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Old 10-16-2007, 05:20 PM   #11
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Yeah I feel you. As you know from my top thread I've given up trying to get a quote, I'm now trying to just get parts to do it myself. I decided (among other things) the mileage on the van is not worth it. I'm at 50K and the extended only goes to 75K and with all the Ford problems I've had the odomoter is like a gold standard.

Having been to both SMBs and having so much "little stuff" like stains on the carpet and drips of silicone or butyl rubber on the inside and outside, them not putting my J hook on straight yadda-yadda I think you should leave the interior alone. It's built "right" and straight and I just think if you let them tear it out it's not going to ever be quite the same.

Just my 2¢ but you might decide on a dollar figure and go to SMB and S&C in tandem and say, look, split it down the middle or one of you take responsibility but get me a check for x and this all goes away.
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Old 10-16-2007, 05:49 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jage
Just my 2¢ but you might decide on a dollar figure and go to SMB and S&C in tandem and say, look, split it down the middle or one of you take responsibility but get me a check for x and this all goes away.
That's exactly what I've been trying, but SMB just seems determined to take the van back out of my hands.

The confusing thing is that the dollar figure I suggested was only $2500, basically the cost of the wrap. When I picked up the van and they verbally agreed to just cut me a check for an estimate, the amount they were talking about then was $3000!

Then, when I go to take them up on it, no one seems to want to honor that commitment. Caveat Emptor.
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Old 10-16-2007, 06:44 PM   #13
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Document everything (interior and exterior) with a camera AND video camera before you drop it off.


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Old 02-13-2008, 11:39 AM   #14
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A fellow forum user asked me the status of this repair, and I thought I'd posted an update to this thread, but looking now I don't see anything.

Long story short, the van was gone for about 3 weeks. When I picked it up, you can barely tell where the dent was, but there is still a very minor 'wave' in the body. At least it wasn't filled with bondo.

The van was cleaned and detailed (on the outside) and Alan was even showing a couple my van (from the outside) when I pulled up. I offered to get the keys to show them the inside but they disappeared while I was getting my keys.

I talked briefly with... Louis? About the plumbing "shooting toilet" issue, and he says they ran 36 flushes through it and couldn't get it to happen again, so something may have been inadvertently fixed with they had to take it apart or I wasn't getting the full story. It does work well now, so I'll just have to wait and see if it ever comes back.

Whoever cleaned the van must have used a typical 'dirty' towel to dry it off because I now had new custom swirl marks in places of the paint.

(sigh)

I was in a bit of a hurry because I had to get back on the road to drive home 3 hours to make an evening appointment (I think I had band practice that night...) so I didn't have time to stop and bitch about it, and I can take care of swirl marks. So I get in the van....

And my steering wheel cover is torn. The strap that wrapped around the cover is broken. There is purple ?paint? rubbed into it.

The interior walls are filthy.

The floor looks like someone's attempting to cultivate corn.

(sigh)

So at this point I can either:

A: lose my cool and go inside and make a fool out of myself.

B: drive away (literally and figuratively) from SMB forever.

To be fair, as I started up to leave, Peter did come out to see what I thought, but I thought he was just a passer by asking about how I liked the van so I just said I love it and goodbye. (shows you how much I was 'seeing red')

(You know, now that I think about it, I remember why I didn't post all of this when I picked it up. I was so mad that I just was done complaining about SMB. This is also why I haven't been as active on the forum, but not why I couldn't make the death rally.)

On the way home the van is riding rough AND bouncy at the same time. I look down and see that the front airbags are aired down past the safety level and the rears are all the way up. This is funny because when I dropped the van off I shut off the air compressor and also marked many of the suspension bolts with little scratches.

I pull over at this point and verify that not only are all of the suspension bolts that I marked turned from where I left them, but also all of the adjustable shocks have been set to the firmest setting. The air compressor switch under the hood has been flipped 'on'. I also notice at this point that there are about 200 miles more on the odo.

(sigh)

Fortunately I'm able to get all the levels back to where I like them while I'm waiting for my In and Out burger. This helps my mood considerably.

So I get home and the next day I'm cleaning the van and reinstalling my monitor and it's a little warm out, so I go to turn on the starcool. I'm running on 110 from the house, so I shouldn't need to start the van. After about 20 minutes I notice that I'm not getting any cold air. Ohhh-kay... have to deal with that later I guess.... because I have to re-run the cables for the monitor and rear headphone and power and such because they've all been cut/crimped by whoever shoved the bench back into place.

(SIGH)

That weekend I go on a local camping trip in the El Dorado Hills wine territory and of course everyone in the RV park is checking out the van, and I discover that my awning will no longer come out.

(WHIMPER)

The safety lock on the right hand side won't release and just clicks when I turn the crank. An up close inspection shows some sort of small washer has somehow gotten wedged in the gearing and I can't get to it without taking off the endcap.

I haven't decided if I want to attempt that myself or take it to a local RV shop to see if they have any ideas. Or just take the darn thing off and spare my van from possible body cracks.

Still haven't had time to really mess with the AC, and temperatures have been so low that I wouldn't be able to tell if it was working incorrectly or just low on refrigerant. I have a friend who is a master AC guy (he teaches auto AC/electrical courses at a local college.) and his advice is to try it when it's warmer and see what the results are. I can get it to make a LITTLE cool air if I'm on the freeway for half an hour (front dash included) but yesterday was our first real warm day at 75 and I got no cold air out of either system, running them both at the same time, running the starcool on 110, checking the fuses as well as the solenoid in the hood.

SO.

Where does that leave me?

Well, the body dent is fixed well enough that it's hard to notice even when you're looking for it.

There is a minor 'tear' in the paint near the rear window edge on the side of the van that has been re-painted. it's only about 5mm long and I was able to clean it up and correct it myself.

I have to wait about 3 months before I can put the wrap on the van because of the new paint, so I'm kinda waiting on that. I'm planning out my solar now (probably will go with 2 200watt panels from mrsolar.com) and I'm trying to decide on how to approach the AC issue.

Once it starts to warm up on a regular basis I'll take it down to the place where my buddy teaches and we'll empty the refrigerant and just do a pressure check for leaks.

I was planning on calling John for advice when I found out he had left SMBw, and I just don't know if it will be worth it to try and work with anyone else. I think in another post somewhere I said I had just resigned to do my own support in the van from here on out because it's just not worth the hassle. Well see if I still feel that way if I can't get the AC problem figured out.

I love my van. I took all the sportsmobile logos off.
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Old 02-13-2008, 12:25 PM   #15
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I should also add that starting in December I had to change some of my priorities around, and focus finishing some home projects that had been neglected in lieu of the van. Then there was the big storm which made some more home projects and then we hosted a huge chili cook-off for the superbowl (we do each year) so I've just been trying to get back to my center and not have my problems define my ownership of the van.

It still gets used once or twice a week with a party crowd and I've been camping up in reno a couple of times, plus it's my daily driver. The plumbing is still good and the heater works almost too well. (in my configuration the vents for the heater are beneath the dinette bed, which is nice in that the bed gets nice and warm when you run the heater, but recently I discovered that under the bed is WAY hotter than I'm comfortable with. I need to add a fan to cycle that hot air out from under there when the heater's running.
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Old 02-13-2008, 07:16 PM   #16
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That's a pretty sad story buji. Do you think from your SMB experiences that it was just a bad one-time visit to SMB West for your body repair, or an overall slippage in their quality control?

Having only been to SMB Fresno once, I have nothing to evaluate it on, other than the concerns expressed on this forum.
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Old 02-13-2008, 07:40 PM   #17
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If that's a "slippage" it's either a mountainsize-slide or they were pretty near the bottom before the "slip".
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Old 02-14-2008, 03:12 AM   #18
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Ed, you asked

as with anything keep in mind that I am merely one person with an opinion. I'm sure there are plenty of people who have no problems with SMB service levels or whatever. Conversely, there are lots of other folks with horror stories too. I think one of the best things about this forum format (vs the message board format of the yahoo group) is that it's archival nature will help researchers glean a better picture with regards to who's got legitimate problems and who doesn't.


Having said that, about my body issue:

There were about 10 vans with the same body deformation on the line, and they were telling me that they hadn't even seen it until I pointed it out on mine.

This means they truly didn't catch it, on 10 vans (or more?) which speaks to a competency issue.

OR

They knew about it and thought I wouldn't notice. Which speaks to ethical issues.

I chose to believe it just happened to get under the radar and not any one of the 20 plus people who worked on my van (or the 10 others I saw with the defect) ever ever noticed it because I just can't believe the alternative.

It is also my opinion that while the company has a lot of great people working there, who are not dumb by any means, the organization seems a bit confused. They also don't seem to realize or care why someone spending the amount of money it takes to buy a new, fully equipped SMB would want it to be perfect. They may even believe that they understand this levity, but their actions speak otherwise.

My final thoughts on the subject are that I LOVE my sportsmobile, but I feel the concept could be made into much more than what is available now.



If there were a viable competitor I truly believe they could 'rake it in'.
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Old 02-14-2008, 09:01 AM   #19
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Buji,

Sorry to read about your issues...more important they did fix it. Unfortunately, someone did not follow through and make sure it was complete(as in cleaned and ready)

As for your quality standards, right on! For SMB to get better they need feedback like yours and this board. The closest competitor to SMB is Roadtrek and they also good quality/durability, so they are option maybe...

That being said, as the owner of a 13 YO used SMB, I'd say the quality/durabilty is very good. My only complaint is the fair durability of the panel laminate.
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Old 02-14-2008, 09:19 AM   #20
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Buji,
I am sorry to hear how your work turned out. As you said everybody needs to look at there own experiences. I guess it would be safe to say your not going to SMBw to get the solar installed. I am glad you know someone to work on air-conditioning, the hardest problem I had was getting someone to actually agree to work on the thing.

For multiple reasons, I have decided to work on my own vehicle, one being the distance from Portland to Fresno. I have still used them as resource for questions. Heck, John even sent out some cabinet material when my son cracked the door panel. He actually would have door made up but since woodworking is hobby, I asked for the raw materials.

It is like a divorce with kids, you still have some contact with the X for the good of the kids, doesn't mean it is always pleasant, and certainly not what you had expected when you started out.

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