If you want the tldr version
I'm now a Zero owner, but not yet a Zero rider. I paid for a Zero FXS 8 weeks ago. Due to Zero's errors, the process of registering it in my name hasn't even started yet. In that time the price dropped £900. I've had no insurance on my current ICE bike for the last 3 weeks. Zero won't talk directly to me but have said via the dealer that it's tough luck. They've got my money and don't really care about either.
The full story...
In October the grant was announced as starting from 1st Jan 2017. And in November Zero announced that there were a few changes to the 2017 line up, but nothing huge.
This was enough for me to order and pay for a FXS on 17th December. Zero listed the 2017 as £9890 (after grant) and had a £1500 off offer on the remaining 2016 models. The 2017 models were going to be available for a few months but the 2016s were in stock. Let me see... £1500 cheaper and available immediately? Easy decision. I went for the 2016 FXS and paid my £8390. The dealer told me I'd have it by early to mid January just after the grant came into force. Perfect.
So. Early in January my shiny new bike arrived at the dealers. Yay! But the paperwork didn't. What? How can a letter take longer than a huge crate? Zero hadn't sent it, that's why. Why not put it in the crate FFS? It eventually arrived a few days later.
Now, in the UK you need insurance to register a vehicle so I transferred the insurance over from the Aprilia Dorsoduro that I was trading in. Registration normally takes a week or so. I picked 21st January to allow 2 weeks to make sure the DVLA did their stuff. The dealer was happy to let me do this because - well why not? It was only after I'd done this that Zero revealed that well... they hadn't actually sorted out eligibility for the UK grant yet. No way I'd get my FXS registered by the 21st. This left me uninsured on my Dorsoduro from that date.
My insurance company (Wicked Quotes) only wanted about £100 a year to insure either bike, but admin fees to change things were a different matter. As if the £50 to change it over wan't bad enough, changing it back for a bit would cost at least £100 and they couldn't guarantee that my premium on the final change wouldn't increase. Considering they had quoted me £238 a year at an earlier date, I sense a trap. Anyway, it just wouldn't be practical to change it. I was now insured on a Zero I couldn't have and uninsured on an Aprilia that I did.
Oh well, bikeless for a week or two and riding uninsured on the swap-over trip to the dealers. I can live with that I suppose. Just need to make sure I avoid any cameras.
So on the 23rd January the grant was finally sorted. Registration underway! A week later I got a call. Registration rejected! What??? Apparently the "certificate of arrival" that is part of the import process had a US formatted date on it. Instead of saying 7th January (07/01/2017 in most of the world), it said 1st July (01/07/2017). The DVLA couldn't handle this, and better yet, it was an official document that couldn't be altered. It had to be redone. More delays. Now I don't know exactly what this form is all about, but as Zero are the only Americans in the whole chain I have my suspicions as to who got it wrong.
Slap in the face #1
Just as this was happening I got a lovely promotional email from Zero. A 2017 FXS for the great price of... £8990. What? Only £600 more than I paid for the £1500-discounted 2016. Now we've all bought something that goes on sale later. That's life. I wouldn't complain about that. What really irks me is that this price drop is before the 2017s even available - they never were £9390. And it's before I've even registered (due to Zero's mistakes) my 2016.
I went for a 2016 because it was £1500 cheaper (not really) and available straight away (again no). I dropped Zero an email and copied in my dealer - the totally faultless 21st Moto in Swanley, Kent.
Slap in the face #2
Despite having a "contact us" email address, Zero didn't think it necessary to reply to me. After the dealer chased them Zero Europe said they'd see what they could sort out with Zero USA. After yet more chasing, I got a reply via the dealer.
Could I drop this 2016 (with a serious known issue I discovered described here) and take a 2017 instead? No.
Would they do anything about the price I paid or the problems they caused? No. Tough.
I was very close to seeing if I could cancel this whole thing, but decided this would be cutting off my nose to spite my face. I'd paid for it so probably couldn't. And anyway, if anything the dealer would probably end up losing out.
I had also agreed to do some promotional stuff with the Motorcycle Industry Association to publicize the UK grant. I was after all the first person to make use of it. (Free publicity for Zero too!) It would seem unfair to let them down.
Something nice to say at last
Well, after all that ranting I can at least add some positive things to the mix. As I said, 21st Moto have been great throughout all this. Rob was dealing with all this and I know the problems weren't anything to do with them. Even so, they felt bad about it all and have offered to drop £250 off the price out of their pocket. I kinda feel bad taking this as I have no problem with the dealer at all. As Rob said though, the buck does stop with them from a consumer's point of view. They are they ones that have to deal with Zero.
Thanks, Rob and 21st Moto. Despite all the hassle I've had I can thoroughly recommend them. If the awesome silent power of an electric motor ever gets stale and I feel the need for a roar of a petrol engine, then I'd definitely be heading there with my cash for a Honda.
Hopefully only a few more weeks to go. (It's now so close to the new 17 registration on 1st March I decided to go for that.) Once I'm on the bike I'm sure this will be a dim memory. And the weather's not exactly been bike-friendly lately - below freezing with snow and ice.
In the meantime I've gone from an excited electric bike advocate to someone who will say "What a while. Maybe when things are a little more stable and the big bike manufacturers are in on the game."