I bought my first Porsche back in 2010. Since it was a 13-year-old used car, I knew I may one day need to buy parts for it. Being new to the Porsche world, and (quite frankly) new to the whole do-it-yourself auto repair world (potentially), I had no idea where to buy parts. Anyone you ask will tell you “never buy from the dealer” based on the assumption that the dealer will overcharge. However, in the Porsche parts world, almost everyone I encounter sings the praises of Pelican Parts.
As a newly inducted member of the Porsche community, I followed suit. The biggest problem I had (in the beginning) was finding something to buy. Turns out, my Porsche was pretty damn reliable. In fact, it never really broke down for the seven years I owned it. But, there were some cosmetic parts I wanted to change.
The first thing I bought from Pelican Parts was the Non-Smoker Tray to get rid of the ashtray in my car. I paid $23 for that part and assumed it came with the rubber liner. Why did I assume that? Because I found the part on Suncoast (another site Porsche guys sing praises about) and it did come with the rubber liner, but it was closer to $30 (at the time). Maybe I didn’t read the description on Pelican, or maybe it just wasn’t clear, I don’t recall. But when it arrived without the rubber lining, I had to go back and order that, which was around $10 (putting me over the price Suncoast had for the set).
That was my first lesson. I assumed I was at fault because I probably didn’t read the description correctly and wrongfully assumed it came with the rubber liner. However, the next time I ordered, I made sure I knew what I was ordering and that I fully read and understood the description and any other pertinent information I may need. Turns out, that didn’t really help either.
The next part I needed was something small as well. Forgive me, but I can’t recall what part because I don’t have any records of it as I had to return it. The part, however, was ordered after much research and thorough reading. When it arrived, it wasn’t the correct part. It looked close, but it didn’t work. After a bit of research which involved the internet, speaking with my local Porsche dealer, and speaking to my mechanic, I found out it was the wrong part.
The part was ordered for my 1997 Porsche Boxster. 1997 was the first year model of the Boxster in America, and it has a lot of parts unique to it. Meaning, not all parts that work on 986 Boxsters will work on the 1997 year model. I learned that rather quickly when I had to get a new key for my Boxster and the 1997 year model used a different key than all other 986 Boxsters. The key is only one part of hundreds unique to the 1997 Boxster.
I went back to Pelican’s website and found the part I ordered stated it was for 1997 – 2004 Boxster (986). I returned the part with no issue, but the problem arose when I sent them an email asking if they had the correct part. I got a response back directing me to the part I had just returned and stating that was the correct part. I replied back to tell them that wasn’t the correct part. I further explained how the 1997 year model uses a different part than the other 986s and that I had verified that information with Porsche and my mechanic. I simply wanted to order the correct part and not get the wrong thing again.
This is where it gets strange. I had only sent an inquiry email about a part. I let them know the information on their site was wrong. I wasn’t angry with anyone, and I hadn’t even reached the point of frustration yet. But the next response came from the CEO of Pelican Parts himself. He explained that their site wasn’t wrong, but that I was. Further, he said that I needed to do better research and order the correct parts, and that they’ll exchange or refund whatever I need, but they’re not responsible for me ordering the wrong parts.
Needless to say, that’s where Pelican Parts lost me as a customer for life. I did nothing to provoke an attack like that. It was completely out of place, uncalled for, and childish. The whole tone of the email was hostile and rude. I never bothered to respond to that email, and I’ve never shopped at Pelican since (nor will I ever again).
As far as my interaction with Pelican Parts, the story stops there. But, over the past several years I have ordered a number of parts from various sources. For my own amusement, I always check the price of anything I order on Pelican Parts. In fact, like any good parts shopper, I have about 20 sites I check when I need to order something. I’ve found that Pelican Parts is consistently 30% higher (at a minimum) than quite literally everyone else. Often, they’re quite higher, more in the 40% to 45% range.
So it baffles me. Why does the Porsche community think that Pelican Parts is some sort of golden child? Some entity to be upheld and cherished like a rare gem? They overcharge for everything, and their CEO is a dick. Pelican does have an extensive library of tech articles, how-tos, guides, forums, and other information, but it’s not information so unique it can only be found there. In fact, when I am searching for anything like that and I find a Pelican link, I continue searching until I find another source (which never takes long).
I haven’t shopped at Pelican Parts since 2011 (after the CEOs email to me). When I got my 996 in March of this year (2017), I replaced the ashtray just like in my Boxster. This time, I bought the delete shelf and rubber liner from my local Porsche dealer for a total of $64 (yeah, prices have gone up in the past six years). Pelican offers those same parts for a total of $103 (before tax and shipping fees). More recently, I had to purchase the corner trim for my headlights (one wouldn’t stay seated and the other had a huge chip in it). Those cost me $48 each. Pelican offers them for $65 each.
Those are just two examples, look up any part number and you’ll see for yourself. Or send me the part numbers and I’ll do it for you! Pelican is not just a little bit higher than other places, they’re a lot higher. I wouldn’t be buying from Pelican even if I had a perfectly delightful customer experience with them. But I didn’t. I was essentially attacked by their CEO because I dared to say their site was wrong (which they did correct just two weeks later and never bothered to contact me about it).
I hope no one sees this as a hit piece. For whatever reason, a lot of people love Pelican Parts. I don’t. And there’s nothing they can do to correct that now. If I was on a mission to destroy them, I would have wrote about this six years ago when it happened, and I sure as hell wouldn’t have linked to their site at the top of this post. The reason I’m writing about it now is because I keep seeing random posts about how great they are in various Porsche forums. When I meet new people and ask people where they get their parts the response is always Pelican.
I posed the question “Am I the only one who finds Pelican Parts to be one of the most overpriced sites to buy Porsche parts?” to a Porsche 996 owners group on Facebook and was met with some heated comments. One guy even thought my post should be reviewed by the admin, whereas another deemed me as an “ass, derogatory, and belligerent” while also noting I shouldn’t own a Porsche—all because I don’t like Pelican Parts. It’s funny how people think others should be censored when they disagree with them. On a side note, the admin of the Facebook group did close the comments section of the post because the comments were getting “tiresome” (I couldn’t have agree more). He messaged me and let me know it wasn’t my comments that were the problem and that he, too, had a similar experience with Pelican.
I just want to know what Pelican has done to brainwash the Porsche community into thinking they’re the best place to buy parts.