The paintball industry is still quite young, but I feel like it has a lot to learn before it can truly be successful.
I am a stalwart supporter, and I have a great love for this game (no matter the style) and the industry. I live and breathe paintball. My career, my friends, and my weekends involve the sport. However, there are a lot of things that make my favorite past time an annoyance. As both a part of this industry and a consumer myself I feel the business side of Paintball has a little growing up to do. Both retail stores and manufacturers alike are often times absolutely abysmal when it comes to customer relations.
It makes me feel like the industry often times doesn’t care about the life blood of the sport. Shouldn’t they? I have seen some pretty saddening examples of how many in our industry treat customer service. There have been cases where companies have either found some way to not honor a warranty; or they just make it so difficult that the person gives up and cuts their losses. Then there is this trend that the industry has of manufacturing a popular item and then not even STARTING the manufacturing process for the next batch until they are 100% sold out everywhere. We have had more than one customer wait for a lens for 11 months. 11 months for a lens? Seriously? – This wasn’t just any lens either, it was the most standard you can get, clear.
For instance, look at an industry like Snowboarding. It started around the same time and has blown up to astronomical proportions. Not only that, but when things are out of stock, you can expect 2-3 weeks at the latest before your item is ready to be shipped. Not 5-6 months. Burton, Anon, Dragon, Ride, Morrow.. etc. these are all respected, well run, adult businesses. Aside from a few in our industry, it seems we do not have many that even come close to the type of care these businesses have for their brand. If you would like to make the argument that Snowboarding is less expensive than Paintball, you are welcome to make that argument. Though for a lot of people, it isn’t. I myself don’t board enough for a season’s pass to be economically viable for me. I have a hard time paying $80 for a lift ticket and driving for over an hour up a mountain destroying my gas when I can drive down the street and for $15 with previously purchased paint I can play paintball for 8 hours.
My point is, I love paintball – I love the rush of a game, I love the apparel style, I love my gear and I love my job. I love the community and the players I interact with on the phone, emails, and the RIOT every day. However, if we want Paintball to truly succeed and not be a niche market for action junkies and people who HHHHHHHHH all the time. Then our industry needs to start picking itself up and acting like an established respectable one. If the customers aren’t happy, they won’t be dedicated to promoting our sport.
Fix it paintball. If the Biathlon (admittedly, a little obscure) can make it to the Olympics and do quite well. I’m sure we can get ourselves off of ESPN3 and on to a real channel.