July 18, 2016

Endurance Shopping Experience: The Distance Depot

There are a dozen or so companies out there that are dedicated to supplying us endurance junkies with all the matching gear, comfort supplies and gadgets to keep us safe and moving down the trail. The Distance Depot happens to be one of them and I have ordered from them a few times.

My first order was a semi custom side pull halter bridle. I say semi because while I did choose my hardware and colors, the sizing was not made to Gem specifically. The ordering process was seamless and it shipped out amazingly fast arriving in my greedy little hands within a week of ordering it. The side pull is made very well with tight stitching, strong hardware and after many months of hard use on the trail and one endurance ride, it still looks 100% brand new.

The second item was a sheepskin seat saver that I received as a gift from my mom. Unfortunately, it did not fit the shape of my saddle right and so I needed to return it. I contacted the company about it and informed them that I did not have the receipt since it was a gift. They did have a record of the purchase on file even though it was under my mom's name and gave me options on how to go about returning it.

Apparently I had waited too long, to be honest I am uncertain if they have a 7 or 30 day return policy, but they would give me in store credit. I needed to ship back the seat saver and once received they would credit my own account with the money. If I knew an item I would like in advance, they could handle it two ways: 1) put a note on the account to ship it out or 2) have me pay for the new item on my credit card and ship it immediately to save time and then credit my card once they received the returned item.

I didn't have anything at the moment to buy, so I told them to just hold the money on my account and asked for a return shipping label. I was a little annoyed when they said they didn't have one and just gave me an address and return authorization number. Since I was already pushing time on the return, I went ahead and shipped it back on my own dime and didn't think any more of it figuring maybe it was due to the fact it was a gift and I didn't have a receipt.

Last week I finally decided what to order and got a new pair of riding tights. Like all prior ordering experiences, the order was seamless. There was an issue with my in store credit account and the lady on the phone was super nice, helpful and went above and beyond to help me get what I wanted. The tights arrived at my door in 3 days. Easy, friendly and fast.

Except they were too small. I contacted them the next day about exchanging them for the medium. No problem. Same options as before. I could 1) pay for the mediums up front and get them shipped out and then get a credit back to my card once mine were back to them or 2) wait until these ones were received and then they would ship out the mediums. I didn't have my card on hand and so I told them to just wait.

Again the lady was super nice, helpful and willing to go above and beyond to help place my order.

But then the wheels came off. Not only would they not provide a return shipping label, making me have to pay for return shipping, but then she informed me that I would need to include a check in the bag for $6 to pay for shipping out the new pair of tights.

I have never, ever had to do that with any company I have ever purchased anything from in 34 years. Not from big stores or small mom and pop shops. Never.

What I should have done was said screw it and kept the tights. I could have sold them online for $10 off the full price and saved money on the various shipping charges. I didn't think of that at the time though and so I sucked it up and paid for the return of the tights plus added a $6 check to pay for them to ship me ones in my size. I was angry though. All in all, I am out somewhere close to $18 on various shipping charges from my gifted seat saver. Annoying and not very customer friendly.

In fact, this whole experience just puts a really bad taste in my mouth. Its as if all the really care about is getting your money and selling the item. When placing an order they are kind, helpful and get the item to you quickly. But once the item is in your possession, they really could care less about helping you get the product that will actually work for you.

I will never purchase from them again. I'm not telling you all what to do, but please make sure the item you purchase is 100% perfect so you can avoid the charges and annoyance of their return policy.


  1. I was also really annoyed with their return policy. Although I knew going in to the purchase that I would have to pay to return it if it didn't fit. But it still sucked. And I was returning a saddle saver so it didn't fit in a small box and it cost a ton to return.

  2. Yes, I have ordered very little from them mostly because of that return policy. I did order a new halter bridle and it is very nice and well made, but I knew I wouldn't be returning it. For anything sized I do all my ordering from Riding Warehouse, amazing customer service, free return label comes already in the box when you get it! And I've had no problem returning the wrong size and replacing/crediting account. Oh, and free shipping over $50, so I wait till I have enough and then place the order. Try them! (no financial incentive for me, just good service)

  3. I'm with Irish horse on Riding Warehouse! Their service is out of this world! I'm not a fan of Zilco, which RW carries, so for my biothane tack I usually order from Distance Depot, American Trailgear, Running Bear or Hought Endurance (they make really really nice nose bands for hackamores!)...yes, I price shop a lot! It depends on what piece of equipment I need.

    Anyway, re: RW: you get a full year for returning an item, no questions asked, and they do send you the return shipping label. I recently had one package get lost in the mail and they sent me a replacement free of charge with free shipping, which to me was astounding. So here's another vote for them, if you haven't tried them yet! :)

    1. I will say that the actual items I have gotten from DD have been high quality and the prices are decent as long as you get exactly the right thing the first time around. I will shop RW if possible, but I am with you in not being a Zilco person

  4. A LOT of outdoors companies require you to pay shipping one or both ways. Distance Depot's policy isn't that strange at all to me as I do a LOT of online shopping. Policies vary company to company. Read up going into it and pick your poison. Most are very up-front about their policies on their websites.

    1. I have never had to include a check to pay to ship an item back to me and I shop mostly online for everything. Even all of Dusty's ultra running gear which is mainly little mom and pop specialty shops. All my favorite camping and kayaking companies include free return shipping. Or maybe that is why they have become my favorite companies and I just weeded the others out over the last 20+ years. I don't mind paying shipping to get the item, but returning shouldn't cost me money.