Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Responsibility, And Who is Responsible.

This whole event with my damaged Exocet board has been kind of fascinating, but also very frustrating. From the very beginning I've been making the point to Progressive Sports, the outfit in Daytona Beach where I bought the board, and to Exocet that the board is fragile. Yet the whole thing has gone in an odd turn.

For some reason the salesperson got hooked on the idea that the damage happened because the board had some sort of flaw. I never made that particular point but the idea of the “flaw” went all the way to the president of Exocet. The president, Patrice Belbeoch, said:

Dear Ian,
Sorry for the issue you are having with your board, i believe Steve has answered you correctly

From the picture posted the issue comes from an impact and not from any structure miss manufacturing
I suggest that you ask to any custom shop doing composite repairs and they will tell you the same
On the picture you can see that the structure or impact are crushed, such dings can only been occurred by an outside object hitting the board
it could be that you do not even feel the impact has the board is pretty massive, but it the object like wood or any others hit the board in the right angle then you will have such crush

As a manufacturer and i am looking at all warranty we may have, I can tell you clearly that this is not a structural mistake
This construction is durable and have barely any warranty issues on the entire SUP and Windsurf line

Let me know if you need more feedback

I made it clear that the damage didn't happen because of a flaw but as a result of the fragile nature of the board. It seemed that I was basically screwed because nobody was addressing the basic nature of the board.

Then it got weird. I sent a message to JD Motes, the salesperson from Progressive Sports who sold me the board. He apparently looked at my blog and this picture:

I'm not going to publish the full interaction (yet) but he told me that I had no business taking a board of this construction into this kind of environment, and that I should have known better. Here's the rub: I told him before I bought the board exactly what kind of environment I'd be paddling in. I did it verbally, in messages (making it clear the Hudson needed a “durable river board”), and even in writing on the Standup Zone forum:

That 14 foot board is an intriguing board. It has a lot going for it: great price for the size, mast insert, tie-downs. I'm impressed.

How's the construction, compared to, say, the Kona One? I paddle where rocks are a fact of life. A solid board is a necessity.

I even had the same conversation with Steve Gottlieb the proprietor of Progressive, making it clear what kind of environment I'd be paddling in, and he assured me right before I gave him my credit card number the board that it was sturdy and would be fine for a rocky environment.

BTW, the Kona One is a windsurfer made by Exocet. I've owned one for years. It's durable and fun to sail. I've never had any problem with it, except for squirrels, but that's another story.

A responsible salesperson should do more than just sell product. He/she should make sure customers get the appropriate product. A salesperson should take care of customers. That makes good business sense. It means you get return sales because your customers trust you. That is clearly not happening here.


  1. The main thing I find so appalling about this experience is that no one ever really apologized for having misunderstood what Ian meant when he was asking questions about the board and how it would work in a rocky environment before he bought it. There have been a lot of "I'm sorry, BUT..." preceded by lectures, excuses and lots of condescending speak along the lines of "there are ROCKs in that picture," (as seen in photo above where Ian is resting on a boulder) "you have no common sense", "you should never take a board like that into that kind of environment". If they weren't sure, they could've just asked what he meant. (Were they afraid of losing a sale if they told the truth?)

    The reality is that the rivers and lakes in New York State were formed by glaciers and there are going to be rocks. Honest to god big rocks dumped by glaciers. Not pebbles scattered about in a sandy river formed by tides way back when or like one finds in the intercoastal waterways. When the peekskillpaddler asked if this board was going to be a sturdy board in an environment where there are rocks, he really meant a sturdy board that wouldn't get a hole everytime it bumped into something. Not "sound sturdy when you thump on it sturdy" or "accidentally bang your paddle into the siderails so it doesn't get a ding sturdy."

    If the salesguys had just admitted they misunderstood what Ian needed and apologized without the lecture, it wouldn't be so bad. We all make mistakes. Instead, they made it all his fault. I was privy to the communications (I'm his wife) and I have to say based on what the responses were like, I would say that good customer service has become a thing of the past. Nothing that was said was in the spirit of Aloha.

  2. Sorry to hear about your experience, but this seems to be typical for Exocet. The Exocet owner's statement that they "have barely any warranty issues on the entire SUP and Windsurf line" is a very bad joke - it's simply based on the fact they they routinely deny that damages are warranty issues. My Exocet WindSUP almost broke in half when most other boards would have survived undamaged.

    There also seems to be a pattern by the US Exocet distributors and advocates to call users with warranty claims liars. In your case, that was Steve Gottlieb; in my case, it was John Ingebritsen, who is a very vocal and effective advocate for Exocet windsurf and WindSUP boards. After basically accusing me of lying on a public discussion forum, he followed up with emails telling me to shut up about Exocet. The discussion is at http://www.iwindsurf.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=25538 and my experience is at http://boardsurfr.blogspot.com/2013/01/exocet-boards-break-and-company-thinks.html

  3. boardsurfr,

    Thanks for posting that. I'm a member of iWindsurf. You think I should post about my experience too?