Online Security

One of the biggest fears of customers when ordering online is the protection of their information.  This protection is something we take very serious.

The first portion is simple, our privacy policy is very strong, we do not share your information with any third party in any way, especially email addresses, these are guarded like Fort Knox.   The only exception to the sharing of information is with respect to drop ships from manufacturers where we provide them your shipping information ONLY.  This information is not to be used in any way beyond the shipping of the product.

Now for the more complex piece,  Credit Card information.  I am happy to say that at ACK we take your Credit Card information very serious.  We use the toughest encryption when transmitting the credit card information to our processor and as of today we no longer store any of the data on our servers.  That’s right, we can have an all out assault and hack into our system and your information is still secure.  How is this?  Well, without going into too much detail we have moved to a system that allows us to reference your card information in our Processors system, thus they store the information and we merely reference it, this means that if you save your card to your account on our site you are not storing your card number with us, you are merely telling us to reference it in the future.  I know, that isn’t necessary easy to understand, what is easy to understand is that we do not store your credit card information.  What we do store is the last four digits of the card number so we can tell you which card you put it on, but past that we have no knowledge of the card itself.

Hopefully this helps to make everyone feel that much safer and I sure hope that other sites rely on similar technologies to protect user data, there is no need to keep the data local and with “cloud” systems on their way this will become just that much more important.

–Peter @ ACK

Price Matching

While we at ACK believe that having the best possible price is important it is unrealistic to think that someone out there will not have a lower price. We strive to maintain a grasp on what is going on in the Internet world and check our prices as often as we can and adjust quite frequently, however, there are often times that someone finds a price that is lower or that is perceived as lower.

Because pricing is so competitive we will match any advertised everyday price.a

What does this mean exactly? Well, it means that in most instances we cannot match sale prices, it is difficult to compete with someone who is going out of business or out of season and selling their goods at 50% off to liquidate. Price matching this is just not something that is feasible.

The second important factor is in-stock status. We match prices only when the other merchant has the goods in stock. You see, it is real easy to advertise a price of an item you don’t actually carry and may not actually have any intention of carrying.  We believe that “out of stock prices” are invalid since you cannot actually buy it at that price. Sure they might order it for you, but we have it in stock and ready to go. If you don’t mind waiting it might make sense to order through the out of stock dealer, of course you do have to ask yourself why they are out of stock, how long it will take and how reputable the store is.

The last factor that goes into price matching is shipping. We offer free shipping on accessory orders over $39. This is unprecedented in the marketplace, most have their cut-offs (if they even offer free shipping) at $50 or $75. What does this mean for price matching? Well we will match the final price. This means that someone that has a product for $5 less but their shipping is $14.95 is not actually less, they are $10 more. It does get a bit complicated when someone is asking us to match a price when the shipping is not apples to apples. We do our best to try to accommodate but if a retailer prices all their items $5 less but charges $5 more for shipping is it really cheaper?

In the end it is all about service and selection with a very competitive price, however, if you do find something for less you should go one step further and see if it really is less. So many retailers offer what appears to be something cheaper that actually turns out to be more expensive through hidden charges and shipping costs. It is prudent to always validate the total final cost when your decision is based solely on price.

I will leave you with this, price isn’t the end-all be-all. I personally look for the lowest price and then weigh the price difference between the lowest and what I consider to be reputable stores. I will not stray to a second rate store for just a $1 or $2, it just isn’t worth it. This is why our reputation at ACK is of the utmost importance to us, we listen to our customers and we do what is necessary to ensure everyone has a great shopping experience.

–Peter @ACK

ACK- Austin, Houston, & San Antonio Boat Shows

When you think of a boat show you probably expect to see thirty eight foot yachts with powerful motors, ski boats with loud stereo systems, the best bass fishing boats, or maybe even some custom sail boats. What you might not expect to see is Austin Canoe & Kayak. It is common to think that boats at boat shows are mostly those which are powered by motors. Once you visit a boat show and see Austin Canoe & Kayak’s booth, you can’t help but be drawn in. Our impressive assortment of kayaks, canoes, and paddle boards are quite unique in the sense that our boats are mostly powered by people.

We often like using the phrase “The Ultimate Skinny Water Boats”. This is a great definition highlighting the advantages and versatility of the boats we sell. Kayak fishing is a great example of how kayaks are used to access areas otherwise inaccessible by motor boats. This type of fishing is on the rise. There are so many obscure coves and concealed waterways that are now being discovered with the use of kayaks. We are consistently hearing positive feedback from our customers on their kayaking experiences. It is quite frequent that we hear of lucrative fishing trips where bounties of fish have been corralled using boats that have been outfitted by ACK.

Fishing is just one of the many aspects we are involved in as seen at the Boat Shows. We display Paddle Power kayaks, Peddle Power Kayaks, Sail Power Kayaks, and Stand Up Paddle Boards. All of these water activity craft are not only great fun, but great exercise. We enjoy talking with all of the people who came to visit us at the boat shows. We not only interacted with the expert, but the novice as well. It was great seeing many of our fellow vendors come by to visit and explore our booth. We appreciate all of your interest.

The boat show is always one of our favorite events of the year. It allows us the opportunity to showcase many of our great products as well as interact with the customers we so very much appreciate. We make a point every year to ensure that your visit with us is fun and memorable. Like we do every year, we had a raffle that only cost one dollar to enter. The winner received a brand new kayak at the Houston and Austin shows.  The San Antonio Boat Show will be no different. In addition to the raffle, we had a bean bag toss to win an ACK t-shirt. This game drew in a lot of players anxious to try their skills at the toss. We ended up having many skilled bean bag players winning t-shirts. That was great to see, and we were happy to outfit everyone in ACK t-shirts.

To all of those who came to see us at the Boat Shows, Thank You! To all that are coming to San Antonio we look forward to seeing you.  To all who missed us, please come see us at one of our many other events!

If you have not already signed up for our mailing list, please do so. We will keep you posted on all of our upcoming events and dates.

Suggested Search

We always make decisions based on what would make shopping better or easier for our customers.  The latest change is in our Suggested Search.  Anyone that has used Google recently is familiar with Suggested Search.  It is powerful when you have a good idea of what you are searching for and stops you from scrolling through products.

At the heart of Suggested Search is the ability to search the products in realtime, as the person types.  In our case after you type 3 characters in the Product Search it will start suggesting products.  It will suggest 12 products and provide a link to see all that match the key words already typed, or you can search the old way by just typing words and hitting “enter” or clicking “go”.

We hope that this makes shopping easier and faster.

Peter @ ACK

Boy Scout Troop ACK San Marcos visit 12.23.09

Here at ACK San Marcos, TX we had Boy Scout Troop 1836 hold their weekly meeting right here in our store. The purpose of the meeting was to educate the scouts on the different boats, paddles and products needed for a successful kayak trip. The scouts are planning a whitewater outing next year, so having the ability to speak with the experts here at ACK was a great experience.

The troop advisor Matt had a whitewater adventure scout book with him as a guide for the evening topics and the scouts really showed an interest in the whitewater kayaks, otherwise known as “Play Boats” or “Creek Boats”. We had the scouts sit in the kayaks to get a feel for how they’re designed to accommodate and adjust for a tight fit for the different sized Scouts. The shorter Wave Sport Project 52 was of particular interest many of the scouts had seen this type of boat doing flips and all sorts of tricks on YouTube. Another boat that they really liked was the Dagger Approach 9.0 and the Liquid Logic Remix which are hybrid creek boats that still paddle well in open water.

The topic of whitewater boats moved from discussing the different boats and paddles, to the all important topic of whitewater safety. The first and most important safety product we discussed was a PFD (Personal Flotation Device). You are required by law to have a functioning PFD accessible while on the water. ACK offers whitewater specific and kayak specific PFD’s. We suggest wearing a brighter color vest with reflective piping for maximum visibility and safety. A helmet is a must for any whitewater activity.

Getting into safety we discussed the importance of a throw bag. It helps to have a spotter or a person on shore to assist you when paddling more dangerous spots. The throw bag will allow your spotters on shore to assist you if you need a break from the action, or in an emergency situation. Another item to have, especially if you lose your paddle, is a pair of propulsion gloves. These gloves act as a spare paddle and can pull you out of a pinch if necessary. Finally we discussed the whistle, which is another requirement by law to have accessible when on the water. The whistle is used to notify others if you are headed toward them or as a call for help if you are in trouble.

The end result of the Boy Scout troop’s visit was a greater understanding of some different whitewater kayaks and the safety products associated with them. The Boy Scouts from Troop 1836 will be looking to rent some boats from ACK San Marcos in the spring time. The education they gained from ACK has given them a better familiarity and understanding of whitewater boating and safety for them to use and share on their next outing. It was great having the scouts to our store, if you’re a scout leader or know one looking for their next activity don’t hesitate to call one of our stores, we’re always glad to help.

Holiday Party!!!

This is Doug from the San Marcos store and I wanted to get in on the blog action. Last Friday night December 4th 2009 I attended a Great Christmas party held by The Alamo City Rivermen a canoe and kayak club in San Antonio.  It was a pot luck style party, so I brought some warm biscuits to share with everyone. The party was held at the VFW post 76. This was a really neat place,  it’s the oldest VFW post in Texas. The post used to be a Victorian style home with a huge veranda.  The party was in the upstairs party room.

The members include all age groups, all skill levels, and all types of paddling.  Some of the members participate in races including the Texas Water Safari. They are most fond of camping paddle trips, where they share a communal Dutch oven meal.

I had the opportunity to meet so many great people.  They had a table set up loaded with pictures from their last outing. The pictures were gorgeous. They looked like they were taken by a professional with a very expensive camera. The pictures were from this past Thanksgiving Holiday weekend out on the Rio Grande. The landscape was beautiful and I recognized a number of the people in the pictures sitting near me in the room. This was nice to see, and made it easy for me to mingle amongst the various people there who participated in the Rio Grande trip. It sure made me want to take that same trip next time they go. One of the pictures was of a steak dinner cooked on the Dutch oven. They really did some good eating on that trip, pretty fancy for camping.  They had a lot of camping gear with them.  I would like to bring a HobiePro Angler on a trip and carry all their gear next time!

All in all it was a great party . The people were very nice and the venue was spectacular.

Meetup Paddle On the Guad!

I’m always ready to try a new type of kayaking experience so when our local paddler meetup group posted up a trip for shooting a few miles of rapids on a local river I signed right up. Our trip was planned for 8 miles on the Guadalupe River above the Guadalupe River State Park north of San Antonio, TX.

Early Saturday morning about 14 members showed up and we ferried our cars and kayaks and got on the river as quick as we could. There was a wide assortment of both experience in the paddlers and the kayaks we were in. We had an assortment of whitewater kayaks, sit on tops, and canoe hybrids. The river was on a slight rise and we encountered some nice class 1 borderline class 2 rapids. Just about everyone took a tumble into the river at some point but other than a few scrapes and bruises no serious injuries. I think we all came out in the end with some quality personal lessons learned and a good experience to look back on. I encourage everyone to look for the opportunity to get out and try a new outing on your kayaks with a new group of people.”

ACK Recognized by City of Austin WasteSMART

Here at ACK we are quite proud of our service, our speed, our selection, but one thing that truly separates us from others is how we achieve all this while using a recycling program that is a win for everyone, it helps us keep our costs down all while keeping tons and tons of waste out of landfills.

We never realized how much we were saving or what the impact to society was until we came across the City of Austin’s WasteSMART, once we began the certification process we soon realized what we were doing for ourselves and for society. This is an exciting recognition on multiple fronts and with it I wanted to share some of the ways we help everyone involved:

– 100% Recycling of all plastic bubble wrap (both in terms of reuse internally and straight recycling)
– 100% Recycling of all manufacturer defective kayaks.
– 100% Recycling of all inbound boxes. Many of you have received “Ugly Boxes” these are our reused boxes

It doesn’t really stop there. In addition to the recycling efforts, we go one step further in the community.

– Our paper packing material is received from the Austin Statesman newspaper, we take the end of their paper rolls that they can no longer use
– Not all of our Ugly Boxes are ours, believe it or not, we have deals with local retailers to take boxes off their hands, boxes that otherwise were thrown away
– Dumpster Diving, yup, at our Austin store we routinely dive in the dumpster for cardboard, it is a precious commodity.

So, next time your order an item look to see if it is an “Ugly Box”, this is a sure sign it was recycled and be sure to recycle it yourself. Additionally, if you get a random newspaper article, read it, it might be interested…if just plain white paper, well, you missed it by just a few feet on the roll.

We are very proud of these efforts and we continue to look for ways to improve with our reuse and recycle program and don’t be surprised if you want to stop by for some bubble wrap or paper and we try to charge you, our trash is like gold to us.

You can see more information about the City’s program here: http://www.ci.austin.tx.us/sws/wrap.htm
–Peter

Order Fullfillment Speed

At ACK almost nothing is as important as getting you the right product in the fastest possible time.  We continue to hold stock levels that are unparalleled in the Kayak Retail Industry but stock is only one factor in the equation.  While product availability is great we have gone one step further in differentiating ourselves from others out there.

First, last month we released an updated cut-off for all accessory shipments, now allowing orders of in-stock items up to 5pm CST.  We have worked with our shipping companies to arrange for late pickups and have streamlined our order processing to ensure that any in-stock order that is received before 5pm CST ships that day, two more hours of order time.  Kayak order cut-off has been moved to 3:30pm CST, an additional hour and a half.

Today we are pleased to announce the addition of UPS as one of our shipping providers.  We continue to ship using FedEx but with the addition of UPS we now are estimating the delivery date and choosing the provider based on the fastest delivery in order to get you your order even faster.  This significantly increases the number of packages delivered in 2-3 days as UPS/FedEx have very varying maps for the 2-3 day window.

Additionally, since FedEx delivers residential on Saturday and UPS on Monday it allows us to cut off significant time on packages that would have shipped on FedEx and been delivered on Tuesday, they will now deliver on Monday via UPS.

We continue to evaluate other ways to increase the speed and service of everything we do, if you have suggestions, post on up comments.

–Peter