Monday, December 28, 2009

My First Serious Harley Prospect - Lessons Learned

(Disclaimer: Normally, I try to be as specific as possible in my writing, but I am being intentionally vague on certain details in order to protect the identity of the 'other party' in the story. Read on and you'll see why.)

This tale began a couple weeks ago, when I had to run an errand. It happened to be near a place that sells motorcycles, so I stopped there to look at a Dyna with mid controls that was within my price range. The Dyna didn't grab me, but I saw a black, older twin cam Wide Glide I really liked. It was a bit more than I wanted to spend, but I was told I qualified for financing.

I returned to the sales outlet a couple days later to put a deposit on the bike. Although I was pressed for time that day, my intention in putting the deposit down was to hold the bike until I could return a few days later, when I would have more time to give the bike a thorough inspection and possibly take it for a test ride. Before I plunked down my deposit, I made sure to ask if it was refundable should I change my mind about the bike. I was told yes, it was refundable.

So, when I was able to return five days later, my friend Roland and I closely inspected the bike. As sharp as the bike appeared upon first glance, it had some significant problems, including an engine seal that was leaking a fair amount of oil (plus some oil seepage from the bottom of a cylinder head) and some bare electrical wires where the wire insulation was worn away. There was also evidence that the bike had been down (scrapes on a mirror and hand control lever). The salesman, of course, downplayed the problems and suggested that perhaps I would be better off buying a new bike, but he would not come down on price.

At this point, I asked the sales manager for my deposit back, but he balked, and said he would have to run it by the owner. Needless to say, I was not happy (this was the very same manager who assured me the deposit was refundable). I waited three days (it was over a weekend) and called the manager. He transferred me to the salesman, who offered to include an extended warranty at no additional cost.

But they did not offer to fix the problems with the bike (ideally, you would think they would have gone through the bike and corrected any problems BEFORE they put it on the sales floor). Nor did they offer to reduce the price. So I said "no, thanks" to the extended warranty, and requested my deposit back. The salesman called me back a few minutes later and said I could come by that day to get my deposit. I drove up a few hours later and the sales manager gave me a check in the amount of my deposit, but he said that I "basically wanted a new bike at a used bike price."

I disagree with that statement, and so do my CMA friends. This sales outlet was trying to get top dollar for an older bike with problems, when bikes much newer, with much less mileage, are selling elsewhere for very close to the same price. I'm not expecting a perfect bike cheap. I'm just expecting a bike fairly priced.

So, this incident left a bad taste in my mouth, and they lost any future business from me. I did learn from it, though. Trying to do things in a hurry is never a good idea, and I will never leave a deposit on a bike without thoroughly checking it out first.

1 comment:

  1. Ken - those are the kinds of dealers who give them all a bad name. Fortunately they are not all like that, but personally I won't hand over any money unless I have a 100% refundable clause in writing - and even then a dealer operating in bad faith can delay repayment.
    Anyway it seems like all you are out is some time - not a bad price for a lesson learned.