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  1. #1
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    Upset Curtlo - still in business?

    Usually I try to sort out things on my own, but in this case I would appreciate feedback, if possible.

    Can`t get hold of Curtlo, no replies to emails, attempts to call (from overseas) failed.
    I wouldn`t bother, if my brother wouldn`t have made a 50% payment moths ago already.
    The agreed delivery date is months ago, we even haven`t seen a drawing yet.
    Since the payment went thru, no signs of life, no replies to emails - nothing.

    In case anyone would like to share some news/information with me, please pm me.

  2. #2
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    Pretty soon you're going to have legions of custom builder advocates and other custom builders that will fault YOU for this and start taking shots at your behavior and asking you to look inward and why Doug won't answer you, despite the fact that you're not the only one complaining about zero contact and no delivery and money that has vanished.

    Just want to advise you of that ugliness that usually follows any legit complaint of a custom builder.

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  4. #4
    local trails rider
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    I just know that his pricing has been very attractive, and consequently waiting times long.

    There was talk about one of his frames failing a while ago. Don't know how that may have affected him professionally or personally. (Sometimes big brand frames fail too)

    "it IS possible that you are faster or slower than anybody else who is having at least as much if not more or less fun"

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by junktrunk
    Pretty soon you're going to have legions of custom builder advocates and other custom builders that will fault YOU for this and start taking shots at your behavior and asking you to look inward and why Doug won't answer you, despite the fact that you're not the only one complaining about zero contact and no delivery and money that has vanished.

    Just want to advise you of that ugliness that usually follows any legit complaint of a custom builder.
    thx, I expect that to happen.....
    am more worried about my brother`s cash, he works hard for it and this is his first experience with a custom builder.

  6. #6
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    Have him dispute the charges with his credit card company, get his money back, and move on. I'd be pissed if I was in the same situation. If you can't even get a return call or email, and you have no product, he's effectively stolen your brother's money. Custom builders shouldn't be held exempt from following standard and proper business practices, no matter how boutique their frames may be.

    If you take money for a product (especially with an up front deposit), you promise something on a specific date, you deliver. Period. If there's a delay it should be on YOU to contact the customer, not make the customer hound you over and over again for a reply.
    Gotta get up to get down.
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  7. #7
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    Right or wrong, it is not Doug's style to return emails or calls until it is your time in the queue. When I bought my frame, it took close to a year to hear from Doug. I never lost hope and I did get my frame. I was quoted "at least 12 weeks". It was about 52 from deposit to delivery.

    Your brother should be fine, but having been there it is unsettling to not hear anything for so long. I suspect he is still in business building bikes every day.

    There are a few posts here on MTBR with lots of folks whose orders were handled the same way. I can say that the finish of the frame with the fillet brazed welds is great, but the fit and handling is not what I wanted from the frame. Sadly.
    Thanks to www.weavercycleworks.com for my awesome bike frames!

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Manicmtbr
    Right or wrong, it is not Doug's style to return emails or calls until it is your time in the queue. When I bought my frame, it took close to a year to hear from Doug. I never lost hope and I did get my frame. I was quoted "at least 12 weeks". It was about 52 from deposit to delivery.

    Your brother should be fine, but having been there it is unsettling to not hear anything for so long. I suspect he is still in business building bikes every day.

    There are a few posts here on MTBR with lots of folks whose orders were handled the same way. I can say that the finish of the frame with the fillet brazed welds is great, but the fit and handling is not what I wanted from the frame. Sadly.
    I don't care if he's Leonardo Da Vinci reincarnated, I don't understand why people continue to do business while receiving such sh*t service. I keep seeing these threads and just don't understand why people give these custom builders a free pass all the time. Bad service is bad service. I'm sure there are other custom builders with better service. A YEAR? F that! For that entire year you could have been riding and enjoying something else. I wish I could blow off my customers for a year, never communicate with them, and just finish the work when I get around to it. There's no way I'd keep my job.

    BTW, I work in IT security and not the bike industry so I have no bias or vested interest in this thread. I just don't understand why people put up with this crap, especially when you're paying a premium to get treated this way. The only reason they do it is because they can get away with it. I think the OP has every reason to be pissed. For the price of the frames I'm sure he could afford to hire some high school kid to handle phone calls and emails. I guarantee that dude isn't driving a Kia. Speak with your wallet, ask for your money back. If you don't get it, dispute the charges with your credit card company and take your money elsewhere. I'm sure he has a few more customers in line bent over waiting to get screwed anyway.
    Last edited by BaeckerX1; 09-21-2010 at 09:57 PM.
    Gotta get up to get down.
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by BaeckerX1
    A YEAR? F that! For that entire year you could have been riding and enjoying something else. I wish I could blow off my customers for a year, never communicate with them, and just finish the work when I get around to it. There's no way I'd keep my job.
    I already said it but...

    His low prices and usually good products have attracted a lot of people. So there's lots of people in line to get one of his frames. "At least 12 weeks" sounds a bit optimistic.

    The man needs to eat and sleep sometimes too. He might actually be better off refusing some jobs, to shorten the queue.

    "it IS possible that you are faster or slower than anybody else who is having at least as much if not more or less fun"

  10. #10
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    fine with me, but we talk about a committed delivery date, 50% prepayment and since then it`s quiet.

  11. #11
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    You can try the dispute method, but I think you can only dispute a charge on your credit card within 60 days of the statement date. Perhaps someone here knows better?

    To be clear, I do not agree with this business model. It was frustrating to wait so long and not hear anything. From Doug's POV, he could keep his email in box empty if he just had a simple blog to update where people are on the build list (ala Walt) and people would not feel like something fishy is going on.

    If I could do it again, I would not choose a Curtlo.
    Thanks to www.weavercycleworks.com for my awesome bike frames!

  12. #12
    FM
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    Quote Originally Posted by Manicmtbr
    Right or wrong, it is not Doug's style to return emails or calls until it is your time in the queue.
    My experience as well. Mine took 8 months if I recall correctly.
    Towards the end I was getting very frustrated and nearly pulled out... but then my turn came... once he started on my frame, it took only 2 weeks from drawing to paint to shipping. Still a long wait- make sure you've got another bike to ride!

    Quote Originally Posted by Manicmtbr
    I can say that the finish of the frame with the fillet brazed welds is great, but the fit and handling is not what I wanted from the frame. Sadly.
    That is a bummer.
    My case was unique in that I basically supplied exactly the design I was looking for (drawn up in CAD). The geometry was based on other bikes I had ridden and liked. I got exactly what I expected... my advice to the OP's brother would be to do homework while he is waiting so he can offer input and make sure he gets what he's expecting.

    As always.. if you have a different riding style or body type/size than the builder (any brand), they may not understand your needs. In my case, I wanted something free-ride friendly, and I know Doug has more of an XC/Road/Touring background. Sure enough we had different ideas about fit, but he was happy to make what I asked for.

    Quote Originally Posted by BaeckerX1
    I don't care if he's Leonardo Da Vinci reincarnated, I don't understand why people continue to do business while receiving such sh*t service.

    BTW, I work in IT security and not the bike industry so I have no bias or vested interest in this thread. I just don't understand why people put up with this crap, especially when you're paying a premium to get treated this way. The only reason they do it is because they can get away with it.
    Totally spoken like someone from the IT security industry.

    There are very few good reasons to buy a custom built bicycle anymore, for most of us...I agree Doug's wait times suck. If you do your homework, his frames can be good and he's a nice guy. I am happy with mine and have ridden the crap out of it. It was a great value too (the price was actually on par with comparable production frames from china- think about that). So yeah I could have bought something made in China that would have been probably just as good, but made by a non-cyclist with unknown environmental controls, workers rights, carbon footprint etc....or I could design a frame myself, and support a guy that welds on a farm in my own state near some great trails. The experience was worth it for me, but probably not for most "sane" people I suppose!

    Quote Originally Posted by perttime
    There was talk about one of his frames failing a while ago. Don't know how that may have affected him professionally or personally. (Sometimes big brand frames fail too)
    That thread was probably the biggest example of internet douchbaggery I have seen here on MTBR.
    Last edited by FM; 09-27-2010 at 10:56 AM.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by FM
    My experience as well. Mine took 8 months if I recall correctly.
    Towards the end I was getting very frustrated and nearly pulled out... but then my turn came... once he started on my frame, it took only 2 weeks from drawing to paint to shipping. Still a long wait- make sure you've got another bike to ride!

    Totally spoken like someone from the IT security industry.

    There are very few good reasons to buy a custom built bicycle anymore, for most of us...I agree Doug's wait times suck. If you do your homework, his frames can be good and he's a nice guy. I am happy with mine and have ridden the crap out of it. It was a great value too (the price was actually on par with comparable production frames from china- think about that). So yeah I could have bought something made in China that would have been probably just as good, but made by a non-cyclist with unknown environmental controls, workers rights, carbon footprint etc....or I could design a frame myself, and support a guy that welds on a farm in my own state near some great trails. The experience was worth it for me, but probably not for most "sane" people I suppose!
    8 months though, a year? I couldn't wait that long, especially if I had put money up front. I can hardly wait for my stuff to arrive when I order bike parts online.

    It's not just the wait though, I'm sure the lack of communication is what really kills people. Nobody wants to give someone money and then feel like they dropped off the face of the earth. Then it just sounds like a craigslist scam.
    Gotta get up to get down.
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  14. #14
    FM
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    Quote Originally Posted by BaeckerX1
    8 months though, a year?
    It's not just the wait though, I'm sure the lack of communication is what really kills people.
    Communication was good for me, once the wait was over. We talked once a day over 2-3 days as the design was being finalized.

    I think my experience was pretty unique in that I supplied the geometry and design. That's what made the wait worth it for me. Like I said.. probably not worth it for most "sane" people


  15. #15
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    I'm about 99.9% sure Doug is still doing business: a riding acquaintance of mine just received his frame several days ago (about an 8 month wait apparently). So at the very least Curtlo is still shipping frames.

    On Curtlo's quality ... I have, and still ride several times weekly, the frame Doug built for me in the latter half of 1997. And I'm still blown away by how "right" it feels to this day. Build-wise, Curtlos are wonderful. Not the full blown art some builders go for, but clean and purpose-built for sure.

    Now, business and communication. Different story entirely. I purchased mine long before the popularity these frames seem to enjoy now. And yet, I still waited about 6 months with little or no communication. To be fair, I did unknowingly catch Doug when he was moving his family and business from Southern California to north central Washington where he is today. It also should be noted that I didn't even own a computer at the time, so the telephone was it for communication tools. Anyway, the 6 months would've been easier to understand had I known of the ongoing move. As it was, I'm very glad that I had provided Doug with a drawing - including measurements - of exactly what I wanted. The only thing we ever really discussed was tubing selection. I can only imagine how much longer the wait might have been had he needed to design/draw the frame himself.

    So ... would I buy from Curtlo again if wanted to go custom? Sadly, no. When I bought mine I worked for someone else (a ski & bike shop actually), but now I'm self-employed and a one man show; much like Doug. I have deadlines I have to meet, and have turned down work when I knew I was going to be overwhelmed so to speak. I guess a change in business perspective and 13 years has me less patient and forgiving as I might have been back then. Lastly, despite how nice Curtlos may be, there are a large number of builders doing work equally as good with pricing near or just above Doug's current prices.

    Best of luck to the OP with this. Having met Doug personally, it's my belief that your brother will indeed receive his frame, he'll just be exercising a fair bit of patience. Doug has an idiosyncratic way of doing business to be sure, but he's nothing if not an incredibly nice person who puts a lot into his craft.
    If you go looking for trouble, you can be sure it's gaining from behind.

  16. #16
    MBN
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    I just exchanged several emails with Doug yesterday.

    I sent in my deposit last December. (Just before the price hike.)

    8 months went by, and I did not hear a thing. I sent him an email at the very end of August, just to check in. I just got an email yesterday with my CAD drawing. I responded with a few questions and changes, and he emailed me right back with answers. I approved the CAD, and hope to have the bike in the not too distant future.

    I think when one buys a Curtlo, you kind of have to expect to wait a year before it is in your hands. I hear lots of good things about his frames, and the price sure was reasonable. The trade off is the wait time.

    I hope it will all be worth it. I think it will.

    M.

  17. #17
    FM
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    MBN, what are you having him build you?

  18. #18
    MBN
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    Hi FM,

    Doug is building me a hardtail 29er.

    Going to put a 100mm fork on it.

    I went with the Banana stays even though I dont really like the look. Doug said it is a bit more compliant which is more important.

    Hope I can get some time on it before the snow comes. I live in Mass.

    Im starting to get a bit more excited. I had all but forgotten about it cause its been so long.

    M.

  19. #19
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    I got my 29er ss frame in August. I also had to wait 8 months, but based on other MTBR postings I expected that. Just like for everyone else, communication was spotty during the waiting period and speedy during the building period.

    I am very happy with the frame. It fits right and rides great. I think Doug is more of an artist or craftsman than a businessman. My feeling is that he's conscientious and honest, but not too concerned with the business aspect.

  20. #20
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    Also, he built the frame with Black Cat Hey Swinger dropouts at no extra charge. Very well-designed and solid.

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    Complain to the Better Business Bureau in his area. He would be making a mistake by not answering their phone call.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by junktrunk
    Complain to the Better Business Bureau in his area. He would be making a mistake by not answering their phone call.
    thanks, good idea. Hope they'll accept complaints from abroad, I live outside of the US.

  23. #23
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    Business is in their area, and your money was stolen, bottom line. Too many of these builders are playing that game. They fund future projects with deposits from now and get in over their heads, then run with the deposits of many on their way out.

  24. #24
    FM
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    Caveat Emptor

    Quote Originally Posted by junktrunk
    Complain to the Better Business Bureau in his area. He would be making a mistake by not answering their phone call.
    Or simply do your homework before throwing down your dollars.
    Seriously it took all of 3 minutes of internet research for me to figure out that Curtlo's typical wait times were 6-9 months, despite what he says on his website.

    I hate it when people want to sue or call the government everytime a product does not live up to their expectations. It's your money, do your homework, be responsible for your own purchasing choices.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by FM
    Or simply do your homework before throwing down your dollars.
    Seriously it took all of 3 minutes of internet research for me to figure out that Curtlo's typical wait times were 6-9 months, despite what he says on his website.

    I hate it when people want to sue or call the government everytime a product does not live up to their expectations. It's your money, do your homework, be responsible for your own purchasing choices.
    But he's the source, not the internet, and he quotes way lower times. That makes him a thief, or a liar.

    Quit trying to defend these indy builders. This is why most of them are looked at as crooks, and why they get so much leeway- idiots think they are artisans and give them way too much credit and think their creations have souls in them and defend it endlessly. They are simply bicycles and these people do it for the money because they can't do anything else and look at the customers as their misery and source of all their problems in life.

    The government is there to get involved when a business practices unethically, and here is a case of that, and because you took it in the ass, you want others to? That's a rich one- the internet contradicts the direct wording of the owner, which is acknowledged as lies, and defended in this thread, even by you.

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