09 Dec Five outdoor travel companies with “wow” service
Impressive staff and product recovery
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Our WRT staff enjoy shopping for outdoor gear and clothing. Well, most of us – a few don’t have the shopping gene. But every one of us appreciates a company that goes beyond expected customer service and delivers an experience that causes you to think, “wow.”
As a matter of fact, we were so impressed with some of our shopping experiences that we’re writing about them, which by now you’ve figured out. These interactions are, of course, our own individual experiences, but these companies will earn our repeat business. We hope your shopping results in the same satisfaction.
Various WRT staffers wrote the reviews below in first person. Let’s get started.
On its website, when you click on and agree with the mandatory terms and conditions section while checking out, Moosejaw states, “Sorry for getting all lawyerly on you.” And you also learn that shoppers can return stuff “anytime as long as you’re alive.” It’s a company that believes commerce should be fun. The last direct mail promotion I received from the company contained a headline that read, “backpacking, climbing, French kissing, mountaineering, trail running.” Heck, I like all of that stuff!
They’ve got a great selection of name brands, fast shipping and online sales. And speaking of shipping, my winter coat arrived in a box literally sealed with a kiss, plus instructions for opening that stated, “No Knife Use Teeth.” I’ve only shopped with Moosejaw online, but if I’m ever near any of their eleven storefront locations, I can’t wait to find out if they’re just as much fun in person.
We’re frugal with our shopping money, but we splurge on eyewear. My go-to sunglasses in the outdoors are Oakley’s. I’ve owned a pair of Maui Jim’s, but lost them and blamed the company because surely it could not have been my fault that they disappeared. My wife, however, loves Maui Jim’s.
She owns two pairs, one about a year old, the other about five years. And, by chance, both broke within a one-month period. She contacted Maui Jim and talked to someone by phone. The repairs seemed expensive, but the customer service rep encouraged her to mail them in and let the company inspect the glasses.
One week later, she received both pairs in the mail, repaired, with the lenses looking like new, all for a minimal handling fee.
The cork grips on my Black Diamond trekking poles (read our article on benefits of hiking with poles) wore out because I’m a pretty active hiker. So, I contacted the company via its website to see if the entire handle and strap could be replaced. And that wasn’t possible based upon their construction.
The second half of the reply from Black Diamond’s customer service staff surprised me. They offered me a 50 percent discount on a brand new pair of poles. Sometimes the best service and the best deals are the ones you don’t expect.
Most of the time, I hate my luggage. All brands. Maybe I’m just unlucky or cursed by the evil defective wheel that crashes my suitcase into railings and leaves skid marks on airport gangways.
When my largest suitcase recently came off the luggage conveyor after returning from vacation, I was hardly surprised to find the main handle broken off. After all, I’m cursed. We realized it was just over several months old, with no receipt. But my wife possesses great determination and tried retuning it to the store where she purchased it. No luck.
The store, however, informed us to directly contact Samsonite online. We did that, talked to a real person, who instructed us to fill out an online form and take it to an “official” Samsonite dealer in a local mall. The end of the story? For $10 shipping, we received a new piece of luggage.
REI is a major outdoor retailer with more than 160 stores and a big online presence. That alone is nothing that wows. Operating the country’s largest consumer co-op with 18 million members is a remarkable feat. The member-owned model allows REI to do cool things for its customers, employees and the environment like giving employees Black Friday off to enjoy friends/family and get outside.
The wow benefit for us is REI’s one-year satisfaction guarantee. Outdoor gear is hard to test in a store. More than once I’ve purchased hiking boots that felt great in the store but miserable after a couple hours of trail use. It’s priceless knowing if our gear does not perform as expected, we can return it for a full refund. And the people who work at REI are cool and always give valuable advice.