Jan 31, 2007 at 10:48 pm #1221575
I went to Patagonia to suggest a hoodless full zip micro puff jacket (unbelievably, they dont have one according to my search). Anyway, I came across their "Unsolicited Ideas Policy" which seems to me to be disregarding the 'voice of the customer':
"..company policy..does not allow us to accept ideas for products other than those that we have requested."
edit; and now that I know the history of the company, and its lawsuits, I understand why.Jan 31, 2007 at 10:59 pm #1376653
Methinks it's more paranoia. The way I read it, they don't want anyone submitting ideas and then going back to them claiming "intellectual ownership". Here's the policy in its entirety:
"We are always happy to hear from you. We value your comments regarding our products and services. Our company policy, however, does not allow us to accept ideas for products other than those that we have requested.
This policy is meant to avoid any misunderstanding that may arise when projects developed internally at Patagonia may seem similar to someone else's idea. Please do not send us any product ideas or artwork that we haven't asked for.
If for some reason you send us unsolicited ideas or artwork, they will not be subject to confidentiality on our part and we shall not be liable for any use or disclosure concerning the ideas or artwork."Jan 31, 2007 at 11:05 pm #1376654
They must have gotten sued in the past. Why dont they just say "we welcome all suggestions and they will be passed on to our design team, but all ideas become the property of Patagonia" this is what I usually hear when I send unsolicited suggestions (which is often!) I just prefer to patronize a company where my voice is heard, Golite, Montbell, Snowpeak, Jetboil, etc…
BD, you are a lawyer, could they soften their approach without risking lawsuits?Jan 31, 2007 at 11:10 pm #1376657
I agree. Some companies seem to give their lawyers full run of the house! But then, our society is the most litigious in the world, bar none. Funny and sad at the same time…Feb 1, 2007 at 12:28 am #1376660
@butukiLocale: Kanto Plain, Japan
While I don't buy Patagonia products any more because of their astronomical prices (and in Japan you can't order Patagonia products online due to localization stipulations, and therefore you have to pay exhorbitant prices… MontBell makes goods that are just as good and well designed, but significantly cheaper), I have to say that they have exemplary customer service. Back in 1990 I bought a Patagonia Storm Jacket. WIthin two years its seam taping had peeled off. When I contacted Patagonia, they replaced the jacket, no questions asked. Two years later again the seam taping peeled away, plus two of the plastic popper buttons broke. Again, Patagonia replaced it for free. Then in 1995, when the same thing happened yet again and I called Patagonia to complain about it, they offered a choice, a new Storm Jacket, or one of their very expensive, new reinforced jackets (I can't remember the name). I took the Storm Jacket because the fit of the other jacket just wasn't right, but still, to keep updating my jacket for free after five years is pretty good, I would say.
Also, back in 1987 I was one of two architects assigned to designing the Patagonia retail store in Boston. Working with Patagonia as clients was one of the most rewarding designing jobs I have ever done. They sat down and listened to all our suggestions and actively went out of their way to have us incorporate design ideas that were both unconventional and, business-wise, a little risky. I honestly believe that it is the participation of clients and users of their gear that drives Patagonia's philosophy. I think that is why they manage to come out with so many new ideas and great designs.
So, I think Patagonia's heart is in the right place; perhaps, as Ben suggests, there are legal matters they have to consider, too.Feb 1, 2007 at 12:33 am #1376662
Other than the description in this thread of a "bad" experience trying to influence Patagonia's inventory policies (i.e., lack of hoodless full-zipper puff jackets) has anyone following this thread had other experiences with Patagonia to suggest an arrogance toward consumers?
For me, based on the return of an item to Patagonia every once in a while for any or no reason, Patagonia's customer service is without peer. Heck, as good as REI, and maybe even better. No, on second thought, beating REI's policy on returns would be impossible. But surely just as good.
And if Patagonia or REI or whoever doesn't have what I'm looking for in the first place, I just look somewhere else til I find it. Or, do without, or make do with something else, or (worst case scenario for me) attempt to make it myself from scratch or by modifying something else.
If Patagonia merits criticism for not welcoming suggestion for a particular item, couldn't that criticism be leveled equally at a whole bunch of "big" businesses that market outdoor gear? In fact, are there any exceptions at all?
As for a zippered, hoodless puff jacket, seems like some talented person could alter Patagonia's pullover puff jacket (hoodless already) by installing a full zipper. I admit I couldn't do it, but then I like the pullover puff.
Of course, maybe a couple hundred thousand people could petition Patagonia to . . . .? You know, demonstrate a potential customer base warranting Patagonia's investment of resources? Sweet success might turn bitter, though, considering all those feet showing up in the Winds, etc.
JRSFeb 1, 2007 at 12:38 am #1376663
@bfornshellLocale: Southern Texas
If you go find my thread where I made a hood for my Patagonia #2 wool zip top you will see that Patagonia took my idea. They did require me to sign a release first. I have a deal with them if it ever goes into their production line.Feb 1, 2007 at 1:03 am #1376664
Well, I hope you can profit from the hood idea. Now if I can get them to take the hood OFF the micro puff, Id buy one. First I need to patent the idea of a "hoodless jacket". No more unbelieveable than Keen patenting toe bumpers on sandals..Feb 1, 2007 at 2:44 am #1376671
@tomcat1066Locale: Southwest GA
>If Patagonia merits criticism for not welcoming suggestion >for a particular item, couldn't that criticism be leveled >equally at a whole bunch of "big" businesses that market >outdoor gear? In fact, are there any exceptions at all?
One exception I personally know of is GoLite. I emailed a suggestion, received a reply that it was welcomed and moving up the R&D chain. Andy Skurka pretty much confirmed it was being looked at yesterday, but also said it would be a while before anything could be done about it.
Now, if that's a blow-off, it's one of the coolest blow-off's I've ever gotten ;)
I don't know anything about Patagonia. Thus far, I haven't bought any of their products, though that will probably change soon. But in answer to the question, there IS one company that seems to welcome customer suggestions!
TomFeb 1, 2007 at 4:04 am #1376682
@gungadinLocale: Pittsburgh, PA
I can basically see where Patagonia is coming from. It only takes one lawsuit to change a company's tune and make them less willing to take ideas. I can see the exact thing happening if other companies had to deal with the same issues. In fact it may happen with other companies. So I certainly don't view this as arrogance but covering their own butt.
In addition while Patagonia's gear is expensive, they are environmentally sensitive enough to try some methods that few other companies would attempt. I view their company ethics to be the best that I have ever seen. They are always attempting to limit the waste that they produce in making their gear. They also are known as a company that treats their employees very fairly. They are rated as one of the best companies in the country by workers (and especially female workers). Patagonia also has an intense inspection program to insure that their oversees factories treat all of the workers well and avoid a "sweatshop" situation that has been seen in The North Face and other companies. They are the founding company in an organization that fights to keep overseas workers treated fairly. To me this ethical strength goes far beyond gear or even backpacking, it goes to what it means to be a good and fair company to all people. I will pay a few more bucks for awesome gear to support this.Feb 1, 2007 at 10:38 am #1376711
Its common for companies not to accept unsolicted submissions of any sort, for exactly the reasons stated here- they don't want to get sued by someone who sends them a sumbission that they don't accept if they should happen to come up with a similar idea later on (regardless of whether this idea was 'inspired' by the submission or not).
As an aside, why the need for the full zip on the micro-puff?Feb 1, 2007 at 10:59 am #1376719
If you have a hot idea that you want to peddle to "Company Z" you need to get them to sign an AGREEMENT OF CONFIDENTIALITY wherein you vaguely name the item you are submitting W/O giving away your idea.
If they sign & return the agreement then you go in – with a witness – and make your pitch in detail.
EricFeb 1, 2007 at 3:51 pm #1376759
Thanks for that Matthew.
I noticed your line "I will pay a few more bucks for awesome gear to support this."
It's probably worth adding that it COSTS a few more bucks to do this. If all companies did it, they would all charge more. No-one wants to support a company that uses sweat shop labour, hires and fires local workers on a whim and trashes the environment because it's cheaper that way…..unless their gear is 20% cheaper to buy.Feb 1, 2007 at 3:59 pm #1376761
@aroth87Locale: Missouri Ozarks
I came up with a humorous commercial for Vaseline (it involved Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, and a locker room, but anyway…) and sent it to them via email.
They replied basically saying that they have the same policy of not accepting marketing or product ideas from people outside the company. I can see their reasoning though.
AdamFeb 1, 2007 at 4:01 pm #1376762
Rod — Reading your post, Wal-Mart comes to mind. Wal-Mart is pretty vicious in its dealings with both workers and suppliers. And yet, it is also THE BIGGEST retailer out there!
We all talk the talk about supporting companies that pay a "living wage", provide safe and healthy working environments and conduct themselves as upstanding corporate citizens. But let's face it, most of us are pretty savvy hunters of rock bottom prices!Feb 1, 2007 at 4:25 pm #1376764
@ericnobleLocale: Colorado Rockies
This thread made me remember that I had some ideas for Patagonia. I sent them this morning and receive the following reply:
"Thanks for taking the time to send your comments; they are very valuable to
us! I will make sure our designers have your suggestions. "
Nothing I suggested was new or patentable which is what I think their policy is aim at. Granted, their "designers" may be the people who take the trash out :).Feb 1, 2007 at 8:17 pm #1376789
@viking8388Locale: North Texas
It's interesting to hear how different companies deal with this issue.
This thread reminded me of an idea that I've been meaning to send to Leatherman. Actually, this idea may also be of interest to others on this forum …
I love my Leatherman Wave, but at 8oz it gets left at home a lot. So, instead of carrying a Wave, I carry both a Squirt S4 and P4 (what can I say, I'm an engineer, I feel naked without my pliers, screwdrivers, etc). The weight of this combined setup is 4.5oz (saving 3.5oz over the Wave). The problem with this setup is all the redundancy between the S4 and P4. Therefore, my suggestion to Leatherman was to make a "modified P4" like this:
1) Replace the straight blade with a serrated blade
2) Replace the small screwdriver + small Phillips with a wood saw
3) Replace the bottle opener with a can opener
4) Add a toothpick (hey, we may be obsessed with weight, but that doesn't mean we have to be uncivilized)
When I went to their website looking for a means of sending them this suggestion, I found the following on their FAQ page:
Is Leatherman interested in my idea for a new product or feature?
Always. Consumer feedback has played a significant role in improving our existing products and designing new ones. Our marketing department tracks suggestions and welcomes your feedback, so feel free to address your ideas to them (either in writing or at email@example.com). If you wish to submit an idea for which you already have or may obtain a patent or other ownership rights, please write to the Office of the President, Leatherman Tool Group, PO Box 20595, Portland OR 97294. Prior to receiving or considering your idea, we will present you with a disclosure agreement that describes your rights and ours in any idea you disclose to us.
Apparently civilized lawyers do exist.
BTW – If anyone else thinks my "modified P4" idea is worthwhile, drop Leatherman a line. More voices can't hurt. Of course, if you guys think my idea stinks, I'm sure you'll let me know :)
PLRFeb 1, 2007 at 9:17 pm #1376797
Russell, this thread started because I want a full zip hoodless jacket made with polarguard delta. Full zip for a few reasons.
– 'dial in' the temperature by zipping up, or opening fully down to the base layer to rapidly dump heat.
– Accessing inner pockets in sub-layers
– This is the main one.. wearing the jacket backwards during belay/stops without taking off my pack.
Why no hood
– Dont want a hood in my face when wearing it backwards
– I have one 'hood' on my beloved DIAD shell. If its rainy or cold I'll have my shell on anyway; dont want multiple hoods bunching up behind my neck.
– I carry the weight of only one insulated 'hood', my watch cap. I wouldn't go without it, so dont need another.
After visiting an actual Patagonia store for the first time yesterday, I was impressed with their materials and the workmanship from the Chinese factories they use. Their quality seems to be at least equal to Montbell. I would not pay full retail for Patagonia (= 2x Montbell cost) unless an equivalent quality item can not be had elsewhere. I did buy the full-zip micro puff pants because I can not find a full-zip equivalent anywhere else.
I inspected the Houdini full-zip for the first time; and when none of the employees were looking, I held the fabric against my mouth and did my usual air-permeability test.. excellent; I could breathe slowly and normally through the fabric. If I can find one on sale it is replacing my Ion garbage-bag-with-arms.
In short, I am impressed with Patagonia quality, but won't pay much more just for the [patagonia] label.Feb 1, 2007 at 9:50 pm #1376804
Paul, now there is a civilized and rational example from Leatherman on how to handle customer suggestions. Patagonia could go to school off that.
I'm with you on the knife,(and also an engineer). I wish I had a little leatherman with sissors, pliers, and an awl. Lately I'm into alcohol-stoves, and those three tools are all I need to easily make several types of pop can stoves.
Right now I carry a 105 gram Victorinox and my S4.
Anyone know of a sissors/pliers micro tool?Feb 1, 2007 at 10:42 pm #1376815
@awsorensenLocale: South of Forester Pass
I ordered one of the first 20 or so Squall Tarptents from Henry.
About 6 months later, I emailed him with a few things I liked and a few things I didn't.
I tried the best to describe to him what would be nice to have and wouldn't add much weight.
Low and behold, it took a few years, but exactly what I was trying to describe came out as the Squall 2.
Double ridgeline, "T" on top and all.
I wrote Henry back an email when I first saw it and he still had my email. He said, yeah the email didn't make much since, but I won't tell you that I didn't get any ideas from it either.
It sure did look like it made since when I saw the new model though.
So I don't mind taking partial credit for sparking that idea of what came to be. I hope who ever has a Squall 2 enjoys the design.
Just remember, we have 2 ears and 2 eyes, but only 1 mouth.Feb 1, 2007 at 10:59 pm #1376819
Im sure Patagonia doesn't want another lawsuit. Today we have Patagonia and Black Diamond rather than Chouinard Equipment because of a lawsuit.Feb 1, 2007 at 11:29 pm #1376822
Can you elaborate on the above?Feb 2, 2007 at 12:39 am #1376828
The fast version of the story…
Yvon Chouinard started the equipment company that is now patagonia and black diamond in the 60's. They made pitons of hard iron for climbers that could be used on the long granite routes of yosemite. Their equipment so much better suited to american climbing that, even though it cost far far more than the european imports, they couldnt produce it fast enough. In the 70's they began importing and selling clothing for climbers. In the 80's the equipment half of the company, which was fortunately already incorporated as a separate entity , was hit with several law suits. The equipment side of the company was basicly bankrupted; the employees bought it and started Black Diamond. The clothing side was reborn as Patagonia.Feb 2, 2007 at 1:33 am #1376829
Now I understand. It must be difficult for a small new company to compete in climbing gear due to these liability concerns.
With the knowledge from these posts I believe now that Patagonia is not arrogant, just cautious, and I would certainly buy products of theirs which are competively priced.Feb 2, 2007 at 9:42 am #1376881
In addition to finding their products at substantial reductions at other gear sites, Patagonia's website has a "web specials" page that's updated pretty often. Great discounts can be found there, although some of items go pretty quickly. A short time ago, when I responded to a pop-up survey for customer satisfaction at Patagonia's website, they were the beneficiaries of my gripes about how their "web specials" too often end up with only one or two sizes left (usually XS and S). One recent item w/good price reduction was a Specter (sp?) anorak, but wrong size.
Don't know how (or to whom) you presented your desire for a zip puff with Patagonia, but I'd like to believe that a little further inquiry would get a satisfactory response. It seems that they frequently modify their products, and so evidently have an on-going interest in new ideas.
PS – If you have an interest in obtaining a very highly praised steelhead fishing jacket, Patagonia's SST jacket can currently be had for a pretty good discount at some websites ($229 vs $315, men's & women's versions),perhaps also at Patagonia's "specials" page.
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