New member
We will never do business with Van Specialties again, and are writing this to let others know who are considering them that whatever you agree to with them will turn into whatever they want to do and when you show up they will act as if it is fait accompli, the customer is not always right with them. Plus, they LIE and charge for work they do not do.

We went to Van Specialties about adding a solar panel to the roof of our Sprinter van. The van has a full size mesh bottom roof rack that has 2 fans, an AC unit, and a solar shower tank so space was limited. “L” spoke with us, and we went out and measured the space we had at the front of the van roof rack for a solar panel. Back inside “L” looked up in a catalog what could fit and said that a 145 Watt panel would work. He gave us an estimate of $1550 for doing all the install work plus the panel and controller. Two weeks later we went back and said we wanted to discuss scheduling the work but we also had a couple other things we wanted done. The bed rails had a single broken screw so we wanted to get the whole bed rail reinforced with RIVNUTS, capitalized due to what happened later. We also wanted some new L-Trak installed to connect some soft sided luggage cabinets on the walls, also reinforced with RIVNUTS. “L” and “R” both looked over the van and we discussed all the work in detail to be done. “R” went up on the roof and measured the space again. “R” told us that the roof rack rails could shade the panel so they would use risers of some kind for the attachment so that the panel would be at the same height as the rails- great idea. “R” provided us a quote for $3550 for all the work and gave us a paper copy. The solar panel work went from the original verbal estimate of $1550 to now $2390, but we agreed to the new price for everything. We scheduled the work to be done at their earliest opening, two weeks later. We returned at the scheduled date and “L” told us that he did not think the 145 Watt panel had been ordered (even though we had scheduled this 2 weeks ago) so could he have the van for a week instead of the original estimated 2 days. In hindsight this should have been a warning sign, but we said OK.

When we returned my husband went up on the roof and the solar panel was smaller than what we had ordered- it was a 100 Watt panel, not 145 Watt. AND it was mounted flush with the roof rack and was getting some shade on one side of the panel, visible even though it was a partially cloudy day. OK- that was an unhappy moment. “L” told us that the 145 Watt panel ended up not fitting after all. I asked him why they did not call us to let us know about this change and he said “I made the executive decision, What do you want me to do?” I told him I thought that was bad business practice, and he just kept saying they were busy and he just made the decision without any input from us the clients. I also asked why it was not on the risers we had discussed to prevent the panel being shaded and he said “We have been doing this for decades and it will be fine.” I said that was not the point and he repeated “What do you want me to do?”

Next, we went to look inside the van at the new L-Trak and reinforced bed rails. My husband said to “L” “You installed RIVNUTS, right? “L” said “Yes we installed the RIVNUTS”. My husband then said but it does not look like RIVNUTS were used for the new L-Trak and “L” said “You wanted us to put RIVNUTs on those too?” I must say, we made it POSTIVELY CLEAR in our discussion before the work was done that we wanted RIVNUTS used for everything, but on the Quote only the bed rail had the description verbatim “ R&R interior paneling to make sure reinforcements are there, pull bed rails and install rivnuts.” The line item for the new L-Trak did not say RIVNUTS so I guess we have to blame ourselves for this, even though we discussed it at length with them beforehand. My husband then asked about what the reinforcements were behind the bedrails and “L” said Why do you want to know that?” My husband answered “Well I don’t know “L” maybe someday I will want to get back there for something else and it would be nice to know what is back there.” “L” then said “Why would you want to do that? OK, you want to know what we did exactly I will go find out.” And he left to go into the work garage. When he came back he told us “Well, we DID NOT put RIVNUTS in for the bed rails either.” This though they charged us $480 for the bed rail work. Instead all they did was remove the screws and replace them with upgraded screws! That must have taken all of 10 minutes and we could have done that ourselves. They did not remove (R&R on the quote) the paneling at all. “L” also then said “Why do you want to use RIVNUTS, they are just a headache” and kept repeating that they have been doing this for a long time and what they did was just fine. It just kept getting worse the more we talked with him, and I must add that he smelled of alcohol as well- it was right before Christmas and after lunch so maybe they had a lunch holiday party, but since the whole thing was turning into a giant cluster**** we were NOT ONE BIT HAPPY. He had just bald faced lied to us about the RIVNUTS and only admitted it when my husband said he may check on it in future. So then “L” said “What do you want me to do- rip it all off and start over? If you want the RIVNUTS we can do it now.” My husband said Yes he wanted it all fixed but I had such a BAD feeling about the whole thing I had no confidence they would do a good job, and I felt that he was pissed at us for not being happy that they had practically done nothing of what was agreed to, and had not informed us of any of the changes beforehand. In the end I asked for him to take the entire charge for the bed rails work off the cost and he said “Fine.”

As stated in the title, doing business with Van Specialties for us was an entirely, utterly, horrible experience. I have no idea how they are still in business treating customers this way.


2013 Sprinter DIY 144WB
I had positive experience talking to the original owner in 2013, but after sitting down with the younger fellow my feeling turned 180 degrees and I decided to keep my van far away from their hands. I see their lot every once a while taking a shortcut and it seems as it is always loaded with a lot of vans so they must be little spoiled. I am a little shock about your prices $2,390 for one 100/145W panel and control, ouch.


2004 T1N Westfalia
See another review posted in a different subforum.


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