Never, ever buy an Assassin moth. The story of how I got fucked

This blog has been quiet for quite some while. The truth is that I would have had more than enough to tell but decided to stay quiet.  The main issue is that I have had lots of trouble with assassin which has cost Lukas (my business partner) and me a whole lot of trouble.

to make a long story short:

if you are involved with Assassin – you are FUCKED

and here is the story how I got fucked:

Today has come the point that I am frustrated enough to go public with the whole fastcraft – olapa affair (fastcraft is the company that produces the Assassinmoth and olapa is Lukas and my company that has sold them).
As I want to explain the happenings of over a year this blog post is likely to be rather long. Still I want to take the time to explain the situation as fairly as possible. So let us start at the beginning:

Meeting the people behind the Assassin
In April 2009 I flew down to New Zealand for an international education conference for my other company studdex.com. I took the chance to get in contact with Darren and Holly of fastcraft. Thus I drove down to Tauranga and met with the two of them. Both Darren and Holly seemed to be really nice people and I was impressed with the first protoype I saw. I still think that the Assassin is a great design and I especially like the construction of the wingbars. While the Mach2 is definitely the best moth I have sailed yet the Assasssin tried to be radical and different – something I really like in a development class. After looking at their factory I invited them to supper where we discussed the moth business. Darren repeatedly told me stuff like: We want to do a better customer  support than Bladerider has (as a former Bladerider reseller for NZ he knew what he was talking about) and we want to build reliable boats. He specifically pointed out that the gunwales and more added ribs would make for a lot stronger boat. He finished with saying that he thinks a moth shouldn’t be so much more expensive than a laser…

Over the course of the meal I got excited and suggested to them that I could be their reseller for Europe. After some – not to rough- negotiations I ended up with Germany, Scandinavia, Benelux, Switzerland, Italy, Poland and the Czech Republic. I could not get Austria as that had previously been awared to Niki. The reseller agreement also stated that I should get 10% commission of the package price and some other specs that would become relevant some time later. (you can download the reseller agreement here)

Getting started as a reseller

Very exicted I got back from my down under trip (where I also flew to Melbourne to meet Lochy which whom I had a lot of fun) and started to get to work.  We build the foilermoth.com website  (launched middle of July) and migrated my old foilermoth blog from blogspot to wordpress. We created our own T-Shirts and ran Ad-Words campaigns for the foilermoth.com site and put banners on some websites like the imca. All in all we spent 2199 EUR on Marketing Assassin in addition to building the website which was a two week assignment for my web designer.  So I figure I have roughly spent EUR 4000 on marketing the Assassin in Europe.

Fortunately all the effort put in seemed to pay off. By end of August I had 4 orders plus my boat. In addition I had lots of requests and discovered that the demand for a cheap moth is there and I am certain that we will see the fleet grow in heaps with more boats coming on the market and a wider adoption.

Problems with deliveries and communication began

Unfortunately this is when the problems began. The communication with Assassin was really bad from the very beginning and Ian Gotts, Niki Liebscher, Jon Emonson, Paulo Cortes Rosa and me started having long skype conversations about the problems.  By this time it had become clear that Darren was taking care of production while Holly was responsible for all outside relations and my main point of contact:

In an email on September 9th Holly wrote the following:

“I’ve pushed you in, and am aiming to get your boat to you in September as well as Nikis”

you can download the whole email as pdf here

In addition the other boats were promised in September, Oktober and November. You can find proof of the initial delivery dates in these email correspondations:

September

November

end of December

January

Assassin test sailing without an Assassin

As Niki was as excited to promote the class as I was and he set up a great Training event for the last weekend of September at lake Neusiedel. We promoted the event with great effort and I planned to drive down there. In an email Holly promised us that Niki’s assassin would be there in time and we eagerly announced a chance to test sail the assassin.  Unfortunately the following email arrived from Holly:

“On another note we have a huge problem with Niki. Its starting to look like we won’t get his boat to him in time for next weekend. We are trying our best but not looking good.”

As my assassin rudder had broke the week earlier niki was stuck with only two boats and was proportionally pissed.

First financial disagreements

During this time I received the first invoices for the boats. That is when I discovered that they did not account for my 10% share but more something like 7%. When I asked Holly about it she did not respond for a while. Then, some two weeks later I finally got an email saying that I don’t get a commission on freight. Unfortunately the reseller agreement states that I get 10% of the package price – and the no fluff package included freight. This is when I wrote the following email:

Hi Holly,

Last week I have sent you an email regarding the commission on the boats. As you know the contract and your price list do not match.

Unfortunately I haven’t received an answer from you regarding this problem. I would like to have this problem solved and will not continue to put any more work into reselling until we have clarified the situation.

Hope to hear from you soon

best

Felix

This is when I stopped my advertising campaigns and did not promote the Assassin any longer. I still got enquiries but told everyone to wait till the whole mess was solved. Unfortunately that still has not happened to this day.

Finally the boats are (not) ready
In December my boat was the first one to be delivered, on December 18th. And this despite it being started on September 23rd according to Holly:

“Your boat has been started, the parts are under production after I had received my boat (which I couldn’t sail due to ice on the lake till end of March) I received the following email from Holly on December 16th:

Hi Felix

Thanks for that. We were going to do the first 3 boats together though so will need full payment for at least these 3 if you were wanting to get them out over the Christmas break. We will send Freds boat first which is scheduled to leave the factory this month.

Cheers

Holly”


Very happy with this news I sent a few more emails to Holly with information about delivery addresses and boat specs (like soft or hard mast etc). A few days later, on December 22nd Holly demanded the money and put great pressure on me to advise it. This is what I did. Unfortunately I had to wait for my customer’s money and then forward it. So truthfully it took roughly 10 days till the money arrived after I got the email. In addition it is kind of difficult to make out a payment to New Zealand. So on December 17th I received the following mail from Holly:

Can you please advise on payment, we are fast running out of time. Haven’t received anything yet,”

I wasn’t suspicious at the time but now I realize that they probably must have been in some financial stress (note: this is just speculation and something I cannot prove). Thus I responded with the following mail on Dec 22nd:

Hi Holly,

here is the email I used to advise payment (I can’t transfer money to NZ online so I always have to tell the bank). It is German but as you can see I have advised payment 5 days ago. I will call up the bank 2morrow

best

Felix

PS.: Please give me the delivery dates for all the boats that are still to be delivered”

(attached was my email to the bank)

As Holly got kind of nervous she even contacted one of my customers directly and told him that they wouldn’t work with me anymore and he should advise the money directly to them. Fortunately he did not do that but contacted me instead. He and I were furious about the situation.

You can find the email Holly send to my customer here

Then there was Christmas break and I went skiing with the youth of my sailing club, an event I have been organizing for the last 4 years. When I returned one of my customers had paid up and I advised more money on January 13th.

When I still had not heard anything I sent an email on January 27th:

Hi Holly,

January is drawing to an end now and Thomas and Frederik have both paid there boats up. Can you give me an exact delivery date and how things are going on your end? Frederik has already cancelled his plans for Dubai (like me) and the German season starts in less than 4 weeks as winter draws to an end.

best

Felix”

This is when I got the following answer from Holly:

“We have just got the materials last week and both boats started. We will have them both out in the next couple of weeks. What is the delivery address for Thomas boat?”

So I had been tricked into paying the full amount which is due upon delivery according to the reseller agreement even though the boats hadn’t even been started. This was the time when all other resellers cancelled their contracts. They had been lucky as fastcraft only fucked them for their time while I was fucked for time AND money. Also the other resellers did not have customers which I did. And those customers grow more and more impatient (which they had every right to be!!!)

Let the lawyers out
After lots of emails regarding delivery dates etc my frustration grew. Thus I told my lawyer to write up a nice letter to fastcraft which was send out on March 23rd. You can download the letter here.

A few days later Holly sent the following answer to my lawyer:

“Dear Mr Eggert,

Information you have received from Felix Schulte is incorrect. I will be forwarding all correspondence onto my lawyer who will be in touch.

Felix has a large amount outstanding, All boats need to be paid for in full before they are sent, Also will be taking action against Felix Schulte personally for his misconduct, Regards

Holly Farmer”

As it is they didn’t use their lawyer and we send more emails back and forth. After some more trouble finally the first customer boat arrived:

Some boats arrive

Frederik’s boat finally arrived on April 7th. Unfortunately that didn’t mean he could get it as fastcraft had made out all the documents to him and not to olapa. This meant that I couldn’t take care of duties and import and Frederik had to do it all in his own name. This meant that Frederik needed to drive to the airport 2 times and it took a week till he got control of his boat.
Just to be precise: Frederik ordered on September 3rd.

On May 6th Thomas boat was delivered to Munich airport. This time the pick up all worked fine as all the documents were correct. I thought this was great news until Thomas called me to tell me that his mast stump it just awry. You can see a picture of it here:

Foto0209

Obviously I emailed fastcraft about a replacement part. Their response:

“The mast stump has been in and tested in the factory (it is glued together on the boat, so if it is all together correctly will fit better than a new one then all reassembled after painting) . Go for a sail and it will be good”

After even more emails they finally send a new mast stump. Unfortunately they didn’t mark it as a warranty shipment so Thomas had to pay some 70 EUR for customs.

A boat has been cancelled

My very first customer Roland Seidler cancelled his boat because he was not willing to wait much longer. When I told this fastcraft I got a very “nice” response:

“We can’t cancel this order, its nearly ready to ship just waiting on your payment and the delivery address. We had Roland scheduled down as your first boat but you changed production spots for Freds boat. Paying the deposit is a commitment to the boat”

Obviously I did not accept this as Ronald’s boat had been ordered beginning of August and in my opinion he had every right to cancel! Everytime I asked about Ronald’s boat I did not get an answer though everytime fastcraft send me a financial statement I was asked to pay for his boat. Then yesterday I finally got an answer regarding this boat:

“a deposit was paid which committed you to this boat, so lose the deposit or make the final payment and the boat will be sent”

So in their opinion the boat doesn’t need to be delivered but then they can keep the 30% down payment. Nice, isn’t it?

The last boat and more financial trouble

So let me tell you where we are right now: I am still waiting for one last boat (or two depending on the cancellation of Ronald’s order). Holly is currently saying that they cannot ship it as it is not fully paid. This is true!. Why haven’t I paid it up yet? Because we have problems with payments:
- Holly somehow send me a financial statement that shows that she got roughly EUR 1000 less than I paid according to my bank statements. This is due to two things: exchange rates and banking charges (according to my reseller agreement these will be split evenly between olapa and fastcraft).

- she did not account for the extra cost that occurred as Thomas replacement mast stump was not sent as a warranty shipment and he paid money on customs (see earlier point). Also they shipped the replacement part of my broken main foil to Munich and I had to pay shipping to Berlin.

Thus I send an email to Holly asking to solve this whole mess on June 9th:

Hi Holly, hi Darren,

I know we both want to get done with the last issues we have and then move on. In order to do this I have some questions you need to answer:

- I made you a bank transfer list including the german banking charges. But actually I do need your bank statements for having the possibility to compare the banking charges including the NZD amounts and the rates of exchange to our german amounts

- what about the CE Exemption Certificate for Assasin Moth? We paid that for you and you promised to deduct the balance. Unfortunately this payment was not accounted for in your financial statement you sent us. Please check your own mail attached to this email.

- Ronald Seidler’s boat: he canceled the deal because he almost waited 8 month to get his boat. Please confirm the cancelation for once and for all.

- Ralf Otto’s boat: what are you going to do about that? I think we have got two options: a) you deliver the boat quickly or b) you transfer the money back to us and do not ship the boat. Either way we have to figure out the amount first (see point 1)

- Extra Payments: Thomas Weltrowski had a claim about his broken mast stump. But instead of processing a reclamation, you made a new order for a mast stump, so Thomas had to pay the customs duties. All in all Thomas paid € 77.56.  Here is another need to deduct this amount from the balance.

- Felix Schulte: I ordered a new main foil, because mine was broken, but you delivered it to Munich (to Thoms Weltrowski), so I had to pay the shipping from Munich to Berlin. This cost € 90.54 we also need to deduct from the balance.-

And one last thing: my rudder is broken. I already told you about that. Are you going to deliver a new foil anytime soon?

Please respond to each point individually so we can see where we agree and where we don’t. This way I hope to solve the issues quickly.

All the best

Felix”

Unfortunately this email was not answered till yesterday. So I waited for 9 days for an answer. Why did they answer? Because I threatened to go public with the whole situation. I received an answer yesterday:

“Hi Felix,

Would you like to sort this out between ourselves or would you like to do it though the court?
Anything published on the internet or elsewhere will result in you being sued for damages.
If all Assassin material is not removed from the website you and Lucus Wrede will be sued.

Amount outstanding is $5419.90 NZD

Once paid the boat will be completed and sent providing you give a delivery address.
This is a final payment for ONE boat. I have taken the liberty of allocating ALL monies paid toward the last boat and also taken off the CE cert amount. If we go to court then we will be perusing the full amount, plus legal costs and damages.
We would like to sort this out ethically, playing dirty is not doing anyone any good and your making the whole situation worse when it doesn’t need to be.
Regards

Holly”

So again my email was not responded to in a proper way. I talked to a lot of people in the meantime and everyone encouraged me to speak out publicly. This is what I am doing right now and I am sorry that I didn’t do so earlier as it probably caused some people to make a mistake they otherwise would not have made namely buying an assassin. I also feel really sorry for my customers who are – beside myself – the true losers of this whole situation

A word on breakages
In my experience fastcraft builds two different kinds of boats: one for team sailors and one for regular customers. From what I hear the team sailor’s boats are of high quality and reach good speeds.
On the other hand my experience is more about the regular customers:
- both Jon and me had broken prodders
- my first Holroyd rudder broke on my bladerider on the first day on lake garda. Tried surfing instead

- on my first sail my main foil broke – the carbon was dry like the Sahara

- on my third sail my rudder broke
- all Assassin’s I know are leaking
- Frederik broke his gantry on the first day

- Frederik’s mast base was screwed
- Thomas push rod malfunctioned and he had the issues with the mast pole

- my second rudder broke as well and I still haven’t a replacement part.

A final word (these are my personal thoughts and my own opinions)

I deeply regret that I ever got in contact with fastcraft. Financially I roughly spent 4k on marketing and they currently have some 7k from olapa. Me and Lukas have both put additional money in the company and that is also why I currently do not own a car but share one with Lukas.
In addition I regret that I have put so much time into the whole issue and got so little reward.
And I am very sorry for my customers who are also in trouble.

In my experience fastcraft is a company that keeps lying and don’t hold up to their word. The product could be solid and good but the whole execution is terrible. When I read about the “export price” Assassin might get I want to regurgitate.

I want to be open about this whole process and of course a lot of stuff goes wrong and a lot of bad feelings arise. Obviously the tone of the emails was not always right and a lot of threats have been made on both sides (legal action, repression charges, putting this post online etc).
My goal now is to get over with this issue, be able to look my customers in the eye and focus on other businesses to regain my money.

As my father once said:
“it is great to make a business out of your hobby if it works – but if it doesn’t you will enjoy your hobby a lot less as you are always thinking about the bad business it caused”

Personally I don’t mind going to court as I got a strong case. In addition I will allow all kind of comments to this post.

Here are all the email correspondences in pdf format. Of course there are more. I can provide those if needed:

assassin_agreement.pdf

20101212_Holly_confirms_delivery_for_Decmber.pdf

20100618 holly_promises_delivery_of_ronald’s_boat_for_early_september.pdf

20100323_Holly_promises_delivery_of_thomas boat_for_November.pdf

20100323_email_from_Philippe_about_UK_website.pdf

20100323_direct_email_from_Holly_to_Frederik.pdf

20100323_comission_price_discussion_with_holly.pdf

20100323_answer_from_Holly_to_Andres_mail.pdf

20100312_letter_from_Andre_to_Assassin.pdf

20100302_response_to_the_issues.pdf

20100126 production_of_Thomas_and_Frederiks_boat_in_January.pdf

20091222_money_has_been_advised.pdf

20091207_Holly_promises_delivery_for_December.pdf

20091028_email_end_of_Ocotber.pdf

20091019_niki_to_holly_about_boat’s_delivery.pdf

20091013_threat_to_terminate_resellerships_if_they_are_not_supportive.pdf

20090923_no_boat_for training_at_lake neusiedel.pdf

20090909_holly_promises_shipment_in_september.pdf

20090623_scan_of_reseller_agreement_with_fastcraft.pdf

10 Responses to “Never, ever buy an Assassin moth. The story of how I got fucked”

  1. Phil says:

    Hey Felix,

    I am really sorry to hear about everything that has happened. I hope you are able to recover some costs and your customers don’t blame you for the late deliveries. I guess it’s the curse of the “production moth”.

    I suppose there are too many people involved for this to remain a silent affair and sooner or later it was bound to reach the public domain with loads of angry customers (I know there a few here in the UK)

    Anyway I’ve known you for a good year now (via all the web project stuff) and think you did really well to keep your feelings to yourself for so long (you never even told me!)

    Good luck and lets hope you return to moth sailing and don’t give up because of all this! Life is too short!

    Cheers,

    Phil

  2. Ian Andrewes says:

    Not smart mate, I have an Assassin too and yeah it’s been a bit frustrating trying to communicate with Fastcraft(ie. still waiting on new foils…) but posting what you have on the internet like that has lost you any ground you might of had. I believe in freedom of speech but when your dealing with what could be a legal matter like this then you shouldnt be ranting about it on your blog and making an extreme effort to shoo business away from them. Also did you expect it to be an automatic money maker for you? You invested in something you thought would pay off within a year and when it didnt you cry wolf. I see their error in communication but does that require jumping sides before you have a chance to sort things out properly? Also you spent 4,000 euros on advertising? That seems a bit excessive, was this proposed by Holly and Darren? or did you go spend all that on your own? If its the latter then it seems irrational to complain about it. Well anyways I hope both sides can sort this out fairly and with out litigation as that always makes matters worse.

    Ian

    • Felix says:

      Hi Ian,

      firstofall my goal was never to make a lot of money. I am smart enough to know that this is hardly possible. Instead I wanted (as Niki and Paulo) to promote this cheap moth to a mass market audience to grow the class – something that is really important to me.
      On the other hand it was never my intention to lose money on the matter. In addition I never did get a decent support from fastcraft. Lots of times we found stuff -like new offers- out by reading their blog. In addition I have been repeatedly lied to. Saying that the boat is done and then hearing 2 month later that it is started is just not acceptable.
      I have kept quiet for nearly a year now and nothing happened. Believe me, I really tied to reach a solution. By now I just thought the mothosphere should know about all this so other people don’t get fooled too.
      Personally I wouldn’t mind a legal battle over this. At least the issues would finally be solved…

      Felix

  3. olivier vidal says:

    Felix, sorry to hear your woes with Assasin.

    I looked very briefly at the idea of being a UK distributor, but I found their attitude to business and money to be odd and overly forthright / demanding for payments asap.

    Good luck with your Moth..

    See everyone in Switzerland this summer

  4. Graham Simmonds says:

    Felix – I am sorry to hear of your woes. It is basically a tale of broken promises. Unfortunately it involves others apart from yourself and I very much hope that Fastcraft either refund the money of those still waiting or deliver a boat that holds together for more than a week.

    I presume you wont be investing in FastCraft Caravans then!?

    • Felix says:

      Hi Graham,

      when I read your blogpost on assassin I agreed to all of it but kept quiet. This is no longer so. For me the story is not only about broken promises but about lies. Telling one that the boat is done and you should pay the full amount, then hearing two month later that it has been started is just unacceptable.
      And yes, I would never buy a caravan from them

      Felix

  5. [...] foilermoth / Blog « Never, ever buy an Assassin moth. The story of how I got fucked [...]

  6. [...] though is that it isn’t just homebuilds that are prone to blowing up.. I of course refer to Felix’s blog post and the woes he encountered with a “production moth”. Yes it may be true that a [...]

  7. Simon Propper says:

    Hi Felix
    You are involved in a trade dispute and I respectfully suggest this is not the correct way to go about resolving it. Whatever your grievances, you do not have a right to seek to damage the business of another party as this post quite clearly does.
    You certainly open yourself to legal action by so doing.
    Ultimately what you put on your blog is your own business. But it is appalling that you are receiving publicity for your campaign from the official International Moth site.
    I shall email Doug and the Committee now requesting your blog is delisted and prior posts removed. They bring the class into disrepute and exploit our web profile for personal gain.
    Simon

  8. Robert Green says:

    Felix,

    I understand your frustration, however I don’t think your post will help. Publishing private e-mails is a serious breech of confidentiality and almost certain to exacerbate the situation.

    For the record, I ordered an Assassin in June 2009 for delivery in September. It didn’t arrive on time, I had a succession of delivery dates before making a final payment in December for a late December delivery. The boat was finally delivered on 20 March, 2010 so a 3 month wait turned into 9. The boat was generally well built and solid, however it had some leaks. The worst were inside the wing bar mounts so hard to find. I paid to get them fixed and have filed a warranty claim with Assassin.

    I’m not a particularly good Moth sailor (yet) and have given my boat a tough time in breeze up to +20kn, it has stood up to everything and it’s still in great condition. There are no dings or dents in the hull, the foils are solid and nothing has broken other than the tiller extension (a Ronstan Battlestick so not Assassin’s fault). Moths are hi-tech, high maintenance boats. I expect to get it refurbished before the Worlds in Belmont, it will likely cost me around AUD1,000.

    Fastcraft NZ are poor at communication and were possibly under capitalised when starting out. Getting a small export business up and running is a tough gig and they are not handling it well. While I sympathise with your feelings, you really needed to do your sums too before you got into being a reseller. It is a risky business, you should have expected difficulties and to have been able to support them during their startup phase.

    I realise you think you’ve been let down and are owed money, however your best chance for making amends was to help Assassin to be successful. Publicly dumping on the brand only makes things worse.

    Anyhow, all the best and I hope your get your issues sorted.

Leave a Reply