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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I've recently called Defender twice for some basic product information on items I'm ordering from them. I selected the "product information" option. Both times the lady that answered told me she didn't know the answer and gave me the manufactures number.

The last time she said: "Have you called Harken"? I replied: "No...Because I'm buying the product from you! Do you know anything about the products you sell?". She said: "No sir, I don't". I replied: "And yet, you answered the product information line. That's very sad!"

I've not used Defender before, but know many SN members do. Does anyone there know anything about what they sell? At least WM goes through the motions!:laugher

On a positive note, discovered this marine electrical supply company and found their prices, website and customer service exceptional. Peter Kennedy Yacht Services: Marine Electrical Systems Experts
 

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Personally, I've had a perfect history with Defender over many years and many orders. If I want specific information, the manufacturer is the best source.

Certainly there are other vendors that give a higher touch expereince. If I were buying something I do not know--an electronics suite, for example--I'd willingly pay signifigantly more for additional suport. Concequently, Defender is not the only vendor I use.
 

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I've ordered LOTS of stuff from Defender, but have never asked technical questions. I would not expect a discounter's sales staff to know any more than what's in the catalog, but I suspect they have buyers and others who would know if you get get to the right person.
Thanks for the tip about PKYS. They are 10 minutes from me!
 

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I am not defending Defender or any other marine retailer, but, I think it's asking the impossible for a retailer who has thousands of items in inventory to be an expert at everything. I feel the person who recommended that you call Harken, gave you very good advice. I have called Harken with questions and a real person answered the phone and passed me on to another real person who gave me expert answers to all my questions.

I disagree with your comment that it's good that another retailer makes a stab at answering questions. Sometimes no answer is better than the wrong answer.
 

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Yep, it doesn't surprise me that a customer service phone answerer is not conversant on all products. What she should have done is tell you that she would find the information you want and offer you a choice of a return phone call or email.

What you should have done is call other retailers until you found one with a helpful person to talk to. And then you should always buy from that retailer and not go to someone else just to save a dollar or two. How much is good service worth to you?

Thanks for the tip about PKYS!
 

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RANT ALERT RANT ALERT! Haven't ordered from Defender, but your story reminds me A LOT of a certain big box store I frequent. The story is always the same.
I walk in and am usually accosted by a number of employees saying, "Welcome to (big box store), can I help you find anything? They ALWAYS say the same thing, and they ALWAYS have the same fake Enzyte commercial grin. And I usually hand them the part, and they always refer me to the same ONE person in the store, that is always surrounded by waiting customers, because he is the only person that knows anything. !!! DON'T ASK ME IF YOU CAN HELP ME IF YOU CAN'T. YOU ARE WASTING MY TIME. And don't even bother calling ahead of time, because you will probably be connected to the wrong department.
BTW, I only go there because I have no choice. They have run all of the small stores out of town. Sad.
Sorry for derailing the thread, I hope you have better success next time.
 

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RANT ALERT RANT ALERT! Haven't ordered from Defender, but your story reminds me A LOT of a certain big box store I frequent. The story is always the same.
I walk in and am usually accosted by a number of employees saying, "Welcome to (big box store), can I help you find anything? They ALWAYS say the same thing, and they ALWAYS have the same fake Enzyte commercial grin. And I usually hand them the part, and they always refer me to the same ONE person in the store, that is always surrounded by waiting customers, because he is the only person that knows anything. !!! DON'T ASK ME IF YOU CAN HELP ME IF YOU CAN'T. YOU ARE WASTING MY TIME. And don't even bother calling ahead of time, because you will probably be connected to the wrong department.
BTW, I only go there because I have no choice. They have run all of the small stores out of town. Sad.
Sorry for derailing the thread, I hope you have better success next time.
Home Depot.
 
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I've had nothing but positive experiences dealing with Defender. They are everything I look for in a discount online store: good price, extensive inventory and fast delivery. I do not expect their staff to provide technical information about the products. It would be nice, but I've learned not to expect it.

On my last Defender order the sales woman went out of her way to arrange a special delivery that resulted in a much faster receipt, and allowed me to avoid border costs. This came purely from her initiative. I was impressed.
 

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Defender's main point was always to SELL IT CHEAP. Them, and Post Marine, up the road from them before they left New Rochelle for CT. And Defender used to have the most wonderful basement, if you said "I need a gozinta, something about this big, that color, " someone could usually find something like that in the basement for you.

And, they sold gray market which sometimes meant no manufacturer's warranty, or at least, an argument about that.

So it doesn't surprise me that Defender would still be focused on SELL IT CHEAP instead of knowing all about all the complicated new products.

This winter I went into a West Marine to buy a tube of an odd 3M adhesive caulk for Lexan. And sitting on the shelf right next to it was the WM brand of the same stuff--about 30% higher in price. WTF? 30% MORE than the top brand name?

What was it Kirk said to Spock? If you're looking for logic, this is the wrong planet.
 

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I place quite a few orders on-line with Defender.

My orders have always been promptly filled and shipped. A few back ordered items have been expeditiously forwarded when stock allowed...and always earlier than projections and without additional effort by me.

On three occasions I ordered the wrong part. On two occasions I grilled up the credit card info on an order. On all these occasions I called Defender and got exceptional customer service.

I'll keep shopping with Defender. Their prices are typically the best I can find.

Asking sales or customer service folks at a large enterprise technical questions is not likely to gain you info you need. If they were technically savvy they'd be working somewhere else or in a different department and probably making a lot more money.

Many manufacturers now post the operating and technical literature for their products on line. I usually visit their sites and read the tech specs (size/power needs/output types and formats/construction materials e.g.) as I am deciding what product to buy. If I have additional questions I then email or call the "contact info" address with my question/s and generally get a prompt response.
 

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So if I understand correctly this thread rant is about why someone answering the phone isn't an expert on all the products Defender stores sells (how many 1000s of items would that be). Hell near as I can tell most people aren't even experts on their own little boat.
 

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I have lost track of how many thousands I've spent at Defender. They have always gone out of their way to help w/ a warrantee problem. I have always found the staff on the floor knowledgable and helpful.
Jim
 

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Chalk me up as a satisfied customer as well, same story as the others on here. With my location, I get overnight delivery on most everything if I get the order in by 4:30, just with regular UPS ground. That in itself is incredible to me. I've seen some things I've bought cheaper elsewhere, but I've been given nothing but good service throughout. I am also one of those though, that if I'm looking for support for something from a particular manufacturer, I look at their sites and support directly. I would expect they would be the foremost expert on their products, not the place I bought it from. The same would be said if I bought say, a Craftsman drill at K-Mart. If I have a question on use, I'd ask Craftsman, not the store. Just seems to make more sense to me, to go to the source for questions. For me, the decent pricing, ridiculously fast shipping to my door, and the excellent service I've gotten definitely keeps me spending money there. I've had a parts mix-up they fixed immediately, and I had a shipment for someone else that was mis-labeled that they had me send back, on their dime, and credited ME for the inconvenience. Everything I've seen, they've been above and beyond expectations, especially in a world today where it seems most places are the exact opposite.
 

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Count me as another satisfied customer. I love their delivery. Invariably I receive my order two days after I place my order.

I once had a situation where I had a question about a product I had purchased. Not only did Defender promptly respond to my question, which I had sent via email, but they also had the manufacturer respond. My question pertained to a safety issue, which may be why it got immediate attention. Still, I was impressed.
 

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Several years ago when I called Defender and asked about swageless fittings for my old boat, they gave me the toll free number to the company in Florida. I called Florida and the man stayed on the phone with me for an hour as he walked me through each part, gave some instructions, and helped me buy just what I needed.

No complaints at all about what Defender did. They knew they couldn't help me and helped me by finding someone who could.
 

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I personally prefer shopping at the local store Fisheries Supply. With club pricing (which most sailors in Seattle probably have) it is cheaper than Defender on most items, especially sailing hardware.

However I have made a number of purchases from Defender, usually at their big sale or when Fisheries Supply was out of stock on an item, and they've always fulfilled them quickly and at a reasonable price.

I like shopping at either place many times more than shopping at West Marine, and I still seem to spend a couple hundred at West Marine every year.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 · (Edited)
I am not defending Defender or any other marine retailer, but, I think it's asking the impossible for a retailer who has thousands of items in inventory to be an expert at everything. I feel the person who recommended that you call Harken, gave you very good advice. I have called Harken with questions and a real person answered the phone and passed me on to another real person who gave me expert answers to all my questions.
Being expert and just passing out manufacture's phone numbers are two very different things. Both my questions were simple, certainly not very technical. The Defender site also offers this email option:
Outfitting / Help Desk: (If you are planning large outfitting purchases and/or need technical information about product/systems.)
Given this and the "product information line" they certainly present themselves as more than a discount mail order house. If they are only going to pass out phone numbers, they should simply list them on the site and voice mail and save everyone some time!
Given some of the responses to the thread, someone at Defender knows a thing or two, and a lot of customers like them. Maybe I just caught them on two bad days! They did ship within hours of my order.

BTW, the panel I ordered from the electrical supply (mentioned in the OP) was about $15 (10%) less expensive than Defender, with no charge for some excellent advice. I wouldn't have expected the advice from Defender, but they should have been able to answer the original question.

I disagree with your comment that it's good that another retailer makes a stab at answering questions. Sometimes no answer is better than the wrong answer.
I haven't shopped at WM in a decade due to high prices and terrible in store service (talk about clueless!). It was a joke btw, hence the :laugher.
Sometimes the guys on the phone with Port Supply were pretty good.
But yeah, if you answer a product information line, I think you should be able to try to give some...well....PRODUCT INFORMATION!
 

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I'll add to the chorus, Defender's competitive model is price, not broad technical advice. Perhaps they should not advertise otherwise, I will give you that.

I do wonder if they are still in the grey market business sometimes. Some manufacturers make the same product to lower specification for sale in other countries. The model numbers and outside look the same. However, they will not carry the same US warranty. This was a common way for discount houses in many lines of business to sell cheap. It is cheap.

While I recall the days of an inch thick catalog and mail-in order forms, in the age of the internet, I do not always find Defender to be the most cost effective anymore either. Particularly when WM offers free shipping, and they frequently do, their net cost can be lower. I often find myself with both windows open next to each other and filling my order at each. I could just choose the lowest price, part by part, but I usually give the entire order to whichever has the best overall net price. Seems fair to me that way.
 

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I normally buy from Defender and cannot complain about their service-it has been great. Recently purchased an item based on WM sales personnel recommendation. Things did not add up so I called a manufacture. Ended up talking to two before I got disconnected. Information from the two different people was conflicting. Ended up returning the product.
 
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