This is part 2 of my write up on how I switched from riding Harley-Davidson motorcycles to Indian motorcycles in July 2017. You can read part one by clicking here.
In part 1 of my story, I discussed looking at new motorcycles, narrowing my decision down to two motorcycles, and ultimately choosing the Indian Roadmaster motorcycle. I also discussed how my fiancé went about buying the motorcycle, and a problem that I had with the motorcycles cruise control on the way home after picking it up.
Now this is where the story gets interesting. I have been riding motorcycles for over 40 years. I have been dealing with car dealerships and motorcycle dealerships for approximately 37 years.
The worst experience I’ve ever had with any dealership was last week at Indian Motorcycles of Orange County California, I recommend that nobody purchase any product there, or obtains service from them.
Let me explain what happened.
Within a day or two after riding my fiancé’s new Indian Roadmaster home from the dealership where it was purchased in San Jose California, I called the local dealership where we live, Indian Motorcycle of Orange, to inform them that I wanted to bring the motorcycle in for 500-mile service, and to fix the cruise control problem on the motorcycle.
We are talking a $35,000 motorcycle that was less than a week old.
When I got to the dealership everything seemed normal except that there was a female salesperson there that gave me the silent treatment when she found out that we purchased the motorcycle from another dealership. (See part 1 where I discussed why we purchased the motorcycle different dealership)
I took it in stride, because I was dealing with the service department.
I explained to the service manager that I wanted a 500-mile service, that the cruise control did not work and it was a brand-new motorcycle, and requested that they install 2 locks that go on the lower fairing compartments.
We never discussed the cost of service, but I assumed it would be around the same as I was quoted from my dealer in northern California, approximately $200 and some change. I was told in northern California that it was about an hour and half of labor.
Before I left, I talked to the sales manager who was mentioned in my part one story, and explained to him that since I had not heard back from him, I purchased the bike in San Jose at Spirit Motorcycles. He told me he had found one for me locally, but part 1 of my story speaks for itself. You can it read here.
Later that day, after dropping my motorcycle off, I called the service department for a status, and was told that my 500-mile service was done, the 2 lower fairing compartment locks were installed, but that there was nothing they could do on the cruise control issue until they contacted the manufacturer directly for assistance.
They told me I can come pick up the motorcycle, and then when they found a resolution to the cruise control problem, I could take the motorcycle back in.
I asked them if they could come pick me up, just like Harley-Davidson used to do because I am local. They told me that they did not have the personnel to do pickups or drop-offs.
Although that kind of bothered me a bit because Harley-Davidson used to pick me up and drop me off for service, I took it in stride, and ordered a Lyft driver to take me to pick up the motorcycle.
When I got to the dealership I was told basically the same thing I was told on the telephone. However, I was hit with a $530.00 for 500-mile service, and the installation of the 2 locks which could not have taken more than 15 minutes.
When I asked the service manager what was included in the 500-mile service, he gave me a list of things that were done. I knew the $530 charge was excessive and outrageous for the 500-mile service , but I figured I would eat it this one time and go to another dealer if I wanted later.
A 500-mile service is basically an oil change, and inspection and tightening of certain parts. About an hour and half labor the most. $530 for the service is outrageous.
When I picked up the motorcycle the service manager reiterated to me that he needed to talk to Polaris, the manufacturer of the Indian motorcycle, to find a resolution to the cruise control problem, because, it appeared to be a computer problem, and they had taken as far as they could.
Mind you, this is a brand-new $35,000 motorcycle, with what I consider to be a major electronic feature, the cruise control not working.
I had to ride the motorcycle over 400 miles with no cruise control from San Jose California to Huntington Beach California in the middle of the night.
I told the service manager that I was planning to go to the Sturgis motorcycle rally, in Sturgis South Dakota, approximately 3000 miles round-trip, at the end of the month, that my fiancé just paid $35,000 for a new motorcycle, and we needed this thing fixed as soon as possible.
I was not rude or obnoxious in telling the service manager that we wanted to get this problem fixed, but I did express the concern of a consumer who just spent $35,000 for what was supposed to be the top and motorcycle, that had a major electronic feature not working.
The service manager explained to me that since it was late in the day, and the 4th of July holiday was coming up, that they would not be able to contact Polaris until after the holiday. Obviously, I understood, and I told him that was okay.
On July 5, 2017, a day after the holiday, I called the service manager in the afternoon, and asked him if he had heard anything from Polaris regarding the cruise control problem.
He told me had he had not heard anything from Polaris yet.
I knew from my research that Polaris has literally spent millions of dollars in engineering, manufacturing, and marketing of the Indian motorcycle brand. I knew that Polaris had a great technical staff in Minnesota, there to work problems like this every business day.
I knew that if the service manager opened a case with Polaris, and called Minnesota, that Polaris would’ve jumped on this problem. I also knew that the reason why decisions like this are delayed is because service departments like Indian of Orange sit on problems and don’t report them to the manufacturer in a timely manner.
I gave the service manager the benefit of the doubt that Polaris did not call him back on July 5 and waited until the next day.
Mind you this is a brand-new $35,000 motorcycle less than a week old.
On July 6, 2017, after not hearing from Indian of Orange, I tried to call the service department at Indian motorcycle of Orange, and it went to voicemail.
I have never called a service department at any car or motorcycle dealership and went to voicemail. Usually somebody always answers.
I tried calling again, and it went to voicemail again. I had a sinking suspicion that something was wrong.
I decided to go on the Polaris industries website, and contact Polaris myself, to find out what was going on.
As I suspected, Polaris told me that no case had been opened on my motorcycle by Indian Motorcycle of Orange, and that if a case was opened by the dealer on my motorcycle, that they would’ve jumped on it. Of course, Polaris did the best they good to assure me that everything would be okay.
SERVICE MANAGER LIED TO ME
I called the service manager at Indian motorcycles of Orange again, left another voicemail, telling the service manager I called Polaris directly, and that they told me that a case was not open on my motorcycle, and I reminded him that we just paid $35,000 for a new motorcycle, and that it was without cruise control right out the door.
I further reiterated that we had a motorcycle rally that we were going to at the end of the month, that would require the cruise control.
I then asked him if he could please call me back as soon as possible so we could get this problem resolved.
The service manager at Indian motorcycle of Orange basically lied to me when he said that he had not heard back from Polaris on July 5, 2017. He knew full well that he did not open a case with Polaris when he told me that.
He should’ve simply stated that he did not have a chance to call Polaris yet. I would have been upset, it’s better than lying to a customer. The actions of the service manager described below after this point are not only reprehensible, but would probably lead to his termination in any other business or entity that I know of.
THE SERVICE MANAGER AT INDIAN MOTORCYCLE OF ORANGE NEEDS TO BE SENT DOWN THE ROAD
I received a telephone call from the service manager at Indian motorcycle of Orange, shortly after I left the voicemail telling him that I had called Polaris and found out that he had not open the case with them yet.
My fiancé Teri was sitting with me when I took the call and put it on speaker. I told the service manager he was on a speaker phone.
The service manager told me that;
- that motorcycles purchased from Indian motorcycle of Orange take priority over motorcycles thet were not purchased from this dealership. (I am assuming that this was the dealership’s way of punishing me for not buying the motorcycle there as described in part 1 of my story);
- that he did not have to work on my motorcycle if he did not want to; and
- that he did not like working with lawyers.
The service manager then went on to discuss how he had 20 years’ experience, and basically told me in no uncertain terms that I was under his mercy. He basically was on an egotistical power trip. Imagine spending $35,000 and a brand-new motorcycle from a company who then tells you to basically fuck off.
One thing that many of you may not know, but I have done customer service for basically 36 years. Before I became an attorney, I worked with some of the top aerospace, military, finance, computer, and industrial companies in the world providing service for complex data communications networks. I was also a national service manager for a major corporation. As an attorney, I have provided excellent customer service to my clients for 20 years.
I knew the service manager and Indian Motorcycles of Orange breached every possible customer service principal there is. My fiancé told me she absolutely could not believe how out of line the service manager was, and that she was surprised that I was so calm.
Frankly, I was calm because I could not believe what I was hearing.
I knew that if Polaris knew how absolutely horrible this dealership was, that they would probably take action, because imagine spending millions of dollars to develop a product like Indian motorcycles, and then having idiots like this service manager at Indian motorcycle of Orange destroying their customer relations, and reputation and providing the antithesis of good customer service.
I called the dealership back after the above call, to speak to their general manager. The service manager came up back on the phone, and told me that he had told the general manager everything he had said to me. And that the general manager did not want to speak to me. I did this with my fiancé on the speakerphone.
It became obvious to me, that the service manager went to the general manager, because he knew what he did was wrong, and was trying to cover his ass before I had a chance to call.
After regaining my composure from being told by Indian Motorcycle of Orange that I was basically nothing to them, and that I would be lucky if they service my bike, and that it did not matter and that my fiancé just spent $35,000 on a top of the line motorcycle with a factory warranty, I decided to call Polaris directly to complain, and to call the dealership that I purchased the motorcycle to complain.
The motorcycle dealership I purchased the motorcycle from was shocked. They jumped into action to help me get my situation resolved. Polaris was also shocked and they jumped into action to help me get my problem resolved.
I am not going to name names, but I was told by a person either at Polaris, or Indian, that Indian of Orange was authorized to do whatever repair was necessary to my motorcycle, including taking the part that was bad off of another motorcycle if they had to.
The reason I’m not going to name names is because Indian motorcycle of Orange apparently breached their dealership contract with Polaris by the way they treated me, and if there is some sort of action taken by Polaris against this dealership, I may become a witness.
In a nutshell, dealerships such as Indian motorcycle of Orange, sign a contract with the manufacturer stating that they will service the manufacturer’s products, and honor factory warrantees. They are then reimbursed by the manufacturer for factory warrantees.
Going back to the story, I called Indian motorcycle of Orange to let them know what I was told about them being able to take a part of another bike to get mine fixed. I talked to a gentleman from service other than the manager because the manager was unavailable.
TURNING WHAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN A ROUTINE REPAIR INTO AN UTTER NIGHTMARE
A short time later I got a call from the service manager asking me if I called to tell his department that they can take a part off of another motorcycle to get mine fixed. I told him yes, I called, and that he can contact Polaris to determine what to do.
He told me that my bike was no longer welcome at Indian motorcycle of Orange. He actually seemed to take enjoyment in telling me that.
I asked him if there was a way that I can speak the general manager to try to get this situation resolved, he said no. I asked him if he realized the ramifications of what he was doing, and the potential legal action I could take against him, and Polaris. He said yes, he knew.
In a nutshell, because I found out the service manager initially lied to me about contacting Polaris to resolve a problem with our brand-new $35,000 motorcycle, and after we complained about his treatment of us, he thought he would punish us by stating that our motorcycle is no longer welcome at Indian Motorcycle Of Orange, in apparently violation of their contract with Indian Motorcycles and Polaris Industries, and in violation of my sales contract with Indian Motorcycles and Polaris Industries.
My fiancé and I have been victimized by the service manager at Indian Motorcycle of Orange, and this dealership. We paid for a top-of-the-line motorcycle, and a factory warranty, and the only local dealership in town tells us that our bike is no longer welcome at their shop, because we complained about the sales manager’s reprehensible customer service. I wonder if the owner of this dealership knows what’s going on?
Immediately after that call, I called the dealership that I purchased the motorcycle from, and told them what happened, and that if this was not resolved that I want to return the motorcycle, and just get a Harley-Davidson.
Of course, the owner Spirit Motorcycle, Martin called me as well is the service manager and spirit, to expeditiously get this problem resolved. They talked with a couple of other dealers, in order to get me in.
Furthermore, Polaris called with one of their customer resolution representatives, to resolve the issue.
Polaris industries, did not purchase the Indian motorcycle brand, and spend millions and millions of dollars in engineering and marketing, to have morons like the service manager at Indian motorcycle of Orange ruin their business.
Not only did Polaris directly intervene and talk directly to my new dealer and authorize the repair needed, they apologized for the treatment I had received. I made a formal complaint against this dealer, and told Polaris that I would like to speak to the owner of this dealership, to see if he knows what’s going on.
Turns our the Service Manger at Indian of Orange even lied in the service ticket to Polaris. He stated that we decided on our own to go to another dealer. He never told Polaris that he told us our bike was no longer welcome at Indian of Orange.
Even though at this time the problem has not been fixed yet, I have an appointment with my new dealership who is about 60 miles away from me, to get this problem resolved this Friday. The dealer told me they had whatever part was needed to repair my motorcycle in stock.
Harley Davidson Service versus Indian Motorcycle Service
When you buy a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, you know that there will be a large number of dealers nationwide to take care of you. If you have a bad experience at one dealership, you know that there will be other dealerships close by to help you.
Indian motorcycles on the other hand, is in the process of building their dealership network. Here in Southern California, particularly in the Los Angeles Metro area, there are only two dealerships local to where I live. You have just read about my experience with one of those two dealerships.
The other dealership in the Los Angeles area was apparently purchased by Harley-Davidson, and will not be providing service to Indian motorcycles anymore.
This lack of dealerships leaves customers like me with a quagmire. Because of the horrible service I received at Indian of Orange, I will now have to travel 60 miles to a dealership near San Diego, California.
Frankly, had I known about the lack of dealers, I probably would’ve went with Harley-Davidson knowing what I know now, even though I love my Indian motorcycle.
When I purchased the Indian motorcycle, I relied upon the fact that there were multiple dealers in my area. Obviously, I am not a mind reader, and had no clue that one dealership would turn out to be horrendous, and the other one was not going to be available to me.
One of my reasons for keeping the Indian motorcycle, and not just giving it back to the dealer in San Jose, is that I trust that Polaris will rectify their issues, and open more dealerships in the local area.
The Los Angeles market is by far the largest motorcycle market in the world. Los Angeles County alone has more population than 40 states in the United States. Orange county California has a population greater than 38 states of the union.
I am wondering what would’ve happened to an ordinary person who doesn’t write a blog, and who is not an attorney, if they had to deal with Indian motorcycle of Orange? I am sure this Service Manager has left other victims in his midst. There is no way this can be a one time thing with him.
This is a cautionary tale. I am going to keep my Indian motorcycle because I love it, but there is a bad apple dealership out there, and that is Indian motorcycle of Orange. I strongly suggest to all my readers, and anyone else who reads this article, to not buy or service your motorcycle at this dealership.
In my many years of owning Harley-Davidson’s and other brands of motorcycles, I was always treated with respect, because the dealership wants my business. I don’t think there’s any dealership in town who wants to lose money, so they treat their customers right. Sometimes a dealership cannot fix a problem in a way to satisfy the customer, sometimes you cannot completely satisfy a customer, but you do the best you can, you don’t tell your customers to go screw off if you want to stay in business. You don’t tell customers that you don’t have to provide service to them if you don’t want to, you don’t tell customers that they are not a priority, you don’t tell customers that you don’t like dealing with people from their profession.
If I were the general manager of this dealership I would immediately fire the service manager for his actions. Nobody is indispensable. The service manager needs to be sent down the road, because he is costing the dealership money, and ultimately potentially losing business for Polaris.
I know good customer service, and good customer service is not at Indian motorcycles of Orange.
Look for part 3 of my story, where I discuss my review of the Indian Roadmaster motorcycle in detail.
By Biker Lawyer Norman Gregory Fernandez, July 9, 2017