Colorado Camper Van Review (CCV)- Buyer Beware

swedishSTile

Observer
I mostly post over on Sprinter-Source as Offroadhamster. I thought I would cross post this here as a P.S.A.

COLORADO CAMPER VAN REVIEW

This is going to be a little long winded, I think. I will try to be concise and not ramble.

I want to start by stating unequivocally that I spent a lot of time considering whether or not I was going to post anything about my experience with Colorado Camper Van. My top was installed in June 2017 and I am just posting this now. While I believe that social media can be a powerful tool for leveraging people and companies, I don't think the frequency that people use it for such is acceptable. At this point, I have given up on the idea that I will ever receive any type of restitution from Colorado Campervan (CCV) for the problems and issues I have had. I have also given up on any notion that CCV has any desire to make things right, support their product once it leaves their facility, or honor any kind of warranty. As such I am not writing this to try to compel CCV to do anything, but simply to inform prospective customers what they are getting into by commissioning any work from CCV.

I also want to lead with this: Had I known the issues I would encounter going in, would I still have given CCV my business. The answer is probably yes, but I will explain in detail as I go through this.

I also want to let everyone reading know that I am not alone in my experience. I have talked to other CCV top owners and the experience I will document here seems to be universal. My problems, issues and concerns are the rule as far as I can tell and not the exception. I know there are a couple of other members on this forum with the same experience as me and they may or may not chime in here at their discretion. Others are still seeking restitution from CCV and may not want to publicize the details of their issues before they are through with such efforts.

I spent right in the neighborhood of $12,000 with CCV. Its not a small amount of money. I am not rich, and it was not a small decision for me and my wife. For the money I spent I had expectations about quality, longevity, customer service and execution. None of these expectations were met.

I drove my van 1100 miles to Loveland CO and dropped it off before flying home. I was told it would take them 2 weeks to complete the work I was having commissioned. I asked multiple times if two weeks was enough time, telling them that I was flying back to Colorado, that I would be leaving from CCV on a vacation with the newly completed van, and that if the van was not finished when I arrived I would be stuck there with no vehicle and no accommodations. I was assured that the van would be done and I provided CCV with my return flight itinerary. The work I was having done was

1: CCV top with paint patch and arctic canvass
2: Maxxair Fan
3: Carefree of Colorado Awning with porch light

When I arrived at 11am (as they were fully aware I would) my van was nowhere near completion. The top was on its hardware and that was about it. My van still had an intact roof and headliner, the awning was not installed, the fan was not mounted to the top, and the canvas was not installed to the top/van.

As they rushed to get my van finished I looked on as they quickly and carelessly tried to complete my van. The owner of CCV, Derek dropped my awning while trying to mount it to the van. I would later discover that the reason he was having trouble mounting it and subsequently dropped it was because he was too hasty in drilling the holes to mount the brackets, that the front bracket was crooked and that my awning would be (and still is) installed so poorly that it would never close completely or correctly. They broke countless trim clips, scratched innumerable pieces of trim, and utterly destroyed the mounting tabs on my factory headliner such that it would never properly fit again.

I would later find:

1: that the canvas was installed too tight in two corners that would cause subsequent puncturing of the canvass when the top was up.
2: that they didnt clean up their metal shavings which subsequently rusted and permanently stained the paint in the gutters of my van
3: that they got black mastic all over the outside of the canvass and the paint of my van
4: that they did such a poor job sealing the holes from my original factory roof rails that it would subsequently leak water into my van and stain my headliner
5: that they did such a poor job of sealing the top to the van that voids were present almost the entire way around
5: that there was a hole where the canvass was not properly installed to the fiberglass top that I could see daylight though
6: that they did not relocate and reinstall my factory dome lights so I have no functional lights when I open the doors
6.1: That they did not even return the original lights so that I could resolve this issue for myself
7: that they left greasy fingerprints on my headliner which were nearly impossible to clean off
8: that they attempted to install one of the two latches that keeps the top closed 3 times and that the final install location of the latch was so bad that the latch does not properly close.
9: that they left a huge amount of mastic/sealant around the brackets for the awning
10: that besides installing the awning brackets at the wrong angle, they subsequently bent them trying to tighten them down against the curve of the van because they didnt fit right as they were mounted in the wrong place.
11: That the opening to the top was trimmed very poorly.
12: that the remote control for the top died after 2 weeks of use

I finally got out of CCV about 7pm, 8 hours after they had committed to being done with my van. Not a terrible length of time, but considering I had a 15 hour drive ahead of me, and that my wife was waiting for me with our 2 month old, 2 year old and my dog in my pickup truck at a campground in California, it was unacceptable. I was in such a rush to get on my way that I ignored the things about the top that I could see were a problem, thinking to myself that it would not be that big of a deal and I would be able to get Derek to take care of them at a later date.

Unfortunately I was wrong. I have called and emailed CCV dozens of times and have received but a single voicemail from Derek saying to call him back (which I have done many times now).

With the exception of the awning, most of the problems are within my personal ability to fix. I can purchase or make a new headliner, I have sealed up the leaks and the hole in the canvass, the remaining holes in the canvass can be patched when the time comes, I have cleaned most of he mastic up, replaced trim clips, I can buy and install new dome lights, etc etc.

To fix the awning I will have to have the holes in the van welded up and painted by a body shop (the best quote I have gotten for this is $1600). I will then have to have a new bracket fabricated by my machinist ($250) and powder-coated ($75). If I were not an engineer I would also have to have someone model the bracket in the first place (at my consulting rate it would have been $137.50 with a family and friends discount, $250 without) and then I will have to drill new holes, install new inserts and remount the bracket and awning.

Between the awning, canvass, re-sealing, headliner and other issues I will be out about $2500 and 12-15 hours of MY time (which would be another $1500--$1875 at CCV's shop rate) when it is all said and done.

So now you want to know, given all of that why would I have CCV install another top?

The answer is yes, because between the Sportsmobile pop top and the CCV top, the CCV wins for engineering, safety and usability hands down. I am a mechanical engineer and designer and despite SMB's marketing spew about being a Mercedes Benz authorized up-fitter and doing a roof crush test on their top, I personally would rather my children ride in a van with a CCV top from a safety perspective. All of the roof hoop supports are left intact with the CCV (A pillar B pillar etc) whereas SMB removes them. From a usability perspective, I have been in my van with the top up and 40-50mph sustained winds with gusts to 70mph without the slightest concern. I have seen first hand this is not possible with a SMB top. The bed in my top with my aftermarket mattress is a Full size bed (54" x 74") versus 42" x 70" in the SMB. Someone who is 6' or taller can sit up Indian style in the CCV top with 40" of headroom, whereas anyone over about 4'10" cant sit up straight in the SMB. The CCV is available with insulated canvass. Everything from the remote control ceiling lights to the robust linear actuators is more thoroughly sorted on the CCV than the equipment on the SMB in my opinion.

At the end of the day I am pissed about how much money I spend and what I got in return (a headache and problems to go with my very cool CCV top), but I would do it again. However, I would tell CCV that I would be there in 2 weeks and book my return flight for 4 weeks out. I would also book a hotel room for that night and set aside enough time to thoroughly walk through the van, find any and all issues and then leave CCV without my credit card leaving my pocket while they resolved all issues to my satisfaction.

Derek does not know how to run a business IMHO, he doesn't understand customer service, is overbooked and has poor attention to detail in his execution. However, he did design and develop a great product that with a little install care would be top notch. I believe they have the ability to assemble a well executed van, but I think you have to give them the time to do so, and allow that it is much longer than they will allot for.

I will answer any questions that anyone may have as fairly and as honestly as I can.

Happy Pop Top Shopping, and caveat emptor
Brian
 

Factoid

Three criminal heroes
Thanks for the review, Brian, and sorry to hear your experience.

I want a pop top on my camper project and have searched the web for the best option. CCV always comes up and while they have their issues, I agree on the engineering and quality of materials. I've been chasing them for three months. Emails and phone calls many times, yet not a single reply. They don't even need to do the install, I'll do it myself. I can't understand why they won't at least return my contact attempt? Even to simply say they are overbooked or have a huge leadtime of xxx months. Perhaps your assessment is spot on. I've seen many businesses with a great product fail spectacularly simply because they couldn't handle the growth. The only upside is helping those companies fix their issues has provided me a tidy income. Best of luck and I hope you are able to address your remaining issues.
 
Last edited:

wanderer-rrorc

Explorer
Ill be honest that's exactly why I came up with the top I've built, some of their design made sense...some didn't...and their terrible history of customer service pushed me to do my own install....if I had the space I would do a few a year..partner with Ujoint and have 4x4 pop top vans available on the east coast....



Sent from my VS987 using Tapatalk
 

kmcintyre

Observer
I love the honesty and thanks for posting. I hope everything works out for you. I'm like you. I'll post bad reviews but also make a point of posting good ones too!
 

shenrie

^^^ hates cars
^^^ well said.

great post op. most all of the bad review threads I see focus only on the negatives. I appreciate you taking the time to post up positive things too. gives people more info all the way around to make a solid decision on which way they want to go with their vehicle.
 

another_mike

Adventurer
I sub'd to this thread originally to see the outcome. But would love to see pictures of both the positive and negatives of the install.
 

snomad

New member
The buyer's dilemma: can uneven execution be offset by superior design and hopes that the product will be as promised? Your review illustrates what happens when things DO go sideways and the seller provides no support in correcting the situation.

I'm sorry for your CCV experience. Thank you for sharing it.
 

swedishSTile

Observer
Ill get some pictures up in a couple minutes. After I posted this here and on Sprinter-source, Derek responded to my email and I managed to get him on the phone. I am going to be out his way at the end of the month and he committed to fixing my problems while I was out there if I made the trip. He sent me an invoice (zero dollars) to document what he was going to be ready to do when I showed up. I sent him a reply confirming the date I would be there. Unfortunately I do not have any confirmation from him about the date, more of the same with correspondence unfortunately. Hoping it all goes smoothly.
 

pugslyyy

Expedition Vehicle Engineer Guy
I think the lesson learned on timing is important - small shops that do custom work are often tragically behind schedule, and having them rush to completion rarely leaves anybody happy.

Not that you shouldn't have every expectation that a vendor will meet their commitments and deliver quality product in a timely manner - but being realistic about what they say v. what they will actually do can make a big difference to your stress level and final satisfaction.
 

swedishSTile

Observer
The good:
Awesome with the insulted canvass, even in the snow and low teens:

HUGE BED, burly hardware, great lights with wireless remote controll

Bed goes up quick. Paint match is perfect






Top is rock solid. Doesnt move a mm when pounding around offroad


Good and bad, you can see some of the sloppy trim work (headliner cut too short near control panel). Overall good placement for easy access, the panel that sits in the opening is movable and removable.



Wish this was straight but no big deal. Silver button can be moved anywhere and controls the lights up top. Large white switch is the hard switch and wireless reciever for the lights. Lights can be turned on or off and dimmed from either switch. Square rocker is for the roof mechanism, round is for the lights on the awning. Roof mechanism also has a remote control.



The bad:

Corners tearing because angle iron is too long

Poorly sealed canvass





3 screws but none of them held. Canvass pulling at top


Poorly sealed hole that leaked. Rusted metal shavings


Stained headliner


awning bracket and awning that wont close. Rattles while driving and echoes down the B Pillar

 

Bbasso

Expedition Leader
I don't understand why people (not you specifically) would pay hard earned money to a company (not this specifically) on a product with so many known issues and reviews?
Sure, there are some very good ideas and concepts but when execution and customer service continually fail to meet customer expectations with in a week or even a year, I'm just completely complexed as to why people keep trying? Hoping for the best ?
It's just not the money spent at the place of business but sometimes a brand new big $ vehicle.
 

swedishSTile

Observer
Well, ya, hard to wrap your head around, and if I was reading this review for most products and services, I would be calling me a moron...so there is that. I do love my pop top though, my van is awesome (IMHO anyway ;). I just finished putting a bunch of VanCompass hardware on it, great products AND great customer service, imagine that??
 

Jsweezy

Explorer
Because they said they've changed and theres no way it would happen again...

At least I assume thats why. Alot of the people I have read feedback from said they didnt hear anything back and had little to no communication and then once they get it they get that warm fuzzy and feel good about taking their van in for work. I think people want to believe that for the amount of money they are spending that there is no way the product wont meet their expectations.

To the OP, van look awesome. Hopefully you get these issues fixed.
 

Frosty_1

Adventurer
I don't understand either...many terrible reviews of CCV here and on the SMB forum(and probably others)...it's crazy he's able to stay as busy as he does...

I don't understand why people (not you specifically) would pay hard earned money to a company (not this specifically) on a product with so many known issues and reviews?
Sure, there are some very good ideas and concepts but when execution and customer service continually fail to meet customer expectations with in a week or even a year, I'm just completely complexed as to why people keep trying? Hoping for the best ?
It's just not the money spent at the place of business but sometimes a brand new big $ vehicle.
 

Drizzt

Free Sarcasm Available
I don't understand either...many terrible reviews of CCV here and on the SMB forum(and probably others)...it's crazy he's able to stay as busy as he does...
Lack of other options would be my guess. There are a lot of good reviews as well. Personally I want one of his tops but have been struggling with putting down a deposit because of the negative comments, mostly because he's over a thousand miles away from me so it isn't like I can just pop back in and have him do rework...
 
Top