good too. A few minutes on the phone can be worth far more than a whole page of emails back and forth.

I can understand why some companies just want to deal with their dealers. They may not be set up to talk to customers all day or answer emails. But if that is the case, they need someone who knows about the product and can speak for the company. I don't expect anyone at REI or even a small store to know everything about every product they carry. I've worked retail-that is expecting way too much. So the company has to have some way for customers to get questions answered. Outsourcing customer service is a whole other topic. Saves money, but annoys the heck out of me most of the time.

However, sometimes you have to go to the source. I finally wrote Optimus in Sweden about problems with my Nova and got an answer back right away, after getting no help at all from their US distributors.
_________________________
Don't get me started, you know how I get.

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#82073 - 10/31/07 06:15 AM Re: WM Has No EMail? [Re: TomD]
ringtail Offline
member

Registered: 08/22/02
Posts: 2296
Loc: Colorado Rockies
A manufacturer must protect its retailers. I took a tour of the Napa Valley, but stopped at the Liquor Barn on the way back to the hotel to buy the wine. It was cheaper at the Liquor Barn than the winery. Retailers will NOT SELL a competitor's products.

Pepsi had to spin-off Pizza Hut, KFC and Taco Bell because Burger King and McDonalds would not buy soft drinks from a competitor.

If Western Mountaineering wants to move to the next level then it must discontinue its retail business. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/frown.gif" alt="" />

Western Mountaineering customers are retailers - NOT consumers. Do they provide good support to their retailer's?

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#82074 - 10/31/07 07:34 AM Re: WM Has No EMail? [Re: TomD]
sarbar Offline
member

Registered: 07/15/05
Posts: 1453
Loc: WA
We don't have long distance on our house phone. Only reason we have a phone in our house is as a backpack for when power goes out. Have the cheapest plan they will give us. If I need to, I use my cell phone to call people.

With my business I simply prefer to talk via email. I am not always home, and my "office" is a corner in our living room. I don't want people to call me at 9 pm! I have a family as well...and I like to be able to walk away from my business at dinner time.

My "packing room" for the stuff I sell is a drafting table in our second living room. So yes, I am not running some big business!

I should add that our home # is unlisted as well, and our business address is a PO Box. Usually if someone needs to talk to us, it is about book sales in large amounts, so they talk to my husband anyways....and he talks on his cell phone.

Thing about slick websites is that to compete...well you almost have to have that, if you want to look like you have a big company behind you. Myself? Well, that never bothered me - I don't care if people know it is just me <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/wink.gif" alt="" />

My last job was for a Thai importer. The customers for the most part thought we had a massive warehouse with tons of employees. Our warehouse sat on the bosses property, a massive 3 section garage..and their was usually just 3-4 of us total.

You'd be surprised though just how many business on the web are like that one - many are run by only one to a couple people.

And honestly....there were days we'd just ignore the phone! You couldn't get any work done, answering it every 15 minutes!


So yes, I feel that if you have an online presence you better answer your email, and do it promptly! It is much easier than talking on the phone....and you can multi task as well....
_________________________
Freezer Bag Cooking, Trail Cooking, Recipes, Gear and Beyond:
www.trailcooking.com

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#82075 - 01/28/08 04:27 PM Re: WM Has No EMail? [Re: Trailrunner]
Heintooga Offline
member

Registered: 04/15/02
Posts: 470
Loc: GSMNP
Quote:
Of course I can't vouch for the quality of WM's customer service.


I've had several WM's over the years and still have four. I've never needed their Customer Service either until today. I had a problem with one of their retailers that could not be worked out to my satisfaction. So I called WM and one of the owners answered the phone, listened to my problem and assured me that he would take care of it. I'm impressed!!!!
_________________________
...ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein... (Jeremiah)

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#82076 - 01/28/08 05:55 PM Re: WM Has No EMail? [Re: TomD]
kevonionia Offline
member

Registered: 04/17/06
Posts: 1322
Loc: Dallas, TX
Quote:
a fancy website is nice, but ultimately meaningless. I have seen great fake websites, as well as sites owned by companies I know for a fact are little more than someone with a garage full of stuff for sale.

Quote:
The fact is that today, if a company isn't Internet savvy, they don't have good customer service. And many don't, fancy web site or not.


But it is that lack of face-to-face dealings that has led unscrupulous Internet companies to flourish.

Example:

Many of us like to take photos while hiking. We all want a good digital camera for those pix. We shop on one of those comparison sites and there's a retailer with a really great price for a camera. (Okay, it's too great.) We take the bait and don't just "get switched," we get whipped. We get bludgeoned.

Broadway Photo comes to mind. The ultimate, surviving -- and still prospering -- unscrupulous seller on the Internet. Or one of the dozen dba's they use. You can search one of those e-opinion sites and find at least one posting within the last 24 hours by someone who has just yesterday been fleeced by them. Every horror story begins inevitably with: "I bought camera-X online from Broadway Photo and was sent an email to call them to 'verify' my order" -- and the nightmare began.

Yet years after I first heard of them they continue to be the "valued merchant" or "trusted seller" (NOTHING, I swear, could be further from the truth) with the "most favorable reviews" by those same comparison sites, which often are truly nothing more than some guy with even less than a garage-full-of-stuff to sell, he's just got a computer and his comparison site that's getting income from the scam retailers.

Which leads to this:

Are there companies -- individuals, really -- out there who who have a great lightweight backpacking product but who haven't succumbed to selling on the Internet because they don't want to be tied to the computer or phone (as Sarbar said) and yet the rest of us don't know about them? I guess they'd be locals, since how else could you have heard of or dealt with them. I'd be interested to find out if there are.

I'm into boating also, and I can think of one -- a retailer, who sells certain marine things in my town for up to half what I'd pay for at the overpriced, Internet-savvy gorilla, West Marine. Figured there might be a few left in hiking stuff, too.

(As I've said before on this forum, we should give thanks that by the very nature of hiking, there are very FEW unscrupulous merchants and manufacturers we have to be wary of. But we still drive a car to a trailhead, take photos of our hike, take drugs to relieve the foot-pain of a long-mileage day -- alas, but we are not hiking in a vacuum.)
_________________________
- kevon

(avatar: raptor, Lake Dillon)


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#82077 - 01/29/08 09:29 AM Re: WM Has No EMail? [Re: Trailrunner]
Berserker Offline
member

Registered: 05/10/04
Posts: 493
Loc: Lynchburg, VA
The recent bump in this thread reminded me that I meant to post on it a while back.

I had to use the WM customer service. I bought a bag from a dealer, and had some concerns about it. I called the dealer and they told me to directly contact WM, and gave me their number. I contacted WM, and spoke to someone there. I got the idea that they are a pretty small operation as the person who answered said that he needed to walk from the factory floor back into the office. At any rate I told him my concern, and he told me to send them the bag.

Turns out I was wrong, and they made improvements to the bag anyway (free of charge I might add) to resolve my issue. So from that one experience I can say that their customer service is excellent.

For the record I own 3 WM bags and love 'em all.

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