Sales Gimmicks and
Stupid Kart Features
-- OPTIONS --
ONLINE ORDERING: See our page on what can happen
when you order a go-kart online. (Click on "Buy Over Internet?" to view a
"production problem" notice from an online company who
threatened to sue
us because of the page you're currently reading.
Their website no longer works -- we assume they're out of business, or,
they could have changed their site name to present themselves as a new
company. This is more
proof that if you can't see the product you're ordering, you should be
cautious.) This goes for "brick & mortar" stores, too. Make sure they have
the product, or can get it by the time you need it. The difference with a
"brick & mortar" store is that you can go into the store ... they can't
hide behind a telephone and/or e-mail.
MONEY BACK GUARANTEE: Sounds amazing, doesn't it? How can you lose? The answer is: "all too easily." Check the conditions of the guarantee, and what it'll cost you if you exercise it. For example, one online "store" offers a money back guarantee to demonstrate they are "serious about building quality karts." The catch is that you can't ride the kart, you can't even put oil in the engine, all you can do is look at it. Then if you don't like it, YOU have to repack it for shipping, and YOU have to pay freight to ship it back! (You can't even do that if the kart was damaged during shipping it to you. If you receive a damaged kart -- it's yours!) With a "brick & mortar" store, you can view the kart for free, then decide if you want to buy it! All the guarantee is doing is charging you to look at the kart! (One website actually brags "All you risk is the freight back to us.") They claim that no other go-kart manufacturer offers any type of money-back guarantee. No one else needs to -- why would you risk the freight when you can go to a store and view other manufacturer's karts for free? DON'T BE FOOLED.
CAGE DESIGN: (This topic deals with the long support bars -- the length of the kart -- not the cross support bars.) The most commonly used is a bolt-together bar with a connection in the middle. Where bolts are holding the bars together (front section to rear section) could allow collapse due to bolt or weld failure (of the bolt's securing "pipe"), as the stress is on the bolt and weld. The bars that go the entire length of the kart, and then "sleeve over" in a "pipe over pipe" configuration will provide better protection.
ENGINE: Ensure the engine is one for which you can obtain parts and service. If the engine is built by Tecumseh, Honda, or another large manufacturer, you can obtain parts at many locations across the United States, and probably many foreign countries. Robin engines seem to be a little harder to find parts for in our area, but they are still a large manufacturer. Many engines, especially those measured by "cc," are built overseas, and parts and service may be difficult or impossible to obtain. Twister Hammerheads are an exception to this, as their parts are normally readily available. DON'T BE FOOLED.
BRAKES: Scrubber brakes -- the ones that rub
against the tires -- should be avoided. They don't work well in the best
of conditions, and if the tire is wet or goes flat, they can become
inoperable. Band brakes are a good brake for tires up to 15" in height. (The "15" will be the first number in the tire size, stamped on the side
of the tire.) If the tire is over 15", don't settle for less than a disc
brake. You'll be disappointed if you do. Disc brakes are recommended for
tires over 15" tall. Some of the mass-merchant karts have 18" rear wheels
with the band brake. These may stop the kart, but they will not be as
effective as a disc brake, and you may not like the results.
DON'T BE FOOLED.
INEXPENSIVE KARTS: What could be wrong with an
inexpensive kart? Several things. You should ask how they can sell a kart
so cheaply. We've always heard that if a deal sounds too good to be true,
it probably is. The answer can lie in poor quality of materials, pre-paid freight (see below),
parts (see next section).
WARRANTY: Who does the warranty work? Does the
warranty cover labor, which can be more expensive than the parts? Who has
to pay the freight for parts? How about the return parts? (Freight for a
part can sometimes cost more than the part itself.
It may be cheaper to buy the part yourself at a
local store, rather than pay to return the defective part for "free"
replacement.) If you have to ship a defective
part to the manufacturer for inspection, then they send you a replacement
if they agree it's defective, how long does all this take?
Why should you have to pay freight to return a
defective part? How long is
your kart out of service for a problem that is not your fault? (No matter
how good the kart is, any of them -- including the ones we sell from our
store -- can break. They're all built by humans. We stock most parts, and
often perform warranty repairs within 24 hours -- sometimes, while you
One website advertises: "Since most customers find it more convenient to perform their own maintennance (sic) and repairs, we offer only parts replacement so that we can extend the warranty to a full 90 days." How many people find it more convenient to work on their own karts than to have someone else do it? The warranty is extended to 90 days? (Apparently they haven't heard of Twister's six months warranty or BDM's one year limited warranty.) DON'T BE FOOLED.
manufacturers sell their karts near or below cost, then sell the parts for 4 to
5 times what a similar part on another brand would cost. Of course,
the part is manufactured to be unique to that brand of kart, so you have
no choice but to buy it. Remember, the go-kart manufacturers are in
business to make money; they're not a charity. Don't fall for this common
Find out about the
availability of parts, what you have to do to get them, and what the parts
cost. To perform a comparison, find a common part and see (a) if the
dealer has it (or can get it), and (b) how expensive it is. Some
sites have a section on parts. How well does it work? Can you select the part you need, or do you have to buy a complete
assembly? How much does it cost, with freight? Beware of
companies that may go out of business, particularly foreign ones, where
you may get stuck with a parts source. We see this often -- DON'T BE FOOLED.
Try this suggestion from the past administrator of buggynews.com.
PRE-PAID FREIGHT: Pre-paid freight can be a sneaky
way to charge you more for the kart. For example, they quote you a price
for the kart, then say they will add freight. You authorize the charge to
your credit card, but they actually charge you twice what the freight
really is. This lets them quote you a great price on the kart, but you get
taken to the cleaners! If you order a go-kart on the net, make sure it is
shipped to you "freight collect," so you'll pay the EXACT freight cost,
and not a penny more. (Confused? We don't think so. However, since one
manufacturer sent us a rather terse letter about this paragraph, and since
THEY obviously didn't understand it, here's an example: A seller sells you
a go-kart for $100 less than their cost. The freight to you is $100, but
they add $300 to the cost. They turned a $100 loss into a $200 profit!
It's not illegal, but it CAN be misleading. The manufacturer that didn't
like our info on pre-paid freight? Let's just say their letter mentioned
the "motor" on their go-kart ... any reputable service technician, and
many consumers, know that go-karts have gas-powered "engines," not
electric "motors." Can we mention the name of this manufacturer who seemed
to think most of this page was written about them, and who wanted to
restrict your right to this information? Yes, our attorney suggested we
display their letter on our site, but we prefer not to take the "low road"
with them, so we won't. As for the consumer who sent them the e-mail
asking whose information was true (their sales site -- or our informational
site, from which we recommend you go to a local
dealer, and only sell directly if you don't have a dealer within 50
miles and only within our three states), we can only say this guy must
have a fox guarding his hen house. As we said,
DON'T BE FOOLED!) Update:
The company mentioned above is now out of business.
Another form of pre-paid freight is "normalized" freight. This is where the seller averages freight costs and charges everyone the same, or says "freight included." (Everyone knows there's no such thing as a free lunch.) Here's how that works: Let's say we sell karts from Dallas (very close to us). If it costs $100 to send a kart to Denver, it might cost $300 to send it to Los Angeles, so our average cost is $200, and we would build that into the price. If you live in Los Angeles, you save $100! That's a good deal. But, if you live in Ft. Worth, where the freight might be $50, you pay an extra $150 to help pay for the kart that was shipped to Los Angeles. Not such a good deal for you, but the person in L. A. appreciates it. "Freight collect" is a good way to make sure you're paying your freight, and no one else's.
Look for the small print. Some sites limit free-freight to certain states, while at least one site that advertises "free shipping" has conditions when you click on "details:" "Remember truck drivers are not responsible for getting items off the truck. Free Shipping has a value limit of $250.00 and does not include a LIFT GATE. Any charges over limit fee will be billed to customer." They also warn of another possible problem, that they are "not responsible for damaged products due to shipping."
"FLY BY NIGHT": Find out how long the manufacturer
has been in business. If they've been in business less than 10 years, that
may not be a good indication. (Go to their site and click on "About,"
"About Us," "Our Story," or something similar.) One online sales company
says they've been manufacturing karts full-time since September of 1999
... that isn't very long! (Although we don't
manufacture, we've been in business since 1988.) Many others, such
as Ken-bar and Kartco, have been in business for many, many years.
For more info on who makes karts, visit our
ASSEMBLY: When you buy a kart over the internet,
it's probably going to be in pieces. Not only will you have to assemble
it, but you'll have the service the engine, as well. (One site says
they'll assemble everything but the "safety cage" -- for an extra $300! Of
course, you'll still have to service the engine.)
FRAME WELDING: When
we first looked at one of
the mass merchant karts, we thought the manufacturer had made a mistake --
the frame was spot welded, not welded all around the joints. After
looking at the rest of the karts, we discovered it was not a mistake;
they were all "spot-welded." Spot welding will save a few dollars,
but do you want to trust the safety of your children to a
Particularly when buying online, make sure you know all the "getcha's."
Look for fine print on shipping, handling, etc. "Getcha's" can also occur at the retail store.
The parent selects a kart, and tells the child they can have it. The child
is, of course, elated. When you get to the counter, they add $200 inbound
freight and $150 assembly fee (or similar fees). The parent doesn't want to
go back on their word to the child, so they pay an extra $350!
This is a
very common ploy with retail outlets. DON'T BE FOOLED.
Does the manufacturer have authorized service dealers, who can perform
warranty and non-warranty repairs? Or, do they tell you to find a
"lawnmower only" shop to fix it? (While many lawnmower shops,
particularly those who sell go-karts, are quite familiar with go-karts;
some aren't. Some don't know much about go-karts, and many will not
work on them due to insurance reasons. Just make sure whoever sells
you the kart will also service it and provide parts.)
One of the current wide-spread problems is people
are buying karts from mass-merchants, auto stores, and sporting goods
stores, and then cannot find service or parts. We regularly
have people who did not purchase their kart from us come into our shop
saying they cannot find anyone to work on their go-kart, or that they took
it to a lawnmower shop and they didn't know what to do to it or they don't
work on go-karts. Would you buy a car without having a service dealer?
Would you take your lawnmower to your local auto repair shop?
Why would you buy anything mechanical from a store
that doesn't service or sell parts for that product?
You need to develop a relationship with a servicing dealer that works on go-karts. The best way to start is to buy your kart from them. When we have time, we work on karts we didn't sell (most brands), but only when we're not busy. And, guess who gets priority on repairs?
MISINFORMATION: While much of this page has dealt with misinformation, watch out for obvious errors. One site (visited 12/01/03) talks about a kart with which we're very familiar. One place on the page says the kart goes "over 40 mph;" another place on the same page says "approximately 50," while another says "over 50." (The kart will actually go about 35 mph.) The page also states the engine has a "full 2 year" warranty by Tecumseh. While many Tecumseh warranties are 2 years, the warranty for the engine on that kart is only 1 year, and it is not "full;" all warranties are limited (if you don't change the oil and burn up an engine, it's not covered by warranty). One place says the kart weighs 538 pounds, another says 540. (It's only 2 pounds, but it makes you wonder what -- and how much -- they're making up.)
You don't always get what you pay for, but you
always pay for what you get.
If a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
(Maroon-colored text in quotes and italics was copied via "cut & paste" from various internet sites on 11/13/03. Colorization and italics, as well as an increase in their font size, were added to identify other sites' text.)