My 2013 Subaru Impreza WRX was my first Subaru and my second turbo-powered car. (The first being a Mini Cooper.) It was also my first all-wheel drive vehicle. If you asked me now how I went from being a mostly BMW kinda guy (I’ve owned three or four if you count the Cooper) to making a sudden and dramatic shift to Subbie world, I couldn’t tell you. At the time of when I picked the car up, I had been looking at other hatches including the Focus, another Mini, and a Golf. I was heavily leaning towards another Cooper expect I had been put off by the build quality, the wait time for the ONE I wanted, and overall reliability. The WRX was so foreign to me at the time and the more I researched and the more I learned, the more I was intrigued.
Not only was the Impreza known for it’s performance but also it’s reliability, overall build quality, incredible world-wide community, and aftermarket potentials. The all-wheel drive spoke volumes and while the performance numbers were eye-raising, especially for a four cylinder engine, the overall gas mileage didn’t seem that awful. In short, I wanted to find out more. A Subaru dealership in Manassas has one with the color I was looking for and I went over there to take a look and request a test drive. I had never driven a Subaru and, quite frankly, I wanted to see if I liked it. At this particular dealership, they balked at allowing a test drive in the car for fear of joy-riders, I suppose. But here I was a man in my late 30’s that had already owned a number of performance cars. When I started to walk away, the relented but under the conditions that the test drive be short and I not take the car over 3k RPM. While the latter was understandable for engine break-in reasons, the former seemed almost silly. I wasn’t some 20 year-old that needed a co-sign for credit. I was a serious buyer and I found the way they treated me as insulting.
In the end, I like the overall feel of the car, but couldn’t get an idea if I would actually enjoy driving it. In short, I found another dealership that allowed me to test drive a used WRX sedan, albeit with a Stage 2 Clutch (which I found to be far too stiff) and let me test drive without the previous limitations. I was surprised and quite pleasantly so. It was then that I knew I wanted one. For a silly comparison, I went to another dealership (the same that I ultimately got my WRX from) and test drove a non-WRX Impreza with the CVT transmission. It was awful!
Thus my mind was made up and when that dealership has a new ’13 WRX Limited on the lot but in my third preference in color, I decided to pick it up. I’m glad I did. I have been very pleased with it.
But then exhaust pRon.
I was elated after the engine break-in period was over and I could really understand what all the fuss was about. Yet, at the same time, I was visiting sites like NASIOC and YouTube to listen and see and read about all sorts of modifications, mostly the exhaust. At the same time, I was learning about how the turbo system worked in general and how the overall setup of the WRX functioned. From what I learned, the general consensus was replacing some simple bolt-on parts on the car and then taking the car to a reputable tuning business really brought out the potential of the car. Not to mention, it sounded a hellava lot better.
After many hours of searching, watching YouTube videos, and looking at various manufacturers, I settled on Nameless Performance out of Oregon. To me, there were three overall factors that made them stand out to me. First, the build quality of their products seemed to be universally laded. Second, they had a great website that had many options with a clear explanation of what each option represented – including levels of noise each option of exhaust produced. And lastly, they seemed to be a small business that grew from a desire to make quality products and serve a tight-knit community that can only be described as die-hards.
What I didn’t know and no way of foreseeing at the time was the amount of PAIN I would endure and just how long of a process everything would be. What I thought would be a simple transaction, turned into a bizarre nearly five month long endeavor that not only tested my patience but also my decision making process. During this whole ordeal, there were moments that I wanted to lash out in frustration from how I perceived I had been treated. And while I personally feel some this reaction may have been justified, I knew that such reactions can actually hinder an ongoing process and has certain dangers involved, especially with a significant amount of money involved.
Ultimately, I wanted a fun car to drive that had more performance than in it’s stock configuration and on that sounded great. I realized I was starting down a dangerous path of modding cars in which the only limitation is funds and not ideals. But I knew my own limitations and perhaps goals for the car. Fast and loud? Yes. Borderline blowing up the engine in search for 400whp? No.
The following is a timeline of events that starts with my initial order and ends with an overall happy ending, but only speaks to the actual painful process.
May 9th, 2014
I had visited the Nameless Performance site many, many times before ultimately deciding to pull the trigger on the order. Yet, instead of ordering online, I chose to place an order by phone and speak with someone at the company. At the time and given my lack of experience, I felt more comfortable explaining what I had in mind to an actual person. Matt, with whom I would have many conversations over the next months, was incredibly helpful in taking my order. Even though I was very sure of the exact options I wanted, he helped explain each and offered some pros and cons. He also went on to explain their build process of which I knew some of already from reading various things on the Internet. They are a small business and build in batches. They collect orders for the various cars they build for and build in controlled batches to fill those orders. He went on to explain that it would be a few weeks before my order could even be made since every piece was custom-built. That was fine with me. I was in no rush and desired quality over quantity. And thus I ordered the following:
- Subaru 2008-2014 (GR) STI/WRX Hatchback Turboback bundle
- Includes, Nameless Performances’ downpipe, mid-pipe, and axle-back exhaust.
- Also includes AccessPORT3
- The options I choose:
- w/ 200 Cell High Flow Cat
- w/o Wideband 02 plug
- 4” Mufflers
- 3.5” Quad Staggered Single Wall tips
When I placed this order, I was told that the Subaru run had just finished, but they could send my AccessPORT right out.
Then I waited.
June 16, 2014 (39 days since order)
I received email notification that my order had shipped. Or partially shipped. My initial thought was the exhaust was coming but not the AccessPORT.
June 21, 2014 (44 days since order)
The package arrived. One box containing my mid-pipe and axle back. No AP. No Downpipe. I used the contact form on their website to ask about the remaining items. This was never replied too.
End of June
By this time, I still had no downpipe and no AccessPORT. So I called Nameless. They apologized for the wait, and for not shipping the AccessPORT. They promised to send the AP immediately. They also promised to ship the downpipe with expedited shipping when it was completed.
July 1, 2014 (54 days since order)
With a growing concerning, I wrote this post on a Subaru forum. True to their word, they called me later in the day. What would a foreshadow to things to come, they apologized for not having sent out the AccessPORT. Apparently the error was due to some internal miscommunication. I was told the AP would ship immediately and my downpipe would more thank like ship in “a couple weeks.”
July 7, 2014 (60 days since order)
My AccessPORT arrives.
July 21, 2014 (74 days since order)
Downpipe shipped. No rush shipment.
July 30, 2014 (83 days since order)
August 9, 2014 (93 days since order)
I install all pieces in my driveway. While this was a first time working on a Subaru, I feel I have a certain degree of mechanical skill. I managed to install the CAI, downpipe, mid-pipe, and axle back. The same day, I put in the KillerBee Oil Pickup, and Titanium wrapped Unequal Length Tomei Headers and Up-Pipe. It was a complete exhaust swap. The one problem I couldn’t resolve was the Nameless downpipe not fitting as precisely as the OEM pipe. I couldn’t make it line up on the transmission bracket as it was supposed to. By the end of the day, I decided I was going to leave it as it was and let the guys at Mach V Performance fix it for me.
August 15, 2014 (99 days since order)
I drove out to Mach V for my custom tune. On the drive out, I noted a horrible sound coming from underneath the car. Every time I downshifted and decreased speed to stop or make a turn, there was a very noticeable and loud vibration coming from underneath the car. I chalked it up to the downpipe not being fully secure. Turns out, I was partially right.
The techs at Mach V put my car on the lift to look at the fitment. It doesn’t take long for them to bring me back into the garage to show me the issues firsthand. The downpipe is not made correctly. The pipe is resting against the transmission cross-member. The exit of the pipe is further up towards the bottom of the car than it is normally supposed to be, which causes the mid-pipe to be in contact with the heat shield on the car. There is no way they will tune the car like this.
At this point, I feel devastated. It has taken over 80 days for this pipe to finally get to me and to be told it isn’t right, it won’t work, and isn’t safe, almost makes me ill. I had waited with a tremendous amount of patience and to now have all the parts but not be able to complete the process I has started almost three months ago was completely deflating.
After some discussion with the techs of Mach V and Dan, the owner of the shop, we all came up with three options:
- I could ask Mach V to re-weld, cut, and otherwise bend the downpipe to make it fit on my car.
- Contact Nameless and ask them to ship a pipe that fit.
- Forgo the Nameless pipe and buy an Invidia pipe from Mach V, have them install it, and do the tune that day.
Option #1 would have been incredibly expansive and, maybe, not technically feasible. Option #2 meant waiting until noon EST until Nameless opened (they are in Oregon), and getting them to agree to send a new pipe even though I had already driven on the first pipe they sent. And Option #3 meant buying another downpipe and thus taking my chances with Nameless and that they would offer me some soft of refund even though I had already driven the car with the pipe on. In the end, I opted for #2, but foreshadowing issues or feedback from Nameless, I asked Dan to take photos of their downpipe on the car, just in case they balked at the idea. He was happy to do so and provided me with the following photos.
For two hours I sat in the Mach V waiting area while we waited for Nameless to open and pitch our idea. It seemed as the minutes rolled by I couldn’t help but think that what laid ahead was no easy or sure process, especially given my previous experiences with this company.
When they finally opened, Dan called and explained the situation. I was close enough to only hear his side of the story. From what I was hearing and later him confirming, they were more upset with the fact that I drove with their downpipe installed than the fact that it didn’t fit. He explained that the customer wished to either receive a refund or a pipe that actually fit. Dan also stated that he had taken photos of the pipe installed on the car and was willing to share them – which they wanted to see. He also went onto explain that not accepting the pipe as a return was not really the point. As he put it, “It really isn’t usable on any car.”
Finally, they needed time to consult with the owners/managers to make a final decision. There was no time given as to when this would happen. My hopes for having all of this resolved and having a tuned and ready car at the end of the day were rapidly diminishing.
For the next three and a half hours I waited at Mach V for the callback. The whole time I felt like I was receiving sad looks from the shop staff, as if to almost say, “You poor sorry sack of poo.” When it got to be 3:30pm EST, I had had enough. I called back Nameless and they had not resolved the issue. The decision makers were “out” and “not available” and no one knew when they would be available to make a decision. My patience had worn out. The shop was going to be closing in a short time and there was no way my car was going to be fixed or tuned that day. I called it quits. I told Dan and his staff I was done waiting and was headed home. They were nice enough to not charge me, but still held my deposit for the tuning in hopes I would have some resolved soon.
I can not emphasize enough the amount of sure hopelessness I felt at this moment. After months and months of waiting and then all of the hope and buildup of having every piece on the car, it was like a popped balloon to my entire psyche. To me, Nameless was acting like a company that did not care about their customer, especially one that had given so much money to them, and to have this result after such a long wait time was devastating to me.
To help further improve my day, on the drive home from Mach V, my vet called and told me my dog had worms.
So it goes.
It should be noted that this was all during a workday that I had arranged to be off from work to have this done. It was a complete waste of a day off being that I was more or less just sitting on my ass waiting for nothing to be accomplished.
A couple hours after I was finally home, Nameless called back. They decided to express ship me a new downpipe and one they knew for sure that fit. In their words, “It fits perfectly on our jig.” They added that they would be sending me a shipping label to send my not-usable downpipe back. In addition, they asked that I do not drive on the newest downpipe and test fitment before anything. This was already my plan
August 16, 2014 (100 days since order)
I removed the 1st Nameless downpipe and re-installed the OEM pipe. Everything fit like a glove. With the Nameless mid-pipe and axle-back still in place, the OEM downpipe fit perfectly and lined up with all the original bolt locations.
August 21, 2014 (105 days since order)
The second downpipe arrives. I immediately note that there are no return shipping labels included with the box, as promised. At this point, I am not surprised. And my frustration has turned into serious negativity.
Going with the theory that my 1st downpipe is defective and somewhat different than the newest downpipe, I drag both pieces out to my driveway, construct a sort of redneck jig and take photos of the comparison. If you see a difference, you have a sharper eye than I do.
August 25, 2014 (109 days since order)
This was my second back trip to Mach V. I drove there with three downpipes: the OEM installed on the car, and the 1st and 2nd Nameless downpipes riding in the back.
It doesn’t take long for the techs at Mach V to prove that there is no difference between Nameless’ 1st and 2nd downpipes. With the car on the lift and the 2nd downpipe installed, they bring me into the garage to show me the same issues the first had. This time, I brought my own camera and took photos to show… no, to PROVE there was no difference. Their pipe design does not fit on my car.
I asked Dan at Mach V to help me with some additional comparison shots.
The decision was clear. Since I had not at all driven or used the 2nd downpipe an any way, I asked Mach V to install an Invidia downpipe and complete the tune. This was done in a few short hours and after everything was completed and after the car had a new map, Dan came out, showed me the numbers and explained (with an incredible amount of patience for a n00b) what everything meant.
Here are the final dyno results:
That day, after everything was complete, I drove home with four downpipes: 2 Nameless, 1 OEM, and 1 Nvidia (on the car).
My first stop was a Kinko’s. I had boxed up both downpipes in their original shipping boxes and send them back to Nameless on my own dime. $125 I will never get back.
I also email Nameless, explaining the results, including my own photos, and tracking numbers for their pipes. I received no response.
August 27, 2014 (111 days since order)
I post this to the NASIOC forums and included all the photos. No response from the company.
September 3, 2014 (118 days since order)
By keeping track of the my shipments, I notice that both returned downpipes arrived at Nameless.
September 8, 2014 (121 days since order)
I have still not received ANY response from Nameless whatsoever. I want to say that I am surprised or shocked, but nothing could be further from the truth.
I call Nameless and ask about update. They tell me they believe there is nothing wrong with their downpipes and that my car must have some sort of, in their words, “anomaly.” They will give me a refund for the downpipe as it was priced in the overall package deal. There was no mention of any sort of reimbursement to me for sending both pipes back. I hesitate in asking. Every decision so far has been filtered always through one guy at Nameless. I suppose he is telephone/front desk customer support and sales person, but I had never spoken to any other employee or manager other than him. When he said they had agreed to give me a refund, I knew by asking for some sort of refund for what I paid in shipping would have had to go back up the chain. This would only have delayed the process. I wanted nothing more than this to be done.
Then the most sweetest piece of irony of all occurred; I had purchased the exhaust package with a credit car and Nameless could not issue a refund via the same method. Wanna know why? BECAUSE IT HAD BEEN TOO LONG. Apparently the limit for such transactions is 90 days and we were significantly past that. But that moment of luxurious told-ya-so quickly passed when they offered to give me my refund via PayPal.
“PayPal?” I asked but what I was thinking was, “Are you fucking serious? PayPal?”
I say, what about a check? This seemed to throw a loop to the lad I was speaking. Almost like he had never heard of it. Or a sort of nervous, don’t-make-me-go-ask-them-to-write-a-check response.
Remember what I wrote about why I didn’t ask for a shipping refund? Well, yeah, he had no authorization to write a check. He needed to ask the manager.
September 23, 2014 (138 days since order)
Guess what? No check. I waited two weeks. I wanted to give them the benefit of the doubt. But what I should have been doing was calling every fucking day to make sure they had sent it.
I am mad and angry, but this entire ordeal has dragged out so long I feel like any emotions at all, even happiness, is pointless at this point. Nameless Performance had finally become an emotion-draining, soul-sucking succubus leaving me a husk of the person I was.
I call back. “Hey, remember me?” At this point, I am sure I do not even have to mention my name. This guy and I are practically best friends.
He seems shocked that I didn’t receive a check yet. He had told the owner or manager or Czar over there. He had been told it was going to be taken care of. He couldn’t ask the owner/Czar because he was in Brazil. Of course he is. Hunting old Nazis. Evading the law here. Who knows?
I basically plead with him to send a check. He says it will happen today. Can you blame me if I don’t believe him?
But sure enough, I received an email notification later that day.
September 26, 2014 (141 days since order)
The check arrives. It clears. And it is finally over after almost FIVE months since I placed the order.
Time and time again this company has proven themselves to completely inadequate in terms of customer service, fulfilling promises, and communication. The latter being the most significant issue. Everything from the way Nameless engages with the customers, responds to inquires, and how they provide feedback is incredibly poor. Most, if not all the issues I faced, could have been resolved with better communication or, in the very least, following through with promises made.
Almost every criticism I have viewed on the Internet about Nameless is generally met with the response of “we are a small company and ….” In this regard, a small company should be better suited to treat customers with much more professional than a larger company could, like Comcast. Yet, this is exactly how I felt I was treated.
With the exception of the downpipe, I would and could speak to the level of quality of everything I have bought from them. In the time, between my first order and the eventual arrival of my downpipe, I ended up ordering a Cold Air Intake and a Heat Shield. While, both of these products show a great care to craftsmanship, I now regret ordering these pieces from Nameless. I feel as long not only did I end up rewarding their poor service by purchasing more products from them, but I will constantly be reminded of them and this experience every time I raise the hood and see the logo.