Sunday, March 1, 2009

so here's the story on our scooters

I am going to now tell the (long) story of our Vespa Scooters, how they became ours, why they are at the shop, and all the details that made the situation both exhilarating and frustrating. The reason we are putting this in writing is so that no one in the future has to deal with what we had to deal with. And also because if anyone "googles" Michael Sharette's name, we want them to read our story before doing business with him.

Let's begin, shall we?

Matt and I have always had a love for all things vintage, but especially cars or scooters. Right after we got married, I sold my VW Golf and we shared 1 car for around 8 months. During that time, Matt ran into an old acquaintance from Spain, (Michael Sharette), who happened to have a very sweet looking Vespa Scooter. Mike let Matt ride it, and then mentioned that he actually had it imported from Italy and he could probably get Matt one for a pretty good deal. This is when the wheel started turning... we could share the 1 car and buy 2 Vespa Scooters, and it just seemed like (albeit a bit irresponsible) a dream come true! We could have our cake and eat it too... share the car in the winter and each get to ride an adorable scooter in the spring, summer, and fall months. Who in the world wouldn't want that?

So the process started... we began exchanging phone calls, texts, and emails with Mike to get more details on the scooters; the exact price, the information on the restoration, the colors we could choose from, and anything else we could think of at the time. We weren't worried too much about the business side of the deal because Mike was a friend and we figured we could trust him to be honest in the transaction, and also because he told us we had the "Mike Sharette Guarantee" - meaning that if anything went wrong, he'd personally work it out for us. The business name he was using for this transaction was Italia Classic, and he'd gone through this same process before with his scooter, so there should be minimum problems along the way.

Would it have been easier and cheaper to get a new Yamaha, or Honda, or even used Vespa scooter right here in Utah? YES. A million times YES, but Mike was giving us a deal and they would be vintage, from Italy, and exactly what we'd been dreaming about for years and years. So to us, it seemed like the only way we'd be happy was to have what Mike was promising us... so we did it. Let me give you a time frame though... this all took place in the Summer of 2007. We officially sent him the money at the beginning of July, 2007.

I bet you are thinking... but it's 2009 and you're barely getting the engines fixed!? Yes. Hence this story being one of frustration.

All seemed well when we ordered the scooters, and Mike said they'd be here around the beginning of September. September came and went, no scooters. I found this link when I google'd Mike's name (you have to scroll down to the date of May 7, 2007 to read the correct entry), and I wish we would have read the entire website sooner. Matt and I started doubting the quality of the scooters, and where they were actually coming from. Italy would have been very nice indeed, but that website and how long the process was taking made us feel skeptical of what was going on, and how authentic our scooters would be.

In the middle of October (2007) the scooters arrived and he dropped them off at our condo... they were BEAUTIFUL. There is no denying that they looked super sweet, because they absolutely did. We unloaded them from the truck and just gawked at our new toys. We noticed a few things that were wrong (like square lights instead of round- and black tires instead of white walled) but those were little issues and we didn't care too much. They were here, and we were so excited. We started them up after a few tries on the kick start... and then rode for the first time on our new babies. Mike said he'd ship us the bill of sale, bill of landing, and any other documents we would need to prove ownership and register our new scooters. Everything seemed great, and when Mike left our condo we were all smiles.

THE VERY NEXT DAY one of the scooters didn't work. The 2nd day the other one stopped working. The scooters wouldn't start, we could not ride them, and they just weren't in the condition that was promised when we purchased them. Mike took them back to get them fixed, but that just turned into months of waiting without hardly any contact from Mike about what was going on. Finally, when we found out which shop he had taken them to, we contacted The Scooter Lounge ourselves and talked to Dave about the real situation (around Jan 2008.) He said the bikes were "Asian imports" {meaning the frames are real Vespa, but nothing else is vintage Vespa} and "the engines appeared to be handmade and not safe at all." CRAP. We had been bamboozled and now we had these nice looking scooters that would need whole new engines. Mike Sharette never answered our phone calls, he said he'd help pay for the new engines (which he has not,) and we have not heard back from him since we tried to ask him for some money back for this awful transaction. We've sent him letters, emails, texts, and phone calls - and still we have heard nothing back. He NEVER sent us any of the legal paperwork we needed to prove ownership of the scooters, or the bill of sale or importation paperwork either. We are very disappointed with the lack of integrity with this business transaction, and also about how long the process has been going on. We hope no one else will ever have to go through something like this. Ever.

SO... we stored the scooters, went to Ecuador, worked extra hours cleaning to try to save up some money, and they are now finally being fixed in 2009. We are installing brand new 150 CC Stella Engines, and they will run so smooth when all has been said and done. And they still look amazing, so that's great. We are in litigation with Mike, and will hopefully be refunded some of the money that has gone into this head-ache of a business deal. We are sad and frustrated about the situation, but thankfully in the end they will run fabulously because the brilliant people at The Scooter Lounge. And we now know a bit more about scooters, and will not be so stupid in the future about vintage purchases.

And we will ride with all the glory that should have been ours almost 2 years ago.

{after a month long of [hearting] things, sorry to have to share such a negative story. it just needed to be put out there. and yes... the scooters are very near done... hallelujah!}

1 comment:

  1. That's awful! Best of luck working it all out. I think it's good to share stuff like this in case anyone else deals with the same thing, like you said. My friend Shawn has an authentic Vespa from the early 60's that I drool over all summer. It's this glorious seafoam green color. Hopefully one day I will find my own.