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BadEventer
Jan. 21, 2011, 07:42 PM
After hearing rave reviews about how wonderful Black Country saddles are I met with a local rep for the company.

He was very personable and completely sold me on how superior the Black Country saddles were in every way. He explained his reasonings and they sounded good to me.

I have a new imported mare and her back slopes down back to front where the saddle sits. My Devoucouxs didn't fit her well. (My Prestige eventer actually fit her very well, but it didn't fit me.)

I decided to order a cross country saddle, and considered getting a dressage as well but decided to wait.

I was told it would be made to fit her perfectly, and to fit me. I expressed concern about the fit because of her back shape. I was assured the saddle would fit perfectly and that she had a "typical" shaped back similar to many English horses so it would be very easy to fit her.

I asked if we would need to meet for a fitting when it arrived for flocking adjustments. I was told the saddle would be made to fit so well from the tracings it would be ready to ride "straight out of the box."

I paid $3500 and waited 5 weeks.

The saddle arrived Wednesday.

The first thing I noticed was how terribly cheap it looks. Uneven leather edges, raw cut unfinished leather, poor stiching, exposed glue, wrinkled seams where the leather was bunched & folded on itself. Uneven cut leather edges with no finish, and a single stitch holding 2 large pieces of leather together. One stitch.

I was APPALLED.

Everything I've read talks about what beautiful saddles these are. It looked like someone forgot to finish it. I sat it next to my other saddles and the difference in workmanship was obvious and terrible.

I was in shock, but I thought I'd try it on my horse, thinking if it was a perfect fit I might be able to have someone "finish" the leatherwork.

I placed the saddle on my horse, and the first thing I noticed was a significant "ROCK" front to back. The saddle fitter had gone out of his way to show me how my current dressage saddle had a "slight" rock and didn't fit her. To get the customized saddle in with a BIG rock was just ironic.

I then noticed the billets are very odd and don't come off the tree straight down. Instead they actually point forward at about a 45 degree angle. When I girthed the saddle it literally lifted the back 60% of the saddle off of her back. The billets are in completely the wrong place and at the wrong angle.

I attempted a 10 minute ride where the saddle crawled up her neck and the back flapped in the air. The tighter I made the girth the worse this got.

I called the company rep and told him the saddle had arrived, and that I was rather offended. I explained the very poor workmanship and the incredibly bad fit. He said he would forward photos to England, and would have to see the saddle to see how to correct the fit.

While, waiting for a response i had another saddle fitter view the saddle, and they explained the billet problem I had already discovered and said no "reflocking" would correct that.

So far my emails and calls since Wednesday have not been answered or returned.

How is it everyone thinks these saddles are top of the line?
Am I the only person in the USA to have this kind of problem?

I'm truly heartbroken about this because show season is starting and I don't have anything suitable to ride her in. I'm out $3500 and now I have to start looking for a new saddle.

I'm hoping to get a refund, but I have a feeling the response is going to be "No Refunds."

____________________________________
UPDATE January 24th.
They have offered me a full refund or a new saddle. I chose the refund.

alto
Jan. 21, 2011, 07:54 PM
check the fine print on the sales slip you signed - most custom saddles are guaranteed to fit either horse + rider or at very least the horse.

Since the rep doesn't seem to want to respond, call up the American head office or UK or talk to some shops that represent BC & ask for advice (I think Trumbull Mtn sales BC saddles).

Sorry this didn't work out better for you :no:

jn4jenny
Jan. 21, 2011, 08:02 PM
Okay, first order of business: did you see or sit in any Black Country saddles before you ordered them? Personally, it would have sent up HUGE red flags for me if the rep wasn't willing to show me what I was buying. It sounds like your quality concerns go way past just "being surprised by something bought sight unseen," but your description made me wonder.

I have never seen a Black Country saddle that matches your description. The workmanship is usually highly competent; I won't tell you that their workmanship matches that of Stackhouse or some of the other extremely high end brands, but they are certainly comparable to County or Frank Baines or any of these other English brands coming out of Walsall. I actually think my Black Country Quantum (sold years ago) was better made than my current Amerigo CC, not that the Amerigo is some slouch of a saddle but the Black Country was more meticulously constructed. They are not "fancy" saddles with bells and whistles, but there certainly wasn't glue or unfinished edges, etc.

$3500 is also a helluva lot more cash than Black Country saddles usually cost. Even the Vinici Tex Eventer monoflap, one of their most expensive models, only retails around $3100-$3200. And the Maelstrom, which is a premium calf leather model, is about $3350. So what's up with the $3500 price tag? It can't be "customization fees" because Black Country doesn't charge customization fees.

And I don't think any saddle fitter worth their salt would EVER promise a guaranteed fit straight out of the box.

All this adds up to "maybe this saddle rep took you for a ride." The problem here may very well be the rep, not the saddle. For all we know, he could even have sold you some cheap counterfeit.

In short, try to take some deep breaths and contact Black Country directly. If I were you, I would also contact another REPUTABLE Black Country rep and see what their thoughts are on the saddle that you received. Trumbull Mountain and Hastilow USA move a lot of Black Country tack and can tell you whether you've been scammed. With any luck, Black Country will make it right.

deltawave
Jan. 21, 2011, 08:14 PM
Red flags everywhere, and everything jn4jenny said. You may have been ripped off in the name of Black Country by some charlatan.

Keep everything you have, take lots of photos, registered letters to the company (multiple recipients) and ask your credit card company or bank to put a hold on payment if you can or file a grievance with the credit card company. Read your fine print.

BadEventer
Jan. 21, 2011, 08:17 PM
It is the Vinici Tex Eventer for $3200 plus sales tax & shipping put the bill at $3500.

I did ride in one. It looked much nicer than this one. I don't remember any uneven cut leather pieces or exposed glue. I admit I didn't "inspect" the demo closely for workmanship. This saddle has such bad workmanship it was OBVIOUS at a glance. No close inspection needed.

Supposedly this IS one of the reputable reps, rides himself & has been selling saddles for decades and came highly recommended.

I'll see what it takes to contact Black Country directly. When I tried earlier today I was told all "claims" had to go through the "original vendor" and they referred me back to the rep. I'll try again. I'll also see what Trumball Mountain can tell me.

BadEventer
Jan. 21, 2011, 08:33 PM
Photos here.

http://img130.imageshack.us/g/blackcountryfitphotorea.jpg/

mjmvet
Jan. 21, 2011, 08:38 PM
Wow - yeah, that's not typical of BC workmanship. I also would seriously doubt the qualifications of any fitter that 'guaranteed' a fit based on tracings 'out of the box'. I echo everything all of the other posters have said. And I would contact Black Country in Walsall.

goodmorning
Jan. 21, 2011, 08:48 PM
That's terrible. I wouldn't pay for that...good luck to you!

JSwan
Jan. 21, 2011, 08:56 PM
Don't buy a Black Country Saddle.

I'd been looking at Black Country for my new horse - as my current saddle fits but isn't perfect. And Black Country has such a terrific reputation on fitting and quality.

Having seen the photos..... I'm not inclined to have the fitter out; as I already had one horrible experience with Stubben and am NOT eager to repeat it.

I would be in your debt if you would post back and let us know how it works out. Thanks.

BadEventer
Jan. 21, 2011, 09:07 PM
I've contacted Black Country Saddles & The Society of Master Saddlers.

The tag on the saddle says "The item bearing this swing ticket is embossed with the Society of Master Saddlers member's stamp and personal identification number. It has been manufactured wholly in the UK by a Master Saddler member of the Society. Your Guarantee of Quality."

I will let you know what response I get.

Sonoma City
Jan. 21, 2011, 09:16 PM
Wow, that looks terrible in the pictures. I have a Black Country Quantum, and while it doesn't fit my horse very well anymore, it is very well made and still looks practically new after 2 years. There are a number of Black Country saddles at my barn and none of them look like that. They should take it back with a full refund, no questions asked.

Toadie's mom
Jan. 21, 2011, 10:02 PM
Yikes, that looks like crap. Not like any BC I've seen, BUT I did have 2 bad experiences with BC, so I wouldn't consider one.

1st - I came across a used BC dressage saddle (sorry, don't remember which model) that I took home to try. Knew the seller slightly(she was no longer riding), saddle was well taken care of, and looked brand new. Rode in it for about 15min. on one horse, and even though it obviously didn't fit him I did like it for me. Next horse I wanted to try it on hadn't been ridden in a couple of weeks, so I thought I'd longe him for a few minutes with the saddle on. Well, first canter on the longe he bucked and the billets completely snapped off! I couldn't believe it, but was thankful I wasn't on him:eek: I took it to the local BC rep. to get it fixed b4 I returned it to the seller and he just laughed it off. "Wow, must be some helluva bucker". Well no he wasn't :no:

2nd- new BC rep. in this area is supposedly also a tack repair/saddle fitter of all types. Ask him to come out to see if he could restuff my saddle to help the fit on a new horse. I sat the saddle on her, and I swear in less than 30seconds he said, "doesn't fit her, and I can't fix it." Ok fine, but then he didn't even have time to talk to me about what BC might work for her because he had another appt. "Call me if you want to set up another appt. to try the BCs for her, and that will be $125.00" thank you very much:mad:

BadEventer
Jan. 21, 2011, 10:07 PM
2nd- new BC rep. in this area is supposedly also a tack repair/saddle fitter of all types.

Bob Cooper sold me this saddle. Same person?

fordtraktor
Jan. 21, 2011, 10:19 PM
Wow, that is terrible. The workmanship is really shoddy and it obviously doesn't fit.

What is the felt on the bottom of the saddle? Is that supposed to be there?

BadEventer
Jan. 21, 2011, 10:30 PM
What is the felt on the bottom of the saddle? Is that supposed to be there?

It's supposed to keep the back cooler. Recommended by the rep because of the type of riding I do.

fordtraktor
Jan. 21, 2011, 10:40 PM
Doesn't look very durable. Felt? Yuck.

But that's neither here nor there, the real issue is the horrible workmanship and fit. I hope you get your money back. Sorry you don't have a workable saddle for the season.

CookiePony
Jan. 21, 2011, 10:41 PM
Yes, the panels are supposed to be like that-- it's called serge.

This is really terrible, BE! I have never seen that kind of bad workmanship on a BC saddle. And how could the fit be so terribly wrong after supplying tracings? Try emailing Nikki directly-- she is the sales director.

woodrwo
Jan. 21, 2011, 10:42 PM
Own a Black Country. Used. From Trumbull Mountain Tack. And the quality of mine is nothing like what your photos show. I am so sorry for your experience, it seems you got ripped off by the "saddle fitter". But I also think it unfair that you bad mouth Black Country. This is an issue of a con-artist. Not the quality of the company. Honestly if this person were reputable they would be in touch with you and working to make everything work. Contact BC and make sure they know they are being scammed.

fordtraktor
Jan. 21, 2011, 10:44 PM
The fitter didn't stitch that saddle together so badly, Woodrwo. Pictures don't lie.

Jaideux
Jan. 21, 2011, 11:07 PM
OP, I'm so sorry for this headache! I hope you get some answers (and some recourse!) from both the dealer and Black County.

I went through Trumbull Mtn, and I tried... 3-4 BC saddles, I think. They were all beautiful and beautifully made, both the brand new and the used. This is definitely an abnormal dud :(

Toadie's mom
Jan. 21, 2011, 11:26 PM
Bob Cooper sold me this saddle. Same person?
'fraid so:(

cleozowner
Jan. 22, 2011, 08:09 AM
I say get a different saddle fitter...preferably a BC rep and have THEM call Black Country. BC can maybe be a little more detailed with them than they can with a customer? (NOTE: this is speculation.)

jn4jenny
Jan. 22, 2011, 08:10 AM
Yeah, that looks sucky.

Granted, some of it can be blamed on the really bad fit, not on construction. The tree is obviously way too curvy for the horse, and it looks like the saddle may be too narrow on the horse to boot. If it were on a horse that it *fit*, the billets might actually lie correctly. Maybe. I'm just guessing based on pictures but that's my guess.

The workmanship on the knee block is unforgivably sloppy. And I sure hope you ordered a custom short flap, otherwise the whole flap is botched.

For others on the thread, here's what the Vinici Tex Eventer is SUPPOSED to look like (admittedly with different leather options--looks like BadEventer ordered buffalo leather, hence the grayish color and the wrinkles):
http://media.photobucket.com/image/black%20country%20vinici%20tex%20eventer/Lonely_Equine2/bc1.jpg

I hope this turns out well for you. I would be mega-pissed. At the very least I would expect an exchange for saddle that fit my horse. In your position, I would be hoping for a full refund.

Muffin
Jan. 22, 2011, 08:33 AM
BadEventer, PM me if you want my B. Cooper horror story, from when he was with County Saddlery.
Sorry you're going thru this. :(

mvp
Jan. 22, 2011, 08:39 AM
Yes, the panels are supposed to be like that-- it's called serge.

This is really terrible, BE! I have never seen that kind of bad workmanship on a BC saddle. And how could the fit be so terribly wrong after supplying tracings? Try emailing Nikki directly-- she is the sales director.

Yes, e-mail Nikki. I don't think Trumbull Mountain is in a position to help you resolve this problem. They are, after all, another rep for BC.

I think your biggest problem is your rep-- the saddle doesn't fit and from your report, he seems a little too sure it would. If your mare is built a little down hill (did I read right?) it will be harder to get a saddle to fit her than a more level horse.

FWIW, I think many companies have a hard time choosing, keeping and training good reps. BC isn't alone here. Read threads in H/J about "situations" with all of em-- Antares, Devoucoux, even CWD and I think you'll see what I mean.

I can't explain the poor workmanship. The unfinished knee pad is sloppy. I think the billets are at an angle that's a little extreme. But it looks like they can't hang straight down from the place they are attached to the tree. The stirrup jockey joining to the "flap" doesn't look worse than what I have seen on old Niederseuss saddles. Not my cup of tea in terms of finishing, but others don't seem to complain.

I'm sorry this happened to you! As someone who has seen and ridden in some nice BC demos and had confidence in the company, I'll hope for a good update on the resolution of this situation.

riverpup
Jan. 22, 2011, 08:50 AM
What a nightmare. I have a very nice bc dressage saddle, so I would not have seen that disaster coming.

Recommend you keep a detailed journal, dates, times, locations of every transaction with this product. It will come in handy when you find the entity that is willing to resolve this.

Thank you for letting the rest of us know. I would go absolutely ape sh*t on this rep. What a rippoff. Best of Luck

Badger
Jan. 22, 2011, 08:59 AM
Good grief, the saddle looks like something that Frankenstein stitched together. You are justifiably horrified.

You definitely need to go above the dude that sold you this saddle and isn't responding. Try to get the name and contact info for whoever oversees US sales, as well as customer service for the company in the UK.

Did you put any of the purchase price on a credit card? If so, get in touch with your credit card company immediately, they may be able to help advocate for you.

Involving the Master Saddlers is a good idea.

The company needs to be aware that they have a rep who is providing abysmal customer service, completely unacceptable fitting and follow-through, and they also have a serious problem with quality control somewhere in their shop to have shipped out such a sub-par product with their name on it.

I suggest you also post a similar thread on the Horse and Hound Bulletin Board in the UK. Someone there may have better contact info than you are finding through google.

The company also has a facebook page and since they are being unresponsive, you may want to try contacting them there, or even sharing your story there as well:
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Black-Country-Saddles/164306080262365

I'm sorry you are going through this. I went through custom saddle hell with another company, and though they did eventually make it right, it's seriously stressful and unpleasant to have put that sort of money on the line and get a totally unacceptable product and then have to sweat it out to find out if you have any recourse whatsoever.

Please keep us posted with how things develop.

KateWooten
Jan. 22, 2011, 09:11 AM
That customer service is a bit of an eye-opener ! I don't think a saddle should necessarily fit straight out of the box. I don't think the client should necessarily be asked to check the fit on her own ! Heck, I tend to show up to fit saddles out of the box that I'm not a rep for, and didn't order, if that's what the client wants ! Ugh on the construction of that knee block if that's what it's supposed to be - I had a quick look in the back room at other saddles, and yes, it's neater if there is no exposed leather on the block itself, but every other saddle with that construction that I have, is neat, tidy, wrinkle free and looks like it should be there. Even the 10 year old crappy Collegiate !

Badger
Jan. 22, 2011, 09:20 AM
This blog has a post listing several names at the Black Country office in the UK. It does sound like Nikki Newcombe is the company's sales manager and the person you should contact:

http://saddlefitter.blogspot.com/2010/08/black-country-rocks-customer-service.html

Classic Melody
Jan. 22, 2011, 09:28 AM
I had a bad experience with a County saddle rep, but one thing I will say for them is that I called the HQ and County was extremely responsive and made it right within days.

Just the fact that BC has not been helpful to you would make me, as a potential future BC saddle buyer, really wary and VERY disappointed. Sorry you have to go through this.

Carolinadreamin'
Jan. 22, 2011, 10:08 AM
Agreeing with everyone here, what a ripoff.

We have been thrilled with our black country saddle as well as the saddle fitter that worked with us. I am so sorry you are going through this.

MattMan
Jan. 22, 2011, 10:37 AM
I am in your area and have seen that particular BC rep and wouldn't let him touch my synthetic ovation. I have several BC saddles and all are top notch but were built years ago, the newest being a '06 model. These were made when Mike Corcoran was still designing the saddles. I would definitely email Nikki, she is excellent and should work your problems out. If you end up getting a refund look up Mike Corcoran saddlery, he designed most of the BC models and has his own saddle line now and is out of Texas. He is also one of the best to refit your used BC, you just will have to travel to him, because he doesn't travel as much as he used to. If I have the funding, my next saddle will be built by him. Look at the J1 saddle, in his own words he took the Tex Eventer and made it better... very cool saddle.

Matt

CookiePony
Jan. 22, 2011, 10:43 AM
Nikki is at this email address: sales@blackcountrysaddles.co.uk

mythical84
Jan. 22, 2011, 11:10 AM
Wow! I'm so sorry you're dealing with this. I have a Black Country Vinici dressage saddle and it's probably the prettiest thing I've ever looked at. Two years later, and it still looks new. I know a bunch of people that have bought saddles from them, and everyone has been nothing but 110% satisfied with their product and service. Where are you located? I'm hoping that you're somewhere close to my BC rep/saddle fitter, as I know she would be able to help you.

Ruth0552
Jan. 22, 2011, 11:43 AM
WOW. That thing looks like someone was drunk when they put it together.

I hope you are able to return it and either get a completely new one or a refund. I wouldn't mess around having someone try to fix that. For $3500 bucks, it should come "fixed."

I also don't think this issue is limited to the Rep- sounds like he has a crappy rep., but I'm pretty sure he didn't stitch the damn thing together. Sounds like BC has a problem in their construction dept as well.

Please update us!

AA Hunter
Jan. 22, 2011, 11:51 AM
I have an older BC I love (from the Mike Corcoran era) so I ordered a new one a year ago, being told I could get essentially the same saddle re-made. Turns out it's not at all the same saddle, but I like it quite a bit, and it's certainly well made. I also had a bad experience with the BC rep (a woman) who was an incompetent Fitter, but later hooked up with another fitter (a master saddler) who made some flocking adjustments that did the trick. I'll be interested to hear if you get satisfaction from the company. Keep in mind that they probably farm out parts of the process, but it doesn't say much for their quality control if they shipped such a bad saddle.

wildlifer
Jan. 22, 2011, 10:13 PM
I agree that is sounds like you've been taken for a ride by this fitter. I have a BC dressage saddle that I had made for us this past October -- it looks NOTHING like what you posted. It is beautifully made and sits on my horse like eye candy. I smell some SERIOUSLY bad mojo here.

kgro632
Jan. 23, 2011, 02:24 AM
I also bought a BC from B.Cooper! Once he had my money he wanted nothing more to do with me...

I contacted BC directly, started a thread on COTH and sent them the link..

All they have is their reputation...... Geeze.

Let me know if you want to hear my story, I love my saddle now, but I was having some fit issues in the begining...honestly I'm not even sure if it fits all that well now...

goodmorning
Jan. 23, 2011, 08:44 AM
I would post something on the facebook page with a photo of the terrible stitching. And the caption - "My BC saddle provided by saddle fitter Bob Cooper."

There is no excuse for that craftmanship or fit. If I didn't get a promt respsonse, id be sending a certified letter requesting my money back. How about small claims court? Being out 3500 & a saddle is not an option before the show season!

BadEventer
Jan. 23, 2011, 08:47 AM
I also bought a BC from B.Cooper! Once he had my money he wanted nothing more to do with me...

I contacted BC directly, started a thread on COTH and sent them the link..

All they have is their reputation...... Geeze.

Let me know if you want to hear my story, I love my saddle now, but I was having some fit issues in the begining...honestly I'm not even sure if it fits all that well now...

Bob has not returned my calls or emails for the past 4 days. Neither has Black Country. I've emailed Black Country and The Society for Master Saddlers. So far, I haven't gotten a response from anyone. What happened in your case?

A quote from Bob's website:
"I bring demo saddles to the client so they can see, touch and ride in a saddle before making a purchasing obligation. This ensures that the saddle will be correct for the horse and, just as importantly, for the rider.

Following delivery of the saddle, I insure that the saddle is exactly as ordered and the saddle fits the horse. I provide all necessary follow-up fitting and maintenance for the life of the saddle."

yellowbritches
Jan. 23, 2011, 08:50 AM
Something is definitely fishy. I agree with everyone, especially about contacting the CC company or bank.

I'm not terribly familiar with BCs, but one of our clients does have two (xc and dressage...have no idea what models). They are lovely, high quality saddles (I personally think the felt panels are goofy, but whatever). This does not look right.

goodmorning
Jan. 23, 2011, 08:58 AM
I would print out his website & look at your receipt. At the very least, he's not obligating his agreement & should you go to court, might prove helpful in getting your money back if the cc route doesn't work.

Also, if you have a lawyer friend, maybe they can make a phone call on your behalf - or write a letter. Might be enough to get the ball rolling.

At the very least, BC should have replied that they were 'looking into this matter.'

BadEventer
Jan. 23, 2011, 09:04 AM
I would post something on the facebook page with a photo of the terrible stitching. And the caption - "My BC saddle provided by saddle fitter Bob Cooper."

I did this. It's been 4 days. At this point I'll do anything to get someone's attention about this. They are just ignoring me.

BadEventer
Jan. 23, 2011, 09:08 AM
I would print out his website & look at your receipt. At the very least, he's not obligating his agreement & should you go to court, might prove helpful in getting your money back if the cc route doesn't work.


I've already printed the website out.
Unfortunately my receipt just has the amounts and is marked "Paid". It doesn't say anything else.

He said he absolutely does not "accept credit cards", and now I know why. I bet someone else made a credit card claim against him.

I paid by check. So no luck there. I'm not sure if small claims is an option, but I will look into it.

Lots and lots of "lessons learned" on this one.

I've been riding for 30 years, I've purchased at least a dozen custom saddles over the years, and this is the first time I've been totally scammed. I guess I was just too trusting. I did NOT see this coming.

mvp
Jan. 23, 2011, 09:25 AM
Bob has not returned my calls or emails for the past 4 days. Neither has Black Country. I've emailed Black Country and The Society for Master Saddlers. So far, I haven't gotten a response from anyone. What happened in your case?

A quote from Bob's website:
"I bring demo saddles to the client so they can see, touch and ride in a saddle before making a purchasing obligation. This ensures that the saddle will be correct for the horse and, just as importantly, for the rider.

Following delivery of the saddle, I insure that the saddle is exactly as ordered and the saddle fits the horse. I provide all necessary follow-up fitting and maintenance for the life of the saddle."

If this guy has not done what was promised on his website, you do need to let Nikki at BC know.

In a different, non-911 situation, Nikki did take some time to get back to my e-mail. Don't freak out on BC quite yet. If you haven't heard anything by, say, next Wednesday, I would e-mail them again.

jn4jenny
Jan. 23, 2011, 09:44 AM
I did this. It's been 4 days. At this point I'll do anything to get someone's attention about this. They are just ignoring me.

I realize you are pissed and rightly so, but please be realistic with your pissivity. Two of those four days were not business days. A business that doesn't answer your email in two business days is not "ignoring you," especially not in a business where people frequently have to be out of the office at shows, fittings, etc. Great Britain is also 5 hours ahead of US Eastern Standard Time, making the time crunch even more extreme.

If you want a faster answer, get on the phone. Otherwise, be realistic and give them a few days. In the meantime you can explore other options, like disputing the charge through your bank account (it's possible albeit not easy), contacting the Better Business Bureau, etc.

eponacowgirl
Jan. 23, 2011, 10:21 AM
I might change the title of this thread to something about Bob Cooper and I think, if by tomorrow evening, I didn't hear back, I'd be plastering this up and down facebook. And asking my friends to do the same.

I find it hard to believe that not a single BC rep reads this forum.

Hilary
Jan. 23, 2011, 10:31 AM
In this day of cell phones and internet 2 business days (and 2 weekend days which really are business days for the horse world) is PLENTY of time to have expected some sort of response, even if it's "I got your message and will call you Tuesday when I have had time to look into the problem".

I am expected to return phone calls within 24 hours (except weekends when the office is actually closed) and so many times people say "oh gosh, you called me back!?" Which I find odd.

Call them on Monday. And track every call and email.

goodmorning
Jan. 23, 2011, 10:42 AM
Did you have 'read receipts' on the e-mails? FWIW, COTH forum results are the first to come up via a google search. That alone should tip off BC. Sorry, that's a poorly constructed saddle - not all the reps fault. If a business does not check their e-mails over the weekend, they should have an 'out of the office' automated message set up. These are normal business practices.

PonyGal08
Jan. 23, 2011, 10:54 AM
I would post something on the facebook page with a photo of the terrible stitching. And the caption - "My BC saddle provided by saddle fitter Bob Cooper."I did this. It's been 4 days. At this point I'll do anything to get someone's attention about this. They are just ignoring me.

Again, as others have said, you have a right to be pissed - your pictures showed shoddy work. BUT I think you need to give BC a bit more time. You posted on FB roughly an hour ago (Sunday AM). Give them at least four *business* days. And I'll disagree with an above poster, I would not expect an "out of office" reply if an email was sent over the weekend. I would only expect that if the email was sent during business hours and the person was in fact out of the office for an extended period of time. If you want instant gratification call them.

Dawn J-L
Jan. 23, 2011, 11:13 AM
Again, as others have said, you have a right to be pissed - your pictures showed shoddy work. BUT I think you need to give BC a bit more time. You posted on FB roughly an hour ago (Sunday AM). Give them at least four *business* days. And I'll disagree with an above poster, I would not expect an "out of office" reply if an email was sent over the weekend. I would only expect that if the email was sent during business hours and the person was in fact out of the office for an extended period of time. If you want instant gratification call them.

Ditto.

FWIW, I have three BCS saddles that I purchased built to specifications. The construction is of high quality and the company has been nothing but supportive and responsive (as was my rep--Trumbull Mtn.)

Something is fishy here for sure, but this incident is so out of the norm from all the feedback I've seen and heard about BCS that it bears further investigation before pronouncing that BCS has failed this customer.

goodmorning
Jan. 23, 2011, 11:30 AM
I thought that the FB message was also posted 4-days ago, I must have misunderstood that.

I was referring to the simple automated response e-mail that many companies/offices have sent after-hours. Pretty easy to do, just click a box and the message of our choice goes out automatically until you are 'back.' Not something that a person has to type up & send - that would be quite counter-productive!

mvp
Jan. 23, 2011, 11:40 AM
Yes, but I find the 24/7 business model to be peculiarly American.

BC is a small British saddle manufacturer. As such they may do business a little differently. I'm sure they don't feel 100% in control of all of their reps all the time. But this isn't a business that's comparable to, say, a vet practice or boarding barn where things really do need to be 24/7.

I am sure they will want to know if one of their reps or saddles has disappointed the OP and make it right.

BadEventer
Jan. 23, 2011, 12:18 PM
The original emails & 1st set of photos were sent Wednesday. Additional emails with fit photos were sent Thursday and Friday. Yes they had "read receipts".

No one has responded in any way. I have not received any indication that anyone is looking into it. I called Bob again on Friday to find out what the response was and he did not return my call or answer my emails.

I think expecting a response of some kind from the REP who sold me the saddle by Friday is reasonable. If only to say, I'm looking into it.

PonyGal08
Jan. 23, 2011, 12:33 PM
The original emails & 1st set of photos were sent Wednesday. Additional emails with fit photos were sent Thursday and Friday. Yes they had "read receipts".

No one has responded in any way. I have not received any indication that anyone is looking into it. I called Bob again on Friday to find out what the response was and he did not return my call or answer my emails.

I think expecting a response of some kind from the REP who sold me the saddle by Friday is reasonable. If only to say, I'm looking into it.

I agree that you should have heard back from the REP by now... that's very bad customer service. My point was for BC's "corporate" office.

sadlmakr
Jan. 23, 2011, 01:09 PM
I am sorry to hear this happened to you.
I wanted to ask, Do you have any reason to think this is a counterfit saddle?
There are some who take a model of saddle and switch the metal name tags with the Company Name of one saddlery and put it in another saddle. I ran in to this in Antique Old Name Sidesaddles from England. Someone had taken an obviously inferior copy of a Famous Old Name Company and put the metal name plate from the "Real" company on it. I knew right off it was not the real company saddle.
Also a real saddler can make a saddle fit by reflocking it if he is worth his salt. Of course if the original tree in the saddle is way too narrow or way to wide it can be a problem. But if it is reasonably close it can be done.
For $125. for a farm visit ? I ought to get that much... I wonder about that much for a fitting check and reflocking?
I have heard so many problems very similar to yours in the last few months.
I would take photos and send them to the Black Country company and ask them if this is one of their saddles.
The photos you listed do not look like the quality this company usually produces.
Wish you the best in getting this settled.
Kindest regards, sadlmakr

BadEventer
Jan. 23, 2011, 03:10 PM
I wanted to ask, Do you have any reason to think this is a counterfit saddle? ...... sadlmakr

It's rather unlikely that it is a counterfeit. It has all the appropriate markings, stamps & tags. It has "Made in England" stamped into the leather as well as the Serial number which matches the Society of Master Saddlers hang tag."
Bob Cooper is also listed on their website as the only approved Black Country Rep for Texas & the surrounding 5 or 6 states. He IS the BC rep in Texas, and he is the one who sent me the saddle. I doubt he's buying or building conterfeits.

As to the poor fit and reflocking it to adjust fit.

The problem is the billets are attached in an "un-anatomical" fashion. They point forward instead of down. Because this is a monoflap correcting that is a matter of redoing the ENTIRE flap as well as the billets because the flap has "channels" for the billets to lie in.

I know exactly where the mistake was made in the construction. I have a very long upper leg, and requested a more forward flap to accomodate my freakishly long thighs. When they moved the flap forward they actually "tilted" the flap forward along with the billets, instead of moving the flap forward and keeping the billets in a more normal position.

This means on the horse I ordered the saddle for, the billets point forward at an extreme angle. When the girth is attached it lifts the back of the saddle off of her back. This really is simple physics. If you compare the saddle I received to the photo of the Event saddle on Bob's website the difference is very obvious.

My horse is somewhat downhill where the saddle sits. This also means if I put the saddle on any other horse, the front of the saddle is even higher & the billets are even MORE of a problem because they point towards their nose. The incorrect attachment of the billets has made this saddle essentially unusable on ANY horse, not just the one it was supposed to be made for.

And yes I know a downhill horse is more difficult to fit. Bob assured me repeatedly that she actually had a typical back, and it would be no problem for BC to fit her. He said most every horse back he'd seen in England looked like her. (She was recently imported from Ireland.) And since BC is in England he assured me that they would have no problem making a saddle fit.

Between the poor workmanship, and unusable fit, I believe a full refund is in order. There were many many chances to catch these mistakes, and no one in the entire chain of construction & possession (makers, shipper, rep) bothered to notice or inform me there was a problem.

I waited 5 weeks for an unusable saddle. I still can't jump my horse. I'm losing training time every day. I'm not sending in show entries because of this. I am "invested" in this purchase in more ways than financially. I don't think being impatient about a response is unwarranted.

BadEventer
Jan. 23, 2011, 03:18 PM
[QUOTE=goodmorning;5376921]I thought that the FB message was also posted 4-days ago....QUOTE]

No I just posted the FB message today.
I kind of considered that a "last resort". When I spoke with Bob on Wednesday he said he would forward the photos to England. I emailed them immediately.

I did expect a response from Bob of some kind by Thursday or Friday... "looking into it" "they were shocked" "someone is getting fired".......something.

But it seemed to have just gone into the void. I called on Friday and he did not respond via phone or email.

Thursday I emailed about a return policy. Still no response.
And I have been religiously checking my "spam filter" just in case!

No I didn't expect BC to contact me directly, but I thought they would respond to their Rep asap, and I have no information so I don't know if they did or not.

sadlmakr
Jan. 23, 2011, 11:16 PM
I have had problems with a saddle goods supplier in England not replying to my emails so I printed them all off and mailed them to them. They claimed they never received them at all. I never got them returned so I wonder where they went.
I finally got my goods I had ordered and paid for, after weeks of silence on their part. So do not give up. You might have to mail hardcopies to them as well.
If there is still not reply, you might have to get legal advice and go ahead from there.
Even with a long flap there is no reason to place the billets that far back in the saddle. I prefer the ones with the point billet and the floating D on the back billet. That set up seems to work on almost all horses.
Please let us know if and when you get a reply from them.
I am interested in their reasoning on this saddle.
Kind regards, sadlmakr

IntegritySporthorses
Jan. 24, 2011, 07:20 AM
Have you tried calling from different numbers so he doesn't know it's you? Or have someone call and leave a message saying they want a new saddle and when he calls back they can hand the phone to you :D

Also, if you dial *67 before you dial his number it should block caller id and you should show up as a private number.

mvp
Jan. 24, 2011, 09:29 AM
The problem is the billets are attached in an "un-anatomical" fashion. They point forward instead of down. Because this is a monoflap correcting that is a matter of redoing the ENTIRE flap as well as the billets because the flap has "channels" for the billets to lie in.

I know exactly where the mistake was made in the construction. I have a very long upper leg, and requested a more forward flap to accomodate my freakishly long thighs. When they moved the flap forward they actually "tilted" the flap forward along with the billets, instead of moving the flap forward and keeping the billets in a more normal position.

This means on the horse I ordered the saddle for, the billets point forward at an extreme angle. When the girth is attached it lifts the back of the saddle off of her back. This really is simple physics. If you compare the saddle I received to the photo of the Event saddle on Bob's website the difference is very obvious.

My horse is somewhat downhill where the saddle sits. This also means if I put the saddle on any other horse, the front of the saddle is even higher & the billets are even MORE of a problem because they point towards their nose. The incorrect attachment of the billets has made this saddle essentially unusable on ANY horse, not just the one it was supposed to be made for.



I see the "engineering problem" you are talking about. Watching from my saddling armchair, this does sound like a design problem on BC's end. They probably needed to rethink- and recut the flap for your freak-long femur. No, you can't just build an extra long flap, move it foward and then attach the billets to the tree at whatever angle you'd like to make them fit into the flap's dedicated channels--- and be surprised when they "send" the billets forward not close to the vertical.

It sounds like they may not have attached the billets especially far back on the tree in general. That same point may be *relatively* far back given the balance point of this long/forward flapped saddle on your mare's back.

Maybe I should get out of my armchair and come help you Texans with your BC saddles. I believe in the company and I think I could do a better, more "engineering" type job than this.

jackalini
Jan. 24, 2011, 09:48 AM
BadEventer, I'm so sorry this happened to you.

purplnurpl
Jan. 24, 2011, 09:59 AM
this does stink.
I sent you a PM.

Looks like the billets are on the same angle as this BC.
http://www.farmhousetack.com/servlet/the-1521/Black-Country-Vinici-Advance/Detail

all I will add is, I've never liked the saddles and I find that they bridge or rock.
Now that Mike doesn't work directly with them I would not touch them with a ten foot pole.

As for Bob Cooper.
I was talking to him one time while he was fitting a saddle for someone and I told him that my new horse hates the wide weight bearing panels and rides best in the banana shape.
He told me that the weight bearing surface was the same on a wide panel as on an up swept panel.
ARFKM?
take out your kindergarten ruler and measure the contact surface per square inch, Bob.
I try to stay away from people that lack common sense. :rolleyes:


I'm freakish in the thigh and I just deal with it.
One of my prestige has an extra inch all the way around. It's an CL. They come up to XXL. I guess that is an extra three inches?

mg
Jan. 24, 2011, 10:32 AM
Well the reply on their Facebook page looks as though they are eager to resolve this issue. I look forward to hearing how things progress from here. I hope your saddle issues are resolved and you are left satisfied. What a huge bummer to drop the time and money on a custom saddle and receive this disappointment instead :(

jn4jenny
Jan. 24, 2011, 10:34 AM
this does stink.
I sent you a PM.

Looks like the billets are on the same angle as this BC.
http://www.farmhousetack.com/servlet/the-1521/Black-Country-Vinici-Advance/Detail

If you look closely, this whole saddle has been pictured at an angle. If you tilt the whole saddle until it would theoretically be lying flush on the horse's back, the billet angle would still be way less extreme than the ones on BadEventer's botched saddle.


all I will add is, I've never liked the saddles and I find that they bridge or rock.

Depends on which tree they put in the saddle. A friend of mine had a custom Vinici Tex Eventer that was flat as a pancake, and when I examined it, that was clearly because of the tree and not because they had jiggered with the panels.

The off-the-rack Vinici Tex Eventer and BC Quantum are definitely quite curvy, though--similar to Stubben or most of the Amerigos in that regard.

Bob Cooper sounds like a real winner. :mad: I bought my BC back in the days of Kim Peterson and she was great, very honest and didn't sugar-coat about what the brand could and couldn't do to fit a horse.

Badger
Jan. 24, 2011, 10:47 AM
Good to see on Facebook that they are not arguing at all with the fit and quality issues and they want to make you a new saddle that does work. Please keep us posted as all this plays out.

From FB:

"I have sent you a detailed reply to your email but for the information of everyone else here, Bob did alert us immediately regarding the issues but time differences and weekends have caused the delay and we are now in the process of hopefully rectifying this hopefully. No doubts to the quality and fit issues and we certainly hope to make a new saddle for you."

and

" Just for the record we are embarassed about the quality of the finish on this saddle, the fit however is very unfortunate and sadly not every custom saddle fits perfectly first time, often revisits and tweaks are needed and we are hoping to be able to put this right for Laura with a new saddle. We do pride ourselves on quality and customer service, issues like this are sometimes inevitable but thankfully very rare, hopefully some of the more positive comments on both here and other forums help to address the balance. If you want any further information please feel free to email me - Nikki"

Sounds like, now that the weekend is over and they've had 1/2 a Monday in the UK office to look into things, the company is being responsive.

BadEventer
Jan. 24, 2011, 10:56 AM
RESOLVED.

Bob & Nikki have both contacted me and agreed the quality on this saddle was poor, and it did not fit my horse. They offered a full refund or to make me an entirely new saddle.

I requested the refund.

I am grateful for this response, and consider the matter well resolved (assuming I get the refund :-))

Nikki stated this about the poor workmanship,

"The uneven finish around the blocks - we totally agree with you that this is not satisfactory and not representative of the quality of our saddles, we are embarrassed to see that this left our factory like this."

I imagine there will be some quality control changes after this.

I appreciate them taking responsibility and correcting this as well as possible at this time.

Kitt
Jan. 24, 2011, 11:13 AM
Stepping in late here, but I will reiterate that this sort of quality isn't representative of the BC saddles. We've carried them (and I've worked on them) for years, and it's very, very rare that anything does get by their QC. However, mistakes do happen. That said, we've also found that if there is an issue, or if the customer is less than happy, BC will step up to the plate, take responsibility, and do what they can to resolve things ... and that, I will tell you, is becoming less and less common in the saddle world.

MattMan
Jan. 24, 2011, 11:23 AM
Glad everything was resolved... I figured it would be from my dealings with BC... I have always been happy with their Customer Service. I hate that you had this experience with them, I've been on tons of different saddles and they have been the best by far. You might still check out http://www.mikecorcoransaddlery.com/ Maybe since he is in Texas, it will not take as long to get your new custom built.

Matt

fordtraktor
Jan. 24, 2011, 11:45 AM
Glad to hear they resolved your problem, BadEventer. Mistakes do happen, and while it sucks it is OK as long as the company steps up to the plate as Black Country has done.

Good form, Black Country!

jackalini
Jan. 24, 2011, 12:12 PM
So glad to hear this, sounds like BC HQ wanted to do the right thing.

I do want to see what you end up with now, b/c I am also shopping around for a saddle that is EXTRA forward and long in the flap but without the balance point moved forward.

mythical84
Jan. 24, 2011, 03:29 PM
I'm so glad that your issue was resolved. I knew that BCS would step up and make the situation right.

Just a side note, I know several people that have ordered custom saddles (both BCS and other brands) and rarely do they fit "right out of the box." Mine in particular took a few fittings with minor adjustments over the first few months as things settled and my horse's back changing in response to the new (and improved!) saddle.

alto
Jan. 24, 2011, 04:11 PM
Honestly, a full refund is the minimum the company should be doing - the customer is out much more than the $3500 that BC has had in their possesion for the last 5-6weeks.

This saddle is a travesty - how many people handled that saddle over the weeks & passed it on despite glaring quality issues - were they hoping the client was blind? (that really seems the only explanation for attempting to fob off such a poor construct) or what?
Did they expect that the company rep would also ignore the condition of the saddle as well when it came to fitting?

BC needs to do alot more than offer a refund! how about a demo saddle - delivered within 2 weeks (as it seems a custom manufacture is required) - to use until the client receives a new saddle? (custom ordered from someone other than BC should the client choose)

The rep could've reassured the client that BC would sort this out (even if he was waiting on a call back from BC UK), BC UK could've acknowledged the situation by Friday even if they were still trying to sort out details ...

I looked at BC saddles this fall as we'll need a custom fit for FP & the kid: if BC had responded differently to this client, I'd still be considering their saddle - mistakes happen, it's how resolution/restitution is offered that determines a company's worth - for this company to consider a mere refund offer sufficient when they are guilty of a colossal screw up :no: :no: :no:

TemJeito
Jan. 25, 2011, 06:49 AM
I'm glad the issue was resolved. I love my Black Country dressage saddle but don't want to deal again with the temperamental rep who sold it to me. I do think BC could do a better job of screening their reps. When I need adjustments, I think I'll have to send it to Trumbull.

Alto, I think you're being a little harsh. I had a Custom Saddlery saddle that never worked for my horse. It was never "made right," and I ended up losing a lot of money. Yet I know CS has an excellent reputation and many loyal clients, and I'll assume my experience was the exception. I've also heard of bad experiences with County and Schleese.

Eventer55
Jan. 25, 2011, 07:36 AM
I'll second or third the good word for Mike Corcoran. I ride in one of his Master saddles and love it.:D

Kitt
Jan. 25, 2011, 11:08 AM
IMO, Nikki / Black Country handled this very well. Hats off to a company that will step up and take responsibility for a mistake, and do what they can to make it right.

shamrocker
Jan. 25, 2011, 01:11 PM
I too have very good things to say about Black Country, and their customer service in the UK. I also have great things to say about E. Jeffries who made me a larger browband for my elevator bridle, no charge since the OS they stock was rubbing her, they had it to me within a week, and now all things are good!

I think custom saddles are very tricky, easier to get one off the shelf that fits reasonably well and work from there. Success rate of custom is too random for it's cost!

purplnurpl
Jan. 25, 2011, 02:41 PM
Glad everything was resolved... I figured it would be from my dealings with BC... I have always been happy with their Customer Service. I hate that you had this experience with them, I've been on tons of different saddles and they have been the best by far. You might still check out http://www.mikecorcoransaddlery.com/ Maybe since he is in Texas, it will not take as long to get your new custom built.

Matt

oh yum.
loving the J1

sadlmakr
Jan. 25, 2011, 04:38 PM
I am so glad to hear your problem has been resolved.
I was so worried about your getting stuck with a saddle that didn't fit you or your horses.
I would not buy a saddle sight unseen from now on. I would get one I could see and feel and fit to your horse.
I am relieved though.
Keep on riding .
Kind regards, sadlmakr

alto
Jan. 25, 2011, 11:17 PM
Alto, I think you're being a little harsh. I had a Custom Saddlery saddle that never worked for my horse. It was never "made right," and I ended up losing a lot of money. Yet I know CS has an excellent reputation and many loyal clients, and I'll assume my experience was the exception. I've also heard of bad experiences with County and Schleese.

If this saddle simply did not fit, I'd have have no issues with BC; what's unacceptable is that this saddle was passed though all the levels of saddle manufacture in their factory, was stamped with the SMS logo (ie passed manufacture standard as set by SMS), was stamped with the BC logo (ie passed manufacture standard as set by BC), was checked that it matched the design parametres of the custom order, was checked before packing, was packed & shipped, was received by their local BCS specialist, inspected once again & deemed ACCEPTABLE to Black Country's standard of saddle manufacture - and when the client cried FOUL & included photographic evidence, no response was forthcoming until client posted on BC's Facebook page.



Nikki stated this about the poor workmanship,

"The uneven finish around the blocks - we totally agree with you that this is not satisfactory and not representative of the quality of our saddles, we are embarrassed to see that this left our factory like this."

This might be a reasonable response if the saddle had at least come CLOSE to fitting, but for a made to measure saddle to neither fit the horse (it was custom made for based upon templates prepared by a trained BCS specialist) nor meet basic quality standards of British saddle manufacture ...

The following are all direct quotes from Black Country Saddle website - where does this saddle lie within the quoted parametres???

Welcome to Black Country Saddles
With more than 70 years of combined experience as Master Saddlers __ have made the name of Black Country Saddles synonymous with innovation and quality

Extensive knowledge and understanding of saddle manufacture

best possible combination of fit for both horse and rider.

committed to providing you with the best possible product

have declined the mass production

skilled craftsmanship

We specialize in custom built saddles

the majority of the saddles we make here are to order – for a specific client and horse.

offer a saddle assessment as well as the all important aftercare service

It is in the interest of their reputation as a BCS specialist to ensure the best possible combination of fit for both horse and rider.

Your saddle fitter will be able to establish the correct tree "frame work" and panel for your horse on which to build your saddle. Then for you the rider any alterations regarding flap length, blocks will be discussed and finally a choice of leather finishes and colours to choose from.

details along with the templates are sent to the factory and discussions on any particular requirements

And perhaps most damning of all

We like to think of each Vinici as a blank canvas and create individuality like a work of art – each one a masterpiece. There is no expense spared on a Vinici only the finest leathers are chosen to create the most comfortable, luxurious and stylish saddle you can imagine.

of what is the debated saddle a "masterpiece" :confused:

ake987
Jan. 25, 2011, 11:29 PM
Not everyone thinks they're entitled to more, more, more.. just because there was a screw up. I would feel like a narcissistic a*hole demanding reparations beyond fixing the initial problem.

And alto, do you know how many people the saddle went through? Not saying it was handled by one person or thirty people, but do you know, personally? You're speaking like you do. If so, I'd love to hear the figures.

MattMan
Jan. 26, 2011, 12:19 AM
oh yum.
loving the J1

Yea no kidding, right. He had a used one in the last time I was there, barely used but still too expensive for me at the time.

cleozowner
Jan. 26, 2011, 06:33 AM
I agree with ake987 on this one...I think alto's being a bit harsh. Focusing solely on the fit issue, now, there are a lot of ways that could be screwed up. Poorly done wither tracings (which it sounds like this Bob guy has some fitting issues to being with), the amount of time between tracings and the saddle's arrival (so the horse could change shape...since she's a new import her work and/or feeding routine might be significantly different now), etc.
I had a custom BC done for my old mare through a WONDERFUL rep, and she delivered the saddle to me so she could check and adjust it right then.