Wednesday, March 05, 2008

A rant, of sorts...

I may be way off base. The lack of character in the actions of this RD (who will remain nameless) astounds me, but I'm open to dissenting views.

Here's the situation: I sign up for this race a day before the published document says that the price will go up. The company with which I did this transaction was - a first for me as I am used to using - and for some reason Signmeup was using GMT as their web clock, and at 9pm my time (eastern) it was already the next day according to their website. I immediately shot an e-mail to the RD expecting that he'd be happy to know about this messed up situation and that he'd also take steps to refund my overcharged $5.

Right. The RD's response: "Sorry, Marc, I have no control over the time that Active changes the price on the date that I specify" Wow. I wonder if he has control over other mundane things, like Police directing traffic or First Aid stations?

My quip back: "So does that mean that you won't be sending me the $5 extra dollars I spent on your race?" was followed up with his ever-so-kind, "Yes-" and that was all he said. Of course, I'm angry. I really feel like this guy is stealing $5 from me; it just seems like it should be obvious.

I write him back, "Of course, they (, not Active) sent the extra $5 to you, and you do have control over your hand which signs checks - I guess the "easier wrong" in this instance is to do and say exactly what you said in your e-mail, but the right thing to do is to simply write a check for $5 and mail it to me. You have $5 of mine that you shouldn't have.

Now you also have a triathlete who will never sign up for another of your races (I think I've done 2 or 3, plus this one coming up), and will tell all his buddies on his blog and podcast that you could care less. Maybe even make some noise over at Slowtwitch. Sure it's only $5...but it's only $5 for you too. I wonder who all else will agree with me on this subject? I'm disappointed.


Am I making too big a deal over this? This is an experienced RD with 20 years of managing events. He's probably good at it - he manages events for NA Sports among others. When a person of his influence shows such a careless attitude towards my hard-earned dollar, and is nonchalant about his own integrity, then I really wonder how else he's effecting ethics in the Triathlon Community. This really erks me.

Later that day, I got another e-mail from the RD - "Sorry, I am not able to refund your $5.00. I would be glad to offer you a $5.00 discount on any other NTC Race in the future. Just print out this e-mail and send it in with a printed application. They way you do not have to go through the on-line process."

You know, had an Internet vendor overcharged me for some bike tires or an aero-helmet, I'd have gotten an immediate refund of my money, a sincere apology and most likely a discount coupon in an effort to keep me as a customer. With this businessman, I had to rattle his cage before he finally offered to discount me money I've already invested in his company in the off chance I'd ever spend another $100 on one of his races. As if I'd want to go through the mail in process and waste the stamp that he's so reluctant in using.

My promise never to do one of his races again was made in a sincere protest of being treated like my future business meant nothing - his offer of discounting me my own money only serves to infuriate me more. I had honestly hoped that this adult....this man would snap out of whatever character-flawed-haze he was in, realize that his integrity was at stake, and do the right thing. No go. Didn't happen. It's amazing how $5 turns my perception of a man I've never met from being a person respected in the industry as a competent Race Director to a man barely worthy of the bottom of my foot. A stealer. A man of no Character.

I've already paid for this I'll darn well do it. And have fun while I'm at it. But I won't participate in this man's income any longer.

Unfortunately, this promise forces me to withdraw any further attempts at making the EvoTri team. This is in no way a reflection of the EvoTri team or any of it's members - good people all! I cannot, in good character, fulfill the one race requirement of EvoTri team membership - what would it say of me if I ignored a statement I made solely for personal gain? The more I think on this, the more I'm certain it's the right thing to do. For me.


Anonymous said...

I could write a comment that would be longer than your post.....and I may!

I did maybe 10 triathlons and 10 other races of various types over the last year and the one that this guy was the RD for was the absolute worst! The only reason I'm doing it again this year is I wanted to do a triathlon before the Great Clermont in April to see where my fitness was at and this is the only one in the local area. At least this year I no expectations.

The major issues at the Great Florida Escape last year were:

1) parking was a disaster - those that came early had to park farther from the transition area and carry their bikes across 1/4 of soft sand and those that arrived late parked beside the transition area.

2) race distances changes on the morning of the race from 1k swim, 25k bike, 5k run to 1/2 mi swim, 18 mi bike, 5k run

3) he failed to collect the required data to report the results to USAT so anyone hoping to include the race in their USAT rating to possibly become an All American could not. I got the severe blow off when I complained about this.

I guess we can now add larceny to this long list of accomplishments.

Marc is too polite to mention his name. I'm not.

Thomas A. Ziebart
Event Director National Training Center
Ford Ironman 70.3 Florida - Race Director
NA Sports Sponsorship Sales
Whirlpool Steelhead 70.3 Triathlon
Series Director - IronKids Triathlon Series

I'll probably get DQed this weekend ;^)

Fe-lady said...

Thanks excel man...I too will boycott these races.
I long for the "good old days" where there were small events and everyone wasn't out to make a buck off of us...(sigh)

Taconite Boy said...


Tac hopes he still does not owe you money

S. Baboo said...

This actually makes me feel pretty good about all our little races here in New Mexico and West Texas where race directors still usually try and bend over backwards to keep the athletes happy.

Two examples, a local duathlon last year had a motorcycle leading the bike to ensure that the lead cyclists could just focus on racing. The motorcycle took a wrong turn thus taking the two leaders off course. They still came out the winners but they lost time so the RD refunded their full entry fee this year and comped their fee for next year.

The GG and I had a run in with another RD because of some issues with the course. The RD comped us entry into her next event AND a hotel room at the nicest hotel in town so we could attend that event in style and at minimal cost.

None of this took any complaint just an RD who say that something went wrong and that there was something that could be done to make things right.

I could go on but then maybe triathletes would flood to our region and we would be quibbling over $5.

Di said...

My 2 cents - yes, it is "only 5 dollars" now, lets multiply that by how many others who found their race fee $5 higher than expected. I am a business owner. If I promised a certain price by a certain date and then backpedaled and neglected to honor my word, how long could I hope to be in business? Not very long. This RD has simply shrugged his shoulders and said, okay, I'll give you $5 off of your next $100 entry fee to one of my races. I am going to call a spade a spade - this is bullshit.

Rainmaker said...

Wow... the arrogance shown by the race director is amazing. Like you said - if he can't part with $5 that isn't his, how do you know how the rest of the event will go?

Good job not only holding his feet to the fire, but then following through with the walk!

ShirleyPerly said...

Cheap bastard. I know our shop would have refunded the $5 if we had overcharged for a race. Glad excel man said who it was cause I thought you were talking about Sommer.

Bullet said...

I agree that he should have refunded the money. It's not the way I would ever do business. Customer service is everything, BUT, sorry Big-un, I probably would have just dropped it. I know it's not the $5, it's the "principalities" ("Friday" reference). Getting stoked up and mad about something like this just ruins my day (not his). I try my best to stayed layed back about things. That being said... I'm not the biggest of guys, but I'd be more than willing to put a royal beat down on the guy if you need it. In a layed back way of course.

Cindy Jo said...

Wow - I almost signed up for this race - now I'm glad I didn't! Doing the olympic race in Orlando the following week instead!

I'm not surprised at all of the problems (esp. the $ issue) now that I know Tom Ziebart of the NTC is running it...

Anonymous said...

Count me out on any of his races also. The $5 isn't even the issue, it's the piss poor way it was handled. $5 dollars!?! for crying out loud is this guy a complete idiot. Even if it was $100, the right thing to do is refund the money. I know in my line of work, I have many times where I refund or discount hundreds of dollars to do the right thing.

This guy is a royal jack ass and unfortunately for him your blog is read by many people. His little $5 windfall is going to cost him hundreds or hopefully thousands of dollars. hehehe

Good luck to you and Curt this weekend though.

Anonymous said...

I agree that this is an unfortunate situation, by why harp on it? How much worth is your time? It seems that you spent well more than $5 of your time to send emails and get mad about it.

Comm's said...

First I applaud you for your integrity. To not continue a evotri bid b/c you won't do the race. Way to Man Up.

I won a contest last year that included a great set of schwag from Pabst Blue Ribbon and possibly a free entry to the race that it was connected too. This is way back in July 07.

i never got the stuff and didn't do the race. I tracked all the emails I had with the RD, who puts on big time stuff. And their quality. About 12 all told. Mostly polite but getting more firm. We even spoke on the phone and said, "in the mail" and never got it.

Finally persistence paid off and I not only got the schwag I got a free entry to a race that I was already planning to do regardless of the misgivings.

In the end, I think your explaination of your feelings as you put them on the blog would have served your message better than the immediately indignant one you need. By going for the throat right away you may have sabotaged a refund.

But a bat to the head can get money out of people too! just saying. Plus you know where he will be if he's the RD. Just sayin' again.

SingletrackJenny (formerly known as IronJenny) said...

Thomas A. Ziebart
Event Director National Training Center
Ford Ironman 70.3 Florida - Race Director
NA Sports Sponsorship Sales
Whirlpool Steelhead 70.3 Triathlon
Series Director - IronKids Triathlon Series

Got it.

What a turd. Yeah, it's only $5 but the principle is that he has your $5. And knows it. And still won't give it back. Who does that?????????

Best for you to let it go. You're the one upset, not him. He (obviously) doesn't care whta you think.

Maybe you should send him a link to your blog and podcast and he can read what all your tri buddies think of him.

It's Tom. Ziebart, right? What's his race? Steelhead? FL 70.3?

Yeah - we know who you are.
If you are reading these, Make it right, Tom. We can be completely forgiving, but you need to make it right.

Ryan said...

I'll have to check Evo-Tri's website later to see how many rounds of voting it will take for them to decide on accepting your official withdraw from contention.

Unknown said...

i be halfin' outrage.

i, too, won't be signing up for any of those events.

or, you know... anything longer than a sprint. but, you can leave that part out when you tell him that he's even managed to piss off the nytro and don't no one wanna piss off the nytro.

Supalinds said...

I would be pissed. Geez, who do they think they are??

The Stretch Doc said...

ya this totally sucks. You got PUNKD`..
I just withdrew from a TX race 4 days after the Refund policy offered a refund. The RD even emailed me the quote from the contract and STILL Offered me the refund even though it was clearly past the date! How awesome is that!

Sorry to hear this BIG tyme low race director cannot just send you $5, even if it was from his own pocket.

This is definetly Podcast material!!


left.right.repeat said...

di is right...and basic...this is bs

My favorite quote is "Nothing short of right is right" Perhaps Mr. z needs to re-think his position.

CoachLiz said...

Pretty Lame. Come on, it is $5! I think he can give up a latte at Starbucks for you. Obviously, "Customer Service Starts Here" is not his mission statement.

The word is out. Too bad, I liked the Florida 70.3 even though it was hotter than hell.

TJ said...

Good on ya Bigun for doing the right thing. When an RD or any other business person thinks they're above responding to customer complaints in an ethical manner, it's time for them to go, or at least be exposed.

And.....I'm sure he didn't consider the power of the "League". The ripple effect of that 5 bucks could be HUGE.

I think this calls for the creation of a new Tomb of which there is no release. Maybe, "The Dungeon of Disgrace".

Collin Kromke said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Collin Kromke said...

Honestly, I'm sad for both you and the RD. I'll leave it at that.

Unknown said...

That is unbelievable. I'm right there with ya, Bigun. I was actually about to decide to sign up for Steelhead(or should I say STEALhead), but not any longer. That's BS, just like Di said. I have no use for such people or their races. They are a disgrace to a great sport.

And for the record, I think you did right by posting the story and by your boycotting his races. And I thank excel man for giving us his name. Way to stand up for what's right, Bigun.