Ski Warranties and the Internet
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TLaHaye
January 1, 2006
Member since 02/9/2005 🔗
136 posts
I've purchased a few pair of kids' race skis online over the last year, and just before Christmas, my kid bent one of those skis training in a GS course. It appears we have no warranty coverage from several perspectives. First, there was no defect in materials or workmanship, and so far, arguments of suitability for intended purpose fall on deaf ears. I'm sorry, but a race ski shouldn't fail in a race course ... end of story. At least, not if they want me to use their ski again.

Second, I may not have purchased from an authorized dealer. I contacted the eBay merchant, who advised me to approach the manufacturer with the story that the skis were a gift, and neither the price nor the selling dealer are known to me. Well, I won't lie like that, but my local ski shop (Freestyle) agreed to contact the factory on my behalf even though I purchased the skis elsewhere.

Anyway, this isn't over yet, but I wanted to let folks know one hazard to buying gear online.

I also wanted to let folks know the value of supporting the local merchants. This accident happened at ski camp in Vermont, six days before the local racing season started. Freestyle had my kid back on skis quickly enough that he could practice on them and finish well in the first race of the season. No Internet merchant can give that kind of service.
Scott - DCSki Editor
January 1, 2006
Member since 10/10/1999 🔗
1,139 posts
Thanks for the story and words of caution. For skis, watches, and other merchandise, discounted Internet retailers are often not authorized resellers. This normally isn't a problem, but can be in the case of warranty service -- many companies will not honor warrantees unless the product was purchased through an authorized reseller.

It usually costs more money to purchase something through an authorized reseller, but you get extra benefits (not to mention guaranteed warranty service).

So how do non-authorized resellers sell items at such a low cost (and get them in the first place?) To become an authorized reseller, a manufacturer often requires a company to purchase a large inventory of product. The company may not be able to move all of that product, so they'll sell some of it at wholesale prices to third-party companies.

A company might not always volunteer in a conspicuous way that they are unauthorized resellers, so it pays to check. You can get much better prices through an unauthorized reseller, so it's a gamble. It's unfortunate that manufacturers take such a tough line on warranty service, because in most cases people don't know the difference between an authorized and unauthorized reseller and pay good money either way -- they're surprised to find out their warranty might be void.

In some cases you might be able to go back to the non-authorized reseller and see if they will honor the warranty directly.
JohnL
January 1, 2006
Member since 01/6/2000 🔗
3,518 posts
Quote:

It appears we have no warranty coverage from several perspectives. First, there was no defect in materials or workmanship, and so far, arguments of suitability for intended purpose fall on deaf ears. I'm sorry, but a race ski shouldn't fail in a race course ... end of story. At least, not if they want me to use their ski again.




I have a hard time believing that any reputable ski manufacturer wouldn't replace the skis, regardless of where they were bought. The skis were bought new, correct?

That's not to say it wouldn't take a month or so for the skis to be replaced.

The skis should have a serial number on them, so the manufacturer should know all the details about the ski. Though they may not know who the final sellar was. Nor should they really care.

Maybe I'm being naive...

How did your son bend the skis? This sounds like a good story. I've only bent one pair of skis in my life, and I got several stitches on my chain from the crash. The skis were Vokl SnoRangers (? Sno somethings...), supposedly indestructible skis.
TLaHaye
January 1, 2006
Member since 02/9/2005 🔗
136 posts
His coach, who was at Burke with him, tells me he was training on a GS course, hit a rut at a non-ideal angle, and then buried the tip in the deep snow outside the rut. He got up, skied down, and at the bottom, really noticed the badly bent ski (these are a metal sandwich GS ski). Something tells me he was a little dazed.

I tend to agree that they should be replaced, and will continue the discussion with the manufacturer, but we'll have to see. I had a car accident a while back. The car was pretty "bent" afterwards, and the repair cost the insurance company $15,000, but there really wasn't any recourse to the manufacturer.

Now, had I purchased the skis from my regular shop, they possibly would have replaced the skis for free while they argued with the manufacturer. I just don't know. I do know that the manufacturers want their gear on the feet of the hot skiers on the mountain. That's why professionals and racers get such great deals in the first place. If the manufacturer in this situation doesn't recognize that, I just won't buy their stuff anymore.

FWIW, one reason I buy race gear on the web is that it's more readily available there. I couldn't even find this particular ski available in the race specialty stores in Vermont.

Now, regarding unscrupulous Internet merchants selling high end, branded equipment, I suspect the manufacturers' only concern is the risk of alienating normal distribution channels. They want to get as much equipment out of their plants and on the slopes as possible. These were race stock skis that I'm 99.9% certain went straight from the manufacturer to the merchant to me. They were still shrink-wrapped. Who did the manufacturer think he was selling to?

Finally, if I'm out the cost of the skis, I believe they had a $400 MSRP, and I paid $122.50 plus $15 freight. Its not a huge economic loss in this situation, but I wanted others to be aware.
skier219
January 1, 2006
Member since 01/8/2005 🔗
1,318 posts
Normally with skis that have a serial number, you can deal directly with the manufacturer. If it's not too old and the damage is due to a defect, they will normally ship you a replacement within a week or so.
JohnL
January 2, 2006
Member since 01/6/2000 🔗
3,518 posts
Quote:

hit a rut at a non-ideal angle




That's an understatement! I'm always nervous about taking race skis into the bumps for that reason. Not being the total gear geek, I often don't know if there is metal in the skis or not.

Quote:

FWIW, one reason I buy race gear on the web is that it's more readily available there. I couldn't even find this particular ski available in the race specialty stores in Vermont.





That's one reason why the web is so powerful. You can aggregate local "niche" markets into a nice customer base.

Quote:

Now, regarding unscrupulous Internet merchants selling high end, branded equipment, I suspect the manufacturers' only concern is the risk of alienating normal distribution channels. They want to get as much equipment out of their plants and on the slopes as possible. These were race stock skis that I'm 99.9% certain went straight from the manufacturer to the merchant to me. They were still shrink-wrapped. Who did the manufacturer think he was selling to?

Finally, if I'm out the cost of the skis, I believe they had a $400 MSRP, and I paid $122.50 plus $15 freight. Its not a huge economic loss in this situation, but I wanted others to be aware.




Maybe I'm totally jaded, but I don't know if I'd call this Internet merchant "unscrupulous." I generally reserve that term for merchants who don't ship the product, ship the wrong product, or won't honor an advertised price. Unfortunately, there are plenty of those merchants out there. (I've never been stung myself, but several of my frequent-buyer friends have.)

If you paid $140 shipped for $400 MSRP skis (most brick and mortar retailers sell below MSRP), I don't think you were expecting top-notch service. And it sounds like you didn't get it. But at that price, you probably could have bought two sets of skis for the price of a single set at a ski shop.

But thanks for reminding us about the risks of buying at a low cost.

The real concern is whether the manufacturer will replace the skis. I agree that race skis which fail in a race course should be replaced (short of hitting a tree, etc.) Reputable manufacturers won't rely on the lowest common denominator standard of "manufacturing defect", and will replace the skis. However, a ski shop which does a lot of business with the manufacturer tends to be more convincing, i.e. they carry a big stick and don't always speak softly.
TLaHaye
January 2, 2006
Member since 02/9/2005 🔗
136 posts
Fair enough John. Unscrupulous is a strong term, and this guy delivered exactly what was ordered, quickly, and at an amazing price. If product he provides is without warranty (the response I expected) so be it. Being told to lie to the manufacturer just left a bad taste in my mouth.
jimmy
January 2, 2006
Member since 03/5/2004 🔗
2,650 posts
Quote:

Fair enough John..... Being told to lie to the manufacturer just left a bad taste in my mouth.




That's unscrupulous.

How many ways do these "bargains" get to market. Couple of my buds were looking at, new 3 years ago, still in the wrapper volkl v3 for about $170 mounted with a "notorious" internet shop. They ov3ersold the ski's, gave the money back, but who'd they buy them from? JohnL, how bout those 666's, those were a good deal, last years model?

Do the manufacturers sell these closeouts directly to the internet merchant or are these from brick and mortar shops selling off?

TLaHaye, did the bindings release?
JohnL
January 2, 2006
Member since 01/6/2000 🔗
3,518 posts
Quote:

If product he provides is without warranty (the response I expected) so be it. Being told to lie to the manufacturer just left a bad taste in my mouth.




I am assuming you are talking about the merchant's warranty, and not the manufacturer's. Not hearing the exact conversation, I'm erring on the side of giving the merchant the benefit of the doubt. (No offense meant to you.) The merchant clearly isn't providing any support (not surprising at that price) and won't win any best business awards. But at $140, what did you expect?

Independent of the distribution channel, I still say the manufacturer should honor it's warranty. There is an open issue as to whether the cause was a manufacturing defect or bad luck. A reputable manufacturer should cover both since it's the best way to keep customers loyal.

Quote:

Couple of my buds were looking at, new 3 years ago, still in the wrapper volkl v3 for about $170 mounted with a "notorious" internet shop. They ov3ersold the ski's, gave the money back, but who'd they buy them from?




This is unfortunately very common in the bargain basement world of the Net and is the type of practice I was referring to as unscrupulous.

Quote:

JohnL, how bout those 666's, those were a good deal, last years model?




I was some-what skeptical as to whether the skis would arrive, but they did. And I was billed as advertised. I'm always a bit suspicious of any deals, no matter where they're found.

I'm not counting on any support for the skis - buyer beware. But when I trash skis, there usually is some abuse on my part, so most warranties are pretty much voided. Does GS skiing through "trees" count as abuse?
TLaHaye
January 2, 2006
Member since 02/9/2005 🔗
136 posts
I'll have to ask, but believe they did. My son was uninjured (see below). We had purchased the bindings locally (Marker Jr. Comp) along with a race/riser plate, and had them calibrated at the beginning of the season (growing boy with new boots). Still, as a Type III skier, they get cranked down to prevent premature release.

As for being uninjured, he's twelve. He called from the mountain, in tears, with a bad cell phone connection which broke off after he sobbed to his mother "Mom, I broke ....". Think she got excited?
TLaHaye
January 2, 2006
Member since 02/9/2005 🔗
136 posts
Quote:

Does GS skiing through "trees" count as abuse?




Skiing through the trees should be OK ... it's when you ski into them that there's a problem.
TLaHaye
February 22, 2006
Member since 02/9/2005 🔗
136 posts
I've just been advised that despite original indications, the manufacturer (now I'll tell you ... K2) agreed to replace the skis under warranty. My shop (Freestyle in Charlottesville) stood behind me and secured an RMA and returned the skis even though I purchased them elsewhere.

It took about three weeks once we shipped them out to get the answer.

Regardless, Internet buyers beware. I'm not sure how successful I would have been without Freestyle's support.
Rich
February 23, 2006
Member since 11/30/2000 🔗
194 posts
So what exactly was the "defect" in the ski? Was it the whole line of that model or just that one pair that was defective? Or were you asking them to do something they were not intended (or expected) to do and are just ripping off the manufacturer for new skis you kid broke?
TLaHaye
February 23, 2006
Member since 02/9/2005 🔗
136 posts
Well, that's a fair question. I can only believe they applied a suitability for intended purpose argument. Remember, these are "race skis". They should be designed to withstand the forces a junior racer will exert on them in the course of ski racing and training. My 110 lb. kid was on, if anything, "longish", 160's. The bindings were set according to industry standards, and lets face it ... race courses have ruts. There was either a design flaw or a material flaw that caused the skis to fail during normal use for their intended purpose.

FWIW, I'm aware of other junior racers with metal sandwich ski (non-K2) failures this year. Manufacturers (and racers) like metal sandwhich construction for GS skis, but they seem to have some shortcomings.

Anyway, the real reason I started this topic was to reinforce the concept of maintaining good relationships with the local shops. At the end of the day, they are your best channel of communication with the manufacturers.
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