Pop up inflatable SUP businesses, cheap stand up paddle gear and the extended warranty illusion.

Scan the internet; either social media platforms, ecommerce sites or the web as a whole and chances are you’ll come across ads for inflatable stand up paddle boarding equipment at seemingly too good to pass up prices. We saw the same a few years back but with SUP’s renaissance growth spurt in 2020, and its continuation for this year, plenty of so called ‘brands’ are popping up offering equipment at ridiculously low process with additional ‘benefits’ such as extended warranties.

We appreciate it’s a tempting prospect not having to shell out more than a sniff to get set up with stand up paddle gear and ready for a float or two. Unfortunately these pop up brands aren’t always in it for the right reasons, instead seeing the inflatable SUP market as a way to make a quick buck and reap the short term rewards of a hobby in a state of fluke growth. Fluke because of the circumstances surrounding why stand up (and many other recreational, outdoor pursuits) are booming: COVID, furlough and staycation.

There’ll always be those opportunists looking to make a quick killing. And SUP’s no different. For the consumer, though, it isn’t the best news. After all, a mere snip of a price is still a chunk of dough. You mightn’t have stumped up for premium products from premium brands but the cost remains. And everyone wants a decent return on investment. In SUP’s instance the return’s fun rather that heartache.

Metaphorically speaking…

Before anyone shouts ‘elitist attitude’ we’ll state that some of these products may indeed last a decent amount of time, not fail and provide hours of fun/amusement for all the family. The problem, however (and this is fact NOT elitism), the probability of cheap inflatable stand up paddle boards failing is high. How do we know this? Because it can happen with premium, well designed equipment as well. McConks has strict quality control measures in place yet every so often a few issues arise. It’s inevitable. And this is being realistic and honest rather than trying to cover things up. So any less a product is going to have more issues and fail more often.

So what of these so called extended warranties and ‘exemplary after sales care’? The biggest test of any brand – whatever the product – is if the doodoo hits the fan. How swift, efficiently and customer focused these problems are resolved is testament to the brand in question. Unfortunately many pop up iSUP brands aren’t in a position to do so efficiently. In many cases they’re run by a small team (sometimes one individual) with no after sales back up in place whatsoever, let alone a complete infrastructure. Needless to say a prompt resolution to your problem can be a long time coming if at all.

The other thing to consider is longevity of these pop up brands. All well and good a six year warranty’s being offered on a purchase. But ask yourself whether these companies will actually be here in six years? There’s a lot of competition in stand up paddle boarding with many long standing, established brands already occupying the space. Take it from McConks when we say it’s a long, hard slog with many pitfalls along the way. If the business in question isn’t robust and equipped to deal with problems then chances are we’ll hear hide nor hair of them within a short space of time, thereby making that seeming great additional extended warranty ‘buy’ not worth the paper it’s printed on. Wolf Creek are example. A brand that advertised heavily, aggressively targetted our McConks trade customers, and offered a 6 year warranty. Like most of the pop up brands, they’ve disappeared leaving lots of unhappy customers

On the face of it stand up paddle boarding is a wholesome, sunny view activity that’s all about fun and frolics. And this is true, for the consumer/paddler. Industry side you’d sometimes be surprised the amount of skulduggery that goes on behind closed doors, just to net profit. Same with anything… There are a good many brands though – such as McConks – that are involved for the right reasons. Others as well. Best advice. Do some proper research if you’re considering a SUP purchase this summer. ask questions and get the necessary info. That way you’ll be as informed as possible.

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