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Motor Company thoughts...

Harley has almost doubled its unit production in the last four or five years - something I doubt many other companies could do without letting quality fall in the toilet. I guess you could be cynical and say that this is their way of customer service, but it does at least show that they are willing to make the investment to try to keep pace with demand. An investment in a factory takes years to amortize - who is to say if there will be quite the same demand for bikes five years from now?

Overall I've been very pleased with my Harley. The design, engineering, and overall quality of the bike has been everything I could ask for. I felt I was fairly treated by my dealer, and (I guess I was lucky) I didn't have to wait for my bike. I just got my dealer satisfaction survey in the mail, and I'll share some of the thoughts I put on the back of this form:

1) Even though I bought the bike from a dealer in Wisconsin, the Survey form shows that I bought it from a dealer in Texas. Given that the Wisconsin dealer sent in the paperwork that gave H-D my name and address, you would think that the computer system could recognize that sometimes dealers trade new bikes among themselves, and account for this.

2) I've been to five dealerships in my local area. Not one of the parts or service guys was even aware of the existence of a Special Service Tool for adjusting the preload on the V-Rod rear shocks. (The tool is clearly listed in the Owners Manual).

3) I ordered almost a thousand dollars worth of current parts and accessories for my new V-Rod (the dealer did give me a nice discount on this..). Even though my dealer is located less than 30 miles from H-D's distribution center, it took almost a month to get all the parts. Even worse, neither the dealer nor H-D had any idea when the parts would actually show up.

4) I had a relatively (I thought) simple question regarding the correct jacking point on my V-Rod. After waiting 45 minutes on hold to be connected with someone in customer service, she had no idea of what the answer was, even after referring to the Service Manual.

None of the above are serious enough to make me in any way a "dissatisfied" customer. But it appears to me that H-D spent six years and many millions of dollars developing the V-Rod; and then quite forgot to let any of the service and parts people know about it, or at least to make proper arrangements for training people. It also appears that H-D's information systems are not up to the task of providing 21st Century customer service. Look at Dennis Kirk: they stock everything in their catalog, they ship the day they receive the order; and if you don't get it when you think you should, they have an order tracking system to help you locate it. This is the standard for doing business in the internet age. If Harley Davidson is really serious about becoming a "world class" company, this is the sort of standard they need to work towards.
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