Wednesday, November 19, 2008

When Customer Servce Becomes Pissy

In past updates, I have been positive about Downwind Marine and their services. I have had an experience that makes me question some of that.

I went there last week looking for a replacement handheld VHF or preferably a remote mic for my Icom M502. They did not seem to have any around, so I asked. All they had was one old Cobra model. I checked with their parent and sister stores, San Diego Marine Exchange and San Diego Sailing Supply. None of them had the items.

That lead me to a large store that we all know and that exists in every port in the US. They did not have the remote mic and as usual, the other items were more expensive.

This lead me to Defender.com on the web. They had the remote mic at a good price.

The first day that I was in Downwind, a salesman gave me a big pitch about how they were differentiating themselves from the "big blue box company" on service. One of the services that they offered was mail reception and forwarding. I decided to take them up on the offer and had my Defender order delivered to there.

Today, UPS.com, showed that they were going to deliver the package. When Corine went by, they said that they had refused delivery of the package because it was from a competitor. I went to ask them about this and they waved their cruising guide at me saying it was policy. When I checked the guide it was not clear that they wouldn't accept things. It did say they might charge something. As the guide asked, I did try to purchase from them and their conglomerate first.

I did spend over $300 with Downwind, Marine Exchange and Sailing Supply in the last week. I suggested them to two other cruisers. I plugged them a couple times on the blog. I tried to purchase the item from them first.

There are many items that are commercially available that a cruiser might want or worse yet severely need. Only a fraction of these are sold by Downwind Marine. I would warn cruisers against sending anything through them with a commercial label on it. The label police might not be in a good mood.

Conditional service is worse than no service at all.

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