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Ski shop problems, can you suggest a better place? [beginners in CT]

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
Our family has had some bad experiences with a local shop, and I'd like to hear the community's thoughts.

The problems started last year. We went to the shop as total novices, and were quite rightly advised to buy boots first. The guys were very friendly and helpful, and sold me and my wife each a pair of entry-level boots, maybe $200 each on sale. They also tried to sell us skis. but we didn't feel ready.

My wife had endless problems with the fit, very painful, and when she went back to the shop they sold her a slightly more expensive boot that fit better. Since then, we have gone to an excellent boot fitter (Bootworks in Park City) who told me that my boots were at least two sizes too big. Ernie fit me into a new pair of boots that I love. So strike one, I trusted my local guys and they put me into a boot that was way too big.

But strike two is much worse. My wife had been having increasing pain in her new expensive boots, and couldn't understand why. Her big toes both turned black, and were painful even without the boots on. Ernie in Park City found out that the liners in her boots were swapped left-to-right! That was done by the local shop when she had asked them to look at her boots. So huge strike two, the local guys were careless and it caused my wife a lot of pain. We installed the boot liners correctly and now all is well.

The local shop had also sold us a pair of used skis and boots for our (then) 4 year-old son. They charged us to adjust and test the bindings, then asked us to pick up the skis a week later. When we went back, a young man claimed he couldn't find the skis after "looking everywhere." He insisted my wife had already collected them. After about 45 minutes of this, young man "looking", a shop manager came over, found the skis in 2 minutes in the store room, and handed them to us.

Our son hadn't skied much, but progressed quickly. Last week at Butternut mountain one of the instructors looked at his bindings and advised that we have the repair shop see them. I took the skis in yesterday, and the tech told me that the bindings were barely holding onto the boots, and that there was no way they had been tested properly. Another $20 to adjust them, and my cute little kids skied like he had totally new equipment. I can't believe that we've made him skis with loose bindings for so long! My guess is that the local shop never adjusted or tested the bindings, that they forgot to do the job because they misplaced the skis. So huge, huge strike three, they put my son in discomfort and maybe danger.

We are novices at this sport, so we end up having to trust the professionals. Our local shop has a very good reputation, but this seems to me a consistent pattern of carelessness. I have a tendancy to get really irritated by this kind of thing, and maybe unfairly so. i don't want to judge without knowledge. But these people have been cavalier with my wife's and my son's safety, so I'm pretty steamed. I'd love to hear any thoughts on this, maybe there is an angle i'm not considering.

And more practically, can anyone recommend a good professional shop within some reasonable distance of New Haven, Connecticut?
post #2 of 16

Too-big boots are often a "solve the symptom not the problem" comfort solution offered by incompetents to beginners who they think won't know the eventual downside.  So... you have only suffered the same indignity that many of us have in our younger years.

 

But: that doesn't justify it.  And then the further incompetence shown by repeated problems indicates a real problem.  FWIW, I think this kind of thing is far too common among shops too close to the population and too far from the mountain.  There is an eventual disconnect between knowledge and sales. 

 

If it were me, I'd go in to the shop, ask for the owner, and present him/her with a strong but respectful recounting of the these issues -- perhaps even this first post here.  IF he/she is good, he/she will bend over backwards to remedy the problems and will go out of his way to make sure you are happy on every subsequent visit.  If you get anything less than this, then run away and tell everyone you know about the place.

 

For the future, buy boots at a reputable bootfitter close to where you ski.  There are names here; search for "list of bootfitters".  I can offer you some names in Vermont.  For skis, demo at mountains and then buy there or online if you can't get a decent deal.  For your kid... if you ski at Butternut a lot, look at Kenver in South Egremont.  They do a brisk trading business with kids' equipment and have been very responsive to me in the past.  

 

Best of luck.


Edited by tch - 2/24/14 at 8:31am
post #3 of 16

First off as a novice all you are doing is repeating what others have told you. I don't mean this in a bad way but you are not educated in the sport to know right from wrong. I'll start with the boots fitting. Every fitter is different, If I go to 10 different fitters they each will tell me something different and that the last guy I talked to doesn't know what he is talking about. The last fitter is an idiot and you need to buy this instead of that if you want to have a good time. I was not there for the original fitting but my guess is that you tried on lots of boots and due to the feed back you and your wife provided you ended up in the shell you finally bought. You didn't know any better until you you got out of the snow. As for your wife's liners, check your own gear. First lesson. If something feels wrong, check it out and not just keep skiing along. Things happen, a switched liner is not the worse thing in the world. As for the bindings. Did you raise your concerns with the manager or owner? Until you talk to them and they here your issue there is no way for them to know or address you concern. Bindings are not something to forget to check. If this did happen I am sure the managers and owners would want to know and rectify the situation. Don't go in all pissed off by raise your issue and seek a reasonable solution ( a free tune or binding adjustment) and call it a day.      

post #4 of 16
Thread Starter 
tch, thanks for the shop recommendation! I will check them out. At the moment, we are happy with our boots, having sorted out the problems thatw e know about. We will definitely talk to the shop, I haven't named them because I am willing to believe we just had a run of bad luck and this isn't representative.

SVMike, good words of wisdom. I agree with your point that as novices, we are at the mercy of the advice we get from pros. We don't always have a good sense of what is supposed to feel right, so we don't always know that there is a problem. When we had problems, we blamed our technique, we didn't think that the problem might be equipment -- because we thought the equipment had been checked and double-checked by experts. We had, after all, paid to have it checked.

But i totally agree that going in pissed off is a mistake. I think I can have a reasonable conversation with the shop. I think tch makes a good point about how common this is, and that it shouldn't be. Wish i'd found this forum before the problems started, but i'm glad to have found it now.
post #5 of 16
10 different do teachers will not give you 10 different recommendations unless they don't know what they're doing. stay at the resort for the weekend demo skis try your boots and if there's any problem just keep going back into the shop once you find a good one and get everything solved within a day or two. great bootfitters are somewhat hard to find but if you post up here someone will direct you to the area you're going to be in
Quote:
Originally Posted by SVmike View Post

First off as a novice all you are doing is repeating what others have told you. I don't mean this in a bad way but you are not educated in the sport to know right from wrong. I'll start with the boots fitting. Every fitter is different, If I go to 10 different fitters they each will tell me something different and that the last guy I talked to doesn't know what he is talking about. The last fitter is an idiot and you need to buy this instead of that if you want to have a good time. I was not there for the original fitting but my guess is that you tried on lots of boots and due to the feed back you and your wife provided you ended up in the shell you finally bought. You didn't know any better until you you got out of the snow. As for your wife's liners, check your own gear. First lesson. If something feels wrong, check it out and not just keep skiing along. Things happen, a switched liner is not the worse thing in the world. As for the bindings. Did you raise your concerns with the manager or owner? Until you talk to them and they here your issue there is no way for them to know or address you concern. Bindings are not something to forget to check. If this did happen I am sure the managers and owners would want to know and rectify the situation. Don't go in all pissed off by raise your issue and seek a reasonable solution ( a free tune or binding adjustment) and call it a day.      
post #6 of 16
shop you're going to our absolute idiots don't care about the ski gear our customers definitely find a different one
post #7 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by levy1 View Post

shop you're going to our absolute idiots don't care about the ski gear our customers definitely find a different one

No, one guy might be an idiot. You were not there to know what was discuses during the fitting. A fitter is only as good as the feedback he is getting from the customer. We are boot fitters not mind readers. The solution is to talk about it with the people at the shop that can make things right and come to a reasonable solution not just bad talk people on a forum that might not even be aware of the issue. Shops are only as good as the weakest employee. Until an owner knows of an issue how can they rectify it? 

Teachers give you the same answer because they are teaching facts. Boot fitting is more or less artwork. There are different ideas and methods to achieve many issues. One fitter uses posted foot beds some don't, I guarantee every one will tell you why they are right and the other guy is wrong. FACT. You are right good boot fitters are hard to find, but blanket statements like (they are absolute idiots) says more about you then the shop its self. Be reasonable people and you will get further in life.      

post #8 of 16

I can't suggest a better place for you to go, I'm not that familiar with Connecticut ski shops. I do know that there is a good boot fitter list on this site as well as an ask the boot guy forum section and both of those might be good places to consult about boot fit, as conversations there could turn into in-shop experiences as well.

 

As for the issues you described, it sounds like they're bad and should be addressed, but that's just from your perspective. The boot fitter may have done his best based on the feedback you both gave and the binding issue may have been a one-off thing that simply falls under the fail rate of testing or was just the poor by-product of a technician getting caught in the middle of his work with other things and doing a bad job. That's not a solution or tool for mitigation, it still needs to be brought to the attention of the manager, but it may not be evidence of widespread malpractice and inability at the shop.

 

Overall, I would do research on things before you go into the shop so you're not just a blind novice. You mention that you are wholly reliant upon the advice and actions of the experts in the shop, but that implies that you can't help your state as a novice, which is completely false. Sure, you can't magically learn thirty years of ski knowledge overnight, but you can acquire a basic knowledge of what a boot should fit like and some questions to ask during fitting and maybe even models that could work well for you by lurking around these forums and reading various other webpages. So, help and become reliant on yourself, even if you can't become an expert quickly.

 

I would definitely approach the manager about the issues you've been having. Maybe minimize the importance of the boot liner issue as that's somewhat on you - check your own gear, though it should have been done correctly in the store. State clearly and as objectively as possible how the situations went down from your point of view (objectivity and point of view may seem contradictory here, but there's really no way to not be influenced by your point of view, just try to check emotion and a feeling of necessitated redress by the manager). 

 

I hope all goes well for you!

post #9 of 16
of course calling them idiots its a lot about me but Who am I. 15 years working in a ski shop 15 years psia teaching . I may not be the smartest Apple in the bunch but I know my business. there's a correct way to fit boots. you go to 10 different top boots fitters all of them are going to give you around the same recommendation based on many different factors about your foot your angle and other information. there is a feel to putting liners back into bpots and you can immediately tell if you have the wrong liner in your hand that mistake would only be made by a first day employee. Fitting a pair boots two sizes too big would only be done by someone who was never ever trained. A lose binding could not pass torque test that you put on to make sure that it releases correctly. definitely a bunch of idiots who don't care about people or their business

Quote:
Originally Posted by SVmike View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by levy1 View Post

shop you're going to our absolute idiots don't care about the ski gear our customers definitely find a different one
No, one guy might be an idiot. You were not there to know what was discuses during the fitting. A fitter is only as good as the feedback he is getting from the customer. We are boot fitters not mind readers. The solution is to talk about it with the people at the shop that can make things right and come to a reasonable solution not just bad talk people on a forum that might not even be aware of the issue. Shops are only as good as the weakest employee. Until an owner knows of an issue how can they rectify it? 
Teachers give you the same answer because they are teaching facts. Boot fitting is more or less artwork. There are different ideas and methods to achieve many issues. One fitter uses posted foot beds some don't, I guarantee every one will tell you why they are right and the other guy is wrong. FACT. You are right good boot fitters are hard to find, but blanket statements like (they are absolute idiots) says more about you then the shop its self. Be reasonable people and you will get further in life.      
post #10 of 16

I would also add that once you do have some knowledge base, you will know when a person in the shop knows what they are talking about.  I was debating getting Intuition liners for a long time and when I was my preferred shop a few weeks back, I mentioned this to the tech.  He said to me "It will be like night and day" referring to the fit of the liner.  I was hesitant but said to myself "I don't think he is trying to up sell anything here, he is just listening to my concerns and giving me proper feedback"  Sorry about your experience.  Once you get some more experience under your belt, you will know what advice is prudent and what is BS.  I also happened to be fitted by the owner and he and the original tech (who I thought was phenomenal) had a few differences in opinion in regards to the size and other minor tid bits associated with the liners.  Bottom line, a good/great boot fitter is one of the most essential parts of improving your skiing IMO.  Good luck with your next endeavor.  If you are ever in Mass, there is a place called Ski Stop in Westwood that is great.  Gerhart is very sensitive to the customers needs.  He also happens to be a former ski racer from Austria.  If you are ever in Ludlow, VT, Shawn is the owner of the Boot Pro, and he is one of the most knowledgable people that i have dealt with in the ski industry as far as boot fitting is concerned.  Ludlow is not too far from CT.  It is well worth the trip IMO.

post #11 of 16

Is your local shop Rotary?

post #12 of 16
Thread Starter 

Thanks again for the additional thoughts, everyone. I did end up getting new boots from Bootworks in Park City. That was a great experience because the guys were extremely knowledgable, and because I could ski with the boots and pop in the shop every now and then for feedback and tweaks. My boots are now really great. I'll report back on how things go at the shop.

post #13 of 16
best way to do it glad you're taking care of and found a good shop
post #14 of 16
Thread Starter 
Update on this situation. My wife spoke to the shop manager (owner?) who was responsive and upset about our experience. He didn't admit fault with setting the bindings wrong on my son's skis (he said his notes indicated they were set and tested), but he refunded us the $20 charge for that work. He apologized for all of the boot problems, and said he'd review the situations with his staff. My wife said they he was nice and tried to be helpful, and she thought he handled the call well.

So who knows, maybe we had a string of bad luck there. We won't go back, given that there are some great options only a little further away, but i'm glad we cleared the air. Thanks to all of you for hearing out the story and making good suggestions.
post #15 of 16

Glad you reported it to the owner. No string of bad luck just a incompetent shop. Now he can fix his business and it sounds like he will. 

post #16 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by levy1 View Post
 

Glad you reported it to the owner. No string of bad luck just a incompetent shop. Now he can fix his business and it sounds like he might

FIFY

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