Sunday, September 22, 2013

How does your gear rate...when it breaks?

I've been meaning to blog about something other than race reports, so here it goes.  I am always looking to find what quality products have good customer support to back them up.  I don't mind paying a little more for a quality product, but IF there is a problem with the product I want the manufacturer to back it up.  Yes, I know everyone has their favorite brand of shoe, or bike, or watch, etc.  I am just offering a few of my own experiences that might help others break the tie if they are can't decide between brands.  
My first notable experience had to do with my Garmin 910xt.  I bought it used, but purchased the Premium HRM Transmitter with soft strap through in May of 2012.  In
January the HRM  starting giving erratic data and I went online searching for answers.  I checked all the normal blog sites and Garmin  FAQs.  I followed the troubleshooting procedures and even changed the Transmitter battery, but it was still giving erratic and erroneous data.  In February, I called the Garmin customer service line and explained the details, and was told to email a copy of my receipt from Heart Rate Monitors USA.  A quick Garmin reply was received the same day that a new Premium HRM Transmitter with soft strap was being shipped to me.   The only caveat to this warranty service was that I could prove purchase of the HRM was within the 1-year warranty period.  That is customer service!

Item number two was a set of the Profile Design AirStryke Aerobars purchased
in March of 2012.  The flip up design seemed like the way to go, despite some of the reviews that mentioned the spring on the flip up arm rests being problematic.  I have been very pleased with the Aerobars and the AeroDrink Bracket.  I can easily switch between the 32 oz. AeroDrink and the 50 oz. Aqua Cell which makes a difference on longer unsupported rides.  As expected one of the springs on the armrests did eventually break.  I called the Profile Design warranty line and explained the problem. The customer service representative took my name and address and said he would ship a replacement spring kit out right away.   This is too easy.

Item number three was the Saris CycleOn Pro bike rack.  I purchased the CycleOn Pro from in May of 2012 and then the 2 bike add-on a few weeks later from   With the 2 bike add-on it is quite heavy and is not something you want to take on and off every day.    I looked at different stand-up carrier options and this one seemed to be the right rack to carry all of the family's bikes.  The damage occurred in May of 2013.  Driving out from
the greenway parking lot my wife's bike fell over while in the bike rack.
I attributed it to the arm that holds down pressure on the front tire becoming loose and the numerous potholes in the green way parking lot. Thankfully, the bike remained in a horizontal position on the bike rack.  However, it was heavy enough that when it fell it damaged the arm that holds the front tire in place.  I reported the situation to Saris Cycling Group, and I was planning to buy the replacement arm myself.  I assumed that this type of damage was not something they would cover under the warranty.   After explaining the situation, they sent me a new arm.  The only cost was that they asked me to ship the damaged one back to them.  I probably could have gotten them to send me a shipping label to cover this cost, but I felt they had been more than accommodating already.

The last item that I had to make a warranty claim on so far this year is my Louis Garneau Tri-Lite shoes.  I purchased them in Aug of 2012 from Birmingham Bicycle Company (BBC).  In July of this year, I noticed that the heel cap had come unglued from the sole of the shoe.  It was barely hanging on by the rivet on the heel of the shoe.  A phone call to Birmingham Bicycle Company and they requested I email them a picture of the damage.  They contacted LG who sent them a new pair of shoes and then BBC shipped them to me with a return label so I could send the old shoes back. This was very convenient and avoided driving to Birmingham to pick up the new shoes.  Again their stated warranty period is for 1 year, so I can't say what the outcome would have been after the 1 year period.  However, they didn't question the purchase date or even ask for a copy of the receipt.

Sure, some of you are probably thinking that I should buy better equipment.  Granted you would like to buy things that never break, but I have been completely satisfied with the performance and value of the items I described above.  Things break, maybe I'm a little hard on my gear, but when the manufacturer stands behind their product it keeps me coming back.  I will continue to buy products from these companies because of my personal experience with their customer service.

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