Marketers know all about 'cognitive connection' and 'emotional empathy' towards products - achieving this state is the holy grail for many brand owners.
Anecdotally, most of us can identify with this phenomenon - simply put, we fall in love with the gear we buy, especially if it works well and is produced by a reputable manufacturer.
But… as in other forms of 'love', when the emotional connection is in full bloom, logic often goes out the window.
Puppy love, even in trees
A living example of 'product love' is the Petzl ZigZag.
No matter how many times ZigZag lovers see pictures of defective ZigZags they discount the images as fake, having no back-story, it's the same picture regurgitated, only in New Zealand etc, etc.
"Sure the Petzl ZigZag has cracks and broken links… but what's your problem man!"
This attitude seems quite strange when life and limb are at risk. And yet this is a reality today.
Same hairline crack, supposedly remedied
Up until recently all of the defective Petzl ZigZags presented to Treetools had a hairline crack on the top left hand link, extending from the spring hole to the outer edge. (This problem is supposedly remedied in later versions of the Petzl ZigZag).
Then, a few weeks back, we saw an example where the bottom link had collapsed around the rivet (along with four other cracked links on the same device).
Incredibly, the owner of the said ZigZag did not see these cracks or busted link as a major problem (ZigZag love-sickness in action).
In his mind the ZigZag had not 'failed' and he was happy to continue climbing on it.
To make matters worse he did not purchase the device from Treetools, so he felt it unfair for Treetools to make the exchange.
Only after insistence did he take the replacement ZigZag.
The second Petzl ZigZag (where the link has detached from the rivet) failed during descent. According to the owner of the device the climber was about 1m off the ground, moving around a thin diameter stem.
The ZigZag links were fully deployed when he made the jump to the ground which resulted in the device smacking up against, and around, the stem.
The climber was not injured and the climbing line did not detach from the device.
According to the ZigZag owner, there was no apparent defect at the start of the climb (this company owns two other Petzl Zigzag so they are familiar with the gear check procedure).
Are these breaks for real?
Treetools cannot be sure exactly what happens in the field with these devices - we rely solely on the credibility of the user when they present at the shop with a defective unit.
Did these guys pull the ZigZag apart with a winch? Mis-configure it? Or deliberately sabotage the device in some other way?
Treetools cannot say with absolute certainty but one thing is for sure - there are problems with the Petzl ZigZag.