Sep 23, 2013 at 11:21 am #1307960
After reading the hype about the mountain hardwear ghost whisperer last year i was very keen to pick one up this fall. I thought i would be smart and order early, so three weeks ago i went to my local shop and asked them to special order one for me. I did this because mountain hardwear does not sell direct – for reasons i will get into shortly.
I thought that by ordering in advance i would be sure to secure one of this years models, but after three weeks i decided to contact the company directly and see what the scoop was. I wrote a very reasonable letter explaining my concerns that the local shop was giving me poor service, and asked about the status of the jacket. The response i got was condescending at best, childish at worst. It was left open ended, so i decided to call the phone number attached to the email.
The receptionist answered "columbia sportswear". I was perplexed, i thought i had called mountain hardwear. I asked for the gentleman from my email, and she connected me. Where I was expecting a small business i got a well oiled salesman. In the very short conversation we had I quickly realized that he had no idea, and very little interest in the technical aspects of the products he was selling. After listening to him fumble through his product line, and then come to the realization that the ghost whisperer was not comparable in weight to anything else that he had, he started to deflect me to the columbia sportswear line. At that point i thanked him for his time, and ended our call.
I really had no idea that mountain hardwear was a subsidiary of columbia sportswear. This large company mentality is exactly what turned me off of the north face line years ago. I feel very fortunate that this all came to light before i contributed to yet another of these monstrous mega-companies.
So that is the end of my rant. If anyone knows of an alternative to the ghost whisperer, which is produced by a smaller customer service oriented company please post it as a response. I was hoping to do some fall trekking, but without a decent jacket im grounded.
Not 10 seconds after i posted this I got a call from customer service telling me that they had put a jacket on the truck expedited post. I thought i had cancelled the order, but it looks like i will get one despite my best efforts.
This leaves me with mixed feelings. On one hand I still am not a fan of the massive corporate entities we have these days, but on the other, its nice to know that sometimes a phone call will do some good.Sep 23, 2013 at 11:27 am #2027331
Stephen MBPL Member
@stephen-mLocale: Way up North
Check out the Stoic Hadron.Sep 23, 2013 at 11:30 am #2027332
eric chanBPL Member
many many many "outdoor" companies have been bought out by large corporations …
;)Sep 23, 2013 at 11:31 am #2027333
Thanks for your response. AT the price listed on backcountry gear i think i will pick one up just to try it out.Sep 23, 2013 at 12:02 pm #2027343
@lunchandynnerLocale: Pacific Northwest
Mountain Hardwear was acquired by Columbia awhile back (maybe a couple years). It does suck when that happens, but the benefit is a larger R&D budget to spend on newer tech for MH that is supported by the sales of everyday Columbia sportswear stuff.
Mountain Hardwear now has some physical stores open, such as the one here in downtown Seattle.Sep 23, 2013 at 12:24 pm #2027352
Dustin ShortBPL Member
Interesting. I knew they were a subsidiary of Columbia, but when I emailed the regarding the unpublished specs of the MHW Hooded Phantom I got a prompt and thorough response from their customer support.
I would probably chalk it up to bad communication/relationship between your local gear shop and MHW/Columbia. Hopefully you'll at least like the jacket. I love my phantom's design and craftsmanship and am looking forward to testing it out this winter (got it on discount this past spring).Sep 23, 2013 at 1:48 pm #2027391
Steven ParisBPL Member
@saparisorLocale: Pacific Northwest
Columbia purchased Mountain Hardwear in 2003, almost 11 years ago. The also own Sorel and Montrail. This is not new information.
"I feel very fortunate that this all came to light before i contributed to yet another of these monstrous mega-companies."
This is an absurd statement. I don't work for Columbia and have never worked in that industry. I do, however, live near their HQ in Beaverton, OR and know several employees. I can't speak to any individual experience with customer service; sometimes customer service is just . . . not good, for any business. And being in Portland, I know a lot of individuals who work in outdoor apparel, including Nike, Adidas (North American HQ is here), Merrell (used to be here before moving to Michigan — they are owned by Wolverine, by the way), etc. and it is a strange business with rapid turnover of clothing lines and a lot of waste (from an outsider's perspective). MHW clothing doesn't always fit me and if a Ghost Whisperer doesn't fit you or is the wrong gear choice or if you get screwed out of money from MHW or a retailer, then you should have some recourse. If you want to spend your money locally, you are free to do so. If there are no products you want that are produced locally, you can complain about that (I guess).
I, for one, am glad a large stable company is here. There are real employees who live here, send their kids to schools here, buy other products here, eat at restaurants here, etc. It's not Gert Boyle and an army of robots who make this stuff! By the way, you should look into Gert Boyle's story; she is a pretty amazing human being.
"I was hoping to do some fall trekking, but without a decent jacket im grounded."
This sounds dramatic. There are plenty of choices; I hope you find one.Sep 23, 2013 at 1:53 pm #2027393
Tjaard BreeuwerBPL Member
@tjaardLocale: Minnesota, USA
Try the smaller, made-in-north-america companies if you want to have any reasonable hope that you'll be talking to someone who knows anything technical about their products.
At least for down, you have that option, unlike for say, synthetics or baselayers.Sep 23, 2013 at 4:15 pm #2027444
Good point on the rnd. I know that there are some good aspects to large companies, nothing is ever completely black and white.
Thanks for sharing your experience. The other thing i failed to mention is that im in Canada. It often feels like were the farm team up here :) It might account for the different experiences.Sep 23, 2013 at 4:26 pm #2027452
Thanks for your insight. I have been reminded continually since posting this topic why its never a good idea to write in an impassioned state. I was unhappy at the time, and that did seep into my post.
Its good once in a while to have someone point out when you are out of line. Thank you for this sir.
Though i do not agree with all your points on big business, I can understand your viewpoint. In the same way that you chastened me, i think business must be held accountable by their customers. There are many ways to accomplish this, including being critical of them and their practices in a public forum.Sep 23, 2013 at 4:48 pm #2027462
Dale WambaughBPL Member
@dwambaughLocale: Pacific Northwest
There's no escape from Big Business: you get in bed with the big companies even when you buy from a cottage shop. Remember, all those high tech fabrics are made by even bigger mega-conglomerates— unless you are buying fabrics made by fair trade coops on hand looms with organic fibers.
I think you need to take each company on their particular merits and faults. Some are outright social and environmental villains while others are quite fair and conscientious.
Sounds like you found the idiots in their food chain for sure.Sep 23, 2013 at 5:55 pm #2027492
I've acquired a bunch MHW stuff from STP over the last few years and I've had nothing but good experiences with MHW customer service when calling to inquire about sizing and specs. The reps that I spoke with were generally quite knowledgable (at times even owning the item(s) that I was calling about and offering personal insight).Sep 23, 2013 at 8:44 pm #2027552
Steven ParisBPL Member
@saparisorLocale: Pacific Northwest
"I think business must be held accountable by their customers. There are many ways to accomplish this, including being critical of them and their practices in a public forum."
I agree and I think my post came off as overly-critical. I, too, try to support local, made somewhat easier living in Portland, an urban environment with good access to local food, wine, coffee, goods, transportation, etc. I think it's short-sighted to berate large companies just because they are large companies and also short-sighted to ignore the impacts of what and where a person buys things. I guess Dale summed it up nicely:
"I think you need to take each company on their particular merits and faults. Some are outright social and environmental villains while others are quite fair and conscientious."Sep 23, 2013 at 9:33 pm #2027569
Tony RoncoBPL Member
Hmm, your experience has been very different from mine when I have bought MHW products. I have found their customer service to be knowledgeable, and if they didn't know an answer they were willing to admit that and got back to me with the answer.
… and I didn't follow you on this:
"I did this because mountain hardwear does not sell direct"
Actually, you can buy any MHW product off directly off their website … and I've used their website to procure several pieces directly from them … go figure.Sep 23, 2013 at 10:32 pm #2027597
Ah yes, i did forget to explain this. I live north of the border, and they dont sell online to Canada. I forgot to clarify, and if i had it probably would have saved allot of confusion in other parts of the discussion.
It seems to me that if I just moved to the US all my gear related problems would be solved.Sep 23, 2013 at 11:06 pm #2027602
@pitsyLocale: Central Texas
Is your name really Forest Walker, or is that just what you do?Sep 24, 2013 at 1:04 am #2027618
"Ah yes, i did forget to explain this. I live north of the border, and they dont sell online to Canada. I forgot to clarify, and if i had it probably would have saved allot of confusion in other parts of the discussion."
I never bother with local suppliers/representatives. They are often not enthusiasts and are more interested/adept at in selling products to punters than in the specifics. I've talked to sales reps in shops and found them barely more knowledgeable than many sales assistants.
As far as Ghost Whisperer alternatives:
Montbell UL Down Parka/EX Light Jacket/Plasma 1000
Crux Halo/Pico/Nano (Halo available with optional hood)
PHD Wafer jacket w/ optional hoodSep 24, 2013 at 11:11 pm #2027961
@bolsterLocale: Between Jacinto & Gorgonio
I don't entirely understand…is the main objection to a company's size? As simple as "big is bad"? If so, you must hate governments, because they are the largest organizations known to humanity.
If on the other hand, you dislike salespeople who are unversed on their own products, then I understand completely. Of course, that can also happen at the smallest businesses.Sep 25, 2013 at 1:11 pm #2028204
Eric BlumensaadtBPL Member
@danepackerLocale: Mojave Desert
Before MH was bought by Colombia I was at a big ski convention (the last one held in Las Vegas). I mentioned to one of the MH reps at the booth that my MH gloves with their then proprietary "breathable" waterproof membrane did NOT breath.
At mid-day while patrolling my MH gloves and hands were WET, dangerously so. When I changed out to my Gore-Tex gloves the problem went away.
The MH rep argued ther their own "BWP" laminate did not have that problem. I said, "So I'm just imagining this problem every time I wear your gloves??"
He fell back on, "This is the first time I've heard of thid problem." line and I walked away in disgust.
I got the same thing from a Nordica booth rep when I complained about their Afterburner skis' top sheet falling apart at the edges. Even afer telling him I saw the very same problem with that model in Mammoth, CA at a rental ski sale he would not admit a problem. Even after telling him My Atomic TM 22 tele skis, which get a LOT more top side edge abuse don't fray he said it was "your skiing style" that caused the damage. AAARRRGGGHHH! What turds those reps can be.
LESSON: Company reps are often "Spin Doctors" and not intertested in criticism of their products or service, whether big or medium sized companies. Cottage industries are another story. Usually very good service and occasionally some flim-flamming.Sep 28, 2013 at 11:11 pm #2029263
@pitsyLocale: Central Texas
Well Duh… A sales rep at an industry convention isn't gonna shoot you straight. They don't want to deal with complaints at that kind of venue; it's just a meet-and-greet, demo the new gear, hand out some schwag kind of gig. You need to pin them down when they're at their office. Email works good for that. You know they don't want to BS you in an email. With customer service or warranty issues, I always get them to put it in writing.Oct 3, 2013 at 2:01 pm #2030564
Robert KellyBPL Member
@qiwizLocale: UL gear @ QiWiz.net
I can't comment on the company customer support, but I did have the chance earlier this year to get both the GW down jacket and the GW windshirt. The prices are very high. Would not have paid the price unless I got a meaningful discount.
BUT – they are both very nice pieces of gear that I will treasure and expect to use for years. Just back from 12 days in Glacier NP where I used both and was very pleased with weight and performance.Oct 3, 2013 at 2:59 pm #2030578
Valerie EBPL Member
@wildtownerLocale: Grand Canyon State
(Minor thread highjack)
It was really nice to see the OP's willingness to reconsider his original statements after hearing other arguments. All too often nowadays, people lack the moral fortitude it takes to say, "I was wrong" — so kudos to you for having the guts to re-think things, and to say so publicly!
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