0
dmkellett

LEAD TIMES and poor customer service

Recommended Posts

I just sent this email to EDO at PF
It is with regret that I am posting this, but people have a right to know the ACTUAL lead times for V-Race suits incase they are planning an early trip to the mountains in march -april 2015..... this is my story :





Thanks for the reply Edo, I appreciate your honesty

Unfortunately, a reply to our questions earlier would have avoided this......

Its a real shame, as I love PF suits , I was ( until all our tickets were suddenly cancelled for no apparent reason ) a PF instructor who trained many jumpers since getting the ticket in 2005. I am actually PF instructor number 006 ( I qualified with James Boole back in early 2005 . It was so much fun jumping and teaching in both Europe and the USA . Then , out of the blue, came the news that all instructor ratings had been cancelled. This was after I had emigrated to Australia so not only was I shocked but also it was almost impossible to re qualify for the rating.

To be honest I had always taken my responsibility as instructor very seriously and used a tracking - PF tracking suit - prodigy - phantom transition over several jumps with all my students , rather than the " here's the suit go fly bro " attitude I saw everywhere.

I still coached and took first flight courses down here in AUS as nobody really cares about what PF did by cancelling all the ratings. I had taught many students and the Chief instructor at my DZ just laughed and said " carry on " when I told him....

anyway , in 2009 I ordered a V3. It was supposed to be 10-12 weeks lead time.


NEARLY a year later, I had to BEG to get my v3 finished. this was shocking service as tonysuits are able to make suits in 4 weeks.
Still, due to intense loyalty to Robi I ignored the terrible service I got over my V3 lead time and carried on as normal.

Now it came to order a v-Race. I was assured in Elsinore by Jarno " in person " that the lead times were always 10 -12 weeks as that a "new " vampire only factory was going to be made to make lead times very short. This seemed like the same speech people have been getting for YEARS about vampire lead times.... I was suspicious to say the least, but decided again ( through loyalty to Robi ) to accept this story even though in the back of my mind I remembered the terrible V3 experience.

that was in MARCH.

I was told my order would be put in the Que in MARCH by Jarno

Now we needed to know SIMPLE stuff like cost of artwork ( I'm sure you guys do artwork lots and it should have been SUPER easy to send a quote ) We sent emails and got ignored.

It would have been early October before our suits were ready and this is ASSUMING they would have been made by 21st Sept if we had kept quiet and not cancelled our orders. I suspect they would NOT

That would have been 6 - 7 MONTHS , not 10-12 weeks

I love PF suits and Robi is my hero, BUT why on earth can you guys not make suits ?????

your 2 main competitors can make them in 4 weeks.... I ordered a Squirrel Aura and it was DELIVERED to me within 25 days !!!

Not only that, but any questions I sent via email were ALWAYS answered perfectly within 24 hours.

If you cannot make suits and will not reply to simple questions from customers who like me have spent nearly 7 K USD over the last 10 years with PF then what on earth is going on ???????

As much as I love PF and would love to stay loyal to Robi, customer service is important, and HONESTY with lead times is needed.

you guys should either

1. Own up on the website and admit people will have to wait 6 months - 12 months for a Vampire

OR


2. MAKE a new factory and MAKE suits faster !


But don't continue like you have for the last 5 years at least .... telling everyone that the suits are 10-12 weeks away and not replying to emails..... That is a really fast way to alienate your most precious resource - your customers.

I'm not going to reconsider. We have decided to go with Colugo 2's....

I'll be posting this to DZ .com as well, so that people can know whats actually going on with lead times and make INFORMED decisions about orders

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
sucks to hear. because this is all i hear from many, many people ordering from PF, and have dealt with the same experience myself.

i appreciate how aerodynamically awesome the PF designs are, and i appreciate how much experience robi and his crew have combined, but i simply will not do business with a company with this many flaws. somethings gotta give, but so far it hasnt, and therefore..

i am a squirrel customer, never to return to PF products.
gravity brings me down.........

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
ya, shitty story. And an all too common one relayed in this forum over the years. A few years back it took seven months to get my V4, however this year when I ordered my carve I was quoted a nine week lead time and was delighted to receive my suit in just over eight weeks!

I know these suits (vampire vs carve) are manufactured on separate lines but am hopeful we'll hear less and less of these stories going forward ('cause I fricken love the suits!). I've just ordered a venom power and will be very interested to see how in-line the delivery is with respect the quoted lead time. I'm betting it'll be pretty close, but of course I have a vested interest in it being so.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I ordered a Power in May and it's coming up on 14 weeks vs. a 12 week lead time. My understanding is that much of the workforce was sick and that pushed out lead times.

Not trying to add fuel to any fires here, just helping to dial in your expectations.
Apex BASE
#1816

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I completely agree, but this issue certainly is not exclusive to PF or even Wingsuit manufacturers.
As consumers and customers, and let’s be honest here that is exactly what we are (even though we are often made to feel that we are “Privileged” to be allowed to jump their awesome gear)…. We have being putting up with some Skydiving “companies”, their lack of service and ridiculous lead-times for way too long and its time we voted against this with our wallets.

Why should we be waiting sometimes up to a year for the latest, coolest suit or rig that all of the Sponsored heroes seem to have the day they are released? (often before) When there are more options out there?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure the new suits are incredible, state of the art and will rock our worlds etc… but nothing says: “extended lead-time” like finally getting your new suit only to see your Wingsuiting hero show off the new and improved model/next series suit on their Facebook page weeks or months later…
There is little point to my rant other than to say I believe that these companies need to start acting like real companies and delivering above average service and accurately forecast lead-times to their valued commodities (us the customers).
I own an ICT company that operates in the real world (albeit Australia…) and I assure you I would not be in business if I quoted 12-13 weeks lead-times and didn’t even come close to delivering.
Either that or lose market share, as I am sure this will start happening.
Already there is much chatter about companies like Squirrel & Cookie Composites because they are constantly working to go above and beyond and acting like a real company in modern times should act.
Is it because their gear is better, faster, out performs other brands? Perhaps it is, or perhaps people are just over that “you’ll get it when we feel like getting it to you” attitude we sometimes feel as non-sponsored Skydivers and are voting with their wallets.
Time will tell, and I hope some of these companies start putting as much money and effort into their systems, processes, staff, backend operations and customer service as I’m sure they do for R&D for their sick new product…

I await and expect the flame-on from the Fan Boys and Sponsored “Athletes”…..
I am NOT sponsored (nor care to be), I have multiple brands of gear/suits and love all of them. I DO however have money to spend though and how I am treated and the service I get WILL make me decide on what brand I purchase in future. Not some rock star who got a free suit or rig telling me that I need to get that one to be as cool as they are…

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I am not a BASE jumper so I don't know what is mostly being jumped in the mountins but whenever I go to a skydiving event and or DZ I don't see many other manufacturer's wingsuits being used... Why in the world would they invest time, money and energy in something they clearly don't need? Who cares how long the lead times are? Who cares about customer service? Everyone is buying the suits anyway, they could send the suits out with a fuck you note attached and they would still have more suits out there than the other guys... This is just from what I have been seeing, I know they may not have the best business model but they do have the best product why else would we all keep coming back?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
You are really comparing a fabric jumpsuit to a human child? interesting.
I’ve ordered custom cars that take less time. I’m pretty sure you can build a house in less time...
But hey, this is "Human flight" so you must be right... keep drinking the Kool-Aid dude..

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
tozer

You are really comparing a fabric jumpsuit to a human child? interesting.
I’ve ordered custom cars that take less time. I’m pretty sure you can build a house in less time...
But hey, this is "Human flight" so you must be right... keep drinking the Kool-Aid dude..



i think you may have missed the (brilliant) sarcasm in his post..

:D:D:D:D:D
“Some may never live, but the crazy never die.”
-Hunter S. Thompson
"No. Try not. Do... or do not. There is no try."
-Yoda

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote

Everyone is buying the suits anyway, they could send the suits out with a fuck you note attached and they would still have more suits out there than the other guys



:D:D I was trying to think of something similar to say but that's brilliant.

PF has a shit ton of suits out there, so they obviously are being built, and these stories of hugely inflated lead times are the exception rather than the rule. I just checked my V3 order from late 2008 and at the height of the new release order frenzy it was quoted 12 weeks and delivered in 16. Not perfect but hardly a disaster.

One thing I do wonder with about PF (apart from communication) is the dealer network. I keep hearing from people with order problems who ordered through some random skydiver/base jumper friend who just happens to be a PF dealer on the side and seems to serve no purpose except to add extra delay / confusion to the process. I have absolutely no idea why anyone wouldn't either order direct or use a dealer who runs an established gear store like VBG, and I'm amazed that PF keeps working with all the part time dealers out there.

Having said all that, Squirrel does have hands down the best customer service I've ever experienced, not just in wingsuiting, not just in parachuting but from anyone in any area, periodB|
Do you want to have an ideagasm?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
jakee

Quote


Having said all that, Squirrel does have hands down the best customer service I've ever experienced, not just in wingsuiting, not just in parachuting but from anyone in any area, periodB|




EXACTLY
This is why , when I couldn't handle the situation any longer with my PF order, it was the EXCEPTIONAL service I got last time with Squirrel that made it an easy decision for me and my mate to go with Colugo 2's instead. As Tozer points out - It is the SERVICE that makes the customer return ... not just how awesome the products are. I would agree I've never had such good service as with the guys at Squirrel.....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Scotty Bob's suit.

He rips in those. Must be because of the suit, not his skill. I'm just kidding about that. But seriously, alot of guys and girls on Squirrel seems to rip it hard. You can not tell me that their suit sucks or inferior to others when they are scratching closer to the ground than anyone else out there.

Better overall design of the suit, and even their web-site looks and navigates better.
Bernie Sanders for President 2016

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote

He rips in those. Must be because of the suit, not his skill. I'm just kidding about that. But seriously, alot of guys and girls on Squirrel seems to rip it hard. You can not tell me that their suit sucks or inferior to others when they are scratching closer to the ground than anyone else out there.



OK. So reverse that, watch the N4S videos and tell us again that the Vampire sucks or is inferior.:S

Each of the big 3 manufacturers are producing awesome suits at the moment. Whichever one is best is going to depend more on your flying style than anything else.
Do you want to have an ideagasm?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Some of these big name PF guys are dead.

Squirrel crew is still alive and ripping.

I've never seen Jeb Corliss rip, ever, but he is the only person to hit the cliff and survive and still jumping.
Bernie Sanders for President 2016

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The net of it is this: Squirrel changed the market.

Long lead times and poor communication used to not matter because everyone was operating that way. Not anymore.

PF, if it wants to continue to dominate in the way that it has, will have to improve significantly in service, marketing, communication, and manufacturing speeds. There will be some growing pains for sure, but I think they'll get it right.

Making amazing suits is no longer good enough. There are a handful of companies making amazing suits. Now the suits have to be amazing AND we need to feel like we're working with a real, organized, professional business.

It's a little painful now, but we consumers will be the primary beneficiaries here. I just hope it happens soon, because I love PF suits and want to continue flying them for a long time to come.
Apex BASE
#1816

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
This all sounds like PF is just sitting around with their hands up their ass not making suits. If your suit takes twice the time to get to you it's not because they don't give a shit, it's because they have so many orders. The reason for that isn't pictures of guys farting rainbows on the internet, it's quality. When I order PF suits I factor in the delay because I know it's worth it. The fact that they don't communicate well is a different story.

If people want to order a suit based on how the manufacturer's site looks or how some guy is 3 inches closer to the ground than another than go for it but in the end those people are usually the ones no one wants to fly with anyway.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
ifell

This all sounds like PF is just sitting around with their hands up their ass not making suits. If your suit takes twice the time to get to you it's not because they don't give a shit, it's because they have so many orders. The reason for that isn't pictures of guys farting rainbows on the internet, it's quality. When I order PF suits I factor in the delay because I know it's worth it. The fact that they don't communicate well is a different story.

If people want to order a suit based on how the manufacturer's site looks or how some guy is 3 inches closer to the ground than another than go for it but in the end those people are usually the ones no one wants to fly with anyway.



I agree with everything you said. PF (and actually all of the big manufacturers) put out quality stuff and that takes time. I recognize that they have huge demand and that's driving lead times, not vacations and long lunch breaks. That said, long lead times should be a catalyst to expand production.

Sponsored athletes don't have a big impact on my impression of a company, but communication and managing my expectations properly does. There's room for improvement here I feel.

Maybe your post wasn't directed at me though. I recognize that PF is just having some growing pains. Hopefully they work through it soon.
Apex BASE
#1816

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Bluhdow

Sponsored athletes don't have a big impact on my impression of a company, but communication and managing my expectations properly does. There's room for improvement here I feel.



Could agree with you more but from a business perspective why would you invest money and energy in something you don't need. If people stopped ordering from PF all together you can bet they would address customer service in heart beat. Squirrel as a start up had to find an edge and I have to say they succeeded by exploiting the other guys weaknesses. Bravo, I think that's great. Down the road we will benefit from competition.

My comment was not directed at you specifically but as far as growing pains go... The one thing they have succeeded in doing over the years is grow and I don't see an end to that in the near future

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
ifell

why would you invest money and energy in something you don't need. If people stopped ordering from PF all together you can bet they would address customer service in heart beat.



If you wait to improve customer service until you NEED to (presumably due to a reduction in orders), then it's already too late.

Nip it in the bud now, before a small problem becomes a big problem.
Apex BASE
#1816

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
i really enjoy these brand-wars-thingies going on here..

WAAAAY back in the day it was birdmen against PF, then came the time when it was TS (tony still making wingsuits actually, except for jeb and "the king"!?) against PF, now it's squirrel against PF..

can you see the constant there? yea, it's phoenix-fly, you guessed it right!

birdmen, development-wise, was robi's baby, tony happily copied his designs too as well as matt has..

the INNOVATOR, and probably genius too, is mr. robert pecnik, his company might suck in communication, or customer service, but he's the one LEADING the game..

;)
“Some may never live, but the crazy never die.”
-Hunter S. Thompson
"No. Try not. Do... or do not. There is no try."
-Yoda

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I usually love to troll on these type of posts, but I must say this situation reminds me of another base gear manufacturer who I respect greatly. PF makes a quality product that a lot of people obviously want. Does this mean that Robi has to go through the stress/hassel of expanding the production hugely? If he is happy making the amount of wingsuits he is, in the way that he is, and still obviously getting out and jumping with friends, which is im going to guess a lot of the reason he does this in the first place, then why change? I had a discussion with said base gear manufacturer a couple years ago about the same thing. His answer was why cause more headaches, more stress, and make about the same money in the long run by tripling production capacity when im happy with things the way they are? If you want a different suit, or want it faster, then you can go elsewhere, but Robi is obviously doing things how he is happy doing them, and I could never fault someone for that. The customer service is another issue, but as far as long lead times, some times thats just what happens with a small boutique type company.

Oh, and scotty bob, eat a dick.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account. It's free!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
0