A Tale Of Two Warranties

Author: Dave Roberts   Date Posted: 14 January 2019 

When we were setting this business up, we had to let a lot of sales go because everyone was chasing the cheapest price. We made a decision at the outset that we'd sell great quality products, and we'd back the as well as we can. 

So we went out and found good brands, manufacturers who can be counted on to produce a great product not once, but every time. We know that there's no such thing as everything working out every time, so we also look for manufacturers who back their own work, and if something's not right they help us to sort out a good outcome for the customer.

Just in case anyone is trying to figure out whether that's a good business model, I'd say that you want to start such a thing with an alternative source of income. The first few years were pretty tough, and really slow. As we went on though, we found a bunch of people who'd already bought the cheapest, wanted to have another try. Many of them became loyal customers and stayed with us through a number of bikes.

With regard products, we found that some let their quality slip, and others kept building good stuff but couldn't keep their service levels up to our standard. If it's still on our site, we've been working with that product since we first encountered it, and we can work with both their product quality and their service level to deliver a good result for the customer. If you've been with us for a while you'll notice a couple of brands that you can't get from us anymore....

So the last part of the business after our suppliers and us, is the customer. Mostly, we really like you guys. You're doing things we want to do ourselves. We're delivering stuff that's about joy, and having fun. The fun comes back to us. Mostly, if a customer rings us and says "this product doesn't work", we figure out why, and if it's not properly made, we either give your money back, or most often, supply one that doesn't have a flaw.

Every so often, something happens that needs a bigger resolution. We thought it was worth sharing 2 recent stories, and the different responses we had. Both cases were european bikes. One's not really my style, the other's something I lust after. Either way, they're both really nice bikes, and we get why people want to do the right thing to make them absolutely what they want. In the first case, the customer bought a product that bolts onto the exterior of the bike, to improve on part of it's function. Even though the factory has supplied this many times, the customer says the part doesn't fit. What happens next though, is something that drives us nuts. Having tried to force the product onto his bike, he finds a scratch on the external part where the product bolts. He heads straight out to the dealership, buys the new part, and sends us the bill.

So how do we feel? Well firstly, the part should fit and maybe it really did but the guy tried to put it on backwards. Having said that we'd still happily take it back, after all, maybe the bike was supplied with a different outer piece, and the supplier in another country didn't know that. It could happen for all sorts of reasons, and we always back the product. Here's the thing though, if a part doesn't fit, when you hold it up against the bike, it doesn't go on. If you figure that the best way forward from here is to just use a bigger hammer, you're going to cause damage. If it's to your bike, we'll feel sorry about it but we won't consider it our problem. If it's to the product, we'll feel sorry about it but we won't be able to take the product back, because you used force on it and damaged it. So how we feel is in this case, the customer did a silly thing and needs to take some responsibility. As it happens, consumer law says that if it's shown our product caused the damage, we're liable to replace or repair the damage that our product caused. We'll usually go beyond that, but if the customer is just having a laugh, of course we'll fight it.

Right now we believe that this case is being considered by the consumer affairs authority in the customer's home state. We don't expect to hear back, and even though it mightn't have been necessary, we immediately offered a refund on the product. Time will tell on this one.

To balance that, here's another case. The customer goes out and buys the bike he's always wanted. He's a good customer, and has bought from us before. WE didn't have exactly what he wanted to complete his bike, so he personally got on the intertubes, and sourced a couple of pieces. Given we have always looked after him, and given he wanted a local supplier, he asked us if we'd get the product in. We did some initial enquiries and it seemed the supplier was a long standing, reliable business. We got in touch with them and yes, they'd be happy to have a dealer in Australia. The first order went out and soon enough, arrived at Hurtle Central. 

New products are always fun. We get them out, everyone in the office gets a look and forms an opinion. This one seemed solid, certainly looked nice, and essentially was the sort of thing we'd be happy to supply. A quick call and the customer, who is genuinely local to us, whizzes round, picks up the gear and looks really pleased. So far we've got a new supplier and kept a loyal customer happy. What a great deal.

Fast forward about 2 weeks and the customer arrives back at Hurtle Central with a genuinely awful look on his face. It's been a moment since the purchase but he's just got round to attempting to fit the part. This part bolts through the frame and in this particular fitment, bolts into the motor at the head. The supplier has printed instructions that say "put our (supplied) bolt back in the original hole and tighten to the manufacturer's specifications". So the customer had got out his torque wrench and begun to tighten the bolt. It hasn't got to the manufacturer's limit yet, when he feels something go wrong. Taking the bolt out, he finds that it was supplied too long, and he's forced it through a coolant gallery in the head. Whenever he fires up the motor, coolant is now forced through the crack he's made.

So what's the outcome this time? The customer has come back to us. To be honest, we feel sick. I can change the oil and filters, do a bit here and there, but I'm not a mechanic's bootlace. Happily there's a mechanic in Perth (150km away), who works on these bikes and who we trust immensely. The customer and we agree that he's the best guy to look at the fix. The right fix could be fairly simple, or really complex and expensive. If it's complex and expensive, we've got nothing but to suck it up, call our insurers, call the manufacturer, and go forward til we reach a fair resolution.

As you might have figured, it seems apparent that this manufacturer, who makes nice things and has been doing it for years, has supplied a bolt that's a little long for the application. We're not sure, but 5mm long would probably do the damage. So we're in contact with them. We'll certainly be asking them to help us out with the repair costs, but we don't know how they're responding, there's been a bit of silence.

When we spoke with the mechanic, we asked "did the customer have any responsibility for what happened?" His answer was that in a workshop where you did this stuff all day, you'd know that bolt wasn't working right, and you'd back off and not push it that hard, but our own guess is it's the sort of mistake a fair person would make, not a careless, stupid thing. That means we have the tiniest bit of leverage for is the customer tries to ask for silly things in the repair, but it leaves us in a place where we'll be covering it.

So this leaves us with two different outcomes. One where the customer has tried to take advantage of us, and to shift responsibility when there's clearly some to be taken. The other one where the customer might have made a tiny mistake, but where we're fair minded people and we'll just have to suck it up. It also leaves us with a manufacturer/ supplier who either will or won't live up to our standards. That will help us make the decision about whether you're seeing their products on the site in the future.

I guess it also leaves us with another blog post due in 6 weeks so you all understand how it worked out.

Comments (1)

You can,t fix stupid.

By: on 18 January 2019
First story. He,s a Nuff Nuff and should put his hand up and take responsibility for forcing the part and doing the damage. Second story. Very unfortunate. Experience wouldn’t let this happen. You would see/ feel the bolt topping out before it’s taking up. I think the manufacturer is partly to blame , but one wrong bolt in the parts bin when it’s being packaged is how easily it can happen , packed by someone who didn’t check it, blah blah. I take my hat off to you for standing by the customer. You have to check everything , and if you are not comfortable get a professional to sort it. Hurtle Gear did exactly as they say for me. An engine cover bracket broke on me , from vibration I would say after 4/5 months , and they had a replacement sent to me direct from manufacturer. Which is now 2.5 years old. Great service guys. Hats off to your customer service.

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