Note: GIC is now Black Series Campers.

Talk about one, and you’re talking about the other

I had just finished writing my story of our first camper trailer and at about the same time I was asked over Twitter my thoughts on a particular model  — campers we’re very much in my mind.

As I worked through some research, I stumbled across a story about GIC Campers that, well, fascinated me.

You won’t find too many bad things about GIC campers on line, as they threaten legal action against those given bad reviews, and there were plenty of those!

It all seemed to unfold in a few years ago as some critical reviews about CIG Camper Trailers started to float around the wonderfully visible and fast moving web.

I tuned into the story this post where someone was asking for thoughts on these campers. There was a sense of nervousness, and I couldn’t figure out why until I got to the end and followed to the end of the thread and read this

A very assertive letter to take down comments that GIC believe were detrimental, and I guess in their eyes incorrect.

My initial response was entirely negative. How could this company so aggressively want to control what was being said to them about on the internet in a small off-roading community?

… and then I got intrigued and started to dig.

I found this thread that included a second barrage about both the editorial integrity of the publication and the quality of the product and of course the legal process that GIC Campers was undertaking. I finally found this group of reviews that again added to the drama.

I found it difficult to come to any conclusions. There were a few things to consider…

  • Most of the threads / comments related to GIC were removed. So I didn’t actually know what was said.
  • Where there were comments I could read, GIC actively defended themselves, and did so in a public an open way.
  • GIC were more than willing to open up their doors for people to become closer to the detail in the debate.
  • There were a bunch of very upset customers of GIC.
  • GIC wheeled in the lawyers, which is their right to do so, but ups the emotional ante somewhat.

Whilst I’m sure this gave a whole bunch of people something to talk about, and some extra pennies for lawyers this scenario in my mind fails the 4×4 community.

Does it in any way help an off-road enthusiast make a more informed decision on if a GIC camper is right for them? My view is no, it actually makes it harder.

If you look through the rubble that’s left online about GIC, you’re likely to be more confused than sold (or unsold) on GIC.

… and that makes me mad.

Off roading is big business, and with so much at stake you can understand why companies want to protect their reputation. Laws exist to help them ensure only correct information is shared, but they don’t exist for you to control all information good or bad.

You got to give GIC some merit…

GIC are trying to do to the camper trailer industry do what brands like Tigerz11 are doing for the 4×4 Accessories market. Bring some more aggressive pricing and competition to an industry that with only a few major players have charged a premium for a long, long time.

And I don’t mind that at all.

What I mind is when they say their products are more than what they are, but that’s a story for another time.

But GIC isn’t the only business a play here. 4X4 Earth is a business that makes money, 4X4 Australia is a business that makes money – and they all must be held accountable for what they do and say.

This is where it gets tricky. Media publications don’t make money from customers, they make money by selliing others access to their readers. In the off-road media world the push for greater ‘access’  has resulted in the line between editorial and advertisement blurring for the last decade. I stopped reading print 4×4 magazines as I personally lost trust if what I read was professional advice and recommendations or just something paid for.

That’s why I created 4X4 Fever.

I’ll leave you to draw any conclusions on GIC you wish, but what I will promise you as long as I continue to be the owner of this site, I will make sure without doubt that you are all 100% clear on what is paid for and what is not. And the people I let contribute to this site will be completely transparent about any conflicts of interest as well.

Off roaders have a thirst for two things. Knowledge and gadgets to help improve their off-road experience. As long as that remains people will try to make money from it – ethically or not.

Getting sound objective advice, personal experience and views, free from commercial entanglement needs to be brought back to the off road community.

But back to GIC.

There’s actually not a good place to talk about your experience with GIC, so I’m going to allow it in the comments. If you’ve had a good or bad experience with a GIC camper please let us know. Please share your OWN experience and do not throw in any generalisations or personal attacks on individuals.

State the facts and we’ll be fine.

Give the next person considering if they should but a GIC camper and nice objective place to do so.

Note: Chris featured in the comments below has shared his review of his alpha series here.