I'm disgusted with P&H!!!

Well I am not much for internet rants but thought the paddling community needed to hear about absolutely dismal performance by a vendor. Don’t want anyone to suffer the same fate. The following letter to P&H speaks for itself:

Dear Mr. Orton,

As you may recall, I ordered a Kevlar/Carbon Capella through Gig Harbor Kayak Center last fall. The boat was found to be out of plumb this spring when I finally took delivery. You most admirably agreed to build me a new one no questions asked. Needless to say I was impressed and appreciated your consideration.

Well, after much waiting I finally took possession of the boat yesterday in Gig Harbor. Today I sit at home pretty disappointed and quite sure I will never order another P&H product or recommend that any of my friends do. The boat I picked up yesterday was plumb this time around but the specifications that I requested on the boat were either ignored or done improperly.

Specifically, I ordered the compass recess aft of the front hatch. It is forward of the hatch. I will forever have trouble reading the numbers. I paddle in contacts and see distances well but can’t see close in that well. Even more distressing was the front bulkhead placement. I ordered it to be moved six inches aft of stock. The boat as it sat at Gig Harbor had a three inch piece of nicely sculpted styrofoam sitting aft of the bulkhead which I promptly removed. The closed cell foam from the first boat of course stopped three inches from the bulkhead when I tried to place it in the boat. The most disgusting part of that is that someone at your plant realized the error and tried to cover it up with a piece of foam. Did you think I would not notice? I specifically asked Debi and crew if they put the styrofoam in or if it had arrived that way from England. They assured me that it had arrived that way and I believe them. You put your excellent dealer in a horrible position and you should be ashamed of yourself.

I took the boat for a paddle and tried to sort out my options a full ten months into this process. I was looking at three options. Do nothing which was unacceptable. Demand a full refund and start over. Another bad option. Lastly, get a refund for the upgrades of $77.00 and take the boat home, which by the way is a 500 mile round trip for me. I chose to take the boat home and live with the deficiencies. Hardly a fitting end to the two years of test paddling and shopping that I had put in to making my boat selection, and the past ten months of waiting.

While I cannot say enough good about Mik, Debi, Katrina and Eric at Gig Harbor, I will never endorse your company again. Your inattention to detail and overt effort at covering up a mistake is unthinkable. I will think of it every time I get into my boat. Next spring when I purchase my son’s boat it will undoubtedly be from another company.

Respectfully submitted,



Taken notice.
Misfortunes like that suck. Sometimes I feel like when a co. messes up bad enough with you, they know your opinion of them is shot, so they just totally ditch any effort to please you. Seems like one of those cases, but it is surprising given P&H’s good QC track record. Anyway, I feel your pain. It’s hard to look a good dealer in the eye and refuse shipment when you know it wasn’t their fault, but that’s probably what you should have done. Crappy situation all the way around.

hate internet rants
same here in that the other party isn’t represented nor are they likely to take their dispute into a forum not designed for customer/company conflicts. I’m mostly surprised that they would be able and willing to make a compass mount aft of the front hatch as it would require a different deck mold. I’m not a fan of those far forward mounts either,I’ve got to find a foam toy ball with a smiley face to fit there.

What a bummer !
I feel bad for you.

I am glad you posted, and I think you should send them an e-mail to make sure that they realize a bunch of potential customers will probably look elsewhere after reading your post.

Hopefully they will reconsider, and mke it right for you.

Cheers, and try to stay happy, (even though not with them)


I disagree with posting a one sided rant

– Last Updated: Jul-28-04 4:47 PM EST –

that is clearly aimed at damaging the reputation of P&H. I know several people who own one of their boats and can not say enough about how good they are. I can not imagine that they would not or could not deal with you on this problem. I also don't think this is the Better Business Bureau for kayaks. That's my rant :-p

Not really a Rant
I dont feel like this is really a rant, but I would say some info is missing. I’m curious to know how you communicated your desired modifications to the manufacturer. Did you illustrate your modifications with explicit instructions, or did your dealer translate what they heard you say to the P&H office, with the instructions being implemented by yet even another person on the production floor?

I think LeeG makes a good point about the compass recess requiring a new mold, and that being very unlikely, given the cost of those molds. However, that’s something that should’ve been picked up on by the dealer, and communicated to TK before the boat went back.

The bulkhead I think is the real QC issue here. Nobody but the production crew will ever know what really happened, but there obviously was an issue of a mis-executed production request.

Manufacturers hold a lot of power in the business relationship between customers, dealers and themselves. Forums like this are I think an important venue for paddlers to express their concerns about the other two partners in this relationship. If it holds a light up to problems in the production or customer service process for the dealer or manufactuer, that’s important feedback.

As the follow-up posts demonstrate, forums like this balance themselves out usually. If an initial post is unbalanced, the follow-ups will put it in perspective. I doubt it truly damages P&H to hold their feet to the fire on an issue, and many companies pay big bucks for the kind of customer feedback that gets generated in forums like this.

Forums like this, and the internet in general are balancing factors in a capitalist democracy. Power to the People!!! :slight_smile:


Is it really a rant
when he posted a copy of the letter that he sent to P&H.

IMHO, it is akin to listing everyone on p.net as a ‘cc’ to his letter.

The letter is dispassionate (as much can be expected) and, therefore, is the kind of letter that the manufacturer should take note of. The letter contains facts, as relayed by the writer. The manufacturer can take exception to them if they wish.

I think it would be fair that, even though he did state that he would not endorse P&H again, that he let them know that he has sent electronic copies of his letter to as many people as he could. Simlarly, if he receives a response from the manufacturer, it should be posted in the interest of fair play.

As consumers, and members of the paddling community, we should be exposed to all opinions.

The letter, in a different form, could be considered as a Product Review.

My $0.02

Ther are also folks wh are
skeptical of p&H or at least you know my name.

I had bad (cosmetic but over a foot long) gel coat problems and worse interactions with the dealer and P&H.

I’ll still deal with them but I will think twice.

Just for clarity
Thanks for all the feedback. To clarify a few things. The letter was sent to P&H and generated no response at all. That is really what stimulated me to post the letter on pnet. Sort of the final straw. As for how the upgrades were communicated in the beginning. The order was in writing from the dealer and verified by me. The first boat that they sent had both of the upgrades completed properly. The compass recess was indeed aft as I requested and the bulkhead was in proper position. The second boat as you have read was in error. In response to the one sided suggestion. I posted earlier praising the company when they agreed to replace the boat and indicated that I would let you all know how it turned out. Now you know. If P&H responds at a later time I will certainly post that in the spirit of fairness. Lastly, I took the boat home because I just love paddling it. Guess that is what it boils down to eh.



to hear you had problems with P&H kayaks. I think if you push the issue they will do something for you. I’ve had 2 P&H kayaks and both were great kayaks and I found the company to be very eager to please. I feel if the kayak is not rite they should let you use it until a new one can be sent to you. I know of one company that will do that for sure QCC. If its not rite they will replace it.

Return it anyway
First, it is a lot of money for something you did not order.

Second, if the manufacturer is not forced to bear the economic cost of the mistake, they will not change. If it is a 500 mile drive, the manufacturer should pay for the shipping from your location. When sending the boat back to Britain, 500 miles should make little difference.

Finally, one sided? If any kayak manufacturer is not reading this forum, then “one sided” seems fair to me. This forum is one of the best for manufacturers to get feedback on their product and performance. If they choose not to use it, that is their fault.

Seakayakers have a terrible disposition to tinker with boats, rather than demand what they paid for. “Well it is just a little gel coat and some marine epoxy, and foam padding…”

The dealer should be doing this

– Last Updated: Jul-30-04 9:57 PM EST –

It's is not my job to push anything if I go through a dealer. I have a job; I give money that I earn to a person who is purported to be a dealer. If the boat is not right they should take care of it and use their relationship wiht the manufacturer to take care of themselves on the deal. If dealers not do this then I might as well by direct from a manufacturer who will let me. If the are unresponsive I'm no worse off except I should have saved some bucks. If they are responsive, great.

Again I would consider a P&H boat again; absolutely. But never through that dealer

When manufacturers put out a set of specs on what makes the perfect paddler, and I get my self to meet those specs, then - and only then - will I expect a boat to be 100% to my needs (and as anyone who follows this forum knows, I’m pretty picky with gear).

Paddlers are too different for any boat to be 100% for everyone.

Agree a kayak should be right, and as ordered, but do not agree that further tinkering is bad.

I doubt anyone would want a boat outfitted exactly as I have done mine. Why should the manufacturer be expected to do it? They aim for widest acceptability/suitability. “Tinkering” personalizes and enhances it from there.

If you find nothing to tweak on your kayak, you’re either:

A. Easy to please (rare in paddlers)

B. Not really doing much with your boat

C. The designer

D. Incredibly lucky (see A).

I am mostly in agreement with you

– Last Updated: Jul-28-04 12:49 PM EST –

but foam padding??? Everybody who is a serious paddler and needs to optimize boat performance needs to at least consider custom padding. I bet most serious paddlers end up doing it. No manufacturer can accomodate the wide varience in body type even within a small weight range.

Now these super short seat pans in high volume boats, that's another matter.

Not saying you shouldn’t tinker
and custom fit your boat, but the propensity and experience that many kayakers to modify their boats, allows them to go ahead and accept short comings in new brand new boats. So, I think many paddlers are more prone to just fix problems with new boats themselves because they have the experience and skills, instead of taking it back to the dealer to be fixed.

If the first boat…
…arrived the way he ordered it except for the flaw I think he has right to expect the repacement boat to be the same, except for the flaw of course.

…the chain comes off in my toilet tank, I don’t call my landlord.

Not talking about this situation in particular, but I think it’s more about what’s most efficient for each person. If you can easily do a fix yourself with less hassle than going though a dealer (particularly if far away) and/or working with a manufacturer (likely even farther away) what is the logical thing to do? What gets you on the water faster with the least frustration?

If beyond your capabilities or sensibilities, you’re stuck waiting/fighting/etc. The more you can do, the less your limited by this.

I’m not saying the manufacturer/dealer should be off the hook at all, I’m just saying sometimes it’s more productive to take things in your own hands.

I say that knowing full well I am far less patient/civil than lasix78! 10 months, and now this? I’d be wanting a new boat and tickets to the UK to supervise it’s construction! However, in reality, I’d most likely live with the compass and take care of the bulkhead with custom padding as it’s pretty easy to do.

By the time I’m ready for another (sea) kayak I’ll be so picky I may have to design/build my own.

P&H Responds
In the interest of fairness, below is the email I received from P&H. Interestingly enough it was the day after the original post on this board. You all can draw your own conclusions. By the way thanks for the interesting responses.


Hi Tony

I can only give my sincerest apologise, although I guess that probably isn’t enough.

I would also like to offer some insight into how things have gone wrong with the hope of showing that decisions here were made with the best intensions.

Regarding the compass recess; up until the Quest was launched all our compass recesses were added using a hard removable rubber block placed in the mould, because of this process it had to be place on a relatively flat area of the deck. Hence aft of the hatch. On the Quest the recess was incorporated permanently into the mould, the reason for moving it forward was to improve the ease of following a bearing because you now don’t need to drop your eyes so far from the horizon. this has proven so popular (plus the quality of finish is better) that we have been undertaking a rolling program of updating moulds. It was simply assumed (wrongly I now admit) that you would prefer your kayak from the latest most up to date mould.

Regarding the bulkhead. It wasn’t that it was measured wrong, it was that the two orders were processed differently. Generally we work from a customers inside leg length when doing custom bulkheads. With your original order the instruction was a distance aft of the normal position and this is what we did. For the second order we had obtained an inside leg measurement and used our normal formula that allows for a couple of layers of foam to be fitted for comfort and fine tuning. The reason we prefer to work off inside leg lengths is it involves only one measurement, therefore only one multiple of error. If working from a measurement from a standard bulkhead, there is two multiples of error, firstly the variance in the original bulkhead positioning (as much as an inch) and secondly the measuring and positioning of the bulkhead in this new position.

Anyway the above is not meant to form an excuse because in your case I believe we have let you down but I do hope it forms an insight into how our good intensions went wrong.

Kind regards


Nice letter but I noticed that there was
mention of trying to make it right. Explaining it was nice but the 1st yak was done the way he wanted it the 2nd one was not. I would say send it back but you never should have taken it if it was not up to your specs. But they should at least try to make it right for him. Seems like poor business to me at least on this one.

The silence was deafening
when it came to offering a solution to the problem. I don’t know if I buy all the “smoke and mirrors” about how the boats are made, how the orders are processed, etc. Obviously P&H does not subscribe to any ISO standard, or if they do, the ISO Police should be visiting them.

If they could make it once, albeit with a flaw, they should be able to reconstruct it, without the flaw.

You’ve gotten their attention - now we will see if they are serious about customer satisfaction. Make arrangements to ship it back and wait for a good one.