Motorbike rental Remote Asia / James Barbush - our experience

Discussion in 'Laos - General Discussion Forum' started by Harry, Jan 31, 2012.

  1. Harry

    Harry Active Member

    At first, my friend Josh and me,wanted to rent at and go to Laos with the bikes. This failed, because these guys are very unprofessional. I'll tell this story later.
    From BKK I rang up james B. and asked him, if we could get two 250cc bikes for about 3 weeks. We could 2 days later, great. Took the next flight to VTE, where James B. brought us the bikes to our guesthouse.
    The bikes were old, but overall in useable condition.James B. told us, one speedo isn't working and we should check the oil twice a day. The tires were almost new, the rear brake pads too. As the discs were worn, this meant, the rear brake wasn't really effective. No problem.
    We got the bikes and paid for 18 days (32$ each) then, because they were reserved later. After about one week, we were sure, to finish our trip some days earlier and I sent James B. an email. I wrote, that we were back in VTE about 3 days earlier and if he had another customer for the bikes, he should let me know. No answer to this point from James B.
    After 16 days we gave the bikes back and told Jim, what we noticed with the bikes. We gave him accurate information about the oil consumption of one of the bikes and that the other speedo wasn't working after a couple of days. So far, so good.
    Later that day, we saw ,,our'' bikes again near our guesthouse and met both riders, also German. We told them our experience with the bikes (oil consumption, speedos etc.). They were told, like us, to check the oil twice a day, no information about the other broken speedo.
    They rent the bikes only a couple of hours after we gave it back to James B., after 2600km and very much dirt road. Has there been any maintenance between? As none of the speedos were working, I don't think so.

    According to the rental contract we had no right to get back money for the 2 overpaid days, I knew that. But do you think it is o.k., James B. got the money twice for this 2 days? I think it's a question of honesty.

    PS.: Met a french couple later, which rent 2 similar bikes at Jules Classic rental for 25$ each and they were satisfied.

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  3. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Ol'Timer

    Sounds about par for the course as far as rentals go in Laos...

    As for not getting your money back for two unused days.... Well, if you check in to a hotel for a week, pre-pay and check out two days early does the hotel refund your money?

    Sounds like supply is short and demand is high for these bikes? If that's the case, then chances are the rental company could have rented those bikes out for the two days you booked but didn't use... And in the end they DID rent them out the same day you returned them. If I owned the business I'd meet you half way and credit you for HALF, or one day. Honestly I don't know what the accepted and proper thing to do is in such a situation.

    Is $32 a day times 4 worth getting upset over? IMO no, but to each their own...

    Other than these minor annoyances did you have a good trip? Would love to see a trip report!

    Happy Trails!

  4. mikehohman

    mikehohman Ol'Timer

    Well said Tony. I agree. 2600km on the dirt and apparently no real problems with the bikes. Sounds like you got a good deal! Damn, i am jealous. Not sure what you need a speedo for anyway on the dirt in Lao.

    I don't think it's a question of honesty. Jim was honest, the contract up front states the rules. I think maybe it's more a question of business policy. Jim has a policy and he sticks to it. I don't see anything wrong with that. But if that policy costs him some repeat business, then maybe he should reconsider. To me it's a business question, not ethics.

    The nice 'middle ground' is a 2-day credit on your next rental. Not sure if you discussed that with him.

    I've rented from Jim once and the bikes were great, no problems. Going back in 3 weeks and paid a little more for Jim, as i've had a good experience. A hassle free day with no breakdowns is worth so much more than a few dollars.

    And come on, let us hear about your trip!!

  5. jimoi

    jimoi Ol'Timer

    I would like to reply:

    The bikes were booked for 18 days and returned early. I did inform Harry that early returns were up to him and non-refundable. He did email me asking to inform him if I could get other clients for the 2 days and I did not - so I did not email him back. As for the bikes going out again the same day, it's not typical but the bikes received a full service at the shop with all the mechanics on them. The basic points - oil change, bearing inspection, air filter cleaning, carb drop, plug change, valve adjustment, brake inspection, tire check, electrical check, test ride and so on. The bikes were returned at 12 noon and delivered to the new clients at 17:30, if those bikes were not ready for another rental of 12 days I would not have sent them out. I'd prefer not to have bikes break down so making sure they are correct is important.

    The 2 new clients that got those bikes were booked on 15 November 2011 and it was not a walk up booking. Rotation of the inventory is up to us and the decision to roll those 2 units was based on the inventory rotation and mechanical state. It's been 5 days since and the second set of riders on those bikes are doing fine and having no mechanical difficulty at all. All the mechanical issues were addressed including the rich running of the carb requiring no choke.

    Getting clients set with dates is important as bike rentals are becoming increasingly more demanding time wise with the inventory and getting clients to take the 2 bikes from this rental for 2 or 3 days was pretty impossible as the rental requests we turned down over this period were for 10 + days and did not fit into the rotation schedule.

    Information about checking oil twice a day is a standard request. I have no idea how hard someone runs the bike during the day so the rule of thumb is to check the oil 30 minutes into the ride after the oil heats up and last thing at the end of the day. Air cooled engines run really hard, well an ounce of prevention is what we're after. Riders are also asked to check the rear rack and tires daily as well. I also ask riders to call me if bikes are not running right and do supply a Lao Sim card with credit to do so. I received no calls that the bike in question was consuming oil. The only mechanical issue was a chain issue that was not really an issue. I would have ridden that bike further on the same set up.

    Upon return of the bike, the engine frame was covered with oil and the exhaust was burning off overflow oil. The dipstick was not securely tightened and oil was most likely pushed past the screw top. I only can see what I can see and this led me to believe the oil consumption might have been due to not closing the cover. Inspection of that bike showed the valves were within specs, only a little off the feeler gauge. I know as I was there for the opening of the valve covers.

    Speedo broken, yes - it's been a constant problem to keep the electric speedos going on the bikes as the roads are pretty shot here and all the vibration and shock goes up the head to that point. The speedo is secured by a set of screws and not a really great design by Honda but out of all the fleet, I'd say most are working and replacements are in the works. Sorry about that but it's a rental bike and they are taking a great deal of use and to keep one out of the rotation for a non-engine related problem is a tough choice. In this case, it was a snapped cable at the hub.

    As for the explanation of the non-working speedo to the following clients, I did spend my usual time with the next riders and showed them it was non-functioning but did go through the other one that was working fine. My usual ride checks were covered with the new clients for the bikes like I've done with the other few hundred rentals.

    To be called out for not being honest is interesting. I've built this business on my reputation as an operation that provides quality service for our rates. Of the thousands of rental days we've serviced in the past 5 years, I've never had anyone question this with Remote Asia or our services. We have unhappy clients from time to time but mostly from heavy abuse of the gear and rather large repair bills but all prices are set and riders do get a base list of replacement part prices in Baht/Kip/USD before they sign the contract.

    I think Harry did enjoy the ride - aside from this. 2 bikes, 2600 km per bike and no stoppage due to mechanical or puncture? That's normal for us, the bikes run very well.

    If you are unhappy because of the 2 days non-refundable, I did explain this to you at the beginning before you signed the contract and paid me so this was clear. We are in the middle of high season and work on dates - when you want the bike and when you return it, pretty easy stuff.

  6. Harry

    Harry Active Member

    As I already said before: Under normal circumstances I wouldn't expect to get money back for this 2 overpaid days, because I signed the contract with this conditions.
    Here it's a little bit different. Jim knew, the bikes will be rent immediately after we bring it back (but didn't answer to my email in this point).
    Shall he be happy with the extra money. Honesty is something different in my opinion.

  7. jimoi

    jimoi Ol'Timer

    Dear Harry,

    No additional money was profited from your rental.

    The bikes originally scheduled for rent to the 2 German riders that took those units sat in the warehouse - un-rented for the next 4 days. You had originally asked for 21 days and we kept the end 3 day gap open. I did not rent any bikes for 2.5 days to make up your early return time.

    I am glad you had a good time in Laos and the bikes I rented you ran well, you had no mechanical delays and you did not have to use anything from the remote area tool kit or call me on the Lao Sim card I gave you. I hope the time I spent with you at the hotel outlining the routes and offering advice on where to ride and what to do was helpful. I was also happy to get the bikes to you the evening before your rental started so you could depart as early as you wanted to. I was also no problem to store all your bags while you were out enjoying the ride in Laos and return them to you at your hotel when I picked up the bikes at the end of your tour. Going back to before you got here, I also remember trying to help you out at the airport in Bangkok when you were denied boarding by an uptight Thai Air check in agent, the two calls I made to Bangkok and Thai didn't seem to work and oddly enough, I've had 8 more clients enter Laos on Thai Air without return tickets, I wonder what the issue was at check in for you?
  8. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Ol'Timer

    Bravo Jim for your outstanding customer service and very level headed response to the issues Harry has reported.

    I will be renting from you next time I go to Laos!

    Wishing you continued success with your business.

    Happy Trails!

  9. Harry

    Harry Active Member

    ,,or call me on the Lao Sim card I gave you''

    Wrong. I bought a Lao Sim card on my own and called you
    up, to make an appointment with you.
    It seems, I gave you a good opportunity for promotion and self-expression...
  10. FrankT

    FrankT Ol'Timer

    We have rented from Jim before and had no problems with the bikes (apart from missing/falling off mirros) or his service (which I think is good). Having said that I spotted 2 of Jules bikes on the road during our recent Laos trip and they looked in a better general conditon than Jim's bikes we had rented for our trip.
  11. mikehohman

    mikehohman Ol'Timer

    :lol: Harry, you crack me up! Another bitter pill to swallow... :)

    Anyway, hope you had a nice trip to Lao. I would give anything for 3 weeks off to ride around. The best I can manage is about 4 days per trip, a couple times a year.
  12. Harry

    Harry Active Member

    Hi Mike,

    of course I'm happy, I could do a trip through Laos for the third time now. Nethertheless I do not like statements, which aren't true, like Jim did.

    PS.: I saw you also made some great trips:)
  13. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Harry any chance of A trip report from you?
  14. Harry

    Harry Active Member

    Hi David,

    our trip wasn't too spectacular (compared to some others here), but we have some nice pics. I'll try later at home.


    PS.: I met you in Loei about 2 years ago, where I was travelling with my bicycle. You bought a
    bottle of wine, when I approached you.... do you remember?
  15. Rhodie

    Rhodie Ol'Timer

    Where did you go riding for 2500 klicks? It would be good to read.
    I'm sorry that you believe you feel the need to call Jimoi's integrity into question as many on here have used him and know him well and indeed are repeat business users of his services - which in Laos imo are second to none.
    Hope you have a better experience next time.
  16. jimoi

    jimoi Ol'Timer

    moving on....
  17. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Ol'Timer

    Let's move on guys.
  18. Harry

    Harry Active Member

    Point 1: We have NEVER been talking about your SIM Card and I bought my own in VTE.
    Point 2: 50% refund, which will go to MAG Lao, is a really funny suggestion. I supported MAG already by buying
    some of their merchandising. Do what ever you like to do with the overpaid money, but
    don't call it refund.


    PS.: The translation machine you were using is terrible....
  19. nikster

    nikster Ol'Timer

    Thats Laos for you... things are a little different over there...

    I was going to rent from remote asia but: while the website looks great and offers lots of great gear for rent (even a helmet cam, how fantastic!), none of that was actually available. And none of it could be rented in Luang Prabang. Getting bikes to / from LP was also a big deal and pretty expensive. In the end it turned out there were only Honda FTRs available.

    So we rented in Chaing Mai and rode bikes into Laos which worked out great. Bikes had electrical issues as the battery died on us several times. But other than that no probs and working speedos... easy enough to push start a klx 250.

    Still if all the gear and all the bikes were actually available next time, id rent at remote asia... I think the problem when we were trying to rent was that it was high season and everything was rented out. And one has to keep in mind that Laos in general is the "no can do" country. There is a reason its so backwards. Even the simplest things can be very hard / impossible to do...

    @Harry - which part about "No refunds" did you not understand? ;)
  20. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Ol'Timer

  21. hsracer 369

    hsracer 369 Member

    Yes, yes....thank you, Brian...I would agree, use Laos Adventure Riders next time...But rather than continue shameless self promotion, I do want to say another thing to Harry and others trying to decide if Jim is a good option.

    If it isn't clear by the above, Jim and I are both in the same business. As a colleague and competitor ( I guess) I can tell you, Harry, and anyone else, when it comes to honesty, integrity, and just plain old good customer service and professionalism, Jim and his wife hit it out of the park. For those not sure what that means, it means they are 100% reliable and honest, even in light of mistakes that happen.

    2 things to point out, Harry. Just think back to the very first contact you had with Jim. You and he, strangers and no guarantee of income for JIm. A dude helping a dude. BY your own words, he was a good ally to have in your situation,right? correct.

    And 2nd, we are dealing with mechanical items in a 3rd world nation. That means that no, everything will not always be perfect. Stuff breaks. You can inspect so many things that are "fine" now, and go south quickly a few hours later. And small things, like a speedo, may get "pushed aside" while waiting for the slow boat to arrive with spares. Did you really need confirmation that you were driving 80KMH as opposed to 85? C'mon, don't be petty.

    Do you really think Jim was so helpful and accommodating all the way up to the point you feel like he screwed you for a few bucks? Do you think we are all hurting that bad for business here? No. As you stated in your email, the bikes were already turned around and out again. Business is booming and there is no need to make enemies over a few dollars.

    So cool your jets, re think every single event and how you were treated, and just own up to it...we are all human, sometimes things go wrong, and maybe everyone is a little to share in the blame here.

    But to make accusations like you did, just immature and not based in fact.

    And with that said, if you still aren't sure you want to use Jim, we offer the same products/services/spares/maps in addition to 5 CRMs for guided tours, PLUS free use of all the safety gear we have with your 7 day rental. More than 12 pairs of boots, armor jacket, knee guards, gloves, you name it! As long as you are a xxxs, size 46 shoe, and uhhh...Just kidding, wide ranges from Big to Small!


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