Posted by: wrmcnutt | April 2, 2009

The Saga of the Titanic

To begin, I have been a happy customer of Panther Primitives tents for thirteen years.  My first Panther tent was a 13′ x 18′ oval marquee that I camped in for 12 years without incident.  Over the years, I’ve been involved in the selection, purchase, and use of over a dozen Panther tents, and until last week, they had become my sole source of tents. 

Mind you, this was not a matter of merely sticking with the first vendor I met out of some blind consumer loyalty.  I have hauled, pitched, and folded tents by Panther Primitives, Medieval Miscellany, Four Seasons (Tentmaster), Spinning Winds, and Past Tents.  Until now, Panther offered the best range of features, quality, and durability for the dollar.

But now we come to my current issue.  My old oval marquee was not always stored or cleaned appropriately, and this will cause a canvas tent to wear out pre-maturely.  And so “Big Blue” was retired, as it had become too fragile to trust in the high winds of the Lilies War out in Calontir (Missouri).  And this was no fault of Panther.  Having been so happy with Big Blue for so many years, I decided to replace it with an identical tent from the same vendor. To my delight, the price had not gone up significantly and I placed an order.  I had hoped to get my new tent in time for last Pennsic (2008), but it was not to be.  The new tent was waiting on me when I got back from war.  Pennsic marks the end of the war season for me, coming as it does in August, and so I only had one opportunity to pitch the tent before spring.  And that opportunity was in perfect weather.

So this Gulf Wars was the first time my new tent got rained on.  Not to put too fine a point on it, but the bastard leaks.  Badly.  Very badly.  Water seeps in on every seam.  I have 18 perimeter poles in my marquee, and an inner valance hangs down between each pair.  The entire perimeter seam of the tent was leaning, and water ran to the center of each valance and dripped down between each pair of poles.  To the tune of roughly a quart an hour.  As you might imagine, I was not happy.  For those of you who have never lived in a tent, the joy of slanted walls is that you can store your stuff around the perimeter of the tent, and out of the middle of the floor.  Which puts your stuff right under the valances.  Every scrap of clothing we had was soaked through.  Plus my bed had to be moved over toward the middle of the tent.

Which brings me to the canopy seams.  All of which were also seeping.  Water seeped in through the canopy seams and ran to lower points along the canopy. Where the droplets would gather and, upon reaching critical mass, drip down to the floor.  While may of these droplets were random, there was one that repeated.  Over my LEFT EAR.  Another one was over the back of the sleeping baby’s neck.

As an aside, it’s the custom among the people I camp with to name their tents.   It’s easier to give directions when the tents have names than to have to describe them every time you need to reference them.  My new tent hadn’t been named yet, and some wise-ass in camp suggested “Old Faithful,” because of all the spurting water.  A geyser, though, is something water shoots OUT of.   What’s large, expensive, and has lots of water rushing into it?  Yes – my tent is now named Titanic.

None of this is why I have chosen to blog about this issue though.  No, I have opened this blog because of the response I have gotten from Panther’s customer service.  That is to say, NONE.  Naturally, I didn’t call from Gulf Wars. I was too angry.  I called them early last week.  I got a rather saccharine lecture about how all canvas tents leak “a little” when they are first rained on.  That this was NOT my first experience with new canvas tents and that this was NOT a little water made little or no impression.  Grudgingly, the lady I spoke to agreed to dig out my paperwork and call me the next day.

The next day there was no call.  I gave it another day, and then called again. I had a similar conversation, albeit shorter, and with someone else, as the lady handling my case was not in the office that day.  I was assured, though, that I would get a call the next day.  I’ve let this slide for almost a week because I didn’t want to deal with it.  But it’s a $1600 tent, it’s brand new, and it leaks. Badly.

So I have opened a blog to opine about it, and I’ll keep you up-to-date about it at:

Bill McNutt
Perturbed Panther Customer

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