Issues with Inka Outdoors

Michaelbestlynd

New member
Pathfinder 7, since you asked, I’ll chime in, as my experience with InkaOutdoor has been nothing but outstanding. I got in on the “ground floor” so to speak, with a trailer delivery in late summer of ’16, so its possible I may have gotten in before the flood of orders, but my deliver estimate was very close to the actual delivery. Mike was always quick to answer any questions I had (either via phone or email) and was honest and forthcoming about production timelines and any challenges that came up in the build process. I’m sorry that your experience was less than positive, but wanted to share a different perspective for the masses.

I think it’s well laid out in the response above how scaling a custom manufacturing business like this is incredibly difficult. InkaOutdoor’s product and price have spoken for itself in the number of orders it received, and that volume of interest has created big challenges in ramping up a small company. I can only imaging the details in just trying to hire, train and retain quality employees for this, let alone the thousand other things a small business owner with a growing business model has to accomplish on the daily.

It is discouraging to have people jump to conclusions about a new, home grown, US company (started by a husband and wife team) trying to build a quality product for a niche market without firsthand experience of the details, but I guess that’s the world we live in. I encourage you to do your research, talk to current owners, way your options with other manufactures, and come to your own conclusion before taking InkaOutdoor off your list.
 

Jmanscotch

is a Texan
I appreciate the situation Mike and his company are in and I support a small business trying to make their way in this great country, but all I see in his response is excuses.

You're executing a poorly planned business model, so claiming "I'm doing my best" isn't a fix. This doesn't mean you're not working hard or a good fella, but lets call it what it is. Making excuses and hiding behind, "but the contract you signed protects me!" is not a way to grow your business for the long term.

One way to get past setbacks, like you're experiencing, is to be excellent at customer service. So many businesses have lost the way of customer service in place of bean counting. When a company shows exceptional customer service, we notice as consumers. You're not in the camper building business, you're in the customer business...and right now you're failing at it.

You say things are suffering because you're focusing on building the highest quality campers without compromise, but if you don't take care of your customers, you're going to end up with a warehouse full of perfect campers and no one to buy them.

If I had put down a $9K deposit and was in these shoes, I'd definitely be a bit more unhinged than Pathfinder is. Then again, I work hard for my money and when others say they'll work hard to earn it from me...I hold them to the same standards as I hold myself doing my job. I understand Pathfinder's concern and reasoning behind this thread, and I hope it can all be resolved fairly.
 
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Pathfinder7

Member
Mike,


I do appreciate you coming here to post, and while I do not see anything blatantly untrue in your post, I do see nothing but a long list of excuses and perhaps a missed email from me.

Yes, I did sign a contract, but in that contract, there was also an estimated delivery date of April-May 2018. I do understand an estimate, but more than doubling that estimate (without ongoing communication) and then deciding I am the one in violation of the contract is wrong in my opinion. What is it that I did that violated the terms? I promised and delivered the funds to you, you promised a product in a given amount of time (8-9 months), then pushed it back, and pushed it back, without telling me until I asked after the "latest" due date. The "revised" due date was not even mentioned until I asked for an update in Jan 2018, at which point you told me "mid-summer" due to "relocation and upfit". The next time I heard from your company was in mid-June 2018 when I asked again for an update. Six months without even a peep...

In the same series of emails (which I can also post), one of your guys stated I was "penciled in" for October 2018 build, already 4 months behind the second estimate, but you stated the best case with 4-5 campers per month (more than double your historic build rate over the last year) that I could expect 5-6 months, so November or December 2018 now. By your own words, that is the best case. The realistic case is another 10-11 months putting me at the end of April 2019, or 20 months from my order date and double even the second estimate of 10 months.

This is all on you and your poor planning and business management. That's great for you that you have more orders than you can handle, but that's clearly it, you have more than you can handle. And instead of stopping new orders and focusing on those of us who have paid you money and waited patiently, you decide to retool, rehire, and revamp in hopes of making more products quicker, but at the expense of those who are waiting. That's not ok with me, and I seriously doubt it's ok with your other customers. So you keep these customers "sticking with you" by hiding behind your contract stating an open-ended "if you cancel we keep your money" clause. I firmly believe that will not hold in any court of law.

As to your statement that you have not stopped responding to my emails, I will direct you to your inbox on 21 JUN 2018 at 5:01 PM PDT. I replied to your email that had a long list of the same excuses you have shared here along with the statement that you are shifting from a "craftsman-focused operation to line manufacturing". My response was that my cancellation was due to the unreasonable delays created by your company and it created absolutely NO loss of revenue for you as no work had even begun on my camper. I even offered to pay a $500 cancellation fee for your time and trouble. That email was sent two weeks ago and I have received absolutely no response. I would say that fully qualifies as "stopped responding".

As I said in the email you missed or ignored, I will simply not accept paying a nearly $3000 fee for your company's failings that I had no part in. And I certainly do not expect that this post will create a different outcome for me. You seem to believe that you are justified in your excuses and the ironclad nature of the contract. My intent was to inform other members of this forum of something you were not willing to communicate, that you are way behind and are incapable of meeting estimates for orders placed as recently as December 2017. In regards to my issue with your company, I do not see any other avenue but to pursue some of the suggested options from my the members here. As I said, I will not accept a $3,000 fee so you can build an assembly line for your future customers.

I have tried to represent our interactions as honestly as I can see them from my perspective. If you see a mistake in my timeline or anything you consider as misleading or dishonest, please point it out and I will gladly point out the exact email I am referring.

Certainly, other viewpoints will differ, but everyone should be informed as to what their money is going towards and how long they should truly expect to wait for the product. As was mentioned earlier in this thread, I work very hard for my money and I expect anyone who entrust to provide a product or service to also work equally hard to deliver what was promised in a timely fashion.

I do not expect a response, and by your word and deed, I do not expect a voluntary refund. I will continue to do my best to keep the members of this forum informed of this unnecessary saga. And I will also do whatever is within my legal ability to protect myself and my hard earned money.


Thanks,

Rob
Lowly Customer
 
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Porkchopexpress

Active member
I spoke to a lawyer friend recently about contracts and while I forget the legal term, contracts can become invalid if one party acts in bad faith even if it is not specifically covered. The example I was given is if you are obligated by a lease but the landlord makes the living conditions unreasonable. As an impartial 3rd party who has read both sides presented in this thread, I believe you will likely recover your entire deposit if you pursue the matter legally.
 

Martyn

Supporting Sponsor, Overland Certified OC0018
I have lots of empathy for both sides here. Having been in the Overland trailer business since 2002 we have experienced just about every permutation of the struggles of production and doing everything we can to meet customers expectations. Let me just say the trailer business is a very hard one to be in, especially if you are just starting out. There are so many steps to the manufacturing process, all of which will go wrong if you stay in business long enough. Finding and keeping good staff is a challenge, and it’s frustrating when someone you trained and depend on leaves. Most Overland companies employ 10 - 12 people so when one person quits, one is sick, and one is on vacation it can have a huge impact on productivity, when you compare this to companies with 100 employees you can see how the odds are stacked against the small guys.

I also understand the business model where deposits fund builds. It about the only way to start a small company unless you have rich parents or luck out and find a bank that will lend you the money. When you tie the small number of employees, the funds, and the fact most people who start overland companies really don’t know how to run a business you can start to see that luck has a lot to do with success.

Happy customers are the key to successful small businesses, in fact any business. Adventure Trailers was lucky early on to have some good friends who were successful business people who offered us advice, they could see we were passionate about the industry and the product and these good people just gave us tidbits of business gold. Thank you so much to Scott Brady, Doug Hackney, Barry Andrews, James Roy, and others who’s names escape me, we couldn’t have done it without you.

Without these mentors we could easily have found ourselves in the same situation as Inka finds themselves in today. So I’d make a few suggestions.

Try and work out the differences
Refund the deposit if you can, but see if there is a way to work things out first
If you have manufacturing or financial expertise and you care about the Overland Industry send the owner of Inka an e mail and offer to help them for free. I would be happy to give some time of my own.
Communicate, in fact over communicate ( not my best quality but sound advice).

It would make me very happy if this matter could be worked out to everyone’s satisfaction.
 
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ottsville

Observer
Nice post @Martyn and good to see you post. I know there was a while when you and AT were pretty active here and I learned a lot from your posts.

I would be happy to give some time of my own.
This is what I love about this community - people are always offering to help and share knowledge and experience.
 

8480530

New member
When in doubt, give the customer’s money back. You shouldn’t take any money from anyone until you are ready to start work and buy materials for that particular customer’s trailer. So many business get bad press for doing stupid things like this... just give the money back
 

ottsville

Observer
When in doubt, give the customer’s money back. You shouldn’t take any money from anyone until you are ready to start work and buy materials for that particular customer’s trailer. So many business get bad press for doing stupid things like this... just give the money back
By the time an order is written for a custom trailer there has been several hours of work done communicating back and forth, settling on a design and any customization options, and generating either drawings or cad designs. There's no reason for a business to eat that cost but the first deposit should reasonably cover these costs and be non-refundable with a second installment being taken when construction begins.

At least that's how I would do it. In construction jobs I've run, I pay my subs an installment on material delivery with further installments at certain completion points with the final payment being made after an acceptable final inspection.
 

8480530

New member
Agree but the practice of taking money for nothing as a “deposit” and putting it in a general operating account is not ok - but very common. This is how people get in over their heads... taking from Peter to pay Paul.

When in doubt, give the customer’s money back. You shouldn’t take any money from anyone until you are ready to start work and buy materials for that particular customer’s trailer. So many business get bad press for doing stupid things like this... just give the money back
By the time an order is written for a custom trailer there has been several hours of work done communicating back and forth, settling on a design and any customization options, and generating either drawings or cad designs. There's no reason for a business to eat that cost but the first deposit should reasonably cover these costs and be non-refundable with a second installment being taken when construction begins.

At least that's how I would do it. In construction jobs I've run, I pay my subs an installment on material delivery with further installments at certain completion points with the final payment being made after an acceptable final inspection.
 

NORDFORD

Member
I won’t be buying a trailer any time soon if ever. Based on what I’ve read today, I’m torn. Would I be upset if I was Pathfinder7? Absolutely. Do I empathize with Mike/Inka? Absolutely. It sounds to me like a lack of communication has been the issue. I’m in sales, when there is an issue with an order, I’m calling, emailing, texting the best I can. It’s hard and sometimes customers simply don’t understand how/why something can be backordered. Every single piece of my industry is affected by the lack of skilled labor or people that understand the basic customer service model.

While it sounds like Inka is having production issues, it also sounds like they are not willing to compromise quality. This is a huge plus in my opinion.

I would have been on a flight out there already touring the facility and meeting The people running the show. I just finished a large kitchen remodel. I spent $28k on cabinets. I went with a shop 4 hours away. He was higher and took longer than the local guys. Why would I do that? I toured his shop and the local guys. While the local guys had nice facilities and certainly had a quality product, all 3 of them acted put out when I visited their shop unannounced. My guy met me with handshake and and took 30 minutes to show me their whole operation. He had no idea I was coming, I’d never met him in person and it just worked for me to stop in as I was in the area for business. Sold. Right then and there.
 

Martyn

Supporting Sponsor, Overland Certified OC0018
Nice post @Martyn and good to see you post. I know there was a while when you and AT were pretty active here and I learned a lot from your posts.



This is what I love about this community - people are always offering to help and share knowledge and experience.
I don’t post up as often as I used to. This forum has matured over the years and we have a membership that has good experience and can offer sound advice. When the community was first forming it relied on a few of us to share experiences but now there is a wealth of information available. It’s been wonderful to was the group grow.
 

Ovrlnd Rd

Adventurer
I'm trying to determine whether I want a trailer or a Habitat Topper but either way I'm leaning more to buying used. If I can find something clean that has most of my wish list then why would I waste a year or more of my life waiting for a new one? I haven't bought a new vehicle since 2004 so can't see buying new in this instance either.
 

Pathfinder7

Member
I really appreciate everyone's advice and support. Martyn, thank you for sharing a perspective from a builders point. I really do think these guys have a lot of potential, but I feel they are screwing the pooch right now. If another owner could reach out and offer some advice on what has worked or not for them in the past that might really help. I really would like them to succeed and be able to produce a great product in a reasonable amount of time, but I am not willing to just donate my money to the cause. I would still agree to pay a $500 cancel fee to cover any time they have spent on my design, but only until I have to start involving external resources next week.

I just want this resolved so I can move on with my life. This is a good chance to get some good PR and goodwill from their customers. I have already purchased an Into the Wild Boreas XT from Colorado. It's not everything that I was having built into the Inka trailer, but it is pretty close, quite a bit cheaper, and most importantly to me and my kiddos, built and ready to roll off the lot. We can start using the product and enjoy this year instead of wasting time waiting another year in hopes of getting this one.
 
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