Why Cascade Toboggan Sucks

or: How To Lose a Customer In A Week

I am a member of the National Ski Patrol (NSP). That means that most weekends during the winter, you can find me at a Seattle-area ski resort volunteering to help folks who have been hurt. I don't get paid for this -- in fact, I incur additional expense as I have to purchase a lot of my own first aid equipment, a special uniform, etc. There are, of course, benefits such as pro deals through the NSP. Among the pro deals listed in the members' section of the NSP website is a small company called Cascade Toboggan. As it turns out, Cascade Toboggan does not offer special discounts to NSP members, but rather is an "official supplier" so it gets the link. I was looking to buy a radio harness; I had been hoping for a discount through Cascade Toboggan and since there was none I price-shopped on the internet. I found there wasn't a significant price difference, so I placed my order on Sunday, October 7th, 2007 with Cascade Toboggan, to support a company which purported to support the NSP. Since Cascade Toboggan proudly proclaims in their catalog they ship within 24 hours, I expected my radio harness to arrive that week. By Friday, October 12, I had not received my order, so I checked the order status page on their website, which said my order was in the status "New Order" which seemed to imply nothing had been done to fulfill it. I sent an email inquiry:
from		Michal Bryc 
to		"support@cascadetoboggan.com" 	 
date		Oct 12, 2007 10:42 AM	 
subject		Re: About Your Order: 2674
		 
Hello,

Can you please advise on when this order will ship? It has been five days and the order status page shows the status as "New Order".

-Michal
When I got no response by Sunday, October 14th, I checked the order status page again, only to find the order "In Progress". I sent another email, this time more direct and frustrated:
	
    from		Michal Bryc
	to	
	"support@cascadetoboggan.com" ,
bogganman@earthlink.net	 
	date		Oct 14, 2007 11:53 AM	 
	subject		Re: About Your Order: 2674	 
Hello,
The order status page now shows the order as "In Progress". In my mind, the order has been in progress since the moment I placed it, and given that it is now a week later, I am dismayed to see that I do not yet have the items I ordered. Furthermore, I am frustrated by the lack of response to my inquiry. Please respond immediately and inform me when the order will ship so I can make an informed decision about cancelling and re-ordering the items from another supplier, or whether I should continue to wait for this order.

-Michal
By this time I had cc'd bogganman@earthlink.net as the WHOIS information for the cascadetoboggan.com domain name indicated this was the administrative contact, and I was doubting the support@cascadetoboggan.com email address. Of course, bogganman@earthlink.net bounced, which technically means the WHOIS information is invalid. Monday morning, October 15th, I received a phone call from Dana Jordan with Cascade Toboggan, claiming he had sent me an email on October 7th (which I never received) questioning the order. I had put "Cascade Toboggan" as the company name in my order address, and used "cascadetoboggan@mydomain.com" as my email address (which is a valid email address). This is a standard technique I use to allow me to track which companies sell my contact information (because typically the information goes straight into a database, which then gets sold, and I get a catalog or ten in the mail a month later with the perpetrator's name right on it). Dana, however, believed I was infringing on his trademarked name and explained that he had problems with companies pretending to be Cascade Toboggan, particularly in the Seattle area where I live, in the past.

I explained to him why I include the company name in the ordering address, and he said he understood but that he could not mail out my order with "Cascade Toboggan" on the shipping address as he felt it would be condoning my use of his trademark. He asked if he could remove it and send the order out, and I said that was fine. He said he would like to remove it from my address in his database as well, and I said he was free to do whatever he liked to his database, as it was highly unlikely I would be ordering from his company again in the future. About an hour after the phone call, I received an email from Dana informing me that he was declining to send me my order, was removing all of my information from his database, and would not accept orders from me in the future:
from		"newsletter@cascadetoboggan.com" 
to		michal 
date		Oct 15, 2007 10:32 AM	 
subject		Re: About Your Order: 2674	 
Michal, I am sorry you did not recieve my earlier e-mail. It was sent on 10/7/07, the day you ordered your product. Its contents are below. I completely understand your reasons for wanting to track who you order product from and what happens to your personal information once an order is placed. As I indicated in our conversation, Cascade Toboggan does not sell any information to anyone. Rest assured, at your request, your information will be purged from our systems and you will recieve no further contact from us. Additionally, and in retrospect of our conversation we respectfully decline to send you the product you ordered or to do business with you in the future.

Most Sincerely, Dana Jordan

Michal, having received your order I admit to being a bit confused. Your order indicates that we should ship your merchandise to Cascade Toboggan in Seattle. Also, your e-mail address indicates affiliation with Cascade Toboggan. The name Cascade Toboggan is a Registered Trademark of Cascade Toboggan Rescue Equipment Company and our parent Corporation More, Inc.

I understand if I am interpreting what I read below incorrectly, or if the information below is incorrect or was submitted improperly. If however that is not the case, then you are infringing upon a trade name and registered trademark and engaged in an activity that is unlawful and potentially damaging to our company. We request that you immediately stop using our registered trade name. Failure to do so could result in legal action.

Further, we are unable to ship product to the location supplied for the same reasons stated above. Should you have any questions or are in need of further clarification, do not hesitate to call or write.

Most Sincerely,

 

Dana A. Jordan

Cascade Toboggan Rescue Equipment Company

1808 Industrial Drive

Sandpoint, ID  83864

Phone:  (208) 263-2484  Fax:  (208) 255-7460
I did not understand why Dana would tell me my order was shipping, then cancel it, so I wrote him a reply:
from		Michal Bryc
to		"newsletter@cascadetoboggan.com" 	 
date		Oct 15, 2007 10:41 AM	 
subject		Re: About Your Order: 2674	 
Given our conversation this morning regarding these issues, I am confused as to why you would tell me on the phone that the order would ship out today, yet now decline to do so, a mere hour or two later. Regardless, at least I did get an email, so I should be thankful for that.

I would like to point out that I have used the phrase "Cascade Toboggan" solely to refer to your company. It is no different than referring to Pepsi or the Portland Trailblazers.

Finally, I would like to give you complete assurance that I will not be doing business with you in the future. Moreover, as a good consumer I will ensure that the organizations and individuals I am involved with understand the risks of doing business with you as well and will do my best to influence purchasing decisions to be placed with a different vendor.
In this email I pointed out that I was not using Cascade Toboggan as anything but a reference to his company, and thus it is a permitted use of a registered trademark. Because I had been treated so poorly by Dana I wanted to remind him that his business requires customers, and that alienating customers would be bad for business. Finally, on October 16th I received a Cascade Toboggan catalog, and I am still able to log into the cascadetoboggan.com website, which indicates to me that my information has not been removed from his database. I sent another complaint email, clarifying the process of turning me from a prospective customer into someone spreading the truth about his company:
from    Michal Bryc
to	"newsletter@cascadetoboggan.com" , support@cascadetoboggan.com	 
date		Oct 16, 2007 10:17 AM	 
subject		Re: About Your Order: 2674	 
 
Dana:
Last Monday, I was a new customer trying out your company for the first time. Last Friday, I was an annoyed new customer, patiently waiting for an order that had not shipped. Yesterday morning, I was a new customer who was not coming back, but was still expecting an order. Yesterday afternoon, I was an angry ex-customer. Today, given ample evidence that you have lied to me when you said my information was purged from your systems, I am even further angered by the arrival of one of your catalogs. Surely given how poorly you have treated me you are not that desperate for customers are you? To send your new customers a catalog before their order even ships, much less arrives? Whereas yesterday I had started to tell others about my poor experience with you, today makes me want to tell the world.
Kindest wishes,

Michal
I received a response explaining that the catalog was mailed to all NSP members and arrived entirely by coincidence. I was also told that my "refusal to discontinue use of our registered tradename" was the reason my order had to be cancelled. I sent back one final email:
from    Michal Bryc 
to		Dana Jordan 	 
date		Oct 16, 2007 10:49 AM	 
subject		Re: About Your Order: 2674
Your claim is very interesting, given that when we spoke on the phone yesterday morning you said you could ship out the order but would need to remove the "Cascade Toboggan" from the shipping address, and I said that was fine. I then told you that it was highly unlikely that I would be ordering from your company in the future, and never said anything about refusing "to discontinue use of our registered tradename".

Moreover, it appears from the USPTO that only the word "Cascade" is being claimed as your trademark, along with your graphical logo. (source: http://tarr.uspto.gov/servlet/tarr?regser=serial&entry=72460300)

Finally, as I have pointed out before, if Pepsi were to stop selling to anyone who referred to the company as "Pepsi", there would not be very many Pepsi customers left.
-Michal

PS: I like your use of multiple email addresses depending on purpose.
I would avoid Cascade Toboggan like the plague. While they are certainly within their rights to refuse orders from anyone they choose, the poor communication they exhibit should be enough to give anyone pause. I will refuse to do business with them in the future, and strongly encourage others to do so as well. -Michal Bryc October 17, 2007

Sadly, some stupid individuals made some trouble, and so I have had to put some terms and conditions on the usage of this website. Usage of this website is subject to these Terms and Conditions.