the kokatat lifetime warranty - Mountain Buzz
 



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Old 09-23-2015   #1
 
Corvallis, Oregon
Paddling Since: 2010
Join Date: Jun 2011
Posts: 15
the kokatat lifetime warranty

I got a harsh education in what a lifetime warranty means for a kokatat drysuit today. I bought a kokatat meridian dry-suit in fall 2013 mostly on the basis of that term "life-time" warranty, and kokatat's stature as the big dog dry suit company in the business.

Having already had a dry suit go down hill quickly i lubricated the zippers with 303 every couple weeks while in use and kept the suit clean. The suit stayed dry for about 5 or 6 trips and then became more and more porous until the neck gasket ripped after about 8 months and I sent it in for repairs. It cost a little over 100 dollars to repair including shipping costs to and fro. Similarly the suit was water tight for a few trips and then deteriorated.

About 6 months later the zipper stopped working and I sent it in again. This time two pressure tests were needed ($20 each), the suit had to be cleaned ($25), and the neck and wrist gasket were replaced ($67.50 and $35.50), and with labor, materials, etc., and shipping each way it was around 250 dollars. Same story; a few good trips and then I'd be soaked to the skin each time out.

I sent the suit in again a couple weeks ago, and first thing got a peremptory request for authorization to clean the suit ($25). I felt the suit was clean so I expressed my displeasure succinctly and politely and got this reply:

My supervisor took a look at your suit and deemed your suit un-repairable. It has been worn out. There is no need to wash it now. It will be sent back at no charge.

I naively thought lifetime warranty applied to the owner of the suit. Here is kokatat's clarification:

Lifetime refers to the suit not the owner. You destroyed your suit and the life of it is over. It is un-repairable. Our warranty is through Gore-tex and gore-tex holds us to rigorous stipulations. Gore-tex will not take your suit back and so we cannot. If you have a problem with our warranty send your suit to gore-tex and see what they say.

The tone of the communication isn't "sorry about the bad news about your dry suit," it's more like "fuck off you presumptuous piece of shit," but my only interest in all this is to have a good dry suit to go kayaking in when it starts raining here again so that doesn't matter to me.

To summarize: Your kokatat dry suit is warrantied for as long as kokatat wants to warranty it. The lifetime of the suit can be expediently deemed over when convenient. Was my drysuit actually "destroyed"? I'm not an expert but I don't think so. A hole in the skin of the suit in one of the booties, some abrading of the goretex around the torso, but very much salvgeable. I surmise that they were unhappy about my complaint about the cleaning charge and chose to throw this in my face.

I guess it's my fault for not understanding what lifetime warranty meant in this context. In my defense lifetime warranty can in fact mean lifetime of the owner and does for many products. Consumer products says lifetime warranty has no universal standard or definition so you have to read the fine print.

I feel a bit hard done by because the other outfits that make kayaking stuff are so generous, helpful, and accommodating with gear issues. Anyone who has warrantied a jackson or dagger boat can understand what I'm talking about probably. The warranty is spelled out at purchase and honored quickly and without having to pay for and arrange shipping for the boat. That kind of treatment really makes me want to do business with those companies.

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Old 09-23-2015   #2
 
Golden, 80401
Paddling Since: 2013
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 6
Quote:
Originally Posted by dinsdalw View Post
I got a harsh education in what a lifetime warranty means for a kokatat drysuit today. I bought a kokatat meridian dry-suit in fall 2013 mostly on the basis of that term "life-time" warranty, and kokatat's stature as the big dog dry suit company in the business.

Having already had a dry suit go down hill quickly i lubricated the zippers with 303 every couple weeks while in use and kept the suit clean. The suit stayed dry for about 5 or 6 trips and then became more and more porous until the neck gasket ripped after about 8 months and I sent it in for repairs. It cost a little over 100 dollars to repair including shipping costs to and fro. Similarly the suit was water tight for a few trips and then deteriorated.

About 6 months later the zipper stopped working and I sent it in again. This time two pressure tests were needed ($20 each), the suit had to be cleaned ($25), and the neck and wrist gasket were replaced ($67.50 and $35.50), and with labor, materials, etc., and shipping each way it was around 250 dollars. Same story; a few good trips and then I'd be soaked to the skin each time out.

I sent the suit in again a couple weeks ago, and first thing got a peremptory request for authorization to clean the suit ($25). I felt the suit was clean so I expressed my displeasure succinctly and politely and got this reply:

My supervisor took a look at your suit and deemed your suit un-repairable. It has been worn out. There is no need to wash it now. It will be sent back at no charge.

I naively thought lifetime warranty applied to the owner of the suit. Here is kokatat's clarification:

Lifetime refers to the suit not the owner. You destroyed your suit and the life of it is over. It is un-repairable. Our warranty is through Gore-tex and gore-tex holds us to rigorous stipulations. Gore-tex will not take your suit back and so we cannot. If you have a problem with our warranty send your suit to gore-tex and see what they say.

The tone of the communication isn't "sorry about the bad news about your dry suit," it's more like "fuck off you presumptuous piece of shit," but my only interest in all this is to have a good dry suit to go kayaking in when it starts raining here again so that doesn't matter to me.

To summarize: Your kokatat dry suit is warrantied for as long as kokatat wants to warranty it. The lifetime of the suit can be expediently deemed over when convenient. Was my drysuit actually "destroyed"? I'm not an expert but I don't think so. A hole in the skin of the suit in one of the booties, some abrading of the goretex around the torso, but very much salvgeable. I surmise that they were unhappy about my complaint about the cleaning charge and chose to throw this in my face.

I guess it's my fault for not understanding what lifetime warranty meant in this context. In my defense lifetime warranty can in fact mean lifetime of the owner and does for many products. Consumer products says lifetime warranty has no universal standard or definition so you have to read the fine print.

I feel a bit hard done by because the other outfits that make kayaking stuff are so generous, helpful, and accommodating with gear issues. Anyone who has warrantied a jackson or dagger boat can understand what I'm talking about probably. The warranty is spelled out at purchase and honored quickly and without having to pay for and arrange shipping for the boat. That kind of treatment really makes me want to do business with those companies.
Sounds like you got a lemon, I would try to escalate this further.
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Old 09-23-2015   #3
 
Glen Vegas, Florida
Paddling Since: 92
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 354
That sucks... The kokatat warranty only really seems to kick in if the goretex goes bad. Another thing to note when kayaking during the summer months you sweat a lot and it may seem like your suit is leaky when in actuality it is just perspiration.
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Old 09-23-2015   #4
 
Mad Scientist/Creeker
Join Date: Oct 2003
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Not sure if tyberesk has the best advice there to "escalate," further. But couple things to note and if you're respectable about dealing with them they may change their tune.

1. Unfortunately you may have pre-maturely destroyed your zipper by, "lubricating" it with 303. 303 is by no means meant to be used on zippers. It actually dries them out further and deteriorates the surrounding material. There is a product called zip tech specifically designed for lubricating drysuit zippers. 303 is meant to be used on gaskets but it is merely sun protection. To actually lube and protect gaskets you need Seal Saver, except it's no longer made, but I think McNett may now make a different but similar product for gaskets.

2. Cleaning of the drysuit is a tricky one but understand that Kokatat spends a ton of time with your drysuit when you send it back and cleaning it should not be their job. A drysuit works so so so much better when it's clean and to really clean it you need to use a wash product like Nikwax Tech Wash. The pressure test will not work on a dirty drysuit because it will cause leaks where the dirt is clogging the Gore-Tex pores. From my recollection water tests only cost $5 and the shipping brings it to $20ish. Maybe they've changed the policy though.

3. I'm having a hard time believing the suit was soaking you to the bone after 5-6 uses and this may be why tyberesk thinks it's a lemon. I've owned numerous Kokatat drysuits and none have ever leaked that quickly. My norm would be for it to stay bone dry through around hundred uses, then send it back and get a hundred more.

4. From my customer service experience with Kokatat I also have a hard time believing you "succinctly and politely" expressed your displeasure and that then, all of the sudden your drysuit was deemed unrepairable.

Maybe something is missing from the story, maybe not, but I would advise again succinctly and politely expressing that you'll either pay for the suit to be cleaned or, if they already sent it back to you, clean it and send it back and have it repaired again. On my oldest drysuits I've always used NikWax Gore-Tex tach wash to clean then TX direct Wash-In to return the suit to a DWR like finish where water will bead off it, after getting it back from Kokatat repairing it. Also wearing socks on the outside of your booties is a great way to save the socks on the suit. How hard of use are you putting this bad boy through?
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Old 09-23-2015   #5
 
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Sylva, Western North Carolina
Paddling Since: 1981
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 73
I'm not sure if I have enough grounds to call bullshit or a troll alert, but the original post doesn't make sense to me. So here goes...

I have two Kokatat suits, Goretex Meridian and Hydrus Meridian. I've sent the both back to Kokatat for service and I've been very pleased. I managed to tear the Hydrus suit twice in the right shoulder during some upside Class IV down antics. They repaired both for $20 plus shipping each incident. No issues.

I just got my Goretex Meridian back from pressure test and service. I've had this suit since Fall 2012 and I paddle over 100 days of whitewater a year, wearing a drysuit all but 3-4 months. It seems I spend most of my time in a drysuit. I'm on my second set of gaskets, replaced at 1.5 years at Kayak Academy. They had a faster turnaround and are an authorized repair center. I sent the suit back this time because I felt if needed a pressure test for age and my socks seemed a bit more damp than from just sweat during a SWR class this year. They patched around 35 pinholes in the suit for $20 plus shipping. Once again, no issues and I'm happy.

You thought the suit was clean? Did you wash it before you sent it in? If not, it wasn't clean. I wash mine in a large commercial front loader with Nikwax Techwash before I send it in. I'm courteous enough to not subject the person repairing the suit to my stank ass and river funk.

There is no such thing as being completely dry paddling. Layering under a drysuit is an art. Too many layers, you sweat your ass off and get soaked from sweat. Too few layers and you are cold, but dryer. It's an art. I can't believe your suit "became porous" after just a few trips. If I paddle hard, I sweat, it's that simple. Goretex breaths, but it's still more waterproof than breathable, as it should be. Tell me you aren't wearing cotton under the suit.

Lifetime warranty does not mean you get to a lifetime of free suits whenever you wear them out. The warranty applies to a defect in the fabric or construction. It's not a suit of armor, its only fabric. Suits wear out, it's that simple.

Your story is not the typical customer service experience I hear about from Kokatat. It sounds to me like you sent in your abused and river funk laden suit in twice expecting them to give you a new one and now you must flame them in the public forum they called you on it.

If I am wrong, I apologize, but that's what I get from your story. Best of luck finding a suit and service your happy with. Be safe out there.
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Old 09-23-2015   #6
 
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Boise, Idaho
Paddling Since: 1979
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dinsdalw View Post
The tone of the communication isn't "sorry about the bad news about your dry suit," it's more like "fuck off you presumptuous piece of shit," but my only interest in all this is to have a good dry suit to go kayaking in when it starts raining here again so that doesn't matter to me.
You're not the only one that has recently had a bad experience with Kokatat repair/customer service.
I was treated very rudely by their repair department when I complained about them not standing behind their product that was delaminating after very light usage.
Contacting customer service got me nowhere--they just referred my complaint back to the repair shop.
I was being polite and reasonable, and the garment was clean.
I'd been treated fairly by them in the past--maybe there's a new regime...
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Old 09-24-2015   #7
 
Great Falls, Montana
Paddling Since: .3
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 1,044
Just to clarify, how long have you had that suit?

I will admit that for as much as these cost I will seriously re-consider my purchase of one since they are defining their warranty subjectively. When I have voiced my concern about the cost of these suits it is always the warranty they use to justify it.

I'm asking about how long you have had it because there is no such thing as a suit that will last forever, but it sounds like you haven't had it for very long. The other guys above shot back so quickly that they sound like they are either Kokatat or are affiliated with them so I will ask questions because I'm hoping that their customer service "tone" is usually better than this.

T
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Old 09-24-2015   #8
 
FC, Colorado
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 141
I have to agree that their "lifetime warranty" is pretty bogus in comparison to the warranty program of other technical apparel manufacturers. I sent two clean suits back last year, both old and worn out but still functional, which were also deemed "unrepairable." On one of them, the gore-tex was legitimately delaminating and when I brought this up and asked if it would be covered by their lifetime warranty I got the same unsatisfying response as those above. The really painful part is that they returned the suits with a catalog that touted their industry unique "lifetime warranty" on the inside cover. Kokatat still makes the best dry gear out there, but take their warranty claims with a grain of salt before you drop $1000.
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Old 09-24-2015   #9
 
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Sylva, Western North Carolina
Paddling Since: 1981
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 73
I'm not affiliated with Kokatat. I have two suits and a drytop. My three experiences with repair and customer service have been favorable. I paddle Class III-IV whitewater water year round, at least 100 days the last three years with most of that in a drysuit.

I feel some paddlers do not understand you cannot stay completely dry in any circumstances. You will be wet from sweat, especially if you paddle in humid areas like the southeast. The placement of your skirt and PFD interfere with the breathability of the suit. Some may interpret this as a "failure", which it is not.

I don't have an explanation for the change in customer service from Kokatat. Perhaps the warranty has been abused and this is the first indicator they may be going to a change in policy? Who know? REI changed their lifetime warranty.

I'll still buy Kokatat as long as the products and services are good.


Quote:
Originally Posted by ob1coby View Post
Just to clarify, how long have you had that suit?

I will admit that for as much as these cost I will seriously re-consider my purchase of one since they are defining their warranty subjectively. When I have voiced my concern about the cost of these suits it is always the warranty they use to justify it.

I'm asking about how long you have had it because there is no such thing as a suit that will last forever, but it sounds like you haven't had it for very long. The other guys above shot back so quickly that they sound like they are either Kokatat or are affiliated with them so I will ask questions because I'm hoping that their customer service "tone" is usually better than this.

T




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Old 09-24-2015   #10
 
OTR, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2006
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Lifetime warranty- you expected your drysuit to last or be replaced or serviced by kokatat for the rest of your life? That doesn't sound entirely reasonable to me.

Charging for a pressure test is news to me- either Kokatat changed their policy or maybe you pissed someone off?

Being a bike mechanic, I can understand charging a cleaning fee before maintenance is done. People bring in dirty bikes that can take 20 minutes to clean to the point that they can be properly serviced. Time and cleaning supplies aren't free so we need to cover costs somehow.

I don't mean to bash your post, just trying to make sense of the situation as I have had nothing but extremely good experiences with kokatat- my drytop is going strong after 9 years and my drysuit is still solid after 5 years. Hopefully that trend continues.

Good luck finding a suit that works for you!
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