Sunday, May 15, 2011

Yakima fails a crucial test: treating customers well

I've bought four Yakima Steelhead bike mounts over the past decade; all through REI.

All four have broken plastic locking tabs. It's not a rare problem ...

Yakima Steelhead Bike Mount Reviews:

... the red plastic locking tabs are complete junk. I have six of these racks and three are broken, three I don't dare remove from the crossbars as they are about to fail. Yakima support will gladly send me replacements for a mere $54 per rack .... [Yakima's] choice of such a cheap plastic and unwillingness to replace at a reasonable cost has me shopping for Thule...

and Anonymous' review of Yakima Steelhead Fork Mount Rooftop Bicycl...

... I had Steelheads many years ago and when I needed a rack for my new car I decided to get another set.... Over time, exposure to the sun has caused the red plastic levers to crumble to pieces, and Yakima Customer Service told me that I would have to buy an entire replacement head which is about half the cost of a new mount. ... Luckily, it can be fixed with a stainless worm screw hose clamp threaded through the slot and around the head to keep the halves together. It doesn't look as nice but it's probably stronger than the original design. It would get 5 stars if Yakima provided service parts for the heads...

The plastic degrades in sunlight.

I'm going to take all four to REI and see if they can get more out of Yakima than their customers can.

Yakima has failed two major tests.

One is that they have known for years that they have a flawed design -- but they haven't fixed it. A second is that they have not offered a low cost replacement program, or a trade-in program to a fixed design.

I expect that from low cost brands, but Yakima is a premium brand. I expect more from them.

Buy Thule instead.

Update 5/26/11: Yakima failed, but REI reminded me why I carry an REI VISA card, and why I've been a member since we made fire from rocks. I paid $100 each for the two racks REI has purchase records for. Turns out I bought the "new" ones in 2003, which is as far back as their electronic purchase database goes. If I can find receipts for the old ones they'll pay for those as well. Considering the age of the racks it would be greedy to claim for all four.

REI rules.

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