Yamaha Still Trying to Satisfy Consumers Via Buy-Back Program

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Chris Hanekamp is among multiple R1 owners unhappy with Yamaha's Customer Assistance Program.

Californian Chris Hanekamp, owner of a 2000 Yamaha R1, is unhappy with Yamaha Motor Corp., USA. Hanekamp’s displeasure stems from a motorcycle buy-back program that’s the result of a lawsuit Yamaha and South Seas Cycle Exchange of Honolulu settled in 2007 with the California Air Resources Board (CARB).

The suit, filed in 2005, stemmed from a CARB investigation that started in 2002 and found that Yamaha had imported more than 400 motorcycles that failed to meet California emissions standards. Yamaha evidently registered the bikes in California, obtained state license plates, and then eventually sold some of them to state residents. In most cases, these were popular 1999 – 2002 R6 and R1 models that were in great demand and difficult to purchase in California. CARB said it found that one dealer, San Jose Yamaha, sold approximately 200 units to California residents.

Under terms of the agreement, Yamaha paid approximately $1.2 million to the California Air Pollution Control Fund, $500,000 to fund a project to test the impact of ethanol fuel blends on emissions from off-road gasoline engines, and $300,000 to the Office of the Attorney General for attorneys’ fees.

In addition to the financial penalties, Yamaha and South Seas Cycle Exchange started a vehicle purchase program to buy back and destroy or remove any motorcycles that had been identified as not having been certified for use or registration in California.

The vehicle purchase program launched in November 2007 with letters sent to consumers who had purchased the bikes in question. In the letter, Yamaha explains that the buy-back program – which the OEM calls a “Customer Assistance Program” – would use a starting valuation that’s an average between the high and low prices for the bike as provided in http://www.nadaguides.com, then adjust the offer based upon the condition of the bike, the mileage, and any accessories that have been added.

Hanekamp, one of multiple consumers who have declined Yamaha’s offer, purchased his R1 from San Jose Yamaha in September 2000. He says the bike has been “kept in immaculate condition,” has 12,000 miles logged, and has sentimental value because his father, who passed away in 2001, helped him make the purchase.

“I had made several attempts throughout the year to resolve this,” Hanekamp tells Dealernews. “I gave them two options: Either offer me the full price I had paid for the bike when I purchased it new or let me trade straight across for a 2009 model in exchange for my title. They did not want to budge on their offer of $6,500.

Contacted for this piece, Yamaha offered only that it is still working with multiple owners to resolve the situation.

“I‘m not going to give in to Yamaha Corp. wanting to solve their problem by buying my bike back at depreciated value,” Hanekamp says. “After all, they are the ones that created this mess and knew about it all along.”

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