Co-author: Matthew Sklar
Cover Photo: member Swandog7
On the 28th of June, the Better Business Bureau issued a scam warning for Revision Skis, citing customer complaints that ski orders valued between $300 and $750 had not been fulfilled. This won't have come as a massive shock to our forum users, who for almost a year have discussed Revision's failure to deliver pre-orders placed last summer. Despite repeated attempts by Newschoolers journalists and countless customers over the last few months, almost no one has succeeded in contacting Revision directly. In the words of Revision pro Spencer Millbocker, even the team were "as much in the dark as anybody else."
A large stock of Revision Skis, totalling 331 pairs, was recently discovered on Skis.com, which according to our sources represents approximately a third of Revision's total production for the year.
When asked about the stock of Revision, Skis.com's buyer told NS member a_burger that they "went through a third party company that liquidates inventory for warehouses to purchase these skis. We have had no contact of any kind with Revision in the purchase of these skis. Typically when we make these types of purchases through third parties, it is product that [sic] brand had not paid the production and/or warehousing bills for but we never know the exact circumstance."
While we have no information to confirm that these are indeed the customers' missing skis, a Skis.com representative also confirmed to Newschoolers' Matt Sklar that their purchase of skis leads them to believe, as we have suspected since the website went down at the beginning of July, Revision Skis may have shut down for good.
Yet, just 12 months ago, Revision was at the peak of a rapid rise. The company took the ski industry by storm and became one of the more popular small ski brands, courtesy of a team of innovative skiers including members of The Bunch, Sandy Boville, Mike King and more. They also offered a warranty policy which covered rail damage something unheard of in the industry at that time. Many saw this approach to marketing as supporting the core of skiing, giving the brand a dedicated following and the orders were flooding in.
The initial success might have been due to the fact that Revision was not owner Bill Wanrooy's first foray into the ski industry. He was a founding member of the now defunct Epic Planks, and it appeared he learned from the mistakes of that company.
The details of a complicated situation surrounding the demise of Epic Planks, and a related legal case involving Batalla Skis (whose skis were produced by the Epic Planks factory) remain unclear, but the rumours continue in the forums. Batalla eventually went out of business, unable to fulfill ski orders. TJ, the former owner of Batalla, was unable to comment on that company's situation due to legal reasons.
Wanrooy has not responded to multiple requests for comment, and it is evident is that the current situation with Revision Skis is not the owner's first involvement in a ski company's failure to deliver product or in a failed ski industry business. So what happened this time?
In August 2016, Revision opened pre-orders for the coming season, with skis slated to be delivered around Thanksgiving. It's unclear exactly how many orders were ultimately fulfilled, but given the growing outrage from customers in our forum, it would appear that very few of them ever received skis.
Among the few who have is European retailer Blind 2, which ordered approximately 100 pairs and finally received their delivery in March. They, unlike many of our members, managed to keep a degree of communication going with Revision through the early part of this year. According to the store manager, Francesco they lost contact several months ago, after making an offer to Wanrooy to take over the brand, who told me that "[they] wanted to try to fix it, take over [the] social media accounts and go ahead to keep the brand alive as it was supposed to be." Blind 2, like Revision, sold the skis on a pre-order basis, but by the end of 2016 they were forced to start refunding customers who were "fed up with waiting". By the time the skis were delivered in March, they had refunded all but two remaining faithful skiers.
According to our forum members, direct customers stateside have been less fortunate. This infamous thread details months of frustration, disappointment, and confusion on the part of skiers who participated in the pre-orders. Nearly a year later, many are still without their skis.
Some have filed claims with their banks. Some, like NS member tdollo, have been successful. Others were denied by their banks due to policy terms. And an unlucky few, like NS member reet.gang, even had their chargeback claims challenged by Revision on the basis of extended delivery dates, leading to the banks cancelling their refunds. That's not the only example of Revision seeming to treat its customers with contempt. While some customers who pre-ordered last August are still without skis, others who ordered much later have received them. The difference? The later orders were full priced, while the pre-orders were discounted.
Revision originally attributed the delay in production to a factory error. They announced, via their account on Newschoolers, that "unfortunately the factory started our build by pressing a fair amount of skis with full poplar cores (last year's spec), rather than poplar/bamboo cores as designed and ordered for 2016/2017. We had to ask them to replace those pairs for build consistency and to deliver skis as promised, which set everything back."
We discovered that Revision's skis were produced by Guangzhou Hike Sports Equipment in China and Newschoolers member Peter Germaine, who previously worked with both the factory and Revision Skis, contacted them on our behalf. Interestingly, the factory challenged claims of an issue with the cores, telling us they did not "have any trouble in doing the core material. Last season all Bill's skis [were built] with poplar plus bamboo core". Instead, they attributed the delays to two things. Firstly, they told us that while they normally expect orders to be placed "before August" the Revision order wasn't placed until "almost [the] end of September". They went on to say there was another delay in actually shipping the skis, because they had to wait almost a month for Bill to pay the balance. If their account of events is accurate, that paints the actions of Revision in an even more damning light.
The factory also gave us details on production, so we now know that 1,000 pairs were produced and shipped to various locations worldwide. Online shipping records show the same factory shipped 114 cartons to the United States, which, according to the factory policy of 5 pairs per carton, would suggest 570 pairs in total.
If that number is accurate, then the 331 pairs that Skis.com holds may represent just under 60% of the total US shipment. A customer service representative at Skis.com told Matt Sklar that they believe their skis represent the remaining US inventory of Revision Skis and that they received those skis as early as March.
Perhaps Revision received and distributed direct-sold skis to customers from another source, but if the online shipping records are correct it would appear that the company distributed 239 pairs of skis. If Skis.com's explanation of where its stock normally comes from is correct, it would appear that Revision became unable to fulfill further orders sometime during or before March.
In April, Revision sent out one last mass email stating "[we] are committed to resolving any outstanding issues you may have with your order. If you have any outstanding issues that need resolution, please send them to us via this form and we will work with you to resolve your issues in a timely manner." Several Newschoolers members reported submitting the customer service form, and have still not received responses. Since then, we have been unable to find any evidence of further communication, nor delivery of skis to customers or successful refunds.
The one tiny silver lining to this whole cloud, is that it has been amazing to see members of the ski community stepping in to help out those whose ski orders haven't been fulfilled. Logan Imlach, Faction Skis and many individuals have been exemplifying what makes the Newschoolers community so great. Imlach, via Armada Skis, gave away a few pairs of demo skis at the price of shipping, Faction offered previous years' models, Level 9 Sports offered "heavy discounts" and individuals offered up their own used skis.
But it is hard to see any way for this once burgeoning ski company to recover with orders still unfilled, and liquidators selling the skis. Skiers like NS member a_burger have given up on ever receiving either their money back or the skis that Revision have thus far failed to deliver. We have spent much of the last few months digging into the issue and we have failed to turn up anything that suggests Revision's disappointed customers should expect any further communication, product or remuneration from Revision Skis. If that does turn out to be the case, this is, the most shocking ski industry scandal any of us at Newschoolers have seen in our time.
Massive thanks go out to Matt Sklar, who co-authored and helped research this report, to Peter Germaine who communicated with the ski factory on our behalf and all the Newschoolers members who responded with snippets of info that made this possible.