Thursday 27 December 2012

Some Clarification - Bob Speaks!

Well, not actually, but he does write!

I was looking on the net to see if I could find out where Will Brydon lives - or works. He is the awesome mechanic at the soon to be closed Urban Wasp in Vancouver. My GTS 250 is a bit hard to start right now and, as I've always said, I want to ride it, not fix it, so should probably get this dealt with pretty soon. I've heard nasty things about Vespa Metro's service, although I have absolutely no experience with them myself, and would prefer to see if I can track down Will. But only if I can do so easily and he wants to start some sort of side business....

Back to Bob....

Here's the post he recently made to Good luck in the new year, Bob!

Hi everyone!!

Just to clear up a few things. Why are we closing? For the last 4 years we have to deal with product being dumped on the market. We had Vespa Surrey who for 2 years dumped all their Vespas at margins that makes selling jeans more profitable. They finally closed, then we had Metro do the same. Some of the quotes we would get from that dealership didn't make sense on paper. With regards to the number of Piaggio scoots that are sold in Vancouver, that number has not risen since there was only one dealer(us). The number has stayed the same, but now it's just split between two dealers. We always sold more scooters then Metro, that wasn't the issue. The problem came down to margins we were making on those scooters that we were selling. 

We were told earlier this year that we would be the only dealer in Vancouver when our contracts are up for renewal. We thought our renewal was coming up at the end of December because that is when we sat down with Piaggio three years ago, but we forgot it took them 4 months to draft up Canadian contracts so are renewal wasn't actually up till April. We gave a call to our rep to ask him about this, and he decided when the contracts come up for renewal, it would all stay the same. We told him if it remains the same, then we can't see us going forward with Vespa. His response was "if you decide to close it down, I'll miss chatting with you". We gave them 2 weeks to think about it, and got the same answer back. I still find it unreal, considering our rep lives in Bellingham that he didn't drive up and sit down with us to discuss our concerns or options. For those that work in sales, I don't know anyone that would lose a million dollar customer without trying to work it out or putting up a fight. As I said to Piaggio, I work harder selling a $5 part then he does, but the only thing he'll miss "is chatting with us". 

Saying all of this, all of you have been great, I thank-you all for your support, but I really need you to come in and buy stuff. We need to clear out before the end of December, and there is lots to clear out. Everything from equipment to license plate bolts. The discounts are huge! Join Robert also on Saturday, he's losing his coffee bar very soon, and I would love to see more then 3 people support Robert trying to raise some money. He's been a member of our Vespa family here for the past 6 years and I'll miss his Saturday coffee meet-ups.

For myself, it's all good, I'll start pounding the pavement looking for work in the new year, but first have to close off this chapter before I can scoot forward.

Bob, still lost in paradise...

Sunday 2 December 2012

Sad day for Vespas and Vancouver...

Vespa Vancouver - Urban Wasp - is closing! That really sucks!

I won't go on about it myself but will, instead, share information from the awesome mechanic at Urban Wasp. Not sure if Vespa Metro is going to be a great place to take my Vespa.

Anyway, really sorry to see them go........

A VERY BAD DAY for scootering in Vancouver.
I received this email today.
"To all of my customers,

I am attaching an e-mail I sent this morning to Kris O'hare, Piaggio's rep for western Canada. I thought you may like to know what is likely coming down the line. I don't know if you want to make this information available to the Vespa/Scootering community here or not. I think it is something that should be raised to their awareness, and I thought you may be one of the better people to do it. If not, I apologize for my incorrect assumption. Anyway, If you or anyone you choose to share this with would like to contact Piaggio, please contact customer care at the following e-mail address: customercare@piaggiogroupamericas. My fear is that it may be too late for anything to actually change, but my hope is that it is not.

I want you all to know that Ron's decision to split with Piaggio should they continue to operate with Vespa Metro (Metros contract is currently up for renewal and, in my opinion based on how they operate should not be renewed) is based on an inability to run a dealership where the service department supports the whole business, and the sales department functions in an environment where they only way to sell a bike is by being willing to lose more money on its sale than Metro are. Running a sales department which functions as a break even department has gone on too long for Ron. I must say I agree. While we are not here to over charge and rip people off, nor do we lie (see Vespa Metro) or abuse our customers. I agree with competition, but losing sales and getting all the service work is demoralizing and Ron has had enough.

A few additional bits of information, which may be of interest:
Piaggios dealer agreement states that no dealer is to be within 30 miles of another dealer. This is to allow a dealership enough territory to be competitive and if managed properly, profitable.
Vespa Metro and Urban Wasp are 6km apart.
Lorenzo's (Vespa Metro's, for lack of better words "mechanic") own sister is a customer of mine, as she does not trust him to work on her Vespa (LX50 if you were wondering)

I hope you will contact Piaggio and express your position on this subject should it be positive, negative or otherwise. Please also know that it is my opinion that Piaggio is a good company who make fantastic products, though unfortunately in this case have chosen not to support one of it's dealers and as a result it's customers. An unfortunate decision, but hopefully one which you can sway.

I want everyone to know that, should this end here and Urban Wasp closes its doors, I appreciate all of your patronage; and to have had the opportunity to get to know all of you and work with you over these last years. I do not care if word of this gets to Ali or Lorenzo. I do, however want the message to be known that it is not Vespa Metro that has won, rather Piaggio and you, its customers who have lost. Lastly; if nothing happens and I or another competent technician no longer exist as an option for service and support, sell your bikes now, before there is only Vespa Metro to choose from for service and parts in Vancouver (just my opinion on the situation which approaches).


Will Brydon
Urban Wasp

From: William Brydon
Sent: Wednesday, November 14, 2012 10:10 AM
To: kohare@********************.com
Subject: Urban Wasp


Ron spoke with me yesterday, and my understanding is that you have decided not to take any action to have Piaggio sever ties with Vespa Metro. This is of course the opposite of what I understood was the planned course of action of Piaggio. That said, everything I was told and lead to believe was based on very informal discussion.

I would, however ask you to reconsider your position. As a result of Piaggio continuing its relationship with Vespa Metro, my understanding is that Ron Hillman will be forced to sever ties with Piaggio at this time. If that happens, please consider that for the last several years, My service shop has been a fielding ground for endless complaints with regards to the business practices at Vespa Metro. The complaints are primarily to do with there service department, though they span well beyond that into sales practices, racially charged remarks to customers, parts complaints and many others. I have in this last year started to direct more customer complaints to Piaggio. Perhaps I made this decision too late in the game, but do know that once Urban Wasp is no longer an option, Piaggio will receive all of the complaints.

The complaints and issues I have encountered include them having submitted for a recall which they had not done, damage done to customers units while the customer was present, loss of customers property (keys - with immobilizer, helmets) racist remarks to customers, among others. I pride myself on the service department for which I am responsible. It is a shop which has the necessary tools and equipment (tire machine and balancer, hoists, diagnostic tools - P.A.D.S.,) and staff capable of using it to diagnose, repair, customize and accessorize customers vehicles as requested. Having a shop like this takes time and commitment to develop. While metro has had plenty of time, they have never had any noticeable commitment to building up a quality service department to take care of customers and their vehicles. This includes tasks such as valve clearance inspection, which I know Vespa Metro do not and can not do; a task which is called for as regular scheduled maintenance. I have many loyal customers. Several who have followed me from before my time with Piaggio's range of products. My service department is often quoted when customers are selling their vehicles as it has a well earned reputation for top quality work. Customer satisfaction, and customer confidence in the product (which includes customer retention when they are looking for their next vehicle) are all points which my service department has excelled at. Considering this statement, please consider that one of my current customers who only last year purchased a Vespa GTS300 Super(from Urban Wasp) first came to me with a question about an oil leak on his then only 4 month old LX150. His question was: "do all Vespas really leak oil if a side stand is equipped?" as he was told this was the case by the selling dealer (Vespa Metro) I replied with the truth which was, of course, "no!" and promptly replaced the leaking sump cover gasket on his bike as a warranty repair. Had I not taken the time to do this and instead opted to lie to him to save myself a 40 minute repair job (which I was paid for by warranty) This customer would not have purchased the 300 he did last year. Were Ron to close this shop, it will be some time before Piaggio will have a shop in Vancouver capable of dealing with their customers needs in a professional manner. Know that it is my feeling that many owners of Piaggio and Vespa scooters will simply sell their bikes rather than deal with the situation this will create (I know several customers who will not go back to Metro ever) If the market is flooded with people selling their Piaggio products because parts and service has become as frustrating as I know it will, there will be less incentive for new customers to buy new products as there will be entirely too much used product to choose from. Of course dissatisfied customers will spread word of their issues and that will of course drive customer confidence in the product down as well.

The above case with the customers LX150 is one of many I can quote and also back up with photographs and other documentation of what occurred. Please consider that in the absence of Urban Wasp, customer retention would likely be non existent were Vespa Metro the only dealer and were they to continue in the same manner in which they have up to this point. Please also consider the volume of customer complaints which would be directed to yourself and Piaggio were Urban Wasp not to continue.

Consider the opposite; what loss could you claim other than a number of dealers on Piaggios dealer network (the same loss would exist should Urban Wasp sever ties) should Vespa Metro lose their dealership status.

I understand that there are several steps to closing a dealership. That said, there is no distributor for motorcycles which I know who would knowingly allow a dealer continue to operate in the manner Vespa Metro has for as long as they have with out taking action.

I am more than happy to elaborate further on this subject should you wish to discuss this matter further with me.


Will Brydon
Urban Wasp