I won’t be buying Chums eyewear retainers anytime soon.

1000m above the ground in my paraglider is no place for my dark glasses to fall off. My prescription dark glasses, you see, without which I can barely make out anything. So, I relied on my Chums eyewear retainer on my dark glasses. Imagine my dismay when I pulled them out of my helmet bag recently, and saw this:

Chums retainer, 25 years old

I wanted to give the Chums folks a piece of my mind. I wanted them to know just exactly how I felt that their product had started to show its first signs of wear. My ninja web search skillz revealed their website at https://www.chums.com/. I found a Contact us page which was wide open to customers, almost as if they welcomed comments and suggestions. So I gave them what for, as follows:

I want you to know that your flimsy Chums retainers have already started to break. I have worn them only 25 years or so. My river-guide brother gave me my Chums in, oh, 1990 I suppose. They just, in only their second century of use, developed a tear in the sleeve. As a result, the bead is stuck in a loose position, and can’t hold my glasses really snugly on my head.

And so, all my Chums retainer is good for now is:
1. holding on to my glasses securely; the grippers haven’t relaxed yet.
2. keeping my glasses from flying away; there is a strong cotton cord under the torn sleeve which shows no sign of giving way, and which still hangs around my neck.
3. proudly showing the khaki colour from 25 years of muddy river water, camping dirt, and paragliding sweat, reminding me of the good times I’ve had.
4. rocking a green-and-black spatter design which is probably a collectors item by now.
5. making me look much cooler than I really am.

I want you to know that I am not going to buy another Chums retainer, until…. the shops open, because it’s late at night and they are closed now. And if that next product also starts to wear out after only 25 years, I may well write you another stiff note. That will show you.

Actually, I lied to them. I wasn’t going to buy my new Chums the next morning. Their site didn’t list any retailers in British Columbia, so I’d have to hop across the border to Bellingham WA. That would take me a few days at least.

But they pre-empted my plot, with their reply the very next morning. Ryn of Customer Service told me, “We enjoyed your email here at Chums. Since you are a such a creative writer I would like to send you another pair of Chums….” Hah! Almost as if they were friendly outdoors enthusiasts with a day job making quality accessories that delighted customers, instead of the multi-billion dollar international conglomerate I know they must be.

“Well, all right”, I replied. “I was going to buy another pair of Chums, but if that’s the way you are going to be, I won’t. Buy them, that is, just wear them.” So I gave them my shipping address, and waited for them to do their worst.

Imagine my shock when, a couple of weeks later, an envelope arrived which showed they did not send “another pair of Chums”.  They sent me two more pairs of Chums, in khaki and in white-and-grey stripes.  Here is the family now:

New Chums family

At last their devious plan becomes evident. One pair of Chums will probably last another 25 years, followed by the second pair. By the time they both are damaged, I’ll be over 100 years old. They are hoping I will forget to write them another stiff note!

Well, if that’s the way they are going to be… I won’t be buying Chums eyewear retainers anytime soon. Not for 50 years or so.

And I’ll be telling all my friends, so that if they are lured by the surprisingly reasonable US$8 price, and get their own pair of Chums, they will know what to expect. Quarter-decade durability. Friendly customer service. Bah humbug.