There seems to be a lot of websites & companies selling "transparent canoes" or "clear kayaks". Many of these sites claim they are the manufacturer of the kayaks. However, most of these sites are fake, and the majority of them appear to be Chinese. Having been ripped off by one of these companies, I understand how it feels to lose a sum of money to a scammer. So here's a few tips to help keep you from losing your money...
The Good There are 2 reputable suppliers in the US. Each selling a slightly different canoe/kayak. I discussed the differences between the two transparent kayaks here. The companies are Klear Kanoo & See Through Canoe. Both are located in FL. Both companies have good reputations, consistent quality products, use original images on their websites, and have been featured in news and other media.
The suspicious Where to begin... I'm not going to say all of these companies are bad or will rip you off, just that they are all suspicious for one reason or another. Some of them offer prices that are really good and lure you in, however, one of the biggest problems with these cheap kayaks, is they crack easily. And once it cracks, that's it, there is no good way to fix a crack. In the end, just like anything else these days, you're going to get what you pay for.
So, back to the "suspicious"... Crystal Kayak. These guys are actually trying to say they came up with the transparent kayak idea, even though they have only been around 2 years. Transparent kayaks have now been around for 12 years! For example, here's a quote from a recent article on Travel Plus Leisure's website,
“We want it to be perfectly easy to use, whether you’re a beginner or an expert,” Brian Maxfield of Crystal Kayak told Travel + Leisure. "Being down in Florida and traveling often to the Bahamas, we have seen people who travel from all over the world to see exotic destinations, only to sit on the beach,” Maxfield said.
“We had been in one of these kayaks before where the sides were opaque but the bottom was transparent, but wanted a way to see more than just a 20 percent view, so we decided to create it to give people a reason to get out into the water,” he added.
Nice job on the fact checking Travel Plus Leisure!
Acting as if you invented the idea of a transparent kayak doesn't really say "trust worthy". Equally as interesting, is that Crystal Kayak claims they are the "manufacturer" and they are made in the US. The claim is right on their "about us" page as of 3/20/17. And below that claim is a series of 3 pictures of a group of Asians loading boxes on a truck. The same pictures showing the same guys wearing the exact same clothes are all over Alibaba such as about halfway down on this page.
The company has a BBB seal on their site, but as everyone knows, all you need to do to have a good rating with the BBB is to pay the BBB as this 20/20 ABC News story shows..
There is another company called Guangdong Shunde Miico Technology that claims to be a transparent kayak manufacturer, however, they appear to own at least 4 different websites (such as clear-kayak dot com) or Sun Life, all selling clear kayaks and all with different names. Legitimate companies typically only have one website for their business.
The bad The winner for company with the worst reputation is Clear Blue Hawaii. These guys have almost 2 dozen complaints on file with the Better Business Bureau. They will allegedly tell you almost anything to get your money, and once they have it, you may not see your order for a year... or two! Despite the fact that most of the complaints listed on the BBB's website are about product not being delivered, and despite the fact that the BBB's website shows that most of the complaints have not been resolved to the customers satisfaction... BBB still gives this company an A- rating, as if anyone needed further evidence of the ability to buy a BBB rating.