8 Year Old Snow Boots Crack, Columbia Replaces

Most companies don’t even seem to care about you 8 weeks after you buy something from them, so Gabe and his mom were pleasantly surprised when Columbia agreed to replace a pair of cracked snow boots that were 8 years old.

“My girlfriend moved up to Massachusetts to live with me last year so her mother gave her some Columbia snow boots that the mom received as part of working the Salt Lake City Olympics back in 2002,” writes Gabe. “Well two weeks ago they cracked and I told her that I thought Columbia had some type of life time warranty or something.”

He followed the instructions in their FAQ, sent in the required pictures, and got back an email saying the warranty team had approved the replacement.

Success! That’s a nice warranty from Columbia. It also goes to show that you shouldn’t always just immediately toss out things that are broken, some times there is a better option for getting them repaired or replaced if you just take a little time to think about it and do some research.

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  1. GyroMight says:

    A new pair to replace the 8 year old boots that were free to begin with? That is pretty good customer services. So do the replacements have a lifetime warranty on them as well?

    • YouDidWhatNow? says:

      The original boots were free to her mother – I have a feeling that the SLC Olympic committee paid for them though.

  2. jrwn says:

    I had my columbia coat’s zipper come apart at the bottom. I’ve had that thing for 15 years. After putting it in the wash, I sent it back, and they sent me a brand new coat, which I hope to exchange in another 15 years.

    • leprechaunshawn says:

      I hope you aren’t planning on “breaking” this new coat in 15 years. That is not the intent of the warranty

      • nbs2 says:

        Doesn’t sound like it – sounds like the coat just gave up the ghost after a long and fruitful life. I would expect that in 15 years, the current coat will be at the end of its life and he would expect to send it back again.

        If he was hoping to exchange in 5 years, then I’d be a little concerned.

  3. ca_little says:

    One of those cases where paying for a quality product up front (well, not exactly in this case, since they were free, but you get my drift) will yield a return on the investment.

    • jason in boston says:

      Same with LL Bean. I only like to buy things once, therefore I spend a lot of money there.

    • Mom says:

      Indeed. I have a Patagonia windbreaker that’s about 20 years old now. About 5 years ago, I got the zipper caught in the baggage carousel at the airport. The baggage carousel ripped the end of the zipper off. It was totally my fault, and the jacket was about 15 years old at the time, but I still liked the jacket, and other than the zipper, it was still in good shape. Patagonia had me send the jacket to them, and they replaced the zipper for free.

  4. caradrake says:

    I love stories like this. Too bad I have no need of snow boots.

  5. doremus says:

    LL Bean and Lands’ End have lifetime guarantees also. I had a canvas briefcase from Lands’ End, and one of the seams wore through- called them up, sent it back, and they sent me a replacement at no charge. The old one had been monogrammed & they monogrammed the new one as well, no charge.

    • caradrake says:

      I have a blue sweater I got from Lands End a few years ago… it has a hole in it, and so I called them up. They refused to help me since I did not have a receipt or other proof of purchase.

      • Kibit says:

        I bought two mock turtlenecks for my husband from Lands End. I washed them according to their directions and they shrunk 1.5 inches in length. (first wash) I emailed them and I can return them, but I need to pay for shipping. I can also return them to Sear’s, but they are 10 miles away AND per their website, “You will receive a return confirmation from Sears. Lands’ End will then either credit your card, issue a refund check, or send you a Lands’ End gift card, as you choose.”

        Ugh! Not buying from Land’s End ever again.

        • Youngfrankenstein says:

          I have been wondering if LandsEnd isn’t sliding down the helpful scale. I’ve noticed the quality of some items I’ve gotten weren’t as nice as expected. It’d be nice to know of those tried and true retailers that still have “it”.

  6. ND_Shoe says:

    Columbia is one of the best companies. I had a coat for over 10 years that had a bad zipper (that I got originally on clearance BTW.) They replaced the coat with a brand new updated version. I just had to pay to ship it. They really do stand by their guarantee!

  7. AllanG54 says:

    Totes umbrellas also had this. I don’t know if they still do but I’d buy their least expensive umbrella and when it broke, bring it back to their store and get a free replacement no questions asked.

  8. tange1 says:

    I’ve had a columbia jacket that I’ve had repaired 2 times in the last 10 years. I just mail it to columbia and it comes back with a new zipper, repaired/replaced pockets, etc. Wonderfully simple.

  9. nbs2 says:

    I’m not sure what the big deal is if a company is standing behind its lifetime warranty claim. I thought Columbia was replacing them out of goodwill – that would have been a heck of a story. I do suppose that the story does point out the advantage of doing some homework before making your purchase, and looking at a long term total cost of ownership.

    If we are looking for lifetime warranties being honored, I don’t have any old Craftsman tools to discuss, but I’ve had my Jansport backpack since I was in 7th grade (in 1991) – back when the label said Made in the USA. I sent it in a few years ago because the zipper had failed – they replaced both the zipper and the totally compressed shoulder strap padding and sent it back without any fuss.

    • Kimaroo - 100% Pure Natural Kitteh says:

      I think the point of the story is that most people don’t remember or even know about things like lifetime gauarantees once they have had their item for a number of years, especially if the item was a gift. You should check with the manufacturer before you write off an item as broken beyond repair and write it off as trash.

      I didn’t know that Columbia has a lifetime guarantee. Now it makes their higher prices seem more logical.

    • SnowHawkMike says:

      As someone whom used to work for Columbia I thought I would shed some light on why I personally think this is pretty cool. Columbia has a lifetime warranty on there outerwear, but footwear only has a 1 year warranty. In addition to this all of there warranty policies generally only apply to the original owner of the product, and generally do not include products which are provided for free through a promotion. That is why I think this is pretty cool. They replaced a pair of boots that had no proof of purchase, were well out of the 1 year warranty period, and in doing so stood behind there product and said ‘screw policy, customer first’. This is something I haven’t seen a great deal of in the sportswear industry.

  10. doctorc4 says:

    I have some Bass boots that are showing some interesting wear. So I checked their site. Basshoes is not associated with PVH (Van houton) and there return policy is only 30 days.

    Oh well.

  11. curiositykt says:

    do you need to save the receipt to get it fixed?

    • amcfarla says:

      No you do not, I just shipped a jacket back that had Velcro strips falling off and they sent me a new jacket without needing a receipt.

  12. TooManyHobbies says:

    I inherited a pair of work boots from my father-in-law, but when I tried to use them, the soles fell apart. I sent them back to L.L. Bean and they credited me the original purchase price, from 30 years ago. I wound up applying it towards a nice pair of Rockport dress shoes.

    But this is not really surprising behavior, from L.L. Bean. I’m going to try to buy all my shoes there in the future.

  13. profmonster says:

    I’ve had really good luck with Columbia in the past, and have to throw in some kudos for Patagonia, who repaired a down vest that had been chewed by my puppy. They replaced the zip and repaired a hole, for free. They were helpful, and the repair was fast.

  14. ScorpionJC says:

    Wow. I actually just sent my boots to them yesterday. Mine are around 6 years old and they started to separate between the two pieces of the upper. I spoke to the customer service rep and they said just send them in and they would see what they could do.

  15. hydrargyrum says:

    The Columbia website very clearly says that their footwear only has a one-year limited warranty, and that the warranty no longer applies if you “sell or transfer the product”. I love lifetime warranties (Jansport has replaced the zipper on my 15-year old backpack three or four times) but will Columbia do this consistently, or were they just being nice and making an exception for you?
    http://www.columbia.com/Warranty/Customer_Service_FAQ_Warranty,default,pg.html

    • Kibit says:

      I was wondering about this.

      I don’t agree that they sent them in since they were not the original purchaser. Anyone could buy a pair of their boots at a thrift store and do the same thing.

    • IowaJezebel says:

      They have a boot exception. Maybe you could have kept reading? But you’re right, you’re totally smarter than the OP.

  16. Kibit says:

    The store REI has a 100% satisfaction guarantee. I try to buy gear from them whenever possible. I also have a membership with them and it paid for itself the first year.

    Per their web site.

    Our 100% satisfaction guarantee ensures that every item you purchase at REI meets your high standards—or you can return it for a replacement or refund.

    I bought a Sherpani wallet from them about 5 years ago. I over stuffed it and the zipper broke. Since I was going to REI that same day to look for some boots I brought my wallet with me and asked if they could recommend a repair shop to fix the zipper. They said that since it broke they would replace it for free. I told them that it broke because I over stuffed it all the time and that I didn’t have my receipt. They said that it still should not have broken and that they didn’t need my receipt and told me to go pick out a new one.

    I was amazed that they would do this especially since I was part of if not the main reason to why the zipper broke.

    Yay REI!

    Nordstrom has a great return policy too!

  17. Jimmy37 says:

    Gee, I wish my shoes were replaced that way. The damn plastic soles literally cracked and fell off from my brand-name 10-year old shoes. The soles weren’t worn out, just fell apart.

  18. pjstevens77 says:

    Damn, I just threw out my 10 year old Columbia snow boots for the same problem….

  19. AnthonyC says:

    Some companies are good like that, and I’m glad to see consumerist give them a shout out. Here’s another: For backpacks, Jansport is great. My mother bought me one when I was in 4th grade. The zipper broke when I was in eighth grade (I routinely had to carry ~40 pounds of books each day), and they replaced it free. Then it broke again my junior year of college, and again they replaced it, no questions asked. I’m still using it now in grad school. When I graduate I’ll donate it- though I don’t think the warranty carries over to the next owner, I’m really not sure. My girlfriend had to have hers replaced to- except they no longer made the pattern she had, and told her she could pick any color she wanted.

    It’s the same reason we decided to spring for All-Clad and Le Creuset for our first kitchen (though we did find it on sale at the william sonoma outlet)- some things are worth paying for if you know you’ll never need to buy them again.

  20. JennaBelle says:

    I have a Kingston MobileLite card reader that crapped out after less than 2 years… I looked into their return/repair policy and it was a nightmare of legal crap to read through… It wasn’t an expensive purchase, just something I really depend on and take care of. Wish I could find another one like it that would last more than a few years. Anyone have any suggestions?

  21. IowaJezebel says:

    I read this article, and grabbed my Columbia boots from the steps, where I had set them out to toss in the morning for the same cracking problem.
    I hit the Columbia website, and first read that footwear has only one year warranty, a couple commenters saw that and stopped looking because self-righteousness is hard to maintain if you continue past the point where you decided that you were proven right.
    I searched for ‘Boots’ and found out that they DO replace cracked boots, and they believe that boots need special consideration, which is why they will replace boots older than one year.
    However, I just went back to that FAQ, and it’s been updated. I can’t for the life of me figure out which items they re-wrote, but there’s a nice big bold green “Updated” in the title of the item.
    They must be getting a lot of people asking about this today. I hope they review my submission with pre-UPDATE requirements.

    • IowaJezebel says:

      Doesn’t matter that they updated the FAQ item, just got my email from Columbia, they are replacing my boots. Yeah!

  22. JSK says:

    I did not know this. I almost always bought Columbia outerwear. In fact I just replaced my bugaboo boots from like 99′, that had just came apart at the seam of the sole and boot, with a new pair. I tossed the old ones out thinking I was SOL.

    I do however have a very expensive Titanium coat from probably that same year which just fell apart at the cuff seams after a few years. Wonder if they would still replace that?

  23. BigEyeBri says:

    I purchased a pair of Ecco shoes from Nordstrom Rack (they wouldn’t accept it, well because it was the Rack and not Nordstrom) and after MANY years of use and abuse, the soles DISCENTEGRATED, gone, vamoose, by by. Sent them back to ECCO (oddly, I was working for ECCO Shoe Corp. at the time) and they sent a replacement pair. Not the same shoe, because they didn’t make it any more, and poorer quality than the one that I originally had (because ECCO’s quality has been shit for the past 10 years or so), but I still got 2 pairs of shoes (maybe 7 years of wear) for the price of 1/2 of a pair (because stuff is much cheaper at the Rack).

  24. Kilgore says:

    Another score for the Consumerist!

    This winter, I broke out my Columbia Bugaboos after our first major snowfall (21″) and I couldn’t believe it, one of them was split across the rubber part. I checked the Columbia website and saw that shoes had only a one year warranty, so I got out the Shoe Goo and patched it up. Several weeks later, the other boot split while I was shoveling – so more Shoe Goo.

    However, since reading this post on Tuesday, I’ve been in contact with Columbia. They requested 4 specific pictures be e-mailed to them and I sent those off yesterday. I just got an e-mail stating that a replacement pair of boots are on the way.

    Way to go Columbia and the Consumerist!