Here is a quick rundown of the sequence of events:
1) got Orvis waders in december 2009
2) major leaks developed by november 2010
3) sent waders in to Orvis for repairs January 27th 2011 (typically takes 4 to 6 weeks)
4) told waders would be replaced not repaired
5) Orvis receives waders on February 8th, 2011.
6) Orvis tries to fix waders they said they would replace
7) March 14th, 2011 - I contact Orvis and they inform me that waders could not be fixed and I would have to pay for new ones. I tell them that they told me I would get new waders, they fold and set me up to get waders sent to me on April 5th, 2011.
8) April 7th, 2011 - I contact Orvis and they inform me that the replacement waders would not be sent until May 6th, 2011 (3 months after they received my waders). I tell them that this is unacceptable, send me a pair of waders from one of your retail locations, overnight.
9) Waders sent standard shipping.
10) Waders scheduled to arrive today (a half of a month to a month late).
A more detailed version of the story is provided below.
When asked what I wanted for Christmas 2009, I knew I wanted waders. I had been looking at Patagonia, Simms, and Dan Bailey waders for a while and had heard great things about all three companies. But, their waders are expensive. So, I searched the internet for "sweet deals" and found the Orvis Pro Guide 3 waders on sale. So, I asked for a pair of the Pro Guide 3 waders, figuring that I could get a high quality wader for less. A pair of waders that would hold up to the wear and tear of field work and fishing. I happily used my new waders for about a year, but some major leaks formed. I tried patching them to no avail and finally sent them back to Orvis in February. When I contacted Orvis and told them about the leak that had formed at the junction of the neoprene booty and the upper leg and they informed me that based on the nature of damage, my waders would be replaced.
While I put my waders in the mail on January 27th, according Orvis, the waders were received on February 8, 2011. Based on their diagnosis, I hoped that I would receive my waders sooner than the typical 4 to 6 week repair time frame. I contacted Orvis on February 8th and was informed that my waders were "currently at our repair facility in the process of being repaired. We should be done with them soon." I was confused because I was told the waders would not repaired and would simply be replaced. They informed me that they were going to try to repair them, which would take 3 to 6 weeks.
I contacted Orvis, via e-mail, on February 14th and 28th. On the 28th, I was informed that "We received them on Feb 8, 2011. There is a 4-6 week turnaround on wader repairs. "We will do our best to get them tested, evaluated, and repaired as quickly as possible." A completely reasonable response from Orvis. I responded with a slightly dickish email "So, I should expect the return of my waders between 3/8 and 3/22. Will you let me know when they have been repaired and have been shipped or am I going to be surprised when they show up at my door?" They told me that they understood that the season was fast approaching and they would contact me on a weekly basis informing me as to the status of the repair. On March 3rd, I was told they were still being repaired.
I didn't receive an update for the next ten days. So, I emailed them on March 14th. They responded with the news that my waders could not be repaired and that I was to call them to talk about possible solutions. Firstly, I would think that such a significant change in status would warrant some contact from their end. I shouldn't be the one to contact them. Additionally, this email was confusing to me and made it seem as though I would have to pay for something that I originally was told would be replaced....for no cost. After playing phone tag for a couple days, I finally spoke with a representative from Orvis' wader repair center. I was informed that my waders had more than 50 holes and they couldn't be repaired. While, I didn't know that there were 50+ holes, I knew originally that the waders could not be repaired. I was then informed that since I returned them more than a year (a whopping month) after I had received them, that I didn't qualify for free replacement waders. Instead, I would have to pay 25% of the retail value for some new waders.
Becoming increasingly more frustrated, as calmly as I could, I told them that I thought it was a load of donkey dung that I didn't quality for free replacement waders because I didn't return them a month earlier, even though they had been leaking since November. Combining this with the fact that I was told that I would receive new waders from the beginning, they quickly changed their tune and told me that I would qualify for a replacement pair of waders. However, the waders that I wanted could not be shipped until April 5th, 2011. I accepted that fact since I felt as though I had received what I deserved.
April 7th rolled around and I contacted Orvis about a tracking number for my package, that was supposed to be sent on April 5th. I was told that my waders would not be sent until May 6th because of some factory delays. I asked why I hadn't been informed about this change in status and they swore that they emailed me. After conducting a thorough search of my inbox and trash folder, I quickly realized that they had not contacted me. I called them the next day, miffed about the fact that I wasn't contacted about yet another major change in status, and went off. At this rate, I was scheduled to receive my replacement waders a whopping three months after they supposedly arrived at the repair center. I told them that such a wait was unacceptable, they were a big enough company, call one of their retail stores and send me a pair of waders from the retail stores. They found a pair and I suggested that based on the length of the wait for these waders, they should overnight them. They agreed. They were supposed to arrive yesterday if overnighted. I planned on going fishing in my new waders today. I was planning on a day of dry fly fishing on the 'root. But, they never arrived. One last insult to injury, I contacted them and they told me that they were sent standard, not overnight.
They are scheduled to arrive today.
When you compare my experience with Orvis to my experience with Patagonia's customer service, the differences are mind boggling. I contacted Patagonia once about my boots. They sent a replacement pair of Rock Grip studded/sticky boots in a prompt and reasonable timeframe (I think it was two weeks or so). Apparently, Patagonia had received reports that the studs were coming out (something that I had experienced, but hadn't complained about). So, yesterday, when I was patiently waiting for my waders to arrive, I got a package from Patagonia with a set of new, bigger, longer studs for the Rock Grips, unprompted and free. That is
UPDATE: The waders have been received. I can confirm that they are indeed waders and they fit. More to follow when they actually get used.