SteepandCheap Reviewed

My Review: 7

Steepandcheap.com is a website dedicated to offering super rad discounts on cool outdoor gear.  My expert internet sleuth Allison found this one.  The copyright on their “About” page says 2003-2004, but I am only seeing the site now.  They are “powered by” Backcountry.com.  I suspect they had a different format previously.  The guys at Chainlove (another BC.com site) posted something about this a couple months back.

Their tagline says: “One killer gear deal, one item at a time until it’s gone.”  I can’t argue, the deals so far have been killer.  Everything I’ve seen advertised is far below MSRP.  I picked up a Timbuk2 backpack yesterday that looked pretty nifty, at what seemed like a screaming price.  The signup and checkout process took me all of 35 seconds, which was great.  I was definitely impressed with the purchase and account UI.

They are also doing some pretty cool viral marketing, surprisingly nifty web apps that most traditional retailers don’t really get yet.  They offer a RSS alert system, and they allow you to share deals with friends not only via email, but on Facebookas well.  They show ads on the page, but they may as well squeeze every nickel that they can, especially since their margins can’t be high with discounts this steep.

The whole “one item till it’s gone” thing adds a definite sense of pressure and urgency to the system, and doubtless that’s why they do it.  It has an auction feel (a la Ebay) and also reminds me of Jellyfish’s Smack Deal of the day.  The difference here is that Steepandcheap doesn’t indicate how much time you have left, or how many items are available.  You are guessing until it’s gone.  But, the price doesn’t change either.  It is what it is.  It’s a GREAT deal on gear that sells until they’re sold out.  Artificially creating scarcity-based urgency is just good business.  My guess is that the items being sold are remaindered, unsold stock from Backcountry.

So why did I only give them a 7 out of 10 review?  Couple of reasons. For one, there’s no Paypal payment option.  I would like it better if there were.  And the RSS feeds, though really cool, seem to update slowly.  At the moment the most recent item in their feed (on my google reader) is the 4FRNT snow skis, and it says that it’s from 58 minutes ago.  That’s not the item currently on the site (A Merrell women’s jacket.)  In fact, it’s more than two items ago, because there was a watch on the site before the jacket came up.  RSS should be nearly real-time, and that’s important with a time-limited “buy till we sell out” mentality.

Also, and this is big deal, their pricing is inconsistent.  The backpack I bought was the Timbuk2 Track, and the listed MSRP on their site is $90.  SteepandCheap’s price was $44.38.  Any way you slice it that’s a great deal.  But the MSRP they listed during the sale was $150.00.  1/3 of the retail price sounds a LOT better than 1/2 of the retail price.  Truthfully, I did make an impulse buy based on the perception of scarcity without doing my research in advance.  I’m ok with that.  But I want them to play fair, and show the right prices.  I sent a question into customer service, see their answer down below.

The site is “powered by” Backcountry.com, a longtime online outdoor gear retailer, and winner of numerous online-shopping accolades.  Their internal blog, The Goat, has numerous references to the site starting as far back as December 2006.  I think they’re offering a potentially great service with Steepandcheap, and it is now on my regular stop-by list of shopping sites.  But I’d feel a lot better about doing business with them if I knew the prices were going to always be correct and consistent – I now feel suspicious about their offers.  Time will tell I suppose.   And no matter what, that RSS issue has got to get fixed.  For now, they get a 7 out of 10, even with killer prices.

———————————————————————————-

Here’s my question and their answer from their customer service rep:

Question:

Hi There,

I bought a Timbuk2 Track bag from you yesterday.  The suggested MSRP on your site
was $150, and you were selling it for $44.38. It sounded like a great deal, and I wasn’t
sure how long it would last, so I bought one on the spot.

Afterward, checking out the Timbuk2 site, I noticed that the packs are listed at $90 MSRP.

I still think I got a great deal, but it seems dishonest to post a higher MSRP than the
manufacturer really suggests.  If that was intentional, it artificially inflates the
discount you’re offering, and that seems wrong.  I’m not accusing, I’d just like some
clarification.  Why was the MSRP listed so much higher than what’s shown on the
manufacturers site?

Thanks,
David

Response:

Hi David,

Thanks for contacting us at Steepandcheap.com.

I do see the confusion, there has been many different versions of this pack, with very little physical differences and through the waves of shipments from Timbuk2 prices have changed.  The Black/ Black/ Black posted on SAC was purchased at a higher wholesale price than the packs posted on backcountry.com now.  MSRP had not been skewed to pump our number, but was actually $149.95.

If you have any additional questions or concerns, please feel free to let us know. Have a great day— we can’t wait to serve you up another killer deal at Steepandcheap.com.

Sincerely,

XXXXXXXX
Steepandcheap Gearhead

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1 comment so far

  1. Justin on

    Great post. I’ll have to check these guys out for my next purchase on gear (which is coming soon).

    Thanks for the tip!


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