When I first decided to treat myself to a new saddle, I was pretty excited. What a blessing it is to be in a place where I can afford to buy what I want and peruse a selection of high end saddles. How lucky was I?
Apparently, not as lucky as I thought.
Call me crazy, but I feel like if I’m prepared to spend thousands of dollars on an item for my hobby, the shopping experience should be nothing short of stellar. After all, what percentage of people can justify such a significant purchase on a non-essential item? It can’t be much, and I figured the ones who can should expect to be treated like royalty.
Let’s paint a picture here. Go to buy a car in America, whether it’s a used car lot or a dealership, with $5,000 cash in your pocket. Tell anyone there, “Hey! I’d like to give you this $5,000 cash towards the purchase of a car.” Guess what? You’re going to walk away with a car. Not only that, but you have reasonable options for that car and some negotiating room in the price. Car shopping, in my experience, tends to follow this formula.
Higher Cost of Car + More Cash in Hand = Better Customer Service + Better Car
Really, isn’t that how it should be? If we keep our car analogy, here’s a few of my experiences with pretty limited saddle shopping.
“I like this type of car, but I think I’d like to test drive the SUV instead of the Crossover.”
“Oh, the SUV is very nice. Lots of people love the SUV.”
“That’s great! Can I drive it now?”
“Well no, we don’t have any at the moment but this is how much it would cost. I can’t tell you how many people love the SUV! Are you ready to purchase?”
Or when it comes to shopping for a less popular kind of car in your area of the nation…
“I’ve heard good things about your cars. Can I try some of them?”
“Absolutely! I’d love to show you all the great things my cars have to offer. There will be a fee for you to test drive the cars, as well as a fee to help cover my car selling operation.”
“Does the fee deduct from the cost of the car if I decide to buy it?”
“No, but you’ll get a really good sales pitch and can ask any questions you like.”
And then sometimes the dealership disappears entirely.
“Okay, I’ve decided! I’m going with your Crossover!”
“Hey sorry, but my company decided not enough people in your area want to buy our cars. So now you’ll need to work with so and so in the next state over.”
I’m not making up these examples – I experienced all of them. Now, comparing cars to saddles isn’t exactly apples to apples. Is it entirely fair? Probably not, but it’s not 100% off base either.
My examples may sound like I’m giving the reps a hard time, but I don’t think they are necessarily 100% at fault here. Working in sales is a hard job, and I can only imagine that working for a saddlery is challenging in different ways. Saddle reps/fitters have to pay their bills just like I do, and they can’t help it if the parent company makes choices that they don’t necessarily agree with or have any control over. Don’t interpret this post as pointing fingers at any of the saddle reps I communicated with. I do think the system as a whole is just really annoying when I’m waving a wad of cash around to buy a luxury item for my hobby and find so many pain points while doing so.
People have asked which saddle I decided on or what step I am in the process, and the answer is “over it.” At first calling up all the reps and looking over saddle options felt exotic and fancy, but quickly it became expensive, time consuming and tedious.
At the end of the day, I realized that I had a really hard time justifying the purchase price of new saddles within the brands I was looking at. It’s painful to spend that much on a saddle when I have an entire house to furnish and upkeep in the near future.
So what did I do? I reached out to the awesome blogger network of course! A quick email to Jen saying “HELP!” resulted into Jen contacting her friend Mary, which turned into a link to Maryland Tack Exchange. Kind of like the scene in 101 Dalmations where all the dogs bark for help… but with horse people.
The day I closed on my house I decided to throw caution to the wind… or rather continue throwing all of my money out of my account as fast as possible. The used saddle Mary sent through Jen was super closer to one I had liked previously with a fair price. I pulled the trigger.
Now please send me all your tips on care for a full calf saddle, and cross your fingers that the panels could work for Simon. I’m prepared to send the new-to-me saddle off to get fitted for him, but it sure would be nice if it just magically happened to work 🙂