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Concern with buying skis online

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
I've been looking at the end/after season sales and see some great deals, but I haven't pushed the "buy" button yet.  Given that it's 7-8 months before I will be able to actually test drive the skis, what happens if they're lemons - hopefully a rare thing - or I just don't like them?  Even though I've demo'd quite a bit, I haven't been able to try my top picks in all conditions.  Do shops typically have some extended satisfaction guarantee period for such a situation?
post #2 of 12
If you've demoed quite a bit, then you must have tried some skis that you liked at least to some extent or other. Buy one of those and you will know what you are getting. It may not be perfect but at least you know that you won't be buying something you "just don't like"

Now............if you "just didn't like" anything you demoed then I suggest one of two courses of action.

(a) Don't buy anything. Wait until the snow flies again and then demo some more. When you find something that you do like, buy it.

(b) Buy something (on sale) that you haven't demoed, and live with it however it shakes out.

IAC, you made the decision to wait until now. It's on you to take responsibility for that and take what you can get.


SJ
post #3 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by MdGuy1957 View Post

I've been looking at the end/after season sales and see some great deals, but I haven't pushed the "buy" button yet.  Given that it's 7-8 months before I will be able to actually test drive the skis, what happens if they're lemons - hopefully a rare thing - or I just don't like them?  Even though I've demo'd quite a bit, I haven't been able to try my top picks in all conditions.  Do shops typically have some extended satisfaction guarantee period for such a situation?

Off topic question.  Is there a season sale for ski jackets?
post #4 of 12

In my 30+ years of skiing I have only returned one pair of skis, and that was prolly 20 years ago. With that said, I have demoed many boards and never bought any of them, I know that sounds a bit odd, but it is true. Of course, for many years things didn't change that much in ski design, only until the past 15 years have design norms been thrown out to the trash heap.

As far as online ski buying goes, I have purchased my last 5 pairs starting back in '06, you can't beat the prices at tramdock, steep and cheap, O2, acme, porters, etc., and some do have a 'anytime' return policy.

Part of my reason for shopping online is my location here in FL, but also it was time to try the "new" ski technology as I was coming off a pair of '01 X-Screams and had moved south and was limited to 2 or 3 trips a year and don't like burning time in a ski shop while on a trip.
So doing some homework by reading reviews was the first step, things like turn radius, skier size, knowing my past likes and dislikes in a board all come into play. Yeah, I was looking for a do-it-all ski, but after skiing on full-length boards for ever, I was also concerned about dropping length with the newer designs.

First thought was when I came across railflex bindings I liked the concept, I knew I would have diving tips in deep pow if I were on say a 180cm length ski. I found Ninthward First Bloods at Porters for $200 and pulled the trigger, found railflex 14s at Levelnine and liked the match, plus it was dirt cheap. Kewl!!! Guilt-free, now only if it works.

The reason I bring up this first experience is this. My first trip was to Vail where we had squalls on and off all week, but with only 4-5 inches a day. The true test came when I hopped aboard the Keystone Cat for the day. We had steep, powder drop-ins all day and this is when I discovered the shortcomings of short skis. Yeah, right over the handlebars on my first two steep sections. I quickly grabbed my screwdriver and slid the railflexs back to their rear position, a 1.5cm move. Eureka!!!

I learned that short isn't really for me, but I liked the ski and skied it for almost two seasons before I sold it on Craigs to a backcountry skier in Edwards. True story. I also learned that the future for me included more adjustable bindings.
Present day, I have purchased three pairs of boards this past year and though I have only managed to ski two of them, I love both and continue to get fatter boards as has been the case. One of those skis has Jester Schizos which I recommend for rockered skis, though the pair I didn't get to ski on yet has a fixed binding, and that is on a pair of Hellbents....next year.

Hope this helps.

post #5 of 12

In my experience, buying skis is kind of like buying a car. Once you drive it out of the showroom, absent some manufacturing defect, you can't really get your money back if you're unhappy. There may be some options for a trade in, but not for anything close to full value.
 

Unless you're willing to spend a lot of time and money, it's borderline impossible to demo a ski in all conditions. If there is a ski you really liked in the conditions you most frequently encounter, buy it. I have no idea what skis you've tried, but it's a safe bet that any non-race ski with waste under 80mm (some would say 90) would be sufficiently versatile to handle all but the most extreme conditions.

post #6 of 12
I buy most of my skis online now, and only demo when it's a radically new model or a brand I'm unfamiliar with. Some brands or models just can't be demoed; not available in your area. So if you demoed, say a K2, and really liked it, odds are you'll also like a different model in the same brand. Or if you demoed a Volkl, and see an interesting Blizzard of the same general description, you'll like it too because they share some characteristics. This breaks down if you demoed a carver and want to buy a fat powder ski, obviously, although even then there are brand "feels." 

As far as returns, ain't gonna happen unless a defect. The good news is that all brands make good skis nowadays, major differences are in feel and handling, no "lemons" out there if you stick to the tried and true. So prioritize what you want in feel (damp, lively etc), mission (all mountain, carver etc.), and your skiing style (short carved turns, long smeared arcs etc), and for each triad there will be a bunch of interesting models. You probably have demoed a few, at least related skis. 

Then search under the various gear review threads here for ideas. Dawgcatching, Sierra Jim, Phil, others contribute excellent reviews of multiple skis that I find surprisingly objective (given that they're dealers and have easier access, some natural bias toward the skis they carry), and full of useful info on feel, mission, etc. Others of us also chime in with individual ski reviews that can be equally useful, but we don't always have the base of comparison. Instructors usually are the best bet there. Plus realize that if you've just bought a ski, you tend to want to love it. (Psychologists call this "reducing cognitive dissonance.") So from non-pros, I find demo reviews are sometimes more reliable; you have to give it back anyway. Finally, check out the bio info, conditions, etc. at the top of the review to see how they fit with your profile. If you have questions about a particular ski, or are torn between two or three, slap up a post about it. Some of these guys are ridiculously good at answering specifics, or suggesting what you'd like best. 

And look: If someone here helps you a lot, and also carries a ski you're interested in, think about buying from him instead of immediately searching fleabay or an online wholesale store for a 10% better deal. These people are offering you truly expert advice, and time, for free. And they'll be far more willing to work with you if you have post-buy issues than some headset jockey at Skis 'r Us or fleabay. Plus if you join Epic, you tend to get member discounts several times a season. 
Edited by beyond - 4/21/10 at 4:58pm
post #7 of 12
Find a ski that is designed for your skill level and the conditions that you typically ski in that also has good feedback from real skiers.  If you demo'd it that is a plus.  Buy it and ski it.  Short of some major defect you will likely be happy with that ski or you will probably be happy with no ski.  Only problem some have with buying a ski that many others like is that you can get in over your head.  In that case you might not be happy until you hone your technique enough to use the ski to its full potential.

I buy online or local Craigslist,  I mount my own bindings when necessary.  Biggest problem with buying online is you might have find a shop to mount them.  And, if they come mounted you might have to ship them back if they aren't done properly.
post #8 of 12
 I'm assuming that by "on line" you're talking about one of the big discount type sites...

I tend to buy a lot of my stuff on line, but my on line definition is a bit different than most......
I buy from our trusted local shop guys here on EpicSki.
The good news is you can benefit from their reviews and they are real people who talk to you about what your needs are.

All in all.......demo and see what you like, then get it, hopefully from someone you know and trust.
post #9 of 12
Trekchick, curious: Noticed you're ahead of Phil now in post count. Any idea what the record is? You could have the highest numbers in the history of Epic. And if so, why haven't they given you a balloon party with free Kastles? 
post #10 of 12
I agree with Snokat. I like gear stuff but I'm a long ways from the mountain too and don't want to spend much time on shopping when I could be skiing. I buy only lightly used stuff with adjustable bindings. I figure I'm paying less than 50 cents on the dollar so if I make a mistake I can sell it for half what I paid and I'm still way ahead. Folks here blast the ski mag reviews but I read them and I think they are a big help in understanding what I'm getting - particularly the relationship between makes and models. I also spend the money for RealSkier. Last, but most important,if SierraJim, Dog' and some of the other pros on Epic say its good I know its good and don't think about it again. I'll admit I'm not smart enough to learn a lot by demoing. Some days I feel like I can ski anything anywhere and others I fall down buying my lift ticket. There are so many variables it's hard for me to demo enough to know so I rely on the opinions of the experts.
Back to your question - wait till fall and buy some low mileage demos with demo bindings or something from an individual in good shape with movable bindings. There will be no guarantee you will like them but the same applies to a new your son-in-law, and you can't send him back either!
ENJOY.
post #11 of 12
My read on the specifics of your situation as outlined in your post is that you are not ready to buy yet, you are tentative.  Demo again until you fall hard for a ski that you know you love and will be comfortable buying.

As far as buying online, if you know what you are looking for there are great deals this time of year.  I have bought all of my skis on line.  No regrets.

Good luck.
post #12 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by beyond View Post

Trekchick, curious: Noticed you're ahead of Phil now in post count. Any idea what the record is? You could have the highest numbers in the history of Epic. And if so, why haven't they given you a balloon party with free Kastles? 

I was trying to resist replying to this because I didn't want to bump my obscene post count any more than it already is, but since you asked, I do have the highest post count on EpicSki, a position that used to be held by PhilPug, and before him WearTheFoxHat.
I wish I could say that my post count is filled with great info and resources for EpicSki, but mostly its just me being a social butterfly and spreading manure on the flower garden that is EpicSki. humble.gif

As for the Balloon Party and free Kastles......I wouldn't be opposed to such an idea 
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