On Friday, June 19, my wife Marianne and I picked up our brand-new Eddyline Whisper CL Tandem Kayak (serial # EDY09710K920) from REI in Roseville, Minnesota. The REI employees at the store removed the sleeve from the kayak but did not remove the light foam cushions that were taped to each end of the kayak. We transported the kayak home on our new Thule kayak car rack and placed it in a wall-mounted Suspenz Deluxe Boat Rack in our garage. I later removed the light foam cushions from the bow and stern but did not inspect what was underneath them.
On Sunday morning, June 21 we placed the kayak on the Thule car rack to take it out on its maiden voyage. My wife immediately pointed out that the keel of the boat had a very large gouge, in the bow section. I have attached two photos of this damage. The Carbonlite material seems to have been smashed with something very hard, creating a large and deep gouge and causing the material to migrate outwards from the gouge. It almost looks like the kayak was dropped onto a sharp piece of black metal, judging by the black streaking around the gouge.
My wife and I have been waiting and saving a long time to purchase a kayak, and we were very excited to purchase a tandem kayak that is the best of the best. This kayak is intended to provide us much joy for the rest of our years. However, we are disappointed that we purchased, at full price ($2,999), a damaged kayak that was not inspected by REI staff after shipment. Per REI’s Return Policy, we would like to exchange this kayak for one of the same model that is not damaged.
Please let me know who I should contact at REI Roseville to begin this exchange process. Thank you.
@waterstrider we're so sorry to hear your kayak was damaged before you got to take it out for the first time. We'd encourage you to call the Roseville REI store to begin the return process; you can chat with their Customer Service team or a manager - they may need to order a new boat for you if there isn't one already available in the store. They are now reopen for in-store shopping and returns, so this initial contact will get the process started!
Thanks for the reply. I spoke with the Roseville MN store manager, who directed me to the customer service phone number. REI informed me that this kayak is no longer in stock, and that they will not be ordering more of them. What this means is that my wife and I purchased a damaged kayak from REI and cannot exchange it for a new, undamaged model. I think what we will do is return the kayak, get $2,999 back, and then purchase the same kayak from another source (not sure where yet). I'm bummed out about this as we've been REI members for years and have been looking forward to purchasing our tandem kayak. For other REI members, I would suggest that you do a very careful inspection of a kayak before taking it away from the store, and if it has been damaged in transit, do not accept the kayak and hope that the model hasn't been discontinued from REI's offerings. This is not a situation that you want to be in.
Our interactions with REI staff have been very good, but we've ended up in a situation that I, as a member of REI, never expected. As an REI member I will be more wary of this kind of purchase in the future.
@waterstrider thanks for looping back with an update. We're really sorry that boat is out of stock and that an easy exchange isn't feasible.
Update: we worked with REI to obtain a 40% discount on the price of the new kayak to account for the gouge/blemish, and obtained repair information from Eddyline that will enable me to fix the damage using Devcon plastic weld. So, in the end, it all worked out.
Thank you for circling back to let us know that it worked out. These things happen, regardless of intent, and your flexibility and understanding is much appreciated. Thank you for working with our store to get to a resolution. Please come back to the community and share some pics of your adventures in your kayak!