In Support of Customer Support

Vagabond 101

What I Learned From Losing A Third of My House

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The Story

On may 24th while driving down a highway in Idaho on my way from Grand Teton National Park to Glacier National Park, the unspeakable happened. My Yakima roof box was ripped off of my roof along with one of my cross bars and exploded on impact with the ground. I was driving at about 65mph with about a 50mph (my guess, it was really strong) cross wind. Those two factors caused one of my towers and the clamps that hold the box to the bars to fail, causing a scene that I can only imagine looked like a fighter pilot hitting eject to those who were behind me. Luckily the cross wind immediately sent the box off the road in mid-air, crashing into a field just off the side of the road. After quickly and safely pulling over, I turned around, found where it landed and inspected the damage while locating everything that was inside.

Immediately upon inspection, it was clear that this box was destroyed beyond repair. I gathered what was inside and now strewn across the edge of the field and piled it into the bottom of the box and towed it like a sled up the hill to my car. In the heat of the moment, it seemed as if the only item left unscathed was my saute pan. The items inside and the result of the impact are as follows:

  • 1 Coleman Triton Propane Stove: bent preventing closing, burners bent, looks as if it will not work (shit)
  • 1 Wooden cutting board: split in two down the middle (looks like I have two cutting boards now)
  • 4 Propane tanks for Coleman grill: dented (may or may not work)
  • 1 Teak folding chair from IKEA: busted (oh well, who needs to sit at camp anyway)
  • 1 Tent: perfectly fine
  • 1 Yakima roof box: top and bottom separated, top cracked beyond repair, bottom clamps broke in half at joints, 1 core bar tower attachment missing (welp this is a third of my storage space making it easy to sleep in my car)

So it is quite apparent that the main issues are the fact that the box is busted causing me to put everything that was in the box into the back of my car, and the fact that my stove seems to be broken. This is not a huge deal, as I have the room, it just makes it cluttered and crowded for sleeping. Not having a stove could be a huge problem if I can’t get a new one, and I really don’t want to shell out that money on top of a new roof box. After collecting everything and taking pictures of the situation in the hopes that Yakima can help out in some way I pack up and get back on my way.

Arriving in Idaho Falls still quite flustered, I decided to stay in a Motel 6 for the night. I found the local brewery, and the 2 beers and burger helped numb the pain of my loss, as did the actual bed. I finally fell asleep at about midnight, determined to call Yakima in the morning to see if they could help in any way.

Morning came and expecting to have to replace some gear I drive to Walmart and call Yakima from the parking lot. Now, I have had some past experience with the customer service of various companies for various reasons, and for the most part, companies won’t do much to help you out unless their product really was at fault so I wasn’t expecting much. It took no time to get someone on the other end which was great. Tom, the customer service representative from Yakima was helping me out. Immediately I told Tom what happened (see above description of events), at the end of my story he asked if I had pictures I could email to him so he could determine what they could do. So I went to the nearest Starbucks, uploaded the pictures and sent them off to him with another quick description of what happened. Again, I was still expecting very minimal action on their part because it was really the result of driving and nature. However, within a few hours, Tom got back to me asking where he could have a replacement box sent to, free of charge! Holy shit, Tom at Yakima customer support, and Yakima in general, you are absolutely amazing. I barely expected a replacement core bar adapter let alone an entirely new box considering my past experience with the customer support of various companies. Luckily I was traveling to Missoula/Glacier National Park in part because I have friends there, and thankfully one of them gave me the go ahead to have the box sent to his place. I honestly can’t say enough about how understanding Tom and Yakima were of my situation, having only purchased my whole setup 20 days earlier, it devastated me to have it get ripped off the roof because of crazy wind.

Oh, and about the stove that seemed broken. Well, it works perfectly still. I just had to bend the burners back into place a bit so they were level. It still doesn’t latch all the way, but that’s fine by me. It survived getting ripped off my roof at 65 mph and hitting the ground and still works perfectly. I call that great engineering. I know that situation is not part of the testing for Coleman stoves (or at least I’m pretty sure it isn’t), but the fact that it survived is a testament to their craftsmanship. I’ve used their products ever since starting boy scouts about 15 years ago, so it was a no-brainer when I bought this stove 3 months ago, and I will continue to buy them after this point for sure.

So at the end of this crazy situation, Yakima became one of my favorite brands because of amazingly understanding customer service, and Coleman will continue to have my support after their stove survived hell and continues to work. I think one thing I learned is that I won’t give up on contacting customer service should something go wrong with a product, especially one that is very well made already, because you never know what could come of it.


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