Friday, 10 February 2012

A repair job with an unfortunate twist.

Last Summer I took a trip to Scotland to walk some of the Loch Quoich Munro’s (see here and here). The weather forecast was looking good so I decided to fulfil a long held ambition to camp near the loch side. My brother Tony was also making the trip so it seemed like a good idea to give my Terra Nova Voyager an airing. The Voyager is a great little tent, but has only had two nights use since I bought by mistake, but more of that another time.

On the last night of our trip we made a stealth camp on the shores of Loch Eil, where the midges were particularly bad. Having zipped up the tent we started to murder the little blighters that had managed to follow us in, but it seemed to be taking longer than usual!
It was then that we noticed that one of the seams above the door had split, and the midges were pouring through the hole. A piece of gaffer tape solved the immediate problem, but I’d have to contact Terra Nova to find out how to get it fixed.

On returning home I phoned Terra Nova in Derbyshire and explained the problem of the split seam. I was really unsure what their response would be, because although my Voyager had only been used for a total of five nights, I'd originally bought it in 2007.

Sharron Brogdale in Customer Services at Terra Nova was very helpful, and said if I returned the inner tent to them, they would assess the damage and if they thought it was due to a manufacturing or material fault they would effect a repair free of charge, providing I provided proof of purchase.
Family illness and other responsibilities meant that the return of the Voyager kept slipping down my jobs to do list, until finally I decided to combine a day out in the Peak District with a visit to the Terra Nova factory.
Unfortunately Sharron was involved warehouse reorganisation and wasn’t available when I called at the Terra Nova offices. So I left my Voyager inner complete with my customer return form and proof of purchase with the receptionist, who agreed to hand it to Sharron later in the day. Happy that my Voyager was in good hands, I spent an enjoyable day in Derbyshire and returned home.

A few weeks passed with no word from Terra Nova so I decided to give them a call, it transpired that Sharron was on holiday, but one of her colleagues (also called Sharron) said the repairs department had a backlog of repairs due to the reorganisation, and the Voyager was in still the queue We agreed the best course of action was for me to telephone Sharron if I hadn’t heard any news in the next couple of weeks.

On the 7th December I received an email from Sharron Brogdale agreeing to repair the Voyager free of charge if I provided proof of purchase, otherwise I would cost £21.00. I rang Sharron with mixed emotions, pleased that I was at last going have the tent repaired and for free, but slightly vexed that in spite of providing proof of purchase when I delivered the voyager, they seemed to have either lost it or forgotten they’d received it. Grrr!

After a quick chat, Sharron agreed to repair the Voyager FOC and said she would try to have it back to me before Christmas.
It was Christmas Eve when I heard a knock on the front door, it was our friendly postman bearing a parcel, it didn’t look like the present I’d ordered online for the wife what could it be? I eagerly tore off the wrapping to find my repaired Voyager, yippee! After a quick examination, the repair looked quite good, so I email Sharron to advise her that my tent has arrived home safely.

Christmas came and went in a blur, in the lull that is the couple of days between Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve, I decided to pitch the Voyager inner in the lounge, to check how the repair looked under tension. Well it looked ok, but the middle strap that connects the front pole sleeve to the inner tent wasn’t central, and at first glance I couldn’t see what was wrong!
After some head scratching, I spotted the problem,one of the straps attaching the inner tent to the pole sleeve had been twisted during in the repair, this was causing the inner tent to pull to one side.

I left it a few days to allow my irritation to subside, before emailing Sharron with a couple of photographs of the botched repair, and asking for her advice on the quickest way to sort out the problem. She promptly replied apologising for the mistake, and asked me to return the inner tent to Terra Nova, so she could arrange to have it repaired (haven't I been here before)?
I posted the tent immediately and the following day (4th January); the Royal Mail tracking system advised me that the Voyager had arrived safely at Terra Nova HQ. All I could do now was sit back and wait.

A week later I recieved an email from Sharron saying my tent was repaired, and would be dispatched the following day, she also apologised again for the inconvenience I had experienced.
On the 13th January the Voyager (quite aptly named) returned home again, this time the repair looked ok, also included in the package was a can of zip lubrication, to cover the costs of posting the tent for a second time.

So what do I think of Terra Nova’s customer service?

Well, if you ignore the botched repair and the irritation of being asked for proof of purchase when I’d already supplied it, I think it’s great! The people are friendly and helpful, they answer emails promptly and they do things when they say they will. Maybe I was just unfortunate that my repair coincided with their warehouse reorganisation, but whatever the cause, it was very annoying and frustrating

Fortunately the quality of their products probably means I won’t have to use their repair service again, but if I do I will certainly check there are no reorganisations taking place first!


  1. Agreed, sounds decent customer service to me (apart from the obvious frustrations you mention). Bet you where really miffed when you got that first repair back only to discover the twist. I suspect some industrial language was used?

  2. Hi Phil

    Miffed covers it rather well, although you industrial suspisions are well founded!