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Old 05-17-2013, 06:14 PM   #21
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Re: sportsmobile customer satisfaction

Originally Posted by copescobra

If it is not all about the money why get all excited about it. At the end of the day it is a hiccup.

1. you have to expect them to charge you something to mount the tires on wheels you supplied.
I think the OP was concerned about the quality and responsiveness of Sportsmobile, that's why he got annoyed. I think it was justified. And it's important to note that it was about mounting wheels, as I understand it, NOT mounting tires on wheels. He's doing a big conversion; I would guess the wheels are gonna be off the front anyway. All kinds of places will put wheels on for free as part of a tire rotation or whatever. I'd agree to mount and balance could run over a $100 easily, but this seemed silly. And odd: they've done some out-of-warranty stuff for me without charge, so I don't think this is typical. I hope not.


2001 Ford E250 Sportsmobile with Salem-Kroger 4x4 conversion
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Old 05-17-2013, 08:04 PM   #22
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Re: sportsmobile customer satisfaction

Okay, this is gonna be long because I was going to write my own post but then saw yours. You weren't the first one to get upset with SMB West this week. My issues more relate to quality in addition to customer service. We picked up our fresh van conversion last fall, an RB50 in a 2003 E-350 diesel. Already we had to take it back to SMB West for the following issues:

- The biggie: An engine coolant line running to the interior D5 furnace came loose after about 5000 miles, dumping who knows how many gallons of hot coolant all over the interior floor, damaging a bunch of wood. This was root caused to the hose clamp not being tightened down during assembly.

-The couch hit the galley box when laid out and made it so you couldn't open the box in that configuration. That was VERY annoying for us since we always put 170lbs of big dogs on the laid out couch once we stop for camp.

- A failed water pump

- Rubber weatherstripping on the pop top ripping off from hitting the awning brackets.

All of these they agreed to fix under warranty. I told them that once they had everything torn down, I wanted to come up to see the extent of the coolant damage and make sure everything got replaced. When I went up, Peter pointed out everything that was being replaced, which was great. Except they were hoping I wouldn't notice the water damage on the main vertical cabinet wall. They really didn't want to replace it because of the labor involved in that. I understood that, but after discussing with my family, we wanted it replaced because the van was so new and who knows what it would lead to. So they agreed to do it.

We got the call last week that the van was ready. On this past Monday we called and said we'd show up Tuesday morning. Peter said that was perfect because quality had spent a few hours with the van that day and everything was ready to go. I wish that had been the case.

Tuesday morning we show up around 8:45. The receptionist let Peter know we were there, at which point we see him go out to the floor and start gathering guys to clean our van. You know, the van that quality had already gone through the day before and signed off on. It took them 15 minutes to vacuum and clean the van. I can only imagine how bad it looked that it took them that long. They drove it out front for us and handed over the forms to sign off on it. I decided I better check things out before I signed off on anything. Here's what I found:

- Overspray residue on everything from their half-assed cleaning job.
- A floor panel inside the closet was completely missing.
- The closet door was warped and the handle completely disappeared behind the wall when closed.
- The cutouts in the new vertical wall were not nearly as straight as the last one.
- There were a bunch of screws and miscellaneous parts sitting in the sink
- The electrical switch panels and vent covers under the sink had mismatched screws
- When I laid the couch out, it still ran into the galley box.

Now I flat out hate being mean and my wife bugs me for being unconfrontational, but as soon as I saw all of that and then laid the couch out and found the same exact problem, I blew up. All the quality issues that I had observed over time and then the fact that they were ready to let me drive away with all these issues was flat out ridiculous. I pointed out everything and Peter tried to politely talk his way out of things. I asked for the owner, and did not get Alan, but got Johnnie, who is supposedly the new president. I "calmly" explained to him everything that was wrong and he tried to reassure me everything would be corrected. He told me that there was nothing more they could do about the couch. I knew that was BS, because they could remount the couch frame, but that would be a whole lot of unpaid labor on their part. Then I pulled their upholstery guy(?) Juan aside and asked him, and he said they could pull the upholstery tighter and trim some foam on the front of the couch and that would do the trick. I suggested that the closet door track could be adjusted to fix the door. Juan took a look and insisted they should make a new door. He even discovered that the table stored under the couch was incorrectly made and it hit the couch frame when the couch was laid out. I had noticed this on Day 1 and Nick told me that's how it was supposed to be. A complete lie from the salesman on a brand new conversion. Juan insisted all these things should be fixed. He was all about making me happy and doing a quality job for the customer. Johnnie and Peter were not. Later I found that when they had removed the galley box during service and reattached it, they used a bunch of mismatched screws and even stripped one out. I insisted they change those out, too. Some may say that's being anal, but when you're paying $40k for their conversion, the least they can do is use screws consistently instead of just using whatever is laying around. Reserve that for your home garage, not a commercial business. Stu, their quality guy, finally stepped in and tried to fix things as well. But he should've caught all these things before I ever showed up.

Anyways, 4.5 hours later we finally got out of there. There are still things I'm not happy with, but I got the big things fixed. Apparently all it takes is a little screaming and yelling with them, and they'll finally cut the friendly bullsh*t, get 6 guys working on your van, and finally do what's right. That's the thing I hate; they're all super friendly and pleasant people. But their attention to detail, quality, and doing what's right for the customer is extremely lacking. I also recognize that all of this was unpaid warranty work, but that's absolutely no excuse.

I encourage every single person picking up their new conversion or picking up their van from service to go over every little thing with a fine tooth comb before ever leaving their property. Things may look great at first glance, but look more closely. If something looks odd to you, you're probably right. If you don't like something, tell them. You paid enough to be extremely satisfied. Make sure you get your money's worth because that is not their #1 priority. This service adventure was just awful and firmly confirmed my concerns all along. I will avoid using them except for warranty issues from here on out. The sad thing is that their customers are their marketing, but they seem to forget that.

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Old 05-18-2013, 08:11 AM   #23
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Re: sportsmobile customer satisfaction

I've had customers bring their own wheels/tires many times. Even after I helped them pick the correct part#'s/etc. It doesn't bother me and there's no up charge because when it comes to wheels & tires there is very little profit. I always price tires at what you can buy them for at one of the chains. Even if it means I make $5. If my customer doesn't want to deal with it, they let me source them. If they want to take the time to get everything gathered or if they already have a good source with a better price, more power to them! I trust that my customers are perfectly capable of making this decision themselves

I once drove an hour each way to get tires for a guy that specifically wanted them from Discount Tire so he could take advantage of their warranty back home. Now we have one 5 mins from the shop

A former employer of mine decided to start charging a "shop fee" on every vehicle that came in the shop. I disagreed with this, but it was done anyway. Not my call. All he cared about was that damn shop fee and I could see that customers didn't like it. It wasn't that much $$, it just made guys uneasy.

Hopefully everything works out for you, and you too David!
Chris Steuber
02 E350 7.3 (V4)
17 Focus RS, 90 SHO, 49 CJ2A, 89 LSC, 20 T250 AWD
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Old 05-18-2013, 08:52 AM   #24
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Re: sportsmobile customer satisfaction

They threw in a free Door Talon to make everything okay....

I forgot to mention, despite the length of my rant, the other thing that helped set me off was that the D5 unit didn't even work when they delivered it back to me on Tuesday even though they said they tested it Monday. After 15 minutes of troubleshooting that, they figured out it was because the tank had gone below 1/4 and so the D5 wasn't getting fuel and tripped its breaker as a precaution.

Chris, you have always exemplified great service and put your customers first! That's why your business keeps growing. Kudos to you and those who get it.
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Old 05-18-2013, 11:01 AM   #25
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Re: sportsmobile customer satisfaction

I can't comment on how appropriate that wheel mounting charge was, but I can comment on SMBw costumer service and work quality.

Last year we had the penthouse converted to electric and a couple of other minor fixes. One of those was instillation of a door talon. They installed the short version and my van required the long version. When I questioned having to put most of my body weight on the door to latch the talon and the strain it was putting on the hinges, they stood and lied right to my face.

"Yes, that's how it's supposed to work. No, that won't hurt the hinges." BULLCRAP. I had to obtain the long hook on my own, install it and return the short parts to SMB for a refund. And that's all I got - a grudging refund - no apology.

The work quality sucked. There was extra grease on the penthouse lift bars and smeared on the vinyl windows along with some of that black sealing tar stuff. Found about a dozen screws, nuts and other fasteners loose in back corners and behind cabinets. Couldn't tell if they were extras or had already fallen out of whatever they were fastened to.

They installed an outside porch light and left loose wiring that sorted out and blew fuses. When I called about that 2 days after taking the van they tried to tell me I had done something to it on the 500 mile trip home. Again - BULLCRAP. I was left to track down the problem on my own. It turned out that the hot lead to the 12V outlet was left unconnected and it had shifted over to touch ground and short out the whole right side 12V circuit. An easy fix once I found it - sloppy, don't give a crap work on their part.

In short - their work quality mimics the quality of carpentry work you see in Mexico and their attitude toward customer service is, "Your check has cleared, we've got your money, go piss up a rope".

SMBw customer satisfaction? Put me down as UN.
2002 E350 7.3 PSD
Quigley 4x4, EB50 floorplan
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Old 05-18-2013, 03:59 PM   #26
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sportsmobile customer satisfaction

It's sad to hear SMBw is treating its customers this way.

I had my SMB done at Austin in 2005 and things were great.

In summer 2012, I stopped by SMB Indiana since I was in the area and they made a bunch of minor repairs, threw together an extra shelf I requested and helped diagnose an Espar no start problem. They couldn't have treated me any better.

A big THANK YOU to Nancy and Jim at SMB Indiana for going out of their way to take care of me during an unannounced stop.
2005 Ford E-350 Diesel Sportsmobile
EB 102 Voyager top, 3.55 rear, Mobil 1 all around
270 amp alternator, billet water pump, coolant filter kit,
aluminum radiator, X-Monitor with pyro, trans temp, boost
+ Scan Gauge & SCT Live Wire (Economy)
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Old 05-18-2013, 08:02 PM   #27
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Re: sportsmobile customer satisfaction

Yeah. I won't do business with SMB-W again.

In 2004 after searching for used for two years, I bought a new RB-50, on a tight budget. Pretty bare bones -- no fancy upgrades. I was given the younger son as a salesman (no longer with the business?), and he clearly didn't want to waste his time on a merely $50K van. It wasn't cool.

Pick up was a nightmare. When I asked how long pick-up takes (so I could arrange transit accordingly) the kid said, "I can do it in 10 minutes." Uh, kid: it's isn't about how fast you can do it, it's about how long it takes the customer to be comfortable. And at checkout, the kid was more interested in showing me all the bells and whistles on a $120K van that was being picked up the next day than going over my boring van.

I went with detailed checklists (thank you Yahoo! group!). I caught two major things they didn't do and they claimed they'd caught those too and didn't tell me because they could fix them quickly...Install pre-wiring for a solar system quickly? Seriously?

John Kalmbach was a shining star. He insisted things be fixed before I left.

A year later -- with some considerable frustration with fit and finish -- I went back for solar installation. Sat all day during the installation (remember, the wiring was already, in theory, installed) and then was sent on my way. Fortunately I only went as far as the parking lot where I read the MPPT manual and realized that the solar system wasn't working. After insisting that it was working, they fixed it -- more or less -- that day.

Nine months later the PH jammed in the UP position in a National Forest. I got it down, did a bee-line to SMB-W (1400 miles). They weren't happy because I didn't have an appointment (they were booking 2 months out) but I insisted since I was in the middle of a multi-month trip and simply refused to leave. After a full day they couldn't figure out the PH problem so replaced the mechanism (sloppily). It jammed again four months later in TX, and SMB-TX serviced it -- and did it the right way, knowing exactly the problem (and the sloppiness at SMB-W that had caused it).

SMB-TX is great. They are awesome. They rock. But not SMB-W. Someday I might buy a used SMB -- but not one built at SMB-W.
2017 T-250 MR 148" 3.7L cargo van. Slowly becoming a campervan...
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Old 05-23-2013, 12:49 PM   #28
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Re: sportsmobile customer satisfaction

Any word on a solution to your issue? If SMB-West resolved the issue to your satisfaction it's only fair to them to let everyone know.

Gnarvan 1992 E350 Clubwagon
Advanced 4WD Systems Conversion

Sotar Legend 12.5' X 22" Cataraft
2003 BMW R1150GS-Adventure
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Old 05-23-2013, 06:17 PM   #29
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Re: sportsmobile customer satisfaction

This week I had the occasion to call SMB Indiana for some help with troubleshooting the Starcool AC on my 1998 Ford EB, for which I am the second owner. It was built in Indiana. Nancy and the folks in Indiana went way out of their way to help me, return calls, and ultimately figure out the correct fix for the Starcool (yeah!!). I also ordered some parts from them, and Nancy sent it out today with just a bill in the box for me to pay... no credit card up front or anything.

I'm really impressed with their service, friendliness, and willingness to help even when there wasn't really anything "in it" for them. If I buy a new SMB down the road I'll definitely be looking at the Indiana shop.
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Old 05-23-2013, 07:42 PM   #30
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Re: sportsmobile customer satisfaction

I'll definitely be looking at the Indiana shop.


Open the pod bay doors Hal.

Once I exit Hal, this is what I do.
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