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How f^&king hard can it be?

By Wom Battle

I'm a consumer, one of the most fun things about owning a Harley Davidson, other than riding it, is making it my own. Brings back memories of th '70s when buying a plastic louvre for the rear windshield of my HG Holden was the epitome of customisation... anyway, I digress.

A couple of weeks ago I decided that after only 13,000k's or so it was time to give it a bit more grunt and to do that I booked the Road King in on Monday 15 Feb to have a Phase II 103 kit put into it.  Given anecdotes and some personal experience, despite providing at least two weeks between the order and booking it in I decided to adopt a conservative approach to getting excited about the local Harley dealer actually delivering it on time.... here's how it went.

Friday 12 Feb
I went to the Harley dealer to make sure everything was OK for me to drop my '09 Road King in on Monday to get the work done.  I was told that HD had delivered the wrong kit and that the correct one had been re-ordere.  No probs there, nobody has any illusions about the quality of Harley Davidson's local stock and fulfillment systems.  A check revealed that the correct kit was invoiced by HD in Melbourne that day and I was told that there would be a 99% chance that the kit would arrive for Monday.  I hate having my time wasted so I suggested that I not bring the Harley in until the parts arrived and indicated that I could have it there very quickly after a call.  The service guy said that would be no good, they'd need to take my bike apart in anticipation of the kit's arrival or they wouldn't be able to complete the work...they were busy.  I reluctantly agreed to take my Harley in on Monday. The dealer at that point assumed the risk of disappointing me knowing the HD had already screwed up and their intimate familiarity with the Harley Davidson's fullfilment reputation.

Monday 15 Feb
I dropped my Road King off at the Harley dealership.  The parts weren't there but "should arrive today" 99.9% chance. My expectation was, and they confirmed it that morning, that they needed to start dismantling my Harley to speed up the process ready for the parts' arrival.  I left not feeling confident of a good result and feeling I'd just wasted my time going there. The expectation they gave me was I'd get a phone call at lunchtime Wednesday (17th) to let me know what time I could pick it up.  Once again the dealership assumed the risk of disappointing me.

Tuesday 16 Feb, after lunch
A call from the dealer.  The parts hadn't arrived and they wanted to know whether I needed the bike on the weekend.  I commented, based on the assumption that they were going to do what they said, that it would be inconvenient to have them put it back together for me to ride on the weekend.  Then a  revelation.... they'd decided not to dismantle my Harley until the parts arrived.  GEE THAT WAS A GOOD FRIGGIN IDEA. I WISH I'D THOUGHT OF THAT. MAYBE I COULD HAVE NOT WASTED FRIGGIN TIME DROPPING THE BIKE IN UNTIL THEY ARRIVED.  Their message not said..."It's OK to waste a customer's time and justify it with a lack of logic but when it comes to potentially wasting their own time...sense will prevail.  Even at the expense of looking stupid and smart at the same time."

I was told the parts might arrive at "2pm today" and they might be able to start it but the window of availability to fit it was closing fast because they had other jobs booked in.  So did I want to pick it up and book it back in later or leave it to see what happens.  I told them I'd leave it for now and I was told they would ring me tomomorrow (17th) to let me know what was happening.  I left it because at the very least if the parts arrived they'd feel obliged to try to do the work this week and they would let me know when it was time to make a proper decision. They didn't deserve the easy option of just putting it off and having more of my time wasted.  I expected that I'd be notified when the parts arrived so I could make a decision whether or not to go ahead at that time.

Wednesday 17 Feb.
The dealer didn't ring, haven't got a freaking clue what's happening.

Thursday 18 Feb.
The dealer didn't ring, haven't got a freaking clue what's happening.

Friday 19 Feb about 9am
The Harley dealer rang. The parts had arrived and the work had begun and was 85% completed.  Sadly the technician working on it had gone off sick and it wouldn't be finished today.  He indicated that he would probably be back on Monday and if so worst case I could pick the bike up on Tuesday afternoon.  The cynic in me would wonder why a two day job that's 85% complete might take two more days to finish but there's no point following through with that. The upshot though, I didn't get my opportunity to decide if I wanted to use my Road King on the weekend because I wasn't aware the parts had arrived.

I decided to visit the dealership to air my concerns, and I did.  (So be happy that I'm not just a cranky  vagwhiner that vents on the net without having the nuts to raise it in person). I also took the opportunity to visit the service area and confirm the status of the work.  I was actually very pleased to see the work in progress and my Road King in pieces despite the circumstances leading to that point.

Monday 22 Feb about 5pm
The Harley dealership rang, the Road King was almost finished and would be OK to pick up tomorrow afternoon, I'd get a call about lunchtime. Hooray! Only one problem, one of the spark cables had split.  A repair had been sorted out pending the arrival of a new one.  The Harley would be OK to ride to clock up some k's ready for the oil change.

Tuesday 23 Feb
About 3pm.  OK the call was late but the news was good, the Road King was ready to pick up.  So I went over and got it.  A couple of minor issues to be sorted, but not worthy of mention here.

The Phase II 103 Kit got fitted, so I'm happy about that.  During the last two days of the saga the dealer got it exactly right.  I don't blame them at all for the initial stuffup where Harley Davidson delivered the wrong kit. I'm not an impatient person and can competely understand that there can be unavoidable delays in any business situation.

However, the dealer got it completely wrong by

  • providing initial timeframe expectations based on guesses that in their own experience they should have known might have blown up in their faces
  • giving me a firm reason to drop the Harley off to them without knowing if the work would be done and then not acting on it
  • not keeping me informed about when the parts arrived and giving me the opportunity of deciding whether the work should start based on known facts and my planned commitments with it.

It really wouldn't have been that hard for them to make this whole thing very simple and not worth writing about.


Disclaimer: This non commercial website and its content is not affiliated with or associated in any way with the Harley-Davidson Motor Company, Harley-Davidson Australia, the Harley-Davidson Owners Group® or any Harley-Davidson® Dealers in Australia.  The use of the terms Harley-Davidson, and Road King® are unavoidable because that's what I own and ride.  This website,  called "My Harley Davidson" , and any opinions or comments expressed herein are purely about my Harley-Davidson Road King ownership experience, a truly great experience at that. I have no intention whatsoever to infringe on any trademarks or copyright ownership of the Harley-Davidson Motor Company or anyone else.

June 2024