I've stopped buying Columbia Sportswear products

I have stopped buying Columbia Sportswear products. I have been a fan and a loyal purchaser of Columbia jackets and clothing for many years. It came as a big surprise to me the first time I had an issue, how bad their customer and warranty service is.

I purchase an Omni Tech jacket last winter (Feb 2013) and wore is sparingly. The first time I wore the jacket this fall (Nov 2013) the zipper frayed and separated from the lining in the chest area. This is manufacturer’s defect and I expected it to be fixed/replaced under warranty.

However getting help and warranty service from Columbia is very difficult. Their website does a decent job of describing the process. But I am a Canadian resident and I purchased the jacket in the US from a Columbia Outlet store.

I created a customer service ticket (# 49988 ) on their website on Nov 29th and uploaded pictures and a copy of the receipt. I was sent an automated email message that said they would get back to me soon. After a week of activity I followed up by calling the customer service call center.

The Canadian customer call center directed me to the US call center. The call center rep said she had never come across a Canadian resident who purchased a jacket in the US and had a warranty issue. She tried to pass me back to the Canadian call center until I told her that the Canadian call center had passed me onto them. Then they told me that there was nothing they could do for me as they do not ship to Canada.

I found this answer unacceptable for a large publicly traded company that is in markets all over the world. For the customer service rep to tell a customer that “I have never seen any situation like this” and “I cannot help you” is a cop-out. Their customer service reps are poorly trained and lack respect for the customers that eventually pay their salaries.

I escalated this issue to the manager with no better results. She was also very defiant and blamed the issue on the volume of business they were experiencing. First stating that there were too many emails over the Thanksgiving weekend to process and then saying that if it were a Canadian email it would have been directed it to the Canadian call center. My question to her was if there were too many emails to process how would they know to direct it to Canada? She just wanted to pass me (the buck) onto someone else and be done with a situation they were incapable of dealing with.

I have only come across this level of belligerence, incompetence, and disregard for customers when dealing with government employees and sometimes telecom call centers. That was the biggest shock. I had to take a step back and remind myself I was dealing with a retail company with stores in countries all over the world.

Reading other blogs and articles on the net I realize that mine’s is not an isolated case as far as Columbia customer service goes. The good news is they (Columbia) are not a government or a telecom monopoly and I can choose not to deal with them by not buying any of their products. Competition is good for consumers and retailer. I hope Helly Hanson and North Face have more respect for their customers where there is a warranty issue.

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review #462219
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Sep 17, 2014 #871588 Hudson, Wisconsin

I had the same issue. I purchased a jacket for my son and the zipper was sewn at an angle and came apart. I sent it back to Columbia in February of 2014, followed every grueling command on their refund form and was told that they would replace it. Now it is September and I haven't heard a word from them.
I can't believe that they treat long time customers this way.

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Mar 03, 2014 #790697 Montreal, Quebec

I have been in a similar situation as you, but have actually received decent results as a case of sending items back to their Warranty department! I also bought an Omni-Tech jacket in the Portland, OR warehouse, though I live in Montreal, QC. A year later, there were defects to the jacket so I mailed the jacket itself, the receipt, and a letter explaining the situation and included my contact info.
Something I did differently from your process was mailing it DIRECTLY to the Warranty Department in London, ON and put a tracker device through Canada Post so someone had to sign for it.
Weeks went by (about 7) so I called the department in Ontario and was put through the Consumer Service Representative. She told me that my jacket was no longer being produced but she did take the time with me over the phone to find other similar jackets and we decided over one that was even above the cost of my old one! She was very patient, and even emailed me pictures of suggested jackets before she made the order.
10 days later, and now I have a new jacket! If you still have your defective jacket with the receipt and would like the mailing info or consumer representative info that I spoke to, let me know. Not all cases end badly!

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