/ Tiso and their claim to be "outdoor specialist"
What has happened to Tiso? Ten years ago they had good customer service and plenty of staff with a good level of knowledge about climbing equipment.
Today I went to a branch to buy children's harness for my son and asked the man to help me with selecting a children's harness. He didn't know about the harnesses so went off to get another member of staff. Fair enough up to this point, I don't expect everyone who works in Tiso to know about harnesses. The second guy didn't know about harnesses either. Beginning to ring alarm bells - two staff on the climbing floor not knowing about harnesses?? Hmmmmm..... The third guy said they didn't have any in stock - fair enough, it is Xmas after all - but curiously wasn't able to say what makes/models of children's harnesses they do normally stock. They said I should try the other store in town, so I asked if they could phone the other store for me and find out what children's harnesses they have in stock. At this point we're back to the first guy. He can't find the number for the other store for ages and several attempts later having repeatedly dialled wrong numbers, over five minutes later he speaks to the other store. He puts the phone down and says they only stock the Petzl "Uzi" but tells me they haven't got any in stock. I tell him Petzl don't make a harness called that, and ask if perhaps me meant the Petzl Ouistiti. He says it was definitely the Uzi. I ask him if it is a sit harness or full body harness, which generates a totally blank look, and he then says "they didn't say and I didn't ask".
I'm not asking for a rare item here. Tiso bill themselves as "Scotland's number one outdoor clothing and equipment specialist shop". Unfortunately they just aren't living up to this bold claim.
Anyone else had difficulties with Tiso?
Sounds like what has happened is that they are not as good as they used to be!
Well that's definitely true!! They're are not specialist.
How old is your son?
My daughter is 7 and a half. Get a Black Diamond Wiz Kid,
Thank you, looks a good recommendation.
Try the Ratho branch.
Yes, I saw that review a while ago. They're all body harnesses, am looking for a sit harness.
I've more or less given up on Tiso. had some absolute clangers from staff there.
First one started like yours, asking someone for advice who was good enough to say they didn't know anything about rock shoes, but to speak to so-and-so who was the climbing "expert" on that day. Went and spoke to him and turns out he'd been climbing all of a month, and never outdoors. he could say that he really liked his rock shoes though (the one and only pair he'd ever owned). Re-defining expert....
Second great one was looking for a 4 season sleeping bag, and the staff member was continually pushing a vango microlight 100 as it was "light and really good value". The fact that it was a 1 season bag seemed irrelevant.
Third that springs to mind was trying to replace a wallnut no.4 that I'd dropped, and the member of staff spend ages trying to convince me that a BD micro nut 4 was exactly the same as a wallnut number 4, just a different brand.
Most recently I've been looking for new boots for winter climbing and it was like drawing teeth trying to get the idea over that I wasn't after a flexible B1 boot. Gave up eventually for the dual reasons that the guy serving me was clueless and that they stocked a grand total of 2 choices of B3 boots.
I don't mind people not knowing about a particular type of product, maybe the guy that knows nothing about climbing knows everything about skis or kayaks, but for goodness sake don't try and blag it!!!
"outdoor specialist" is really pushing it. Scotland's no. 1 is absolutely laughable.
Our local store won't let you hang in harnesses to see how they feel (the only shop in town that won't) for "health and safety". It seems that they are increasingly uninterested in climbing / technical pursuits and busy pushing the non-technical "lifestyle" gear instead.
I am sorry that you had this experience.
I work for Tiso in Perth and if you want to discuss harness options, please give me a call tomorrow (01738 634464).
I would second the recommendation of a Wiz Kid, I've sold lots of them over the years.
I am guessing that this is a Christmas present so (if you want) I can check stock and if we've got one, we'll do whatever is possible to get one to you in time.
If you don't want the harness but want to give more direct feedback then please feel free to give me a call anyway.
Tiso Ratho are good, as is the one in Perth the few times ive been into it. There is the odd experienced staff member kicking about but its no Needle Sports.
Had a similar experience buying crampons in the Glasgow shop last year, salesman offered to help but said he didn't know anything about crampons as he was into snowboarding. They've recently sold a controlling stake to JD Sports.
I have two,one for my 8yr old and one for my 9yr old. They are excellent.
I used to work in Glasgow outdoor experience, and was amazed when I arrived to find that I was one of the only staff members that actually did anything in the outdoors. Then the manager fell out with me cause I wouldn't go on the Christmas night out and I called the women's clothing fashion! So then he put me in the approach shoes section constantly (it really is the punishment section! No one needs help with approach shoes!), so often there would be no one in the technical areas of the shop who had any real knowledge. That was a few years ago, but I do avoid using them as much as possible.
That would be the Tiso that will not let you test a harness then. I told them that I would not buy a harness that I hadn't first tested first for my own health and safety reasons. Needless to say I didn't buy one
I am not sure where you are up to with this but I have arranged for a Wiz Kid harness to be delivered to the Tiso store in Leith (I'm assuming from your post and profile that you're in Edinburgh). It should be there by close-of-business today.
If you still need it then you can pick it up from the Leith store or if that is not convenient then you could call them (0131 554 0804), make a phone payment and we'd happily deliver it to home/work in time for Christmas.
Again, I am sorry that this was your experince in the store.
Bruce, you are a good man for doing that, very much appreciated. Leith store is less than half a mile away so I'll pop in there and get it. Thank you so much. Great customer service, thank you.
Safe climbing and happy Xmas to you.
I do feel sorry for the Tiso staff that are actually outdoorsy folk and come on forums like this. It's not their fault the company don't employ more people like them. If they did, they may have a better reputation. Sadly, it seems the management are largely edjits, and there's not much the staff can do about that.
That said, I'm still not going to shop there unless I have no choice. (It's the only 'outdoor' shop in Stirling, so sometimes if I need something basic I do go there. Don't bother for technical stuff, they never have it.)
I wouldn't narrow it down to just Tiso to be honest. Having worked for one of the large chains for a good number of years while I was going through school and uni I can tell you that big 'outdoor specialists' are more and more just fashion and dug walking outlets. Now I wouldn't criticise any individual that I've worked with in the past, far from it, everyone I've worked with are well meaning good people and 9 out of 10 times if they don't know they will pass it on to someone who hopefully should know; as you sort of experienced, but they will always try and help you out as best they can and mean to do well.
But unfortunately due to such stores just being retail outlets at the end of the day, the majority of people who work there are people whom like myself are going through uni, college etc, so obviously they're younger and there is a limit to their real 'experience'. A lot of the time also, people will take up a job there without much if any outdoor experience and through working there will start doing some hill walking and/or maybe climbing and what not; which is a good thing. There are however a few people who genuinely are experienced and do have a breadth of knowledge/experience, however there are normally ever only a few at most in each store and rarely will they ever all be on shift together. This is especially so for specialist sports such as climbing/kayaking etc, most staff will have some pursuit in the outdoors such as hill walking/bothying etc but generally not more specialist ones.
Sure they do run training courses for staff members but lets be honest training courses are no substitute for experience. The companies are owned by businessmen and run like most businesses in the UK, with little regard for their employees, staff are on minimum wage, zero hour contracts. So unfortunately for people like yourself and everyone on this forum who are outdoor enthusiasts, if you are shopping in these stores, you should be aware that they are no Needle Sports and it is just a retail store out to make money, pushing fashion items to the public. Sure, on the side, it sells some proper bits of kit, but this does not make up much of its sales at all, so why head hunt for proper experienced individuals to sell that small portion of the stores sales? And how many experienced people out there are going to be happy sitting on minimum wage, zero hour contracts busting their balls to make the fat cat more money?
At the end of the day, these 'outdoor specialists' are retailers out to make money. They are no Needle Sports but unfortunately they are marketed as if they are in order to dupe the unwitting public into thinking that they are buying an extreme bit of kit - like a North Face jaekit! So basically, if you are going to shop in these stores, you need to be aware it is just a retail store in a shopping centre. Staff are I'm sure across the board, nice friendly people, with a love for the outdoors, who are trying their best to help you but have limited knowledge/experience. So you shouldn't complain about them as it is the business, and the way the business is run. If you are really looking for sound advice then shop elsewhere and support smaller independents like Needle Sports. That's not to say that you won't get some sound advice from the larger stores as you can.
So really the problem is the companies themselves, they market themselves as experts but don't recruit 'properly experienced' people and don't offer enough proper training for their staff. It is just retail!
No problem Nick.
I will phone the Leith store so that they are expecting you.
I am hoping that it will be there today but it will certainly be there tomorrow. If you call them and leave a contact then they'll phone you when it arrives. 0131 554 0804 ask for Angela.
Lucky you used the word "largely" given that Bruce is at management level as far as I know! :-).
Personally, like most places the staff split into two - those that are helpful and try their best and the others! Overall I've found most are like Bruce and try to help when they can, although some try it on with marketing speak and without enough practical knowledge at times.
Can happen in any company.
When I lived in Leith I did quite like the sausage sarnies at your branch. It was a toss-up between you and Lockie's caff before heading to AR1. The lack of fag smoke and better coffee often swung it your way. Irrelevant I know, but I thought I'd share anyhow.
Seconded. I've used their Glasgow and Ratho stores a lot over the years, and the newer Perth one less so. I've always found the staff to be extremely helpful and knowledgeable.
So, if not Tiso, which outdoor retailer would you recommend??
Well its not Central Belt but if I'm in Aviemore I like to stick my head in Cairngorm Mountain Sports. Genuinely nice feel to the place with great staff and a good range. Mountain Cafe upstairs does amazing pancakes. If only all gear shops were like this. :-)
I have a Petzl Ouistiti harness that you are welcome to have if you want it. It could be ten years old, mind, but has not been used more than a couple of times and has been stored in our dry, dark loft ever since.
I bought it for my daughter, who is now 19.
They used to be great. I knew Graham when he opened his first shop and he was very knowledgeable and friendly. I bought stuff from him for years. Then I lost touch and there was a long gap when I didn't go up to Scotland.
Then about 3 years ago I was in Inverness and went into their shop. The staff were unfriendly and lacking in knowledge. IIRC correctly they also refused to give a BMC discount.
I haven't used them since and have no intention of doing so again.
sorry just my wee joke because Lamb mentioned the same outdoor gear retailer thrice in his post!
Jings! You've earned yer Christmas bonus!!! (Have a guid yin when it comes)
Aye, seconded Ian and Bruce.
Used to work in Tiso and some of the staff really do know their stuff. We were always told to be open about not knowing something if we didn't know something. I'm not a fan of management hiring people to don't have the knowledge, but sadly it happens. Hope Tiso and the other stores don't make a habit of it.
Maybe we just all like to give a little thumbs up for a decent independent!
I've long had a policy of being wary of any advice received in outdoor shops until the assistant can demonstrate they have more than just a training course worth of knowledge on their subject. I work near Rose St in Edinburgh, where there are half a dozen plus purported outdoor shops including Tiso and Cotswold. They're probably both in the top three, along with Nevisport, as they have some staff who do know their subjects. But it's a low benchmark, and all three employ staff who don't kow their subject.
My worst example this year was a staff member in Nevisport. I was wanting a new helmet, and to try on a few types. I was told there as no need to try them on, as they could be adjusted to fit. Then he told me if I wanted a wider choice, that the ski helmets would probably work as an alternative. I thought he was being sarcastic, but he wasn't.
The worst of it is the insistence of the less knowledgeable staff trying to pretend otherwise. Tiso, and all the others, should put a stop to that.
I'd post this experience on their twitter or facebook page - its the kind of feedback they will need and you might just get a few quid in vouchers :)
I find that the level of quality advice and assistance varies from them, for example, Cotswold Outdoor, admitting they knew nothing about climbing shoes - in that particular branch, to expert service in Tisos where I was perfectly measured up and advised for Nepal Extremes and found my feet had gone up a half size since I was a youth. Across the outdoor retail board I have had dodgy advice and great advice. One thing I would say about Tiso is that I go there and check things out but usually get the gear elsewhere because other outlets offer wider and better range of discounts (MCofS, SYHA, online price matching, etc) without having to wait on sale nights or purchase a discount card. Tisos has lost thousands of pounds worth of business from my group of outdoor pals for this reason. Needless to say I saved about £90 on the Nepals by getting them from a certain shop in Glasgow's West End. Another discussion perhaps...
Demanding the best possible range and service and chasing down the lowest prices is really a bit of a non sequitur.
Using the services of one shop (fitting, expertise) and then buying in another is pretty low. The extra margin charged is what pays for the expertise.
If possible, it's maybe better to go to these places during the week: on a Saturday you probably have a much higher chance of being served by part-time staff who don't really know their products very well.
I popped into the Inverness Tiso to buy a balaclava for my father in law's Christmas.
They didn't have any balaclavas. Not one. And not just in the Inverness store, there was not a single balaclava in stock in any Tiso store.
Even if they had the most knowledgeable staff in the world (which they don't for reasons outlined above) it wouldn't count for much if the person ordering the stock doesn't have a clue.
Can't agree there. In the example above, buying in a different outdoors brick and mortar shop it's totally reasonable to buy in the shop offering the best deal. I'd agree trying on gear in a shop just so you can buy online isn't right, but it's different on when you're physically going to different shops. It's a slightly bizare idea I've only ever seen in climbing / outdoors folk that shopping around is in some way morally wrong.
Why should you be compelled to buy in the first shop you visit, esp if you don't feel they deserve the sale? The other shop in the example above obviously want's the business more. They can offer the same advice (if its' the one I'm guessing), but give a better price.
Recently buying new winter boots I visited 4 different stores to try on all the different brands / models I was interested in. Each store had different levels of expertise (some shockingly poor), different brands etc but also overlapped slightly in common makes/models. In the end the pair of boots I bought had originally been tried on in a different store, but I wasn't going to walk back across town to buy them, plus I felt the service and knowledge in the shop I was in was better and they were more deserving of the sale. So all 4 shops offered advice / fitting, 3 of them got no sale. I can't see anything wrong with this, unless we're now supposed to only visit a single store and buy from them regardless of whether the service, price or product is any good.
Reading through the above posts, the "extra margin" doesn't seem to be buying a great deal of expertise in a lot of cases....
Elsewhere might be different. I've accepted paying a bit more to buy from needlesports for example after I had a very good exchange of e-mails offering advice on a couple of different products. Happy to pay a bit more and get that level of service.
Going into a store with no intention what-so-ever of making a purchase just so that you can check something fits before ordering online, I do agree is wrong and I wouldn't do.
Nah, not really the case. Most full-time staff have less outdoor experience than the part time staff. As I mentioned above, most staff are part time anyway and on zero hour contracts, and are doing so while at uni etc. So some/most of these part time staff have got a job there because they have some interest in the outdoors - and like myself want cheap kit!
'I popped into the Inverness Tiso to buy a balaclava for my father in law's Christmas.'
When was this, out of interest?
Inverness Tiso currently have three styles of Balaclava in stock; Extremities Silk, Extremities powerstretch and Rab powerstretch.
I agree, you should shop around to find the best product at the best price. I hope that when folk come in to my store, the best service also comes in to play.......
About 2 weeks ago. Glad to hear that things have improved on the balaclava front.
Sorry but can't agree - online/other shop...same thing. If that's how you roll then that's cool. Not for me though. Good service gets a sale as I understand that the service was part of the deal.
Tiso haven't really adjusted to the national obsession for a bargain. Other retailers make it appear you are getting a bargain, even if you aren't. Sellers of services like airlines and railways have byzantine pricing structures that cater to the obsessive 'money saving' habits of travellers, which we lap up even though on average they are no cheaper, and offer poorer service. Supermarkets have spurious sale prices. The web offers cheap prices and dubious guarantees. And we love it all.
They are either going to have to embrace that shallow world, or shrink and have low footprint, low rent stores that really do offer a specialised service with an in depth range of gear. Compare the size of Needlesports' shop in Ambleside with the 3 Tiso stores in Edinburgh. Needlesports being small and crammed with gear is more enticing I think.
I hate to say it, but in this day and age of the internet/information super highway, who exactly still wishes to pay a premium for gear advice freely available on the internet?
Sorry, but Go Outdoors has saved me a fortune recently.
I agree with that. I get a HM Forces discount in loads of other outdoor shops, but not in Tiso. It kind of rules out buying in Tiso.
Out of interest, why do you say that is wrong?
'We the undersigned demand interesting knicky-knacky outdoor stores with great service. However we reserve the right to buy all our big tickets at the cheapest multi we can find'
The UKC Massive.
Economics will soon sort this one out.
Anyway, am off to the butchers then the green grocers....oh no, they're gone.
So you honestly buy from the first shop you go into, regardless of what other products may be in stock in other stores, never shop around to find the best feeling axe, or best fitting boots etc?? Seems bizarre to me but each to their own.
Absolutely, all things being balanced, or even not as per my post above, good service will win the day for me. Even if that includes someone telling me they've no idea, but wait to speak to someone else who does.
Because part of the reason kit is often cheaper online is because they don't have brick and mortar shops to pay for / run. not always true but often is.
It seems unfair to use a bricks and mortar shop who accept and have to price to include all the costs of such to try gear on, find your size etc, then buy it cheaper from somewhere online which doesn't have the same overheads.
Still, each to their own. I happily buy some gear online, but not stuff I need to try on.
That's because both are now in Tesco with a carpark right outside - far more convenient!
I get loads of bargains at Tisos.
No, happy to shop around to look at options but won't/don't stiff a shop for a few quid if they've been helpful.
Indies are not all great though ... lots of them are rubbish. Tbh I thought Needlesport was underwhelming.
A bit like comparing Decathlon with Needlesports!
Needlesports are a bit like an online Tescos - you can get just about anything.
Can't say I've noticed Horse Riding and Fishing gear in Needlesports.
The best climbing shop I ever came across was MORAY MOUNTAIN SPORTS in Forres. It was owned and run by mark Sinclair. Always ready with a brew and good advice. A really keen winter climber and gear savvy.
Sadly Mark and another mate of mine (Neil Main) died on Lochnagar in 95.
FACT....The best climbing shops are run by people who are climbers first...Just like the best garden nursery's are run by nurserymen. End of
Yeah, and the best butchers are run by top weightlifters.
I'll bet they are not run by vegetarians.
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