Dealerships or boutiques?

Discussion in 'General Harley Davidson Topic' started by eclarkmx, May 17, 2015.

  1. eclarkmx

    eclarkmx New Member

    This is a letter I wrote to HD a couple of weeks ago because I got tired of trying to buy parts for bikes that I own and fix (also for friends) and always getting the answer "we need to order this part"....

    I have owned 8 Harley-Davidson motorcycles living in several countries and currently own another 3. Most of the time buying them used and fixing them myself.

    When I finally got back to the USA my first thought was to go to a dealership and get a bike, but, thanks to poor customer service and an attitude problem at every dealer I've visited I’m becoming to understand that the good old Harley days where the mechanics, the shop owner and the bikers were friends are gone.

    It’s not the fact that the bikes are bad, I actually think they are pretty good, although they haven’t always been very good, it’s the utterly awful sales experience I have encountered every time from people that think they are doing you a favor selling you a motorcycle and not realizing you are the customer.

    Before some of you start to get your knives out and say I am nothing but a whiner let me make a few things clear. Every time I purchased a Harley-Davidson it’s been with cash. No special media rate. Just regular dollars from a member of the riding public paying full price as the dealers always refused to negotiate. (they say they will try to help you but never do)

    This attitude it seems even extends to the parts department. I finally decided to stop buying anything ever again from a Harley-Davidson dealer when visited dealerships for parts and was swiftly told it was not something they had in stock and to be honest they only thing they carry are either accessories (to me bling) or clothes.

    I can mention brake lines, filters, spark plugs as a long list of components that they always tell you they need to order.
    What happened with carrying inventory of parts for the bikes?

    Dealerships have turned into a Macys or Sacks fifth avenue where you buy overpriced clothes not motorcycles and their parts.

    So now you have to do your own searches over the internet to get your parts and in most cases over pay for shipping to get the parts that should be available in a dealership.

    I am a guy that rides a motorcycle to work every day no matter the weather conditions and not having parts is not acceptable (to me there is no such thing as bad weather, there is bad drivers).To make it worse HD Store (online) does not sell parts either only clothes, accessories and gadgets too.

    What can I say about the service departments….. the same thing even though they make us believe that mechanics are certified, the times I have taken my bikes there I have seen them cut corners and I have ended rechecking the work to a point where I am fixing my motorcycles now, the good thing is I’m an engineer.

    I understand most people these days don’t want to get dirty and want someone to do the work for them but believe me having a certificate on the wall of the dealership saying their mechanics are certified doesn’t mean anything, because some dealerships haven’t even removed the ones of the employees not working there. Why… because no one asks.

    Now I admit this may not be representative of the Harley-Davidson dealer network but I can say this is all over Texas. The question I would raise to the HD corporate office is who checks these dealerships? If you are making them a franchise shouldn’t they follow a standard?

    It just seems to me that HD is no longer interested in selling motorcycles and has moved on to maintain a brand and an image through selling clothes and gadgets.

    I make no apologies for liking Harley-Davidson as, despite everything it has encountered over 110 years, while others have fallen by the way, it is still here and still manufacturing and selling motorcycles. Whether they are the right bikes in terms of technology and design as the world has moved on, I couldn’t possibly comment.

    And I am not going to question the ‘Made in the USA’ claims as the debate has range for years over where exactly H-D sources parts because HD needs to make money. I applaud the fact the bikes are built here in America by an American work force creating jobs and contributing to the U.S. economy.

    So if anyone at the powers at be in HD corporate would take the time to read this, I wish we could go back to the motorcycle shops or dealerships that specialize in bikes and to making them sell the parts we need without saying I need to order it for you. If the model you want to follow is a boutique fine but at least give us a stock of parts.
  2. Bodeen

    Bodeen Well-Known Member Staff Member Moderator Contributor

    Amen! I agree with you my dealership is a waste of time and the only thing I go there for are oil filters. Only because I cant order them too. I have told the parts counter many times that this would be a great place to open up a Harley parts department.

    I know others who have had unbelievable issues with the service.
  3. Jack Klarich

    Jack Klarich Guest

    It is sad when H D admits they make more on the retail end than motorcycle and parts sales
  4. Jeff Klarich

    Jeff Klarich Well-Known Member Contributor

    Good letter unfortunately the one's who need to read it will probably never see it.
  5. cdn-bigfoot

    cdn-bigfoot Junior Member

    I don't disagree with the theme of the original poster.
    But joining the forum and posting your first post as this diatribe does come across as a person with an agenda.
    Did you join the forum just for the purpose of slamming the dealerships?

  6. Stevecracker

    Stevecracker Member

    Very well written. I have had somewhat better experiences, but I don't care for the "fashion" mularky at the dealership.
    I realize this is just business-still kinda aggravating that the hardware and riding are viewed as secondary by HD.

    Just my feeling

  7. Jeff Klarich

    Jeff Klarich Well-Known Member Contributor

    I don't see an agenda whatsoever, OP put to words what most of us are thinking.
  8. HDDon

    HDDon Experienced Member Contributor Retired Moderators

    I don't want to get into bashing all Harley dealerships, but I do agree that there are some that don't seem to have any idea what die hard Harley owners want from their dealer. The OP has said what many of the members here have said or at least felt after trying to buy parts or motorcycles from a local dealership. Many years ago the federal tax codes were rewritten and the inventory on hand became taxable and it made it impossible for any business to keep parts on hand that did not move quickly. I am very fortunate in that I have a dealership that understands how we would like to be treated and always makes me feel that I am the most important person in the place and the parts department goes out of their way to get what ever part I came in for, or to suggest an aftermarket part that they have had success with. My suggestion to the OP or any member that feels that the dealership is lacking in customer service, is talk to the owner. On the flip side of that when you get the type of service you feel you deserve let them know. Tell the service department that your bike is running great after a service, or really thank the guys behind the parts counter when they get you the part you needed. I write letters to the owner and let them know how much I like their dealership and the service I get. And yes I write letters when things don't come out the way I felt they should. When I write those letters I usually offer suggestions on how to correct the problem. I know we all pay a premium for our bikes and parts but that is part of owning a Harley. If you happen to get a good dealer treat them like you want to be treated, customer service works both ways. My dealership is Gainesville Harley Davidson in Gainesville Fl.
  9. FLHTrider08

    FLHTrider08 Active Member Contributor

    +1 HD Don. Human nature says most people will complain about bad service, but few will compliment and tell others when they get great service. I've been through the the good and bad with dealers in my city. I changed dealerships after multiple issues in multiple departments in one of them. They were more about getting your money than making you happy. My new dealer seems to be a good balance of both. Hopefully it stays that way.
  10. gator508

    gator508 Well-Known Member

    Well put HDDon,

    For the most part MDHD is like Gainesville, good folks who understand that good business means a returning customer base. In the past I have had some issues with service.
    I get a little irked with parts not being kept in stock, but I have found for the most part, the most ordered parts are usually in stock, upon occasion they have had to order it.
    It's too bad the OP has a lot of issues with his local dealer, gives HD an overall bad name JMO