Lengthy delays and broken promises has Braaap customers fighting for answers.

Following our recent story detailing the tumultuous history of Australian motorcycle distributor Braaap, which included allegations of fraud dating back to 2016, a number of its current customers have come forward to express new grievances with the brand.

“It’s a great write up but there’s so much more to tell that’s been developing since November last year,” Braaap customer Michael Collie told INFO MOTO.

In October of last year, Collie saw a ‘pre-launch’ promotion for a Braaap ST250 Shadow Cafe Racer, priced from $1990 plus GST and on-road costs.

Michael purchased the model and was told that he would receive the bike in December of that year. He noted that his invoice included a $250 lifetime warranty option, which he says he did not explicitly request.

At time of writing, more than six months since paying the invoice, Michael has yet to take delivery.

“[The Braaap ST250] deal definitely seemed like something great, I wanted to support a local company,” said Michael.

“I’d rather spend local (even though it’s a Chinese bike) but support the local company nonetheless.”

On December 16, Michael asked Braaap for an update on his purchase.

“I found out three days before I was supposed to get my bike that it’s not even in Australia yet,” he said.

“They told me they were dealing with ‘government approvals’.”

Over the next month, Michael received a number of emails trying to up-sell him with aftermarket parts, but still had no indication as to when he would receive his bike.

“On January 16 we got another message saying there is more delays associated with [production], the same again on the 12th of February, and so I started to do a bit of research into Braaap, Brad [the company’s founder] and the practices of the company.”

Michael read of a previous situation that saw Braaap founder Brad Smith and a then-employee charged with fraud.

Braaap Motorcycles founder Brad Smith.

New South Wales detectives alleged that the pair were part of a syndicate to scratch off and replace the serial numbers belonging to Braaap’s Cafe Racer model. It was alleged that 85 ST250 motorcycles were “rebirthed” and resold.

The situation may have hurt the brand, but it remained in business.

Following advice from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), Collie requested that he be refunded, however Braaap boss Smith said he didn’t have “funds held to offer refunds”.

“I’m on your side and I want you to have a bike” Smith told Collie in April.

“But I am stuck because I don’t have funds held to offer refunds in these situations.

“This leaves me with the only option to ask people wait.”

Censoring complaints

Collie reached out on social media to see if others were experiencing similar problems with the brand.

“I really started to go through the comments and I reached out to a few people and said ‘I’m concerned, have you actually got your bike yet?’”

“I started to realise that no one has actually got their bikes.”

Braaap founder Brad Smith hosts regular Q&A live streams on Facebook.

Collie alleges that complaints on Braaap’s social media pages are often deleted in an attempt to preserve its reputation, and so dissatisfied Braaap customers now share their grievances in a private forum. There is at least 72 users currently in the group.

Smith suggested to a previous member of the group, following a legal battle over a warranty-related dispute, that Braaap would cover “reasonable costs” of a repair as long as they are committed to resolving “this hate campaign” towards the company.

“I told [Brad Smith] on a few occasions I didn’t own this Facebook group and I couldn’t delete it,” a source told INFO MOTO.

“Eventually I left the group and showed him a screenshot to prove it, and this was good enough for him to allow me the privilege of reimbursement of my repair costs but nothing else.”

Braaap responds

Mr Smith says that while it is true that customers are experiencing significant delays, some are involved in a “witch hunt” to hurt the brand.

“Yes we have delays in receiving Import Approvals from the Aus Government,” he said.

“We will receive them though and have letters of intent to approve from the department.

“I go on Facebook live every week and also on Zoom to communicate with customers on top of dozens of calls each week to do our best to navigate through this unexpected delay.

“98 per cent of our customers are passionate and kind, there are two per cent who are on a witch hunt to cause us pain regarding these delays so I worry about giving it any media attention.”

“The question I have is, considering these customers have my phone number and have access to my self, my family and my team via either email, phone or the Zoom conferences then why do they need your input or any media group input unless they are out to cause problems?”

Braaap ST250 Cafe Racer 2020.

Mr Smith also provided reasoning for deleted Facebook comments.

“Yes we delete comments on our Facebook page, if someone is creating hate speech or is only on there to write negative comments then we will delete them.

“Please look on our posts as we leave negative comments up and in my interviews I even ask for negative comments so it’s authentic, but if a person is writing constant negative comments that are really just to bring us down then yes, we delete them.

“We in no way hide from our problems with the current delay hence why we bring it up every week. Also note all our marketing for people buying bikes today is around us making it “worth the wait” and warning people that the delivery date is an estimate so everyone is clear before they buy.”

The Shadows

Braaap still advertises its ST250 Shadow Cafe Racer “pre-launch” offering on its website, but has adjusted the delivery date to July 15.

The promotion now says the delivery date is “adjusted to include Corona delays”, while pricing remains unchanged at $1990 plus GST.

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