Feb 5, 2011 at 5:56 am #1268706
I think its time to share a less than positive experience with this company. I have refrained from listing all my issues in public, but have made small references to my displeasure in several post. from those I have received a variety of PM's asking whats going on, by customers in the same boat I was in. I just seemed to be in the boat before them.
Back in mid December (16th) I emailed bender and asked him the delivery time of a custom R9 900 FP mummy mat. He responded 3 weeks. I explained to him at that time prior to the order that i had a class I needed to take and had to have his word I would receive the pad on the promised date. he responded that it was no problem. I placed the order the same day.
As the date approached I emailed and asked how we were coming. I was then notified we were "running late" From this point on I sent bender emails every week asking where we were and when it was going to ship. 99% of them went unanswered. I would go two weeks and not hear a word from him.
My emails became a bit more serious in the fact that I asked that if he was not going to ship that he refund my money. again, no response.
At the end, and after I had filed a paypal dispute the pad did arrive (although to be fair, I dont think the paypal dispute is what prompted his shipment as it was only one day apart.
Now the real issues began. I ordered and paid for the pad listed above and he sent me a chart prior to my order showing all the different pads he could make, their weights, and their cost.
My pad came in on the chart at 24.8 oz and r9 and 900 FP down.
What I received was a 29 oz pad with NOT 900 FP down in it ( he later admited this to me in an email to settle the paypal dispute although to be fair he claimed that was an accident) he had another pad listed at 27 oz that was 200 dollars so I asked that he refund me the 60.00 dollar difference and call it a day since 27 was fairly close to 29. I was trying to compromise.
The worst problem was that the pad was a full inch shorter than advertised. I have another of benders pads with no insulation so I know that one is exactly as advertised, so it can be made to the advertised length. When you are 6' 5" and order a 78" pad, and it shows up a hair under 77, that matters as you have exactly NO extra room on the pad and if your feet angle at all, they fall off.
he would never respond to why this happened.
Now my last problem. After sleeping on it, I find it leaks. I noticed that just sitting in the living room overnight it lost about 2-3 breaths each night. Sleeping on it only makes it worse. It doesnt flatten out, but looses enough so your bones hit on a hard turn over. I have no idea if this will only get worse, so at this point I am going to attempt a self repair.
Bottom line is, that I received almost zero communication from bender after he became late. I emailed and emailed over a period of a month and did not receive but one reply.
I finally was forced to file a paypal dispute and then he responded in a day.
I am sure someone here is going to say I am unfair for posting this. I feel like the late is common among cottage guys, but the zero communication, the pad not even close to specs, and now the leak is not common. I personally believe there are other issues with bender that are contributing to this.
After getting PMs from other concerned customers, that are in the no pad, no response to their emails phase, I decided it was time to post here.
You personal experience may completely vary. You may get your pad and it may be to spec just as you expect. I however did not.
So I now have a 200 dollar pad that is made with I dont know what down, and is an inch short, and leaks.Feb 5, 2011 at 9:10 am #1692805
I am disappointed to hear of your experience. I have been seduced by Bender's products, but have not ordered from him yet. I think I'll see how this turns out before pulling the trigger on one of his pads.Feb 5, 2011 at 9:29 am #1692814Feb 5, 2011 at 9:59 am #1692830
Thanks for sharing. Seems to me that he designs (and builds) interesting products. However, his ability to run a business is severely lacking. The potential for a 'bait and switch' is disconcerting.Feb 5, 2011 at 12:02 pm #1692875
@rp3957Locale: The Sierras
Edit – RPFeb 5, 2011 at 1:40 pm #1692920
Thanks for posting this thread. I was looking into some of their products after hearing all of the great hype on these forums. I was a bit scared after going to the website and seeing a site that a 7 year old kid would put more effort into. I ordered from zpacks twice in the last few weeks and they emailed me and always told me when my order went out (very fast). That was a great experience. Sorry, kooka, count me out in the future.Feb 5, 2011 at 2:21 pm #1692937
@skauLocale: Southern California
Wow…sorry to hear your experiences with that company. There products interested me but the price was a little too high for comfort. Now i know not to order from it.
-SamFeb 5, 2011 at 2:30 pm #1692941
Well, I hope Bender gets on here and offers an explanation instead of just taking a hammering without saying anything. I have no doubt there is a legitimate reason for the issues some are experiencing. Whether or not people accept it is another thing. And, lest I be misunderstood, I think those who have had issues have very legitimate gripes.
But there are far too many people who have had good experiences with Bender, myself included, for me to believe that he's all of a sudden 'gone bad.' If I had to guess, I'd say that he got far more popular than he anticipated, he's struggling just to catch a breath, and he just can't quite figure out what to do next or where to turn to for assistance.
I believe he'll figure it out. I believe he's a good guy. And I'd order from him again in a heartbeat.
FWIW.Feb 5, 2011 at 3:09 pm #1692953
I ordered from bender previously and received my pad exactly as described in almost the time frame he said.
so I have two very different experiences.
I dont think he is a crook, I think he is having issues.
FWIWFeb 5, 2011 at 3:13 pm #1692955
I think having issues is okay. I certainly have them. But I DO think that communication is key and it is not happening here.
With the availability of wireless internet on phone, I believe there to be little excuse.Feb 5, 2011 at 3:30 pm #1692963
Thanks for the heads up. I was thinking of ordering. Glad I didnt.Feb 5, 2011 at 4:13 pm #1692987
I will say he did work with me on a pillow that never ended up working out. He made one larger than the regular one he sells and then one larger than that. Neither worked out for me and how I sleep but I thought they were decent products and I was refunded the money.Feb 5, 2011 at 4:58 pm #1692998
It does seem that Bender has been having some life stuff going on, and struggling with the harsh reality that it's impossible to make good UL gear as "part-time" business unless you're willing to simply tell people "no."
I feel for him, it's hard to keep up with the demand this community produces. I'm notoriously behind on orders, even though I try to be as conservative as possible with my timeline. However, communication is the most important part of doing business. I think people tend to forgive me since I make it a point to respond to every email I get and attempt honesty when I hit delays, but I could easily see it going the other way if I didn't.
Hopefully Bender can get a chance to tell his side of this. I know I had some communication issues with him also, and ended up putting an order on hold since it seemed like he was majorly overloaded.
Don't be afraid to stop taking orders for a while if you can't keep up bro, I've done it twice already, and it's the only thing keeping me sane.Feb 5, 2011 at 5:01 pm #1693000
I just emailed Kooka Bay a few days ago inquiring about a synthetic filled pad, no response. Given the good feedback from Kooka Bay users, I was hoping to find a cottage manufacturer that could make me a good UL inflatable pad for colder weather.Feb 5, 2011 at 5:18 pm #1693009
I think +1 to every post on here. I got mine on time, but the communication did slow down towards the end. Everything was on time and as ordered so I had a good experience. I would agree that it probably the work load. He used to post on BPL a good bit, but I haven't seen him here since "rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated" thread a few months back.
That being said I would also agree with the fact that communication is easy these days. At least post something…
The OP is the only train wreck story I've heard, and, man, is it. (is that correct with the commas? The one after 'heard' a splice? -pretty hairy)
Anyway, I guess going it on your own is no joke. Maybe with all y'all NOT ordering he'll be able to get his head up?Feb 5, 2011 at 5:25 pm #1693014
Any of you folks know how to seal the fabric back to the valve? It is leaking air right by the valve?
I read on an unrelated sight about supergule, but I am very hesitant about that…I thought about silicone but I dont know if it will take the pressure….has to be a glue type thing somewhere that will seal up this leak?Feb 5, 2011 at 5:28 pm #1693016
@richard295Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
McNett AquaSeal works well for that type of repair.Feb 5, 2011 at 5:31 pm #1693017
@retiredjerryLocale: Oregon and Washington
can you pull the valve out
along the joint that's leaking
if so it would be a lot more effective putting sealer on it and pushing it back in
polyurethane glue like McNett Seam Grip or Shoe Goo would probably hold best
or silicone like Permatex or McNett or silicone caulk would probably workFeb 5, 2011 at 5:38 pm #1693025
if you were looking down on the valve so you saw the entire circumference of the valve, the little "v" created where the fabric seals around the center line is where its leaking.
It looks like it wasnt sealed well there as on one side of the valve is some residue which I assume is glue and thats where its leaking.
So I guess I just scrape it off, kinda pull the fabric open as much as possible ( and thats very slight) and put the glue above in the opening and press till dry?Feb 5, 2011 at 5:40 pm #1693026
@davidlutzLocale: Bay Area
Bender took care of me on a pillow a while back…….
And, um, I've been late on a project or two myself.
I agree he's probably just swamped, but it would be great to get my winter pad in the wintertime.
I should have ordered it sooner.Feb 5, 2011 at 6:11 pm #1693044
I bought a pillow from Bender last fall; I needed it for a trip about 3 weeks after I ordered and he got it to me in plenty of time. About a month ago I emailed him inquiring about an insulated pad and it took him a couple weeks to respond. Like others, I think he's a good guy who's overloaded right now.Feb 5, 2011 at 6:14 pm #1693047
@bestbuilderLocale: Pacific Northwest
Mark, I don't know what type of glue Bender used but Cascade Designs sometime uses a heat sensitive glue for this kind of thing. You might try using a warm iron (or pan of hot water as described on the Thermarest website), might be worth a try, just DON'T melt the pad!!!Feb 5, 2011 at 6:26 pm #1693052
I ordered a pad from kooka on 1/1/11 and have not received it yet. I ordered it solely due to a recommendation from the best gear of 2010 list from this site. I had to email 3 times to get a response from company. A representative from the company said they had been out of town and was just getting the shop up and running again. I will give them the benefit of the doubt and hopefully will receive pad soon. Not used to having to wait over a month to receive merchandise. Hopefully everything will work out. I will post a follow when I receive pad.Feb 5, 2011 at 7:13 pm #1693064
@areichowLocale: Northern Minnesota
@tommy – this isn't a "company" so much as a guy.
Waits of 2-6 weeks are pretty common for cottage gear. If you'd rather get something stock ASAP, stick to POE, Thermarest, Exped, and BA. Even an established company like Beyond Clothing has a 5+ week waiting period- and they have the benefits of an actual staff, defined product line and established production process. I don't blame anyone for being disappointed, but no one should be terribly surprised that Kooka Bay is having some growing pains after becoming suddenly popular.
I agree with most posters that the guy is busy, most likely overloaded with orders, and not dealing with it properly. It's simple and obvious to say that he should just hire more people, etc but in reality things aren't quite that easy. A company like Thermarest can do that, but there's a lot of overhead for a one or two person cottage shop to ramp up quickly.
Don't get me wrong, he could handle the situation better, but it seems to me that if you expect Thermarest, buy a Thermarest.
For me, it's all about what you value. I'm willing to sacrifice having it now for having a pad built to my custom specs. It took two months, but it's a custom product and it was over the holidays. Bender replied within a day or two to all of my emails, and the last I heard in early January is that he was having problems sourcing some supplies, and that my order would be out the following week. True to word, it was shipped out the next week.
Even after a long wait, I'm glad I finally found a pad that is just right for me- saves me the time and money of buying every new hyped up pad, playing with it, and reselling it here at a loss.Feb 5, 2011 at 7:37 pm #1693069
@carlbeckerLocale: Northern Virginia
I have two pads from Kooka Bay. Both took some time to get which I was aware of before hand. I ordered the last several weeks before Christmas as a present. It was getting close to Xmas and after the promise date when I contacted Bender. He said he would get the pad to me before Xmas even if he had to over-night it. I received it before Xmas lighter then spec. It seems Bender got real busy, I don't know with what but I believe he is good and will make things right. He is slow to respond but I knew that already.
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