Costco Roadshow Buying Experience: Kamado Joe Big Joe 2 2017

So I finally got my Big Joe II (i.e. Big Joe 2017, latest and greatest, etc.). I am very happy with it, however, I am as soured as expired BBQ sauce (sauce that has been left out for days in 110 degrees F in humid weather and with a million giant flies circling for who knows how long) with the Costco Road Show buying experience here in the Bay Area.  To be quite honest, I actually waited over two weeks to write this.   I wanted to cool off and in the clearest frame of mind to express a more leveled opinion.  I didn’t want to write in the heat of the moment only to dial it back later.  I really, really wanted to have a memorable and happy experience since I have been waiting so long and saved for so many months to buy my very first ceramic Kamado grill.  Last but not least, I didn’t want this first time experience turning into a complete disaster and discourage me from getting my feet wet with Kamado smokers. So here we go.

Unfortunately after 14 days, my opinion hasn’t changed one bit and I feel the same way today as I felt on the day I made the purchase, which was almost three weeks ago. Instead of a dream come true and applewood bliss, it’s a badly prepared bean burrito with moldy corn tortilla doused with expired-red-hot-sauce-but-comes-out-green from last year.  Basically just a sh*tty overall experience (pardon my profanity).  First off,  let me begin by saying that my rant is not on the product, which is outstanding (build and quality is beyond my expectation), but on the absolute buying experience with the Kamado sales rep.   Here goes my rant…

As many of my readers know I made contact with C**l, the Costco Roadshow rep from Kamado Joe back in January 2017 at the Sunnyvale, CA store.  He made a good impression on me and seemed like a really nice guy that takes care of his customers.  He stated he would be back in the Bay Area around March specifically at the Warehouse in the Livermore, CA location.  He also claimed at the time that this will be the one and only time he will be in the Bay Area until next year (how exactly he knows this without a formal schedule from KJ HQ is still beyond any plausible theories I have dwelled upon). That’s all fine and dandy with me and I don’t mind making the hour long drive up north to make the big purchase IF that was truly the case.  And also because I didn’t want to wait until next year to get one.  I found out this wasn’t exactly the case like when you find out that spicy is a couple notches above mild..

Fast forward to March 2017 and to the Livermore, CA location where the Kamado Joe Roadshow is live and happening.  Upon arriving to his display inside Costco, I overheard him talking to another Costco member and mentioning he’ll be back in the Bay Area in Santa Clara around June.  What.  The.  Fudge.  C**l?!!?  He didn’t seem to want to repeat this information to me and it almost seemed like he wanted to avoid it altogether.   Maybe he was Google Maps unaware San Jose is an hour away from Livermore without traffic?  Geographically, Santa Clara is much closer to me (about a 15 minute drive).  When I heard this I was a little disappointed in C**l’s honesty and slightly questioned his salesmanship, however, I gave him the benefit of the doubt.   Maybe he didn’t know about this new Santa Clara location date until 5 minutes before I met him?  Just giving him the benefit of the doubt again.  After all, Costco doesn’t post the road show schedules for Kamado Joe that far out.  Anyways, my benefit of the doubt for C**l quickly turned to ash faster than the lump charcoal he was selling and here’s why.

Reason 1: About a week ago I had asked C**l for a discount or at the very least maybe a complimentary bag of charcoal ($21.99) if I buy two Big Joe’s (one for a family member) from him on the same day. We’re looking at almost $3,500 in total purchases.  So Something? Just give me something to make it an incentive?  Nope nada.  He said that Kamado Joe never ever gives a discount to anyone, which is totally fine and I get it if he ended that statement there.  To my surprise, he continued and suggested I should try and”up sell my family member a couple hundred dollars” and then tell them I got it for the sale price (i.e. tell them I bought it for say $1,799 but I got it discounted for $1,499 which is the real price anyways). Really?  I should scam my family member just do easily like that?  So C**l is basically saying Big Joe buyers spending almost $2k are idiots and don’t research what they’re buying?  That they can be taken for fools? I certainly would have looked like a complete ass if I had taken his advice to up sell my family member.  Certainly he didn’t call me a fool but he clearly thinks my family member is?  As a salesman myself, I would never say that to a buying customer. Furthermore, that is the most ridiculous thing I have heard from anyone and I would never ever do that to a family member or anyone even a stranger.  Besides, common sense would tell me anyone in the market for a Big Joe or similarly high priced item would already know the price ranges, has done their research, and read in the forums, right?   What was he thinking?  Was this a joke that I just took seriously and out of context? I don’t know but he sounded pretty serious and I certainly wasn’t giggling. Anyways, I was in shocked but again gave him the benefit of the doubt.

Reason 2: So I asked Carl if this “Buy the Big Joe floor model and get the Joe Jr. for free” deal is still a myth because I still see it discussed constantly on the forums to this day and it seems some of the Kamado Joe reps especially out east are doing exactly that.  To my surprise or rather shock, he said the promotion is indeed real, but (unfortunately) for me, “some big time buyer who has bought tons in the past” had already bought the floor model from him!  Wow and we’re not even an hour into opening day for the Roadshow and Carl states the floor model is sold already.  Okay, I am fine with losing the promotion (assuming what he said was true) but as many of my readers know when I spoke to Carl back in January he adamantly stated to me that this specific promotion circulating the web was completely false and that people on the Internet were spreading lies.  I reiterated this on my blog that day and now I feel like I have been duped. Did C**l tell so many lies to so many people he somehow forgot exactly what he said to me?  Why would he say that back then and now come full circle and tell me the promotion is real? What is the real deal?? On top of that he now tells me he just gave this promotion to some buyer who supposedly contacted him last week or whatever? Either way he blatantly lied to me.  You know what pisses me off?  When people tell me lies and I know they’re lying because they give me unnecessary details and long convoluted back stories.    I just had this gut feeling he was saving the floor model for someone, or some shady under the table deal, and didn’t want to be honest to me about it. Why would I feel this way?  Well, I had asked him in January if there was such a promotion, although a long shot (i.e. maybe Kamado Joe will send a company wide letter saying it is true), can I be the first to buy the floor model when you show up in Livermore? And now for him to say the floor model was already sold a week or so ago when I had put my name down two months ago is a complete joke. Wow. Whether he even cared to write my name down or not I don’t know. This really hit me in the gut especially since I am spending almost $1,800 bucks and I felt like I got disrespected.  Okay, okay, more like scammed or utterly jipped?! And you know what?  On top of that fiasco he tells me all the Big Joe’s on the floor are sold out, yet, towards the end of the purchase he keeps pestering me about my family member and how I should just buy two right now.  How is that possible if you supposedly sold all the Big Joe’s and had to save one for me???  I am not sure if he has a hidden Big Joe in his truck or just got lost in his web of lies to me or read his inventory numbers wrong. My rare benefit of the doubt turned to well done buyer’s remorse.   Look, I am spending almost $2k on your product, please don’t treat me like an idiot. Personally, I’d rather Carl not saying anything because at this point he just sounded like the worst used car salesman ever.  Add to the fact that when I went back in to buy 6 bags of lump charcoal, I was charged $29.99/bag but the advertised price was $21.99 (see pic below)?!  I asked them to re-scan the UPC code again and the price was still $29.99!  Luckily I took a pic of the price with my phone and showed it to the manager who talked to C**l who then said it was an error and that it should be fixed soon.  Had to get a manager to override the price but still, this made me even more skeptical of the sales tactic used by C**l. For a moment I thought I was going insane and the day was just oozing crap.  When crap hits the fan it really hits the turbo fan with like 10 propeller fins.  Again, I don’t know if this is another used car sales tactic by C**l or just an honest electronic error.  Apparently I was the first to notice this price discrepancy even though Carl bragged he has sold “tons of lump charcoal in the hour Costco opened for the day.  Hope those “tons of buyers” checks their receipts.

The final straw for me was when he was trying to help me load my Big Joe into my SUV and I needed to remove one of the table bracket mounts held on by two nuts.  He said he wasn’t sure if this new model Big Joe would even include the necessary tools.  My first thought was how does a sales rep not know the very details of what is included in a new model he is selling???  Has he never opened one up to see and maybe educate himself on the contents?  Granted I am being overly critical but I was so annoyed at this point that everything he was doing I gave me second thoughts.  Anyhow, I waited about 10 minutes for him to go look for the correct wrench size and I was able to remove the bracket.  After I got home and unloaded everything there was a bag with the included wrenches tucked between the foam supports. Apparently C**l wasn’t aware Big Joes come with wrenches or maybe mine was an exception and included a free tool set.

To this day I am still bitter about C**l claiming there was no promotion when in fact he was probably saving it for some preferred buyer and giving me the complete bullsh*t run around.  You know, I am fine if you tell me you have a long-time big-baller buyer in mind to give the promotion to, but don’t tell me it’s a myth and accuse the people on the forums are full of sh*t when they really weren’t.  And secondly, I wasn’t happy he had inside knowledge that a Kamado Joe Roadshow in Santa Clara is scheduled for June.  Whether C**l knew this beforehand or not I don’t know.  I am going to assume he did because he should have said something to me.  Instead he kept pushing me to buy like there was no tomorrow.  I don’t mind waiting two months because I would have saved on gas and the extra half a percent sales tax that to some might seem trivial but to me is a big deal – every penny counts because I work hard for my money. But I guess the single biggest complaint is the cost of my personal time.  I had to take time off of work on a weekday because C**l stated all the Big Joe’s were sold out on the floor and that he was “saving me one” but I had to come today to get it.   Of course I wanted to rush there as fast as I could and took time off of work to do so.  Had I known this was a big O’ lie, I would have just gone over the weekend OR he could have easily texted me letting me know he just found out there’s gonna be a Santa Clara Roadshow around June. That would have made my day. Instead, I felt C**l was too desperate to make a sale and chose to make me drive an hour.  And you know what?  Now I know why he was talking down on the new upgrades back in January and telling me the new hinge, gasket, and other features isn’t worth the $300 price increase and that I should just get the current model (first generation) like TODAY.  I thought it was just him being honest about the uncertain quality of the new features/upgrades.  But now everything he says feels like a lie and a bad sales pitch aimed directly to just get me or other unsuspecting members to buy what he has on the floor.  As a salesperson he should have pitched it as “Look, the older model works just as well and you save some money, but if you want the latest and greatest features, it’s gonna cost you $300 more.  Either way it’s a great product. Period”. To downplay the new upgrades on the new model was a very strange sales pitch in my personal opinion and I didn’t think much of it at the time. Now I know exactly why.   I guess he makes a handsome commission and doesn’t mind screwing me over like that. The tipping point for me was when he kept pestering me to buy two Big Joe’s even though he told me they were “sold out” and encouraged me to just just rip off my family member made me even more disgusted.  I hope many of you have had better buying experiences with your Big Joe because for the price, I felt like I was just treated like a fool and with no respect.

And the conclusion to all of this?  I got a strange random text from him two days after my purchase asking what the name of my blogging site was.  You know why this is so funny and ironic?  I had texted him my URL at least 4 times in our conversation exchanges prior to this Livermore roadshow so I guessed he never cared to write it down.   Why the sudden interest in my blog and mind you I haven’t even published this rant yet until today? Maybe at the time he was having some guilt for giving me all the run arounds and bullsh*t and feared I might write about it?  Oh I definitely am writing about it. Or perhaps it was because I mentioned to him on multiple occasions I would be writing about my buying experiences with him and he didn’t think I had an audience?  Funny he didn’t seem to care until that one text out of the blue post-purchase.  So yes I don’t know why the sudden interest with my blogging site when he obviously didn’t give a sh*t about it before.  And did I give it to him? Nope.  I am sure it will show up on Google searches and the forums soon enough.  Glad to know he pays close attention to his paying customers [sarcasm].

A for product and quality

F- for buying experience and terrible company representation.

Anyways, enjoy the pictures.  Item numbers are for your reference and consistent at all Costco’s at least in the U.S.

Kamado Joe Roadshow – Sunnyvale Costco – Febuary 3rd, 2017 thru February 12th, 2017

As many of my readers know I am in the market for a ceramic style smoker/grill specifically the Kamado Joe brand and I have been waiting for their Costco roadshow to make a stop in the Bay Area.   From my research online I know that Kamado Joe is releasing a 2017 model with about 7 new features as seen in the picture below and also available on Kamado Joe’s Facebook page.

Here is a link to the Facebook page:

Kamado Joe 2017 upgrades in detail

One of the main reasons for me to go to the Roadshow (2/3/2017 thru 2/12/2017) even though the 2017 model hasn’t yet been released yet is to inquire about the new model.   Carl, who is the western territorial manager, was very informative and gave me some insight into the new model’s pricing and availability.   He indicated that he should have the new models by March and that it will be $1,499 roadshow price ($300 increase over the current model $1,199) for the Big Joe 24″.

The Kamado Joe lump charcoal also received a product change. Carl told me their lump charcoal (2pk for $29.99) now comes in larger chunks and I can confirm they are significantly larger which should make for nice long burn times.

Not surprisingly, Carl told me he sold four (at least a Big Joe) even before the roadshow started, which tells you how high in demand these awesome grills are.  While I was talking to him, he must have sold at least two classics in the span of 20 minutes.  I was definitely itching to buy the “old” model but definitely wanted the latest and greatest.

One thing Carl did emphasize is there never was a “buy a Classic and you get a Joe Jr.” deal, which has been circulating on the Internet and forums.  I, too, thought that if real, was a really, really sweet deal!  He states that it is completely false and many customers refuse to take no for an answer and some have even went so far as to complain to Costco management.  I even asked him about another “promotion” circulating on the forums – if I buy a Big Joe, do I get a free bag of lump charcoal?  Of course he said that is also a fake promotion circulating on the forums.