Getting a Wetsuit For Your Triathlon? Expensive Lessons Learned

I recently learned a very expensive lesson: buying a wetsuit manufactured outside of your own country can cost you a lot in the end. 

My wetsuit, which I scrimped and saved for to buy prior to IMAZ 2017, I thought was covered with a manufacture warranty. Coupled with the (up to then) great customer service of the well-known Tucson store, even the expense of the purchase didn’t feel so risky.

Due to a bike crash in 2017, I only got to use the wetsuit 3-4 times before IMAZ 2017. I took good care of it, hung it up in my own clothes closet, was excited to use it.

Until my daughter identified that all the clothes in my closet had started smelling of skunk. Every dress. every pair of pants hanging next to the suit had absorbed the odor. The clothes have had to go through a gazillion washes and Borax soaks. They are still smelling.

The wetsuit? Reeks. I have soaked and cleaned and had to relegate it to hanging in the guest room where we closed the door to keep the odor from heading down the hallway to the rest of the house. My husband has had wetsuits for over 15 years. He showed me how to care for it, and he has never had this kind of an issue.

I tried contacting the Tucson store where I purchased the suit- it went bankrupt last year. The people who subsequently bought the store only got the merchandise and aren’t carrying any of the risk from previous purchasers.

So? I emailed HUUB directly. Here were the reasons I was told the suit smells, and I quote:

“Firstly this can be down to the compilation of the rubber and rubber is a natural product so can at times have a distinct smell when stored in a hot place, or not cleaned correctly, or if a cleaner is used.
We always advise to clean the suit out thoroughly in clean water after every swim, and store in a cool place not in direct sun light.

This could also be down to the fact that you live in such a lovely hot place.”

Honestly? So, basically, the assumption is (and they are told I kept the suit in my home):

  • Arizonians don’t have air conditioning
  • The wetsuit smells because I live in Arizona

The first time I read the email response I was stuck initally by how utterly stupid the commentary was. Then, I realized, here is a company that does not live up to its product. That is washing away my problem by blaming where I live. (I honestly don’t recall being told that people living in the Southwest of the USA have smelly wetsuits. Or ever being warned in advertisements or by the store in Tucson that living here put my wetsuit in danger of rapid deterioration. Even if kept inside. In the air-conditioned closet.)

Also, please note- almost everyone I have known use diluted baby shampoo to wash their wetsuits. This was even a suggestion when I bought the suit. Note the manufacture correspondent states that any cleaner other than plain water is a problem. Check your manufacture care instructions and warranty for your wetsuit before you try anything. And be wary of anyone telling you to only use plain water. I honestly wouldn’t want to climb into my wetsuit if I hadn’t thoroughly cleaned it after being in the local lake.  And if something as gently as baby shampoo makes a wetsuit actually smell, what the heck does that tell you about the quality of that rubber?

To be fair, I was told I could mail the suit back TO THE UK, and get an exchange, but that I have to pay shipping both ways. My current estimate for shipping is ~$150. I have asked about a USA shipment location, and get no response. Honestly? For another $150 dollars, I can just get a different suit (NOT from this company). And if I buy a used one at IMAZ this year, I can get a really nice one for $150. Or heck, throw caution to the wind, and for $150 plus a little more, upgrade to wetsuit that is actually returnable to somewhere that postage won’t eat me alive next time.

My lessons? 

  • I’m clearly not buying a suit from this company again, because not only is the warranty not supported, but the attempt to put the blame on my living in Arizona is about the stupidest thing I may have ever heard yet.
  • Do NOT assume that the company you bought from will still be viable to help during the warranty period,
  • And, because of the above, I won’t buy a suit that is not made in my own country after this. It has nothing to do with not loving other nations or stuff made in them. But paying for return shipment to an international company is out of my budget. For the cost of this suit and all that shipping, I could have upgraded to a pretty fancy suit.
  • Check the care instructions with the suit you buy to be sure you know if they support any of the markets wetsuit cleaners. If not, you may be stepping outside your warranty with that popular bottle of baby shampoo.

Hopefully, you won’t learn the same costly lesson.

Shop carefully, folks!

Miffie

 

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