Friday, June 12, 2009

How Mad Should I Be?

Let’s say you bought a car just under six weeks ago. It’s used, but still under manufacturer’s warranty, plus an extended warranty you purchased from the dealer for another three years/30,000 miles. The car also was “Q” certified (for this dealer, that means an ASE-certified mechanic did a 128-point inspection on the car at trade-in.)

On two separate occasions, you’d asked about service records for the car. You were promised them on one, but they never appeared. The car is virtually immaculate – even under the hood. It purrs like a kitten. So, there doesn’t seem to be any performance issues. But you make a mental note to keep asking just the same. It's good to know what was done and when.

Then, while having a simple oil change (one of two free promised by the dealership) you ask the service tech directly if he can check the records on the GM database, something you can’t do, but a tech can. What he pulls up in a little over a minute astounds you.

“You have an open recall ticket,” he says matter of factly. “That needs to get fixed.” Excuse me?

This is exactly the situation I found myself in this morning. Apparently, this recall has been out there since FEBRUARY 2008! OK. So, WHY WASN’T THIS DONE BEFORE THE CAR WAS EVEN SOLD TO ME?

I managed to shock both the older tech who was using the computer and a young tech standing nearby by asking: “It’s that rear axle thing, isn’t it?” They gave each other a look of surprise and the older one nodded. See, I did my homework before I bought a car. I KNEW there was a recall on this model. I thought that because this was well over a year ago, and, mostly because this never came up during the sales transaction, that this either didn’t affect my car OR that it had been remedied already. Boy, was I wrong!

I didn’t panic about a recall. Most car lines have recalls at some point. In fact, the mother had to take Ladybird in during the first year she had her to get some kind of ignition fitting replaced. Neither that or too many other things -- except wear --have really plagued that car all these years later.

I was livid this morning. I’m still angry. But doing a little searching, I see that the dealership would be held harmless in any event. It’s up to the manufacturer to notify the owner, and the owner to remedy it. If you happen to be a subsequent owner, however, tough sh*t. I guess GM has bigger issues these days than following up on product defects.

My assistant looked at me quizzically when I told her this story. “They’re going to fix it, right? So what do you want them to do?” That made me ponder: How mad should I really be?

Well, yes. They are going to fix it. And, it’s not going to cost me anything. But … it’s the principle of the thing. I know. I am expecting car salesmen to be human beings. Stupid me! But d*mn. You’d think they’d want to check on those things. The manufacturer pays them for such work. Seems like it would be a good, solid business strategy to add that database search to the checklist then, doesn’t it? All you have to do is key in a VIN number. That takes what, 5 seconds?

Ninety seconds of their time or less could have saved me hours (in a return trip, trying to work into schedule, etc.), headache, and frustration. They like to tout how they check for a “clear title” on their vehicles. OK. That’s fine. But why in the hell wouldn’t you check to see if there is uncompleted recall work?! Isn’t that kind of an important thing to ignore, especially when you can just log in and look?

What if, let’s say, I never pushed the issue and didn’t already know about the recall? And, let’s say, I started having a problem with the car that ended up voiding the warranty because the recall work was never done. Then what? I’ll tell you what. I’d either be out a car or in for a very expensive repair, all on my dime. Thankfully, that didn’t happen.

What it has done is send up a red flag. What else don’t I know about that I should? And how many of those 128 points did they really check? How can I trust anything these people say now? I thought I had been SO careful and smart, too. I guess not. Live and learn.

11 comments:

dynochick (Jan) said...

You shouldn't be mad and this is why. Even though you purchased the car in Feb. the computer still has the original owner as the owner. More than likely the original owner received the recall notice. It usually take awhile or it takes a service call at the dealership to get your name attached to the vehicle. I know it sounds silly that in this day and age with computers that this isn't automatic. Remember on a trade in the scenario might go like this.....you the original owner, the dealership, car auction purchaser, used car dealership, and then new owner. Changing the owner each time would be time consuming and expensive.

Car manufacturers are not the only ones who do this. I have received license plate renewals for vehicles I no longer have even though I have transferred that plate to a new vehicle.

Please don't be upset with GM. The employees working in development have been working hard and long for the last 5 years to keep up with the changing landscape of the automotive industry. I worked the last 5 years a minimum of 6 days 10 hours a week working on the development of diesel engines. Contrary to what the govt thinks, you cannot snap your fingers and get 40mpg out of a vehicle that includes all the bells and whistles the American public wants and expects and still have excess power to do a hole shot at the traffic light and still emit nearly emissionless exhaust out the tail pipe.

Also dealerships have one thing in mind....selling you a car at any cost. Also know that your salesman is in sales and has his own agenda. The service department is yet another separate area. They have their own agenda. Their thinking is we will fix it when and if they return the vehicle here. Dealerships have to wait for compensation from the company and it tends to takes months.

I myself had a Seville with a very early phase deicer windshield. The dealership wanted me to turn it into my insurance company because they would get reimbursed faster for the replacement. Luckily I made a few calls when I returned to work and 2 hours later the dealership was calling wanting me to bring back the vehicle for repair. Unfortunately dealerships should be viewed separate from the company and not one in the same. For most people the dealership is the face of the company and the only contact a customer has with the company. Not all dealerships are the same and unfortunately just like grocery stores, doctors, or shoes....some are good, some are marginal, and some are just plain bad. Hopefully GM will soon be rid of the bad dealerships and the rest will realize that they are in the customer service industry and they will start taking their jobs of giving great service seriously.

Sorry for the long reply but with GM or for that matter any part of the auto industry these days....nothing has an easy answer.

dynochick (Jan) said...

You shouldn't be mad and this is why. Even though you purchased the car in Feb. the computer still has the original owner as the owner. More than likely the original owner received the recall notice. It usually take awhile or it takes a service call at the dealership to get your name attached to the vehicle. I know it sounds silly that in this day and age with computers that this isn't automatic. Remember on a trade in the scenario might go like this.....you the original owner, the dealership, car auction purchaser, used car dealership, and then new owner. Changing the owner each time would be time consuming and expensive.

Car manufacturers are not the only ones who do this. I have received license plate renewals for vehicles I no longer have even though I have transferred that plate to a new vehicle.

Please don't be upset with GM. The employees working in development have been working hard and long for the last 5 years to keep up with the changing landscape of the automotive industry. I worked the last 5 years a minimum of 6 days 10 hours a week working on the development of diesel engines. Contrary to what the govt thinks, you cannot snap your fingers and get 40mpg out of a vehicle that includes all the bells and whistles the American public wants and expects and still have excess power to do a hole shot at the traffic light and still emit nearly emissionless exhaust out the tail pipe.

Also dealerships have one thing in mind....selling you a car at any cost. Also know that your salesman is in sales and has his own agenda. The service department is yet another separate area. They have their own agenda. Their thinking is we will fix it when and if they return the vehicle here. Dealerships have to wait for compensation from the company and it tends to takes months.

I myself had a Seville with a very early phase deicer windshield. The dealership wanted me to turn it into my insurance company because they would get reimbursed faster for the replacement. Luckily I made a few calls when I returned to work and 2 hours later the dealership was calling wanting me to bring back the vehicle for repair. Unfortunately dealerships should be viewed separate from the company and not one in the same. For most people the dealership is the face of the company and the only contact a customer has with the company. Not all dealerships are the same and unfortunately just like grocery stores, doctors, or shoes....some are good, some are marginal, and some are just plain bad. Hopefully GM will soon be rid of the bad dealerships and the rest will realize that they are in the customer service industry and they will start taking their jobs of giving great service seriously.

Sorry for the long reply but with GM or for that matter any part of the auto industry these days....nothing has an easy answer.

Karen Anne said...

I'm sorry you encountered this mess.

And respectfully to Jan, it IS the dealership's fault. Checking for unfixed recall stuff, which often involves Safety issues, should be a no-brainer.

And tracking the owner should be a no-brainer, computer systems are as good as the people running them want them to be. Somehow Ford managed to keep track of me and my address for recall purposes even though I lived in three states over what is now forty years after I bought my Mustang. I had no idea they were doing that until I received a recall notice.

Signed,

Person who had to pay all on her own dime to have her Mom's Buick stripped down to the bare metal and repainted because of the GM primer defect problem.

Guess who would never buy a GM car again, if I were planning on buying another car before I croaked (I fix 'em, not get rid of them.) Companies who treat their customers badly, soon wind up with no customers.

dynochick (Jan) said...

Karen Anne if you would read my post again I said it was the dealership's fault.

Of course checking for recalls is their job, I never said it wasn't. But again if you read my post you will see that I said dealerships have their own agendas, they are privately owned and many of them need to be closed.

Vicki said...

That is what angers me the most, when customers are going to get screwed no matter what and the other party gets away with their crap. The moving industry can get away with pretty much anything they want. I hope you have no other issues!

jagolbec said...

Since you asked...I don't think you should be too angry. "Kind of" angry is about the right level. Yep, they should have checked, but it's not a huge deal, it's all going to get taken care of. It was lame that they missed it, but I don't think it's fair to extrapolate that there are tons of other hidden issues. There may be but the probability is pretty small. I totally agree that it's a major pain, though.

NV said...

Jan -- Thanks for the insightful comment. I AM still mad though. I know it's hard to keep track of owners and since I haven't had the car that long (six weeks today) I'm sure I'm barely on the books. I guess the thing that kills me is how EASY it was for the dealership to check. A few seconds and CLICK.

I fully appreciate the challenges the car industry is facing. I know there's no panacea to meeting both the environmental design constraints the gov't wants and the "need for speed" that we as consumers have.
It may not solve anything, but these folks WILL be hearing from me on this issue. I'd think a recall check should be added to their "128 points." Jackasses.

KarenAnne -- That sucks! Makes me think my warranty might not be worth the paper it's written on. *Though I NOW know the car had a significant warranty repair at 13,000 miles.

Vicki -- Thanks! Seems there a billion diffeent ways for us to get ripped off in life, isn't there? And thanks for the good wishes. If this is the worst I go through with Pearl, I'll be ecstatic! :-)

NV said...

Jen - Thanks! (You were posting at same time I was.) It's more than the inconvenience. I'm still just mad because what if I'd found out about this because the car did what the recall is trying to correct (making it impossible to steer, causing a crash)? And all someone had to do was WHAT I ASHED THEM TO the day I bought the car? I hope you're right and it's just an emotional conclusion to think something else might be wrong.

rustbeltrebel said...

I would be very angry. Time is a valuable commodity.

There appears to be very little honestly left in this world. Money, making the sale, profit seems to me at least a one way fast track. Get them in and get them out.

In a perfect world a good sales person would have printed out service records, checked for recalls, check to make sure the recall was taken care of.

In a perfect world the sales person would have told you that it appears the recall was not fixed due to the computer print out of the cars history. An appointment should have been made to correct the recall and a small reduced price for your inconvenience.

Like I said "In a perfect world".

I would say that this shows how little respect there is for the consumer these days.

Michele

NV said...

Michele --Thanks for the additional support! :-)

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