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Cabela's branded optics - a warranty warning! (1 Viewer)

eitanaltman

Well-known member
So I recently picked up a used pair of Cabela's Euro HD 8x32 for a nice price. This was a bin I'd been wanting to try for a long time, and I absolutely fell in love with them. Phenomenal ergonomics, extremely wide, clear, sharp optics, wonderful balance, top notch build quality... I find them more comfortable and pleasant to use than my wife's 8x32 UVHD. They give up very, very little to the Leicas optically or mechanically, with the only obvious gap being the coatings (the Leicas have great brightness, whiteness rendition and color saturation, the Meoptas still lag behind with weak blue saturation giving a slight yellow/green cast) and slightly more "luxurious" materials, but in all other respects they are basically alpha quality.

IMO, with the dark green armor and tapered black eyecups, if you changed nothing but swapping the Meopta logo for Swarovski and upgrading them to Swarobright coatings, they could be sold as "Swarovski SLC new neu" for $1500 and nobody would bat an eye.

These quickly became my go-to optic for daily birding, as I prefer 8x32 for general use. Thus, it was a gut wrenching morning when they failed on me. Some dirt bits fell into the left ocular, so I went to screw off the eyecup and clear the mess, as I've done many times before. With these, just like the Leicas, you screw the eyecup up to the last position, then push past a small final bit of resistance and the eyecup clicks free to screw fully off.

Well, that morning, the eyecup did not click past that stop point on the first attempt. So, not really thinking about it, I turned a little harder. I felt a twist and some friction, and the eyecup popped loose and I screwed it off. Thinking nothing of it, I blew off the debris, and screwed the eyecup back on.

When I put them back up to my eyes, I could not see through them! It was like when you accidentally leave the objective cover on one barrel, there was no image through the left barrel. Panicked (since I don't use objective covers!) I held the binoculars out away from my face, and I could see two exit pupils..... but the left EP was not where it was supposed to be. After a few moments of confusion and fiddling, with a sinking feeling I realized that the ocular had literally come unglued and, when the eyecup got "stuck", had rotated the entire occular completely out of alignment! Twisting the eyecup back to each end, I found I could keep twisting and rotate the eyepiece within the barrel.

Just my luck! I happen to be one of the cursed few who always experiences little issues with binoculars, some of them defects, some borne of my own fumbling ineptitude. In this case, however, I would consider it to be a clear mechanical failure, not a product of abuse.

That said, considering these are second hand, I was fully expecting and willing to pay for repairs. I wasn't looking for a handout, caveat emptor and all. I've sent binoculars for repairs with several other brands, with transparent explanations, nearly always with good results; for example, I sent in my old pair of Minox BD 8x32 BR for some focus knob and eyecup problems that were 100% my fault (dropped them!), admitted it was my fault and that I was not the original owner, and offered to pay for the repairs in the note I sent in with the bins. Minox sent them back, fully repaired, for zero cost, no questions asked.

So I headed to google and checked the Cabela's warranty. I had the impression they were one of those "we take care of you" outfits, considering their popularity and success within the hunting/outdoor segments. Sure enough, they proudly tout their "Legendary Guarantee", and they claim on the optics section that "Cabela's Brand Optics are guaranteed for the life of the product under normal wear and tear and against defects in workmanship." Well, I think, this certainly qualifies as a "defect in workmanship" if screwing off the eyecup caused the entire ocular assembly to twist out of alignment. It also states, "Unfortunately, Cabela's does not offer any repair or cleaning services for optics."

That's curious, and slightly ominous. How can you guarantee a binocular for its life if you can't repair it? Maybe they just swap for a comparable model from their demo / bargain cave sock if they deem it to be a defect covered by warranty?

I contacted Cabela's customer service, and explained the situation. I was clear that I wasn't looking for a refund or exchange (these have a 13xxx serial number so are 2013 production, and likely purchased at least 5 years ago), I just wanted my favorite binoculars to work again. I asked about the seeming conflict between the "guaranteed for life" part and the fact that Cabela's states they do not do repairs on optics. If you don't do repairs, how is the guarantee fulfilled?

The response: "Good afternoon, I am sorry to inform you that these being 5 years old, they would be considered to of had their life time and would no longer be covered. Defects are something that happen within the first year of use and not several years of use afterward. This would be considered a normal breakdown in materials. I am truly sorry for this. If you are interested in a new pair , we could look at a a discount for you."

I pointed out the warranty on the Meopta Meostar version, and explained that a <5 year "life" for a $1000 optic is absurd and completely out of line with comparable offerings from Minox, Leica, Zeiss, etc. After a bit more back and forth, this was the line they stuck with. Guaranteed for "life"... but we won't repair them, and WE get to decide what the "life" actually means. So the "warranty" is essentially worthless. And why would I want a discount on a new pair that I would not have a decent warranty on?

Flummoxed, I did some googling, and found that I am not alone. For example, the top review on the Cabela's Euro HD page gives 5 stars but notes, "HOWEVER, THIS IS IMPORTANT: Buy the Meopta model to save a hundred bucks and get a lifetime warranty. Buy the Cabelas-branded version to spend more for the same product AND there will be a very good chance they will find a loophole and refuse to honor the warranty." I also found similar stories on some other hunting optics forums of Cabela's saying "too bad, it's past the product life according to us".

I should have realized I was dealing with a retailer, not an optics manufacturer that cares about their product. To a high volume retailer, servicing a product 5 years after purchase is crazy. If a Cabela's Euro HD bin/scope breaks on you after a few years, it's a paperweight. Now I will seek to contact Meopta and pray they will let me pay for the repair, although google searches indicate they may not provide any service to Cabela's branded versions. If that turns out to be the case, does anyone know of USA based repair shops that can service Meoptas?

Curiously, I could not find any mention of this on Birdforum. I know some out there, like me, end up going with the Cabelas Euro HD version instead of the Meopta Meostar for various reasons, so I expected to find some discussion. So I felt the need to post that I would emphatically encourage everyone to ONLY go for the Meopta branded version! The identical Meopta version comes with either a 30-year or lifetime transferable warranty, depending which page loads for you. I have no doubt that Meopta will take care of you, and also no doubt that Cabela's will NOT.

Better yet, buy from a high integrity small business retailer like Doug at CameralandNY or Steve at Optics4Birding.

So if you think you may be saving a bit of $$ going for the Euro HD branded version of the Meostar binoculars or S2 scope, especially second-hand, think again. When you buy used optics, warranty coverage is crucial. Lesson learned, and hopefully I save someone some grief in the future.
 
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[email protected]

Well-known member
Supporter
Thanks, for the tip. I am glad I bought a Meostar instead of the Euro branded version from Cabela's. That seem's like a very lame warranty!
 
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dries1

Member
I have only bought Meoptas not the Cabelas Brand, I have gone to the bargain cave, to check out some glass, but it was to check ER, ergonomics ETC.
I am sorry to hear that, however there has been suspicion regarding the Warranty from Cabelas on BF in the past but not this in depth, which is confirmation to only buy from Meopta.
Personally I would not even buy a Nikon or Swaro from Cabelas either, since I have had quality issues with both brands bought from them in the past.

Andy W.
 

slingworks

Well-known member
That's pretty lame overall Eitanaltman...In quality Binos that's hardly broken in.
I bet Meopta will work on them. Maybe not even charge for it.

When it comes to Optics at Cabelas I think it's a rather unique situation. Cabelas has sold optics for generations, often with their own brand name etched on. I'd hate to think how many optics manufacturers and importers they'd worked with over the years...I doubt they they really could handle a repair "IF" they wanted to...
There's another side as well...Often times a manufacturer will strike a contract with (in this case a retailer) and as a condition of very low unit cost, the manufacturer/importer/distributor is absolved of any liability w/warranty or repairs.

I wonder if yours were a year old, if they'd tell you a year was the lifetime of the optic?

Reminds me of the time I took a pair of lifetime warranty Craftsman "Robogrip" pliers back to Sears..and they told me "sorry." We no longer stock Robogrip pliers so, we can't repair, exchange or substitute....
 
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eitanaltman

Well-known member
When it comes to Optics at Cabelas I think it's a rather unique situation. Cabelas has sold optics for generations, often with their own brand name etched on. I'd hate to think how many optics manufacturers and importers they'd worked with over the years...I doubt they they really could handle a repair "IF" they wanted to....

Yes, honestly I wouldn't expect Cabela's to repair the binoculars themselves. They're a retailer not a manufacturer, but I naively assumed they had some relationship with Meopta or perhaps a 3rd party repair facility.

There's another side as well...Often times a manufacturer will strike a contract with (in this case a retailer) and as a condition of very low unit cost, the manufacturer/importer/distributor is absolved of any liability w/warranty or repairs.

I wonder if yours were a year old, if they'd tell you a year was the lifetime of the optic?

I am confident that if they were only a year old, and I still had the proof of purchase, they would probably just swap them for a new pair as an exchange for a "defect". That seems like the type of thing a retailer would do, probably cheaper and easier than repairing.
 

18000bph

Well-known member
I am confident that if they were only a year old, and I still had the proof of purchase, they would probably just swap them for a new pair as an exchange for a "defect". That seems like the type of thing a retailer would do, probably cheaper and easier than repairing.

I wouldn't be so confident. In that case it probably would have been deemed "abuse of product".
 

jgraider

Well-known member
When Bass Pro Shop bought Cabelas, the good ol' Cabelas as we know ceased to exist. Bass Pro has ruined the brand, warranties, product lines, and customer service that Cablelas earned a stellar reputation for. Bass Pro sucks, period.

Sorry to hear that happened to you OP. I'd be pissed.
 

lmans66

Out Birding....
Supporter
United States
Interesting read....lesson is, you save a few dollars and pay later. As my mom would have said, nothing is free. In this case the dollars saved is paid for down the road.

Meopta is a good brand... I doubt though they will pick up Cabella's warranty.
 

eitanaltman

Well-known member
When Bass Pro Shop bought Cabelas, the good ol' Cabelas as we know ceased to exist. Bass Pro has ruined the brand, warranties, product lines, and customer service that Cablelas earned a stellar reputation for. Bass Pro sucks, period.

Wow, well there's the explanation.

Sorry to hear that happened to you OP. I'd be pissed.

I was really pissed at first, at this point I've moved on to acceptance. Thankfully I only had ~$500 into these and my expectations were reasonable given that I'm not the original owner... I could only imagine the rage I would feel if I had plopped $2,000 on a Euro HD scope a few years back because I found it a few hundred cheaper than the Meopta S2, and then got this response after a catastrophic failure like the focus ring coming loose :eek!:
 

eitanaltman

Well-known member
Interesting read....lesson is, you save a few dollars and pay later. As my mom would have said, nothing is free. In this case the dollars saved is paid for down the road.

Absolutely, and I understand the risks of buying used and how that's "priced in" to what I buy. And certainly justifies the relatively inflated used market value of Swaro vs Leica/Zeiss/Nikon.

I just hoped I'd get a few years of use out of them before they failed vs a few weeks |:(| ... and I didn't expect the "warranty" to be literally worthless after having had good experiences with many other brands.
 

dries1

Member
This should wake up potential customers who go on the bay to buy them new or even open box. Run, run very fast to the nearest Meopta retailer. Perhaps Meopta will help you out with the repair, it is worth a shot.

As another possibility, provided nothing is broken inside, Suddarth Optical or another repair center can help, it will cost some $$, and if you get it fixed, it is better than having a $500 paper weight or heavy monocular.



Andy W.
 
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jch10400

Member
When Bass Pro Shop bought Cabelas, the good ol' Cabelas as we know ceased to exist. Bass Pro has ruined the brand, warranties, product lines, and customer service that Cablelas earned a stellar reputation for. Bass Pro sucks, period.

Sorry to hear that happened to you OP. I'd be pissed.

I agree 100%. Stopped shopping at Bass Pro Shops several years ago and was very disappointed when I heard they bought Cabela's.
 

gcole

Well-known member
I remember when I first started buying outdoor clothing from Cabelas back in the early 70’s, high quality and first rate customer service. About the same time they were my go to optics provider also providing stellar customer service. I was also saddened when I was notified thru a sales flyer from Cabelas that they had joined a partnership with Bass Pro Shop because I knew what that really meant. The end of one of the last Great American Outdoor Equipment Providers which brings me to mention an incident I had back in 1978 when I called Cabelas customer service about a pair of high end Bausch & Lomb binoculars we needed replaced that were purchased that prior summer. Before I go on I have to mention, Cabelas customer service people back then were the most helpful/courteous and knowledgeable sales representatives of any retailer I have ever had the pleasure to talk to over the phone. This brings be back to that incident ... I purchased what I thought to be at the time a very expensive pair of binoculars for my wife, first time out she looses them :C All thru the fall/early spring nowhere to be found until the first lawn cutting when to my surprise I run over them with my lawn mower :C You can imagine the result. Called Cabelas told them what happened not expecting anything except a voice on the other end quoting me my total cost plus shipping to receive a new pair. To my surprise, the voice on the other end of the phone said ... I guess running over your wife’s binoculars with your lawn mower is one way of finding them, no problem send them back we will cover them under the warrant with no shipping fee, Thank You for shopping at Cabeals Sir. I was shocked. I told her right off how they got damaged, sitting on the ground thru the winter covered by all that snow with me than running over them with my lawn mower. I dare anyone to share a better customer service experience ... I will leave out the conversation :C part I had with my wife before I knew we were getting a free replacement. I almost forgot to mention where my wife dropped these ... right off the driveway 2 feet out into the high grass, where 6 months later I run over them with my lawn mower.
 
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lmans66

Out Birding....
Supporter
United States
I remember when I first started buying outdoor clothing from Cabelas back in the early 70’s, high quality and first rate customer service. About the same time they were my go to optics provider also providing stellar customer service. I was also saddened when I was notified thru a sales flyer from Cabelas that they had joined a partnership with Bass Pro Shop because I knew what that really meant. The end of one of the last Great American Outdoor Equipment Providers which brings me to mention an incident I had back in 1978 when I called Cabelas customer service about a pair of high end Bausch & Lomb binoculars we needed replaced that were purchased that prior summer. Before I go on I have to mention, Cabelas customer service people back then were the most helpful/courteous and knowledgeable sales representatives of any retailer I have ever had the pleasure to talk to over the phone. This brings be back to that incident ... I purchased what I thought to be at the time a very expensive pair of binoculars for my wife, first time out she looses them :C All thru the fall/early spring nowhere to be found until the first lawn cutting when to my surprise I run over them :C You can imagine the result. Called Cabelas told them what happened not expecting anything except a voice on the other end quoting me my total cost plus shipping to receive a new pair. To my surprise, the voice on the other end of the phone said ... I guess running over your wife’s binoculars with your lawn mower is one way of finding them, no problem send them back we will cover them under the warrant with no shipping fee, Thank You for shopping at Cabeals Sir. I was shocked. I told her right off how they got damaged, sitting on the ground thru the winter covered by all that snow with me than running over them with my lawn mower. I dare anyone to share a better customer service experience ... I will leave out the conversation :C part I had with my wife before I knew we were getting a free replacement. I almost forgot to mention where my wife dropped these ... right off the driveway 2 feet out into the high grass, where 6 months later I run over them with my lawn mower.

Great story.....one to tell the grandkids for sure! .... Customer service was indeed customer service back in the old days. Couldn't agree more.... So now we turn to online retailers and there are still a few, not many..... Not sure though that they would warrant that 'lawn mower' incident though :)jim
 

gcole

Well-known member
Great story.....one to tell the grandkids for sure! .... Customer service was indeed customer service back in the old days. Couldn't agree more.... So now we turn to online retailers and there are still a few, not many..... Not sure though that they would warrant that 'lawn mower' incident though :)jim

I must have walked by that area off the driveway a few hundred times. Then in the spring after my lawn mower had that Bino lunch, my wife remembers now ... they must have slipped out of her backpack when she got out of the car on that side of our driveway.
 

pat mitchel

Well-known member
Eitaltman:
Contact Suddarth optical - a well regarded middle of the US repair facility. Collimated a couple of my old porros and was pleased with the price and the end product. Regards, Pat
 

Samuraidog

New member
Thanks for posting this OP.

Your post affirms my suspicion of Cabela’s “private label” products. I am in the market to buy a set of binoculars and was considering Cabela’s branded binos, but I will pass.

Apparently, depending on the year, Cabela’s purchases binos from manufacturers and labels them as their own brand. Cabela’s brand binos used to be made by Viltrox, but now they are apparently made by Bushnell. Even if you were within the warranty period and had a replacement claim, you might not be getting back the same kind/quality of bino from the original purchase. Even with a significant discount, that makes their private label brand binos a no-go for me.
 

lmans66

Out Birding....
Supporter
United States
Thanks for posting this OP.

Your post affirms my suspicion of Cabela’s “private label” products. I am in the market to buy a set of binoculars and was considering Cabela’s branded binos, but I will pass.

Apparently, depending on the year, Cabela’s purchases binos from manufacturers and labels them as their own brand. Cabela’s brand binos used to be made by Viltrox, but now they are apparently made by Bushnell. Even if you were within the warranty period and had a replacement claim, you might not be getting back the same kind/quality of bino from the original purchase. Even with a significant discount, that makes their private label brand binos a no-go for me.

Look at Sports Optics and take a gander at the Meostar's or Meopro's....they are 16% off with the code provided. I just picked up a Meostar and am very impressed by this bin...looks like a keeper and the price....wow, now is the time to get them as they are in their line-up change.
 
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Colombia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Colombia

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