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What Happened When Something Happened?

Ducati Multistrada V4S Sport engine

It’s so unfortunate that I’ve developed an attitude that people or corporations will do as little as possible to satisfy a customer. 

I’m in the Boomer generation and grew up with great service across almost all industries. Either due to my aging soul or the reality of lowering service levels, I find myself much like the classic Blind Men and the Elephant story. Now with social media, “influencers” (I HATE that classification BTW), and tipping for self-service coffee, I’ve become jaded.

In May 2023 I took my 2022 Ducati Multistrada V4S Sport in for her two-year maintenance to Motor Cafe in Campbell, CA. It is not the dealer where I purchased the bike. After researching labor rates in the SF Bay Area I decided to visit their location to check it out. Loads of parking, a great customer waiting area that includes a water and coffee bar, and nice bathrooms. The staff I spoke with were friendly and knowledgeable.

After taking my bike in, the tech told me that two parts that are warranty replacements needed to be ordered. Center stand bolts and a lower heat shield. So once those came in, I’d need to return and have the work done while I waited.

During that service, they discovered ‘an oil weep,’ nothing serious, but I’d need to bring the bike back and leave it so they could fully assess the issue. I asked if it was safe to ride the bike home and was assured it would be fine. I felt safe heeding their advice because of the trust I had developed in the staff. Additionally, I had never seen an oil leak or had the oil level lower in the sight glass.

Ducati Multistrada V4S Sport invoice

Ducati Multistrada V4S Sport invoice

I arranged to have my gf follow me down to Motor Cafe so that I could leave my bike, hoping it would be a simple overnight fix. That was on June 1, 2023. Two days later the tech called to let me know that the fix would involve removing the entire engine to split the cases and repair the leak. Wow, holy shit were my thoughts.

The tech calmly explained that they would need to contact Ducati, but he assured me that the repair would be under warranty. I contacted Ducati Corporate through their website and the next day a rep answered my email after attempting to call me.

He let me know that the repair was indeed under warranty and that the Service Area Manager (SAM) would work with the dealer to assure the work was done as quickly as possible.

Parts required for Ducati Multistrada V4S Sport warranty work

Mechanic notes on Ducati Multistrada V4S Sport oil leak

Regular communication between myself, Motor Cafe, and Ducati corporate was reassuring, even though missing my bike was a daily occurrence. Parts needed to come from Italy to repair the bike. On June 29, 2023, TJ from the dealership called to let me know that my bike was ready.

Looking over my bike just before I left, I noticed that the left rubber footpeg insert was missing. I’ve changed my footpegs to SW-MOTECH and after the tech searched for it in the shop, he came out to tell me that it was not there. He felt that it must have fallen off during one of the test rides. Since they photograph the bike when received, he verified that it was on the bike when I dropped it off.

He said he’d order a new one and call me when it came in. Later that day he called me to let me know that the peg insert was ordered, but that they are only sold in pairs and that would give me both when they arrive since it was their issue.

So why am I writing about this experience? Having worked in a wide variety of industries during my working life, I know firsthand that the majority of people only write or talk about poor customer service. I’ve not been immune to that either. I purchased a Cake Kalk& and after only eight months, the battery failed. I asked Cake to replace the battery and they could not or more accurately would not. 

I negotiated with their CEO to refund my money and when one of the techs came to pick up my bike there was a brand new one in his van. When I asked what customer was getting it, he told me it was going to the media. So they could not send me a replacement battery, but they can supply the media with a full bike!

I compare what happened to the Cake to what happened to the Ducati. Having a battery fail is as serious as having to completely remove an engine. Both mean the bikes would not run, even though they are propelled by different methods. It’s like open heart surgery for both bikes, not an ingrown toenail.

Yet Ducati chooses to fix what was a minor problem under warranty to make it right for a customer while incurring over 6k in labor and parts expenses.

A few days after I brought my bike home I was contacted by Ducati corporate. They asked me when I took my bike in and when I got it back. Jun 1, 2023 to Jun 29, 2023. Two days later I get this in my email:

Ducati client appreciation dealer credit

I was flabbergasted by this gesture. Sure I missed my bike. Sure I thought about getting a loaner while she was gone. Sure a colleague told me with the 500.00 credit I could get a Ducati T-shirt and hat. (He’s sour grapes because his new Norden bike had an issue that was denied under warranty…until he told them about my experience.) The five hundred buck client appreciation certificate is to compensate me for the loss of time Joy was in the shop.

So what happened when this happened? Of course, I would have preferred to not have bad luck with the oil weep. Of course, I missed my bike for 28 days. Crummy luck turned into an incredibly positive experience for me with my dealer and Ducati Corporate.

Theoretically, If I have a choice of pilots when I fly commercially I’d ask for Sully Sullenberger. He’s a proven commodity in a dire emergency. I view Ducati in the same way now. So what happened was a shitty luck of the draw.

How it was handled is glorious.