Following our first story, "Industry Scam Alert: Canadian man seeking to outfit himself on industry's dime," published in SNEWSÂ® March 18, we have received an avalanche of phone calls and emails from companies all with their own Riddell tale to share and thanking us for making the story public.
If you have had an encounter with Riddell, you are not alone. Here is a quick summary of what we know (not including his encounters with Sierra Designs and Mountain Hardwear provided in our March 18 story):
>> Cascade Designs' head of customer service took a call in mid-March from a man identifying himself as Matt Riddell asking for a couple of business cards from the warranty and customer service department. When she asked what he planned to do with them, he stated that he used a lot of Cascade products and wanted to know how to get in touch with the company. She told SNEWSÂ® that she mailed him several generic business cards and alerted the company that they may be hearing more from Riddell after reading our story. Jeff Bowman of Cascade told us that the staff at Cascade had a meeting about Riddell and followed up the meeting by mailing him a copy of our story.
>> Gregory reported that Riddell contacted dealer services at the company and was soon speaking with Assistant Sales Manager Jordan Phillips. It turned out Riddell claimed to have purchased a Whitney pack (value, $320) from a Canadian retailer based in British Columbia. He said the pack failed and he returned it to the dealer who replaced the pack with a Reality (value, $229) and sent Riddell on his way. Phillips told us there was no way a retailer would have simply given Riddell a pack of much less value and size as a replacement for the Whitney. What Riddell now wanted was his original Whitney back or a replacement pack. Upon checking, it turns out the retailer he claimed to have purchased the Whitney from has never carried the Whitney. Upon further questioning by Phillips, it turned out Riddell didn't have any receipt or even any documentation of having made the purchase, so Phillips said there was nothing he could do.
You'd think that would be the end of it, but no. Two weeks ago, Phillips heard the executive assistant talking to a guy and he said knew it had to be Riddell, which it was. Now, he claimed the retailer had given back his Whitney pack and was provided a rain cover, but it did not fit. He was busted when he told Phillips, after Phillips asked him what size the cover was, that the size tag indicated the cover was a large (Gregory does not sew size tags into the seam on the rain covers) and then when, under further questioning, he claimed he had lost the stuff sack (The stuff sack is attached to the cover so there is no way to separate them).
>> Moving on to The North Face: Riddell started by telling TNF's Canadian office that he had bought a Momentum 900 sleeping bag ($430 value) online through an American retailer. Shortly thereafter, Riddell claimed that the sleeping bag "failed badly at the seam a good two to three inches." Riddell stated that he sent the bag to the American warranty department and was told the U.S. couldn't do anything, although if it were up to the U.S. warranty services department, TNF would simply replace the bag. However, since he was a Canadian consumer, he was told by TNF U.S. that he had to deal with TNF Canada. Riddell said the U.S. office told him it was going to send Canada TNF warranty services the defective bag for evaluation and either repair or replacement. Canada TNF checked its files only to find nothing -- no bag, no record of a shipment, nothing. There was a "Riddell" in the American system, but that filed dated from September 2003 and the first name was Brian. When asked about the discrepancy in name and timeline, Riddell told TNF that the Riddell from 2003 was his uncle. Canada TNF checked with the U.S. offices again, and TNF U.S. told Canada that regardless of what is sent in, which company made the product, of which country it comes from, the file is always entered and a record created upon receipt of the product. Canada then contacted Riddell to ask him to provide a tracking number. He didn't have one because he sent it Canada Post. Canada TNF asked him if he had insured his parcel. He told Canada TNF that he hadn't. All Riddell knew is what that "the guy" in TNF U.S. warranty services told him. Canada warranty services asked Riddell the name of "the guy" and were told that he couldn't answer that right then because the name was at home. When Canada TNF told Riddell it would need proof that it indeed received the product so it could rectify the issue, Riddell became rude, the representative reported, and demanded to know who the warranty manager was. Riddell was told he was talking to the warranty manager at which point Riddell said he wanted to talk to the top man immediately, so the phone call was forwarded to Rick Wood who told Riddell that he needed to fax all his documents (receipts, correspondence, courier bill, etc.) and TNF would take action accordingly. Riddell reportedly never faxed anything.
>> Our final report (although we expect there may be more) is from an encounter immediately after our first story on Riddell appeared, reported to us by the Toronto Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) store manager, Bob Matheson. He contacted SNEWSÂ® to share the following: MEC has a service through which a customer can order a product from its website and it is shipped free to the local store for pick-up. Riddell (who is an MEC member) ordered an Outdoor Research water bottle parka from MEC's website and came in to the Toronto store two days later saying he had received a call that his order was in. MEC confirmed there was no way the product could have arrived in two days -- it has to be shipped from Vancouver -- and there was no way Riddell would have been called since the product has to be physically in hand to trigger a contact. Matheson said he knew Riddell was likely lying. Riddell, appeared to be upset that he had wasted his time and money coming into the store for no reason, wanted to know what MEC was going to do for him to make up for it. Matheson, armed with our article on Riddell from earlier in the week, let Riddell know that MEC wasn't going to do anything except cancel his order and refund the price of the parka. Along with the receipt for the cancelled order, Matheson handed Riddell a copy of our article!
Stunning, though true, Riddell, actually came back into the store later that day, claiming his lawyers had contacted us and that we had agreed to print a complete retraction. Nothing could be farther from the truth: SNEWSÂ® had no additional contact with Riddell other than our interview with him for the original story. According to Matheson, he also threatened a class-action lawsuit -- a bit humorous, since a "class action" requires a class, although we know he is in a class all by himself.
At least one company has now informed us it is initiating an investigation and possible legal action against Riddell for fraud.