Sampson Sport Touring
Manufacturers of fuel cells, backrests, highway pegs, etc.


In fairness to Sampson, we have included their response at the end of this report.

Note that the complaints here is not about their PRODUCTS, about which we make no comment.
Our concerns are with their ATTITUDE.  If you were to purchase (against our recommendation) from them, we hope that you have no problems with the products so you won't have deal with them, as this could be a painful experience.

Our first alert to a problem with Sampson came from Jeremy McGowan, a member, on SabMag, our sister list. (For owners of Honda Sabres, Magnas and other V-4 bikes).   I have been looking and looking for a place that would make a custom fuel cell for my 96. I wanted it to go on the front forks and look like a tool bag. I had contacted who makes a ton of other type of fuel cells and found they could do it as well. However they were going to charge $350.00 for the job. I sent an email back to them explaining that I was a member of SABMAG, and MRA and said that I would be happy to pass a good word around if we could get the price dropped a tad.

The email I got back was appalling. Their representative, Terry Smith, sent me back an email that was not only unprofessional, but rude.

First, he did not bother to take the time to get my name right, last time I checked I was Jeremy - not Jerry. My name was all over the email. Second, he flat out stated that he was not going to "argue" about the price and that group discounts weren't that big of a deal to them. Said it could be done but I had to collect the orders, money, pay the deposit, and ship the product my self.

HA! So, if you are planning on using they may do good work- never got a chance to find out - , but watch out...they seem to be a bit grumpy.

Jeremy's concerns were confirmed by Russell Stephan, a participant in last year's Iron Butt Rally (also of the SabMag list).   Last winter as I was preparing for my IBR effort I contacted them about purchasing a rear fender cell for the ST. They didn't list credit cards as a payment method so I inquired about payment options.  The response I received was very much like the one Jeremy received.  Their first answer was short and to the point, "No, we don't do credit cards. However, you can pay via CC to Paypal."

My follow-up email stressed my concern about purchasing a $1000.00 fuel cell without having the safety net of credit card consumer protection.  At the time I hadn't heard anything about satisfied customers using the Sampson product and I was hesitant to put that much dosh on the line with an unproven company.

Their second email response was what I would call excessively hostile.  To tell you the truth, it surprised the hell out of me. I even reread my CC question email again and again trying to figure out what caused the ruffed feathers.

In the end, I decided to fabricate my own fuel cell rather than risk future problems with a company that can't seem to handle product and payment questions. Just think how they would be if you had some type of problem with the unit? "It must be an end-user defect," would probably be their response!

If I run the Butt again I plan to get a rear fender mounted cell rather than the luggage mounted set-up I used in 2001.  A Givi top box will then go on the back rack. The other big change to my equipment list will be a flip-up helmet. I really underestimated the utility of such head gear when attempting to eat while still geared up.

Sampson is pretty much the only player still offering the Major-type fuel cell for the ST as far as I am aware. As much as I hate dealing with PITA companies, I'll have to swallow my pride if I go with the rear cell in the future.

Just another data point issued for consideration.

Based on these reports, we recommend that you think carefully before purchasing products from Sampson, and purchase elsewhere if possible.

Sampson responds:

On 4/18, we received this response from Terry Smith at Sampson. Hi Marc "Merlin" Mauss, you wrote on 4/8/2002 3:49:34 AM:

Very interesting and thanks for forwarding the comments. Amazing how words and comments change to suit the situation.

"Second, he flat out stated that he was not going to "argue" about the price and that group discounts weren't that big of a deal to them. Said it could be done but I had to collect the orders, money, pay the deposit, and ship the product my self."

He failed to state this was the 3rd email about a discount. I said we could do a group build/buy but one person needed to collect the orders, money, pay the deposit, and ship the product after we bulk shipped to him.

The next lines are my response which I don't feel was rude.

"I won't argue price as "1-offs" are custom made. If you can get a group buy going for an initial order we can work with getting the price down. We do group buy deals on occasion, here's how it works:

1. We communicate with 1 person only.

2. That person collects all the money and sends us 1 check for 50% before we start.

3. Upon notice of completion, you would send the balance.

4. We ship to that person, they then reship to the individuals.

Depending on number of units, from your approval of design to shipping is about a month.




The second writer was incorrect as our price is $680, not $1000. We work on a tight margin on the fuel cells as we dropped the price roughly $300 from what the previous retailer was charging believe it or not. And we not only build to the same standard we have improved the product.

I did tell him we don't take credit cards directly but he could use PayPal. I really don't remember a second response.

I do appreciate your email and the opportunity to respond as we have many, many satisfied and even repeat customers so we do listen to you. We monitor a few lists so if there is any perceived or real problem with our products we will contact that person directly to try to work it out.

I don't feel "No, we don't do credit cards. However, you can pay via CC to Paypal." was rude. Short perhaps, but I did answer his question. We do give long responses as fits the situation.



Terry Smith
Sampson Sport Touring

My take on the situation: None of the "complaints" dealt with Sampson PRODUCTS.  No one even had a complaint about returns or anything like that.  The only complaints were with respect to Sampson's apparently tactless method of communicating.  We made assumptions about how Sampson would treat customers with problems based only on the "tone of voice" that they used in pre-sales communications.

Unless someone tells me otherwise, I have to give Sampson the benefit of the doubt and assume that their business practices are actually customer-oriented.  At the same time, I hope that sampson (for their own benefit) will become aware of how they are perceived by potential customers.

Sampson, without realizing it, killed these two potential sales, not (apparently) because of anything concrete, but by their poor communication skills.  Even if that is their sole failing, it will hurt them severely.  No one knows how many other people have refused to complete purchases from Sampson for reasons similar to these.