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Old 30-04-2007, 20:04   #16
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I pretty much agree with everything said so far, I shopped both and found that Defender and West Marine have decent customer service. One's cheap and one's close, kind of the way everything is these days.

But I did want to echo the frusteration with WM over having to come into a store to preorder and pay by credit card. Why can't I just do that over the phone or their website ("ship to store") so I don't have to make 2 round trips. That really is not common sense.
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Old 30-04-2007, 23:16   #17
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I prefer Defender for their service and knowledge. However, for many things, I get better prices going directly through Port Supply (West Marine's supplier) for things. One example: WM has a Link 2000R for $790, PS @ $560.

I give Defender the business when it's practical.

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Old 01-05-2007, 19:02   #18
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I'm like everyone else. I use WM when I have to, but otherwise shop at "source" stores. If I need tools, I go to the tool store. If I need canvas, I go to the canvas store. Anything I can order online I do through fawcetts or defender; both of them are excellent.

I have a great chandlery in town (Down Wind Marine here in San Diego), but just like someone else said, it's open for three hours on Saturday and closed on Sunday, which doesn't really cut the mustard for a M-F 8-5'r like me.

Honestly after my first year of boating I don't really know what I would need from WM that I couldn't get from San Diego Marine Exchange ( San Diego Marine Exchange: marine products, marine equipment, marine ), or Defender. West Marine sells a lot of silly crap to be honest.
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Old 01-05-2007, 20:00   #19
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Here's a good one...

Pro Furl C350 WM current price $3150.00
Pro Furl C350 Defender price $1649.00

Same exact furler and no the WM one is not gold plated . They are 100% identical except for the pirce of course..

This is why I spent $346.00 at WM last season and over $13,000.00 at other chandleries from Hamilton Marine to Defender to Jack Rabbit Energy Systems. Almost 9k was at Hamilton alone and WM is five blocks away!
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Old 01-05-2007, 20:47   #20
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I was more than happy to give Jack Rabbit Marine my $$ too! Great place. I visited in person.
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Old 02-05-2007, 14:51   #21
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List of favorites:
Defender
Consumer Marine Electronics
Cobra Wire and Cable
1st Chain Supply
Rope Inc.
Svendsen's Marine
West Marine (for need now or cant find elsewhere)

Others I have used:
Landfall Navigation
Port Supply
Bosun's Locker
Scanmar
BestMarineImports (never again)
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Old 02-05-2007, 17:04   #22
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I'm no West Marine hater...the folks in my area stores are usually knowledgeable and pleasant, and many of them are cruisers themselves. And I'm greatful that they're right here in town and that they've got a lot of the basics in stock. But when it comes to specialized or high quality gear, which is what you inevitably want if you're a cruiser, they often come up short or expensive. Consequently, I think we really need to patronize the alternatives to help keep them alive and keep a little price pressure on West Marine.

I'll mention some of the outfits that I've had satifactory experiences with:

Brick and Mortar
  • Fisheries Supply (not inexpensive, but good selection of good quality products)
  • Downwind Marine
  • Svendsens
Online/Mail order
  • Garhauer (blocks, vangs, travellers, stoppers, etc.)
  • Jamestown Distributors (boat building & maintenance)
  • Landfall Navigation
  • Navstore.com (specialized stuff)
  • Orcagreen.com (LED navigation lights)
  • Sailnet.com
  • Boatersland.com (good prices for electronics)
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Old 06-05-2007, 10:38   #23
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West Marine might have a selection like WalMart
but they charge like Victoria's Secret!
In Vancouver we have a WM store practically
next door to Steveston Marine.
The differece is surprising-
WM is more of a boutique, SM is more of a garage sale.
I'm sure they sell most of the same products
but WM has a large section of "fashion wear"
while SM has a whole bunch of nitty gritty stuff
like nuts and bolts and cleaning gear and, get this,
SPARE PARTS!
WM customers look as if their chauffeur is waiting outside,
SM customers have a slightly pensive look
as if they hope their rusty old pickup will start one more time.
And the kicker is that ta SM I am treated as a customer.
In WM I have been ignored by the sales staff
while they dance attendance on the guys with the gold chains.

And I must say that I've had a couple of snags
while working with Defender mailorder
and each time the error has been resolved in my favour
in a friendly, quick and courteous manner.

My nickel's worth.
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Old 12-12-2007, 06:19   #24
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New CEO @ West

West Marine Inc., has announced that it has elected Geoff Eisenberg as President and Chief Executive Officer, succeeding Peter Harris, who resigned from the company effective December 10, 2007. The company said that Harris has agreed to assist during the transition through the end of the year.

West Marine noted that Eisenberg has previously served the company in various senior executive positions from 1976 until 1994, in addition to 30 years on its board.

Goto:
West Marine: Press Releases

And:
StockHouse.ca : Geoff Eisenberg Succeeds Peter Harris As President and Chief Exe
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Old 12-12-2007, 09:01   #25
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A couple of corrections to what people have accused WM of:
1. you can definitely return special order items as though they were in inventory, and
2. you can in fact make special orders over the phone with a CC.

I used to work part-time at one of the local stores (for the employee discount) and can verify the above - if someone had a contrary experience, it was the result of bad advice from a store employee, manager of otherwise.

Must also admit I am no particular fan of the company having seen how poorly they treated a number of excellent career employees when they closed 40 stores which is an indication of their corporate style and for that reason alone, I don't shop there anymore. In fairness though, the aforementioned 2 accusations should be corrected.
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Old 12-12-2007, 09:37   #26
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My wife and I along with a friend went to a local West Marine one day after I had purchased a hard bottom dinghy from the same store. We went back to select an outboard. My friend is checking out the outboards on the rack and my wife and I stand there and can't get anyone to help us. This sales guy walks past my friends as he is talking with another customer and says "look at this guy coming in here to play with what he can't afford". Sales guy rings up the customer he made the smart ass remark to, then I walk up. I layed out the receipt for the dinghy I had bought the day before and explained the situation to him. Advised him that I WAS about to buy that motor that I COULD CERTAINLY afford but due to his inability to keep his mouth shut, I would be taking my thousands elsewhere. I have done exactly that. Ended up with a much better motor for the same price going elsewhere. Aside from that incident, Every time I would go in there it seemed as though they "didn't have it". It got to be a joke between my wife and I if we wanted to go waste some time at West Marine. I'll go to just about anywhere else before I do business with them.
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Old 12-12-2007, 09:48   #27
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One final comment related to the previous one - no company with 400 stores is devoid of idiots working in sales. I do know from my limited experience in 2 stores that the people working there are generally knowledgeable, well-intended and underpaid for what they do.

All of this goes to prove only one thing - generalities (especially when based on one experience) are usually wrong part of the time.
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Old 12-12-2007, 12:41   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by S/V Illusion View Post
A couple of corrections to what people have accused WM of:
1. you can definitely return special order items as though they were in inventory, and
2. you can in fact make special orders over the phone with a CC.

I used to work part-time at one of the local stores (for the employee discount) and can verify the above - if someone had a contrary experience, it was the result of bad advice from a store employee, manager of otherwise.

Must also admit I am no particular fan of the company having seen how poorly they treated a number of excellent career employees when they closed 40 stores which is an indication of their corporate style and for that reason alone, I don't shop there anymore. In fairness though, the aforementioned 2 accusations should be corrected.
I do believe also that you can't judge all by the actions or inactions of others, in this case WM employees. But based on many visits to their stores I have observed that unless you are about 70 years old wearing dockers & top siders, you get no help much less acknowledgement that you are even in the store. Not to mention they NEVER have in stock what a sail boater may need. I have also done business specifically with the owner of a local supplier who shared with me that WM resells many items that they purchase through him at a mark up that borders on criminal. Now maybe it's just me that has had such horrible experiences on numerous occasions at many WM stores but I would never go back. In addition, I realize that you used to work for them and have stated that those that do work for them are not paid enough for what they do. I'm confident that had I had you to help me I would have been treated well, but from a business standpoint, if you lowball pay for your employees, you are generally going to get an employee who is agreeable to a substandard wage, qualified to only receive such a wage, or is just there for the discount. I don't think such a business model is conducive to attracting employees that have a great interest in customer service or satisfaction. (In General- I'm sure you were great as I am sure there are many other current and former employees of WM that are or were)
It's business 101. As I can'not possibly visit every WM store, my experiences are going to reflect a generalization in regards to customer service at WM. I can only speak to the ones that I have visited. I'm just sorry that WM couldn't or wouldn't pay someone like yourself enough to keep you there. It's people such as yourself that make a business work. If only you could be in a position to influence the direction of their company!
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Old 12-12-2007, 12:54   #29
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There are some really sharp people at West Marine, and a bunch of goofballs. My fiancee is a teacher and applied for a job there over the holidays (during the school's Christmas break). They regard boating experience as a "plus" to work there, not a requirement. That explained a lot to me.

But maybe look at it the other way. Defender, local chandleries, and discount marine centers are not notorious for their customer service skills. Maybe they handle things well (I love Defender), but I certainly think a hobbyist boat owner might be a little intimidated walking into a chandlery. I've dealt with plenty of guys at non WM shops that think you're an idiot if you can't use athwartships in a sentence.

More than half of all boats in the US are basic open tops with an outboard on the back. If I was one of those guys, and wanted to get some oil for my engine, I wouldn't want to deal with some holier-than-thou salty dog chandlery that doesn't give you the time of day until you've "proven" yourself.

Don't even get me started on marinas. The lack of competition in that arena makes the people as anti-customer-service as the ussr.
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Old 14-12-2007, 02:00   #30
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Some of my main gripes with Worst marine is in the area where I keep my boat. They hire part time Highschool kids. Part time so they do not have to pay for insurance and being non-boaters, there is little chance they are going to buy boat gear at employee discount which offsets their profits.
I ask these kids a technical question about paint and they begin to read the back of the can. Danm! I can F#&king read! If they don't know an answer...say so.
My other pieve is the continually shrinking fastener section and growing clothing section. I suppose they think people do not work on their boats and that they use them as a fashion statement or something.
Then there is the China syndrome going on. On almost any package it is labled, "made in China". This stuff fails time and time again. The boat hardware market is a shrinking one. I could go on and on...Opps, I think I just did.
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