Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Consumer Safety, State of the Industry, and Why Mario Andretti doesn't care that your scooter leaks gas!

Consumer Safety, State of the Industry, and Why Mario Andretti doesn't care that your scooter leaks gas!

I have to commend several people in the business because they really have shown some "cojones" as they say in Miami in making sure consumers in the USA are safe. I was encouraged by David the owner of it was a pretty big move on his part to make the call on the SYM product line.

I have a past relationship with SYM and in the interest of full disclosure ( I was the importer in a former company back in 2003 for SYM for the USA ) and I honestly think it's a great product line. However, David made it very clear in his post. His stance is based on the consumers and their needs and I applaud that. No matter how much money it costs SYM, Carter, the dealers in lemon lawsuits or warranty claims its the right thing to do. PERIOD. Thats why you have insurance. I will print at the end of my re-posting here.

Also Steve who I consider a consumer advocate gently walks the line between reporter, former national sales manager for Italjet, former regional salesman for Carter SYM and still has the integrity to call them as he sees them being the first to report on the fire at Carter. Now I went ahead and issued my warning on Powersports Factory because of all the emails between dealers, calls, and complaints.

You don't see Mario Andretti getting on the phone worried his bikes are leaking gas. Any reporter that has attempted calling him or his nephews hasn't gotten a call back about PSF or the product riding on American roads with his name on it. It's a shame because right now he's got a real good chance to make amends to the riders out there with defective product with his name on it. There are solutions in place and there are people trying to help, but PSF won't pay DPS Inc, won't pay warranties as required by law, and won't send the parts out to the dealers. I honestly think it's up to Mario Andretti to come save the day. Am I wrong to call him out on it? Probably not. If he licenses his name to something he should be out there and have responsible employees that tell him what his happening. I mean he's a great Italian American, but he made a profit on the licensing so he has a duty to make sure the products are not unsafe this is like Sussane Summers licensing something that makes you fatter instead of skinnier. Same thing you have a nationally known racer selling scooters that leak gasoline, it's like an oxymoron. Clearly he needs a better secretary. I love Mario, but Motor Vehicles have laws that protect consumers so he needs to be on top of this and hopefully he will get back to some of the editors trying to get a quote or track him down.

In the recent months, several dealers and consumers have contacted MRP regarding a leaky gas tank on the 2008-2009 Benelli Andretti Pepe models in the USA, also known as the X50 BENELLI X50 OR QUATTRO NOVE. This is the one with the Mario Andretti name on it hence why we tried reaching out to him so he would correct this product defect immediately.

We have received enough questions and phone calls regarding this matter, that we felt it necessary to make this post, as there may be some dealers and consumers unaware that their gas tank is leaking. I want to thank Steve, David, and all the people out there that want the industry to grow, but want companies to behave in a responsible manner and I agree. Therefore, in the interest of safety, we feel it is important for consumers and dealers alike to inspect the X50 models and make sure their tank is not leaking. To our knowledge, this is not an official warranty issue, nor has there been a recall issued by the distributors and/or the manufacturer. We are not the agent of record, we are not the importer, we are not owners or affiliated with the company. To our knowledge the current vehicles are owned by Powersports Factory and their financial backers that is the only record we know of. We think its a matter of public importance and federal law requires that this be reported immediately when any fuel related engine matters are an issue. We are not required to report this since this is PSFs job and we have notified them time and time again. To our knowledge they have not complied with any NHTSA, Consumer Safety Board or Thread Act requirements for reporting an issue of this matter as of the time I write this. We feel it is a matter of civic duty and for the well-being of the general public that we place this notice.

Let's be straight: NHTSA and EPA can work together with Customs. This is happening now. So many brands with defects or that don't comply with US standards are FINALLY after seven years of no enforcement whatsoever being stopped at the port. The Andrettis and Benellis I wrote about are not the new 2010 models its the older 2009 vehicles leaking gas imported in 2009.

The manufacturer and importer and the distributors are clearly in the loop and this is identified in several parts of NHTSA, and is listed with EPA when the vehicles are certified. The TREAD act is complex but if it is a safety related defect (and leaking gas tanks are safety related) then OFFICIAL Documented corrective action must take place. This has no happened if anything I have seen emails where there are 20 VIN numbers with leaky gas tanks and the reply has been " what part are you talking about? " to me this is a company in denial, bankers trying to liquidate product without any regard for the law and a bunch of dealers scrambling to sell product quickly and cheaply because they don't want to solve the problem in the correct way. I have heard of dealers that instead of buying a new gas tank are putting glue on them. This only shows that in a bad economy people will resort to anything and the dealers doing this are not immune from being sued by a smart consumer. So do the right thing, if you have a vehicle leaking gas, keep records, report it, and tell the importer what has happened. DOT doesn't care that your dealership is having a hard time, they want you to do the right thing.

In the EPA application process it is required that a "Reporting Safety Defects" page be put in the owners manual. This is where consumers or dealers can report the defects directly. (In the industry we call this the snitch page and when notices are sent to the address the process gets started.)

One thing that you should be aware of is that a manufacturer MUST report safety related defects to the NHTSA . Often on vehicles a reporting process is required. It is starting to be a part of consumer protection where Customs and CPSC are able to put product off sale so this could get interesting if the manufacturer elects to act illegally. Also some international ramifications exist so exporting could be a challenge as well.

So if you are a dealer - Do the right thing. Inspect the vehicle before selling it. Make sure the defect is not there. Make sure to keep your records and report it to PSF even if they don't respond. I would continue to pressure them into doing the right thing by the people driving these motor vehicles and make sure they take corrective action for the gas tanks that have been replaced ( that they have not paid warranty on or replaced out of pocket ) and make sure as a dealer you keep all this written down. I honestly cannot endorse or promote a company that would keep something like this hidden or fail to take corrective action when it comes to the safety of the general public. I have dealt with similar issues in the past and as a precaution safety experts recommend doing a preventive recall and this is something I strong suggest.

The issue related to vehicle defects becomes complicated. NHTSA ( is typically very involved as well as the CPSC (

The fuel tanks on scooters is probably regulated by each of the agencies. I think that the longer the issue goes un addressed the larger the investigation and more complex the issue will become. In the event that a consumer complaint is issued or an injury occurs the importer / distributor and manufacturer will have very significant liability and will get worldwide scrutiny for the current importer, as well as past affiliates.

The smart thing is for the manufacturer to proactively resolve the safety issue and to make the customer's happy in the process.

For real experts on the matter please contact the CSB, NHTSA, and DPS ( the industry experts on warranties and recalls in the scooter industry - Ducati, Piaggio, and several makes have always relied on them for similar issues and they have a great fuel tank replacement kit for the dealers )

DPS Technical, Inc.
1160 Dewey Way, Suite D
Upland, CA 91786
(909) 981-5228 Office
(909) 908-0685 Cellular / text

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