Issues with Inka Outdoors

Pathfinder7

Member
So I've been debating posting this and starting something for a couple weeks, but after speaking to others who have ordered much later than me and been promised the same delivery dates, I feel I should at least make everyone aware of my experience with this company. Your mileage may vary.

Last July, like many others, I was researching different off road camping trailers. I was torn between the big dogs, Moby1 and SoCal Teardrops, and a local Oregon Trail’R. The big put off for me was the wait, estimated between 12-24 months for most of them at the time. While browsing around, I came upon Inka Outdoors from Gastonia, NC. While on the other side of the country from me, their product looked great, they put together a sweet build at a reasonable price, and most importantly at the time, they promised 8-9 months of build. Even with delays, I could have it by Summer 2018, so I ordered last July-August and sent in my 30% deposit.

Originally, I was told 8-9 months, but when my deposit cleared it was updated to 10 months. I have had to ask them every 3-4 months for updates as exactly zero were sent out without a request. Each time I inquired about the status, estimated delivery was pushed further back. Originally it was April-May this year, then July, then October, now December and beyond.

When I ordered, I was number 39 on the list. 10 months later, I was number 21 giving them an average of 1.8 campers built per month. At that rate, I was looking at another 12+ months of waiting and well over 2 years total wait, right up there with Moby1. Each time they promised me they were in the middle of a major restructuring, retooling, and rehire and would hit 4-5 builds per month, but that has never happened and I doubt it will. They hope it will, but hope is not a strategy...

I told them I felt that was not ok and requested a cancellation and full refund. Mike Stanford, the owner I believe, stated that they also agreed it was not ok, but there was nothing they could do. He stated I would receive some of my deposit back within 6 months (6 months of my trailer completion mind you) if they sold my "slot". Now realize that they do not sell canceled slots because they do not put anyone ahead in the line, or so they say. This clause allows them to hold my money (almost $9k) indefinitely as my slot keeps getting pushed back. They also state that they will keep 10% of the full price since I was the one who canceled. I asked Mike many times how that was right since they are the ones in violation of the contract, he basically said that's just how it is. I mentioned they had not done any kind of work on my build except for the initial quote. I conceded that I would give them $500 from the deposit for their trouble, even though, arguably, I have put more work in than they have on the build. They never responded to that email sent two weeks ago.

At this point, I am pretty miffed. I chose Inka over the closer and more established SoCal and Moby1 because they promised 8-9 months delivery. They constantly delayed and repromised the build date and they are now way past even what Moby1 promises. Now, they believe because I was not willing to wait for over double the promised time that they are now free to keep my money, indefinitely, and then only to partially refund it when they decide to.

They will no longer respond to my emails and are basically doing what they want since they have my cash and the upper hand. I have begun discussions with a lawyer in NC to see what my legal options are if any. It is a completely unacceptable practice that they are conducting. Basically, they over promise, take your money, delay, stall, fail to communicate, delay, and then keep the cash when you tire of waiting and ask to cancel. It's a pretty good deal on their part and I wonder how much of their business model is predicated on it. Build 1-2 campers a month and wait everyone else out while pocketing their money, then keep a nice 10% for your troubles when you are ready to return the deposit.

Now, I realize that I have high expectations when dropping $30k and I can get a little hot-tempered, but this is simply not right. What other business takes that much of a deposit, then consistently fails to deliver and when you finally decide to cut your losses and go another route, keeps 10% because you were not willing to wait more than double the promised delivery time? I will state that they have always been willing to answer my questions and were exceptionally nice and professional in the beginning. However, I am now out $9k for the time being and nearly a $3,000 “fee” because THEY failed to deliver in a reasonable time. Maybe I’m a fluke and others have received their builds in a reasonable time, or maybe this is just how they operate with the old bait and switch that salesmen in this business seem to know so well.

I encourage others to post their experiences with Inka Outdoors and Mike Stanford. Perhaps I’m an anomaly and should just suck it up as a life lesson in patience, or perhaps others have experienced this same thing and our community needs to go in with eyes wide open.

Cheers
 

ottsville

Observer
I'm sorry you are going through this and if what you say is accurate, they are not the first builder to pull stuff like this. There's multiple threads on multiple forums about this happening with other builders before.

You mention they were in violation of the contract - you did get something in writing with a promised delivery date when you gave your deposit, right? If not, why would you give anybody $9k with no paperwork? Make your deposits by credit card, get a promise date, write something in the memo slot on your check, that's just common sense.

You may not have to go through a NC lawyer; if you wrote a check from your home state, you may be able to start proceedings against them in your state which would make it expensive for them to defend and they might decide just to refund your money. I hope it works out for you.
 

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rudee13

Member
do you have an address for the company? I'm 30 min away (hickory,NC) from Gastonia and go thru couple times a month, be happy to drive by and look for activity.
btw, my wife is an NC attorney she may be interested in your issue if you choose to pursue. She' pretty good with contracts. sorry to hear your troubles with a fellow North Carolinian.

regards,
rudee

Sent from my SM-G930V using Tapatalk
 

rudee13

Member
I googled Inka outdoors found an address, I have a doctor's appt Friday (6th) down that way. I'll try and stop by, ask a few inquiring questions about trailers if I see they are open.

Sent from my SM-G930V using Tapatalk
 
Need to put Channel 9 on this issue too, so it will go public.
https://www.wsoctv.com/news/action-9

From the description of your problem they operate on a shoestring budget with cash flow problems. They are using the OPM method to pay for construction cost of campers. Your deposit was used to build a camper for someone whose is ahead of you. I am not a lawyer but I would think if the contract states a delivery date then the contract is null and void.

I despise companies like this. Guys go into business with no equity and no cash on hand, but rely on deposits to manufacture something. I have worked for several companies like this in the past. Not only can he not buy material, but can not keep skilled labor. High turnover rates, borrowed money to pay monies owed. Can't get product out the door to keep the lights on.
 

Pathfinder7

Member
I googled Inka outdoors found an address, I have a doctor's appt Friday (6th) down that way. I'll try and stop by, ask a few inquiring questions about trailers if I see they are open.

Sent from my SM-G930V using Tapatalk
Thanks, Rudee, I appreciate that. I'd be interested to see if they are still quoting 9 months out. Another member ordered in Dec and they quoted him that time frame, after knowing damned well they could not deliver that.
 

Pathfinder7

Member
Need to put Channel 9 on this issue too, so it will go public.
https://www.wsoctv.com/news/action-9

From the description of your problem they operate on a shoestring budget with cash flow problems. They are using the OPM method to pay for construction cost of campers. Your deposit was used to build a camper for someone whose is ahead of you. I am not a lawyer but I would think if the contract states a delivery date then the contract is null and void.

I despise companies like this. Guys go into business with no equity and no cash on hand, but rely on deposits to manufacture something. I have worked for several companies like this in the past. Not only can he not buy material, but can not keep skilled labor. High turnover rates, borrowed money to pay monies owed. Can't get product out the door to keep the lights on.
Hilbilly, this sounds like exactly what they are doing, sort of a pyramid scheme sort of thing. That seems like a common tactic these days in this game.
 

WU7X

Snow on the Roof
I am very sorry to hear about this. Last year I spent a lot of time looking at the various builders and Inka came on top of my list for matching my needs. I went to their website repeatedly and contacted them several times. I was about to make a deposit when my wife asked me to hold back. She was just in the process of retiring and wanted some time to see how things shook out finacially for us. Now I am really glad to hear your story. I would certainly have been in the same boat, a west coaster expecting honest service. Hope this issue will resolve itself in a positive manner for you. My Inka file is going in the garbage can.
 

mep1811

Gentleman Adventurer
I have found contacting the Better Business Bureau to be effective . You can also contact the NC Attorney General about a fraud case.
 

Phxdsrtrat

Observer
If you have a contract stating a delivery date (even an approximate date) this sounds like a slam dunk in court. I would threaten them with the deposit, reasonable damages for violating the contract and court costs. Yah, it's not the nice thing to do but it doesn't sound like they have been reasonable or nice.

FYI, I ordered my trailer from Oregon Trail'r (one you mentioned on your list of final candidates). They are completely upfront about build times and delivery and if there is a delay they let you know. In my case, my trailer took about 2 months longer than the promised date. That was due to an unusually cold winter making the shop conditions poor for building trailers. The key here was they communicated. I couldn't pick my trailer up until a couple months after it was finished due to my own conflicts and they had no problem holding it for me. I know their wait times are even more nuts now than when I ordered a couple years back. Completely sucks waiting, especially over a year.

-Curtiss
 

inkaoutdoor

New member
Wow, it's disappointing to see this thread blow up like this.

I really don’t want to stir the pot but I would like to ask that you let me try and clear the air a bit...

If you are an existing or potential customer and have a concern about this thread or the comments made here please email me directly - mike@inkaoutdoor.com - I do personally respond.

Pathfinder 7 is rightfully disappointed that his unit was affected by our build delays and that he isn't getting his camper when we originally estimated. I'm sorry about this. As a young, growing business dealing with sudden demand we are unable to provide delivery dates and our timelines are estimates. We could post the written communication that we have had with Pathfinder 7 clearly explaining this to him and a copy of his signed purchase agreement detailing the cancellation terms but I doubt it would help much. It is also unlikely that our attorney would allow that now that legal threats are being discussed on this public forum.

When a potential customer reaches out to us about a camper order, we make it quite clear in writing that that our timelines are estimates. Estimated deliveries are common with custom manufacturers and in many industries from Tesla down to a new kitchen install. We hate missing estimates and are working to both shorten the build cycle and never miss a delivery estimate.

In this particular case, we made a time estimate after we had just hired a significant number of new team members and we had great expectations that our build rate would improve rapidly. In Pathfinder 7’s case, a few weeks passed between quoting and when he did pay his deposit and we did receive additional orders (with paid deposits) in the interim. As a result, the estimated timeline did increase and we made him aware. We have certainly not, "stopped responding" to his emails - it would seem that Pathfinder 7 simply did not like our last response reminding him of the terms he signed and he chose to vent here on Expedition Portal, possibly with the expectation of a different outcome.

For those of you reading along and commenting, it is to be expected that we have had a few customers cancel because our builds are taking a lot longer than we ever intended - and that is unfortunate. The vast majority of our customers have stuck with us and those who have received their campers are very happy. We are supporting them and we do plan on being here as a company to support them for many years. Those few customers who have cancelled are receiving the refundable portion of their deposits, in order and per the purchase/refund terms they agreed to. We expect to clear up the remaining refunds in a few weeks.

We are slow at getting updates out. This is because we are short staffed in the office and we’re working to deal with daily operational challenges. I am sorry for this and do apologize. We do try and update Facebook periodically and post a new YouTube vid when it is important. Typically though, anything we post in terms of an update leads to more sales inquiries - something we simply don't have the time to handle right now. We have pulled our pricing and we are not actively soliciting new sales until the production capacity is stable, allowing us make more accurate delivery estimates. Because of this, the numerous inquiries we do receive are largely going to remain unanswered for a few more weeks. Our ONLY priority is getting campers out the door and to do this, we are reinvesting in our process.

I freely admit that our schedule has slipped dramatically and I am sorry this has happened. There are lots of reasons behind this and perhaps someday I will have the time to lay it all out there for you in an article or in a series of blog posts. It has been one hell of an adventure.

At Inka we are not slapping builds together and we are in fact building a business that we expect to be here for a long time. Without a business there are no campers - it’s like the chicken and the egg - something has to come first and campers don’t materialize out of thin air. I personally can’t build these things by myself in any volume so technically, the business exists to build the campers.

I am very disappointed that I was unable to snap my fingers back in late 2016 and have everything align magically - funding, supply chain, employees, adhesive technologies, permitting, finishes, plywood quality, parts quality, documentation, consistent fabrication, etc, etc, etc - so we could ramp Inka Outdoor to hundreds of units a year instantaneously. Our planning did have us on track to be at a decent capacity by late 2017 and for many reasons - though ultimately because I was unwilling to release defective and substandard product to customers - that improved capacity did not happen. I lose sleep over this nightly.

The unique features built into our campers are complex and the quality level we insist upon - and that YOU demand - is not easy to attain. My personal crystal ball is broken and even with great advisors sharing their wisdom, manufacturing these campers is not easy. If it were, others would be having much greater success with a similar product and other company’s build times would be days to weeks, not 18+ months.

We do work every single day to build, train, document, innovate, communicate, source, whatever... this ain't easy. We have brought in experts who are experienced in manufacturing, we’re scaling up our supply chain, outsourcing many components, investing more capital AND we are realigning our methods to work with the labor pool that we have available to us. Our Q1 2019 goal is a 90 day build cycle for domestic units.

Comments about OPM (other people's money) are unhelpful, incorrect, based in no knowledge of our business and made without understanding what it takes to manufacturer a product. The deposits we have received so far wouldn’t cover payroll & rent - and I have yet to receive a paycheck from Inka Outdoor. We’ve invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in the company over 2017 and 2018 and I personally work six to seven days a week. We are committed to building this business and building great campers for our customers.

We believe in our product.

If you feel the need to comment here, please do so. If you have a meaningful suggestion, please contact me directly. If you are our customer, in our queue or considering becoming our customer, Thank You for your support.

-Mike Stanford,

President/Managing Member
Inka Outdoor, LLC
1236 Industrial Avenue
Suite 107
Gastonia, NC 28054
mike@inkaoutdoor.com
828-539-0842

PS: Inka Outdoor will not be commenting further on this thread. We have work to do.
 

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ottsville

Observer
Thank you for the well thought out response Mike @inkaoutdoor . I am glad the @Pathfinder7 started this thread because I had considered your company as a possibility for a teardrop(since decided to build something myself) and had suggested your company to two others (who will now be directed to this thread).

Just throwing something out for you to consider - you have obviously taken more orders than you have the ability to deliver in a timely manner and the delays seem to be caused by your business practices. Perhaps you should consider as an act of goodwill either temporarily reducing the amount you hold back for cancelled orders or eliminating it entirely. Doing something like that builds your reputation as much or more than building a solid product.
 

fireball

Explorer
There you go. Unless you bought unique materials to start building his particular camper, just give him and anyone else a full refund. You missed your estimated date by a large margin, and while it's understandable why that happened and I'm sure many appreciate the effort you are putting into it, if the above commentary is indeed true you'd be far better off in the long run to offer full refunds.

That's my $.02 as a fellow small business owner who wants to see companies in this industry succeed.
 
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