By on October 6, 2011

Three years ago I suggested that Detroit win back car buyers by doing something no one seemed to be doing: provide customer care deserving of the name. In a similar vein, Steve Lang recently asked readers whether manufacturers or the government should do more when a model commonly suffers from an expensive problem. Well, according to an article in Automotive News this week GM has strongly encouraged its dealers to pick up the tab on more out-of-warranty repairs to reward and create loyalty.

According to the article, the bottleneck hasn’t been GM—the customer care money has been there, but dealers have been too tight with it because of fears that GM would punish them if they spent it. Why did dealers have these fears in the first place? The article doesn’t say. The important thing isn’t how these fears came to exist, but that they’re currently unwarranted. One dealer calls the new “open pocketbook” approach to keeping customers happy a “seismic shift.” Problem solved?

Not so fast. Steve and I identified the problem: people are worried about having to pay big money because of faulty engineering or manufacturing on the part of the manufacturer. The solution I proposed: clearly state that repair costs will be covered whenever a problem reaches a certain threshold. I suggested two such thresholds, 10 percent before 100,000 miles and 20 percent before 120,000 miles (which is how far most people seem to now expect a car to go without expensive repairs). The specifics aren’t critical. They can be sorted out by market researchers and actuaries based on how common a problem has to become before it achieve “they all do that” status. (My latest, not yet expensive personal example: the aluminum hood on my 40,000-mile 2008 Ford Taurus X is corroding. I drop by the Ford dealer, and it turns out “they all do that, Expeditions too. To help we’ll refinish it at cost, $300.”) The key condition: the manufacturer would provide owners with complete confidence that they wouldn’t be stuck with the cost of fixing expensive common problems.

GM’s latest policy does not do this. Instead, it seems very similar to “customer care” as it has existed for years, though possibly with better odds. As before, it’s up to the dealer to decide whether or not a particular customer deserves the care. Didn’t buy the car new from them, or didn’t have all maintenance performed in their shop? Then you might be no more likely to receive “assistance” than you were before. This is what the article means about “rewarding loyalty.” The flipside is “punishing disloyalty.”
Nowhere does it say that GM is providing the care because they made a mistake at any point. In fact, the article strongly implies the opposite. Two cases are described. In one, a Chevrolet dealer covered the cost of replacing the door hinge on a ten-year-old pickup with 317,000 miles. In the other, the dealer picked up the cost of fixing a wheel that had suffered damage from an impact. These two cases share critical similarities, probably not by happenstance. In both GM was clearly NOT at fault. GM made no mistake. In both cases no reasonable customer would expect GM to pay for anything. GM did them a favor. Later they can return the favor by buying another GM car from this dealer.

Not mentioned: the Saturn VUE owners highlighted yesterday. Or, to give a more recent example, the Lambda crossover owners that have had to deal with persistent water leaks (though, to GM’s credit, it has bought back many affected vehicles). The problem Steve and I raised—common expensive repairs due to a fault in how the car was engineered or manufactured—is ignored. Addressing this problem would require that GM admit that it occasionally makes mistakes. And, for legal or other reasons, it’s still not willing to do this. No car manufacturer is.

I can see how the new policy, since it intensifies the traditional “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch your back” game, might further encourage people to get all of their service work done at dealerships. And it might help GM retain some existing customers who would otherwise defect to the manufacturer. But it won’t do much to help GM gain new customers. People who aren’t on close terms with a dealer have every reason to remain as wary of GM (and other manufacturers) as they have been. Without a clearly stated out-of-warranty assistance policy, one that doesn’t rely on the dealer to arbitrarily decide on a case-by-case basis who gets help and who does not, car owners could, and likely will, continue to get badly burned by the thousands.

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50 Comments on “Customer Care: Whose Problem Is It Anyway?...”


  • avatar
    mikedt

    If I have to take my car to the dealer for every bit of regular scheduled maintenance, I could just as easily self-insure my car repairs using the money I currently save doing my own maintenance.

    You’re right, this is not a selling point nor a way to gain non traditional detroit buyers.

  • avatar
    Omnifan

    I had a new GM car three years ago that had scratches on the inside of the side view mirror. You could clearly tell since the scratched area was dark (mirror surface scratched off) and there were no obvious scratches on the outside when you ran your fingernail over the area. The selling dealer denied it was defective over and over again. I paid $35 for the new mirror glass and put it in myself. The next car I bought last year was non-GM. Hope they enjoy their $35 extra sale.

    • 0 avatar
      jeffzekas

      Yep, same for the paint peeling off my three year old Chevy Celebrity… “they all do that”… oh, really? Cos my fifteen year old Bronco still had non-peeling paint. And the quad four motor… it kept cracking manifolds… again, a “common problem” solved by using neoprene gaskets… a fix revealed by my (non-dealer) mechanic… needless to say, we have owned a Subaru ever since.

      • 0 avatar
        carbiz

        Great! Good for you. Assassinate an industry based on one experience you had 25 years ago.
        Never had a problem with my GM vehicles. Hated my Mopars in the ’80s, but that would not stop me from looking at a Chrysler today (Fiat owning them might, though!)

      • 0 avatar
        jeffzekas

        carbiz: Um… no… i have a long list of GM cars that failed me… i only named one cos i didn’t want to write a novel on this thread…

      • 0 avatar
        jeffzekas

        just a short list: Vega with exploding motor; Cadillac with constantly failing electric windows; Caprice with many maladies making it impossible to pass smog; GM truck with rear axle failing at 100,000 miles… i could give more, but since you are a true believer (or a shill for GM) there would be no way to convince you…

      • 0 avatar
        carbiz

        As a friend of mine says a lot: “We’ll forgive Japan Pearl Harbor, but not Detroit the ’80’s.” LOL
        Believe me, I understand where Detroit went wrong in the ’80s. I mean, my friend’s ’87 Civic was as sophisticated as a skateboard. It had an engine, a 5 spd manual, no a/c, no power anything and didn’t even have a stereo.
        My ’87 Shadow had a/c, a turbo, a ton more power, power door locks, alloy rims, etc. I would have been surprised if my Shadow hadn’t given me more troubles. (It did not disappoint.)
        GM was especially bad: with their money, technical prowess, market dominance and hubris. Yikes. Bad combination.
        The horrid 8-6-4 engines, the Olds diesels and many other issues GM had were all attempts by the world leader to lead. Look at the fun BMW and Mercedes started having a decade ago as they loaded their cars down with electronic gadgets.
        Yeah, GM tried that in the ’80s with the Riviera touch screens and other toys that were way too far ahead of their time.

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        Still @jeff… any failures from cars made in this century??

        You bring up a list of issues from the 70s and 80s, norotiously the worst generation for American cars in general. And the axle failing at 100k?? Not sure that even counts, its not like the specifically advertised that the trucks will last over 100k without needing repairs.

        @carbiz doesnt have be a shill for anyone, almost any car made in the 80s was a POS. At least bring up more recent complaints.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Leaving it up to the dealers is stupid. The local GMC/Buick dealer willingly replaced 3rd and 4th gear in my fiance’s 2005 Vibe when the sycros went out at around 40,000 miles, which was beyond her 3yr/36000 mile warranty, but she’s had EVERY service done there since she purchased it new with the exception of tire replacement. If she had her service elsewhere, what would they have done? I know other dealers who acted like there was a 5year/100000 mile powertrain warranty before GM actually enacted one.

    As I said yesterday commenting on the other article; I don’t expect 0 defect manufacturing/engineering just make it right when you screw up. You do that consistently you’ll make a customer for life.

    • 0 avatar
      hreardon

      “As I said yesterday commenting on the other article; I don’t expect 0 defect manufacturing/engineering just make it right when you screw up. You do that consistently you’ll make a customer for life.”

      You hear that, VW? People are understanding when things break. They are *not* understanding when told that it is the owners fault.

      • 0 avatar
        JMII

        You hear that, VW? People are understanding when things break.

        I understand but corporate VW doesn’t, they had to be SUED into admitting the problem.

        The dealerships sure knew about it because they order pallets of window regulators since every car that pulls into the service drive with it’s window down has a $2 plastic window clip broke inside and thus is an easy $400 sale for the parts department.

        There is a difference between “making it right” by keeping the customer happy and admitting something is serious wrong and actually fixing it. It is really the second part that grinds my gears. Another quick example: my Dakota loses the small, plastic “Ram” center cap off the factory rims/wheels all the time. So I walk up to the service bay, point out the issue and a friendly tech hands me two of them for free… telling me “yep.. they fall off all the time, here ya go, sorry ’bout that”. OK I’m happy, but I’ll just be back next month when these fall off again.

    • 0 avatar
      carbiz

      Educator Dan, you may an excellent point. Price whores or brand hoppers get what they deserve.
      When I was in the ‘biz, many times I or my manager went to bat for a loyal customer. The dealer ate $1,600 on a rebuilt tranny because the after market warranty we sold her (we didn’t use that company for very long!) wouldn’t honor the transmission repair, but we new GMPP would have. A Blazer sat in service all day to have the wipers repaired but at 2:00 when the customer called me to see if her vehicle was ready I discovered it hadn’t been touched yet. She had a 4:00 appointment downtown and needed her vehicle. By the time she arrived at the dealer by our shuttle bus, we had a Tahoe rental (it’s all we could get on such short notice!) waiting for her. She had purchased or leased 7 vehicles from me over the years.
      I knew my customers and I trained them to call me when they had issues with their vehicles.

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        @carbiz, thats a great story, and a decade or 2 ago I am sure it made sense. These days, it is nearly impossible to find salespeople who stay at the same dealership long enough to see the average consumer through a second or third car sale. Even the dealerships do not stay owned by the same people, corporate “big box” owners change policies, managers, etc like they change socks. Dont hit your numbers?? Bye bye. Service advisors are the same way, they are on commission too, and they change jobs fairly often as well. and thats not even counting the point that the dealerships simply charge too much for maintenance items, and are always trying to scam the customers with extra unneeded services.

        For every feel-good story like your wiper repair or trans repair story, there are dozens of horror stories that were caused by greedy dealers taking advantage of customers who dont know any better.

      • 0 avatar
        carbiz

        That’s very true, mnm4ever. The Toronto area’s dealer body was decimated. At one time the GMDA had 43 dealers in the greater Toronto area. I don’t have access to current figures, but I’d wager its in the sub-20 range now.
        Although I had been at the same place for 10 years, it closed after 50 years in the business. Here’s the punchline: the company that owned the franchise also owned several import franchises, notably Toyota. The entire Toyota empire has been built and paid for by GM and Ford.
        If you can find Gus Stelzer’s book, “The Nightmare of Camelot: An Expose of the Free Trade Trojan Horse,” it’s worth a read. Stelzer was a GM executive in the ’60s and ’70s. He tried in vain to tackle GM dealer acquisitions of Toyopet, Datsun and Honda franchises. What Japan Inc got was billions of dollars of expertise, training and know-how for free.
        That is clearly one of the reasons Detroit began to circle the drain in the ’80s and ’90s: their dealer body was too busy counting cash in their import stores to care about their Detroit store.
        When our dealer closed, most of the staff was offered jobs at a nearby Toyota store owned by the same company. I am happy to report that 90% (including me) rejected the offer.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    If this is Government Motors idea of meeting customer expectations (not to mention exceeding them), the future looks dim. People don’t expect the paint to be peeling on a hood of a 3-year old car; they don’t expect non-abused transmissions to blow up at 40,000 miles, etc. Perhaps GM should remember that the very first thing that Hyundai did when the company decided to improve their reputation for building cheap-ass cars in the U.S., was to institute a 10-year warranty. As folks have reported, actual quality increases followed and the rest — as they say — is history.

    Sadly, it still seems that more often than not, customers of new model US branded cars end up being beta testers for unproven features and/or technology. (Everyone knows that aluminum is a more difficult surface on which to adhere paint than steel, for example.) And not that BMW and MINI’s customers haven’t ended up being beta testers of the company’s high pressure fuel pump’s ability to deal with ethanol-blended gasoline.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      It is also interesting that when car companies make customers their beta testers & the experiment fails (I’m thinking Ford’s recent troubles with MyFord Touch), they blame the customers & media for any ding to their reputation. They claim: “We’re pushing the boundaries! We’re innovating! You’re the ones who don’t get it, who don’t understand it. Why should we be punished when Toyota leaves everything the same, and they are rewarded?”

      Well, quite simply, innovation is not valuable for its own sake. It is only valuable insofar as it improves the car. If it doesn’t improve the car, it has no intrinsic value. And if it costs more, is less reliable, and doesn’t work as well (cough-microsoft-cough), then that innovation is actually harmful and should be punished, while the lazy manufacturer who went with the cheaper, proven, and already-liked solution deserves to be rewarded.

    • 0 avatar
      carbiz

      Well, the good news is most of the entitled consumers already left Detroit a decade ago, so they can now haunt Honda and Toyota show rooms. LOL
      Sometimes, it is better to dump a crabby customer, because not only does it alleviate your own headaches, you know they are now going to harass your competitors. That’s two wins, really.
      No car is perfect. No amount of post-service follow up is going to make everyone happy. You have no idea how many clients I saved just by routinely keeping in touch with my customers.
      One grumpy old man was furious about a $300 oil change on his 2 1/2 year old Impala. When I pulled his service history, he had had 3 oil changes in those 30 months, 2 tire rotations and not much else. The $300 included a gas line filter, tire rotation, air filter and a couple small items, plus the awful Ontario/federal 13% taxes. I had the man calmed down when he realized he had barely spent $600 in 2 1/2 years on the vehicle.
      When I was in the ‘biz, the old timers had a saying, “Buyers are liars.” Although often true, I modified that to be, “There are always 3 versions of a story: mine, yours and the truth.”

  • avatar
    blowfish

    Well just all 3 of the US manufacturers were guilty at one time or another of denying the claims even within the W. So how on earth will they change now.
    If they had done it yrs ago it wouldn’t have get to this day now.
    The Vegas with shotty engine.
    My fnd told me the other day he had a Citation X, the brake proportional valve worn out prematurely, so it kind of put too much pressure into the rear wheel make her lock up easily!
    Did GM do a thang? No serie Bob.
    Only reason why they’re selling like hot cakes in Middle Kingdom, is because people there didnt know about the past, they only remember from Grand Pa’s generation of Buicks cruise around freely in Shanghai pre 1949.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      GM, Ford, and Chrysler are about 40 years too late. They won’t recover the customers lost due to ill treatment over the last several decades.

      Anecdotally, the transmission in my friend’s Toyota Sienna was replaced at 70k miles (out of warranty) when it failed – for free. He is still driving that ancient car, and they have a customer for life.

      But as someone else has mentioned, this stuff becomes less of an issue when the car is well-designed and well-built to begin with.

      • 0 avatar

        Toyota has its dealers decides such things on a case-by-case basis much like everyone else does. No manufacturer is willingly to say that as a matter of policy that they’ll pick up the tab for all common problems up to a certain point.

    • 0 avatar
      carbiz

      [rolls eyes] Oh, my favorite story from the hoary 1980s!
      No dealer goes out of its way to deny a warranty claim. Frankly, the entire industry would benefit if the manufacturers just bought up their dealer body and controlled it top, down. This ‘us versus them’ rivalry benefits nobody.
      When your engine is sitting in pieces on a technician’s bench, do you think the service advisor wants to call you and tell you your claim has been denied? The beauty of forensic accounting and online databases is that warranty auditors don’t even have to make surprise site visits anymore. They just print out an exception report that highlights dealers that are above or below whatever curve is being tracked, and then focus on those dealers.
      There is an entire process to determining whether parts failures are normal wear and tear, abuse, or a defect. Are there bad dealers out there? Sure there are, but I’ll tell you the good ones brag about their CSI. Get them to prove it, and then reward them with your business.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    Like I said yesterday, as long as dealers are independent businesses franchised by the manufacturer and protected by state laws, there’s little the mfrs can do.

    I would add, that it’s not only the domestic dealers that are pretty shady. It can be any dealership.

    • 0 avatar
      racer-esq.

      The manufacturers do have control over it. As long as the manufacturers are offering reasonable reimbursement rates, and not punishing dealers with high rates of warranty work, no dealer is going to turn down the service business that comes with warranty work.

      Think of it this way. A manufacturer owned dealership is always loses money on warranty work, but an franchised dealership should almost always make money on warranty work (although it may get punished for doing too much of it).

    • 0 avatar
      JKC

      The domestics are indeed not alone. I can think of at least one nearby VW dealer that operates at a level of avarice that would make a mafioso blush.

    • 0 avatar
      carbiz

      That is what needs to change. First of all, there is far too much conflict of interest amongst the dealer networks. Half the import stores are owned or were built by Detroit dealers. The company I worked for owned a few import stores and it always struck me as a huge conflict when the dealer principal went to Japan to receive an award from Toyota. I know this industry is incestuous, but how is there to be any sort of loyalty when the dealers themselves are in bed with each other? That’s half the reason GM failed: many of their dealers didn’t give a hoot because they were getting rich off their Toyota/Nissan/BMW/whatever dealerships.
      Secondly, haggling and all the BS is a fool’s game. The sticker price should be the sticker price, and then it is up to the regional management to tweak sales with incentives or advertising. The whoring and back stabbing amongst the dealers when a major price or marketing initiative is announced is disgusting.
      When GM announced the $19,999 Blazers to close the factory out, one crafty dealer was pre-ordering them with $600 gross! Sure, they sold 130 or so, but nobody made money on them, and it confused the heck out of the consumer.
      Even Toyota got its knuckles rapped a few years back when it tried a one price on-line ordering system on the west coast. Some consumer’s group threatened an action against them if they didn’t allow the delivering dealer to negotiate. Toyota was trying to do the right thing (eliminate the unfairness of haggling), but got shot in the foot by a consumer watchdog.
      No, the manufacturers should buy out their dealer networks. That is so obvious.

  • avatar
    Mullholland

    “Addressing this problem would require that GM admit that it occasionally makes mistakes. And, for legal or other reasons, it’s still not willing to do this.”

    I’m still waiting for this sort of mea culpa on the whole bailout thing. I think GM’s (and Chrysler’s) omission of this step will forever make going forward a greater challenge both in their marketing and real world sales results. Overwhelming Arrogance—Part Deux.

    • 0 avatar
      carbiz

      I disagree. Give it another 5 years and people won’t remember and won’t care. Don’t believe me? Ask someone who does not haunt these pages if they know or remember Chrysler going bankrupt 30 years ago.
      And no CEO is allowed to apologize for anything. Their legal department won’t let them!
      A couple years back, a train derailed locally and 2 people in passing car were killed. The President of the railway wanted to personally go down and extend his condolences for the mishap. Denied. Even as the bereaved family griped that all they wanted was an apology, they already had their legal team lined up.
      Besides, there have been press releases and conferences where GM and the car czar have discussed the future plans and thanked everyone for sticking it through the dark days of 2008/2009.
      You forget that the main reason GM went bankrupt is because the banks themselves were insolvent. Ford hocked the family jewels in 2006 because Ford was teetering back then. GM had 30 billion or something in cash on hand in early 2008. They burned that up when U.S. sales dropped 40%, then asked to borrow money from banks that were already begging at Washington’s door.

  • avatar
    Mullholland

    “Addressing this problem would require that GM admit that it occasionally makes mistakes. And, for legal or other reasons, it’s still not willing to do this.”
    I’m still waiting for this sort of mea culpa on the whole bailout thing. I think GM’s (and Chrysler’s) omission of this step will forever make going forward a greater challenge both in their marketing and real world sales results. Overwhelming Arrogance—Part Deux.

  • avatar
    tjh8402

    I don’t see where this would help GM with selling cars at all or would make me more likely to get my car serviced at the dealer if I owned one. I already have a long term relationship with an independent mechanic and since my parents, sister, and I have 5 cars between the 4 of us that are all taken to this shop (and have been for almost 6 years now), we already get this sort of preferential treatment there without paying dealer rates for our normal services.

    • 0 avatar
      carbiz

      If you are the type of owner who keeps their vehicles 6 or 8 years, then your strategy is not a bad one.
      However, during the warranty period I would never take my vehicle anywhere but the dealer. I’ve seen the botched oil changes, wrong coolant, etc. and watched as customers got stuck in the middle of ‘he said-she said.’ Once the relationship is established, why break it to save a few bucks?
      Do I care if an oil change is $20 or $25, if all my records are in one place?

      • 0 avatar
        aspade

        I certainly wouldn’t sweat 10 or 20 bucks to keep the maintenance record looking right.

        I got a flyer from the stealership just this week advertising their “special ad deal” 6 month service.

        Oil change, tire rotation, and about 2 minutes of eyeballing belts and hoses. $80 + shop fees + taxes, $100 out the door. Synthetic oil, $40 additional. Cabin air filter, $110 additional.

        Not a luxury dealer. A Dodge/Subaru/Hyundai lot which likely doesn’t have a single vehicle without a Cummins under the hood that sells for over 35K.

        That’s not an extra 10 or 20 bucks. Two synthetic oil changes and a glove box filter a year would run $400. $250 additional over an independent, $330 over DIY. Over the course of a 5 year warranty that’s real money.

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        haha, reminds me of my VW dealer. They sent out a flyer, FROM THE VW DEALER, for thier oil change special: $29.99. In the small print, it says this offer not valid for VW or German cars, only most Honda, Toyota, Nissan, Korean and domestics. (yes, it specifically said Korean cars). Down below it had the “special” price for VWs… $99 oil change and tire rotation. Not sure if that includes sythentic, because not all VWs require synthetic, they normally charge $40 extra for it for my GTI.

  • avatar
    Herm

    Its surprising that dealerships have enough profits to cover warranty work themselves..

  • avatar
    hreardon

    Agreed, Herm. The only reason I didn’t raise hell with Audi when my AC compressor died 1,500 miles out of warranty is because my Service Manager actually took it upon himself to contact Audi and tell them to step up to the plate and help cover the repair cost.

    Audi picked up the part and my dealership ate the labor, sans a few bucks in shop supplies. I was pleased with that.

  • avatar
    readallover

    My cousin swore by Saturn. Not because they were the best car or never had a problem. He knows all cars have problems. He could take the car to the dealer and it would be fixed. No arguments, no `they all do that`, no `I`m sorry that isn`t covered by your warranty`. He was all set to buy his third Saturn when they closed. He bought a Camry.

  • avatar
    MrWhopee

    I suppose in the case of the lady Saturn Vue owner is a lost cause for GM. First she already paid for the first transmission replacement herself. Secondly, would you buy from GM again even if they had replaced the transmission for free if it failed again in such few miles? Might as well save any money GM is willing (now) to spend on this lady, she’s not likely to own a GM vehicle again even if it’s given to her.

  • avatar
    cheezeweggie

    Most dealerships I’ve ever dealt with employed mechanics with less than stellar skills (putting it mildly). I’m sure I’m one of the vast majority that considers a good honest mechanic worth his weight in gold. The mechanic I’ve been going to for the past 20 years has finally retired and sold the business. Although I still use the same shop, I don’t have the same trust in the new owner. Lets just say he’s on probation. Back on topic – Dealerships are usually owned by an out-of-town corporation and could care less about the individual. Their service prices and parts costs are inflated and they dont know me by name. I always dreaded having warranty work done, because half the time the work wasn’t covered and the quality of work was subpar. Probably because the kid fresh out of mechanic school was rushed to get the job done.

    • 0 avatar
      carbiz

      That’s unfortunate. One of my best friends was a Master Mechanic at a GM store since high school. They were constantly being tested and retrained. From live video feeds, to off-site training courses, these guys got grilled and tested.
      The ‘new’ building we got a few years back had a shared lunch/conference room, separated by a heavy vinyl curtain wall. One afternoon while I was eating, I heard the technicians on the other side having a training session about disc brake cleaners. GM had just done extensive testing of the various industry standard cleaners and determined that good old fashioned dish soap did a better job and for cheaper, provided (and this was a biggy!) the newly machined disc was properly dried with the air hose. In countless premature disc failures or warpage, GM had found that the tiniest sliver of metal filings left on the turned rotor would weld to the disc during the first heavy brake application and then cause all sorts of havoc.
      These guys grumbled all the time about their constant retraining.

  • avatar
    Cabriolet

    Just to clear the air about VW windows on 1999/2004 cars. VW issued a warranty 7-8 years to cover all windows that has broken clips. The dealer was to replace all window clips with stainless steel clips free of charge. Most dealers replaced the clips on all the windows when brought in for repair. The clip kit if i remember was approx $38.00 if purchased at the parts dept. This was a design of TRW who made the window assy for VW and other car manufactuers. A bad use of nylon on their part. I understad by late 2002 all VW used stainless steel clips.

    Cabriolet

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      Don’t waste your breath… The VW haters here won’t listen. In their eyes all VWs are complete crap because 10 yrs ago they had a problem the dealer screwed up! :-)

      Why did anyone even bring up VW in a GM article?

      • 0 avatar
        jeffzekas

        They brought up VW cos it is a corporation INFAMOUS for denying problems, refusing to fix problems, and having snotty dealers who lie to customers.

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        They are ALL infamous for that, its not exclusive to VW. Honda service departments are known as one of the worst in the industry, we hear constant horror stories about GM dealers too.

        But its the dealers, not the manufacturers… thats why you also hear the good stories from so many people too. It just depends on where you go and how that dealer is.

        Now I happen to agree with you though, VW dealers are among the worst I have ever encountered, I refuse to use them for my car unless absolutely neccessary. I still like my VW though.

  • avatar
    mfgreen40

    And then there is this—http://www.consumeraffairs.com/automotive/ford_spark.html

  • avatar
    JustPassinThru

    I’ll just add to this: My mother, in her later years, became a Toyota customer for life for exactly this reason: the company going above and beyond to make good on a customer problem.

    In her case, it was a starter failure…misaligned at the factory, stripped the ring gear on the flywheel. This on a Gen-1 Camry. She had it towed to the dealer, expecting a large repair bill; and nearly needed an ambulance when the dealer (a local chain which wasn’t known for above-average ethics) informed her that the repair was free, covered by Toyota even though the car was out of warranty.

    This kind of how-may-we-help-you service is what’s made Toyota the leader, while selling unexciting cars at high prices. They deliver raw value, both the product and the company itself.

    • 0 avatar
      carbiz

      Today’s vehicles are far too complex for the typical layperson to work on. Most import owners would never try.
      Believe me, the easiest sale is to an irate customer from a competitor. Even as you listen to their story and realize that it is they who are wrong, sympathetic words and appropriate nodding of the head will guarantee a new client, and since your latest offering is better than the 5,6 or 10 year old vehicle your client was driving from the competition (just by virtue of it being newer!), only an idiot could screw up a client like that.
      Sounds like your Mother got lucky. Another thing I noticed in the industry was that women got treated better at the import stores. The import stores were newer and tended to have younger staff. The Big 3 were populated by a lot of old dinosaurs.
      Since the shake out in the industry, a lot of that has changed. Many of the old dinosaurs got out of the business, or were forced out.

  • avatar
    Zykotec

    I would think it’s in any manufacturers own interest to keep their customers as happy as possible to keep them coming back, not to mention the advertising effect of a broken down or trashed car with their badge on it. And listening to customers and spending money on beyond-warranty repairs will eventually force them to make better cars. Kia’s whole advertising program in Norway is simply saying they have a 7 year warranty. That’s it :P

    • 0 avatar
      carbiz

      Honestly, until you’ve worked in retail – any retail, you have no idea the lengths and extremes people will go to get their way. I’ve had 70 year old ladies lie to my face.
      It all boils down to relationships and approach. I saw a client in the drive thru on a Saturday morning (the man and his family had purchased or leased about 5 vehicles from me). When I inquired as to how he was, he shook his head and said not very good. He had just been told that he needed $5,500 worth of engine work on his 2 1/2 year old Oldsmobile Silhouette. My face fell, but I was puzzled that this man, who I knew fairly well, seemed non-plussed. He shrugged and said he never had time for oil changes.
      The service advisor surrepititiously showed me a jar containing the sludge that used to be oil. 42,000 km and not a single oil change. Due to his loyalty, I got the invoice knocked down by almost a thousand bucks. The customer was grateful, but he knew it was his fault, and he owned up to it.
      That is very rare, indeed.

      • 0 avatar
        Zykotec

        Still, Toyota and Hyundai/Kia seems to make money, and customers, by doing what they can to keep them happy, offcourse within reason. I expect that any decent mechanic would have noticed that a car hadn’t had an oil change since new.

    • 0 avatar
      Dave W

      My Elantra had the check engine light come on at 81,000 miles. brought it in, there was a cracked flexpipe causing the light to come on. The service person said no problem, 10/100 warranty and all. Came back to get the car the next day and was told it was all fixed, by the way that will be $1500. It seems they replaced everything from the header back, which is not considered an engine part and the emissions warranty that would’ve covered it expires at 80,000 miles. In the end I had them put the old system back on and paid a local shop $50 to weld in a new flex section.


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