Tuesday, 7 August 2012

The dysfunctional family

I recently had a very bad experience with a South African trailer manufacturer and wonder how many others out there are having similar problems.

The nature of trailer design is that most components are standard but there are always items that are customized. And this is where the trouble starts.

In my case I ordered a trailer for a client from Desert Wolf. It was to be their standard Lynx model with some customizations. I was required to place a 50% deposit and then, after telling me that ‘it’s almost complete’, asked to make another payment totaling over 95% of the total bill. I got on an airplane and flew up to Gauteng to see the progress, take pictures and report to client. When I arrived, the trailer consisted of a pile of pre-fabricated stainless sheets. There wasn’t even a chassis.

The project was ordered three months before the client was due to arrive from Thailand and go on his trip. Two weeks before his arrival, I got back on a plane. This time there was at least a chassis, but no wheels, and the body was not much more than a shell. So Desert Wolf had to rush the final phase, leaving no time at all for corrections. There where two serious ones, and neither could be sorted before the client would arrive. So the trailer was shipped to Cape Town where R&D Off-road toiled over a weekend to get things right. But even that wasn’t enough to get it all right and some things had to wait for the client to return from his first trip. Desert Wolf’s local agent did sort out a few minor teething problems, but that was all. I fitted the bill for all the corrective work.

Now here comes the real nub… Desert Wolf claims that there is an outstanding amount owning, which I dispute, and which totals about 2% of the total invoice.
But no matter who is right or wrong in this, because of it, Desert Wolf is refusing to honour the warrantees on their trailer. They like to call theirs, ‘The Desert Wolf Family’. It would seem it’s a highly dysfunctional one.

Warning. When paying for any project, withhold a substantial sum before final delivery. Don’t be foolish and trust the supplier. (Like I did) As with Desert Wolf, the only time when my complaints were responded to with any energy was when there was money involved. Once they had my cash, their service and response to my requests fell on deaf ears and their levels of service were shameful.