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May 19th, 2003

Good Service

Before I even start this (positive) rant about customer service, let me please ask that you not laugh at my ineptitude in dealing with cars. Thank you.

A few weeks ago, I took my car into the dealer for a standard oil change and state inspection. Things went well, as they always do with my dealer. However, later in the week, I realized that my cigarette lighter was no longer working.

This is a serious problem: no more stogies in the car! Well, actually, it has to do with the fact I’ll be driving a good 24 hours over the course of a few days not long from now, so I wanted to make sure I had some power for my Nomad. I knew this was going to be a pretty minor problem to fix… worst case scenerio: it needs to be replaced, costing me around $30. So, I called my dealer and let them know that since I last had my car in, my cigarette lighter had stopped working (not implying that they caused the problem, but mentioning it in case it was important). The service agent suggested I check to make sure it wasn’t just a blown fuse.

After I got off the phone with him, I realized that while I had dealt successfully with a blown fuse before, it was only with the help of my car’s manual and spare fuses, both of which were in my glove compartment. The same glove compartment with the broken handle that I haven’t been able to get into for the last two years.

So, I took my car in, as scheduled, this morning at 8am to have them take a look at it. 45 minutes later (they were busy), they were done with it and I got my bill… for $0.00. Turns out, it was just a blown fuse and they took care of it for free, not even bothering to charge me for labor. Who knows… maybe that’s standard, but to me, it just seems like good service. I’ve had nothing but good experiences with these guys, something that most people can’t say about their car dealer.

Now, if they just owned a towing company…

Posted in Miscellaneous

FROM: Dave Walls [E-Mail]
DATE: Monday May 19, 2003 -- 10:59:01 am
Car dealerships can be so hit or miss when it comes to customer service. There really is no middle ground with them; They will either knock your socks off, or make you think if 2 years in jail for assault with engine belt is really that long a time.

I've had both: Good and Bad. Good was Chapman Ford/Lincoln/Mercury in Bridgeton, NJ. Steve and company in the parts dept took care of me on a Sunday, and even helped me install it when my (old) car broke there, even though it wasn't a Ford.

The bad: A Hyundai dealership in Lynchburg, VA. My alternator died on me on a Sunday. The next day, I'm in the dealership, talking to the woman at the parts counter, who tells me they have to order the part, should take a week, and the price. No problem.

A week later, no alternator, no car. I politely ask what's going on, and the woman at the parts counter tells me that there was an explosion at the Baltimore warehouse. Uh, ok. I figure she wouldnt make something like that up, but she says it'll be another week. Wonderful.

Finally after three weeks, I call again, and the alternator still hadn't arrived. She said that not only had their been an explosion in Baltimore, but one in Korea, and things were taking a lot longer. I asked to speak to the parts manager, and after two mins with him, he assured me I'd have the alternator within 48 hours. Turns out the chick had simply forgotton to order it, but rather than order it, and have it take an extra week, she simply put it off, and made excuses.

Good sidenote: About 3 months later, I was working two jobs, radio at night, managing a deli/gas station during the day. One day, I see the woman from the parts counter come in, and she doesn't recognize me at all. She approaches me, and asks for an application to work, saying she just got fired from her last job.

No way did she get an interview. I didn t want her telling customers they couldn't have a sandwich cause there was an explosion at the ham factory or something...

FROM: Greg
DATE: Monday May 19, 2003 -- 11:27:17 am
What a nice dealer Ryan has! My local Dodge dealer (Suburban Dodge in Berwyn, Illinois) has mechanics that like to stick empty cigarette packages into my engine.

FROM: Rob [E-Mail]
DATE: Monday May 19, 2003 -- 3:53:42 pm
Yeah, we've had mixed results getting our repairs from dealers. The Saturn in Sterling was O.K. for a little while, but then they started getting really bad. They refused to believe Sarah was having the problems she was and kept implying it was all in her head. They were rude and obviously didn't believe in the "customer is always right" thing. Eventually, her year of car was recalled for the exact same problem she kept having. That was the last time we went there.

When we took the same car to a Saturn in Ohio, things were completely different. They were helpful and found the problem we were having, plus pointed out some other things we might want to have looked at. And they had it all done in a day on a weekend.

Carmax has been O.K. for my Saturn, except that it takes 3-5 weeks to get an appointment. Which really sucks because I paid the money for the extended warranty, but if it's an emergency, I can't actually use it because I can't wait 3-5 months for something to get even LOOKED at.

One time we were driving back from Ohio and the alternator died. We coasted into a service station and called a tow truck. A friendly guy in the parking lot told us about what was around, since we were going to need a place to stay. But then the tow truck guy came and dropped us off at a hotel and took the car back to his shop. Had everything fixed up by 10:00 the next morning. I know that's not about a dealer, but I have to help repair the rift between you and tow truck guys. ;)

FROM: Ryan
DATE: Monday May 19, 2003 -- 4:11:30 pm
Rob -- wow... 3-5 weeks for an appointment?! Yikes.

I actually made this particular service reservation online and the guy called to confirm it within the hour (I had tried the online reservation two years ago without any luck, but their site was still relatively new at that point).

Greg -- Did you use that opportunity to tell them, "I don't know what's wrong with it... but, I think the engine's been smoking" -- use the empty pack of cigarettes as proof.

FROM: towinlovinit
DATE: Monday May 19, 2003 -- 9:45:01 pm
I want to say to Rob that it is nice when someone speaks up for the tow operator who not only knows how to fix things but also KNOWS where the best shops are. I think I'll sent you a hug................

FROM: Rob [E-Mail]
DATE: Tuesday May 20, 2003 -- 9:45:11 am
Ryan -- Yup. 3 to 5 weeks. And that's to even look at it. I talked to the guy on the phone and I knew sort of what the problem was and when I asked him what he thought, he was like, "I have no idea. You'll have to bring it in so they can look at it." This guy was supposed to be a "service consultant". My buying experience at Carmax was pretty good. My service experience hasn't been. If I get another car from them, I certainly won't bother with the extended warranty. I'll never get to use it!

FROM: Juleslady
DATE: Thursday May 22, 2003 -- 3:09:02 pm
After having a wreck up in Scotland, we were driving the car back down to Essex when the Alternator died. We pulled off the motorway and straight into an Army base, not planned at all especially since this was about 3 days before the first Iraq War was due to start. I had spent all my money, it was xmas remember, and had only enough left for gas ($6 a gallon in the UK) for the 350 mile journey. Luckily the army guys called a local garage owner and he had a new alternator which he brought to the base, installed, and only charged us $20 for. ... but for customer service come to Southern Hills Service Station in LA, the guys there are really great and they send me a christmas card!!

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