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roberttigar 10-24-2013 06:02 AM

Walker Bay-Beware
 
What I have attached below is a portion of a letter I recently sent To the President of Walker Bay. This is in response to problems I have had with Walker Bay and 5 other units owned by members of our sailing club. I address the product quality and the poor customer service offered by Walker Bay. These are all hypalon units. When not in use they are protected from the sun.

If you have a Odyssey, inspect the tubes where they join the transon for any deterioration. If you are considering the purchase of a new inflatable, consider this a warning.
.................................................. .................................................. .......................
Stefano Rista, President
Walker Bay Boats, Inc.
717 Butterfield Rd.
Yakima, WA 98901

Good Morning:

I have owned and maintained my boats for over 40 years. During this time I have purchased thousands of dollars worth of equipment and talked with dozens of manufacturers.

I am amazed how cooperative these companies have been at assisting me in solving my problems. They have talked me thru repairs, provided parts, mailed assembly instructions and even made follow-up calls to make sure I was satisfied with the performance of their products. More important, they live up to the obligations of the warranty that they issue. In several cases, even when I haven’t asked, parts have been provided at no charge even after the warranty expired.

Walker Bay seems just the opposite. Calls to your warranty department are met with requests for a variety of data, records, photos and forms whose only purpose is to make your customer end his search in frustration. These people aren’t to blame. They take orders. The fault for this misguided approach to customer service starts at your office.

A year ago, with a 3-year old Odyssey Hypalon that was delaminating so badly, your warranty department tried every trick they had to delay meeting their obligation. They began buy offering to replace the defective unit for only $1085-pretty hefty for 3 years use. After many calls and interaction by the local dealer, you honored your obligation. My problem was solved; However, I was angry with the effort it took to accomplish what should have been a simple matter. This cost Walker Bay some money. And yet, because of the foolishness of your actions, I was still angry.

Walker Bay has 2 problems:
• You manufacture a product that delivers less than what should be expected. You have cut too many corners and selected too many low bids on parts and assembly. The result is that the finished product quality is less than satisfactory. If the product failures that exist in our sailing club are any example, the situation is serious. The quality problems I’ve seen with Walker Bay Inflatables make me question their reliability and safety for the occupants.


• Your warranty is designed to play games with your customers and insult their intelligence. Walker Bay does everything possible not to honor warranty claims. An example is with the pair of 800 numbers listed on your warranty certificate. Neither is correct. From the beginning you assume that your customers are liars and cheats. Then you make them prove they are not.

The problem with the valves on my inflatable could have been solved for a few dollars by sending me 4 valve stems, or turned down immediately. I would have replaced them myself and been a happy customer. Or I would have been angry, but not mad. You would not have annoyed your dealer with another claim and wasted my time when you knew it was not a covered claim.

All 4 valves have been difficult to operate from the day I first put it into use. 2 of them are now rusted. These “just like Halkey-Roberts” valves are manufactured from material of so poor quality that they cannot maintain their integrity under the conditions they were designed to function. To suggest that I file a claim with the valve manufacturer (who no one can identify) was ludicrous.

Not for a minute do I think I am telling you anything you don’t know. You are not ignorant. Walker Bay advertising is slick. The product design is good. You are smart enough to know of The Company’s quality and service problems, just not smart enough to fix them.

Minnewaska 10-24-2013 07:08 AM

Re: Walker Bay-Beware
 
Sorry to hear of the trouble. If you're posting to warn others of buying a WB, others will want to read the reply as well.

If your looking for advice on how to get satisfaction, I would start with getting laser focused on what you want. They include getting your dinghy fixed, replaced or reimbursed. It seems you are also trying to get them to feel bad, apologize, admit failure or something. I always suggest leaving the latter out of a negotiation like this. It only inflames the other side and you get nothing for an apology. You may even get the apology and not the new inflatable. Is that valuable?

I don't think you could know that the poor service starts in the President's office, nor that they accept the lowest bid on parts. They just seem like your poking a stick in the eye of a company that has ticked you off. I suggest staying focused on proving your case, documenting the terms of their warranty and that your inflatable is due reimbursement under those terms.

Business' warranty programs are taken advantage of all the time as well. They should not become jaded, but many do. People destroy the product themselves and then try to make a warranty claim. Not suggesting you did so, just pointing out that understanding where your opponent may be coming from makes it more likely you will win the contest. Again, decide what you are trying to win and stay on it exclusively.

roberttigar 10-24-2013 08:37 AM

Re: Walker Bay-Beware
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Minnewaska (Post 1109849)
Sorry to hear of the trouble. If you're posting to warn others of buying a WB, others will want to read the reply as well.

If your looking for advice on how to get satisfaction, I would start with getting laser focused on what you want. They include getting your dinghy fixed, replaced or reimbursed. It seems you are also trying to get them to feel bad, apologize, admit failure or something. I always suggest leaving the latter out of a negotiation like this. It only inflames the other side and you get nothing for an apology. You may even get the apology and not the new inflatable. Is that valuable?

I don't think you could know that the poor service starts in the President's office, nor that they accept the lowest bid on parts. They just seem like your poking a stick in the eye of a company that has ticked you off. I suggest staying focused on proving your case, documenting the terms of their warranty and that your inflatable is due reimbursement under those terms.

Business' warranty programs are taken advantage of all the time as well. They should not become jaded, but many do. People destroy the product themselves and then try to make a warranty claim. Not suggesting you did so, just pointing out that understanding where your opponent may be coming from makes it more likely you will win the contest. Again, decide what you are trying to win and stay on it exclusively.

I'm doing what I told them I was going to do-alert interested boaters to the problem of quality and lack of proper customer service. I got a replacement inflatable, but it wasnt easy to get them to properly respond. If I can help a few boaters to make a better decision, great.

Am I poking a sharp stick-you bet. Bob

petertribo 10-24-2013 08:44 AM

Re: Walker Bay-Beware
 
In my jurisdiction, we have a Small Claims Court where you can claim up to $25000. I have used it twice and was both times successful. If you have this option it is a good lever to use. The manufacturer will have to hire a lawyer to litigate while you can represent yourself on the cheap. They also do not like bad publicity.

As leverage, it can be very effective. I had a warranty beef with Honda and they just blew me off. A registered letter to the dealership with the suggestion I might go to Small Claims quickly solved the problem to my satisfaction.

Consumers, you don't ask, you don't get.

svHyLyte 10-24-2013 09:00 AM

Re: Walker Bay-Beware
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by roberttigar (Post 1109870)
I'm doing what I told them I was going to do-alert interested boaters to the problem of quality and lack of proper customer service. I got a replacement inflatable, but it wasnt easy to get them to properly respond. If I can help a few boaters to make a better decision, great.

Am I poking a sharp stick-you bet. Bob

Bob--

Walker Bay has had a very poor reputation for rather a good while without any apparent effort to improve. Several years ago there was a flourish of complaints posted on several of the sailing forums and I do know several folks, us included, that had planned to buy their folding transom rigid hull inflatables that did not as a consequence. Hopefully you can get some resolution to your problems but don't count on it. A company that disregards its customers will eventually fail but will hurt a lot of folks in the process.

Maine Sail 10-24-2013 10:16 AM

Re: Walker Bay-Beware
 
These complaints are not that unusual it seems...

Walker Bay Issues (LINK)

CaptTony 10-24-2013 12:51 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Minnewaska:1109849
I don't think you could know that the poor service starts in the President's office

I disagree. The person at the top is always ultimately responsible from start to finish. As Harry Truman said, "The buck stops here."

In my own business, I have taken a loss - IMMEDIATELY - whether the client was right or not when they expressed displeasure with services received. In the long run, it has always paid off in ongoing business from the client and fierce loyalty. Remember. It's easy to lose a customer, and very difficult to find a new one - especially with a record of poor customer service.

chef2sail 10-24-2013 01:13 PM

Re: Walker Bay-Beware
 
Funny I have nothing but compliments about Walker Bay and the Odessey dinghy. Ours has been functional and looks like new after 5+ years. It is on davits on our boat with a designed cover by my wife. The few times I have called the comapny for spare parts or helped other with defective parts they were fairly quick to respond.

The tone of your letter certainly suggest you have the qualifications to not only run their business, but to design a better mousetrap ( dinghy). Maybe their reaction to you was predicated by your overly agressive tone,

Be that as it may They like I am in the customer service business and my instinct is to try and resolve the complaint with the customer. Realiizing that it seems that they actually gave you a replacement didnt they.

But in doing that kind of complaint resolution I recognize that no matter what you do you cannot please everyone and sometimes the vendetta continues as in your case camoflouged behind some statement your are doing this for the betterment of the sailing community. I am very wary of a poster who has very little to do with Sailnet ( 7 p[osts) and copme on here with an obvious ax to grind against a company

Quote:

I'm doing what I told them I was going to do-alert interested boaters to the problem of quality and lack of proper customer service. I got a replacement inflatable, but it wasnt easy to get them to properly respond. If I can help a few boaters to make a better decision, great.-Robertigar
Glad you got it all of your chest. Complained...wrote to the president....got a new dinghy....wrote to sailnet......Anyone else to go to??? Hope you stay and contribute something more valuable to this sailing community....but ill bet not

hellosailor 10-24-2013 01:18 PM

Re: Walker Bay-Beware
 
"I disagree. The person at the top is always ultimately responsible from start to finish."
Nice theory, but define "top".

A corporate "President" may not be at the top. They may be subject to a CEO, a Board of Directors, a separate business owner, possessed by demons...there's a lot of excuses. Figuring out who the "top" really is, who really controls a business much less whether that's one person or a fractious committee placing impossible demands on staff, that's another good guess.

Minnewaska 10-24-2013 01:43 PM

Re: Walker Bay-Beware
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by CaptTony (Post 1109991)
I disagree. The person at the top is always ultimately responsible from start to finish. ......

Responsible for sure. That doesn't necessarily mean the problem starts at the top. It may mean they are ineffective, but trying to do the right thing. Splitting hairs here, but that's my point. When you're trying to get satisfaction, there is no advantage to introducing an analysis that is irrelevant to what you really want.

Personally, I have a tough time with one-sided undocumented internet slams. There is a boat yard on the Bay that quoted me a job to replace my cutlass bearing and tried to charge me for twice the amount. I threatened to post a pic of both the quote and the bill and let others decide if the job should ever take as long as they took. (btw, it turned out they had a trainee do it and a supervisor watch and billed me for it all) The President of that marina reimbursed me the excess under the condition that I not post the evidence. That's effective and irrefutable.


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