Thursday, January 17, 2008

Getting ready for a cold ride weekend

So next weekend I'm heading to the Big Bend area for the Big Bend Freeze Out ride. Since I didn't have the electric gear that makes such a ride comfy, I decided to splurge and get it. In typical fashion I started by upgrading my gloves, getting electric liners and socks, and of course the electric controller. The smart thing to do would have been to start getting all of this stuff earlier in the year. That would have been the smart thing to do.

None the less, I started last month which should have been plenty of time. Around December 18th, I had found a dealer on e-bay that was interested in helping me get the right size of Gerbing liners. So I paid her for the liners and socks. Instead of electric gloves from Gerbing, I decided to go with the PCI Gauntlets from Lee Parks Design. Using their sizing chart I discovered I needed a size small which was odd since most other gloves are medium or large. But I followed their sizing tool and ordered the small. I got a call the next day from Steve and he was sending the gloves out so I'd have them before Christmas. Fantastic!

Christmas eve comes and so does my gloves, jacket liner and socks. I knew the pants liner would be coming later since it was coming direct from Gerbing. I tried everything on and most of it fit. The gloves were too small. With the holiday it took a couple of days to get in touch with Steve at Lee Parks Design to talk about the fit. When we finally talked he felt that what I needed was a larger small but that a medium would be too big. Ok, I'd send them back via FedEx so they'd be there on January 2nd and he could send me out a slightly larger pair.

Meanwhile, since I had the Gerbing jacket I now knew what type of power connector was needed so I could order the Heat-troller from Warm & Safe. I was impressed with the Warm & Safe controller over the Gerbing because it appeared as though they stood behind their product and I was supporting a "little guy". I was also intrigued by the option of getting the controller with remote knobs so you could mount them on the handlebars. So December 26, I place my order on-line and receive an email from PayPal showing the payment. So then I wait...

January 2nd comes around and the holidays are over. Time to get to work! I still have gloves and a heat controller I'm waiting on. I check FedEx and the gloves arrived. Then I contact the Warm&Safe folks via IM. I was impressed at how fast they responded on IM. I inquired about my order and they said they had to build the remote style controller and that it would be a few weeks. Oooops! I mentioned that I was going on a trip at the end of the month and before I could turn around I had a PayPal refund. I continued the IM conversation to see if the regular dual controllers were available and when they might ship. I was told, order today and you'll have it by the end of next week. Ok, so I jumped online and ordered the dual controller and a few extra accessories to make the money I was going to spend about equal to what it was originally. Again I get a PayPal invoice showing my payment but nothing else. So I wait...

Since I didn't get the controller last week or the gloves I started sending emails on Monday(1/14/8). Monday afternoon I decided to call Steve to follow up. I catch him as he's heading out the door. He tells me he just sent me an email, which he did, and that he had been waiting on a new shipment of small gloves to arrive which they had. The new larger small gloves were going out that day and I should have them on Wednesday.

Meanwhile on Monday I inquire about my controller. In an email I asked about my order status and mention that on January 2nd I was told I'd have the controller the following week. The next thing I know I get a PayPal shipping notice saying they are shipping everything via USPS when I specifically asked for UPS Ground. I'm not a fan of our postal service's poor tracking abilities. So I send an email pointing out that I had requested UPS Ground and that I was concerned about the arrival of my package before my trip next week...

Almost instantly I get an email back from Mike at Warm & Safe acknowledging USPS poor tracking for faster speed. He even says that if I don't have it in 3 days, they'll overnight one to me. Then the email sort of takes a turn. He starts whining about how difficult it is to compete against the Chinese product and that he can't afford to keep them on the shelve because they are so expensive. Tne email gets worse as he talks about customers understanding realities of production and that a lot of orders came in before mine including big dealers. Huh????? Then he says I could by his product at any dealer that sales First Gear product. He does admit that they could do a better job on getting stuff out the door and they are working on that. Then he goes off about focusing on designing and inventing instead of copying and that they focus on riding motorcycles and not just buying them for photo shoots. Huh???????

So I wait...

Wednesday the gloves arrive. Hooray! I open the package and try them on. Snug, but maybe they'll work. I take them off and on several times and wear them for a little while as I sit at my computer. I try simple tasks like picking up my phone, moving the trackball and such. Hmmmm, they are still too small. So I try to call. All I get is an answering machine. I'll try again later.

Today (Thursday) I check on the USPS site and the controller package is here in town. Fantastic! I work on some computer projects while I wait for the package. Around 11am the package arrives. I open it and find every but the controller. WTF!!! I try to call and get their voice mail. Hmmmm, it's about as pleasant as the email I got from Mike. I leave a message and follow it up with an email saying that I didn't get the controller in my shipment.

Also today, I tried calling Steve @ Lee Parks Design. All I get is an answering machine so I leave a message, and I send an email asking for a return and a pair of mediums. And I ask for cross shipping as time is running out.

So I'm 1 week and 1 day away from leaving for my Big Bend Freeze Out ride. I don't have my fancy gloves or the controller I ordered. I could understand if I had procrastinated and waited until now to order this stuff, but I started last month. Well, there's still time and the "little guys" can be pretty amazing when it's crunch time. So I wait...

On a positive note, I am now officially an Iron Butt member, IBA #31171. I received certification for my SaddleSore 1000 (1,072 miles in 24 hours) and my BunBurner 1500 (1,635 miles in 36 hours). There was a letter from the president, Michael Kneebone, asking for forgiveness with the long delay in getting the rides certified. Both of these rides are in my blog, just look in May and June of 2007.

Update - Thursday Evening: Received an email from Mike at Warm & Safe just saying he'd check it out and have it shipped to me.

Update - Friday Morning: A call from Steve at Lee Parks Design. He's going through the glove inventory to find a size medium that are narrow but with longer fingers. Wow what service! I'm probably going to have to give up the Black and Tan color scheme to get the right size but I'll have the gloves for the trip. The "little guy" comes through again!

Update - Saturday: I got another PayPal shipping notice from Warm & Safe. It looks like they are shipping out my controller via US Priority Mail. Sure glad they finally got around to taking care of a mistake that I reported on Thursday.

Update - Tuesday: The controller from Warm & Safe arrived today. Thank goodness! I found it to be iron that Mike is so wrapped up about his stuff being made in the US but yet he has his controller puches made in Thailand.

Update - Tuesday: Got a call from Steve at Lee Parks Design today. He was just following up to see how my gloves fit. The only problem, my gloves haven't arrived yet. He seemed worried, hopefully they'll be here tomorrow.

Update - Tuesday evening: Steve sent an email expressing his frustration with USPS Priority mail. Apparently he was so concerned about it he also called me around 9:30pm to let me know he was getting me another pair ready to go out FedEx overnight. That's commitment!

Update - Wednesday morning: I looked up the tracking number on the gloves, they've scanned through North Houston, they should be here today. Before I could finish typing an email to Steve, I got an email from him showing he had seen the same thing.

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