View Full Version : The North Face Complaint

02-11-2003, 17:26
Yeah, just wanted to share with you.
I did the trail with my NF backpack. It worked quite alright. Of course I could have used a smaller one, but nevermind. I quite like it, after it had been with me for so long.
Anyway, I got back home (=Israel), and wanted to get it all fixed up, and sown and stuff, with the cuts he got on the straps. I went to this store selling NF, and they said 'no problem' and took the pack. They got it to their representetive in Israel, who sent the pack to Belgium (I think), where there is this NF center.
Today he calls me (The Israeli representetive), and tells me they sent the pack back, and it's too torn up to be fixed by them. They are sorry, but that's that. He also told me he can sell me a brand new one for %50 off. *******.. I know that if it had been in the US, and I had gone to any store on the trail, or even off it, and have done it, they would have sent me a brand new one, if they can't fix it. Anyway, just wanted to share this with you.

Papa Bear
02-11-2003, 22:02
Hey Amtrak

We met on top of Mount Eisenhower last July. Glad your hike ended well.

Here's the shot (http://gallery.backcountry.net/albums/papabear_section_4/aen.sized.jpg) you took of us. Sorry I didn't get your picture.

Glad you're doing well. Sorry about your pack.


02-11-2003, 22:22
I must be missing something.

Your local NF representative took your pack and sent it to Belgium where it was determined that it could not be fixed. When you learned of this, the rep was an ******* because he wouldn't give you a new pack, but would only sell you one for 1/2 price?

You used the pack for 2000 plus miles, right?

What am I missing? Did they charge you a lot of money to send it to Belgium or did they refuse to return your pack? Was there some defect in construction or materials? When you speak of cuts, were they caused by poor workmanship or general wear and tear?

Rick B

Lone Wolf
02-11-2003, 22:28
Thanks Rick. These kids didn't hike 15 years ago when outfitters and gear companies didn't kiss thier asses and replace the worn out gear. NOTHING is designed to withstand 6 months of abuse. F***ing whiners!

02-12-2003, 09:30
Originally posted by Lone Wolf
Thanks Rick. These kids didn't hike 15 years ago when outfitters and gear companies didn't kiss thier asses and replace the worn out gear. NOTHING is designed to withstand 6 months of abuse. F***ing whiners!

Just think about who buys and used the majority of backpacking equipment out there. It's the person who uses it over maybe half a dozen weekends, and a couple of weeks of vacation tops. Let's assume that is 16 to 20 days per year.

A thru-hiker uses the equipment steady for 160 to 180 days. That is 10 years worth of wear, tear, and abuse. Is it no wonder that sleeping bags, backpacks, and other gear is trashed after a thru-hike?

I think it is commendable that any manufacturer would replace gear after use like that, or that someone has the nerve to ask that it be replaced.

Trail Yeti
02-12-2003, 11:21
If they don't want to replace it they shouldn't put a lifetime guarantee on it.

02-12-2003, 12:49
Originally posted by Trail Yeti
If they don't want to replace it they shouldn't put a lifetime guarantee on it.

That's not your lifetime, it is the lifetime of the equipment!

02-12-2003, 13:43
It would cost a fortune to make a pack that is lightweight, and designed to be durable enough, to last a lifetime.

Think about it.

If everyone wanted to replace their packs the cost would then be passed on to the consumer and the complaint on this thread would NOT be about replacement but about the company's product being overpriced.

I think the offer for a new pack with 50% off was a great gesture!!!

Just my 2 cents.

SGT Rock
02-12-2003, 13:53
Get a Gearskin and quit worrying about overpriced over built packs.;)

02-12-2003, 15:15
I'm beginning to think that the good Sergeant likes Gearskins.

02-12-2003, 15:22
If they put a lifetime warranty on it, than it should always be fixed/replaced. When you buy a $200+ backpack that costs $4 or $5 to make, the high cost includes the possibility that they have to replace it. LL Bean will replace any of their products that fail. A friend of mine had a 15yr old drivers seat cover that lasted him 3 cars. He wore a hole in it from siting in it. LL Bean couldnt replace the exact model, so they sent him the newer upgraded version for free, and even paid the shipping. Now thats customer service!

My point being, many people buy these products at premium prices for the "Lifetime Warranty". A good example of this is "Snap-On" tools. They're no better than a $5 Craftsman wrench, but you pay $25 for yours because if you break it, they'll have a new one to you within 24-48 hours. Or look at the PUR Hiker (now Katadyn Hiker) filtration system. People (including Thru-Hikers) purchase it for the filter guarentee.

Although TNF continues to advance outdoor technology, it's huge size no longer provides proper customer service. Perhaps when people become disgusted with this, they will stop buying, and TNF will smarten up. They still have the average Joe who buys the name though.

Jack Tarlin
02-12-2003, 16:24
There are a few, and I mean a VERY few companies such as Bean and REI that will essentially replace anything at anytime, regardless of age or usage. They are to be commended for this; it should also be clearly stated that they get repeatedly taken advantage of by chiseling weasels---outdoor gear cannot realistically be frequently used or over-usd and then be expected to last a lifetime. This is unrealistic, to say the least.

The vast majority of companies that offer "lifetime" warranties or guarantees specifically cite that their coverage is for "normal" use of the product. 180 days of continuous backcountry use in rough terrain and during all kinds of weather simply does not constitute "normal" use; it is inevitable that gear and clothing will be damaged, torn, scratched up, and in some cases, it will break and be rendered unusable.

It is the hiker's responsibility to purchase the most rugged and reliable equipment available, but it also their responsibility to realize that except for a few very specific manufacturers, there is no "guarantee" of a product for life---you're going to bang the hell out of your gear during a six month hike, and to expect an out door company to replace things on demand after such extended use and abuse is, in my opinion, expecting too much.

02-12-2003, 17:22
Unlike most lifetime guarantees with thier conditions and caveats, Craftsman hand tools are guaranteed forever. No matter what.

Thought I'd clear that up.

02-12-2003, 19:29
Snap-on's also!!!!!

02-12-2003, 20:08
I bought my Jansport external backpack in 1986---16 years ago. I probably only use it for a couple of weeks each year. Finally, I started having problems (some tearing) with it on my last trip. I took it in fully expecting to pay for the repairs.

I was told that Jansport backs their product for life. Not only did they fix the problems that I pointed out, they did more than I asked. They replaced the belt pad and fixed a few of the zippers.

There was no charge other than shipping. The shipping was only $5 round trip---and that was from Chicago to Denver.

Needless to say, I was quite impressed!

SGT Rock
02-12-2003, 21:18
This is directly from the North Face site:

What does "lifetime" mean?
Our products are covered under warranty, to the original owner, for the lifetime of the product. Unfortunately, this does not mean your lifetime. Your North Face sleeping bag may not survive to the ripe old age of 70. (But we have heard from folks whose well-loved and cared for 1973 Superlight sleeping bags are still going strong!)

02-12-2003, 23:27
Lol, I could sell a soda-can stove with a "Lifetime Warranty". You could use it twice and have it break. Then I could say, "Well hey, the lifetime of this product is 2 days, sorry buddy". Thats really lame, and a scheme to get people to trust in a warranty without reading the product fine print. Especially when most of their winter advertising has to do with arctic & antarctic expeditions, climbing the Himalayas & upper Hindu Kush. Lame, TNF just dropped another rung on the doorknob ladder.

Anyone can go to Walmart and buy a $10 sleeping pad, but we pay $100 for a Therm-A-Rest for the superior construction, and a lifetime warranty.

Oh, I use Craftsman tools, but have you ever had to exchange one? It takes about 2 weeks. Snap-On has em to you within a day and a half. I personally don't need my tools this fast, but some mechanics do, and thats why they pay $20 for a socket.

I guess I hold companies to higher standards than some of you.

02-13-2003, 06:45
Raging Hampster wrote:

I guess I hold companies to higher standards than some of you.

No, I don't think so Raging Hampster...I just think some of us are a bit MORE REALISTIC than you...and as a result WE do NOT end up passing on the cost to other consumers!!!!

02-13-2003, 07:37
I had the same experience with a Jansport pack,,,, a D-2 I have and have used for 20 years of my hiking lifetime...the original model lacked nylon bushings for the hip stands to rotate on, over time the metal to metal wore through and I sent it back...and you probably wont be surprised to know that Jansport sent me a brand new pack with the remodeled bushings in place, cost-shipping only....TNF sold out a long time ago.....
Similar experiece with a pile jacket by Patagonia, zipper wore out, sent it back and in less than 2 weeks had a new zipper installed for free! What goes around comes around, haven't bought a TNF product in years and probably wont.

02-13-2003, 08:13
Since when does it take 1 1/2 weeks to replace a broken tool at Sears? I usually walk in with the broken one, and out with a new replacement.

I don't do much business with Sears, but I like Craftsman. I don't break their tools often, and when I do, it's usually because of abuse. But when I do break something, it's always been no questions asked.

I'll continue to buy their tools.

02-13-2003, 09:25
One thing you all have to notice is that TNF we use now is not the SAME TNF from 3 years ago. Does anybody remember they went bankrupt and all the designers went to Mtn Hardwear. TNF today is owned by Vanity Fair who makes Lee and Wrangler Jeans. From knowing that this is not a company that really cares about the outdoor comunity as the old TNF did. A gear company that boasts they make gear that can take you to the top of Everest through the harshest environments(including an AT Thru Hike) If they say their gear can make it and it deosn't that means they cannot stand behind their gear and are false advertising.

02-13-2003, 10:36
I'd say that $200+ for a backpack that costs $4 or $5 to make is crazy if the company does not stand behind the wear and tear of the product. The reason why a $200 backpack sells for $230 the next year isn't because some people returned a pack that grenaded, it's simply because they know people will pay that much to have "The North Face" on their left breast. Same reason why a cotton "Nike" T-Shirt sells for $25, and the same logo-less shirt costs $3.99 on the next rack.

By the way, I use craftsman tools almost exclusively too, so I'm not knocking the brand or anything. Just that people pay more because they think they are getting a higher standard. I'm sure TNF isn't hurting so bad as to not replace a pack they made over a 1500% profit on. It also reflects their attitude towards their customers. If you advertise that it's shackleton worthy, than have some balls and stand behind your preaching, or step down.

Nonetheless, I own a few TNF products, but only use one of them now. The rest are pretty much retired except for car camping due to the lack of trust I have in their abilities and construction.

02-13-2003, 10:38
I agree with that comment about Sears. I bought a treadmill at Sears that I used for seven years. It had a few thousand miles on it. I did have a maintenance agreement on it ($70 annually).

Once it got to the point that it was "beyond repair," Sears replaced it with a more modern model with no questions asked. Same thing with my projection TV.

No complaints here.

02-13-2003, 10:56
JanSport, Craftsman, LLBean and LandsEnd

I have had great customer service with these companies.

Was given a daypack from Jansport many years ago. The seam along the zipper came unraveled in less than a year. I called them to ask what their "lifetime warranty" meant...they said to send it to them and they would fix it. They sent me a new one, it went about 2 years before it did the same thing...they sent me another one. They had changed the design...it is still in use more than 12 years later. I have several other of their products including a different daypack that also had a problem and when I sent it back they reinforced/improved it.

Have always taken in damaged Craftsman tools and they handed me a new one...no questions.

Have returned numerous things to LLBean and LE. Most recently my 7 year old son's school uniform pants (talk about some wear and tear) came apart at the waist band...they sent us the pants immediately with a postage paid return bag.

Needless to say, I will continued to buy from these companies. I feel that the quality of their products and warranty. I personally look for companies that have a good warranty and customer service. It says to me that they offer good products and are willing to stand behind their products.

On the other hand, I wouldn't ask a company to replace a boys school uniform pants because they had a hole in the knee. That would be normal wear and tear.:D

SGT Rock
02-13-2003, 11:39
So has TNF turned into anothe Yuppie name brand for fashion clothing and gear that give the owner "That rugged outdoor look" and use the past real world product reputation as just a marketing ploy?

02-14-2003, 11:42
I have broken 2 Craftsman tools. Took both back to a Sears store and walked out with free replacement, no questions asked. TNF-Replaced a sleeping bag that I purchased in late 70's with a new one that was of inferior quality. I agree - they have sold out. Anything advertised to go to Mt. Everst should be replaced without question if it wears out prematurely.

02-16-2003, 16:14
The thing is that people are right when they say I should think of companies who do replace older and worn stuff for free as better companies than most, but not expect it from every company. I did expect it from TNF, though, and I don't need a brand new pack, just a few straps replaced. Though they did look at it, and said it's too much damage to be fixed easily. Don't know, maybe they were some "basic" straps that replacing them was like replacing the whole back-system or whatever.
Anyway, I know that on the trail companies are great, mostly. I had my Lowa boots pretty much ruined by the time I got to NY, and I didn't expect anything from Lowa. 1300 miles of walking can do that to a boot. They also have a lifetime warrenty - only for the lifetime of the product. But talking to them on the phone, they "found" with me something wrong in the boot, that can be attributed to their making, and just sent me a brand new pair to my next town stop. Now I was really impressed. And this is how I repay them - I tell everyone about their good attitude towards hikers. Heavy boots - not for the ultra-lighter - but a great company!