rod warranties-is there a better way [Archive] - Fly Fishing Forum

: rod warranties-is there a better way


nmbrowncom
02-14-2010, 09:54 PM
i noticed that OC started a thread about a problem that he encountered with his winston warranty. it got me thinking about the "cost" to the fly rod industry, and eventually us, of the unconditional lifetime warranty offered by virtually all major fly rod manufacturers.

as an attorney, i have worked with a number of fly rod manufacturers and retailers over the past few years, and continue to do so. most of the manufactures are like the fly shops-they barely make it and many are on the ropes big time. i think many could be gone in short order. and the number 1 issue is the cost to the manufacturers of warranty repairs. the number of repairs is staggering, and many owners break their rods multiple times. that said, the overwhelming amount of repairs ore for broken tips.

i've tossed around the idea of eliminating the lifetime unconditional warranty(except for manufacturer defects) for a policy of providing 2 tips per rod and a 1 time only low repair cost.

i'd be curious what others think or if anyone has any other ideas.

petevicar
02-15-2010, 05:11 AM
There are a lot of theories about this but I believe it is all about industry norm and being competitive.

I have heard arguments about initial cost of rod being so high because of the need for warranty.

Not having had the opportunity to look at the accounts or costings of a major manufacturer it is difficult to comment.
However I seriously believe that it is possible to manufacture a fly rod at a fraction of the retail price. That fraction not being a half but more likely a tenth.

This opens up a new can of worms.

Pete

Paxton
02-15-2010, 07:53 AM
I agree with Pete...without knowing the actual manufacturing cost...it is difficult to validly comment. For instance, about 6 yrs ago I was in a local flyshop and a Sage rep came in trying to unload never used sample rods that were being replaced. I wound up purchasing one of them for $300 that was originally a $625 rod....the local shop owner got a cut of the deal and I'm sure that Sage still made a profit even at 1/2 cost. I have to assume that the actual cost of the rod to the company was at least 60% less that the retail price......that is a lot of "cushion" to use for the guarantee.
Of course, the alternative could be for companies to sell their $600= rods for $250....not give a warrantee except for manufacturing defects, eliminate shipping costs and most of their repair staff. Not sure however if us FFs would buy a rod that wasn't backed up. Plus....it certainly would hurt employment.
Another alternative...2 yrs ago I purchased a Beulah rod....surprisingly, it came with an extra tip at no charge. Although still warranteed, I'm sure that this company assessed that "giving away' an extra tip was more cost effective than examining/repairing/replacing/return shipping costs.
Then of course....the whole problem is solved if companies find a way to make a rod that can't break :biggrin:
Ron

Quentin
02-15-2010, 09:10 AM
. . . Then of course....the whole problem is solved if companies find a way to make a rod that can't break :biggrin: Ron

Maybe Shakespeare should make an Ugly Stik fly rod :hihi: .

I've had to get warranty replacements a few times for two of my rods. The first replacement for each rod was a different model than the original, but maybe they had discontinued the original model. More troublesome, however, was that all of the replacements didn't seem to be as good as the originals. The cork was not finished as nicely and the rod sections loosen during use, which never happened with either of the original rods. I can't help but wonder if they send out factory seconds for the warranty replacements.

Q

OC
02-15-2010, 04:45 PM
I'll take a shot here on the issue and get blasted for my beliefs but that's OK. First of all I would like to say I'm not crazy about big upper end rod companies that have established themselves over the last 40 years or so and believe me I own dozens of them. I understand why these companies came about as fly fishing became so popular years ago and a large upper end market was created. But what we got is a bunch of look alike, feel alike rods, sort of like the car industry ya can't tell one make from another when driving down the road. If it is true that warranty issues are helping these upper end companies get in financial trouble and the end results is skimping on warranty work and maybe even in the original building of rods then we the buyers have a problem. I'm going to say right now that all my old Winston rods from the early, mid 80's are far better rods than the ones of the late 90's and later. Just better craftmanship all around.
Dating myself when I say that when I was kid I would go up to upper state NY in the early Spring with my uncle and pick up his new cane rods for trout and Atlantic Salmon. Uncle would order them the Fall before, tell the maker what he wanted in a rod and that is what he got a rod that fit his style and it was a very personal part of his fishing experience. So what can I say I would like to see every upper end rod company fail and go out business and then more small regional custom rod companies come about. There would still be plenty of rod companies working out of China at affordable costs for those who have no desire to pay upper end prices. I just think by having enough small mom and pop regional companies making all types of high quality fly rods would make our fly fishing experience a better thing. There is lot to say to know the rod maker personally, I'm sure the beauty of the rod he made for you would have much more meaning every time you cast to a rising trout or what ever type of Fly fishing you do. Yes there are small custom rod makers about but not enough of them to specialize in a certain type of rod. If these big impersonal companies would go under maybe we would see beautifully made rods again made out of all materials. And we here on fly talk could tell some wonderful stories about a personal treasure.

nmbrowncom
02-15-2010, 08:00 PM
it seems like most people have no idea how tiny almost all major american fly rod companies are nor what goes into making a fly rod.
manufacturers like winston,t&t,scott,etc have yearly sales sales of 1m-4m. really tiny companies. sage at around 50m and orvis at about the same are the "giants". tfo is also around that size but their rods are not hand made in the usa.

the retail markup for a rod is between 40 and 50%. in other words the manufacturer gets between 50 and 60% of the sale price, and has to give long payment terms to the retailer. the manufacturing costs are extremely high because each step in the process is done by hand-not machine-and there are many time consuming steps. and marketing costs are extremely high as well. as a result, none of the manufacturers are making any money except perhaps orvis, and only because of other items-clothing etc. while i don't know the exact numbers, based on what i do know, i'd be surprised if there is a margin of much more than 5 or 7% before warranties, non payments,interest charges etc..

yes, it is quite possible to build a reasonable quality rod for much less, but not in the us and not by hand. that's the tfo model. they design and import a good rod and it's cheap, but they're hardly in the class of a sage, or winston, or loomis-never mind a t&t.

juro
02-15-2010, 09:39 PM
I tried to help my family finances while putting 3 kids thru college by taking on a fly rod business. WARRANTY costs made it impossible to succeed. Don't fool yourselves - this is killing the rod industry as we know it.

If you're using new inventory to take care of warranty there is no stock left to sell so you spiral twice as fast into the red.

OC
02-15-2010, 11:34 PM
Mnb, they may be small companies when you look at corperate America but they are big enough to have to play the game of mass marketing and warranty. They are also big enough that the owners, and builders of the rods do not have a clue who that rod is going to nor do they give a rats ass. Not saying the better companies don't have good quality control because they do but the rods are massed produced even if it is on a small scale and each model is the exact same rod for rod. No wonder they only can afford to make 5 to 7 percent having to compete against each other, advertise nationally and internationally, pay for a building, pay too many employees plus health insurance, etc. etc. just so they can get enough rods out the door to make that 5 to 7% add up as a profit. Would love to see all these companies go belly up or better yet they go back to the family built rods they used to be. I would love to see the life time warranty, almost all warranty for that mater stop, end. I brake an upper end rod I pay to get it fixed, the rod builder does not have to worry about skimping or short cutting or about who is going to pay his time because the rod owner is. Let's start thinking back to the time of Leonard or Paine and the quality of workmen ship. We could have the same in modern materials we have now and a lot of small cottage industry rod builders building you the rod you really want. We all know there are a lot of talented home rod builders out there who would love to quit the grind and build rods for a living but can not compete against the big guys like Winston, Sage, Loomis and rest of them. I dare say there are more talented rod builders today than ever before I just wish they could build our rods like it was done in the past, every rod built had a name and a face on it.

petevicar
02-16-2010, 04:21 AM
yes, it is quite possible to build a reasonable quality rod for much less, but not in the us and not by hand. that's the tfo model. they design and import a good rod and it's cheap, but they're hardly in the class of a sage, or winston, or loomis-never mind a t&t.

Looking at the majority of this post it looks like you are comparing apples and bananas. I will just pick this last point.

However if what you say is approximately correct then the rod building industry is a cottage industry and a badly run industry. What OC says about not having customer contact is correct.



I must confess that I use Winston, Orvis and T&T rods. I believe that Sage quality is not what it used to be. Loomis has been Japanese for a long time now so who knows how their rods are made. T&T is also not as good as 10 years ago.

The major components of a fly rod are the blanks, the reel seat and the rings. These are components that must be mass produced to achieve a certain consistency. The assembly of those parts is also probably best done by machine.

Some things are better hand made because this process produces a unique one off product. A line of 8wt fly rods should all be the same.

I remember a few years ago a good friend of mine bought a new Aston Martin (that was when it was still independent). He was very proud of his unique machine that made weird noises and everything did not quite fit properly. I was very happy driving my S series mass produced Mercedes.

I have never had a TFO rod in my hand but I think I will examine them in future.

Pete

juro
02-16-2010, 06:50 AM
I must confess that I use Winston, Orvis and T&T rods. I believe that Sage quality is not what it used to be. Loomis has been Japanese for a long time now so who knows how their rods are made. T&T is also not as good as 10 years ago.


Individual opinions may vary. My sages are well over 10 years old, so I can only confirm half of this position on them. I won't touch the second statement. I just bought a T&T HII (4-pc) that is by far my favorite bonefish rod, they were too expensive for me 10 yrs ago.


The major components of a fly rod are the blanks, the reel seat and the rings. These are components that must be mass produced to achieve a certain consistency. The assembly of those parts is also probably best done by machine.


By today's technology blanks can not be mass produced - unless you can be the first human to come up with an effective and reasonable processing method. I think it's possible, but it has never been done. Consistency is not a function of mass production but quality control. Assembly of most parts of a fly rod can not be achieved by machine as NMB points out.


I remember a few years ago a good friend of mine bought a new Aston Martin (that was when it was still independent). He was very proud of his unique machine that made weird noises and everything did not quite fit properly. I was very happy driving my S series mass produced Mercedes.


I bought a first model year toyota tundra and ran it hard for 10 years and 130,000 miles without a single concern. When I traded it in it ran perfectly. Mercedes have been American for years now who knows how they are made :lildevl:


I have never had a TFO rod in my hand but I think I will examine them in future.
Pete

TFO is very good low-end rod, if that's what you're into. I hope I never see you with a Charlton Mako on a TFO rod :)

Gseries69
02-16-2010, 09:29 AM
Gary Loomis talked about the pitfalls of the lifetime warranty when they started. Loomis was sold to Shimano a while back but they are still made in the USA. That being said, having a brother who is a fanatical freshwater bass fisherman, Shimano makes a great product where ever they are built.

C'mon, it's business. Only the strong will, and should survive. The industry is evolving just like any other business, if some go under so be it. I have also done some consulting work in the industry. One of the things you have to realize is that some of these folks love flyfishing and rod building and they are great at it, however, they are not always great businessmen and often lack business accumen.

I broke two Sage rods and the lifetime warranty was not free. It was only $40 or $50 which I was fine with paying but still, that is not free. Scott did not charge me anything for one of their rods that I broke. My understanding however is that they have been on and off the ropes for quite a while. Loomis has the Xpedite program which charges $75 for a new rod when the old is broken. They take a CC number and if you don't send the broken rod in they charge you the full price of the rod. Warranties are or at least should be booked as a liability when the rod is sold and is included in the prichase price. What that means is that when the rod is actually fixed, those cost are appllied to an acrual account, not income, so the company should have time to react to market conditions and adjust price as needed.

Lastly, I think you have to look at the fact that the market is and has been contracting. Such is the businesss cycle. Just look at the number of flyshops that have closed down over the years and you quickly realize there was a boom bust cycle in the sport, no surprise there. I know my local shop owner very well and he likes to talk business. He has stated that the hardware days have been over for a long time. No more selling 2-3 high end rods per day. Flies and tippet are his bread and butter these days.

The companies that survive in the futire will likey be more diversified and offer clothing, reels, lines etc. Others will go the way of the dodo bird, but that's just buisness.

LeeG
02-16-2010, 03:05 PM
I've had a Sage Discovery rod since I was 18. That rod has been repalced at least 2 or 3 time by Sage for free. Same thing with a RPL rod. None of the breaks had to do with manufacturers defects. That's got to add up for a company and it makes little business sense. I have no economic incentive to be responsible.

Now I use the TFO rods for travel fishing and the sage rods for local fishing. So far the travel rods haven't given me any problem so I can't comment on what the TFO repairs are like.

Personally, I'd be willing to pay a lot less for a higher end rod and get a spare tip and one "low cost" repair. I wonder how much money and time the companies spend on providing warranty repair?

bonefishmon
02-17-2010, 01:32 PM
I'd be willing to buy high end rod at a much lower price and purchase a separate extended warranty to cover breakage similar what the auto industry is doing. That way, at least I know what the warranty is actually costing me.

OC
02-17-2010, 02:36 PM
Does anyone think the high end companies we have mentioned so far would make better rods if they got rid of the warranty and offered insurance for around 150 dollars? Or does this warranty issue have much at all with the poor quality of high end rods today?
There is one very small high end fly rod company here in the NW that make far superior rods than any of my Winstons or T&T's. One can walk into the shop talk with the owner and discuss what type of rod you are looking for and they will build it for you, anyway they did 3 years ago and you pay for them that's for sure. They have no warranty for breakage but you know if it was an imperfection on their part they would fix or replace it for free and only charge you a real shipping fee. Every rod company knows how a rod broke and if it was their fault or not. I love the guy who breaks a rod in a car door sends it in to the company and says it broke while casting a size 22 dun on 7x tippet. But now a days you don't even have to lie just send it in. I broke an expensive rod tip off once during a small hail storm. Left the rod on hood of truck while I sat inside and watched the hail fall. Caught in the corner of my eye the tip of the rod vibrate most likely from a hail pellet. I wondered what the chances of another hail pellet hitting the tip of the rod again so I sat there and watched, mind you I had only smoked one joint earlier so I'm sure I could see strait. Within seconds another hail pellet hit the tip and the tip about 2 inches from the top guide broke off as cleanly as if I took a saw to it. There was no warranty in those days so I expected to pay, but the story they loved so there was no charge and they gave me my old rod back in perfect condition and another rod for the heck of it. true story, :smokin:

Dave17
02-17-2010, 04:58 PM
There's certainly no mass production going on with the major rod companies. Try this little experiment... Put ten of the same rod in a bundle, place the butts on the floor and look up at the tips.... yep, you guessed it, ten different lengths. Not by much but you will see a difference. That's exactly why the manufacturers need the whole rod to repair a section. Each rod is unique and different. They even cast differently in the same weights.

As to the question at hand: Good luck to any rod manufacturer that does not offer a full warranty. They are simply too fragile and rigorously used to pay top dollar for unless they can be easily repaired/replaced.

Manufacturers clearly know this. Without the warranty demand would fall off dramatically.

The two tip idea doesn't hold water for me. It would diminish the rod's value in secondary markets. If I have a rod that came with two tips and I've broken one then selling the rod becomes a challenge. An educated buyer would know that I'm delivering only 2/3rds of a product and the price would be adjusted accordingly. All things being equal I'd rather own a rod with one tip and the warranty.

I like it the way it is now. If manufacturers want to help themselves the first thing they should do is collude and all adopt point of sale registering of all rods. This would help their bottom line dramatically. If the rod is registered to the original owner it is void as soon as he sells the rod. No more blank paper warranty cards following a rod from owner to owner to owner until the rod finally breaks and needs to be registered. Right now consumers can buy "good as new" rods on ebay for 2/3rds the price of a new rod. Eliminate the ability to transfer that warranty and consumers have to go back to the manufacturer to get a fully warrantied rod. Attrition becomes the rod makers best friend. Think of all those rods that are bought for one trip and then sold on ebay. Right away those rods are no longer covered under warranty. Right now that same one trip guy puts his warranty card in a safe place, fishes, sells the rod with warranty card and the rod remains a liability for the manufacturer. The percentage of repaired rods to total rods sold has to be incredibly high due to transferrable warranties. Another bi-product would be less ebay inventory as more broken rods land in the trash heap instead of on the manufacturers front door.

Out of my fifteen rods and dozens of breaks only one remains broken. Which one? The one that I bought without a warranty card. Problem solved for T&T on that one (Ironically their repair cost is reasonable at $88). Obviously I think that all existing rods should be left as is if this were to happen..... I have a pile of Sage warranty cards an inch thick:lildevl: .

millerbrown
02-17-2010, 07:11 PM
This is an interesting thread. I can remember some letters to the editor of either FFM or FR&R discussing the subject of warranties back in the 1990's. Almost all said that they would NEVER buy a rod that wasn't backed by a life time warranty. A few mentioned that this policy would come back to haunt the manufacturers and it appears that it has. I've known some anglers who break a rod yearly but rely on the warranty to "fix" the problem even if it had nothing to do with the making of the rod. Everything from car doors to poor casting is covered and it shouldn't be!! Repairs or replacement becomes part of the initial cost that we all have to pay.

I still have most of the rods that I've bought over the last 40 years. I've broken two of them due to my mistakes but I try to take care of them. The rest are still around, not to be discarded like worn out suits. In fact, I'll take them out and use them on occasion. I'll gain memories with them in addition to the memories that I have. How do you warranty that?

bonefishmon
02-17-2010, 09:34 PM
Point of sale registration. I think Dave is spot on.

fredaevans
02-18-2010, 07:46 AM
Gave it a 'five star' rating.

fae

OC
02-18-2010, 09:33 AM
Fred, you know a lot about this industry, what do you think of warranties, quality, and prices of upper end rods.

Gseries69
02-18-2010, 10:54 AM
No I don't think a lower cost for a high end rod with an insurance package would make much sense unless the top manufacturer was required to do it to survive. The first company that made the decision to go with the lifetime warranty did so because it saw a competitive advantage to it. The others followed suit to keep up or else they would risk losing market share.

If one of the major manufacturers went out of business then the others would pick up that market share. I think the companines will continue to look for ways to increase market share and put the other guy out of business.

I question the actual % of the price in a rod that can be attributed to a warranty. Loomis does not offer a lifetime warranty and their rods are certainly no cheaper than anyone elses. Their expedite program costs a bit more but you also have a new rod in hand days after you break your old one. For $25 that's a pretty good deal.

I also doubt rod companies will want to get into the insurance business. They are rod builders, not actuaries. Most insurance companies make their money by investing premiums and hedging against losses. Rod companies are not equiped to do that.

I think the high cost of these rods is due to a contracting market, and an increase in the range and price of rods available to anglers. Lefty Kreh once said that most anglers are not as good as the rods they cast. For many guys, including myself, a mid priced rod would probably be fine and often fits the pocket book better. These companies are for the most part, volume based. X amount of rods need to sell in order to cover fixed costs. We call it a contribution margin. If you sell fewer rods, then you have to increase the contribution margin, read price, to make sure you cover those costs.

Mike Oliver
02-22-2010, 05:46 AM
The industry shot itself squarely in the foot simple as. One company started it off and the other idiots followed like lemmings.

This is a classic case of Board Room members who do not fish. If they did they would realise just how badly many Fishers treat their rods. These VP's also do not have a very good understanding of human nature either and the fact they laid their business wide open to major losses as a result. These warranties are also open to serious abuse and are badly abused in my view and from what I see and here.
It is not viable I think to offer fault free 25 year long warranties even if costs are 1/10 of retail. Don't forget the profit centers along the way. I understand that one very famous USA rod maker has a retail price that is double what the retailer pays the maker. So a $600 rod has $300 gross profit for Mr retailer. What the maker grosses I don't know. This does not leave much for future multiple claims though. Other supply chains are much longer with more profit centres to feed and these would be typical of imported products some of which still carry very generous warranties.

In short the Fishing tackle trade is Stupid capital S. They could end this madness overnight but it would need an illegal cartel to do it. Unless one company showed some darned Leadership and declared it's intention overnight. The followers would do just that pretty quickly I reckon.

What I find strange is that if your business is going under because of stupid warranty policy then why not ditch it. Why would this cost be exempt from consideration. It is probably because of fear to be first but you have no choice it really is that simple.

Warranty is not the only reason that some companies are maybe in trouble. Competition from the far east is having an impact as better quality and much lower prices start to eat away at premium priced suppliers. We are in case no one had noticed in a bit of a Global recession to. Many high end companies still trot out high priced products and every year the price is raised. We see this in the Uk especially. You may not want to dilute your brand but you have to find ways to cope.

I build custom rods and I can tell you that it is almost impossible for me to sell a rod built on a Sage blank because I will not offer a 25 year warranty on rods I craft. This also tells you a lot about certain customers who are not performance driven but fear and price driven in their purchasing decision making processes. They would rather have a rod that was not quite right for them but one which comes with the idiot proof life time warranty.

The ultimate madness was demonstrated recently on SOL when a Guy purchased an Orvis rod at a flea market and when trying the rod at home broke 4 inches off the tip. He asked SOL members what he should do. Over 95% said he should try it on with Orvis. He did and we were told they honoured thir warranty. If that was true then my respect for Orvis went clean down the toilet and it showed very cleary what many peoples attitudes are to warranties and to a lack of accepting any personal,responsibility for when things go wrong and they are the prime cause.

A one or two year warrenty covering manufacturing defects is fair for a rod. Normally a bad rod breaks very quickly if it has a defect in the blank.

Ok thats my take on this. The rod makers made a stick for their own backs and now they have to live with the self inflicted pain. Tough titty.

Mike

JR SPEY
02-22-2010, 08:14 AM
Mike, I dealt with several of your concerns in the other thread on this board dealing with warranties in Gear Talk (Winston Repair), including how the warranties came about and why they are so difficult for companies to eliminate. My comment directly toward this most recent post is, other than Orvis, that rod companies are not part of big corporate enterprises that have executive VP's that don't fish. I'm not even sure that would be true with Orvis as most of the decisions there are made by the Perkins brothers. It may be different in Europe, though I'm guessing not, but decisions over here are made by a small group of people who fish a lot. If they have one fault, it might be that in some cases they're even better fisherfolks that businessfolks.

As for your example of a keystone markup, the truth is that almost all rods sold through fly fishing pro shops in the US have a keystone market (retail is twice the wholesale) and some have even a bit more than that. I'm not sure what that indicates regarding warranties if all the companies essentially have the same problem.

Mike Oliver
02-22-2010, 08:46 AM
JR SPEY,

That could well,be the rub then if you have non commercially aware managers of a relatively small business. But if you can make great rods surely you have enough nounce to realise fault free waranties are going to hurt you badly and unfairly. But if these overly generous warranties are causing a situation where company collapse is on the cards you can't just sit there and do nothing, unless you want to go bust.
The point I was trying to make with the margin aspect was that not everone realises how big a chunk the retailer gets at gross level. This does not leave an awful lot for the manufacture to then go and cover extended warranties. The retailer needs big margins to survive I have no issue with that at all. Retailers also suffer badly with fault free warranties as they lose many sales to these warranties when rods are broken through user error or abuse and they have to spend time resolving on top to add to their operating costs.
I agree it is not so easy perhaps as I am making out but what are the alternatives to terminating these crazy warranties. What else can you buy with a 25 year warrenty. When you think of all the potential pitfalls that could befall a rod it does beggar belief how they ever came into being.
Maybe a bit of illegal collusion may help. As a long time user of fly rods and also a builder of them I know that they rarely break after a few weeks of usage. If a rod snaps two years down the line it is almost 100% that something happened to the rod that it was not designed to cope with. Or at worse some Oik decides he wants the latest model and deliberately breaks his older model rod. Buy a Sage rod and never have to buy another for 25 years. It is laughable if at the same time very sad. It can be resolved if the will is there. But even middle priced products are leaping off the cliffs to in Europe.

Mike

Gseries69
02-22-2010, 09:22 AM
My question is could we be jumping to conclusion that these warranties are having or will have a negative impact on rod companies? In the time since these warranties were established, none of the major rod companies have gone out of business, if anything, there are more companies now than before e.g. Albright, TFO, Beulah, Echo, etc.

The other question is, how many of us fish a rod for 25 years? Is anyone still using a Sage RP or Scott STS or are they sitting in the closet as we reach for our Xi3 or GLX CC. I think most anglers refresh their quivers every 5 or 6 years just to keep up with the advances in rod technology. So, if a rod survives 5 or 6 years, which I would bet that most do, then the impact of the warranty is again diminished because an older rod will get used much less reducing the risk that it will be broken.

Mike Oliver
02-22-2010, 09:41 AM
G series 69,

Good point are they in fact sufferring and if so how come they are still here. I must still be in the closet. LOL as I still fish an 18 year old sage RPL. I fish it because it is actually more suited to my Buzzer fishing than any other rod I own. I agree also that many guys refresh their rod inventories but it does not stop the unscrupoulus amongst us from deliberately breaking a rod in order to get the latest model. Best time to deliberately break one is when you hear on the grape vine that no more spare sections are available for your rod. You get upgraded to the latest and greatest then.
Best classic I heard was a friend whose House Cleaner sucked up a fly lying on the carpet of his front room. The fly was attached to a leader which in turn was atached to a fly line which was run up through his Sage XP rod. Yep the rod tip ends up inside the vacuum mangled. My friend is a bit fed up and tries hard not to have a go at his Cleaner to his eternal credt. He sends in rod under warranty and it gets replaced. Would you believe it but just two short weeks later same thing happens again only this time it is my friend doing the vacuuming. He is acutely embarrased and calls Sage and tells them the truth. They send him a new rod. Nice of them but costly all the same.
What we don't know is just how much if anything is factored into the cost of a rod for potential warranty claims.

Mike

JR SPEY
02-22-2010, 01:49 PM
Trade magazines have reported that the figure is roughly 20% on the premium rods-or roughly $120.00 on a $600.00 stick. By the way, when you break a non-current rod you are not automatically upgraded to a new rod, and if you are there's normally an upgrade fee attached to it. Sage is one of the companies that will actually build the needed section for your old RPL and SP rods. So knowing that the final piece has left the building doesn't necessarily help. You're right in that the dealers take it on the chin at least as much as the manufacturer, especially since they're often imposed upon to be the middleman for the warranty effort. One last point, except for Orvis, all these warranties are lifetime, not 25 years, although as I pointed out in the other thread on the issue, there's not much real difference there. I'm sure the reason that most of these companies are not willing to be first to jump on board is because the loss of market share that would ensue would hasten their demise. By trying to hang on they can hope that the economy, etc. improves enough soon enough to prevent that. If Thomas & Thomas or Winston or Scott would be the only one without the warranty, they'd be out of business in well less than a year. In my opinion, what's really needed is a meeting of the various rod companies at the FTD Show in September where it all gets hashed out and hopefully all of them would sign onto a pact to eliminate the warranties on a set date. It'll work if they ALL sign on to do it. And these companies get along professionally much better, in general, than do competitors in many other industries, so it could happen.

Gseries69
02-22-2010, 02:56 PM
I guess I don't understand why we would want them to do that unless we were gauranteed lower prices for premium rods which I wouldn't hold my breath for. It's not the consumers responsibiliy to keep a company in business, it's the responsibility of the managers of the business.

As I mentioned before, Loomis does not offer a warranty and their rods are no cheaper than the others. Gary Loomis argued that the warranty would increase the price of a rod but as someone stated earlier when adjusted for inflation the cost of a rod has not changed from the years prior to these warranties and Gary Loomis did not keep his rods at a lower cost to the consumer.

The warranty on a rod is 20% of the price but what impact does having the warranty have on the cost of the rod to the builder. For all we know, they have positive margins and are making money on these programs.

In addition, a warranty is a variable cost i.e. they only record the liability when they sell the rod, unlike a fixed cost that needs to be paid regardless of any rods being sold. They may be selling less rods due to the high cost, but they are also getting more money per rod. If you think about it, they are offering two products, a new rod, and a warranty to fix that rod if it's broken. They simply add that to the price of a new rod and in the case of Sage they still charge another $40-$50 for the repair for "shipping and handling".

JR SPEY
02-22-2010, 06:26 PM
First of all, Loomis does have a warranty. It just works differently than most of the rest of the companies. I suspect that the costs of rods WOULD go down, though perhaps not the full 20%. That would be the way the companies would show "good faith" and continue to try to carve out more market share. The only companies to make money on their warranties are some that buy in China and sell over here at fairly heavy markups, but at prices that are still quite good compared to most rods made here or in Europe. I agree with the fact that it's the company's responsibility to figure out how to stay in business. However, it is in our favor to keep as many companies around as possible, as it provides us with more options and the competition tends to keep prices down and quality high. Therefore, although I'm sure many consumers would prefer to have the warranties stick around as it removes much of their responsibility when handling the rod, I think it's in our best interest to not fight the change when it gets proposed as I think it is in our best interest to help keep them all around. I know it can be done, as most European rods sold here do not include a lifetime warranty. Though I'm sure Loop, Guideline, Zpey, and others would probably sell more rods if they did, they've proven that if you offer great quality at a realistic price you can succeed in the US market. Those companies are particularly important in the double-handed market. And most offer a LIMITED two year warranty.

Mike Oliver
02-23-2010, 05:31 AM
Jr,

Thanks for clearing up a couple of inaccuracies in my postings. One observation is that right now we have competition amongst the premium rod producers but funnily enough prices are similar around the $600 to $700 mark, we pay double that in the Uk. This price convergence happens in all markets and for all prodcuts as a market matures. I don't know about American Law but I am pretty sure that over here if companies did collude on the subject of warranty like you are suggesting it would be illegal big time. Effectively they would be forming a Cartel. Whilst it may not be the buyers responsibility to maintain a business I too do not want most of these fine rod makers going to the wall. If warranties are causing severe hardship for them I would as a consumer understand the need to drop them. I have acumalated way too many high end rods over the last 15 years, thats the by product of making the darned things for others. I have never had to claim against the warranty on any of them. I use my gear hard and often. I swim with my fly rods on occasions and they are all fine. Give Jo public a free ticket very much akin to all you can eat diners and boy will they take their fill. Its sad human nature and a shame the rod makers did not take this trait into account when offerring life time warranty.
One way or another it will get resolved and I hope without too much pain for everyone.

Mike

JR SPEY
02-23-2010, 08:45 AM
Over here we call it collusion. And you may be on to something there. It's a question I'll ask the next time I talk to someone in the industry who would probably know. The various companies have gotten together before at the show, but the agenda had do to with coming up with standards for reelseats/reelfoots and to come up with a specific numbering scale for double-handed rods and lines as the one for single-handed rods just wasn't working. Since those don't involve sales as such, it could very well be that the warranty issue would not pass muster.

Gseries69
02-23-2010, 09:20 AM
Well, if nothing else this certainly has been an interesting thread. I don't want any of the rod companies to go out of business either, I just have a hard time not letting the market do what it does. Maybe we can get the govt to give them a rod builders bailout...lol.

I can't imagine all the companies getting together in agreement to end the no fault warranty. Orvis likely began the offering because they were in a position to do so giving them a market advantage. Sage is also probably in a similar situation. Both these companies have one major thing in common, they have diversified their product offerings with reels, lines, clothing, luggage, over seas rods, etc. They changed their business model in a changing market. Others did not and may go under but again, that is business.

Seems to me there are more rod companies and rod models on the market today then ever before and in a shrinking market. I believe the best will and should survive.

Excellent thread with lots of good input, thanks.

9wt
02-23-2010, 10:36 AM
Well, I started fishing with cane (and occasionally greenheart!) rods and I learned to treat them with respect. If you broke your rod you paid to have it repaired or you bought a new one. Actually, cane rods can be tougher than you think - I once slammed a car trunk lid on the butt of a cane trout rod; the varnish was chipped but the rod still survives and functions - try that with a graphite stick!

The idea of 25 year warranties sounded attractive when it first happened but like some others on this thread, I see people being careless with their rods because they can get a "free" replacement, no questions asked. I once left a glass rod carelessly propped up and it fell and was trodden on. I paid for a new butt section. Another time a rod broke at the ferrule due to a manufacturing defect and the maker (Bruce and Walker - that dates me!) replaced the section free of charge.
It annoys me a little that those of us who are as careful as possible with our tackle are in effect subsidising those who are careless or who in fact deliberately break their rods in order to get a newer model.

I'm all for manufacturers standing behind their products and replacing faulty items and my experience over the years is that they do, often going above and beyond. However, I think the 25 year unconditional warranty was a bad idea and it should go.

Let's take some responsibility for how we treat our tackle.

FishHawk
02-23-2010, 05:12 PM
I'll take a stab at this discussion. A guy buys a 9wt rod and you don't hear from him again until he breaks his rod. Why do you think Sage always comes out with the latest and greatest rod ever built by them each year? :whoa: To keep people buying their high end rods. :eek:
So, the when the rod comes back for repair the companies have to keep their customer by charging a low fee for repair. They make it up the shortage by the high price of their rods.You and I are paying for the low price of the repair. Along comes TFO who figured out that the average angler really cannot afford to pay the high price for a top end rod. So, they go offshore, make a good casting rod and upset the big rod companies by doing this. TFO rods are pretty nice rods for the money.
So what is s Sage do? They come out with a lower priced rod to compete with TFO.
I have solved the problem by building my own rods. I select the best components and make a rod which is about $100 less then the top of the line rod.

nmbrowncom
02-23-2010, 06:24 PM
i had a lot of trepidation about starting this thread, but having done so, i'm gladdened and enlightened by the response. a few points to further ponder:

it is my understanding that the cost of manufacturing fly rods overseas is so cheap that warranty replacements is actually quite profitable and a major profit center. the tips, which account for well over 80% of all rod repairs cost the importer approximately $2.50 each. none are fit to the rod as the sage's,winston's, scott's and t&t's do. rather replacements are kept in a bin and sent out willy nilly with each breakage order for a fat profit ($30-$50 "handling " fee). in other words they make money from breakage. query: if replacements are a profit center, how well are the rods made in the first place?

if the high quality -"made in america" rod manufacturers go out ofm business, how many of us are going to be happy with plain vanilla, run of the mill but adequate, overly hyped mediocre rods from china?

for me, a big part of the sport is the "art" of it. massed produced anything from china doesn't provide that. they may be adequate fishing tools but the aesthetic simply isn't there. and for those of us to whom that matters, the lifetime warranty will be the death of it.

bonefishmon
02-23-2010, 08:27 PM
After this thread started I had heard of a guy that got out out the fly rod business to become a cabinet maker. He was an importer and had many Chinese fly rods available for sale. I got a hold his phone number and gave him a call. When he told me how much they were I almost #!*$ my pants. I left right away full of curiosity. Upon arrival I grabbed a four piece eight weight that struck my eye and inspected it closely. It had no brand sticker of any sort on it. I was told it was manufactured for a well known retailer here and the brand names added after arrival. The cork appeared to be of the finest grade. The reel seat was very similar to the RPLXis'. The wraps were mediocre but the color matched the brownish maroon, fast blank properly. I strung it with an 8 wt. line and it threw sixty to eighty feet with ease. The asking price? $20.00. Go figure. I asked if he lost money on these and he said no. No case with it but I have a few already. Makes me want to scream at the thought of spending $700. Fly Fish America had an eight weight shoot out a while back. All rod manufacturer labels were covered and cast by experts. Was I surprised by the winning results? Not one bit. Were they high end rods? Yes, some were but many low enders came close to winning overall. How strong is this $20.00 rod???????????? Will find out pretty soon.

Phil

Gseries69
02-24-2010, 10:12 AM
I think some are simply jumping to conclusions with out having financial data in front of them to analyze. No one knows which, if any, companies are being hurt by no fault warranties. What is the % of revenue attributable to these warranties? by maker? by model? We simply don't know. With out a full set of accurate financials there's no way of knowing. When I did consulting work for a rod company and had their financials in my hands the warranties were a non issue. They simply had way too much overhead for the number of rods they were selling.

Some other facts need to cleared up. When you break a rod you typically don't get a new rod, you get a replacement section. Why would someone intentionally break a rod to get a new section? All that does is interfere with your season. And if you do get a full rod I don't think that breaking an RPLXi automatically gets you an Xi3. It might get you a new rod, but it won't necessarily get you the newest top of the line rod.

What people also seem to be missing is that the biggest cost in producing a rod in the US is probably the labor. A $300 dollar US made rod costs the same in labor as a $700 rod. They both contain similar parts, e.g. graphite, guides, thread, handle, epoxy, etc. and use the same machines and buildings for manufacturing. The mark up on those high end rods is going to be exponentially higher than the low end rods.

Gseries69
02-24-2010, 03:34 PM
Just thought I'd add this as it is an interesting side note. Fenwick used to be one of the biggest names in the rod building world and they offered lifetime warranties on many of their rods and I think all of their higher end flyrods. I remember buying two Fenwick rods in my early teens. Both were the HMG rods and both had lifetime warranties. Fenwick was eventually sold and one of the owners then started the SAGE company but I forget his name.

So, lifetime warranties may have been around longer than we think and from the 30,000 foot level do not appear to have stopped the advancement of flyrod performance. As one company dropped from the spotlight another simply emerged.

JR SPEY
02-25-2010, 09:37 PM
Just thought I'd add this as it is an interesting side note. Fenwick used to be one of the biggest names in the rod building world and they offered lifetime warranties on many of their rods and I think all of their higher end flyrods. I remember buying two Fenwick rods in my early teens. Both were the HMG rods and both had lifetime warranties. Fenwick was eventually sold and one of the owners then started the SAGE company but I forget his name.

So, lifetime warranties may have been around longer than we think and from the 30,000 foot level do not appear to have stopped the advancement of flyrod performance. As one company dropped from the spotlight another simply emerged.

The gentleman you're referring to is Don Green. I tell you what. I'm from that same era. In fact, I fly fished for a whole lot of years before graphite even came on the scene. I owned several of the Fenwick HMG rods as well as a few of the later, slightly slower series. I do not recall a lifetime warranty on any of them, and I went through a bunch of back issues of FFM and it's never mentioned in any of the full page Fenwick ads there. I'm not saying you're wrong, as your memory may be better than mine, but if they offered a lifetime warranty I sure do think they would have promoted that fact in their advertising. Double-check on that and let us know.

Silver Creek
02-26-2010, 03:00 PM
The gentleman you're referring to is Don Green. I tell you what. I'm from that same era. In fact, I fly fished for a whole lot of years before graphite even came on the scene. I owned several of the Fenwick HMG rods as well as a few of the later, slightly slower series. I do not recall a lifetime warranty on any of them, and I went through a bunch of back issues of FFM and it's never mentioned in any of the full page Fenwick ads there. I'm not saying you're wrong, as your memory may be better than mine, but if they offered a lifetime warranty I sure do think they would have promoted that fact in their advertising. Double-check on that and let us know.

You are correct. Fenwick never offered lifetime warranties during the days of Don Green. Fenwick did have a manufacturing defect warranty for the life of the rod but they did not cover breaks due to car doors or the other stupid things that we do to our fly rods.

The lifetime warrranty was started by SAGE, I believe as a response to Orvis who provided a 25 year warranty. So blame SAGE and not Fenwick.

As I recall, the lifetime warranties began with the RPL series of fly rods. I owned both the RP and then the RPL fly rods and the RP didn't have a lifetime warranty but the RPL did.

Silver Creek
02-26-2010, 03:33 PM
Some other facts need to cleared up. When you break a rod you typically don't get a new rod, you get a replacement section. Why would someone intentionally break a rod to get a new section? All that does is interfere with your season. And if you do get a full rod I don't think that breaking an RPLXi automatically gets you an Xi3. It might get you a new rod, but it won't necessarily get you the newest top of the line rod.

That is true for most companies but GLoomis offeres the Xpeditor. You give them your credit card and they charge you $50 for ground and $65.00 for two day service. They send you a NEW ROD, and you return the old broken rod in a PREPAID SHIPPING CONTAINER. If you don't return the rod, they charge you for the new rod.

It is the best sevice in the business since $50 pays for SHIPPING in BOTH directions plus a BRAND NEW ROD. The shipping and package costs would cost close to $50 plus you dont need to wait weeks to months for them to repair your rod.

http://www.gloomis.com/publish/content/gloomis/en/g__loomis_homepage/customerservice/warrantyinformation/xpeditorinformation.html

bonefishmon
02-27-2010, 11:11 AM
[QUOTE=Silver Creek]You are correct. Fenwick never offered lifetime warranties during the days of Don Green. Fenwick did have a manufacturing defect warranty for the life of the rod but they did not cover breaks due to car doors or the other stupid things that we do to our fly rods.

A good friend of mine was fishing a creek for trout in PA. All of a sudden it got very dark and then came the wind. He decided to head back to the car as thunder was rumbling close by. Little did he know a twister was on it's way up the creek. When he saw the spout above the trees, he began to run for a deep ditch and assumed the fetal position. After said spout passed he got up and found his 4 weight HMG broken in two pieces. They replaced it for free under the circumstances. He left his underwear in the ditch. LOL! Scary.

Gseries69
03-01-2010, 09:38 AM
You might be correct. I only remember the words lifetime warranty with regards to the Fenwick models. The term no fault is definitely within the Sage, Orvis lifetime warranty time frame.

However, with any of the Fenwick blanks that I have broken, the rods were simply replaced. There were never any questions asked.