Piaggio: thinking without the box

Two recent examples of Piaggio’s dedication to customer service have surfaced on ModernVespa.com: First, customers who bought Vespa and Piaggio scooters last year are just now getting their “roadside assistance” cards, some with mere weeks left in their plan. Sure, the plan was active all along, but if you promise a card, send the card, quickly, it’s good business. (Visitors to VespaUSA.com have reported months-long delays in getting brochures, you’d think it’d be in Piaggio’s interest to respond to sales inquiries quickly!

Far worse, some GT60 buyers (who paid $1500 extra for the limited edition) have been waiting over four months for the box of gifts that was promised with the scooter. Dealers claim the boxes weren’t sent with the scooters, or that Piaggio sent the wrong quantity of boxes. Some customers that did get their box complain that their box number doesn’t match their scooter number (a valid complaint, as they were designed to be collectors’ items). Some errant boxes have been sold recently on eBay, adding to the confusion and ire.

UPDATE: read Andrea’s comment below, explaining the timing of the roadside assistance cards.

16 thoughts on “Piaggio: thinking without the box”

  1. I’d imagine a good many of these products were purchased with a credit card or similar with financing protections. I’d hate to see some honest dealers get screwed because Piaggio is dropping the ball, but I don’t think anything will ever change until someones money is on the line. Dispute charges. Contracts were entered into and unmet. When the money is held back from a merchant account I have a feeling that a few more dealers will become squeaky wheels. They don’t have the option of running in the red for years and then waiting for a bailout.

  2. From what I’ve heard (on this and other matters), there’s no shortage of angry Piaggio/Vespa dealers.


  3. Yet, they still accept shipments and sell them based on the promised product from Piaggio. Maybe they need to be more angry about their customers getting screwed. The buck has got to stop somewhere.

  4. Does screaming the f-bomb at Piaggio management in the middle of their annual dealer meeting count?

  5. I don’t think it counts. Unless it was used in the sentence, “I’m ordering my bank to stop the f-ing payments to you”. That’s the only kind of communication that would get any results.

  6. Ah, you just hit on the greatest irony of the whole deal.

    Nobody pays Piaggio directly — dealer money goes to GE Financial. GE pays Piaggio when product ships to the dealer and the dealer then has a note due with GE. A further irony is, unless you’ve made arrangements with GE to pre-authorize invoices (at an additional cost), Piaggio can just ship you whatevery they want and stick it on your bill.

    It’s a very… um… Italian way of doing business and it’s common throughout the industry, not just at Piaggio. Although they seem to have mastered the art of abusing it.

  7. Yes. So that’s when the chargebacks become so burdensome that dealers will be willing to pay for that extra cost to protect their own ass. So, consumers, you pay good money for that Visa logo. Use it. The middle man (dealer) makes money so he has to take some risk in this venture. Like I said, the bucks gotta stop somewhere. That is unless the customers just don’t care that they are getting screwed and just like to type complaints on interweb boards, then it’s not a problem to begin with.

  8. Being sent Roadside assistance cards in the mail is a new thing. The old Roadside Assistance company didn’t used to do it. With the old company, the dealer was responsible for putting a sticker on the bike.

    The new company took over on December 1st. The dealers received an update communicating this on December 22nd. At this point, some dealers went through their databases and contacted each customer that still had valid warranty/roadside assistance and let them know that the company had changed. and there was a new phone number.

    I received my personal card for the new roadside assistance at the end of March. I agree that from Dec 1 to March 30 /April is a long time, but really it should have been us dealers that stepped up and took responsibility for letting our customers know. However Piaggio was a little lacking in getting this info out to dealers, but still, dealers can’t shove all the blame onto them.

    As for the GT60 issues, I can’t comment. I’m not a fan of “limited editions”. However, I don’t think you’ll get very far with keeping a bike and charging back the whole amount of the bike. I can see a claim for a partial chargeback going to arbitration with the merchant providers, but what value does the box of extras have? (refer to the ebay sales?)

  9. Again, a little information up front would go a long way. Just like the GTS exhaust gasket issue, something gets blown way out of proportion because of Piaggio’s ineptitude/carelessness.

    Why are Vespa’s worth a premium, if it isn’t superior quality and customer service?

  10. Thanks for the clarification on the roadside assistance.

    I still think someone being out money is the only way to be heard. The return of goods or at least the temporary inconvenience of frozen funds are the only ways to do this. I’d hate to see any of the good dealers out there suffer one bit, but losing the next sale years from now just isn’t enough of an incentive for anyone on an individual customer basis. I’ve seen the results that Phil can get over 400 bucks!

  11. Yeah, that explains the roadside assistance cards, thanks, Andrea. But again, when your customers are already suspect and angry about other matters, a little random event like that can rile them up, even when it was intended to be a surprise bonus. Maybe a better explanation in the letter, or a more comprehensive notification program when the company changed would have helped. I posted your explanation on Modern Vespa, hopefully it’ll clear up the confusion

    The missing/misnumbered boxes are inexcusable. Whatever the retail value of the contents, the whole point of a limited edition is resale value, and a missing or misnumbered box will not only drastically reduce the resale value, it’ll make the ones WITH a matching box worth more than they would have been normally. I think the notion that the GT60 will be worth a million dollars someday is ridiculous, but an uncrated example with its matching box will certainly increase in value over the years, MAYBE even faster than inflation. Whether or not the true collectablity of a scooter is valid or not, if it’s being marketed that way, the box is an essential part of the product, especially at its drastically inflated MSRP.

  12. I want to make it clear that I did not receive my “roadside assistance” card with weeks left of coverage left on my GTS. I received my card with *2 DAYS* of coverage left. Oh, but let’s not forget that my dealership “forgot” to renew their Dealer’s License and then took so long to process my registration that their dealer’s license expired so that the Virginia DMV refused to process my registration. Result? I owned a bike which I could not title (or ride legally).

    Do you begin to get my drift???

  13. “Whatever the retail value of the contents, the whole point of a limited edition is resale value, and a missing or misnumbered box will not only drastically reduce the resale value, it’ll make the ones WITH a matching box worth more than they would have been normally”

    Exactly my point. Whatever the value or effective value the box, if a chargeback is to be successful, its only that value that is at issue, hence the Ebay sales coming into play to put a figure onto that drastically reduced resale value. Because it is a partial value, and the customer still has use of the vehicle, the mechant provider arbitration panel would view evidence and decide a worthy amount for the chargeback. Thats all I got in the way of chargeback tips, folks.

  14. Sadly, arbitration typically screws the consumer. And even if a court appeal to the arbitration decision is possible in some states the cost of exhausting all options is probably unwarranted on something of that price. Cheap chinese scooter dealers rely on the same principle as the secret to their success.

  15. Brooke, I’m not talking as far as the court arbitration here. Credit Card Mercahnt providers have their own arbitration panel. This is pre any court proceedings and it doesn’t cost a penny. The Amex panel is particularly pro consumer. If the consumer can prove that they have lost money due to a screw up one something they purchased on a card, they’ll win.

    However, if the consumer charges back and doesn’t present a good case, say for example they just say “I didn’t get my box of goodies so I want the whole purchase price of the vehicle back” they are not going to win. A chargeback claim that is fair and equitable, and puts exact values of the portion of the non delivered goods stands a far higher chance, and the consumer will see a lovely little credit going back onto their card statement after about a month.

    If a consumer gets it wrong, and loses the first chargeback, they can try again, presenting further evidence to bolster the claim.

    I’ll reiterate again – this is through the buyers credit card NOT the court system, and doesn’t cost a penny.

    BTW, a tip for the poor quality chinese scooter buyers – if the contract is illegal (ie in some states where the seller doesn’t have a dealer license in the state where the buyer lives – check the cases in Ohio aganist internet scooter sellers) the contract is unenforceable and the consumer can quite easily get their money back, so long as they make a good faith attempt to either refuse or return the goods. No need to go to court of the purchase was on a credit card.

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