Scratches/gouges on a new poly. kayak

-- Last Updated: Aug-04-12 12:14 AM EST --

I brought a new Zephyr 155 home today, but not before turning down the first Z155 they brought to me because it looked pretty chewed up. When they first brought it out, I noticed quite a few scratches on the hull, and the boat, in general, just seemed a little worn. I asked if they had mistakenly brought a rental/demo boat. I had called the store a few days ago and reserved the Zephyr, and he assured me that this was the one (and the only 155 on the premises). He chalked the scratches up to the normal transport process.

As I started loading it on my car, the sunlight revealed even more abrasions, scratches, and gouges. There were old leaves in the cockpit, and quite a bit of water in one of the hatches. Perhaps this was all due to the transport and storage of the boat, but I was really getting the feeling that this boat was only "new" to me. I spoke with the manager at the outfitter, and she seemed pretty put out to have to be dealing with me, but I showed her some of the wear I was seeing. She disagreed with my use of the word "gouges" and she, too, attributed the wear to the transport process.

In all honesty, I probably could have lived with the scratches, but I bristled at the thought that they were--possibly knowingly--selling me, at retail prices, a kayak that was either used or very neglected. I never did see a Statement of Origin for that first boat. The manager made a trip to their warehouse and brought back a new, wrapped, Zephyr. All's well that ends well.

Is this kind of situation commonplace? Was I being out of line? This all occurred at a major retail outfitter with a major presence in the northeast.

I've purchased a number of new and used kayaks, but this is the biggest investment I've made in a single boat.

I’ll be the first to say it:

– Last Updated: Aug-04-12 1:10 AM EST –

All those people you dealt with are either completely stupid or crooks. If they had a clue or were honest, they'd have not said such things about "normal transport" in reference to the stuff you described. The fact that they eventually "found" the new, wrapped boat that you were supposed to get suggests that they DO know what a new boat looks like, and in that case they are fully aware that they don't come off the truck looking as if they'd been dragged cross-country by a team of mules. Those people are terribly stupid excuse-makers, pulling come-back remarks out of their ___, or they are crooks. Period.

How about telling us the name of this place so everyone knows what a schlock outfit it is? They don't deserve "benefit of the doubt" after that performance because even the manager is either too inexperienced to have a clue, or was trying to cheat you. I see no other possible explanation. I've seen truckloads of new kayaks being unloaded at Canoecopia (many different years I've seen this), and they don't have a mark on them.

I think the most logical explanation is that they are suffering from the same problem as all big-box stores. They hire whoever they can get their hands on, and no one among them, including the manager in this case, knows diddly squat. They know so little that they don't know what they don't know, making it easy for them to assume that you must have been "wrong" in your assessment of the boat.

Good job
You were totally right in what you did you purchased a new yak and you should expect a new one.

Awful service from the retailer
and of course you were not out of line. If you pay for new goods you are entitled to new goods. You wouldn’t accept being palmed off with any other second-hand item if you’d paid for new so why should a kayak be any different?

You were not out of line

– Last Updated: Aug-04-12 12:38 PM EST –

The water and leaves in the cockpit could have been caused by a rainstorm over an uncovered cockpit as the boat was being transported. (But shouldn't the boat have been wrapped in plastic like mine was?)

However, the gouges and scratches would not.

I think they're full of it. You were right to insist on a truly new boat. That first one was either demo'ed OR it was returned after someone bought it and used it. Either way, they should've offered it only with full disclosure at a substantial discount. They were trying to dump used gear at full price and hoping you wouldn't speak up. It's good that you did.

I’ll give you a hint…
…the retailer’s name rhymes with Yeast-Burn Fountain Shorts.

different take
Interesting first post here on pnet.

The fact that you are asking if you are out of line tells me that deep down inside you know you probably were a bit out of line. I do not believe that a store manager of a “major retail outfitter” would try to rip you off by passing a damaged used boat as new. I also do not believe she would have mistaken a rental/demo boat as a new boat. Hard to tell without seeing it myself but I am guessing what you saw was a typical new boat and was not damaged nearly as bad as you are suggesting here (“In all honesty, I probably could have lived with the scratches”).

New boats are always unpacked for display. Display often means being regularly moved, sometimes daily as customers test “sit” in them. Some very minor scratching may occur and is normal. Display often means outside where they can pick up some water and leaves. Granted- this should have been cleaned out before sale but does mean the boat is not “new”.

I think the problem is you “bought” the boat over the phone (“I had called the store a few days before to reserve it”). I would wager that these things would not be issues with you if you had seen the actual condition of the boat before you decided to buy it. If you had seen the boat first and didn’t like the condition you could have asked for a cleaner model, moved on, or most likely, happily purchased a great boat. You almost certainly would not have gotten into it with the manager, accusing her here of trying to pull a fast one on you.

In the end what happened? They addressed your concerns and found you a boat in the condition that was acceptable to you (“all’s well that ends well”). Yet here you are, first post ever on this forum, trashing a retailer. Like I said, interesting.

Could be a competitor trashing the big outdoor chain retailer. Also could be a customer who’s finicky.

But regardless, the boat should’ve been cleaned of the leaves and water. Even if it gathered those merely from sitting outside the store for sit-in demos, their presence raises questions. If you bought a new car, the dealer would make sure it was vacuumed, washed, and prepped before pick-up.

I’m not sure…
…why it matters if it’s my first post on this forum or my hundredth, so I’ll skip that.

I’m not trying to trash the retailer. I’ve done plenty of business with them and probably will continue to do so. I’m telling exactly what happened, including all of the grey areas. As I said, I had the feeling it was not a new boat. I could have been wrong, but I think if you had seen the gouges, you might have agreed. The stern of the boat looked like it had been chewed on by a teething puppy for a few weeks. The seat padding in the cockpit was pretty dirty. Many of the hull scratches/gouges went way past cosmetic. And most of the hull scratches were very long and ran lengthwise along the hull. These sure looked like scratches from landings, not from transporting and storing. If they were from transporting and storing, then I contend that they are doing it improperly.

Was it a demo’d/used kayak? I can’t say for sure. I’d like to think that the manager was not trying to pass off a used boat as new. It seemed pretty clear that the manager (and the sales associate) were not very familiar with the kayaks they were selling. I think it’s entirely possible that the boat was a demo boat and she didn’t even realize it. If it wasn’t a demo boat, it was in no condition to sell as a new boat.

“I would wager that these things would not be issues with you if you had seen the actual condition of the boat before you decided to buy it. If you had seen the boat first and didn’t like the condition you could have asked for a cleaner model, moved on, or most likely, happily purchased a great boat.”

I didn’t buy it over the phone, just had them hold it. (Interesting side note, the color of the scratched up boat did not match the color they were supposedly holding for me). But I did let myself get talked into buying it after initially seeing the scratches. I knew it was the only Z155 they had (so it must be the one I reserved, right? only the color didn’t match…hmm…), and they downplayed the scratches as minor and expected. I should have trusted my gut and asked for another boat right then, but I literally am the last guy to raise a fuss about anything. Ask my wife. So I gave them my credit card. Then I loaded it on the car and started noticing how badly worn it was in spots. I looked it over five or six times over the course of 15 minutes or so and debated whether I needed to go back and have another conversation. And when I did finally go back and initiate a conversation, I did so apologetically and respectfully. I did not receive the same attitude in return.

But, in the end, they didn’t have to go find another kayak for me. They did, and I appreciate that.

I promise…
I’m not a competitor or particularly finicky! :slight_smile:

That’s weird
Color did not match what you requested and had held for you.

A good question when you noticed that would’ve been, Why?

I had not requested a color

– Last Updated: Aug-04-12 3:34 PM EST –

But was told that was the color they had. I just assumed it had been an inventory error. When I told the associate that I was there to buy the Zephyr I had reserved, he went and looked for it multiple times, before finally coming back and saying that he found a Zephyr.

The new kayak’s color

– Last Updated: Aug-04-12 3:51 PM EST –

Was that one the same color as what they said was held for you? If so, maybe a very careless worker looked at the gouged boat and decided that must be the one, when the kayak you were supposed to have gotten was still in the warehouse. May not have been deliberate, although it certainly could have been a bait-and-switch.

Anybody can get careless. I've had things held for me that were not at the specified store. This was at REI, which usually has excellent customer service. Their online inventory doesn't always match what's in each store. I've even had workers on the phone say, "There should be one of those here, but let me go check *physically.*" They knew that sometimes things don't match.

Another thing--not pertinent to kayaks!--is that some items, namely clothing, get put back in the wrong places after customers try them on. Seen all kinds of odd misfiling of sizes and brands. If a worker doesn't check thoroughly, he won't find these items because they're not where are supposed to be.

Yes, the color I took home
matched the color I was told I would receive.

Yeah, the color mismatch definitely helped reinforce my suspicions that I wasn’t getting a new boat. Like you said, the switch may have just been a careless oversight.

The boat you actually got

– Last Updated: Aug-04-12 4:11 PM EST –

You say they didn't have to go find another boat for you, but I think they DID have to, and it's a shame they fought you on that point. They told you that you were getting a new boat, and new boats don't have long, lengthwise scratches. I don't care how many people sit in the thing or how it gets moved around on the premises, a few random nicks is all you'd ever see. Considering boat condition and color, you ended up with the boat they held for you, so yes, it WAS their obligation to find it for you. Don't let them off the hook so easy.

I'll go on my big-box rant again, and suggest that nobody in that store has ever paddled enough to observe wear and tear as it happens. Only a non-paddler could look at long, lengthwise scratches on the hull and not know what caused them. I still say that anyone who'd act that way and react to your concerns the way they did are either dishonest to an unimaginable degree or are just plain stupid.

I have purchased a few boats from EMS
and believe me I have had trouble. One had a spot you could see the light coming thru - another had gouges but they were honest that it was a return and priced it a little less. The big problem I had was with my tempest 170 !!

I drove from Pittsburgh to Annapolis to pick it up as they had one in stock there. I specially asked them to do a total check that all was good with this one as I didn’t want to travel so far only to find out it has problems. Well they assured me ! yeah right. They could not have checked it out hanging way up and it was totally warped on the top unbelievably and it was twisted. Pissed wouldn’t be the word for how we felt. They had a yellow one that was perfect yet i was quite sick of yellow boats - took it with a discount for our trouble.

So I order a tempest 165 and lo and behold when it finally comes locally to our pittsburgh store - imagine this …holes were drilled in error on both sides for the footpegs and filled in poorly - very rough and redrilled properly. They tried to tell me that this was probably where the mold has holes !!! Again a small discount and off i go with another damaged kayak - it took sooo long to get and they were not willing to reorder for me so i still have it - nothing has happened to those holes but it is rough and ugly there.

I would not trust the employees there for any information whatsoever…on the other hand, they have a good return policy …

Boat Damage
I run the paddle sports department at a major marine equipment retailer. Probably 30-40 percent of our boats suffer minor scratches, scrapes and once in a while gouges, even kayaks that arrive at our store with the plastic wrapping fully intact. We never know whether the damage occurs in transit, at the distribution center or even at the manufacturer. Boats also get minor scrapes/scratches moving them around the store and from customers trying them on for fit. Kayaks with structural damage are destroyed; boats with significant cosmetic-only damage are donated to non-profit organizations and those with quite “noticeable” cosmetic damage are discounted. I don’t recall ever trying to sell a kayak with leaves in it…