Sunday, July 22, 2012

Patagonia continues to impress me

Patagonia stuff is expensive so you'd expect their customer service to be excellent.  Well, I just want to confirm that it is.

Here's my story.

I have two Patagonia flyfishing products, a pair of Gortex waders and a pair of felt-soled wading boots.

[Actually, I have two pairs of Patagonia boots.  A two year old pair and a very old and worn pair that has been resoled once and which is nice to have around for the infrequent times when my younger son fishes with me... thankfully he's a size 12 also.]

Because Patagonia stuff is so expensive (in my opinion a good value), I was fortunate to obtain each of my items at discount prices.  Both pairs of boots were bought by mail-order from Sierra Trading Post.  I believe they were listed as closeout or overstock items.  My guess is that the first pair was bought 12 years ago.  I doubt I paid more than $50 for either pair.

My Gortex waders were bought perhaps 10 years ago from our local Orvis Shop, Concord Outfitters, in the middle of the summer.  I paid $200 for the SST model (I think that was what it was called) that listed for $350 or so.  It was a big chuck of change because until then I fished neoprene waders from Cabelas which cost less than $100.  (Nothing wrong with Cabelas neoprenes, except for how hot all neoprene waders are in the summer... in fact, I still have and use my Cabelas neoprenes when the weather permits/requires it.)

What I liked most about the Patagonia SST waders is that the shoulder straps are attached at the waist inside the waders.  To get full chest height coverage, you then need to attach the top of the waders to snaps on the straps that are positioned at chest height.  99% of the time, however, I didn't bother with the chest height snaps and just rolled the top of the waders down to the waist.  This made for much more comfortable (i.e. cooler) summer attire as it basically meant waist high waders with straps, which in a pinch could be pulled up to cover my chest and back and snapped onto the straps.  Because I am a bit over 6' tall, waist height waders are good enough 99% of the time.

Anyway, I am getting long winded here.  

Back to the point I want to make.

After the first season of use (it was actually just a half season), I had a leak or two in the wader feet.  I called Patagonia and they suggested I mail them in to Arizona for an inspection.  I liked their shipping policy: if I paid for shipping to Arizona, they would return ship them at their cost the same way.  In other words, if I shipped via 2-UPS they would return ship via 2-day UPS. 

So, I mailed them to Arizona from the Boston area on a Monday via 2-day UPS.  I got a call on Wednesday and was told that due to the newness of the waders they were going to ship me a new pair!  Awesome.  But the story gets better.  My pair had been size Large-Regular length.  Because I knew the price was the same for the Long length, I asked if it would be possible to send me a size Large-Long.  The rep. said he'd be happy to.  Again, awesome.  By Friday, I had a nice clean new pair with the added bonus of additional leg length.  That was about 10 years ago.

[I like the Long length because there is no binding on my knees when float tubing.  Unless you are kicking in a float tube, most of the time your legs are at rest and your knees are at 90 degree angles.]

The story continues.

Before going on a two week non-fishing vacation to the Canadian Rockies last month, I mailed the waders back to Phoenix for more repairs.  I completely expected a pair of 10 year old repaired waders to be sitting on my front door step when I returned.  I was  disappointed when they were not.  I waited a few more days and called Patagonia Customer Service.  I was dismayed when I found out that Customer Service had no record of receiving my package.  My UPS confirmation clearly showed that my waders had arrived in Phoenix nearly 3 weeks before.  A little checking and I discovered that their sole repair guy was a bit behind in completing his queue of repair work.  I was told that would call me, and he did... several times.  But because of the time difference, we never seemed to make contact.  Finally, I received a voice mail message that due to my being inconvenienced, and as a courtesy, they were going to send me a new pair of waders.

So now I have a brand new pair of Watermaster model waders.  The list price is $300.  I don't think they are quite the comparable model to what I had, as my old pair had double knees. But the waist level straps are much improved over the old model.

I am more than satisfied with Patagonia.  Wouldn't you be?

Patagonia Chest Waders. Shown in-side-out. 
Note the suspender straps attached inside and at waist level.  The buckles
at chest height have cam levers to tighten waders at chest height.

Patagonia Chest Waders.  Shown in-side-out. 
Top section rolled down to create waist-high waders.

This is the buckle design that allows the waders to be pulled up
to chest height and attached to suspender straps.
This shows the cam designed tightening lever in the "open" position

Cam lever is in "closed" position, thereby locking the top of
the waders to the suspender straps.


Trublubug said...

I am amazed at this story Peter. In today's world of "we don't care, there are others to sell to", most retailers just write you off. I keep switching vendors for my tying supplies trying to find one that carries the materials I want/need and who can deliver on "promised" time. I have found several sources for my tying needs that provide excellent service and quality materials. The two places I would recommend are both small "mom & pop" operations. Neither carry a large supply and I almost always need to go to the larger operations for some items, but I wouldn't hesitate to recommend either....

Same story for the fly fishing equipment although I have had good success with Cabelas when there was a problem. I'm glad to hear that there is still a manufacturer or two out there willing, ready, and able to stand behind their products.


Peter F. said...

Thanks for the comment, Bill. I,too, have liked the flytyersdungeon. One of my favorites was Jim Kruel's English Angling Trappings, but he gave up the store a number of years ago.

I love Cabelas. Back when my three kids started fishing, I think I had an order into Cabelas just about every week. Plus they have one of those "100% satisfaction guaranteed" guarantees that I like to see.