Due to a couple of recent incidents we have decided we needed to take the time to put right a couple of non-truths, in the past we have always taken the stance of allowing time for fictitious rumours to burn them selves out. After all, Many of our customers deal with us over the phone or via email and we establish a good bond with them, Therefore those same customers will always reach out if they have a genuine concern and it is always our goal to sort out an issue directly with the customer so it is not often we have online issues. However sometimes the truth needs to be interjected before Chinese whispers comes in to play as quite often Internet forums and social media can see people easily mislead.
Who are we? What do we do?
A Series Spares has been built from humble beginnings as a classic car restoration firm; it was later in 2010 that the retail side was set up. This has meant lots of things have had to change, Let’s be honest; Engineers are set in their ways and often not the best when it comes to retail. So from 2010 – 2018 the team has grown, the systems have grown, the whole infrastructure has grown, Improved and grown ten fold. With this the client base has grown to that of a globally established concern. We have changed from a full restoration shop to a specialised engineering workshop and those specialist components are sold globally to 1000’s of happy customers who respect the workmanship and often have requested either a one off part or a part not in general circulation. That is what we excel at. As you can see from the website, we also stock the biggest and best names in the industry.
So what are we defending our selves for?
It is always a shame when a company has to take the time to explain themselves; we have seen several others from this industry fall foul to non-truths and incoherent online ramblings. Sometimes businesses find themselves with a stock shortage after a good run on a product, Sometimes there are product call backs, Products misplaced in the post or sometimes a retailer will simply drop the ball but they will always work with you to put it right. With the amount of product sent in to us and sent out to you guys it is inevitable that something may come in to us in the wrong labelled box or that we might pick the wrong part occasionally. However sadly our explanation is not as simple as that.
Recently we have had some bad press associated with several Morris Minor owners’ club members. It has meant that we now feel the need to sit down and go through these so that the complete situation is explained, Like we have said above 99.9% of our customers are incredible to deal with and most of the transactions run smoothly both ways. We have a great relationship with them and we simply want to put the truth out there for these isolated instances, as it is the few that can darken the bright sky.
As stated above, these incidents are sadly all isolated to a small minority within an owners club. Sadly this first instance involved a member of the club who holds some weight and as such the rumours became “truth” within the clique of the Morris Minor owners club. Maybe we should have put pen to paper for this one back in 2014 but you hope that the incident would burn itself out, Especially as it was us that got stung.
Morris Minor Traveller comes in to our workshop for poor running and some restoration work. As with lots of this sort of work once you start digging the vehicles are not quite to the standard that the owner thinks and revised work schedules have to be drawn up. Increasing both the timeframe and the cost involved. The customer in question was a customer whose vehicle we had carried out small jobs on previously but this was the largest job we had under taken. This job also proved to be the one that made us realise that no matter how long you have known someone, NEVER let the car leave, without full payment.
As we knew the customer quite well, Lots of the workload was discussed and agreed in person via site visits. It included a partial respray, Complete Engine build, Welding, Rewire and lots of improvement work, and a whole host of new parts. The additional workload was seen to be required once we started to strip the vehicle. The workload was agreed in person. We rebuilt the engine back to the specification it was when it came in but refreshing what was required. The carburettor had previously been shot blasted so we fitted a new unit. When the vehicle was around 95% complete the customer required it for a show, we allowed the vehicle to leave before it was correctly set up and before the bodywork had been flatted and finished. We then receive a call to let us know that the vehicle was not coming back and the customer would not be paying his bill and over the next 12 months we struggled to get any money from the job. Lots of lessons learnt from that both in life and business.
Since this incident we have been plagued by online ramblings from the customer who seems to have convinced himself of the hardships he elaborately created when putting his “case” together, However I suppose so many people were approached with that side of events that should character be dropped it would not sit well.
There were positives that came from this incident however, We picked up a lot of trade from new customers who saw the car simply did not believe the stories, When adjudging the character of the customer and ours many have simply chosen to allow the work that comes from our workshop to do the talking. We would invite anyone to come and view the work and you will be welcomed.
November 2017, Sale of a 1098 reconditioned engine to an overseas customer. At the time, Engines were on a 12-week turnaround, however by Mid December the customer was pushing for quick progress. This turned out to be because of conversations had with the customer from incident #1. In an attempt to show the Morris Minor owners club (Face book community) how passionate we are about our customers we decided we would aim to get this build out for the customer before Christmas. However the final parts of the build took us beyond the cut off for shipping before the Christmas holidays. Non the less we decided we would get it booked for collection over our holiday rather than have the engine sitting in the workshop for 3 weeks. We completed the build over the holiday and the engine was ready to go. Sadly the driver did not get the booking information as we had already stated we were closed until Mid January. This did not sit well with the customer who plagued the Internet with angst aimed at us even though in truth we were still ahead of our initial build time. The first week back in January the engine was collected and shipped.
Shortly after installation he detected a knocking noise, Through a camera phone it is very difficult to distinguish different noises, However through Q&A with the customer we managed to determine that initially the engine fired up fine and it was only after a short distance that the knocking occurred, After which point it stayed. A-SD engines are run up under load here in the UK for at lead 2 hours after the initial start up and then a secondary test where we take readings for our files, So the knocking was unexpected and we needed the engine back. It is difficult to get a true measure as to whether it could be the installation causing the issue but we agreed with the customer to get another engine through for them and he said he would have the original one back out of the car and ready for collection. We shipped out the new engine in the coming weeks for him. Sadly this is another customer who was not true to his word as when we shipped engine #2 out to Canada the 1stunit was not made available for us along with a few extra new parts we had sent out. This was not the result we were expecting and the customer had taken to radio silence in the recent weeks, however recently when we did manage to reach with the customer he explained that he has simply thrown the original engine in the “garbage”. It is hard to document an instance where we have not tried to get the very best result for the customer but in these instances, All associated with a small group we have fallen foul of being too trusting of people of whom greed has gotten the better. Through running a busy classic car workshop we are hands-on with all of the components on the market. It has come to our attention through a couple of recent installations here that the currently available clutches are giving way after a short distance. A recent installation here on a Mk1 Healey Sprite created the same knocking noise through the clutch after first being engaged.
There is/was no reasoning with the customer who would not make our goods available for collection so that we could inspect the suspected failure or allow us to help further. 9 times out of 10 there is a simple fitment issue or ancillary parts failure behind any suspected issue as the engines are so thoroughly checked and run-up that once they leave the build shop they are ready to live their lives out. It is a shame when experiences like this occur as it tarnishes the connection between professional and enthusiast. We always try to help as our tested engines are often in the hands of the enthusiast once they leave here and a small lapse in judgement or knowledge during an installation can ruin the best engines.
This incident is a little more trivial and Engine Package that was purchased (built to order) was in the final stages before despatch, we were informed that the customer no longer wished to go ahead with the purchase and required a refund. In these instances we look for a new buyer for the engine package, this saves the fees associated with cancelling the order.
Order placed, November 23rd 2017 for Engine and Gearbox. The order was placed over the telephone and at the time it was stated that we (like many other firms last year) had had a few issues with our then courier TNT earlier in 2017 which was the result from a global cyber attack, This meant that 3 engines were misplaced whilst under their care and as a direct result had impacted our turn around whilst we tried to turn around 3 new builds for those customers.
We of course always try to keep to build times but they are estimated (more information can be seen in our build times section, covered in our terms and conditions https://shop.aseriesspares.co.uk/sd-engines-build-times/) In April the units were completed. We were at that point transitioning from TNT over to DHL as our courier and during this transition we could not send such valuable items through the courier system which meant all builds were being delivered by our own staff at weekends, Taking us all over the country
On the 24th May the customer phoned through to inquire about collecting the package as we had not been able to get down to the customers address in the weekends leading up to this date. The customer was told on the phone that the Gearbox was available for the collection but at that instance as a precaution we were changing the head gasket on the engine package due to a Payen Gaskets recall, It would be a few days before the engine unit was ready for collection.
Our customer service said that the gearbox could be sent down to the customer and the engine to follow within 72 hours. A day we received a letter informing us that he wished to cancel the order. We had already packaged the gearbox, which was sent down to the customer and the built to order engine package with ancillaries was complete and ready to send. This was refused and sent back to us. The letter stated that you wanted to cancel the order for your built to order items.
In our terms and conditions it states that built to order items (to your specifications) cannot be cancelled or refunded without a fee. However due to the slight delay we agreed to the customer cancellation but stated that we had already invested time and money in the build which includes all ancillary items and that this would have to be passed to management to handle as a refund would leave us with a built to order item which would have to be altered to other customer specification unless we could find a buyer for it.
We appreciate that sometimes things happen that mean builds are no longer required and we happily work with customers to move the builds on should this be the case. Most people will appreciate that the money and time investment into the engine packages is very high, especially towards the end of the build when all of the bespoke ancillary items are added. We will always work with the customer to move their engine on to a suitable home.
What this means moving forward.
Management have discussed the options moving forward and for the time being we have decided that the best course of action is to explain the experiences we have had with certain members of the MMOC community, It is a shame as we enjoy working directly with the clubs and on the forums. We have also decided to distance ourselves from this particular club. This means that club discounts and offers extended online will no longer be available to club members.
We take these instances seriously and are not allowing ourselves to get drawn in any further with what appear to be preordained attacks on our character, Such is the extent that innocent members of the MMOC are subjected to the inflated experiences and fictitious rumors set out by members who should be life-experienced enough to behave more decently and morally.
As of 10th August 2018 all club members’ discounts extended to online and through the workshop are no longer valid. Existing customers please contact us directly as history permitting your loyalty will not be affected!
Thank you for all of our genuine customer and long standing friends of the classic car community.
We adore you all.