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Old 10-12-2020, 03:44 PM   #1
Mini-Skoolie
 
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Midwest Transit Equipment Complaint

My husband filed the following complaint against Midwest Transit Equipment with the Better Business Bureau today. Hopefully, sharing the information will help prevent others from going through what weíve been through. It truly has been a nightmare. 😫

Complaint filed:

I bought a Gillig transit bus to convert to an RV. The bus always started quickly and ran well, but for peace of mind, I took it to Midwest Transit Equipment in Swansea, IL to have their 99 Point Inspection done. I wanted to make sure there werenít any undetected mechanical problems before spending money on a conversion.

The inspection was supposed to take about 4 hours, and the cost was supposed to be $132.00. Instead, my bus was there all week as I waited to hear the inspection results and repair estimates. Calls that were promised by certain times didnít happen, and it turned into a bizarre experience of feeling like I was having to pry information out of their service department. When I finally insisted on picking up my bus, I was given a bill for $467.75 without having received any estimates.

After I complained, the service manager did adjust the bill. He also told me it would be hard to find places to service a bus like mine. Those two things combined led me to the decision of allowing them to repair the problems discovered during the inspection.

A gasket was needed to repair an oil filter leak and another gasket needed to repair an air compressor leak. Authorization was also given to clean and recharge the AC system. While fixing those items, a decision was made by their service department to steam clean the engine, which was a service I had declined. I was then informed a bad water pump leak had been found. Despite not understanding how it was missed during the inspection, I OKed that repair as well.

The repairs were supposed to take 5 days. It has now been 3 weeks, and I still do not have my bus back. I was told multiple times that my bus would be ready on a certain day only to be told there had been further technician delays.

My wife emailed Mr. McKinney, the President, and Mr. Knight, the Director of Service, in Kankakee, IL and requested help with the service delays. The next day, we were notified our bus was ready for pick up. I paid the bill over the phone, so I could pick it up after hours.

Much to my frustration, though, I could not keep the bus running. It would start and then quickly shut off. I tried multiple times. Since they were closed, I had to leave the bus. I called first thing this morning (10/12/20), and Iím still waiting to hear back from them.

Other than the AC not being cold enough, I was not aware of any mechanical problems when I took my bus to their Swansea location. I had even spoken to the bus fleet manager for the City of Columbia, MO (previous owner of the bus), and he had gone over the service records with me. The only reason I was having it inspected was for peace of mind. Sadly, after the experience Iíve had at Midwest Transit Equipment, Iím more worried about the mechanical condition of my bus than I was before I took it there.
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Old 10-20-2020, 07:07 PM   #2
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I dont know if this is helpful. I've experienced a couple problems with my gillig that would cause your bus to crank then shut off within a minute.

1. Low coolant level. There is a low coolant level sensor in the reservoir that WILL shut your engine off quickly after start up. If they changed a water pump and did not top off your fluids properly, it's a good possibility.

I've scratched my head many times over the reservoir being 3 inches low, fill it up with coolant and it runs perfect.
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Old 10-20-2020, 10:34 PM   #3
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I don't know but that seems a very, very reasonable price for the work done...
AC cleaned recharged, water pump and gasket?


This is industrial equipment, that is also 13 years old and probably 3 to 400.000 miles like mine.


Everything works but also anything can go wrong, from a radiator that looks good but is almost out to an airbag from the suspension.



If you bring that kind of specialized / complicated equipment into a shop then two things can happen.. they do not work on it or it is going to be expensive.


I shudder with the thought of bringing Dory into a shop... probably easy could spend $5000 to get things right by the standards of fleet manager that wants to rely on it for making money.


Good luck,
Johan
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Old 10-21-2020, 01:00 AM   #4
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I dont know if this is helpful. I've experienced a couple problems with my gillig that would cause your bus to crank then shut off within a minute.
It wouldnít start, because the camshaft sensor was cracked. They admitted their technician accidentally cracked it while working on the air compressor. They didnít charge us for that repair.
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Old 10-21-2020, 01:30 AM   #5
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I don't know but that seems a very, very reasonable price for the work done
We weren’t unhappy with the cost of the repairs. Our main complaints were time delays and poor customer service. The repairs were supposed to take 5 days, but instead, they had our bus for 3 1/2 weeks. It sat on their lot for 1 1/2 weeks before anyone even started working on it.

They didn’t call when they said they would, and the bus was repeatedly not done when they said it would be. They just kept telling us there were technician delays. When we went to pick the bus up after they finally told us it was ready, we couldn’t drive it off their lot, because it would quickly shut off after being started. Turns out, they cracked the camshaft sensor.

I even contacted their Director of Service and President/CEO requesting help, and both said they would check into it and get back to me. Neither did. It seems to be a poorly run company from the top down.
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Old 10-21-2020, 04:18 AM   #6
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I will not pretend to know their reasons for doing the steam clean but it is a common practice when trying to find leaks on a diesel engine. They may have just been trying to make it easier on themselves with that. If they charged you for it after you declined then I can see your point, if they did not then.....
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Old 10-21-2020, 08:03 AM   #7
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its not the first complaint ive heard about them. their shop generally does good work.. its unusual for them to send a bus out with a broken part.. they usually are good about fixing things right. . and no they arent cheap.. but like Johan says these are commercial vehicles and either expensive or you learn to DIY as much as you can.



where MWT tends to lack is in customer service.. ive heard of more than one service appointment missed, due dates completely botchedand even reports of Lot movers damaging busses..



again though this is the first ive heard of their shop messing something up to the point that a bus didnt run when it was put out on the complete lot..



steam cleaning is a very common method for finding leaks.. steam clean **CAN** uncover leaks that were simply stopped up by dirt or debris around the leaking surface.. those are leaks that would likely show up again when you least expect or want them to.. if they steamed the engine and then the water pump gasket was leaking, consider it a favor they did in uncovering it.. albeit yes it sucks to get the call that your vehicle needs way more work than anticipated..



-Christopher
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Old 10-21-2020, 11:37 AM   #8
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Also important to remember that Midwest Transit is NOT a retail-market targeted business so we as private owner secondary market customers are probably more of an inconvenience to their primary operation but this is still no excuse for bad customer service and missed deadlines. If they don't want our business I'd actually prefer if they would just turn us away rather than take in the job and then botch it or drag it out far longer than was promised. This goes for any vendor or service provider.
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Old 10-21-2020, 01:43 PM   #9
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Places like Midwest Transit don't care about people that go in and spend all day looking at a single bus to purchase. Also their main business as stated before is new bus sales. The used side is just them offloading the trade ins at cost or slightly above.

They cater to the South American/Mexican buyers that come in and buy 20 buses at a time and don't care if they run or not since they just hook inop units behind driveable ones and drag them down south of the border.
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Old 10-22-2020, 02:29 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joeblack5 View Post
I don't know but that seems a very, very reasonable price for the work done...
AC cleaned recharged, water pump and gasket?
Johan:
I just noticed I didnít include the cost of repairs in my original post. The $467 I mentioned was the bill we received after the inspection. It included the cost of inspection, AC diagnosis, and pulling oil and transmission fluids for testing.

We paid a little over $2100 for fixing the water pump leak, replacing gasket to fix oil filter leak, replacing gasket to fix air compressor leak, and recharging AC.
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Old 10-22-2020, 02:36 AM   #11
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Shamoke and Christopher: Thank you for explaining why the steam cleaning may have been beneficial. My husband thought he could clean the engine himself, but in hindsight, he should have authorized the service. They did not charge us for it even though my husband offered to pay.
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Old 10-22-2020, 03:09 AM   #12
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I'd actually prefer if they would just turn us away rather than take in the job and then botch it or drag it out far longer than was promised.
Exactly!

When we dropped off our bus for inspection I was concerned, because the only buses on their lot were school buses. Also, when I went back to the service department I noticed our bus had drawn a crowd of mechanics who were gathered around the engine. Those two observations prompted me to ask the service department if they had experience working on a city transit bus. I was told they have one technician who comes in to do their city transit bus work. Based on the numerous emails delaying our pick up, I got the impression they were having problems with that technician’s availability. I wish they would have declined our business instead of holding our bus hostage for 3 1/2 weeks while they tried to work it out.
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Old 10-22-2020, 03:23 AM   #13
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Also their main business as stated before is new bus sales. The used side is just them offloading the trade ins at cost or slightly above.
I shared our story on one of the Facebook skoolie groups, and another member shared her experience with buying a used bus from Midwest. She was told their service department would inspect the bus before she picked it up. About 200 miles into her trip home, the bus started smoking. It ended up needing a full engine rebuild. Fortunately, Midwest refunded her money. I think youíre right about the used buses not being a big priority.
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Old 10-25-2020, 07:03 AM   #14
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Reading this confirms my decision to go with a cutaway van conversion. Full size bus is way out of my budget and mechanical aptitude. More power to you if you can swing it. Good luck with it.
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Old 10-25-2020, 08:34 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WIbluebird View Post
Places like Midwest Transit don't care about people that go in and spend all day looking at a single bus to purchase. Also their main business as stated before is new bus sales. The used side is just them offloading the trade ins at cost or slightly above.

They cater to the South American/Mexican buyers that come in and buy 20 buses at a time and don't care if they run or not since they just hook inop units behind driveable ones and drag them down south of the border.



you could say that but others like Mccalister seem to do a really nice job treating the little guy very nicely.. their main business is selling brand new busses but they take trades so they end up with a lot of used units.. and they give the single-bus buyer lots of respect and are transparent about anything wrong with the busses.. let the customer crawl around on em, start em, drive em aroudn the lot, etc..



they fact they treated a buddy and I nicely has resulted in 4 busses sold in the last year.. probably not a lot in the grand scheme of things but 4 busses is 4 busses.. and when we need a bus for a project its the first place we check..



that said we dont even walk in the door at MWT anymore when we need a bus for a project..



so a mainly new-bus dealer **CAN** treat the little guy nicely and get good reps / sell busses as a result..



-Christopher
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Old 10-26-2020, 03:05 AM   #16
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Good luck with it.
Thank you!
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Old 10-26-2020, 03:14 AM   #17
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others like Mccalister seem to do a really nice job treating the little guy very nicely
Good to know! I prefer to give my business to companies who are treating people right. I donít know if we have a McCalister locally, but Iíll check. Thanks!
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Old 10-26-2020, 11:22 AM   #18
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Good to know! I prefer to give my business to companies who are treating people right. I donít know if we have a McCalister locally, but Iíll check. Thanks!
Macallister is a large company in Indiana that has multiple locations and sells other stuff like Cat machinery and farm implements.

However to the best of my knowledge the only Macallister location that has used school buses is the one on the south side of Indianapolis.
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Old 10-26-2020, 11:40 AM   #19
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Macallister is a large company in Indiana that has multiple locations and sells other stuff like Cat machinery and farm implements.

However to the best of my knowledge the only Macallister location that has used school buses is the one on the south side of Indianapolis.

yeppers, that location is a new bluebird dealer and some of their customers prefer to trade busses in vs deal with auctions themselves.. so they will in-turn sell the trade-ins..



as to be expected in central indiana sometimes they take in some pretty rusty units, however I also see some pretty decent stuff there..


being that their used busses are Very secondary to them, its best to go in person to look and inspect yourself..


they do have a service-center there too.. seems like a decent place but like anywhere do your due diligence and if you call and ask for an inventory sheet or look one up online, always best to inspect in person..
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