Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Part III (if you haven't read the first parts read them first below.)
The Flamethrower

The next story began a couple of months ago. A girl who looked like a female Napoleon Dynamite came in with a friend looking for a helmet. (They had been in before looking at scooters, but didn't buy.) When I asked what kind of scooter she had, she told me she had just purchased a Motobravo. (A little background: Motobravo is not a brand. It is nothing more than a sticker being applied to a generic Chinese P.O.S. scooter being imported by some of the fine individuals that helped make Utah the Mortgage Fraud Capitol of the West.)

Sometimes I'm more charitable towards Chinese scooter owners. This was not one of those times. I asked her why she didn't buy a scooter from us. She said she couldn't afford it. So I asked how much she paid for the scooter. She said $1200. I said, "Can you afford to have a twelve-hundred dollar decoration in your driveway?" She looked puzzled so I continued, "Did you know that they buy those things for around five hundred bucks? Did you do any research before you bought it?"

"Well, my friend who knows about scooters said it was a pretty good one."

"Is your friend going to fix it when it breaks? Because the guy who sold it to you on the side of the road, without a dealers license, or insurance, or a store, or spare parts, is going to be too busy laughing all the way to the bank to help you out."

Well, she didn't like being insulted to her face, but she didn't know quite what to say, so I decided to be sporting about it. "Look," I said, "I'll make a deal with you. I'll bet you twenty bucks that your scooter will break down within thirty days. If it doesn't I'll pay you twenty dollars. But if it does, I'll just add it to your repair bill."

Fast forward 30 days. I still hadn't heard from her. So I called her up and said that I owed her $20. She said that it was ok, her mom taught her not to gamble, so she wasn't going to hold me to it. I said that she should just hop on her scooter and come collect the money fair and square, but she was gracious enough to decline. Out of curiosity I asked how many miles were on her scooter and she said about a hundred. I laughed and said that next time I made a bet like that I would have to have a mileage stipulation. A hundred miles in a month is pretty low.

Fast forward a few weeks more. I was standing in front of the store watching someone on a test ride, when this cute blonde runs across State street and says, "Hi, remember me?" I didn't. "You made a bet with my friend that her scooter would break."

"Yeah" I said, "I guess she won. She said the scooter never broke down."

"Well actually, It just broke down across the street. Can you come take a look at it?"

While we waited to cross the street I made conversation.

"At least she won the bet. Though when I called her she had only ridden about a hundred miles."

"Uhmm, well, the speedometer broke a while ago" she sheepishly admitted, but then she added, "but this is the first time it has actually stopped running."

I chuckled to myself as we crossed the street. When I saw the scooter the first thing that caught my eye was the gasoline leaking all over the ignition coil. I removed the rubber boot thats supposed to protect the wires from moisture and a few ounces of gas poured out. I said, "You're lucky this didn't start a fire. Two Chinese scooters have started on fire in my shop this year." (True story. I had to buy new extinguishers because of them.)

The girl who owned the scooter was also at the scene with a can of gas in hand. She insisted the scooter wasn't leaking and that she had just spilled a little gas when she topped it off. I watched it for a while and the steady flow of gas didn't really diminish. She insisted it didn't leak gas, but that was clearly the problem. When the gas had finally leaked down below the defect in the tank, it stopped. I dried off the ignition coil wiring and the scooter started right up. I reiterated how lucky they were that the scooter had stopped rather than gone up in flames. I showed them how when I shook the scooter a bit, gas would leak again because it was splashing up into the area where the leak was. The owner finally admitted that maybe it had leaked gas once before. She then said that one of the brakes didn't work but her friend (probably the same idiot who told her it was a good scooter) had told her that it was just because it was leaking brake fluid. There was so much wrong with that statement I didn't know where to begin. "Well, that brake is your rear brake and it's not hydraulic, so it can't be due to a brake fluid leak. I looked at the cable adjuster and found that it had never been tightened up. After tightening it I looked at the "brake fluid leak" by the front wheel. Thankfully, it wasn't brake fluid leaking. It was just one of the front shock absorbers leaking oil. That problem is a sure fire way to fail a safety inspection, but it's not as bad as a brake fluid leak. Also while looking at the front wheel I saw that the speedometer pinion had basically fallen apart, which explains the defunct speedometer/odometer. It had stopped with 110 miles on the clock.

So now I'm fixing her scooter. It took a lot of effort, but I didn't say "I told you so." No, it was too painfully obvious to everyone how right I was. The scooter is less than two months old and has a leaky gas tank, a broken speedometer, a leaky shock absorber, and a brake cable that the "dealer" never bothered to adjust properly. I hope they realize how lucky they are just to be alive.

2 comments:

Kaerlig said...

Isn't it illegal to sell those craptacular scooters? They give scooters a bad name. Tell em to take Ray-Ray's advice and buy a scooter you can trust.

AzĂșcar said...

Burst into FLAMES?

That's a quality product right there.