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Discussion Starter #1
I have avoided posting on this topic for a while, deciding how to write it and say what needs to be said without affecting the people who are just doing their jobs. So let me start by saying this: Joel, I met you once at the Salida playpark and you seemed nice and helpful and whenever I had to talk to you, you lived up to what I expected. Hobie, the same goes for you and I think you are a great asset to the kayaking community. I know that you are a Dagger guy and this is a Wavesport problem (maybe), but just so you have a heads up on what might actually be a Confluence (not the Denver store) issue, which could affect Dagger down the road.


Anyways, a customer came into my store almost six months ago now with a cracked EZG, no big deal right? We had already returned a few and Wavesport/Confluence were handling the issue fairly reasonably at that time. This is not the case with this boat, they have refused to do anything but pass the blame to some other customer service rep. They have yet to issue a RA # and have continued to jerk our shop around about this boat. It has gotten to the point where we just told the customer to try and get a hold of the company himself. What do you think he got? Nadda. It has been six months (I find it hard to believe that that are backed up so badly to get 1 EZG out in that time period) and he has no new boat to replace his boat that he paid full retail for and had a well known manufacturer's defect in it. I have had to let him use my personal boat for the entire summer just so he could have a playboat.


Now Joel, I know that you have been contacted about this, and I also know that it is not your department so it isn't your responsibility. What I would like to know is, is this Wavesport's doing or is this Confluence's? Because if it is the firsts then it is just poor customer service and they will lose customers that way, if it is the latter they are sabotaging the Wavesport name and they will still lose customers (this is where I would warn Hobie about what Confluence is doing if that is the case)
If this whole thing has to do with my store and the relation ship which I understand has been rocky between the owners and others than this just comes off as petty kindergarten BS and customers will still be lost.


The main point is: Customer has waited six months, no boat = bad customer service somewhere in an industry that cannot afford it.
Kevin
 

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Thanks for the heads up and I will pass along the information. This is the first I have heard of it and for good reason I guess, I work with Dagger Kayaks, not WS. Regadless, I hate to see a paddler go without his well deserved boat. I work very hard to keep an eye out for any Dagger related issues and address them quickly. I think most paddlers in Dagger boats know I have thier back. Again, I have sent this on to Easley and will try to help you out. It's a Wave Sport thing but I am a paddler and can't leave you hanging. I will pm you when I get word back.


hobie
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Discussion Starter #4
As usual Hobie you are the man, and I wanted to make it clear that this is a Wavesport issue and has nothing to do with Hobie or Dagger, I was just giving the heads up if it is actually a Confluence thing.
Thanks,
Kevin
 

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Lucky you

Kevin,

You got off easy. In the last two years we have warrentied more Wave Sport boats than we have sold. Three years ago the EZG was our top selling boat. Today we are paying the price.

The problem lays in three major areas:

1) a major design flaw in the Wave Sport cockpit rim. The "kiss-offs", or the crimped areas on the combing of the cockpit lip. Fail to allow enough plastic to collect during the molding process. After very little use, or even apon delivery, crack or have holes form in the boat.

2) the company stance tends to be the "ostrich defense". You know the one where they bury their heads in the sand and hope everything blows over. We tried to confront them at OR last year and they blew us off, telling us to watch a power point presentation, and watch the swinging watch, relax, count back from ten, and buy more boats.

3) Confluence is owned by a huge multi trust company. It is this parent company that has their own bean counters in charge of making decisions on what boats will be warrentied and which ones will be denied. Their main job is to deny everyone they can, because the more boats they replace the less profit they make.

The field rep and in-house rep's hands are tied behind their backs. By definition their job is to sell boats, not to be involved in warrenty process. By keeping them out of the process, they can spend more time adding new accounts and selling more boats. It also give them the ability to say " I've done everything in my power to help you- I'm sorry there's nothing more I can do".

As a retailor the frustration is ten fold. I'm even further down the list then the reps. See they tell us to shut up and buy more boats, or if we don't they'll open up more shops in our area making life even harder for us. They have even told us to sell boats that we know are defective, and have the customers deal with the boats once they crack all the way through. I'm not going to lie to anyone, so those stupid things sit on the floor with no hope of ever selling.

I say you got off lucky, because it's only been six months and you're only dealing with one boat. I have six on my plate right now, and more coming in every week. The customers don't see my side of things, they think it's my fault they are getting the run around. I'll I can do it take the insults, try to defuse the issue, and deal with the man. It really sucks and some days it doesn't feel like such a great job after all. But, what can you do?

You can do one thing... buy a Jackson.
 

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I have to say Joel is a good man.... I had a problem with a boat a couple of years ago and "he did all that he could" to take care of me. So I am with you guys, this is not a personal issue. It seems more corporate in nature.

I would post this on boater talk.

ben
 

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Hi,
First off, thanks to Hobie for bringing this to my attention. Thanks Kevin for understanding who Hobie and I are and not going after us personally. One of the big reasons I never post on the internet chatrooms is that it's an impossible situation as a rep for a company. Inevitably you get unjustly flamed and end up in a faceless argument with someone you don't even know and the truth never seems to bear out.

In this case, I believe you are right. Obviously. It appears Confluence's customer service has failed this paddler.

For clarification "Confluence" is the mothership name to the company that holds the two seperate brands, Dagger and Wave Sport among others. Just Like "Legacy Paddlesports" holds Liquid Logic and Heritage and "Johnson Worldwide" hold Ocean kayak, Necky, Old Town etc..

In this case Kevin, I'm not 100% sure which shop you work for or which warranty claim, customer name you are refering too. If you had emailed me that, I could've looked into it and affected change. Please do that now, send a PM with that info or ask your shop for my email addy and sent it that way.

Confluence has had growing pains for the past couple of years since the merger with Watermark. Things have been pretty overwhelming trying to integrate and manage 5 of the most popular brands in the world. It's been a difficult time for myself, Hobie and the company. That's again another reason you don't see me on here blowing smoke trying to defend some pretty indefensible things.

However, the barriers have been taken down recently. Big change is on the way and not a moment too soon. Please read the article below. SNEWS is kind of an industry watchdog that puts out articles to dealers and manufacturers telling them what's happening in the Paddlesports world.

Believe me, I've been associated with Wave Sport for 20 years whether as a team paddler(way back before there were official teams) or as the sales manager, then a rep etc... There are great people working at Confluence who are paddlers and understand what what it takes to build a company by taking care of paddlers. We are on our way back now.

Note: Apparently this post is too long with the article so I'll post the Snews article next. A link won't work in this case.

Sincerely,
Joel McBride
 

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Here's the article I referenced.

Could new acting CEO Tom Nathanson be what Confluence has needed?
Posted: 06/25/2007 In Category(s): Outdoor



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After executives of American Capital Strategies (ACS) visited the Easley, S.C., headquarters of Confluence Holdings the second week in June, it became clear they would consider making changes at the top level, according to insiders who spoke with SNEWS�. That change came about on June 14 when Bob Sharp was removed from his position as acting CEO of Confluence, and it was announced that Tom Nathanson, head of the ACS industrial group (which specializes in company operations), would step in to oversee Confluence.


Nathanson, who seems refreshingly candid and honest in tone, told SNEWS� that while he wasn't jumping up and down asking for the job, he was eager to accept the challenge of restoring Confluence's reputation.


"I was asked if I would personally take the job, and I immediately agreed," said Nathanson, who spoke with SNEWS� shortly after arriving in Easley. "I am happy to be here, and, from my initial observations, I am very encouraged. I think the biggest and most important thing we need to do is step back and catch our breath a bit."


Citing his immediate concern for the well being of both the Confluence employees and customers, Nathanson told us that he is not coming in to immediately focus only on the bottom line. "We have to first take care of our employees and our customers. I am having employee meetings with all shifts starting tomorrow, and I will share with them what they can expect from me and what we need to do to make sure we are a good performing company. I will also be at Summer Market to meet personally with as many of our customers as possible."


Starting immediately, and under Nathanson's direction, Confluence is beginning a process to hire more employees and key staff to rectify the well-documented failures in customer service, accounting and shipping.


Nathanson realizes that his honeymoon period will likely be very short (with some retailers, there won't be one at all), and he's fine with that, he told SNEWS�. "There is no sugar coating our performance -- it has been embarrassing,� he said. �I do think this company appears to have been an excellent supplier in the past, and there is nothing I see that tells me we can't be an excellent supplier again."


Though he currently holds the title of acting CEO of Confluence, Nathanson told us he doesn't want that job for long.


"One of my top priorities is to fill the long-vacant CEO position. Ideally, I would like to be able to name a new CEO in the next 90 days, and we do have some very serious and excellent candidates already in consideration," Nathanson said, while also noting that, sometimes, things do take a bit longer than hoped for.


Still, he said that this hire is key.


"When we talk about employees and customers and meeting their needs, they need the kind of leadership (that comes from) a CEO who is dedicated to the company from an executive standpoint," said Nathanson.


He emphasized again that one of the reasons he was not going to be managing Confluence from the bottom line is that he feels he has been given an opportunity to learn about a business environment that he has not really encountered before -- where being an enthusiast really matters.


"I have an interesting job with American Capital," Nathanson told SNEWS�. "I go into companies and, each time, basically have folks tell me that they are different than anyone else for one reason or another. But really, the issues are the same -- you have people, product and customers. At least that is what I thought. But this truly is the first company where there is something different that I can see and feel, so I may have to eat my words a little bit here.


"It is clear to me, unless I am proved wrong, that in this business, it is the enthusiast that runs it, not the financial people, if you are going to be successful," added Nathanson. "If you want the numbers to come, you have to make a commitment to the culture. This will be different, and a bit of a challenge as this is not the way I would normally manage."


Though he is not making any promises yet -- noting he's only been on the job a little over a week -- Nathanson did allow that he sees great potential and opportunity to fix the problems�maybe not overnight, but soon. "I do think we have a great core group of people, and we need more. I am not a boater, but from what I can see, the brands look to be solid. The products are great. All the things that are currently wrong are very embarrassing to us, obviously, and they are basic things�fixable things. It may not be great for a little while yet, but we understand the goal."


SNEWS� View: For more than three years, Confluence has existed behind a Berlin Wall of non-communication and somewhat dictatorial rule that�s not at all well suited to engendering good will and high morale amongst employees and retail customers. ACS finally tore down the wall that Bob Sharp built. Nathanson acknowledged that ACS realized change was needed. And what a change it is. Indeed, in our 30 minutes of conversing with Nathanson, we were not only pleasantly impressed -- we were downright thrilled. ACS has invested $64 million in Confluence to date. They will now, likely, invest more. And with Nathanson at the helm, it will be money well spent we suspect. Nathanson told us that his basic tenets for operating a business were respect, fairness and honesty, and that is refreshing. Not only did he answer our questions directly, but he also took notes, and asked questions of his own. This is a man who listens, observes, sees what needs to be done, puts the right people in place to get it done, and then empowers them with the needed tools to actually do it. Nathanson is acutely aware that this is Confluence's final chance with many retailers, and he accepts that. Based on our first interaction, we are sufficiently impressed to suggest that retailers give Confluence a bit more time to right the ship. We suspect that the company finally has a skipper who knows how to sail. Oh, and for the record, he told us he's going to start paddling a little bit to better understand the company -- how's that for character!



 

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Thanks for the Snews story Joel. We speak of change all the time, Tom is a great example of the direction. I like his ideas as they are exactly how we all feel as paddlers and representatives of our brands. I was stoked to see there is someone at the wheel that cares and can get it done! Awesome.
 

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I am the customer that Kevin is talking about in the original post. First, thanks much to Kevin for taking the time to post that and lending me his personal boat for this summer till this point.

Joel, I was about to contact you directly regarding this in hopes that you could do something about this issue. As Kevin said, I brought this boat into the Mountain Shop in Fort Collins on Feb 11 and have been constantly talking to the Mountain Shop about about the status of it. They have been getting the run around from Confluence since the beginning. They have sent picture of the cracks which, to me, clearly look like a warranty issue and haven't heard anything other than "we are looking into into it". I have attempted to contact Jeff (don't know his last name) at Confluence and have heard nothing back after leaving messages. I heard after several months The Mountain Shop contacted you and was hopeful that you might be able to do something about it. The last time I talked to them they had not heard back from you either. I am not mentioning this to indict you since this issue is not directly your problem, only to say that the Mountain Shop has gone out of their way to help me in dealing with a corporation that is stonewalling it customers.

At this point, I would like to hear how Confluence expects me to proceed next? Since I have followed their stated policy of trying to work through a shop with no luck, it seems to me the only way to get results it to bring this out in a public forum.

Rick Gaudette
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Joel and Hobie, once again I want to thank you for your work. Everyone who is reading this, this situation is not their fault and if you flame either of them I will hunt you down. Joel, thank you for your post on Confluence and I hope those actions occur sooner than later. I am worried about how long it will take to revamp an entire system because somebody has been told to say exactly what in this situation, down to the phone operator.

Don,
We have also had our fair share of EZG warranties, this was just the last one to come in. And if you think we are lucky think again, because the reason why this is our last one is that The Mountain Shop (Ft. Collins) is closing its doors. I will agree with you that it is hard to make money off of boats, they always want you to buy more, more, more and the margin after shipping is so small its not worth it. As a small shop we can't do that, we didn't even carry whitewater this year and now we are closing up.

Joel, that is who I work for The Mountain Shop. Probably not your favorite of places but you have always been helpful to me. Hope to see you all on the river.

Kevin
 

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Don,
This kind of worries me. As you know I bought an EZG from you last year. I bought it cause I thought it would be a good all around boat that I could hang on to for a while and I bought it new so I would have a warantee. I love it, but I don't boat it that often since I'm always in my creek boat. Do EZG's really crack that often? How long is the warrantee for that sort of thing? Is mine bound to crack after the warantee is up since I only boat it a few times a year after the creeks have dried up? Do I have to get out there and start pounding it to make sure it won't crack before the warantee is up? (Not that it sounds like Wavesport will replace it anyway)
Bruno
 

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Remember the old school WS plastic it was bomber like the old Dagger cross link my Response was made with.
Production cost and volume has a price.
Hmmm wonder when the last time Prijon change their blend ??
Good luck rickg
sinkcerely
 

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"It is clear to me, unless I am proved wrong, that in this business, it is the enthusiast that runs it, not the financial people, if you are going to be successful," added Nathanson. "If you want the numbers to come, you have to make a commitment to the culture. This will be different, and a bit of a challenge as this is not the way I would normally manage."


This quote by Nathanson sounds like he might have a grasp on the nature of this business. If not, we might be seeing business evoluiton take place.
 

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what???

the mtn shop is closing its doors? say it isn't so kevin, say it isn't so.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Its all your fault too, if you weren't out there running the gnar on Bull Lake then you could have stood outside with a sign waving it frantically like the Little Caesars guys do. It could have saved us. It is true The Mountain Shop done.
 

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yeah, kind of agree with whoever said "dont buy WS"....

still, soemthing needs to be done. im thinking, sackage of this corporate ownership? show up to their pretty little boardroom with a bunch of smelly kayaks and smelly kayakers in river gear. threaten some beatings unless shit changes. send the RCRE in there, the upper management at this alleged "Confluence" company will come crawling out on their knees crying after twenty minutes under those guys. sad to hear about boaters getting screwed by the system, it fuckin happens and it sucks when it does.

maybe buy a Liquid Logic next time so you dont have the design flaws to begin with...?
 

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Laziness in mass production

I think the problem is in the mass production of boats. The more the mass, the lesser of quality.
Boat manufacturers "test" their plastics making sure the pour is even in all areas, in all parts. The more places you test, the more confidence they'll have in their products. Long story short......LiquidLogic does the most extensive plastic tests out there. As a result, they back their product.
 

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they didn't for me. MANY cracks in a short span of time & had to spend a fortune to get a new hull. (unlike riot, at least they let me buy a hull though)

Don't buy Jackson (I want them to stay low quantity so my boats are always well built)
 
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