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Old 09-30-2014, 07:45 AM   #1
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SMB-W Build Quality as of Late

With the exception of Grumpy Badger's build http://www.sportsmobileforum.com/vie...p?f=10&t=14550 (he's not so grumpy anymore), there haven't been a lot of posts about new builds, at least full-on interior conversions. With the amount of vans Fresno is churning out, I thought there would be tons of new members signing up and sharing their experiences. It ain't like the old days.

Just looking for experiences with current builds. I have literally poured over the forum from posts dating back years for ideas and tips on our build. I've seen the unfinished walls behind fridges and lack of insulation in walls. Crazy termination of wires and scary plumbing. Before I get cold feet and start seriously considering GTRV or VS, can anyone shed some light on latest practices from the folks at SMB-W?

FWIW, Grumpy's van once again has us considering an aisle layout. I love the side-facing seating for looking out the cargo doors and all of closet space in back for clothing and bedding storage plus the fact that a larger refrigerator can be mounted without making the counter top too high. Nice van, Grumpy!

Thanks!
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Old 10-02-2014, 10:58 PM   #2
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Re: SMB-W Build Quality as of Late

I suggest starting by talking to Jonathon at SMB West... they've apparently learned a bit from this forum (I presume he is telling me straight... ). I had a 4 page list of questions and concerns that he patiently sat through and addressed whilst I was there (or showed me examples that satisfied my curiosity).

Unfortunately I haven't really put my beast through its paces yet, so I can't vouch for overall quality just yet. Hopefully it will hold up when I get to drag it through and over stuff next summer!

And, as others have learned and whose advice I followed... take a trip to the shop with your anal-retentive list of questions and camera in hand and ask to see examples. The few hundred $$$ it might cost is a pittance compared to what you are considering dropping... and maybe visit the other competitors as well if you can. I didn't, mainly because I was a little myopic and ignorant, but the trip to Fresno helped settle my mind on a great number of things.
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Old 10-04-2014, 02:39 PM   #3
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Re: SMB-W Build Quality as of Late

Have you considered SMB Texas? My 2006/2007 van from SMB Texas is built really, really well!

The advantage to Van Specialties is that we don't have sales tax here in Oregon.
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Old 10-22-2014, 02:25 PM   #4
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Re: SMB-W Build Quality as of Late

The work SMB west did on my van this summer was awful, their communication is horrible, and their attention-to-detail and quality control are atrocious!
I would spend your money elsewhere, especially if a full build.
We went against our gut instincts (and negative forum reviews) and and used sportsmobile for a penthouse top install.
I regret that descison 100%.
I have zero positive things to say about that business.
I am working on a full report of my 100% horrible experience with them, but I just got my van back from being there for 6 weeks, and I haven't had time to fully inspect the van.
If you value your time and your money.........spend them elsewhere!
Feel free to email for more info.
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Old 10-22-2014, 04:39 PM   #5
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Re: SMB-W Build Quality as of Late

I had some issues but expected it with such a complex van. Not sticking up for them but a lot can go wrong with high tech specialized stuff. Did you get a standard build or something out of the ordinary? What all has failed? As many vans coming out of there you'd think there would be a lot of complaints and I don't see many pop up here. Sorry you had such a bad time.
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Old 10-22-2014, 07:10 PM   #6
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Re: SMB-W Build Quality as of Late

Six weeks for a penthouse top install? I'm the third owner of my van so didn't go through a build with them but have had lots of positive interaction (technical support).

Onefin, keep in mind the significance and weight that words describing a poor customer service experience carry when posted on line, especially on an enthusiast website. That said, when a less than positive customer service experience is authentic, legitimate, and an expression of frustration... hopefully SMB West can learn from it. If that is indeed the case.

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Old 10-22-2014, 08:53 PM   #7
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Re: SMB-W Build Quality as of Late

Quote:
Originally Posted by Onefin
The work SMB west did on my van this summer was awful, their communication is horrible, and their attention-to-detail and quality control are atrocious!
I would spend your money elsewhere, especially if a full build.
We went against our gut instincts (and negative forum reviews) and and used sportsmobile for a penthouse top install.
I regret that descison 100%.
I have zero positive things to say about that business.
I am working on a full report of my 100% horrible experience with them, but I just got my van back from being there for 6 weeks, and I haven't had time to fully inspect the van.
If you value your time and your money.........spend them elsewhere!
Feel free to email for more info.

Sorry to hear about your negative experience, Onefin...

My experience in Fresno was the polar opposite.

lndshark - I had a motorized penthouse top and bed installed at SMB-West this summer, and the quality is superb! It was on my 2008 E-350, not a Sprinter. The install started on Wednesday morning and was complete Thursday afternoon - nice people, great service and I couldn't be happier with the result. It's a van, so it is noisy, before and after, even with the Fatmat insulated walls.

Without taking anything away from onefin's negative experience, something to keep in mind is that a lot of forum posts (here and especially elsewhere) are not necessarily positive -when we (I) have a positive experience(s), we (I) generally go on our way, enjoying whatever it is that forum is about.

The great thing about this forum is the positive, consistent help and feedback that the members here are happy to share. So, FWIW, keep prowling these forums, asking questions, searching for your answers and you'll make an educated decision.

Phil
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Old 10-22-2014, 09:49 PM   #8
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Re: SMB-W Build Quality as of Late

Electric penthouse top and options only.
I only spent $12,000 with them.
I understand that people come on forums to vent about less than ideal results.
I know I read chumleys thread, and went against my better judgement when we had SMB do the top.
I personally wish that I had read a few more negative reviews....I wouldn't have got involved.
6 weeks was time van was in fresno for a paint repair caused by SMB that the Mercedes factory attempted to correct as a goodwill gesture.
I have wasted so much time and money and anger trying to get this sorted out.
Every business has an unhappy customer, I am theirs.
I firmly believe that they have zero quality control, and their desire to improve that quality control isn't there at all.
I guess they are nice people, but I didn't hire them to be my new friends; I hired them to install one of many thousands of penthouse tops in my van.....correctly.
That being said, Jonathan is a nice enough guy.
The biggest issue they have as a company is atrocious communication when problems arise.
People that invest in this sort of vehicle are going to be concerned about their investment; being forthcoming and honest about what is happening puts the customer at ease.
They did not do this for us.
By being evasive distant and vague, they only made the situation worse.
My issue is now partially a factory mercedes issue and partially a SMB issue.
I would buy another mercedes, but would never buy another SMB, and would hope that other would proceed with caution.
I do know that they know that we have a precarious relationship, and they still delivered a filthy van with loose random parts sitting on top, that they didn't inspect properly to me on Tuesday.
Van was covered in debris in repair area, and canvas was covered with either overspray or "polishing compound" as they said it.
They never opened the top to inspect the work after paint.
They offered to clean it up, but why bother when they had ample time to do so before I picked it up.
If they cared about their quality they would only want to present their best.
When asked, they said this is a 100% perfect SMB.
Ok. This is the best they can do. Understood.
Why press the issue further when they did the best they can do?
As I stated before, I will make a full thread with photos for this site, expedition portal and the sprinter-source.
People can take my experience and opinion with a grain of salt.....like everybody should on the internet.
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Old 11-14-2014, 07:23 AM   #9
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Re: SMB-W Build Quality as of Late

I'm very interested to see this full report. How's it coming?

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Old 05-18-2017, 03:47 PM   #10
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Did this full report ever come to fruition?

Gar
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