Every year in March there is a mad frenzy to get everything ready for the Argus Expo. The biggest retail expo in SA and certainly bigger than anything else in the sporting goods market.
Every year I see the same faces. Eddy Cassar and his crew run good operation. This year I was struck by how little innovation there was. However three ideas stood out for me:
I almost missed the Polar V800 multi sport watch. Peter and his crew only had a pre production model which they were guarding with beady eyes. They never let it get too far out of reach just in case I made a runner….. If the V800 lives up to expectations then this will certainly give Garmin and Suunto some real competition. I would say it is a couple of years too late and Polar now has some catching up to do but judging by previous products from them you can expect a solid unit with some real good tech behind it. Check out the DC Rainmaker feature on the unit here. I can’t wait to test one of these!
I like to support South African companies and here are two that impressed me:
I was chatting to Mark from 32Gi. He is always interesting when you can follow all the tech and science he throws at you. He has an interesting recovery drink with pea protein. I have not tested it but sounds interesting. Watch this space as they are developing some cool new products with their new IM athletes! Bring it on I say! This should complete their product offering. And that is all I can say right now.
Then I wondered around and saw the bike box in the picture made by Rebul. It is made entirely of cardboard by a company who seems to have very little to do with bicycles. This idea is so cool that it deserves mention here. Super strong, recycleable, easy to pack flat when not in use. Boxes are custom made to your specs. I love it and certainly will support them going forward when I need to transport my bike to the next event. Oh and they only cost R800!
It was the Christmas holidays, nobody was in the office and all of a sudden the “low battery sign” on my Polar RS 800 came on. I have had the unit for about 2 years so this was to be expected at some stage. Bugger, what to do now? I went to various stockists of Polar in the hope that they would have a clue. All I got was blank stares. It just looked so easy.
The RS 800 has a user changeable battery. That was easy enough to figure out. Finally after much searching the Cape Union Mart Canal Walk branch sold me a battery for R80! I was on my way when suddenly Mel mentioned that I would probably lose my warranty claim if I did this by myself. Even the manual did not allude to this…..????
I try not to be too much of a technophobe and I really did not want to train without my watch recording all the things it records.
Monday 5th Jan did not arrive soon enough and I called the ever friendly Travis at IHF Products (the South African Polar distributor). I explained the situation and that I had a race on this weekend (Bay to Bay on the 11th). He said that “if everything went to plan I would have my watch back by the weekend”. Cool- if everything went to plan! So off into a Speed Services envelope my watch went. Me holding thumbs.
The one week running without my Polar I felt like driving without my seatbelt- Naked!
On Thursday I had not heard anything from Polar so I called. Ok this took quite a bit of effort as the line was engaged for hours. Once I got through they said they had the unit and the battery change would cost R100. They mailed me banking details. I did the transfer within the hour. The next morning I received an SMS saying that I could collect my unit from the post office. Yes there it was. New battery and all.
So what is the point of all this?
There are so many gadgets on the market these days that all claim to do wonderful things. In fact when making a purchasing decision, there are often several brands which meet our needs. At this point I would seriously consider after-sales service. I have owned the Polar 625 before this. Unless something drastic happens I will stick to Polar as my first choice. The products work and have the right features and their after-sales service is fantastic.
Incidentally a colleague of mine has sent his three units in to a competitor. Hmm let’s see how long they take to repair these?