Colorado Custom Hardware has issued a selective recall of Alien climbing cams made since November 2004. Due to defective brazing by a subcontractor, the heads of the affected cams can pull off of the cable at low loads. The specific cams in question can be identified by a small dimple at the base of the round ball where the axle goes through the head. Aliens that do not have the dimple continue to test at full strength.
Retailers around the nation have been notified, existing stock has been pulled from inventory, and signs have been placed at the climbing counters. Customers of Internet retailers, such as Mountain Gear and REI, have been notified by email. For additional information contact:
Colorado Custom Hardware, Inc.
ATTN: Brazing Recall
115 E. Lyon St
Laramie, WY 82072
SNEWSÂ® View: This is a very serious problem that has been poorly handled by numerous parties. The climber who discovered the problem posted on a web forum before contacting the manufacturer. This led to wild speculation, false accusations and extensive rumor mongeringÂ -- click here to read.Â
Since he had not heard from the climber with the defective cam, Dave Waggoner, the owner of Colorado Custom Hardware, believed his company was being unfairly accused on a public forum. It turned out the customer used an outdated email address and did not bother to make a phone call. Unfortunately, Waggoner made matters worse by responding publicly on the forum in a less than professional manner. This had the effect of pouring gasoline on a smoldering ember. Waggoner was served up and roasted by the ensuing flames.
Paul Fish, owner of Mountain Gear, read all the hysteria and was concerned that he may be selling defective products. So Fish pulled nine cams from his inventory and sent them to a test lab where three did not meet manufacturer's specifications. Fish did the right thing by immediately contacting Waggoner who then tracked down the problem and instituted the recall.
As it stands, CCH is now fighting for its life since it is a one-product company. This was the second quality-control problem in a year; a batch of cams had to be recalled last summer due to misdrilled holes though that defect was not life threatening. The wildly popular Alien cams, among the best small cams on the market, have been in such demand that retailers have had a hard time keeping them in stock. Now their reputation has been severely damaged and it is quite likely climbers will be looking to other cams such as Wild Country Zeros and Black Diamond C3's instead.
Whether CCH can restore its reputation will depend greatly upon how it now handles the recall. It will take nothing less than bending over backward to ensure customer loyalty and confidence. The one saving grace is that nobody has been injured to date.