I just wanted to buy something...

For the last few months, I have been considering picking up another motorcycle or scooter. Over the years I have had a few Vespas, an old Francis Barnett, and other two-wheelers and another bike seemed like a good fit with my current lifestyle. The bike needs to be iconic, style is more important than performance for this bike since it will double as a photoshoot prop. That means there are only a few choices, that are reasonably priced, fun, and iconic, a Vespa or a Royal Enfield. Both are inexpensive, have good reviews, and are well built.

I first contacted the only two dealers listed in California for Royal Enfield, one is over 7 hours away (figured it might make a fun ride back home) the other is 2 hours away, so popping into the dealer is not an option and their online inventory looked as if they only have one or two bikes each in stock. So I used their online contact forms and sent a request for a Red Continental GT and if they had any promotions. 

Then nothing, no reply, no callback, nothing. So I called the closest dealer where a busy-sounding guy answered the phone said he would have to call me back. He took down my name and number, but that was the last I ever heard from him. I proceeded to call the other dealer 7 hours away, but it seems they were closed as no one answered. 

I decided since no one at the Royal Enfield dealers wanted to reply,  I would see what Vespa USA had to offer.  It should have been a sign that their social media was not that active and that they looked like they had a big agency running everything from an ivory tower on Madison Avenue, but I figured a dealer with a Vespa on the floor might be motivated. Plus having purchased two new Vespas in the last several years, a LX and a GT60 Anniversary model, I might be given some kind of priority as a previous customer. I reached out to the previous dealer I had purchased from first. I sent an email much the same as I had to the Royal Enfield dealers, ask them to let me know if they have the models I am considering in stock and what the current promotions are. I also sent the same request to the next closest dealer and submitted a request via the Vespa USA website which would send it out as a lead to the closest dealers. 

So far it has been a week and no Vespa dealer has responded to me, not even a "Sorry we don't have what you are looking for" but I did get an auto-reply from Vespa saying they received my request. Now, as a consumer, I have to wonder what the rest of my ownership experience is going to be like. Service, warranty, accessories, if they don't even want to bother to give me a callback or an email to have me buy something from them. 

I can talk a little about this, because I have the perspective of having run a dealership internet sales department for a large auto dealer here in Southern California, and this lack of contact would not have been tolerated in our department. I will likely still buy something, but the initial interest and excitement have been replaced with frustration and inconvenience. As I gear up for my upcoming trip I have to postpone my purchase until I get back to the US and have a whole day to spend visiting the dealerships and wresting the attention of a salesperson. 

It is no wonder to me, that with dealers who can't be bothered and decade old marketing initiatives that these brands have lost momentum in the US market. They need to be more engaging and get these bikes out and in the hands of new media people, not the guys at Cycle World Magazine who give technical reviews. You don't buy a Vespa or Royal Enfield because it is technically better than a Honda, you buy them because of the way they make you feel. 

I will post an update if I ever do end up buying something, I was hoping to take my next Motorcycle to San Diego for my trip to Mexico, but it looks like that will not happen.