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Old 29-04-2007, 04:39   #1
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Defender vs West Marine

My Balmar regulator crapped out on me. It's only three years old but that's not my gripe. I'm working my way back north and I managed to get to Daytona Beach where there's a West marine. Called them up, no,none in stock and none in the warehouse. For WM this is a special order item. It was Saturday, they would call Balmar on Monday and see what they could do. A large outfit like WM and none in stock, in fact they do not stock this item. Phoned Defender, 18 in stock. Would overnite it on Monday and the price was less than West Marine's. Excellent. The regulator should be in Tuesday morning and I'll be on my way. What in the world is WM up to? Are they so stretched financially that they can't stock a couple of regulators?

Rick I
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Old 29-04-2007, 04:50   #2
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Frankly I think they both leave lot to be desired. West has become the WalMart of marine chandleries... lots of sizzle but no steak...

The west adviser is a nice idea, but workingyour way through their bureaucracy can be daunting.

Lot's of companies have catalogs stuff with products but don't inventory the items because they have to lay out cash... so instead they wait for YOU to order from them and then they order it from the mfg. Cute ha?

Defender has better prices but seems to be weak on customer service. They want to move product not dilly dally helping customers make intelligent choices.

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Old 29-04-2007, 08:21   #3
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"Sailnet" use to be like "Defender", only they had pretty good customer service. Sam Boyle sold the place to a thrid party who, apparently, dismissed all but a couple of customer service folk, and the buisness went kaput in very short order. One can always hope that "Defender" learned something from that.

While Sam and I had a couple of differences, he always wound up in the position that the customer was right and filled the order to my expectations. I could always see HIS point of view, but I WAS right - and I spent a LOT of money with him. In the long run, he won - but then, I thought that *I* won also. Win-win. And, even during our differences, I would ALWAYS recommend "Sailnet". After he sold it, I did just the opposite, and do not recommend them now (even though another company has purchased and runs "Sailnet").

The marine parts business is a high margin business for most things - but mostly for the OEMs. 500 pound gorillas like WM, get a better deal, but their mark-up is huge. Smaller businesses / distributors don't get the huge discounts, mark-ups are less, but they still struggle to compete with WM. "Defender" is probably our last hope for any competition with WM. I would advocate using "Defender" as much as one can to support them, and hope like hell that WM doesn't suck them up too.

:::Tossing my 2 cent opinions on the table:::
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Old 29-04-2007, 08:58   #4
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I find that the return policy of WM is much better than Defender. They even take back electronics. If you don't have a receipt they give you store credit (gift card). I had a CD/stereo unit and speakers (2 years old), stop receiving and packed it up, brought it back, they gave me credit towards a new one very little problem. They couldn't find the item in the computer when I purchased it, and gave me the best price they could find.

The Norwalk, CT store has good staff and good service.
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Old 29-04-2007, 09:02   #5
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Sonny - no doubt about it - WM has had an excellent policy regarding returns. That IS changing, and you'll start to notice the differences soon. Already, on their special orders, it requires full payment before they will order - check out the return policy on THAT! But, they are still, by far, the easiest and best for returns!
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Old 29-04-2007, 10:50   #6
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I agree on comparing WM to Walmart. They both have allot in common. The most important thing is that there is one on every corner. I prefer Defender for their selection and product lines. I have had very good customer service from them in the past, and if I do not need it "NOW", I will definitely order from Defender, but, when I am in the middle of a project, and realize I am missing that all elusive muffler bearing, I can usually run over to WM and grab one.
I have found that most local chandleries have a good selection of the things you usually need, but my local one is closed on weekends. Makes it hard to give them my business when that is the only time I have to work on the boat.
So, to the original question, I think Defender is better if you have the time. West Marine has the edge through location if you don't.
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Old 29-04-2007, 11:58   #7
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Doesn't Appear in the Catalogue

Kai Nui, he say
…and realize I am missing that all elusive muffler bearing, I can usually run over to WM and grab one.
I'm adding a muffler bearing to my list of "must have" spares.

Thanks, Kai Nui: I learn so much here…
s/y Elizabeth— Catalina 34 MkII
"Man must have just enough faith in himself to have adventures, and just enough doubt of himself to enjoy them." — G. K. Chesterfield
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Old 29-04-2007, 22:35   #8
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Originally Posted by Vasco
What in the world is WM up to? Are they so stretched financially that they can't stock a couple of regulators?
Maybe they just don't sell enough of them to make it worth stocking.
Mark S.
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Old 30-04-2007, 01:58   #9
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When I was managing a wholesale distribution branch, a general rule of thumb was that an item required a minimum of three turns a year, to justify stocking.
Of course, my assistant manager spent half of every day adjusting the computer-generated (which were based upon rules of thumb) inventory & re-order report.
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Old 30-04-2007, 07:54   #10
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Defender bottle of finesse it $19, Marine Finesse-It Finishing Material*

West Marine same bottle is 27.99

A 40% mark up for West Marine. I found a shackle for $70 at West Marine and went to Fawcetts in Annapolis and it was $22. Same exact shackle by the same manufacturer.
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Old 30-04-2007, 09:36   #11
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After strolling through the marine stores here in U.S. (just arrived last week), I am seriously thinking of leaning on a couple of contacts in Asia for some items, which run about 75% less there.

Now you know the markup!
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Old 30-04-2007, 10:16   #12
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Fawcetts in Annapolis
Ah, what a great place.
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Old 30-04-2007, 10:24   #13
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i would consider west marine the last resort. their prices are double or triple what they should be. but hey that's just my opinion.
sometimes the things that may or may not be true are the things a man needs to believe in the most.
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Old 30-04-2007, 10:24   #14
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Actually I found that I only use WM or any other marine source as a last resort. I found that by going to the source the prices I can get are almost always better especially if it a dual purpose (marine/non) item like solar panels, ss nuts bolt, alum/ss tubing, hose, wiring, chain, etc. many maufactures sell the exact items for other uses. No need to pay the marine markup.

When I was installing my solar array I was looking for large watt panels. WM had the kyrocea 120s listed (at the time) for $1,100 a piece. So I hunted the solar PV commerical and residentaital sites and ordered my Kyrocea's (the exact same part number from for less than $500 and they were shipped from the Kyrocea warehouse.

A little bit of reserach and planning can save a ton, this is not taking shortcuts or putting in a lesser quality or materail not designed for the enviorment. The only time I use WM or the marine stores is when I am in the middle of a project and need a screw that I don't have, that is cheaper than driving home ordering and waiting for 1 screw.
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Old 30-04-2007, 15:35   #15

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In another thread, I had complained about the poor quality chinese junk metal shackles at West Marine. Even THOSE were often not in stock. They just leave the shelves empty now in that store, except electronics, clothing, etc...

They seem to have reduced inventory, which is fine, so long as you can properly meet customer demand (such as with Just In Time inventory systems). West Marine, however... doesn't seem to be meeting customer demand at all.

One thing I was particularly bothered by was that I would call the West Marine (45 mins one way to it) to find out if they had a part in stock. When they invaribly didn't have it stocked, they insisted I come into the store with my credit card to pay for it before they would order it as inventory. I wanted to pay over the phone by credit card, but they refused.

Needless to say I bought the rest of my list from Defender and ended up with a quality shackle, an anchor light that was nearly 1/2 the price of West Marine (same model) and good customer service.

The Defender people had a big sale going on at their location and were very VERY busy and very unsure of their inventory levels. Even with that chaos, I explained to the guy I needed the order by April 15th, when we left the dock. He was more than helpful and remembered to call me when the order shipped out to let me know it would arrive before we left the dock. I couldn't have had better customer service.

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