A recent alert from Petzl has the climbing world up in arms and is serving as a reminder to use caution when purchasing gear your life depends on.
Petzl recently found out that Aspir harnesses sold on eBay had been tampered with and posed a mortal risk to users. Petzl says a third party took new or lightly used harnesses, cut the webbing on the wasitbelt and leg security loops then put them up for sale online.
Petzl calls the modifications malicious and potentially deadly. Climbing harnesses are built to strict safety standards and modifying them in such a way exposes the user to a risk of serious injury or death. Petzl says this was a malicious act, and I believe them. The harnesses have been removed from the market and Petzl is telling climbers with Aspir harnesses to check the webbing in case of tampering.
First of all, I’m appalled that someone would do such a thing. I see no reason why someone would cut up a harness and resell it other than for malevolent purposes, though I can only draw wild guesses on the exact nature. Climbing harnesses are lifesaving pieces of equipment. The modifications done by this third party could cause the harness to fail during a hang or a fall and could injure or kill the user. I hope there is swift justice for whoever is responsible for this.
Second, this is a reminder to be wary of where you get your gear, especially safety equipment.
I purchase a lot of my equipment from retail sites such as REI where I can personally inspect or try on equipment. I usually items purchase online if they’re from a trusted distributor. I only purchase used equipment if I am able to view and try before I buy.
So how can you tell whether your online source is reliable?
The Internet gives consumers the power of knowledge with a few keystrokes. A company’s Facebook page will have reviews and posts from customers. Read through them and look for any red flags. If you’re looking for a deal on a certain piece of equipment, check the manufacturer’s list of distributors.
Doing so may lead you to finding a deal on bargain sites like Amazon, where some reputable companies will put items up for sale.
When you’ve found the equipment you want to buy and are confident with the seller, check the specifications of what you want to purchase. The seller should list the materials used in the product. If something seems fishy or the description of the product is vague, turn away.
For example, I never buy a knife that does not have details surrounding materials such as blade steel, handle materials, etc. Also, the product page may also give you user reviews. Also be sure to check over the company’s return policy if you have any issues or see any defects with the gear you’ve spent your hard earned money on.
Whichever way you want to go about getting your gear, be sure to take your time in checking things over and doing your research. What you buy, for whatever purpose, should be reliable. Don’t put yourself at risk over a hasty purchase.
Photo Credit: Petzyl