Gloomis Warranty? The end of a free rod era?

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by JesseC, Oct 2, 2012.

  1. Old Man

    Old Man Just an Old Man

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    I've broken my GL3 about three or four times. Call them up and give them my number. Three days later I get a new rod in the mail. I put the broken one in the box and send it back.

    I have also broken my TFO Finesse rod at least three times. Send it in with 25 bucks and it takes about a week and then I'm back fishing. Warranties are good on fly rods. I wouldn't buy one any other way.
     
  2. Rick Todd

    Rick Todd Active Member

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    Thanks-I'll have to check that out. I've been thinking of building a couple rods for my son in laws and that would be a great blank to use! Rick

    BTW, Rick, you can still find those IMX blanks online if you're interested.[/quote]
     
  3. Rick Todd

    Rick Todd Active Member

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    My friend who owns REC Rod Components back in Connecticut makes guides, reel seats, and all the other components for high end fly rods. They supply all the major rod builders with the stuff to build the rods. He told me that what got Loomis into trouble and led to their sale to Shimano was manufacturing shafts for golf clubs back in the 90:s. Kind of interesting. Rick
     
  4. Kent Lufkin

    Kent Lufkin Remember when you could remember everything?

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    Sadly, offering a (nearly) unconditional warranty on premium rods represents a financial black hole for the manufacturer as well as a hole in the pocketbook for the customer.

    Customers buying today's $700+ premium plastic rods demand a warranty, preferably an unconditional one. Accidents happen, and the prevailing attitude is that it's not unreasonable to expect to be made whole at little or no out of pocket cost, especially after you've paid that much for a rod.

    Problem is, many of those 'accidents' are actually caused by carelessness or neglect on the part of the owner, not by a defect in manufacturing or material failure.

    How many folks have busted a rod when they've slammed a car door or SUV hatch on it, slipped and fell, or stepped on their rod? My gut feel says those kinds of 'accidents' represent the overwhelming majority of warranty claims instead of actual product failure.

    So what's the manufacturer to do when a customer presents his broken rod for a warranty claim that's NOT the result of a manufacturing defect or material failure? In today's hyper-connected, online world, to NOT repair or replace that rod would be PR suicide. So to keep the customer happy (and to keep them from badmouthing the company in forums like this), they cave and replace the rod, even when the cause of the damage is obvious.

    Every warranty claim costs the manufacturer money; far less than MAP retail, but an expense nonetheless. The more warranty claims they have to deal with, the greater the drag on gross profit. When profit slips past a certain point, the manufacturer only has a few choices: raise prices for their products; start charging for formerly free warranty repairs; or both.

    What message does that send to prospective customers? Look no further than the almost weekly threads here from folks complaining about the high cost of premium rods.

    It also pushes a lot of buyers to low-end imported rods. But even those buyers demand an unconditional warranty. Then what happens?

    See above . . .

    K
     
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  5. underachiever

    underachiever !

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    I'd be surprised if less than 90 percent of rods covered by warranty were broken due to the carelessness/neglect of the owner.
     
  6. JesseC

    JesseC Active Member

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    Well - that makes this whole situation even more peculiar. I bought a Clarus gear rod for $149 that comes with an over the counter warranty... that's even more convenient than the storied Sage warranty I love so much.

    Someone must be getting greedy at gloomis to offer such a shitty warranty on >$700 rod.
     
  7. Anil

    Anil Active Member

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    Before I get into the Loomis warranty, my guess is that the bulk of the “greedy” people at G-Loomis are the American workers who demand a fair wage for their labor. I imagine that all of us are "greedy" enough to demand higher wages than the Chinese workers who build the ‘Clarus’ series of rods.

    Back when Orvis was the first rod company to offer an unconditional 25 year warranty and other manufacturers decided to one up them by offering a ‘lifetime’ warranty, Gary Loomis was an outspoken opponent of this trend. He correctly warned that rod prices would necessarily rise and that performance might well decrease in favor of durability over castability. He once said "I can build a rod that will never break, but you wouldn't want to fish it" (Think about the kind of rod you would build for your child when you know they’re going to do their best to break it).
    From the beginning, the G-Loomis warranty has been: “G.Loomis rods, custom rod blanks and Syncrotech fly reels are covered by a limited warranty against defects in workmanship and materials for the lifetime of the original owner.”
    It has never been an unconditional warranty. However, the company has always been fairly generous in its assessment of what constituted a defect in materials and workmanship.
    The warranty on a new Loomis gives you these options:
    1. Wild Card: This comes with the purchase of a new rod. You are allowed a one time ‘Wild Card’ which allows you to slam your rod in the car door, call 1800 G-Loomis and they will send you a new rod in a new case FedEx. This includes a call tag for return shipping of your broken rod. You pay $0.00
    2. Standard warranty: You take your brand new 3 weight out for a day of Chum fishing and the damn defective thing breaks?!?!? Send it back to G-Loomis and they will replace it 99/100 times based on the fact that it was built poorly.
    You pay $ Shipping (usually $20)


    Is their warranty fair? If you built fly rods would you offer something more?
     
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  8. Brian Miller

    Brian Miller Be vewy vewy qwiet, I'm hunting Cutthwoat Twout

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    My son bought a 9' 5 weight NRX at PSFC. After we got it home I noticed there was no warranty card and Loomis had removed the warranty registration page from their website. I called PSFC to find out what the deal was and they said if there is a problem bring it in and they'd handle the warranty repair process. Probably all well and good if PSFC is still around and/or my son still lives in the area when there is a problem. I see Loomis now has a warranty page and warranty return form at
    http://www.gloomis.com/publish/content/gloomis_2010/us/en/fly/support.html
    G.Loomis Rods: covered by a limited lifetime warranty against defects in workmanship and materials
    • The GLoomis factory will inspect the rod to determine cause of breakage
    • For Damage determined to have occurred due to defect, GLoomis will, at the company's discretion, either repair or replace the product at no charge
    • Damages occurring due to neglect, accident or normal wear and tear will, at the company's discretion, be repaired or replaced for a specific fee.
    • A full estimate will be provided for your approval before any fees are levied.
    For warranty claims:
    • Ship the damaged rod in a disposable container, prepaid and insured, along with a completed copy of our Web Warranty Return Form.
    And here is the (non-)specific fee. The form says "All rods are subject to a $20 processing fee. Please include a check, money order or credit card information. Rod warranty will not be processed until payment is received. Additional charges may apply if the rod is deemed out of warranty."
    My son is living at home now but has an offer on a house that's about to close soon. He wouldn't be able to afford a $720 rod after he moves into his house and I wouldn't want to see Loomis jack him around when he could have spent just a third to half that on a comparable rod with a low fee no-questions asked warranty.
     
  9. Kent Lufkin

    Kent Lufkin Remember when you could remember everything?

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    My wife and I own and run a small manufacturing company, building our products here in the Seattle area from materials sourced in the US. Everyone we pitch loves the idea of supporting a company that creates jobs for US workers (yep, we're real-life 'job creators'.)

    Problem is, when a lot of prospects see our wholesale prices, they have a major dose of sticker shock. One buyer for a large national chain (whose initials are C&B) said, "I can buy that for $5.00" when she first saw one of our products (which BTW, wholesales for $19.00).

    And she was right, she could buy it for that price - IF it was made in India, China, Bangladesh or Mexico. But part of making goods in the US means paying American workers a living wage. In Washington, minimum wage rises to $9.19 in January, compared with less than $3-$4 a DAY workers in those other countries are paid. The product we sell wholesale for $19.00 costs me $8.67 to have made here. Even if I didn't make a dime, I still couldn't compete with my imported competitors. But my ace in the hole is the 'Made in USA' label sewn into every one of our products.

    While it's tempting to call US manufacturers 'greedy' because their prices are higher than their offshore competitors, the reality behind the prices for domestically-made goods is a workforce that's paid a first-world living wage, not a third-world subsistence one.

    You can't have it both ways.

    K
     
  10. Steve Saville

    Steve Saville Active Member

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    One way to get our economy rolling again is to buy American. We all realize the cheap labor costs of overseas companies. It used to be that "made in Japan" meant poor quality. It's much better now as are some of the items made in other countries. But...the money ends up there and we are employing only the shippers and service workers to market and sell the product. American made is more expensive but the quality is as good or in most cases now, better now than the foreign products. It makes sense to buy American now more than ever. Just look at the Olympic Uniform fiasco if you need convincing.
     
  11. JesseC

    JesseC Active Member

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    Wow! That's a good point Anil!

    The NRX Pro is $775 and the SageONE is $780. They are both made in the good ol' US of A.

    That $5 in savings must be the reason why Sage's warranty is so much better.
     
  12. Flyborg

    Flyborg Active Member

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    I started working at G. Loomis a week before the golf layoffs and left a few years after Shimano bought them. They shared financials with all their management level employee in monthly meetings. Before the sell to Shimano, I used to have to listen to Gary rant and rave about the lifetime warranty and what it was going to do to the industry.

    Their profit margins aren't anywhere close to "greed". For their more expensive rods, it's not really even palatable given the scrap costs associated with working in higher end graphites. Most industries would look at margin's in fly fishing and laugh.

    Their warranty costs when I left were significant. You have to realize that fly fishing is a small portion of their business; they sell far more gear rods, all with that godawful warranty. You also have to understand that with a lifetime warranty, you create an exponential cost. It isn't realistic, at all. Every year, the number of warranty-able rods increases by the amount of rods you sold. Your warranty cost is potentially the sum of all rods you've sold, ever. It will never, ever go down. From a business perspective, it's flat fucking stupid. I understand that from a customer-service standpoint, it's great. But it's simply not a long-term viable business plan. You also cannibalize future sales.

    There's a reason the fishing rod industry is one of the only industries dumb enough to have this kind of warranty. It's simple; most industries like to make a net profit. For whatever reason, in fishing, it's enough just to get by. Sage, as a domestic manufacturer, looks like the hero holding out with their lifetime warranty. I guarantee they won't do so forever. It's simply not fiscally possible. With Farbanks they have very deep pockets, and the longer they hold out, the more it hurts those who don't or can't. But Farbank's understands the concept of net profit. Eventually, that warranty will have to go away.
     
  13. Stonefish

    Stonefish Triploid, Humpy & Seaplane Hater

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    I've used Loomis rods since I bought my first one directly from Gary the year they opened. At that time they were operating out of a garage. I still use a number of their rods, both gear and fly.
    I've always had excellent customer service from them. If the repair was expected to take longer then a week or so, that was always communicated to me.
    I'd personally like to see the cost of new rods come down and would be willing to pay more for original owner warranty work should I ever need it.
    If I buy a used rod and break it, I'd be willing to pay a higher cost to have it repaired. At that point I would determine if the cost of repair makes sense based on the value of the rod to me or if I should go rod shopping.
     
  14. Brian Miller

    Brian Miller Be vewy vewy qwiet, I'm hunting Cutthwoat Twout

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    You know there have been times I lost my glasses when they were still on my face. I didn't see any reference to the Wildcard program on the Loomis warranty page so I thought it might have been suspended. Anil's post prompted me to take another look. There is a Wildcard logo link on the Loomis Fly Fishing Homepage that points to the Wildcard page http://www.gloomis.com/publish/content/gloomis_2010/us/en/conventional/2/wild_card_registration.html . I filled out the NRX form and had scanned a copy of the PSFC receipt so I am going to mail it in with a pic of the receipt. I feel better getting the rod registered.

    BTW, I still love fishing my 9' 2-piece IMX 6 weight.

    I really wish that every rod and reel I've purchased was designed and manufactured in the USA to support manufacturing jobs here, but I simply wouldn't be able to afford them. A PM from Anil; Thank You Sir, immediately after my post above offering to square away the Wildcard registration for my son is typical of the reason why I do try to purchase most of the gear I need at local fly shops, plus I don't often see a big price difference from ordering on the web for non-closeout items.
     
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  15. Joe Pombrio

    Joe Pombrio Member

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  16. Anil

    Anil Active Member

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    I hate to crack wise Jesse, but in the spirit of your post:

    You probably have such a deep understanding of this issue, because you deal with rod warranties more regularly than I do. I’m sure that your job requires you to work with the warranty departments of dozens fly tackle manufacturers on a weekly basis. Then again, how would that compete with the “dirty rumor” you heard?

    Being a dealer for both, I don't think the Sage warranty is better than Loomis. In fact, many of the customers who purchase Loomis rods do so because in part because they own other Loomis rods and have been happy with the warranty. There are differences and Sage is more generous with what they cover, but Sage costs $50 every time, where the wildcard is free, and a standard warranty is $20. Loomis actually tends to be quicker than Sage for the past several years.
    Sage has an excellent warranty program, but I disagree with your assessment of the Loomis warranty.
     
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  17. JesseC

    JesseC Active Member

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    Not claiming to have a deep understanding related to loomis, hence the thread. I think the anecdotal experiences from customers above speak for themselves.

    Ive had two warranty experiences with sage - dropped the rods off myself and no charge. One time I asked them if they could turn around a 7126 TCX fast because I was making another trip in a few days - 24 hours later I got a call. Coolest part? I didn't have to register for a "wild card". They've earned a customer for life. I had three buddies get into fly fishing this year; they all bought sage rods on my advice. I bought a sage rod for my Dad for an upcoming birthday. Maybe it's not such a bad business decision after all?

    There's a lot of businesses that are shortsighted and don't understand the long term balance sheet of over the top exceptional customer service. Here's a few that do get it; REI, Nordstroms, Sage, Zappos, Costco. Notice a trend? They're all growing. Why? Because they put the customer first.

    Gloomis looks like a shitty warranty to me, as a customer. I like their sticks, they cast great, but they won't get any of my business when another locally manufactured competitor seems to far outshine them.
     
  18. Pontooner

    Pontooner Member

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    I own both Sage and Loomis rods and I have had several rods covered under warranty by both companies. Both companies have gone above and beyond my expectations regarding warranty work.

    I have read and reread the above posts. Please explain how and why the Gloomis warranty is shitty and how "another locally manufactured competitor seems to far outshine them."
     
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  19. underachiever

    underachiever !

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    With the exception of Sage these aren't apples to apples comparisons, especially if your definition of "customer service" is mostly dependent on return/exchange policies which it seems to be in this case. You must know that Joe Schmoe goes down to the river and slams his rod in the car door and then expects a free replacement. It's ridiculous and I don't blame any rod company for changing their warranty strategy when the lions share of breakage has nothing to do with legit manufacturer's defects.

    If this is your opinion then it's reasonable you choose to buy Sage rods especially when the retail pricing is as similar as it is.
     
  20. PT

    PT Physhicist

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    I've had great service from GLoomis and Sage. Won't hesitate buying rods from either company.

    My question is why do people expect something for nothing? Please don't use the excuse that with the high price of these rods you should expect a free replacement for life.
     
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