Top 5 Online Retail Scams in the Ski/Snowboard Industry

I like to look at internet shopping as a necessary evil.  I personally try to avoid it at all costs; it’s putting local shops like ours out of business all over the country, very rarely does any of the money you spend benefit your community or your own business, and it’s horribly inefficient to package and ship every little item you buy.  However sometimes what we need or want is so obscure, it doesn’t make sense for a local shop to keep it in stock.  There are also more options, products, and brands than ever before, so it’s physically impossible for your local shops to carry everything on the market.  So if you must shop online, especially for ski and snowboard gear, be aware of these top 5 things that online retailers do to purposely screw you over.

5.  Sell old inventory with parts missing without a proper disclaimer or current photos:  We have to deal with this one on a daily basis; in fact earlier today I installed a ski binding that was missing every single screw, even the AFD adjustment screw that’s not even supposed to be removed!  We had to order the hardware kit from the manufacturer, wait for it to ship, and reassemble parts that had no reason to be disassembled in the first place.  Snowboard bindings and Burton channel boards are also notorious for missing the proper discs, hardware, and channel inserts.  Most of the time, the customers end up spending more money on parts and labor getting the problem fixed than they would have buying a more expensive product at their local shop.

4.  Sell equipment that requires professional installation or tuning before it’s ride-able:  Yes, we all know that installing bindings and tuning edges isn’t rocket science, but if you don’t have the tools or the knowledge to do it right, you’re going to spend more time and money paying to have it done for you.  I’m also a firm believer you should tune all new skis and boards to your specs; new edges are almost never beveled or detuned properly from the factory, which not only makes a good ski feel terrible but can be seriously dangerous, especially if you ride park.  If you bring in your online buys into the shop, plan on spending a decent amount on labor and be prepared to leave your gear for at least a few days during the busy season.

3.  Include boots in any ski or snowboard package:  This one should be obvious, but sadly it’s all too common.  Do you really think that the one random boot that Al’s Ski Barn on Amazon picked to include in their crazy cyber Monday sale is the perfect boot for your foot?!  Odds are the retailer bought a bunch of the cheapest boot they could find just for this occasion: to package it with other cheap gear and make it look like a killer deal.  Say you spend $400 on a beginner snowboard package…next season you buy a nicer pair of boots for $200, well now you’ve spent $600 and have an extra pair of boots that nobody wants.

2.  Package good skis or snowboards with cheap bindings:  Ahhh, the classic bait and switch.  You might be stoked on some new planks or deck, but what they don’t tell you is that you need a solid binding to actually transfer energy from the boot to the ski or snowboard!  On the ski side, a smooth consistent release is super important to the safety of your knees, and on the snowboard side, ankle straps and baseplate flex play a huge part in your comfort and performance.

1.  Inaccurate or incorrect size charts and conversions:  The number one downfall of internet shopping…you can’t try it on.  Yes, there is technically a conversion between Mondo Point sizing and US sizing, but since you don’t fit ski or snowboard boots the same as casual shoes, the conversion doesn’t work anyway.  Plus, even within the same company, every model fits differently, so you absolutely won’t be the same size in every boot.