Sunday, May 30, 2010

Bad Service

Oh well, like Mongo said in the movie "Blazing Saddles": "Jimbo just small pawn in game of life". Virtually nothing makes me madder than receiving poor or inattentive service. Automobile dealers and life insurance salespersons top my list of people that I have had bad experiences with. They are notorious for treating people like a dollar signs and not human beings. I can now add to that list a certain repair shop that I recently took my scooter to. After 9 days, this particular place could not seem to manage doing a 6,000 mile checkup and scheduled maintenance on my machine. I also brought Max in for a couple of warranty issues. My speedometer had quit working because the cable seemed to have come loose. My horn had also quit working. I was aware of a service bulletin for the horn with two potential solutions to it. I attempted the work myself awhile back and it was working fine,,,,,,,, for awhile. Turned out the more complicated solution to the issue (may have been) was the correct one for Max. The shop did fix the warranty issues and did change my oil for me at no charge. They were not able to accomplish any of the rest of my requests. I finally told them I didn't want them to do any more work, even after the parts supposedly came in. One of my fears about buying my scooter has come true. One major reason I bought this particular scooter was because of the dealer. I liked him instantly. He has turned out to be a good friend and was always prompt and caring about service for me and my scooter. Unfortunately, with the economic downturn and somewhat reasonable fuel prices, he was not able to stay in business as a scooter dealer. He just was not able to sell as many scooters as he wanted (needed) to. The new (supposed) dealer knew I was mad. They knew that they had violated my trust. The delay was (according to them) a problem with the shipping for some parts they thought they needed (O rings and gaskets) for the valve adjustment. But when I called, I kept getting different stories. The parts were things I thought they should have had in stock anyway. They didn't call me to tell me there was a delay. I had to call them to find out what was happening. I finally determined that they were just pulling my chain. Again, "Jimbo just small pawn in game of life". The worst part of it wasn't that they weren't technically competent in performing the work, but rather that the guy supposedly in charge was not, seemingly, 1) very knowledgeable or 2) experienced or 3) understanding. Our personalities didn't mesh very well. I can guarantee that they never will. I don't know. Maybe I am silly to expect to be treated with a little bit of respect. I don't care to get my butt kissed, just be treated with a little common dignity. I was very willing to give them some benefit of doubt and leeway, but as time went on, doubt turned into mistrust and eventually to anger. So here I am without a trusted dealer that I feel that I can currently rely on for help. Well, that is not totally true. I do have some very good friends that can help with maintenance. And I was able to download the complete service manual for Max from the internet. It has already been a big help. And I am not afraid of doing some of the work myself. I would just prefer sometimes to not take the time to do the work and gladly pay someone else to do it. Guess I need to get to know Max a little more intimately. And I certainly do not wish to leave the impression that I regret buying Max even though it is not a well known or major brand. In fact, I am completely satisfied. Max has been completely dependable for the almost 2 years I have owned him. I continue to be impressed with the quality and reliability of the machine. Some people might scoff at the idea of a Taiwanese scooter, (some mainland Chinese scooters are another issue), but SYM has been in business for many years and is well respected in the industry. Max has taken everything I have thrown at him in stride and then some. Max is perfect for what I bought him for and I am looking forward to many more years of service. It's just that now I will be doing some of the maintenance items myself. There is more to this story. Another post will be up in a week or two.


  1. I have a Symba. I have a wonderful far. He has a proven track record selling MotoFino and keeping them on the road. He also sells Genuine. That said, I still wonder, "What if?" I'm sorry to hear you are experiencing the, "What if?"

    As I thought about the "What if?" before buying I just decided if the parts are available there will be someone who can work on a SYM. I hope you find that magic motorcycle gadget guy with the out of the place garage that is the stuff of legends, yet seems to exist everywhere.

    By the way, some of that stuff about issues with Carter Bros was probably true. There seems to have been a shake-up with Carter Bros. and I'm told they are much more responsive. You may want to contact them. It seems to be a new day there.

    Oh well, I'm sure you made a great choice with the HD200. It is a wonderful bike/scoot.


  2. cpa3485

    yep, you and I think alike in terms of expecting people who are taking our money to provide conmensurate return in terms of service. This is why I've ended up doing most of my own work on my motorcycles. Let's just say the dealer I no longer frequent for my Beemer claimed to have done some work and I've my doubts.

  3. A recurring problem. It happens all the time and the only way you can figure it out is by letting them loose on the machine and seeing how they screw it up...

  4. Keith,
    Thanks for the info on Carter Brothers. I may call them. In this case I don't think they were the problem, at least not all of it. The new dealer is trying, but I don't thik they have sold many if any. They just don't seem to do any promotion at all. And they really do have some good motorcycle people there. They are also a car dealer and seem to concentrate more on that. Thhere is one person there in particular that I don't see eye to eye with very well.
    There are good dealers out there. One in Kansas City seems strong and if push comes to shove, I may trailer Max up there if need be. But otherwise, I do have some friends that can help and they are invaluable.
    Thanks for commenting, BTW, that Symba is a great looking bike.


  5. Charlie,
    If I treated people like that in my little business, then I wouldn't be around long. It just doesn't work long term to treat people poorly. Word gets around.
    Thanks for visiting, maybe some of my future posts will be a little more technical, but not near as technical as some of your excellent posts.


  6. Conch, We'll see how it turns out. In my opinion they just need to get a litle more familiar with the machines they are trying to sell. They will need some service eventually. There are a couple of shops here that seem more interested in selling machines, than in servicing them.
    Thanks for the comments,


  7. There's kind of a chicken/egg thing going on here. We Americans expect all motor vehicles to come with the same level of service/support we expect with our cars, but one reason that level of support is possible is the sheer number of cars sold by the car companies. But scooter dealers won't be able to support their customers at that level until they sell a lot more bikes, which they won't because the dealers can't afford to support them. And so on, and so on...

    But so many scooter dealers are perfect examples of how small business people are often their own worst enemies. The (formerly) biggest Vespa dealer in the Portland metro area shoved all their inventory into a corner and built a skate park in their showroom. Even the other Vespa dealers are asking, WTF?

    The problem is, SYM just isn't able to shoulder the cost and effort of building a dealer network in the U.S. so they have to rely on a local partner. I'm sure Carter Bros. is doing the best they can, but the need to build volume doesn't seem to give them the luxury of being too picky about who sells their products. Bryan over at 2strokebuzz wrote a nice piece about this subject, concluding that a scooter is only as good as the dealer selling and servicing it, and that Kymco and Genuine seem to get this where the others may not...

    Scootin' Old Skool

  8. Dear CPA3485 (Jimbo):

    There are a thousand reasons why dealers offer shitty service. Sometimes customers find thmselves waiting for parts as the dealer has an outstanding debt with the parts distributor. Or, the newset and least experienced kid in the shop is entrusted to do tires, brakes, and tune-ups, which can and often do reflect his lack of ability.

    I watched an asshole of a new "kid" raise an $18,000 Beemer on a bike lift (for a brake job) only to have it roll off onto the floor. And it happened twice! That dealer is out of business now. That same dopey kid installed a new chain on a F650, without changing the sprokets. The new chain was scrap in 400 miles.

    I am very fortunate to have the world's best independent BMW mechanic, a great dealer, and a K75 Guru all within a 70-mile radius of my house. None of them are convenient. All are a blessing. I have yet to wait 24-hours for a part, and have yet to be stranded on the road.

    If you are going to put up with the bullshit that accompanies hard-to-find dealers, you might as well own a BMW.

    Fondest regards,
    Jack • reep • Toad
    Twisted Roads

  9. Orin,
    I think you are very right about a lot of this. But the story continues, and I'll update in a little while.
    It's just that if someone says that they are going to be a dealer, then they need to get their act together just a bit.
    The dealer who I bought Max from was fantastic. But Wichita is not a big market and gas prices dropped precipitously. I never heard him utter a word of disappointment about Carter Bros.
    Unfortunately, SYM's scooters are a little more expensive than some others, and the dealers really need to emphasize the quality and reliability. That can be hard when there are so many cheap scooters out there. The Vespa dealer here has started selling a line of what I think are "cheap scooters" and it appears that they too are more interested in sales than service. That drives me crazy.
    I remain convinced as to the quality of Max.


  10. Jack,
    You are indeed lucky to have a good dealer, good friends and a very nice bike.
    I keep working on the same sort of network here and am glad to say it is coming along slowly but nicely.
    And I don't mind doing some of the work. It's really not that hard.
    Thanks for coming by, thought you were buried in work and we wouldn't see much of you for awhile.


  11. Jack,
    PS, see my comment back at ya on my previous post