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Old 02-18-2019, 06:57 PM   #1
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Sportsmobile conversion – wish we had known location makes a difference

We had a disappointing & costly experience with a custom conversion of a Quigley regular-body Ford Transit from Sportsmobile West (Fresno, CA). SMB’s floorplan for the van was wrong, & no one at SMB West addressed the issue in 19 weeks. They just built the plan & 10 inches of open space “disappeared” (8 inches from the incorrect floorplan, 2 inches more in a production error), leaving the entry/interior space unusably tight. SMB West agreed to fix it, but first insisted we pay to send the van back because SMB Texas created the incorrect floorplan, not them. They finally did cover transport after arguing over almost a month. Then we all signed off on a rework plan that restored the lost 10 inches. But 2 days before pickup, our rep told us they hadn’t corrected the production error after all & lost another inch of open space to vent the heater. We pointed out two more errors that they fixed.

In the end SMB West delivered a usable van that seems nicely done. But since it took 30 weeks, was carelessly produced from start to finish, and cost us way too much in time/$$/frustration, we asked for a significant refund. SMB West’s president said only Texas could authorize a refund, but very grudgingly returned $551 to compensate for a smaller fridge and cabinets. He also said to “Go right ahead” & share our story with the community.

We wouldn’t choose SMB again. But if you’re thinking about it, here’s what we took away from our experience:
• If you need a custom plan, it may be wiser to go with SMB Texas since they can’t pass the blame?
• Over-specify your custom plan to increase the chance it will be implemented with some precision. Write in measurements of open space, dimensions of cabinets (even if they’re “standard”), and everything that’s important to you.
• Don’t assume that when SMB signs off on a plan it means they’ve committed to producing it. Checks for production feasibility and conformance to plan were clearly lacking in our case. Verify what they’re doing often to prevent late-stage surprises.

We hope this helps others avoid some hassles and achieve a better outcome than we did.
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Old 02-19-2019, 11:57 AM   #2
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I'm not sure I understand. SMBw built what SMB-Texas contracted them to build, and you're mad at SMBw? The production error sounds like it is attributable to SMBw, but the incorrect floorplan?




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Old 02-19-2019, 03:04 PM   #3
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Sorry you had a bad experience. Any chance you could post pictures of exactly what the problems were?
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Old 02-20-2019, 01:01 PM   #4
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The design template (floor plan of the empty van) was prepared by SMB-Texas and used by SMB-West. It included 8” of conversion space that didn’t exist. SMB-West made the bed 2” wider than the plan specified, resulting in 10” of ‘lost’ space. The build was done using originally specified cabinet sizes, resulting in an entry that was 23” wide rather than 33”, and with no open space behind the driver’s seat for a seat swivel. Because of the passenger side door post the space to enter the van was only 16”. Rather than contacting us during the build to rectify the problems, they went ahead and built an unusable van. All work was done by SMB-West. On the attached picture the left side of the blue tape shows the open space called for in the plan we all signed off on. Hope that answers your question.
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Old 02-20-2019, 03:03 PM   #5
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Thanks! That's crazy. So were the plans to spec but the build was incorrect? or were the plans drawn wrong which resulted in a bad build?
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Old 02-22-2019, 09:08 AM   #6
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The plans were off by 8" and the bed was built 2" too wide. So some of each.
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Old 02-22-2019, 11:57 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by cobackcountryhikers View Post
The plans were off by 8" and the bed was built 2" too wide. So some of each.
I am hearing more and more stories of bad experiences with SMB west as of late. One of my buddies just bought a 4x4 Quigley E350 and called sportsmobile to get just a poptop put on. He said just the experience of trying to get a quote and the attitude towards his poptop only request was enough to turn him off from them completely. He was pretty shocked that a potential customer would get treated the way he did, and couldn't imagine trusting them to do the work after that.

They also wanted him to gut the van (extended passenger with 4 captains and electric bed/bench) prior to dropping it off for the install which seemed strange to me.

Fortunately for him that means he is most likely going the CCV route which was originally ruled out because it was too far away.
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Old 02-22-2019, 06:54 PM   #8
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Given the great reviews CCV has gotten, the inconvenience seems like a small price to pay for a superior product.

I’m surprised someone in CA doesn’t launch a CCV install shop. Seems like there are van builders everywhere these days.
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Old 02-22-2019, 07:43 PM   #9
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I think there is one. There's some guy that installs their tops anyway. Ray or MSD will know.
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Old 02-23-2019, 01:41 PM   #10
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Currently on their website, he only offers a "Daily/Tow" for the E350 5.4 in 87, 89, and 93 Octane Versions. When I talk to him I'll inquire about the Performance Tune. It may be that he renamed the Performance Tune as Daily/Tow and eliminated the others.
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