Tuesday, December 2, 2008

How complaining can be fun, and profitable. Alternate title: Why Carter Volkswagen will get no more of my business.

As you know, my car recently went on a shopping spree. A rather expensive shopping spree. And I was pissed off. So after paying the rather massive bill, I got in my newly improved wagon and drove off. Since the repair was a bit more expensive (like $200 more expensive) than the quote I was given, I glanced at the bill and saw a charge for $82 and change that I didn't understand. It wasn't parts or labor or even tax. Other than those charges, really, what's left?

I called the service supervisor who helped me right then and there and asked what it was. He explained it was a charge added to the bill to cover hazardous material disposal, and other things. When pressed he said, rubber gloves, but failed to come up with other items. It is calculated as a percentage of certain types of services and isn't itemized, it's just a lump added on. "Fine," I said, "but that seems like a lot of rubber gloves." I added that those are the kind of add on charges that would keep me from having my car serviced here in the future. He quickly offered to take care of my next oil change free of charge. That seemed like an acceptable reparation, so I accepted and moved on. But the total bill still bothered me. I mean, it was the 50,000 mile service on a car that has been well maintained, and it was almost $2,500. That's a high cost of ownership.

The more I thought about it, the more it bothered me. I decided to write a letter to Volkswagen. I mean, I've always owned VWs and I probably always would, but this kind of major repair bill definitely put a damper on my farfegnugen. So I wrote a letter, then couldn't find an address to mail it. So I condensed it and submitted 250 characters of frustration and concern via the VW customer service website. I hardly expected a response, but I got one. Within 24 hours in fact. It was amazing. The customer service agent was really nice, I explained that the expense seemed steep for a car that wasn't that old, didn't have that many miles and got regular maintenance. I told her it definitely put my next car purchase up for consideration, and that maybe I should try one of those nice Toyotas or Hondas that people adore so much. She said she'd look into it, and get back to me by end of business on Wednesday, just 48 hours away.

It wasn't the same woman who returned the call, but anther rep called back the next afternoon. He said that they'd contacted Carter Volkswagen and found that the belts, breaks and CV boots were replaced due to wear and tear, but the oil leak and the resultant parts replacement was clearly covered by my powertrain warranty. They'd contacted Carter VW and they were cutting a check that could be mailed or I could pick it up. All I had to do was give them a call. Awesome. That was over $600 of the total bill.

As happy as I was that it was going to be repaid, I as also pissed off that it was something that I never should have paid. If I hadn't been pissed off enough to contact customer service, I'd have been out that money. That's not good. In the past the service department has told me it is their job to make sure the repairs covered by the warranty get paid for by VW, not me. So when I called Carter, I was a bit sharp. After working out the details of the check, I told them I was a bit angry that it was ever charged. I got an apology. I brief apology. A very brief apology. Guess what, that's not good enough.

I understand that mistakes get made, but when the best you get is, "oh, sorry about that" and "my boss really pinned my ears back for that mistake" for a more than $600 overcharge, I'm sorry, that's bad. I will not be doing any more business with them. And I'm letting other people know. It feels good to complain. Especially when it pays well.

6 comments:

caryn said...

sorry you had so much trouble, yes, venting always feels good. I have owned vw's in the past and loved them, but there are some vw dealerships that I could do without. hopefully you will find another dealership to work with.

KD @ A Bit Squirrelly said...

The 50K service for my vehicle was $1800 and my hubby said half of it wasn't necessary and the other half would cost MAYBE $200 in materials. It's ridiculous.

Shieldmaiden96 said...

Yet another reason why I only seek 'service' when stuff lights up, makes noise, or falls off. And why my Saturn SL1 has 186,000 miles on it and I'm still driving it.

Always Smiling :) said...

Ugh I hear you about car problems. In the past couple of months my car ('99 Acura TL) has had 3 cylinders replaced (don't ask me how I blew those) at different times, new brakes, and a new EGR system. Granted the car has 160k on it and if I was that old, I would probably be having some issues too. :) I really have never put money into that car other than new tires, oil changes, and wipers. We take it to an awesome local place that only does Honda/Acura. Unfortunatlly, he knows us by name, but explains everything and didn't charge us for the diagnostic on the last 2 cylinders because we already knew the problem. I hope they are able to correct everything for you (even though it leaves a bad taste).

Green said...

I wholeheartedly believe in this sort of thing - I love to complain about stores and services and compliment them.

Are you going to write a review on Yelp about Carter and link to this blog post?

Renée aka Mekhismom said...

I am so sorry that you had to go through this headache.

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