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Custom saddle nightmare

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  • #21
    Re buying used - yes it can work out very well, getting a nice saddle at a great price. But I wouldn't say you have a better chance of being sure of what you're getting because there is a greater risk of getting a saddle with some sort of defect (impaired tree for instance). Many used saddles are sold online, no trial. Buyer beware - and have your saddle fitter take a look! Also I've spent several months looking online and couldn't find what I wanted; my horse and I aren't terribly hard to fit though I did want shorter flaps. I assume I am going to use this saddle for many many years, so on a cost/use basis buying the one I want new now, and not having to look again in a year or two, is worth it to me.
    http://trainingcupid.blogspot.com/

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    • #22
      Originally posted by trubandloki View Post
      These threads make me thankful I can not afford a custom made saddle. Wow. So much bad customer service.
      As horse people we are very contract-savvy people... so why isn't there a contract out there to protect us from this bad service?

      When you enter into an agreement to build a barn, you sign a contract detailing your specifications, exact details you want, timeframe, etc.. It is enforceable and a builder must abide by it or the contract is void and the buyer is not obligated to continue work, payment, etc..

      When you enter into an agreement to purchase a brand new car, both you and dealership fill out a contract that specifies exactly what you want: power windows or manual? Cherry red or Brick paint? And if dealership does not deliver they are contractually obligated to return the vehicle for the right one at no charge to the purchaser..

      Which makes me think - why can't we as COTHers cobble a contract together, a CYA of sorts, where the custom saddlery people are contractually obligated to deliver a saddle that fits the horse for that horse's lifetime? Because a horse structurally does not change that much once an adult - not enough where IMHO, it needs to be playing Musical Saddles...

      I am about to go the custom route and I am very, very skeptic, having read so many threads and seen for myself people unveil custom saddles that are anything but a fit for their horse. If it were me, I'd be making the rep sign some sort of contract that states that the saddle must fit my horse (confirmed by another saddle fitter) and must still fit my horse a year down the road...

      Is this even enforceable? I cannot believe how often I hear nightmares from everything from Custom Saddlery to Trilogy about saddles coming and not even remotely fitting the horse, and owners being out $5,000+..
      AETERNUM VALE, INVICTUS - 7/10/2012

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      • #23
        I never got the impression that saddle companies were even slightly willing to negotiate contractual terms? It's never really a negotiation. They present the terms, the buyer agrees to them or doesn't deal. It's never a quid pro quo negotiation.

        And not to pick on you BW, but you have some statements/assumptions about how contract law works in your post that I would say are not 100% correct.
        ~Veronica
        "The Son Dee Times" "Sustained" "Somerset" "Franklin Square"
        http://photobucket.com/albums/y192/vxf111/

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        • #24
          Originally posted by vxf111 View Post
          I never got the impression that saddle companies were even slightly willing to negotiate contractual terms? It's never really a negotiation. They present the terms, the buyer agrees to them or doesn't deal. It's never a quid pro quo negotiation.

          And not to pick on you BW, but you have some statements/assumptions about how contract law works in your post that I would say are not 100% correct.
          I worked for a barn building company... and have sat through negotiations for cars. I am sure it is different from company to company.. the BB business I worked for had quite onerous contracts and many clients were able to take action when the company I worked for failed to deliver. Which they did often. But I am not a lawyer and I don't pretend to be.. so no, I don't know everything about contracts.

          I still think it would not be hard to draft something to cover the clients' purchase. It's a fair amount of money and you are paying for a service that the company may or may not deliver..

          My two cents: if saddle companies are pushing against an idea like this it is because they know they may not be able to deliver, but still will take your money anyway ..
          AETERNUM VALE, INVICTUS - 7/10/2012

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          • #25
            Originally posted by beowulf View Post


            My two cents: if saddle companies are pushing against an idea like this it is because they know they may not be able to deliver, but still will take your money anyway ..
            Hey, I don't disagree with you about their motives... but the reality is that none of them are going to CHANGE THEIR CONTRACT TERMS because a single buyer tries to negotiate. Now, maybe if we ALL refused to do business with them they might feel it where it counts (their bottom line) but if me, lone buyer, went to CWD and tried to negotiate away the re-stocking fee from my contract-- no way. They'd tell me to pound sand. An the rep I'd be dealing with likely wouldn't have authority to vary anything anyway. She might be authorized to throw in a little freebie or something-- but she wouldn't have negotiating power on behalf of CWD for the company. So... I don't think it's realistic to expect individual consumers to negotiate better contracts any more than we can walk into Best Buy and negotiate the return policy for our individual transactions. It's a problem of disproportionate bargaining power, not whether such a contract could be drafted. It COULD... but the saddle manufacture has all the bargaining power and no incentive to renegotiate key provisions in favor of the buyer.
            ~Veronica
            "The Son Dee Times" "Sustained" "Somerset" "Franklin Square"
            http://photobucket.com/albums/y192/vxf111/

            Comment


            • #26
              And in case people are interested (what can I say, I am teaching UCC sales again this spring so it's on my mind)...


              Originally posted by beowulf View Post

              When you enter into an agreement to build a barn, you sign a contract detailing your specifications, exact details you want, timeframe, etc.. It is enforceable and a builder must abide by it or the contract is void and the buyer is not obligated to continue work, payment, etc..
              (emphasis mine)

              If one party to a valid contracts fails to comply, that means the non compliant party is in breach. It does not make the contract void. Contracts are void if they're unconscionable by their terms to begin with, not because one party fails to perform.

              Originally posted by beowulf View Post
              When you enter into an agreement to purchase a brand new car, both you and dealership fill out a contract that specifies exactly what you want: power windows or manual? Cherry red or Brick paint? And if dealership does not deliver they are contractually obligated to return the vehicle for the right one at no charge to the purchaser..
              Pursuant to the Magnuson Moss Act and the UCC as incorporated in most states, there are additional consumer protections for the purchase of new cars. Those protections apply specifically to that context and not to the sale of other consumer goods, such as saddles.
              ~Veronica
              "The Son Dee Times" "Sustained" "Somerset" "Franklin Square"
              http://photobucket.com/albums/y192/vxf111/

              Comment


              • #27
                Originally posted by vxf111 View Post
                And in case people are interested (what can I say, I am teaching UCC sales again this spring so it's on my mind)...




                (emphasis mine)

                If one party to a valid contracts fails to comply, that means the non compliant party is in breach. It does not make the contract void. Contracts are void if they're unconscionable by their terms to begin with, not because one party fails to perform.



                Pursuant to the Magnuson Moss Act and the UCC as incorporated in most states, there are additional consumer protections for the purchase of new cars. Those protections apply specifically to that context and not to the sale of other consumer goods, such as saddles.
                You'll have to forgive me if the terms I use are not lawyer jargon. I didn't go to school for it, hence my original question. Thanks for the edification.

                My BB company was notorious for not completing before the agreed upon time. We had several clients with deeper pockets than the company, that sued and/or involved legal parties and were able to rescind the contract. I don't know what the legal term is for that, but the company lost a lot of money because they rarely ever upheld their end of the contract.. needless to say I am not with that company any longer, but it certainly gave me a lot of... real-life experience.

                IDK, I think if you're peddling that you can make a custom saddle that will 100% fit the horse, that you should be comfortable putting that in writing.

                Personally the more involved I get, either by my own means or by clients that ordered custom saddles, the more I realize so much of it is just a racket. All they want is your money. They don't care if it doesn't fit your horse, and they don't want to refund you because it doesn't fit your horse.. and if it doesn't fit your horse there's always some excuse, like your horse changed shape, or that you didn't tell them the right size.. I'll tell you that when Devoucoux was the end-all to saddle fit, the barn I worked for had lots of custom saddles made for their horses.. some of them fit out of the barrel, but a few clients that had more TB-like horses had to go through hoops and beg, threaten and cajole because the saddle they ordered did not fit their horses.
                AETERNUM VALE, INVICTUS - 7/10/2012

                Comment


                • #28
                  Originally posted by beowulf View Post
                  Which makes me think - why can't we as COTHers cobble a contract together, a CYA of sorts, where the custom saddlery people are contractually obligated to deliver a saddle that fits the horse for that horse's lifetime?
                  It would be easy to cobble something together, but it would be impossible to get any saddle company to agree to it!! All of their sales documentation comes from their corporate offices, they are not going to authorize reps to change the core terms and end up with different terms all over the world.

                  Cars aren't really a good analogy because there are lots of consumer protection statutes - the dealerships aren't just making those concessions because they want to be flexible and make people happy! If they could get away with not taking returns, I'm sure they would.

                  There's no doubt the current terms are not consumer friendly, and it kind of blows my mind that these saddle companies aren't more consumer friendly and don't stand behind their product more when they control the entire process from taking the order and determining specs to making it. I feel very lucky that my CWD rep was awesome and my custom saddle was perfect right out of the box, I love it. It's a shame he's not a rep anymore, as he was great to work with and that's not always the case. But I had a terrible issue with custom DerDau boots, so going forward, custom will be my option of last resort on ANYTHING, and I will always pay with credit card.

                  Comment


                  • #29
                    Having been down this road with many custom saddles, I don't think it would be possible to make one saddle and guarantee it's fit for horse and rider for the horses entire lifetime. Or if you could, I think the price would be a lot more than most of us could afford in order to cover the cost of inevitably making a new one.

                    Anything is possible for the right sum of money.

                    I agree that specific remedies for delay of delivery etc would be something I'd like to see as a consumer but the reality is that would drive up already high saddle prices.
                    Originally posted by PeanutButterPony
                    you can shackle your pony to a lawn chair at the show...so long as its in a conservative color.

                    Comment


                    • #30
                      Originally posted by beowulf View Post
                      You'll have to forgive me if the terms I use are not lawyer jargon. I didn't go to school for it, hence my original question. Thanks for the edification.
                      Well, it's more than just jargon. It's a difference in outcome. If there's been a breach there are an applicable set of remedies. If the contract is void, there is no contract. So it does make a difference. I didn't want to pick on you but I also didn't want to leave floating out there some not-quite-correct statements.

                      Originally posted by beowulf View Post
                      My BB company was notorious for not completing before the agreed upon time. We had several clients with deeper pockets than the company, that sued and/or involved legal parties and were able to rescind the contract. I don't know what the legal term is for that, but the company lost a lot of money because they rarely ever upheld their end of the contract.. needless to say I am not with that company any longer, but it certainly gave me a lot of... real-life experience.
                      I obviously wasn't involved so I don't know what happened in those situations. It wouldn't make sense, based on what you've described, for the customer to argue that the contract was void. Which was what you described in post #22.

                      Originally posted by beowulf View Post
                      IDK, I think if you're peddling that you can make a custom saddle that will 100% fit the horse, that you should be comfortable putting that in writing.
                      No argument from me in principle but good luck getting anyone to do it in practice.

                      Originally posted by beowulf View Post
                      Personally the more involved I get, either by my own means or by clients that ordered custom saddles, the more I realize so much of it is just a racket. All they want is your money. They don't care if it doesn't fit your horse, and they don't want to refund you because it doesn't fit your horse.. and if it doesn't fit your horse there's always some excuse, like your horse changed shape, or that you didn't tell them the right size.. I'll tell you that when Devoucoux was the end-all to saddle fit, the barn I worked for had lots of custom saddles made for their horses.. some of them fit out of the barrel, but a few clients that had more TB-like horses had to go through hoops and beg, threaten and cajole because the saddle they ordered did not fit their horses.
                      I don't disagree either. And I find the "restocking fees" particularly distasteful. If I order something and I change my mind, sure, it's reasonable that I should pay a penalty to return it. If you as the seller can't meet your obligation, why should I still pay the penalty? Your incompetence is beyond my control.

                      BUT...

                      Why would any saddle company reform their company-centric contract to a consumer-centric one JUST to please you, me, and any other Jane-Doe-horse-owner. They have absolutely NO incentive to do it. We have no bargaining power.

                      And so, I say, if you want one of those fancy schmancy expensive custom French saddles-- buy a used one and have it checked out by an independent saddle fitter first. At lease you know what you're getting.
                      ~Veronica
                      "The Son Dee Times" "Sustained" "Somerset" "Franklin Square"
                      http://photobucket.com/albums/y192/vxf111/

                      Comment


                      • #31
                        I can't provide any input on the custom saddle issues other than that I hope that when you finally receive your saddle it's perfect for you and the horse.

                        Re: the saddle being held in Customs - generally, the importer of record is responsible for filing the entry and any duties. If the saddlery shipped it to you as the consignee, then the saddlery probably can't get it released and you will have to deal with it and pay the import duties.

                        (If the foreign shipper consigns it to their own rep in the US who then ships it to the ultimate buyer, their US rep's broker can take care of the Customs clearance. It sounds like Stubben handles it this way.)

                        What service did they use to ship? If they shipped using a commercial courier, then the courier service (DHL/FedEx/UPS) can act as the broker and it might be more efficient for you to contact them directly to get the saddle released. If they shipped via postal service or air cargo, then you may need to hire a Customs broker to get the saddle released. Unfortunately, that isn't cheap.

                        Comment


                        • #32
                          Originally posted by vxf111 View Post

                          Hey, I don't disagree with you about their motives... but the reality is that none of them are going to CHANGE THEIR CONTRACT TERMS because a single buyer tries to negotiate. Now, maybe if we ALL refused to do business with them they might feel it where it counts (their bottom line) but if me, lone buyer, went to CWD and tried to negotiate away the re-stocking fee from my contract-- no way. They'd tell me to pound sand. An the rep I'd be dealing with likely wouldn't have authority to vary anything anyway. She might be authorized to throw in a little freebie or something-- but she wouldn't have negotiating power on behalf of CWD for the company. So... I don't think it's realistic to expect individual consumers to negotiate better contracts any more than we can walk into Best Buy and negotiate the return policy for our individual transactions. It's a problem of disproportionate bargaining power, not whether such a contract could be drafted. It COULD... but the saddle manufacture has all the bargaining power and no incentive to renegotiate key provisions in favor of the buyer.
                          To be slightly fair to CWD I was able to negotiate a lower restocking fee but ultimately decided it was not an amount I was willing to risk losing if the saddle did not fit. CWD was at least willing to negotiate a bit. The restocking fee was still pretty high though. The rep sucked pretty big time. Very hard to get a hold of and very non-responsive. She also failed to mention that restocking fee even though she knew that Stubben had returned my deposit since they did not think they could make a saddle that would work for my horse. Go Stubben. They had ethics and were honest about what they were capable of doing.
                          Oh, well, clearly you're not thoroughly indoctrinated to COTH yet, because finger pointing and drawing conclusions are the cornerstones of this great online community. (Tidy Rabbit)

                          Comment


                          • #33
                            Originally posted by SonnysMom View Post

                            To be slightly fair to CWD I was able to negotiate a lower restocking fee but ultimately decided it was not an amount I was willing to risk losing if the saddle did not fit. CWD was at least willing to negotiate a bit. The restocking fee was still pretty high though. The rep sucked pretty big time. Very hard to get a hold of and very non-responsive. She also failed to mention that restocking fee even though she knew that Stubben had returned my deposit since they did not think they could make a saddle that would work for my horse. Go Stubben. They had ethics and were honest about what they were capable of doing.
                            I wonder though, if you had had a problem, if CWD would have honored what you negotiated with the rep!!!! I suspect she didn't actually have authority to lower the restocking fee. I would be very surprised if anyone outside of corporate did.
                            ~Veronica
                            "The Son Dee Times" "Sustained" "Somerset" "Franklin Square"
                            http://photobucket.com/albums/y192/vxf111/

                            Comment


                            • #34
                              Originally posted by vxf111 View Post
                              And in case people are interested (what can I say, I am teaching UCC sales again this spring so it's on my mind)...




                              (emphasis mine)

                              If one party to a valid contracts fails to comply, that means the non compliant party is in breach. It does not make the contract void. Contracts are void if they're unconscionable by their terms to begin with, not because one party fails to perform.
                              If you read the buyer remedies for breach for things like new construction houses, those contracts are so far in the builder's favor it's not any better than these saddle contracts. I was looking at new construction (and the lawyer in me went at the draft contract they gave me to look at), and the rep said up front that there was 0% chance the company would alter any of the contractual terms, so don't even try.

                              So, that's quite an analogous situation to custom saddles--if the company screws up, you don't get to void the contract but you get to choose from a list of likely undesirable remedies that they may or may not actually go through with, which you'd ultimately have to enforce through litigation.

                              Comment


                              • #35
                                So, I'm not defending the saddle company here, but I don't think you are being entirely reasonable either. First of all, it isn't standard for saddle companies to hand out demo or loaner saddles to someone that hasn't already paid (in full) for a saddle. Saddle companies/reps put themselves at some risk when they let a customer borrow a saddle that hasn't been paid for. I'm sure you are completely honest, but there are a lot of people who aren't. I would only expect a demo in the circumstance where there was a problem with the original saddle and a correction or replacement was in the process of being taken care of.

                                As far as cancelling a custom saddle order 6 weeks after you've placed the order--I'm sorry, but do you really think it is fair for a saddle company to simply eat the cost of producing a $5000 custom item because you changed your mind? That's not a reasonable expectation. How would you feel if the shoe was on the other foot and your business spent 6 weeks making someone a custom item--would you just say okay and take the loss?

                                Then you went back and forth over whether or not you wanted to trade your saddle in and made repeated changes in that regard. I don't think it is surprising that caused a mix up as to what was owed, and as long as the saddle company fixed that error I don't think that is evidence of bad faith.

                                The shipping issue does sound like a problem. I admit I've never had to deal with customs when purchasing saddles from France or England. The saddles seem to be shipped in to the main offices of the saddle company and then shipped out to me from there. The company itself takes care of any customs or other receiving issues. Nonetheless, I think that it is pretty normal for a custom saddle to take 8-12 weeks to arrive. If you ordered at the end of July, I don't think you are at a point where you have been horribly wronged by the delay.

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