News and Reviews

Denver Outfitters- Rod Vault

I can’t review the Rod Vault without telling the story about the ordeal it took to get the Rod Vault. I almost feel like I should discuss the company as much as I should review the Rod Vault. Let me start at the beginning.

June 2017: I had been seeing Denver Outfitter’s Facebook ads and thought it looked like a great product. After a few months, I finally decided to pull the trigger. I ordered my Rod Vault the middle of June 2017. It was a pre-order, and Denver Outfitters said that they would begin shipping the Rod Vaults in August. Price: $399

September 2017: I haven’t heard anything from Denver Outfitters, so I try to call and never hear anything back. I finally use their chat service. The representative tells me that my order was at the back of the batch and that it will ship by the end of October. Frustrated. I have a baby coming in a few weeks, and I was hoping to use it before my fishing would go on hiatus for a few weeks. I’ve got a little girl I’m getting ready for, so I can handle it.

Michael,

Your preorder, #29384, is part of, and near the end of, Round 4. Round 4 was projected at the time you placed your order to begin availability on August 31st, with orders being filled in the sequence in which they were placed. That projection was right on track and we began filling Round 4 preorders on Aug. 31st. Obviously we are not able to fill thousands of preorders in a single day, rather we anticipate that it will take approximately 90 days from that Aug. 31st date to fill all those preorders. We will email you as soon as your preorder is ready.

 

First of December 2017: Try calling a few times again. I never get a live person. To the chat service again. The representative tells me that they were overwhelmed with orders and that my Rod Vault will be here before Christmas. Its winter and I’ve got a newborn, so it is not throwing my fishing game off, but I’m starting to wonder how legit this company is. I mean they could keep my monies and never give me the Rod Vault.

Michael,

Thank you for taking the time to express your concerns.  Your feedback is appreciated.

You have been MORE than patient–and we’ve made some BIG mistakes. One of those is that, in hindsight, we realize now we underestimated the demand from customers for Rod Vaults and, as a result, overestimated our parts supplier’s ability to keep up with that demand. While we were hoping to complete your preorder by Christmas, it looks now like it is going to be January before it becomes available.

Keep in mind that, as stated in the “Terms” on our website which all customers must review before placing an order, preorder availability dates are projected, not guaranteed, because as we know from past experience, unanticipated delays can sometimes take place.

That is why we make clear when customers preorder that it is a PREorder, meaning it is paid for at the time the order is placed with the understanding that 1) it will not ship/be available till a later date, and 2) availability dates are projected, not guaranteed.  In return for PREordering with that understanding, customers are given a huge 40% discount, purchasing the $499 Rod Vault for just $299 — the lowest price we have ever offered.

If, however, you would prefer to cancel your preorder and receive a refund and purchase at a later date once the Rod Vault is back in stock and at the regular $499 price, please let us know and we will process your cancelation.

We certainly DO sometimes fall short of our goal and desire to fully communicate with our customers.  In a rapidly growing business there is always more to do than there is time or personnel to accomplish.  Sometimes our customer communication suffers.  We apologize. We’re working on it to try to improve.

In exchange for that huge discount which customers receive when they preorder, we ask them to take a chance on us, not just in terms of bringing their Rod Vault to reality, but to partner with us to bring back from China jobs which the previous company had outsourced and return them to Americans; to partner with us in creating a teaching business — much like a teaching hospital — to train up the next generation of entrepreneurs, to partner with us to build an American company making American products by Americans, for Americans.  To build a company where profit is not the sole consideration, a company that can do good at the same time that it is doing well.  A company that promotes things like our “Hand Up” program for the homeless, like our Recycled Marine Refuse Plastic project to help keep our environment “green,” like our support of Project Healing Waters and dozens of other non-profit organizations.

And we’ve been touched and deeply humbled by the thousands of customers who have said “I’m with you guys.  I support what you are doing and I want to be a part of it.”  Sure, there have been a handful of customers who have said, “My patience has run out.  I want a refund.”  And for each of those few we have processed a refund.  And, admittedly, we have been far from perfect since the outset.  We’ve made lots of mistakes and no doubt we’ll make many more as we continue.  For that handful of customers who have concluded that their patience has run out, we understand, and we have processed their refunds.  But for the vast majority who continue to stand with us and support our objectives we are more grateful than we can express and we are working each day not just to get their product to them as quickly as possible, but to create jobs for Americans, build a company with a conscience, and make a positive impact in our community, our state, our nation, and, ultimately, our planet.

We look forward to providing you not only your Rod Vault, but a host of other outdoor products over the years which you will be able to use and enjoy for years to come.

Again, our apologies for the delays.

Thank you for your order and for your patience and understanding.  Your support means the world to us.

 

Joel Weinhold

COO

Denver Outfitters

 

Middle of December 2017: I receive an email. Now take in mind that this company has not made any attempt to reach out to me. Any contact has come from me trying to find out where my Rod Vault is. And no apology ever extended. This is the email I received:

Dear Customer,

First, we want to thank you all for being so incredibly understanding and more than patient as we’ve navigated our way through this massive growth as a company.  We’ve had our share of missteps, and one of the biggest was not realizing the massive demand that would come for Rod Vaults.  We also had to address our parts manufacturers’ abilities to consistently deliver products with the same quality and excellence that each Rod Vault must have.

When we bought the Rod Vault from its former company, they were selling dozens of Rod Vaults a year.  These days we are now selling thousands upon thousands so the entire process had to be rebuilt and needed massive upgrades. 

While it has been an ongoing struggle for our parts suppliers to keep up supplies (and especially quality) we do feel like most of the setbacks are firmly behind us now. We have been able to move a lot of our work back in house and now we are simply rowing hard to catch up.

While we were hoping to complete your preorder by Christmas, it looks now like it is going to be in the first quarter in the new year before the last preorder unit ships to our customers.  Odds are, most of you will receive your Rod Vault well before the end of this time. However, we are so confident we are on track that we will make you this guarantee:  If we do not ship your Rod Vault to you by the end of April, we will give it to you FREE of charge and will ALSO refund all your money.

We also know that some of you may have intended your Rod Vault preorder to be a Christmas present.  While you won’t have a Rod Vault to put under the tree, we do want you to have a little “something” that your intended recipient can open on Christmas morning.  So we have a link where you can print a greeting from the staff along with a photo of some of the new assembly team hard at work on their Rod Vault.  We are also sending you a card in the mail and enclosing some of the new stickers we created just for you.

We are so grateful for all the encouragement, patience, and understanding so many of you have reached out to share with us. Building any business has it’s fair share of struggles. We can tell you that building a business that has exploded in growth like ours has only multiplied them by ten. But your willingness to take a chance on us, not just in terms of bringing your Rod Vault to reality, but to partner with us to bring many of the jobs back from overseas, has impacted a lot of lives here in the US already.  Thank you all for helping us to navigate this difficult shift. 

Your patience has also laid the ground work to launch our Dream Lab Now project that works with junior high and senior high school kids and allows them to work on inventions, marketing, and learn business in a real setting. It’s no exaggeration to say that other businesses will be started by our Dream Lab Now kids because of the work you’ve allowed us to do with the next generation of hopeful entrepreneurs. 

Personally, to be part of a company where profit is not the sole consideration, has been life changing for me and so many of my co-workers. Denver Outfitters is led by men and women who all believe in running a strong business while helping others to reach the same successes.  We are a company that promotes things like: our “Dream Lab Now” to help young people find and learn what they are passionate about, our “Hands Up” program for the homeless, our Recycled Marine Reuse Plastic project to help keep our environment “green,” our support of Project Healing Waters, and dozens upon dozens of other non-profit organizations every year. 

We’ve been truly touched, inspired, and deeply humbled by the thousands of customers who have said “Keep going, I’m with you guys.” We have walls in our offices literally covered in many of these messages. And while there will always be customers who simply get frustrated, we are steadied by the fact the vast majority have understood and were willing to work with us as things took off, and for awhile, grew out of control. 

As we’ve put the hardest parts of this transition behind us, we are left only with a feeling of gratitude and respect for so many in the fly fishing community. While we are still catching up on orders, we wanted to take a moment to communicate how touched we are to the thousands of you who made this pivot upwards possible. 

We look forward to providing you not only your Rod Vault, but a host of other outdoor products over the years which you will be able to use and enjoy for years to come. We look forward to every drop by, email, call, and message of encouragement we receive. 

Again, we do apologize for the delays, but are confident we’ve worked out all the major issues and are finally on track.

Thank you for your order and for your patience and understanding.  Your support means the world to us.

—-Joel Weinhold, Chief Operating Officer 

 

I was frustrated at this point. I mean this company made a promise to deliver a product and then kept changing their dates for delivery. Then they can’t provide the product on time, but they make no effort to make it right. They certainly had my monies in their bank account drawing interest. This was getting comical and to be honest I was betting on them not being able to fulfill the April deadline, and I would get a free Rod Vault out of all this.

Spring 2018: I see the ads where Hank Patterson is repping their product. I understand they have a marketing department and they can’t stop marketing because of a production problem. But it just looks terrible. It seems like they should have all hands on deck trying to resolve their production problem.

April 25, 2018: I finally got my Rod Vault. Missing parts. It took 11 months for them to get me the Rod Vault. They lied to me all the way until the middle of December 2017. My rod vault was seven months late. No offer to make things right.

 

Review of the actual Rod Vault

After 11 months I was excited to see this product. I was willing to put everything behind me and get the rod vault on my truck. I unpack everything. Assemble everything. When I go to put it on my car they had left off four bolts in the order. So, I can’t mount it now. Denver Outfitters got an email, not a very nice one, to get me my bolts. I went ahead and installed it as much as I could. I quickly realized that the mounting bolts (2” hex bolts) were too long and they dug into the roof of my truck. I send another email asking for 1 ½” bolts instead of 2” bolts.

These are with the 1.5″ bolts and a spacer to keep the bolts from hitting my roof.

I didn’t wait around for Denver Outfitters at this point. I went to my hardware store and started doing my own engineering.  I bought 1 ½” bolts and came back and mounted it myself. I found another problem. The locking mechanism is cantered at a downward angle, and when it opened, it dug into the roof of my truck. I addressed the new problem in an email with Denver Outfitters again. By this point, I had finally heard back from Denver Outfitters that they don’t carry anything but the 2” bolts that came stock with the Rod Vault. The reply I got about the locking mechanism. “Flip it upside down.” If I did that, then the door wouldn’t open all the way because it would hit the roof of my car. How about design a better product? I went to a gasket shop and got some hard rubber pieces and made some space so that the bolts wouldn’t dig into my roof or the lock wouldn’t scratch my truck.

I had to place three spacers to raise the rack high enough where the lock wouldn’t dig into my car.

I have it mounted on my truck. Finally.

Let’s review it from this point.

It has a design flaw in the lid. If you have a rod with a butt end. When you drive the rod will settle back, and the butt end will stop the cover from opening. You must reach your fingers inside the lid and push the rods forward so that the cover will open. This gets complicated if you have 3 rods with butts in the vault. You only have two hands. I’m positive someone is going to break a rod because of this flaw.

I also think the tubes are too small. When I put my 8-weight in the Rod Vault the guides get banged around a lot and the rod is resting on the back guide. This is problematic taken into consideration that a majority of my fishing is utilizing Forest Service roads.

The Rod Vault should drop the name vault. Everything is plastic. That’s my first shocking aspect of the Rod Vault. You can cut right through the risers and steal the rod vault, rods and all. All you need is a hacksaw. Two minutes is all it would take. Or if you just wanted the rods, then a screwdriver would pop the lid open. It’s not a vault. It’s a decent place to store rods on your way to the river. I’d say its safe to leave them in the Rod Vault while you eat dinner on your way back from the river. I would not store my rods in the Rod Vault if I stopped at a hotel overnight.

Overall it’s hard to get past such a shitty experience from a customer service perspective. The rod vault isn’t a secure method to store rods. It is pretty nice not to have to keep breaking rods down. If I had a truck instead of an SUV, then I would just put them in the back of the truck. The Rod Vault isn’t worth more than about $200. I wouldn’t pay anything more for it. If I had to do it over again then I would probably build it myself like this:

The Guide Turbo score of the Denver Outfitters Rod Vault:

 

 

 

It would have been a 3 but considering I had to wait a year then I had to take away something.