After the logistical hassles we had trying to figure out how to get our Hilleberg tent repaired in the EU and returned to Istanbul, we looked at our list of non-critical kit problems and wondered if each of these would be as difficult. We had visions of gear being stung for disproportionately high fees in customs, parcels disappearing or as with Hilleberg finding that companies were unable to provide support outside the EU. But on several accounts, we were in luck.
First our insurance company gave us the okay to return to the UK for a short visit without breaking the terms of our insurance. This would allow us to pick up our repaired tent and source a few things we need for the next leg of our trip which are a little more expensive in Turkey. Incredibly its cheaper to fly both of us over than ship over a tent and buy a new digital camera in Turkey so we’ll take the chance to have one last pint of Guinness before we move out of the European budget airline zone.
Tickets booked, we wrote a hit list of companies whose kit wasn’t in best shape and in between Turkish lessons, online recipe look-ups and watching the first two series of The Wire, we got down to some serious emailing. We wanted to mention the following companies with whom we had particularly positive customer service experiences.
We contacted Primus to ask about best practice for regular maintenance on our Omni Fuel cooker, also asking about local distributors for small replacement parts we wanted for our repair kit. They sent back a comprehensive email about what we should be doing and directed us to Toros Kamp the Istanbul primus distributor. On arrival our cooker was pulled apart and inspected, advice and spare filters were given freely and we were able to buy a replacement windshield.
We wrote to Ortlieb to ask about replacing a broken strap (the rubber shoulder strap on had split) and buy some replacement rack hook spacers which had been lost en-route. Within days a box of replacement parts was sent out from their UK distributors. Considering Ortlieb had already replaced two panniers because of one small defect before we left the UK, we are confident that the company will continue to support us if needed during the remainder of our trip.
Justin sent Paramo photos of a slightly weird pilling of the material on the back of his jacket. While it doesn’t affect the performance of the otherwise excellent jacket currently, we wondered if over time it would spread and eventually weaken the rip-stop fabric. They checked their records and agreed that there had been a small problem with a batch of lining product that they are now on top of. They’ve held a jacket in his preferred size in London which we’ll pick up when we are back.
Casio (watch strap)
Just as our list of sorted things was growing Justin’s watch strap broke a seemingly minor problem until we discovered that the particular model had never been sold in Turkey so no replacement straps were available. The UK repair centre had only one in stock and has put this aside for our return, allowing us to pay for it when we visit their London warehouse.
We sent Stanfords a list of maps that we were looking to purchase and asked if we could buy these in advance of an in store pickup as we’ll want to browse when we’re back anyway. They offered to hold onto the maps we showed an interest in and also gave advice on current stock levels of maps of China which we are considering so we can look at these in store before purchasing.
A reminder: if you are heading through Turkey try to get a map before you get into the country. Though our friends Michelle and Julien managed to find one here in Istanbul, decent maps are very hard to come by anywhere in Turkey.
Well done to all of the companies mentioned above who have provided us with helpful customer service and in some cases way exceeded our expectations. Keep up the good work!
We’ll be back in London from 4th – 8th February. We’ll try to say hello to as many people as we can before heading back to Istanbul to prepare for the next part of our cycle trip towards New Zealand.