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Old 20-10-2006, 07:13   #1
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Things that work and things that don't...

The controversy over what can/should and cannot/should not be posted about a product that appears in the recent discussion of the Gori Prop failure brings to mind something I have been thinking about for some time...the need for a section on "Things that work." A simple reference resource where on might look up a particular product to see what other experiences have been--with the product, and with the product's manufacturer. A kind of generic Consumer Reports a-la Practical Sailor approach to product reports.

While one can find information about specific products via web searches, the process is cumbersome and time consuming, if for no reason other than because of the proliferation of sales promotions linkages.

I'm thinking of generic reports that list the product, model number, date and place of purchase, (cost?), application, perhaps installation notes, comments on use, satisfaction etc., and comments on consumer support or lack thereof by the manufacturer. This might be coupled with a poll on the various areas reporting satisfaction levels. The foregoing information could be very valuable to consumers.

Unfortunately, marine gear tends to be very costly and frequently does not live up to its manufacturer's representations. As evidence of this is the fact that after Randy Repass (of West Marine fame) took delivery of his new custom boat to make his "grand tour", he became so frustrated with costly equipment that did not work well, or at all, that upon his return he iniated a quality evaluation program at West Marine with a dedicated "Quality Officer". This was not simply a good will jesture on Repass's part. Returns, replacements and refunds cost West Marine a good deal and waste time and resources, to say nothing of frustrated and angry customers.

Part of the controversy in the Gori Prop discussion appeared to relate to this Forum's managers' concerns about potential responses by unhappy manufacturers. In fact, however, if someone chooses to make an offensive soap-box speach, it's not often that the soap-box manufacturer is sued by a person offended by the speaker.

Frankly, with easier access to first hand information generated by users, I could easily have saved much time, money and frustration with equipment purchased over the years that proved unsuitable. While, eventually, the manufacturers of junk go out of business, they usually take a lot of peoples money with them. Hastening their demise helps everyone; and, promoting things that work helps everyone as well. No?


s/v HyLyte
"It is not so much for its beauty that the Sea makes a claim upon men's hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of air, that emanation from the waves, that so wonderfully renews a weary spirit."
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Old 20-10-2006, 07:25   #2
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Good idea. Honda EU2000i. Best little generator going. Get them on the net $900 including shipping.
Rick I
Toronto in summer, Bahamas in winter.
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Old 20-10-2006, 08:23   #3

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I couldn't agree more with this post. I think real life experiences with products are at the heart of a good community. They help others learn from costly mistakes. I have posted a number of these types of threads, hoping to save some people from some of my purchasing mistakes, and assure them when they purchase items that are working well.
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Old 20-10-2006, 10:48   #4
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HyLyte, Thank you very much for starting this thread, and for your suggestion. I couldn't agree more. Brilliant idea! While we have had misc. threads about good and bad products, a section for product review sounds like a great idea. We will discuss it, and figure out the most effective way to implement it.
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Old 20-10-2006, 11:19   #5

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Kai Nui-
Perhaps, with all the concerns about posting "opinion" versus "fact", we could title the section "Subjective Personal Opinions & Vendors About Gear" so there's no question or worry about the fact that everything in it is an OPINION.
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Old 20-10-2006, 12:48   #6
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Noted We really are discussing this matter, and I have high hopes that we can resolve it to everyone's satisfaction. The real concern is the possibility that one upset customer might damage the reputation of a good business because his expectations were unreasonable. Not to say that is the case here, but that is what we want to prevent. Stay tuned, I think you will be happy with the solution.
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Old 20-10-2006, 12:58   #7

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"The real concern is the possibility that one upset customer might damage the reputation of a good business because his expectations were unreasonable."

Funny thing...some businesses get into shouting matches with customers and never see them again. A couple of years ago the business magazines (looking for the ever-new buzzword) stumbled onto "lifetime value of a customer". I think the interviewee was someone from LLBean, who remarked that if you took the cost of all advertising activities and spread it out against the number of customers they acquired every year, it costs the typical business something like $500-1000 to acquire one new customer. Who may remain a customer for 40 years. So, they actually calculate what the average customer will spend with them IN A LIFETIME and compare that to the cost of retaining that customer.

Bottom line, if they have to take a $100 loss for servicing an unreasonable customer...that is still cheaper than spending $1000 in advertising to REPLACE that customer.

But of course the 21st century trend in buiness is "What's your bottom line this week?" not "How healthy will we be in 50 years?" (sigh.)

All the more reason to have a place where we can also say "This vendor went the extra mile for me, they deserve your business." With the usual caveat, that some of the posts may be plants. PT Barnum was, of course, right in all things.<G>
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Old 20-10-2006, 13:11   #8
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Ben Franklin and PT Barnum. Two of my favorite historic characters It is very true that business these days seems to concentrate on the day trade. The company I work for, as many larger more established corporations, includes in it's business plan the importance of customer retention. In fact, in the orientation manual for new hires, there is a breakdown of how much the company profits from customer retention vs new customers. The numbers are staggering. People have changed, and the way people do business has changed. Customer loyalty is at an all time low, as people follow their wallets. Still, I think in the cruising community, there is allot more customer loyalty than in other sectors. There is also allot more focus on customer service. There are allot more products out there that work equally well, and are equally priced, so the real difference is service after the sale. Providing a place to review these products and the service that comes wit them will help sort through the Boat Show pitch. Remember when, in order to claim to have the best product, it actually had to be better in some way?
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Old 20-10-2006, 14:42   #9

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Originally Posted by Kai Nui
Noted We really are discussing this matter, and I have high hopes that we can resolve it to everyone's satisfaction. The real concern is the possibility that one upset customer might damage the reputation of a good business because his expectations were unreasonable. Not to say that is the case here, but that is what we want to prevent. Stay tuned, I think you will be happy with the solution.
I would say it's appropriate for a company's one upset customer to rant about their bad experience on here. Any company that lets a single customer go away unsatisfied is not doing a good job of customer service. Sure, an expectation could be too high, but if a business wants to join the community (like WhisperGen did a while back) and participate in a debate or discussion about their product, there can be no better PR. It will show everyone how well a company handles sticky situations and customer satisfaction. If a company presented itself as well as WhisperGen did on here, I would buy their product over a competitors based on that fact alone.

Of course, it could backfire on the company if it is terrible at customer service, but isn't that what a review is about? Bringing out truth?
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Old 20-10-2006, 18:55   #10
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In the early '80s Carl Sewell wrote a good book called 'Customers for Life'. It discussed how his customers spnt an average of $250,000 buying cars from him during their lifetime. In Dallas business circles it was required reading for the pups in management. I am long past reading business books, but that story about customer service really set my personal business philosophy.

A few weeks back we had a string about ICOM hand helds radios. There was some complaint and some praise. For the most part we play nice on this forum but dissenting voices are always heard. I suspect that if one of us posts that we don't like "Anchor Brand" anchors someone who loves them will post that they do and why.
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Old 20-10-2006, 21:45   #11
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I LOVE our Sparkman & Stephens designed Hylas 49
I LOVE the Broadwater (Australian) Stove we installed
I LOVE the Lavac Toilet we installed
I LOVE our Garman GPS plotter & Furuno Radar
I LOVE the Sport-A-Seat folding seats up in our cockpit
I LOVE our party sized Magnum Gas BarBQue on our stern rail
I LOVE my Penn 12/0 Fishing Reel
I LOVE our CQR & Bruce Anchors
I LOVE our Steiner Binoculars
I LOVE our Lofrans electric anchor windlass
I LOVE our Yanmar Diesel
I LOVE our Yamaha outboard
I LOVE my Ipod
I LOVE our ProFurl
I LOVE Sunbrella and how my Sailrite Ultrafeed stitches it.
I LOVE our black bucket made in Puerto Rico from recycled car tires
I LOVE the CocoTap (Australian) I found listed in Bob's Coastal Pilot
I LOVE finding useful things in the dumpster
and I especially LOVE LIFE while living aboard our boat w/ my family

I can't think of anything to HATE
but that's just me... and I have my reasons

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Old 21-10-2006, 01:57   #12
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The Admin/Mod team is seriously discussing the value and possible format of an opinion (product review) thread. As you might imagine, there is considerable debate surrounding the issue. Should we allow negative personal opinion posts, and under what appropriate rules and constraints, etc?

I (personally) have no objection to dispassionate company and equipment reviews (good nor bad). I hope to learn from experience - both, my own direct experience, and from that of others. I do object to inflammatory or bellicose language, which is disrespectful , engenders hostility and defensiveness, and is generally counter-productive.

A review is a discerning evaluation of a product or service - it’s not a libelous rant!

One of the best sources of information about a marine product or service can be a well-written review, by an actual long-term user.
However, to be truly useful, a review must not just be a long version of "I loved it", or "I think it’s a pile of junk!". It must be a fair, well thought out, in-depth descriptive discussion of what the product is, its intended uses, and how well it works on the tasks it was designed for. Every review should describe the product or service, and answer these questions (with specifics):
* What does the product promise?
* How well does it achieve those goals?
* Is it a good value?

I have proposed the following basic format (rough draft), for consideration & comment. Editorial advice is welcome & appreciated:

"Things that work - and things that don't"

We encourage open, honest and respectful communication and exchange of information and opinion between all of our members; and reserve the right to delete or edit any reviews or other postings that are not, in our sole discretion, in the spirit of these basic values.

General Guidelines
* No insults or personal attacks
* No profanity, obscene or inflammatory language
* Debate - yes! Arguments or "flame wars" - no!
* Do not post a product review unless you own or have used the product or service
* To ensure high quality, useful reviews, please explain in detail your experience with the product or service. What did you like or dislike about the product and why?
* Outrageous or questionable reviews may be edited or deleted.
* Employees of manufacturers (and their relatives) are not allowed to post reviews for their company's products or for competitors' products; but may respond to commentary (these will also be subject to editorial review)

Aldus Huxley made several interesting observations about experience:
”Experience is not what happens to a man. It's what a man does with what happens to him.”
“Getting over a painful experience is much like crossing monkey bars. You have to let go at some point in order to move forward.”

Gord May
Gord May
"If you didn't have the time or money to do it right in the first place, when will you get the time/$ to fix it?"

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Old 21-10-2006, 06:49   #13
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As the Admin Team hashes this out, I sincerely hope that the recent decision to allow advertising on the site is not the prime factor under consideration. I would HATE to see this site administered under rules designed solely to keep advertisers happy.

Be true to your school.... and keep up the great work!

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Old 21-10-2006, 07:03   #14
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While we wait for the final answer, in the spirit of Kirk's post:

I LOVE my German Frers designed Hallberg-Rassy 40
I LOVE my Raymarine E80 chartplotter/radar
I LOVE my Sport-A-Seat folding seats
I LOVE my Dickinson large Sea-B-Que gas grill
I LOVE my Yanmar Diesel
I LOVE my Caribe L9 RIB
I LOVE my Ipod
I LOVE my Weems & Plath gimballed yacht lamp
I LOVE my Isotherm SP reefer and freezer
I LOVE my Kuhn Rikon pressure cooker
and I especially LOVE LIFE while living aboard

I should note that I'm pretty fond of Bo'suns Supply and Fawcett Boat Supply as well.
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Old 21-10-2006, 07:16   #15
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Damned if I don't LOVE my Weems & Plath gimballed Yacht Lamps too! Got a hellofadeal on them too ... 'course SailNet (Sam Boyle) wasn't very happy with that, and wasn't shy about telling me either. Then Sam sold SailNet and it went to hell in a handbasket (IMHO), and hasn't recovered (too bad ) , but that is another story for another time.
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