Industry Scam Alert: Canadian man seeking to outfit himself on industry's dime

There is the possibility that there is a Canadian scam artist in our midst, seeking to creatively outfit himself with free gear by making false warranty and repair claims -- decidedly similar to a scam play in 2003, also by an Ontario man. SNEWS® has been made aware of two separate claims Ontario-based Matt Riddell (at least that is the name he is going by) is currently making.

There is the possibility that there is a Canadian scam artist in our midst, seeking to creatively outfit himself with free gear by making false warranty and repair claims -- decidedly similar to a scam play in 2003, also by an Ontario man (click here to read). SNEWS® has been made aware of two separate claims that Ontario-based Matt Riddell (at least that is the name he is going by) is currently making.

On March 10, Riddell sent a fax to Sierra Designs' warranty service, to the attention of "Elena" seeking a replacement Thor sleeping bag that Riddell says he had sent to SD earlier for warranty repair service. Riddell claims that he paid over $300 for the bag and that after only one use, the side seam on the left side had split 2.5 to 3 inches. Naturally, SD has no record of the bag.

On March 17, Riddell called Kent Lack at Mountain Hardwear's warranty service, claiming, according to Lack, that six months ago, he had sent in a Mountain Hardwear Light Wedge 3 and that a 3-foot length of seam along the right side had blown out (this guy is apparently hell on seams). Never mind that it is virtually impossible for a lap-felled seam, that is double-stitched, to blow out.

Apparently, Riddell became someone belligerent, and, as is typical with scammers, asked to speak with the president of the company immediately. According to Lack, Riddell was insistent that since Mountain Hardwear had clearly lost his tent that he had clearly sent in for warranty repair over six months ago (no way to track a shipment that old and most scammers appear to know this all too well), he deserved a new tent sent immediately to him.

We would suspect that Riddell will likely be attempting to contact other companies seeking additional products be sent to him -- backpacks, stoves, sleeping pads, etc. He'll more than likely want to talk to your company president. For the record, the phone he left for follow-up contact is 905-895-8627. A directory database search shows the number registered to Westburne Ruddy Electric, 100 Harry Walker Pkwy, Newmarket, Ontario, L3Y 7V1, Canada. The fax number recorded on the fax letter he sent to SD is 905-895-0323.

Directories can be wrong, so we called the number, and low and behold, Riddell called our offices back. Riddell told us he is a registered investigator in Ontario (he offered to send us documentation and his badge number as proof, but we declined) and expressed complete indignation and anger that Mountain Hardwear was claiming he was seeking a warranty return. He indicated that what he was really seeking was the ability to purchase clothing and other products from Mountain Hardwear at wholesale since he had to repair his tent seam himself, at his own cost. He also indicated that he was very angry with Mountain Hardwear and their warranty services' department, and Lack in particular, and was considering taking legal action against them for slander for making false claims about his claim (claiming he wanted a warranty when in fact he wanted wholesale access), notifiying us and sharing false information, and talking to Sierra Designs.

When we asked him why he didn't submit the damaged tent for warranty repair service, he stated that he didn't want to wait for the month or more it would take to get the product repaired. He gave no reason why he was willing to wait for the SD sleeping bag.

Riddell also indicated to us that the SD sleeping bag issue was resolved since he had faxed them a copy of the customs form and they had agreed to send him a new bag.

We contacted SD for verification, as we told Riddell we would, and received a copy of the customs form Riddell claims to have filled out on Feb. 21 2005 when he shipped his bag for warranty service. SD told us they contacted Canadian officials who have no record of the international registered post number being recorded with the mailing. In addition, the form appears as if it carries no official stamp. In other words, SD isn't sending Riddell a sleeping bag based on a faxed form you can pick up in any Canadian post office without the proper authorizations and customs records to accompany it.

We checked with our sources at both the Canadian customs services and Canada Post and were provided with even more confirmation that the forms Riddell provided SD are likely false. The customs form Riddell provided to SD is a B3-3 (04) form, used only when a commercial business is exporting product to the United States. The form Riddell actually needed to show as proof of shipment was form E-15, used by a Canadian individual, sending a product to the U.S. for warranty repair and registering it with Canadian Customs prior to shipment so that it does not get duty levied on it when the product is mailed back to Canada. Form E-15 requires that officials at Canadian Customs actually see the product, and then it is only valid if that form has an official stamp from customs.

As for the registered number with Canada Post, that number is used like a tracking number, just like FedEx or UPS or Priority Mail, and gets entered into the system immediately the item is shipped. Meaning, it is unlikely, though not impossible, for that number not to be recorded in the system IF the product was actually shipped. However, and here is the catch, Canada Post informs us that if Riddell has a valid registered receipt, stamped on the front or the back by the post office, his recourse is to pursue tracing and recovering the package with Canada Post if it never showed up at Sierra Designs as he claimed, not seeking a replacement product directly from SD.


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