Alaska Kayak School: Bad Experience!!!!

Hopefully my experience is an isolated one, but I had a really terrible experience dealing with Tom from Alaska Kayaking School…or akkayakschool on ebay.

I bought a paddle from him on ebay that I wanted to return because it had a ferrule that was so tight that my wife could not even put it together (I have owned about a dozen of the foam cored Werner paddles and have never had one with a ferrule this tight). Since those paddles can be a bit finicky to get apart as it is I wanted to return it which was totally in accordance with his return policy which stated returns were accepted within 14 days and stated no stipulations.

The amount of sarcasim, negative comments and just plain disrespect that gave me over the course of several emails was unparalleled. I mean he was a complete and total _ _ _ to me despite my being quite polite.

I for one am a big believer in treating others with respect (which is probably why I sometimes get a bit upset on this forum when people are rude which happens from time to time; however, an internet forum is one thing and a business is another).

Again, I can only share my experience here and cannot make any categorical statements about Tom or his business, but I can say that the treatment and attitude I got from him was pretty shocking.

In the end he did give me my money back, but the buying experience was not one that I was happy with, and frankly I do believe that the paddle was bordering on being defective in the first place and one that I would have had issue with listing on ebay without disclosing that issue.

Make your own judgements but I put this out there for all of you who may buy from him on ebay or on this site where they sell a whole lot of stuff in the classified section.

I will not be buying from him again…


Irresponsible and immature
I can see that though not sure you can.

doesn’t sound good
OTOH, I had a fair transaction with them, on a used paddle. Every year, now, I check their end of season sales, thinking I might pick up another.

sharing my experience so that others can make informed decisions. Nothing unprofessional or emotional in my post…just the facts. You can make your own assessment and choices about whether to do business with them.

Since they sell a lot here on this forum I think it is appropriate to provide this feedback for people to be aware of and make informed decisions about buying from them.



Two sides
I know Tom, he provided kayaks for two multi-week Alaska trips for me and my paddling partner. He also provided invaluable advice, good humor, and fantastic customer service. He’s a very hard working family man and a great paddler.

I don’t know you but your posts seem thoughtful and well considered. Whatever happened between the two of you is unfortunate and surprising.

But in the end you got what you wanted, which was a full refund.


I agree with your disagreement

– Last Updated: Aug-11-12 8:19 AM EST –

One of the most valuable things about the 'net is airing of consumer gripes. Your post has potential value to me, even though I have given contradictory testimony.

Has your single post persuaded me not to deal with the seller? No.

Now, if you see more people chiming in with similar experiences to yours, the seller would have a problem, in my eyes.

If you get nothing but positive comments about the seller, I'd consider your experience a fluke, where a comment from one of you unintentionally set the other off, and it degraded from there.

On another kayak forum I've followed, I saw some instances where vendors responded to the OP. In one case, poise and reason and quoted material made the OP look pretty foolish. In another case, the vendor showed himself to be such a jerk that I would never do business with him.

I can only share my experience. I was polite and respectful and requested a refund for the paddle which was in accordance with his return policy (basically a no questions asked return policy).

He got very testy with me and did not want to give me my money back and tried to argue with me that my assessment was incorrect and inaccurate, and got quite condescending and obnoxious, and in the end he had to have the last word even after he gave my money back telling me that my claim about the paddled was completely unjustified, etc.

Basically the guy was really nice until I wanted a refund and then was real jerk about the whole thing.

I don’t like people being a jerk to me, especially if I am a customer. There once was a saying that the customer is always right.

Now if I were going to drop BIG MONEY to go on a trip up to Alaska to paddle, I woudl not want to risk doing business with a guy that is volatile and may be nice one minute and a complete jerk the next if you “set him off”

Again, just my experience, but I am a pretty reasonable and respectful guy and if I set him off then just about anyone would be able to set him off I would think.

But then again, there is no excuse for ever getting “set off” in a professional capacity if you are truly a professional.

Yes I did get my money back, but I would have gotten it back anyway, whether he wanted to give it to me or not. That is how ebay and paypal work in favor of the buyer, with little the seller can really do about it, especially when the seller has a policy that states he accepts returns.

I think that if his hands were not tied he woudl not have given me the refund. He certainly was doing all that he could to avoid fulfilling his obligations to comply with his own return policy which was supposed to be basically with no questions asked.


my experience
w. Tom has been excellent, going back before he started his eBay business:

Snapdragon Supratex skirt - $45 plus shipping. Barely used, very clean. A small black M on the skirt deck to denote the deck size. That’s all.

Kokatat drysuit sold used at 30% - it was used one weekend. Clean and flawless. In year 3 of use, no issues.

Since then 3 of my friends have bought those slightly used Kokatat drysuits from him - he is a Kokatat dealer and the warranty is upheld. And he’s been great to deal w. by email or phone.

In one case, he sent the wrong size (XL) in a used drysuit to a friend who’d ordered size L. He asked Ed to send the drysuit back - at his expense - and without waiting for it to arrive, Tom sent a NEW drysuit in the correct size, for the same price. Shipping and insurance on him. With apologies for the error.

Another half dozen of my friends have bought Werner paddles, a Kokatat anorak, pogies, DVDs, and Snapdragon skirts. All very satisfied.

In my experience Tom grades his used items pretty tough. They are actually in superb, near mint condition.

Not questioning bowler’s experience, or saying he’s in the wrong. Reasonable ppl have unreasonable days. I like what Lyn said.

Just counterbalancing his experience with over a dozen very positive ones. I wouldn’t hesitate to buy from Tom Pogson and I hope someday to get up to Alaska Kayak Academy to paddle w. him.

agree with bowler
He’s just stating what happened to him.

Ppl may disagree as to whether or not that’s typical of Tom if they’ve had good experiences with him, but that doesn’t render bowler’s experience or his stating of it ‘irresponsible and immature’.

Perhaps Tom was having a bad day? We all do, sometimes. Or (and hopefully not) perhaps he’s nice until a return is involved. I have known ppl like that, and would hope that Tom is not one of them.

Sometimes, people just have a bad moment
day or week. $#!t happens.

glad to hear that others have had more positive experiences.

Agree people have bad days. This would have been more like a bad week as it was numerous and repeated occurences of sarcasim and disprespect. Personally as an Army officer I am a big believer in the concept of there being “no excuse” for certain things.

However, I would be happier about the whole situation to just make ammends and would be more than happy to accept his apology, but doubt that he will offer it.

Overall I am just disappointed about the whole situation. I actually really don’t like conflict and that was part of the reason why I repeatedly ignored his obnoxious remarks and just let it slide.

I was going to chalk the whole thing up to a “bad day/ week” but after refunding my money he had to get one last jab in, instead of just gracefully issuing me a refund.

And as a pretty fair guy I did show all the messages to my wife for her opinion to ensure I was not being unfair, and the words she used I cannot repeat here on this forum.

In any event I am going to close out this discussion, as I really don’t want to drag out this experience any longer. I don’t like negative experiences and don’t like to continue to re-live them.

As I said I would be more than happy and actually quite glad to accept his apology and make ammends. I am glad to hear this is an isolated incident. Don’t quite know what the issue was here, but for whatever reason he was really perturbed about giving me my money back.

For the record though…the paddle really was out of tolerance and he should know that. I literally have owned a dozen of them and none have been nearly this tight (to the point where my wife could not put it together after 3 tries). I would be shocked if he did not realize it. So any claim on his part that it was me being overly sensitive would be unreasonable.

Over and out on this one. Going to let this thing be a done deal and move on. Make of it what you will.

take care,


Now you have crossed over into irresponsible.

You can’t say, “I think that if his hands were not tied he would not have given me the refund.” Or rather, you can say it, but you have no grounds for doing so, that’s just a guess on your part.

I don’t know what happened between you and Tom, but although you are unfailingly polite on, going by past posts I cannot say that you come across as uniformly involatile. Take, for example, your penchant for exclamation marks. Before your posts, I would not have thought four exclamation marks in a row was possible. You have shown that it is!!!

not so sure
"Now you have crossed over into irresponsible. You can’t say, “I think that if his hands were not tied he would not have given me the refund.” Or rather, you can say it, but you have no grounds for doing so, that’s just a guess on your part."

I’m not so certain about that.

Because, if the seller is being extremely obnoxious and bullying to the returner during the course of a return, that can definitely be a tactic which causes the returner to give up in order to avoid the hassle and grief. I’ve had ppl try that tactic with me in similar circumstances.

Given the seller’s attitude/tactic in this event, it’s not really a leap to assume that if there’d been a way for him to deny the return, he would’ve taken it. It fits into his general attitude and actions, sadly.

“It fits into his general attitude
and actions, sadly.”

Boy, that’s quite a leap. We don’t know “the seller’s attitude/tactic in this event”. All we know is bowler1’s account. Since all other posts on this thread report uniformly positive experiences dealing with this retailer, I am inclined to wonder if we don’t have both sides of the story. Certainly it doesn’t “fit his general attitude and actions”. Just the opposite. Bowler1’s experience seems to be uncharacteristic. Which makes me wonder if he unwittingly antagoized the dealer. I don’t know bowler1, all I know are his posts, but in his posts he is frequently given to hyperbole and exclamation marks. It’s enough to raise an eyebrow.

not so much
I have no reason to believe that bowler is lying or embellishing, indeed, he has been quite even-keeled throughout this discussion, to pardon the pun.

So, no leap there, Perhaps a hop and a skip, at most.

reminds me of similar
experience buying a used GP from classifieds. Seller was unresponsive, made and broke promises, accepted full price via PP and then backed out of the deal because he changed his mind. He did refund the money. All my other transactions here have been superb.

All My Posts…
Have multiple punctuation marks…either question marks, periods, or exclamation marks.

Just attracts attention to your posts…and is my internest style…right or wrong (I know it is not grammatically correct).

As I admit above, it does sound like my experience was unique and I am glad to hear that it was.

But I can say there really are not two sides to this story. For whatever reason he just was not happy giving me a refund on this paddle.

Again, going to close this. Just wanted to explain the punctuation since I just noticed that point made above.

take care and happy paddling.


how can you say
there are not two sides to this story? Shouldn’t we leave it to the other party to make that determination? That’s like a plaintiff saying “I’m really not guilty. It was the other guy.”


– Last Updated: Aug-13-12 7:54 PM EST –'s completely impossible that the other party (Tom) was having a bad day and/or being unreasonable? Also, if Tom was agitated and unreasonable, how is that in any way a fit state of mind for him to determine or assign fault?

As you like to say, that's quite a leap. Sometimes it really is one person at fault.

Fact is, we'll never truly know if it was Tom, the OP, or both at fault, as we weren't there. But the OP is certainly free to present his version of events as he saw them, without being nitpicked repeatedly about it.

And if Tom wants to come here and post about the incident, I'd certainly stand for his right to do exactly the same.

Fair enough…
I was actually going to remove that part of my post in order to avoid any further disagreement on this matter, but you beat me to it. Had to eat dinner and was not quick enough to edit my post.

My main point was only to respond to my punctuation.