So I thought I would share a story that I so often read on these forums, but now having experienced the joy of a vendor providing inferior service, I get my own chance to write some prose.
After finally getting fed up with the rear drum brakes on my TJ (and the perfect timing of a drum cylinder letting go), I decided to upgrade to a rear disc kit. I weighed up the pros and cons of buying an American kit directly, ordering one through one of the usual suspects (Wooders, Double Black etc) or buying one designed here in the land of Oz.
Being a fan of 'go-jeep' and his tech write-ups, I chose the Ford BA rear disc conversion that was so showcased on his website, with photos, install instructions; and using Australian car parts I thought this would mean easier replacements parts in the future. It was also a 'bolt-on' kit, designed for the TJ, this was also a bonus, as it would remove the headache on the install.
After contacting go-jeep through the forum, he informed me that the kit he developed was now being sold by UPC Ultra Performance Components in Bayswater. They sell direct and also have an online ebay store (Mr.Spares) where they sell a myriad of brake kits for a range of vehicles. I contacted UPC directly where I was informed there would be a week to fortnight turn around on the kit, and I agreed to pick it up when it came in.
I was informed that the kit would be ready on Saturday 5/5/12. After waiting approximately an hour for the kit to be 'finished' upon my arrival on Saturday, I returned home to a phone call informing me they had 'forgotten' to put parts in the box that I required for the install, and that they would post them on Monday. Having witnessed the staff packing the boxes with no check lists and a huge array of brake components surrounding them, I didn't have to think twice about how such a simple mistake occured.
I decided to start on the install after unpacking the box and realising I could install most of the kit without the missing parts. I followed the clear instructions (with photos), and when I actually tried to mount the calliper to the backing plate, to my amazement it would NOT line up with the rotor. I checked the instructions again and I had followed everything according to the print out, but nope it would not work.
It was after hours so I could not call UPC, so I waited to the next day, this is where things started to unravel. I spoke to a lovely girl (replace lovely with 'rude and obnoxious') who after being quite short with me, asked me outright 'Did you read the instructions?' I felt like saying 'Oh, is that what I was meant to do with them, I just made paper planes and pretended I was fighter jet pilot'. After explaining quite clearly what the issue was (and answering 'yes' to the third and fourth question about reading the instructions. I decided to go back and read them (one more time) as the inquisition on the phone led me to beleive I had made a mistake. I hadn't.
I ran out of time, and being my daily, I decided to cut my losses and drop the TJ at my preferred mechanic, who would easily spot my mistake and get it all lined up. Later that day I receive a call from my mechanic stating that it was all going pear shaped and it was not lining up. I told him, it should, and asked if he could call UPC directly and talk shop. To my amazement my mechanic was treated in a similar fashion, being asked if he 'read the instructions' and being told simply that 'he was making a mistake', he was then asked to send in photos of the problem...
The next day now Friday 11/5/12, my mechanic calls UPC again asking if the had looked at the photos to which the 'lovely' (see opening paragraph) woman on the phone said 'you will need to speak to Tony, he will be in later'.
'Later' was obviously a time frame that neither my mechanic nor I were privy too, as that afternoon my mechanic called again to get no one pick up the phone. He called me to explain what was going on, and to say I wouldnt have a Jeep on the weekend. I called UPC again to speak to Tony, and I at least had someone answer the phone (maybe someone walking past the phone accidently) and I was told Tony had gone home for the day.
I decided on Saturday 12/5/12 to go back to UPC and speak to Tony directly as phone conversation was proving to be too difficult. I checked my calendar (it said 2012), so I was certain they knew how to use one. Taking most of Saturday to drive out (in a borrowed vehicle) to get to Bayswater I met Tony who in between phone calls from other customers who were having 'issues' fitting their 'bolt on' kits and Tony calling them 'f$%king d%^kheads who can not read' I asked him about my kit. He asked to see photos, to which I explained had been sent to him the day before, along with several phone calls, to which he shrugged his shoulders and looked blanky like perhaps he wasnt aware photos could now be sent on a system called 'e-mail'.
I found a couple of pics on my phone to show him (to which he replied) 'you sure you have read the instructions'. I kid you not. The customer support so far has been as technical as a hammer hitting a brick. He claimed he had never had an issue with this kit (a more thorough search on the interwebs did not lend itself to anything contrary to his claim, but plenty of customers have had issues with his other vehicle kits).
He claimed to know how to fix it, and spent a good hour machining up some new spacers that 'might' work in his words. He also had some choice words to say about mechanics in general and how they are too lazy to sort these problems out themselves. Silly me, I thought the point of buying a kit from UPC was for it to work, not pay someone else to re-engineer it to work. There might be more need to space other parts etc. Not very bolt on, nor a very convincing solllution to the problem. I took the replacement parts and dropped them off at my mechanic. I receive a phone call from the mechanic stating the new parts actually made the issue worse.
The new parts I had been supplied were as usefull as door knobs on a balloon, I now started to question the technical expertise of Tony and his company. My mechanic who wanted to actually help me out (knowing the manure I was starting to paddle through on my journey up the creek) worked out the problem (it was simply wrong spacing on the backing plate), to which he called UPC to explain that if they wanted help in actually problem solving issues with their kits, that maybe they should call him.
Short of UPC coming into the workshop (where they will NEVER be welcome), and even then, I wouldnt want them to supply 'new' parts, I have had a local engineer machine and re-face the existing kit to fit.
I would be naive to beleive that everything fits and works first time every time. I do wish that when I buy a kit that is bolt on, that it actually 'bolts on'.
What I really want, is customer service when a kit supplied by a company, doesnt actually work. Their attitude towards both me and my mechanic (and others on the phone that I witnessed first hand) was nothing short of offensive and I struggle to think how they can run a company with that level of service.
I am currently working through some paper work with Consumer Affairs Victoria to formalise this complaint, but was instructed that as long as everything I state is honest and correct (which it is), I can post away to my hearts content here and on other forums.
So a lesson learnt, make of it what you will. I am neither telling you to buy from UPC or avoid them, just make up your own mind based on the facts here.