On-line Outdoor Retailers

A short entry, I just wanted to jot down a few thoughts about online retailers, especially the “outdoor” ones. In my experience, there are three categories of these; great, awful and indifferent.

The vast majority fall into the indifferent category of course, neither providing an outstanding service, nor doing anything to make me feel they had performed badly – they just don’t impress one way or the other. In this category I would include; Ellis Brigham, Millets, Simply Hike and one or two others who I can’t think of immediately.

The remaining two categories have done something out of the ordinary, something to bring them to my special attention, making an indelible impression on me, for better or worse.

The worst one so far, by a long way has been gear-zone.co.uk. They are very cheap in comparison to other sites and perhaps here, with other areas, you get what you pay for. I ordered my sleeping bag and sleeping mat from them and very shortly after they took my payment, I was told they were waiting for stock, but would ship within 14 working days. Okay I was in no great hurry, so I let it ride. I sent them an email after 10 working days, just to keep them on their toes and see where the order was up to. They stuck to their story – expect a delivery within the next week or so. Nothing arrived. So another 10 days later I sent another email asking where the kit was. Oh dear, sorry sir, we had a delivery, but not as many as expected and we’re not able to fill your order – we are expecting another delivery in 10 days or so.

Now maybe they just didn’t have the items in stock, but then that should have been made clear at time of ordering. At no point did they send me any communication to say where things were up to, I had to chase each time. Not impressed, I cancelled the order. It took them another 3 days to refund my money – which they had for over a month!

In the great category fall two retailers so far; www.backpackinglight.co.uk and www.outdoorkit.co.uk.

Both of these sites provided an excellent service – both told me items were not in stock when I ordered and both delivered items overnight.

The cancelled order for the sleeping bag and mat, I now placed with www.outdoorkit.co.uk and got a great service. The guy rang me to tell me he had no left hand zip bags in stock and would I take a right hand one? Even though the order was placed at 4pm, I got the stuff the next day – and it was only £6 more expensive than the useless buggers at gear-zone. Well done Martin at www.outdoorkit.co.uk!!!

Bob and Rose and www.backpackinglight.co.uk deserve some sort of award, I’ve already mentioned elsewhere the stuff I bought from them and that arrived next day, even though there were about 7 items in the order. I also got a handwritten note from Rose thanking me for the feedback I had left regarding Bob’s podcasts and a small packet of wine gums – gratis!! Now that’s service!! Well done Bob and Rose.

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