CAUTION/AVOID Adventure Driven Designs in AZ

na3s

Active member
With the Mitusbishi/Montero community as small as it is here in the US, I feel obliged to share my recent, poor, experience attempting to order a set of Marks4WD 2.85 transfer case gears from Adventure Driven Designs (ADD) and offer a word of caution to anyone considering patronizing or doing business with them; I will never purchase anything from them again.

This is a longer post to fully provide context to this situation, but here is the short of it:

I placed an order and paid for a set of 2.85 gears on 12/31/20 after directly confirming with ADD in writing that the price advertised on their site, $1,140.00 USD at the time, included shipping and tax.

Today, 2/8/21, 40 days after paying, I was sent an secondary invoice demanding an additional $92.11 USD before they would be shipped from ADD in AZ to me in WA.

When I informed ADD this violated the terms of my purchase agreement, wasn’t acceptable, and that I would contest this additional charge via Paypal if they insisted upon it, they canceled my order, after holding my funds for the past 40 days.


*Addendum*

After my terrible experience w/ADD, I ended up ordering my gears directly from Marks4WD, they arrived at my door from Australia in 6 days, there were no additional/surprise import/duty fees, and with the exchange rate, ended up cheaper than ADD currently advertises. The details can be found toward the end of page 2 of this thread.


FULL STORY:

As many of you may know, I’ve been slowly and methodically chipping away at a slow burning Diesel D50/MM build and try to be as thorough and accurate as possible when posting in hopes that it may aid others down the line: https://expeditionportal.com/forum/threads/d50-diesel-build.208848/#post-2676276

I’ve asked many questions, benefited greatly from this group’s collective wisdom, contributed advice and input to others where I can, and strived to be very intentional in my build since funds have never been abundant.

A few months ago, I reached the stage where I began to seriously consider the available options for lowering my project’s low range gearing from the stock 1.925:1 to either 2.7:1, 2.85:1, or 3.15:1 via Marks4WD low range gears.

I did my due diligence and tried to post as much info as possible for others who may proceed down this path in the future: https://expeditionportal.com/forum/threads/marks4wd-gears-2-7-vs-3-15-in-5mt-diesel.217630/

Once I’d decided on the 2.85 gears, I was faced with a choice of ordering them directly from Marks4WD or from ADD.

At the time, in late 12/20, and as of writing this on 2/8/21, Marks4WD lists them at $1,450.00 AUD, excluding tax since I’m not an Australian resident, plus $159.83 AUD shipping, bringing the total to $1,609.83 AUD.

The exchange rate has been pretty consistent for the past 40 days at +/- $.76 - $.77 AUD to $1 USD, bringing the total for the gears to $1,223.47 - $1,239.57 USD, delivered to me in the US.


It’s also important to note here that the US and Australia have a long standing free trade agreement, rendering the gears exempt from any import duty or tariff: https://www.cbp.gov/trade/free-trade-agreements/australia

Alternately, ADD is a Marks4WD dealer and listed the 2.85 gears on their site at the time, in late 12/20 for $1,200.00 USD, which they remained listed as until this afternoon, 2/8/21.

They were also running a holiday sale through the end of 2020, which lowered the price an additional $60.00 USD to a total of $1,140.00 USD.

I generally try to support smaller, independent, and ethically run businesses, so was leaning toward ADD to begin with, but the lower price was also a deciding factor. I had also previously purchased one of their chromoly idler kits, and the transaction had gone smoothly: https://shop.adventuredrivendesign.com/index.php?route=product/product&path=71_73&product_id=52

However, not wanting to misinterpret anything, I reached out to ADD via direct message on Instagram to confirm the pricing, 2020 discount code, and that shipping and tax were fully included in the price:






With explicit confirmation that the listed price included shipping and tax, I placed my order on 12/31/20 for a set of the Marks4WD 2.85 manual transfer case gears, totaling $1,140.00 USD, paid via Paypal.
 
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na3s

Active member
On 2/1/21, having not heard anything, I sent ADD another direct message via Instagram and was informed the gears were due imminently and was provided the following DHL tracking link: https://www.dhl.com/en/express/tracking.html?AWB=1769535681&brand=DHL



At this point, I was pretty excited; that however didn’t last long.

This morning, 2/8/21 I received a Paypal invoice from ADD demanding $92.11 USD, asserting it was due to “changes to importation laws [that] were made after this order was placed.”:




This of course made no sense to me as I had confirmed with ADD, in writing, that the price paid on 12/31/20 covered all tax and shipping.

Additionally, there have been no changes to the US/Australia Import Duty/Tariff Schedule in the past several months.

The following email exchange ensued:















Suffice to say, this entire experience has left a bitter taste in my mouth. Some of you may not consider this a big deal, “So what, just pay the additional $92.11 USD, he’s a small business and not many cater to our niche market.”

While that’s your prerogative, I feel quite differently.

The fact that this is such a small and niche market, is all the more reason to conduct yourself professionally, ethically, and stand by your word.

Though most of us into these trucks appreciate their strengths and capabilities, the fact is we’re not, by and large, a wealthy subset, with a great many of us drawn partially, or at least initially, by the affordability and potential of these vehicles devoid of the premiums associated with their competition, Land Cruisers, Land Rovers, Puch/Mercedes G Series, etc.

That said, having $1,140.00 USD tied up for well over a month with nothing to show for it is an expensive, unnecessary, and unacceptable burden/delay.

Reading between the lines of various comments by several users on multiple forums/groups over the years, as well as the revelations that they’ve a history of offering products such as brake lines and ProForged components with a substantial markup and lots of social media/marketing hype had always left me a bit skeptical: https://expeditionportal.com/forum/threads/which-ball-joint.209148/#post-2681494

However, as I’d mentioned earlier, my purchase of their chromoly idler went smoothly and I want to be supportive of smaller independent businesses, so bought from them versus direct from Marks4WD. In light of their handling of this, I’ll never do business with them again.

I would’ve had no problem paying unexpected fees if it had been mentioned as a possibility when I inquired about it directly, or if it had been mentioned anywhere on their website, or even if I had been given a straight and honest admission from the onset.

None of that occurred though, and I refuse to do business with those who lie, jerk me around, and insult my intelligence with repeated and lame excuses.

During the course of my brief email exchange with ADD today, the rational for the sudden demand of an additional $92.11 USD shifted repeatedly, none of which hold up to any degree of scrutiny:

“...changes to importation laws were made after this order was placed...”

They haven’t, as I identified above, the US and Australia have long benefited from a free trade agreement: https://www.cbp.gov/trade/free-trade-agreements/australia

“...Since your order was placed a lot of executive orders have been signed reversing policies that have been in place over the last few years…”

No, the parcel was in the US on 1/21/21, a day after the inauguration and none of the new administration's executive orders have had anything to do with trade agreements or duty/tariff schedules: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/feb/08/joe-biden-executive-orders

...Steel prices are going up and thus so will my prices…

If steel prices were rising and to blame, Marks4WD, who manufacture the gearsets themselves, would have raised their prices, which they haven’t: https://www.marks4wd.com/paj-2-85m.html

“...The price you paid included duties and tax rates as well as shipping to the US and to you at that time...”

Despite this being their very own words, ADD demanded an additional $92.11 USD before sending me the gears?!?

Furthermore, why specify that amount when the DHL invoice provided clearly shows a charge of $276.33 USD, indicating the shipment consisted of more inventory than just the gears I’d ordered.



After my email exchange, ADD updated their website this afternoon, 2/8/21, raising the advertised prices of Marks4WD gears to $1,310.00, making ordering them directly from Australia much more affordable.

What I suspect happened is DHL tried to charge ADD for bogus import duty/fees, instead of contesting those charges, they paid them, and then tried to pass them off onto me with a host of **************** excuses/justifications instead of honoring the established terms of the paid invoice from 12/31/20.

In light of this behavior I would strongly caution anyone considering purchasing anything from ADD to reconsider.

Additionally, I struggle to recognize any other products ADD offers which can’t be acquired for better prices or with better quality from other vendors, making my decision to boycott them all that much easier.

At this point I’m stuck waiting for Paypal to process and return my $1,140.00 USD from the order ADD canceled, and will be forced to wait an additional undetermined amount of time while a fresh set of gears is purchased and shipped from Australia from Marks4WD.

Decide for yourselves, but I would advise anyone reading this to reconsider doing any business with Adventure Driven Designs (ADD), they don't honor their word or conduct themselves responsibly or respectably.
 

nwoods

Expedition Leader
Dude, the Montero world lives in a very small pool, and you just pee'd in it.

Secondly, maybe you haven't heard, but there is a new President, and he kinda dorked up a bunch of stuff on Jan 20th by signing a slew of Executive Orders that absolutely can impact businesses beyond what may have been foreseeable at the time of your purchase. I think Josh should declare Force Majeure and just write you off. Attacking one of the truly hard working and well respected craftsman in a very small industry is not going to help you in your build.

It sounds like Josh responded to you, clarified the situation, and offered you a choice. You made a choice, but aren't happy about it and came here to blame him for the way someone else is acting. I suspect a whole lot of people are disappointed with that choice too, but we aren't allowed to discuss how politics effects us individual people on this forum.
 

billiebob

Well-known member
IF you have a legal case, get t it thru legal channels. if not, piss off eh.


I really hate guys who write an essay on how they got wronged with zero opportunity for the guy getting slagged to respond.
YOU sir are now on IGNORE
 

na3s

Active member
“...Since your order was placed a lot of executive orders have been signed reversing policies that have been in place over the last few years…”

No, the parcel was in the US on 1/21/21, a day after the inauguration and none of the new administration's executive orders have had anything to do with trade agreements or duty/tariff schedules: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/feb/08/joe-biden-executive-orders
Guess you didn't read.

No sweat, if Josh/ADD is the type of pool you want to swim in, enjoy the water.

I prefer to do business with those whose word and commitment is worth more than $92.11.
 

na3s

Active member
I really hate guys who write an essay on how they got wronged with zero opportunity for the guy getting slagged to respond.
What exactly is preventing him from responding?

I've posted everything clearly so everyone may judge for themselves.

As for ignoring me, go for it, no sweat off my back.
 

na3s

Active member
I don't have a personal stake in this and maybe it's not my business to say so.. ADD is one dude and as I understand it he might have less than 92 dollars in his bank account most weeks.

Anyway maybe he made a mistake here, that bites but compared to some forum-vs-small-business drama we've all seen it doesn't sound like malice was part of the program. I've had similar hiccups dealing with a motorcycle parts shop in Nebraska and a software vendor and a cabinet maker.

Cheers
Maybe, maybe not, had Josh stepped up and taken any responsibility, things could have gone very differently.

I clearly posted all relevant info so everyone can decide for themselves if they're a business/person you want to spend your money with.

I've little doubt many won't bother to read it and will chastise me, which is fine, the number of members who legitimately contribute any valuable info on here is already shockingly small.

I've already contacted Marks4WD and will be ordering directly from them as soon as my $$$ is returned from ADD; who claim to have already sold the gears I'd paid for, classy as ever.

Screen Shot 2021-02-08 at 10.28.43 PM.pngScreen Shot 2021-02-08 at 10.29.24 PM.png
 

Shovel

Dreaming Ape
Make sure to put me on ignore too so you don't accidentally stumble onto any of my crummy contributions :ROFLMAO:
 

Oso

Forest Defecator
Typical. You're not the first to get burned by ADD. Sadly, you won't be the last. Lots of stories out there just like yours. It's amazing anyone still orders from them. Glad you got it figured out directly with Marks. FWIW, anyone who is going to block you for simply pointing out yet ANOTHER ADD horror story is probably doing you a favor by removing themselves from your view. Just be glad you didn't try to order the brake lines. Lol.
 

na3s

Active member
Thanks
Typical. You're not the first to get burned by ADD. Sadly, you won't be the last. Lots of stories out there just like yours. It's amazing anyone still orders from them. Glad you got it figured out directly with Marks. FWIW, anyone who is going to block you for simply pointing out yet ANOTHER ADD horror story is probably doing you a favor by removing themselves from your view. Just be glad you didn't try to order the brake lines. Lol.
It's been amusing to see the various reactions.

As I wrote privately to another member, the pool of contributors here that I respect and whom seem to actually know and share any substantial and/or valuable information is not only incredibly small, but have been nearly universal in their support of my posting, with many reaching out via PM echoing similar experiences, yet being reluctant to post publicly to avoid what a hassle Josh/ADD is.

Whereas the bulk of those chastising me for speaking out seem to be the sideline cheerleader types who I've never seen make any worthwhile or substantive contributions; sheep do tend to flock I suppose.

Everything I posted is clearly supported by all the emails, tracking info, and private messages I put up so that anyone can openly read and decide for themselves.

I fully anticipated getting grief from many members, which I could care less about.

This is the internet and I detest social media, I'm merely here to share and glean accurate knowledge, not to socialize; I've a real and full life, playing with my truck project is merely a fun hobby. So if anyone doesn't like or agree with what I've documented, feel free to ignore everything I've posted and write me off based on any presumption you like, it won't bother me any.

However, if anyone of you had checked with a domestic supplier of parts about a high dollar order, received a quote in writing for an amount that explicitly included all tax and shipping, you paid it in full, but were then told it would cost an additional and not insignificant sum to actually receive the parts many weeks later, and they refused to honor the agreement and price you'd paid before suddenly canceled your order after hanging onto your money for weeks and selling your parts to someone else, as a fellow consumer, I'd want to know.

That information would more than likely influence my decision to buy products from that vendor or direct from the supplier.

I couldn't care less about $92, anyone whose followed my posts on here knows I'm intentional about project, and have no problem investing the money necessary for the best parts available for my build. I've always placed quality, whether in parts or businesses, far above any minimal monetary differences.

That said, I refuse to patronize businesses who don't hold up to their commitments, I loathe liars.

Want to continue to support ADD, go for it, that's your call, god knows there's no shortage of terrible businesses kept afloat from blind loyalty, or in this instance, an acute lack of competition.

What's most disappointing is to hear directly from so many others who have had equally terrible experiences with ADD, hopefully this info will save some others from the grief of doing business with them.
 

Salonika

Monterror Pilot
The guy spent $100 of his time typing the post.......so now he is out closer to $200 total by my calculation. I may have been more receptive to the story if it was condensed into tweet length. I will say though, it seems to be the most entertaining thing to show up here in a long time. Seriously though I hope they can work out a resolution since $92 is not enough to burn bridges over......as someone mentioned already, we are a small community here, no need for this to be more than a good laugh. Meet halfway.....ask for a $45 refund, everyone is happy.
 
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na3s

Active member
Placed my order for replacement gears directly through Marks4WD's site today, 2/9/21, at 12pm and by 5pm this afternoon received tracking info and confirmation they were already in transit with a expected delivery date of 2/15/21.

They were super easy to deal with, responded to my inquiry right away, and it's far more satisfying knowing I've given my money directly to a well run and reputable company that actually manufactures the gears.

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