Sunday, October 24, 2010

A Pre- Post-season Rant Blog

yep, my finish photo, I'm way over on the right
I try not to use my blog as a place to rant about the stupid petty things or policies that bother me before, during and after my races. Instead, I try to focus on how I train and how I race and the things I have control over. But recently, a couple things really got under my skin, and I just feel like getting them out. And people reading: feel free to disagree with me on these matters because I actually do see both sides of the story, even when I'm angry.

The first of the two things was the prize money (or my lack thereof) at the Detroit Marathon. The cash awards were determined based on "clock time," not chip time. This normally wouldn't upset me if everyone in the race started at the same time. But in Detroit, that wasn't the case.

Upon registration, I filled out a form that requested my fastest marathon time in the last two years and my predicted finish time. I typed 3:09 and 3:10, respectively. I was being conservative: if I had a bad race, it would be 3:15 and if I had a great race, it might be closer to 3:00. Upon picking up my bib number, I noticed my start was in the second wave -- it was my fault for assuming wave meant "corral." I had never run a marathon with a wave start until Detroit. Like in triathlons, wave start means: "groups will start two minutes apart."

Ok, that's cool. They have their reasons. (And they're good reasons. The wave start is expected to alleviate congestion on the Detroit-Windsor Bridge.) And besides, they have electronic timing, right? You know, the thing that registers when you cross the starting line and when you cross the finish line. That thing that tells them exactly how long it took you to complete 26.2 miles.

What they don't tell you at registration, unless you read the awards page, is that cash awards (top three, top three masters, etc.) are based on "clock time" not "chip time." So, in effect, the wave start gives first wave runners a two minute head start on us "second wave"-ers. Had I known this before the race, I might have asked race officials to put me in the first wave (if it were even possible for them to make that change).

At least two runners were adversely affected by the wave start: the woman who finished the course in the third-fastest time and the woman who finished the course in the third fastest masters time (me) lost out on prize money because we started in the second wave -- those two minutes actually gave us fourth place "clock times" in our respective categories. Why even have electronic timing? Or better, how hard is it to subtract the wave start times? Oh well. I could have put that $200 to good use. But it doesn't change the fact that I had a good race.

Detroit Marathon awards rant over.

My new wetsuit, direct from Quintana Roo
The second rant also has to do with an award. You may remember my race report from the FIRMMan half-ironman in Narragansett, Rhode Island. The FIRMMan awards include a big table of grab-bag prizes donated by sponsors. As one of the overall winners, I had an early choice and went for one of the more expensive prizes -- a Quintana Roo wetsuit. While making my choice, I noticed the wetsuit gift certificate required that I pick up my "prize" at V3 Multisport in Arlington, Massachusetts. Residing in Cleveland, this would be next-to-impossible, so I put the award back down on the table, only to be told by one of the race directors that she would have them mail it to me (it was a thoughtful favor, since I was the overall women's winner).

She was not in a position to grant that favor, unfortunately. And although I did not witness the interchange that took place, I know that when she asked V3 Multisport to take care of it, they refused. After about three weeks of very little communication, I received an email from a Quintana Roo representative explaining what had happened. Then, she made me a very generous offer from Quintana Roo: because they were out of stock of the prescribed wetsuit (their low end model), they would upgrade me to the next model for 75% of the difference that it sold in retail. In effect, she offered me a $400 wetsuit for $130. This was a no brainer and thanks to Quintana Roo, I now have an awesome new wetsuit.

A week later, I got an email from V3 Multisport with the following text:

"Jeanne, I would like to accommodate your request to mail you the wetsuit that you won. Unfortunately, it is not our policy to send out the prizes. Each winner must come to our store to claim their prize. I understand that you live in Ohio but it still does not change our policy. Rules apply to everyone the same across the board. If I make an exception for you, shouldn't everyone else be afforded the same? The idea is to get people into the store to claim their prize and hopefully spend some additional money. What I can do is if you want to upgrade your wetsuit and apply our cost of the suit you won to the cost of the upgraded suit, I can do that. Let me know."

Now, as a "marketing" person, I totally understand this. I "get" the idea of having people come into the store and spend spend spend. And, I would have, as they have cool stuff -- I had already bought merchandise from them at the race expo. The point was that I would have chosen something completely different off that prize table had the offer not been made. AND, I'm not the one who asked for the favor, so why make me feel bad with your condescending email? AND why, then, offer to upgrade me? (in effect, saying you WILL change the rules if I spend more money)

What happened is this: I will now never shop at V3 Multisport and will say negative things about them any chance I get. And, had they made this generous offer in the first place, they wouldn't have lost the deal to Quintana Roo. I'll laugh about it every time I wear my new wetsuit.

V3 Multisport rant over.


  1. Jeanne, You'll never see this at Bike Authority. We keep our promises and obligations. We get the concept that a happy customer tells one person, unhappy tells ten. We always want to be on the right side of the equation. :)

    Having been in business almost 20 years, we have contacts all over the performance bike industry. If you ever run into a situation like this again, let us help you take care of it. 99.99% of the time, if a retailer explains it to the manufacturer, they will take care of it, jsut like QR did. Helping solve problems is just the right way to do business.

  2. Sherman, that's precisely why I bought all four of my bikes from Bike Authority. I'll never forget the day I met you and you said you'd rather I walk out of the store than buy a bike that wasn't right for me. You've always done good business and I will keep sending people to Bike Authority as I have always done.