Need Advice-Voltaire Saddle Fitting Experience

Hi All! I wanted to reach out to the community for some advice regarding a somewhat uncomfortable situation. I don’t have any horsey contacts so I’m looking to you guys for some feedback. Some back story here, I have just begun riding casually again as an adult, I’m a 1x a week lesson-er. I began my search for a saddle within my barn, inquiring with a trainer if there was anything for sale. I was offered to look a Voltaire(our barn is sponsored by them) however the fit was a little large. After this ride I was informed that another client had set up an appointment with a representative for the following week, and I would be able to ask them my questions and be fitted then. There was never any mention of cost associated with this interaction.

The following week the representative is 3 &1/2 hours late to our appointment, fine I understand traveling on the road stuff happens. We try a few saddles and agree on measurements for a right fit. At the conclusion of the ride we sit down and draw up a quote for a new saddle with my preferences. During this time there is not mention of cost of consultation/time involved up to this point. Along with discussing cost of a new saddle I inquired about how to obtain a used saddle. They looked up their inventory and they told me there was 1 in another state however they were sure the representative there would not give it up. I followed up with the questions of how frequently do they come available, do you foresee any availability in the new future. The answer I received was “no, you size is very common, anything that becomes available will be sold before we even know about it”. Okay, so I asked what their opinion was on purchasing online as I have been looking on Facebook & tack sale websites. They tell me with anything used Voltaire cannot uphold their warranties etc… Again no mention of any cost for the fitting. We conclude our meet with a quote for a new saddle, and a short discussion about follow up. I let them know I will need a few weeks to decide what is right, and I want to explore my options. Now after multiple times relaying that this sale was not a guarantee, and multiple opportunities had on their part no mention of cost for their time had occurred.

Fast forward a few weeks I have been busy looking for a nice used saddle, posting in various groups etc…I have even had a few discussions with the trainer,any other saddles in house, about purchasing online, they recommend Equitack.com as a good place to look. I post an ISO ad on Facebook and get lots of responses. After weighing my options I decide to purchase a saddle from another company that happened to have a used one in stock. Said representative does their follow up, and I inform them of my decision to not purchase new, but I have found a saddle myself. There should be no surprise among any party that buying used independently was an option.

This is where it all goes downhill. Rep does not answer but instead reaches out to the trainer who set up the meet, saying that they feel used, and would like to be compensated. Trainer reaches out to me in defense of the representative saying that I should have used the representative to secure a saddle. I will reference to above where I inquired about used and the rep. made little to no effort to find one. In the weeks after our visit not once did they reach out with any viable options for a used saddle. Aside from the fitting, which they were there for another client to begin with there was no effort to find a saddle for me. Now I’m apologizing to my trainer because I had no idea that with a fitting was a commitment to one rep. In my time doing research I have read from multiple people to try lots of things before you buy. Meaning that inevitably someone would not be making a sale. Back to the rep, now that they have learned we will not be doing business they demand $450 for the rights to take my measurements elsewhere!

So herein lies my question, has anyone been charged for a saddle fitting thru Voltaire. The rep. tells me this is credited back to you upon purchase, has anyone seen this charge on their invoice? There has never been a figure discussed until I graciously let them know I will not being doing business with them. As a person in sales for many years a significant number such a this, I would think would be notified up front before any service rendered? I am feeling bullied by both this rep & the trainer involved. I truly feel that this is not a kosher transaction, and the rep. is being petty for missing out on a sale. Can anyone give advice on how to approach both the rep. and trainer?

Thank you for taking the time to read through!

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I purchased a new Voltaire several years ago. There was no kind of charge what so ever for the fitting, etc. nothing of the sort was ever mentioned. I did shop elsewhere trying to find a used one first. The charge or credit was most definitely not on the receipt,

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Never heard of such a thing!

Not my experience either. I would tell you trainer you are going to contact their corporate office to see if this is the norm now. My guess that will change everything in a hurry. Sorry you are dealing with this,

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No. Just no. I have a Voltaire and was not charged any sort of fitting fee. Our rep has found used Voltaires for people in our barn and quite easily I might add. I’m afraid you are just dealing with a bad rep. She could have helped you find a used saddle if she really wanted to make a sale. She has no one to blame but herself.

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I’d also be reconsidering trainers if they took the saddle rep side!!!

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That’s an outrageous fee - I’ve never had a fitting with Voltaire, but I’ve had other reps from companies out for fittings for around $100. I had a County rep out, and a Stubben rep out - neither were interested in helping me find a used saddle - but I paid their fitting fee, so I didn’t feel much obligation toward purchasing through them. In your case, I’d definitely contact corporate… totally unacceptable behavior on behalf of the rep. Yikes. So sorry.

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Thank you guys for taking the time to read through and get back to me. I was really hoping that my feelings about the situation weren’t unfounded. I’m really upset because its so hard to find a good barn, and this rep. has now created a really awkward situation all around. I want to salvage my relationship with my trainer/barn owner but being that their loyalties lay with the rep.(probably because they are being sponsored) I am now questioning even continuing my relationship there as well. I know how small the community is, and just the idea of this conflict floating above my head is really hurtful.

@Laurierace I have taken your advice and reached out to corporate to inquire about these fees. I’m so passive that I was just going to pay the fees and be done, but this whole situation felt really off.

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Some companies have their fitters on salary and some have their fitter on commission. To my knowledge all of the French companies are represented by salaried employees and do not charge for their fittings. Voltaire is very popular in my area, and I don’t believe I know anyone who had to pay for a fitting- new or used.

Fitters who work off commission always tell you ahead of time that there will be a fee ($150 +/- and some will tack a travel fee on there as well). They do usually waive it if you purchase a new saddle. And actually, the reps for those brands have a hard time making appointments because people are getting used to free fittings. They don’t want to call County or Stübben or Custom at all if there is a chance they’ll have to pay.

A $450 fee is outrageous. I thought Schleese was bad because they charge $350, but at least they have more sizing factors to contend with. Who are they demanding you pay? Voltaire or the fitter directly?

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No they do not charge. Some companies do (and are up front about it) and some independent fitters will also charge for their time to consult with you, expected to be paid at your appointment. But a lot of companies like Voltaire do not charge for this or even subsequent evaluations. I just tried a Voltaire earlier this year, which didn’t work out for my horse, and the rep even tried to get a special made demo for me to see if it would make the horse happy (which I suppose I would have bought if it worked…office said no…lol), and ultimately I bought another brand. No charge whatsoever, even with the rep trying very hard to make something work for us.

I don’t think it’s unreasonable for the rep to be compensated for their time, but $450 is an outrageous amount. The rep should have said something to you at the start of the fitting about what the cost of the fitting would be, but that it would be waived if you bought a saddle, etc. And a fitting is not a commitment to buy a saddle - unless you signed a contract with that rep, you made no commitment. I can see the trainer wanting you to at least pay the rep a (reasonable) fitting fee, but would be pretty bothered by the statement that having a fitting committed you to buying from her.

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@Can’tFindMyWhip I completely agree with you on the different pay structure, and I am not entirely sure which Voltaire works off of. My unease with the whole situation comes from the fact that there were multiple opportunities for the rep. to bring up a fee. I was explicit with both trainer, and rep. that looking for a used saddle would be an option but still neither spoke up regarding any fees. Only once I had informed them I purchased independently did the matter of compensation come up. The rep is demanding I pay her directly, and has the trainer guilting me into compensating her as well. The fee felt pretty high to me, and the whole situation was really uncomfortable and I’m really bummed because I love the barn I’m at and I feel like this has irreparably damaged our relationship.

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@Gardenhorse Absolutely agree with you here, I would have no problem with compensating someone for their time had their been a discussion about it. Any such fees should be notified up front and honestly . I have been in sales my whole life and with any sort of large purchase where deposits are necessary I have made sure to accurately represent . The attitude behind the rep. has been extremely unprofessional.

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I wonder if she is trying to charge you to make up the difference for a quota she didn’t make? None of that sounds ethical at all. Some of these companies penalize their reps really heavily if they do not make their numbers. Sometimes it is the reps themselves buying inventory and reselling it, and they usually have to buy a minimum per quarter or month. Someone is holding her feet to the fire and you’re probably going get her fired.

Also, that trainer may be cool and the barn may be nice but this clearly indicates that you are viewed as someone who can be taken advantage of. Find a new place where you can get some respect.

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I think a lesson learned is to ask up front about costs for anything that this trainer offers you in the future. It will also be interesting to see the trainer’s response if corporate says that the rep shouldn’t be charging you a fee. Will the trainer let the issue go then or keep pressuring you to pay the rep. I think that will tell you a lot about whether you can keep working with this trainer or not.

First of all, I ride in a Voltaire barn and have never heard of such a charge. Our rep even took a look at my existing saddle from another brand and helped me shim a half pad to try to make it fit better without charging me. She also has found numerous used saddles for other people. And when I gave up on my old saddle and ordered a new Voltaire this summer, there was definitely no charge for the appointment and nothing reflected on my invoice. So I’d be shocked if this was truly a corporate charge. Beyond that, if there was an expectation of payment for your appointment, that should have been raised and agreed to before the appointment, or at a minimum when you started the appointment. I think you are well within your rights to say no way. And I second mroades comment that if your trainer takes the rep’s side on this it would be a big red flag to me. The trainer should shut it down not support it.

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@Can’tFindMyWhip Those are hard words to hear but very true. I would never hope for this rep. job to be terminated, over this. I had a really hard time reaching out to corporate to begin with because of the fear of the repercussions. However so, the way business was conducted was indeed very unethical, and Voltaire should be made aware of these circumstances. In regards to the trainer, also super upsetting to come to that realization. I know I’m not a huge asset to their business but I have come to love their horses and respect their business, so parting ways would be a big loss for me.

@Gardenhorse I am hoping to have some discussion with corporate on Monday. After that opportunity I will bring my concerns up to the trainer and see what happens. Unfortunately, the discussion already had to this point feels to me like our relationship has already been tainted and I’m not sure if it is right to proceed any further.

@Madison My intent for this post was to garner responses such as yours to see what others experience has been. Thank you for taking the time to share what your normal experience is. It seems that many people have had great experiences with the company, and I certainly do no hold the actions of one against the company as a whole. I took a very long hiatus from riding 15+ years and the last saddle I purchased was fitted at a tack shop on wooden stand lol. I truly did not know what was to be expected, fees associated, etc… Without knowing about saddle fitting, I did know that the way money was demanded was unprofessional. I am having a hard time with this because as you all know the community is very small, and I am definitely not the one that likes to “stir things up.” I will wait to see what corporate says once the business week commences.

This is all backwards though.

Voltaire always advertises “free no obligation” fittings. $450 is like 10% the cost of a new one. That fee is obscene.

Voltaire “sponsors” your trainer (the trainer gets discounts or even free things for recommending their clients buy voltaire)…does not mean theres a monopoly.

At the end of the day though, your trainer should be looking out for your best interest, not pandering to someone else being pushy trying to sell her clients things. I’d ask the trainer what the deal is and why s/he thinks thats okay?

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Wow.

Unfortnately, this whole sales call, try to find you a used Saddle, can’t find one, so you have to buy a new one routine is one I have had with every single sales rep from every French brand throughout the years. And with every single rep I have been super upfront that I will not buy new and will only buy used. And I think every single time, the rep leaves in a huff because they haven’t made a new saddle sale. And I have never paid a sales/fitting/try to find me a Saddle fee. On one occasion I used an independent Saddle fitter to give me an idea what kind of Saddle might fit my horse and they were upfront that there was a $125 fitting fee. But I have never paid a French Saddle sales person a single dime. Oh wait, I did buy a used CWD because when the rep realized I was serious about finding a used Saddle…suddenly this used one was found in the garage, but three days earlier there was nothing to be found anywhere on the planet. (I did pay a bit more than the Saddle was worth, because it was delivered to my door and it was there!)

I would question this trainer’s loyalty if they are siding with the rep (they are being sponsored by Voltaire which means compensation) and I would tell the sales rep to take a hike.

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