The Truth About Cars » customer service The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Sat, 26 Jul 2014 01:30:09 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » customer service Piston Slap: Double A (Beep! Beep!) Em, Cee, Oh… (Part II) Mon, 30 Jun 2014 12:06:29 +0000 TTAC commentator M0L0TOV has an update for us:

Hey Sajeev,

I figured I’d send you an update so people would know what happened to my situation. Well, I went ahead and tried to contact AAMCO. First I tried contacting them via their website but almost a week had passed and no response. So I contact them via their Facebook page, the next day I got a response with a phone number, name, and e-mail address of somebody at corporate to contact. I sent them an e-mail, I got a call from the owner of the Aamco where I had originally taken my car within ten minutes.

He stated he was notified by the customer service department and we had a disagreement. He offered to not charge me for the labor and I would pay for the part. I was perfectly fine with paying for the part, I wasn’t looking for a free ride. I thought their offer was fair because it would have been replaced when the work was originally being done. I picked up my car today and paid $214.00 and I get a 90 day warranty. So yes, the system works. I appreciate everybody’s advice on this matter and I was able to force their hand.

Thanks for all your help Sajeev and the rest of the TTAC readers!

Sajeev answers:

Behold the power of social media.


Between what you experienced, my firsthand experiences (disclosure: social media is my full time gig) and “little” things like the Arab Spring or whatever makes people love Justin Bieber, there’s no doubt social media is a powerful tool for customer service.  Or a service for powerful tools…but I digress.

The system works, with pleases me immensely.  So kudos to AAMCO for doing the right thing, once they heard about it.  And doing it rather quickly: it’s rare ’round these Piston Slap bloggy parts when a company interacts with one of us and does the right thing. So let’s relish this moment of (seemingly) good karma.

Happy Monday to you, Dear Reader.

Send your queries to Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.


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Housekeeping: How Are We Doing? Mon, 19 Aug 2013 14:00:37 +0000 GPP

Slightly over a month ago, we had a spot of regime change here at The Truth About Cars. At the time, we unveiled a five-point program to improve the site and improve the reader experience. I’d like to take a moment to review these five points and give you a chance to provide further feedback on our progress so far.

Our points of improvement were:

Point One: TTAC Homecoming. To the best of our knowledge and ability, we have unbanned and restored every commenter who was removed from the conversation during the previous administration. I’m pleased to note that no commenters have required banning since then. If you’re aware of an account that has not been restored, or if you have an account that has not been restored, please let us know. Furthermore, some previously banned commenters have noticed that their comments are being held in the spam queue. We’re checking said queue frequently but if we miss you, let us know. I’d also like to thank the B&B for being civil and decent during the past month. Please try to keep that up.

Point Two: Accountability and Civility. I think we’ve done a good job of staying work-safe; if I’m wrong, let me know. We’ve had numerous pieces from contributors on both sides of the political fence and will continue to do so. Some commenters were upset at the flippant attitude I assumed towards the United States Government on the recent “Super Blue” piece, so I’ll take that criticism to heart. At the same time, this isn’t the Huffington Post or Fox News and we’re going to primarily judge political figures based on how they treat the motorist. I want to hear your opinion any time we lean too far to one side.

Point Three: Refocus on the B&B. We now allow commenters to criticize the authors, self included, and you’ve certainly taken advantage of that freedom, which is fine. We haven’t had a public shaming or banning of any commenter (or even a silent banning). This is one that’s tough to do over the long haul, for everyone. People get passionate about the issues that are important to them. Sometimes passion takes over. Just remember: we’re all in this together.

Point Four: Opening The Conversation. TTAC readers are contributing in record numbers. We’re looking forward to even more of that. Keep writing, keep sending it. We’re still catching up on the submissions we have, but don’t let that stop you. We want you to continue to participate, and as our budget frees up we will be able to pay for unique or interesting stories, particularly from inside the industry.

Point Five: The Truth A few readers (thanks, Mom!) said they didn’t want a complete ban on fiction, so we created “Sunday Stories” for that stuff. It’s clearly labeled so you can avoid it if you don’t like it. We’re renting more cars, getting more different voices on reviews. I’m pleased to announce that we’re about to go toe-to-toe with a major manufacturer on an issue of journalistic freedom, unless said manufacturer gets their act together in the next 48 hours, and I’m looking forward to it. Time to crack some heads and tell the truth.

So that’s how I think we’ve done so far. How about you? What else do you want to see changed, improved, or replaced? We’re listening. It’s important. One final thing: It had never occurred to me that I would wind up being the inmate in charge of this asylum. In general, you’ve been supportive and decent and great about the whole thing. Thanks for that. And for those of you who hate my guts: the pro tem after “E-I-C” is there for a reason. As always, thanks for reading!

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Lincoln Cuts Free Maintenance Program In Half Tue, 04 Jun 2013 15:45:56 +0000 lincolnmkz-450x269 (1)

Lincoln is cutting their free maintenance program in half, from 4 years/50,000 miles to 2 years/24,000 miles.

Automotive News reports that dealers were informed of the change last month.

In a May 6 memo sent to dealers, Lincoln said the revised program “complements short-term 24-month leases.” In a statement, Lincoln said the new program is “competitive with other luxury brands.” Jaguar and Volvo also recently cut back their complimentary maintenance programs.

Some dealers expressed disappointment over Lincoln’s decision, but Rhode Island dealer principal told AN that most Lincolns are leased for between 2-3 years, and the move wouldn’t have a great effect on his business. But given Lincoln’s supposed push for industry-leading customer service, it’s puzzling why Lincoln would decide to cut the program so drastically. It’s not just the Germans who offer 4 year maintenance packages either – Cadillac does it too.

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Hammer Time: Morning Calls Mon, 21 Jan 2013 14:00:33 +0000

Morning phone rings at the car lot…

Me: Hello?

Random Stranger: Hi there, like, I have this friend you know and he told me that you finance vehicles, and his name is Emmanuel and aahhh, like I was wondering, well, uh, do you have any Toyotas and like, do you, ummm… finance vehicles you know?

Me: I’m sorry. Who is this?

Random Stranger: My name is Lashandra and like, you know, I was really wondering whether you have any Toyotas, and like, how much can you give me if I came by with four or five hundred dollars because my friend Emmanuel…

Me: Where do you live?

Random Stranger: I live in Georgia, like, you know, I live in this state.

Me: (Laughing) I know you live in this state! Where in Georgia do you live? I only finance folks in Paulding, Cobb, and Douglas counties.

Random Stranger: Oh, I live in Fulton. Emmanuel said that you…. (three minute diatribe with 17 likes, 14 aaahhs, and 11 you knows).

Me: Do you have any coffee nearby?

Random Stranger: Why would I need coffee?

Me: I need coffee. I really need a cup of coffee. Call me back.

Random Stranger: Well, um, ahh, OK… but Emmanuel said that you (I give the phone to my confused dog and walk off.)

Craigslist always seems to bring out the weird people on a Friday morning. Or it could be Ebay on a Wednesday afternoon. Or even Autotrader on a  Monday evening. Sometimes I get the most random, scary, and gibberish driven calls you can imagine.  We’re talking about people still stuck in the outer space of their daily lives in a futile pursuit of a Planet X located in the netherworld of their cranium.

Here are a few personal examples…

The Questionnaire: “Hi there. I just have a few questions to ask you. How many miles does it have? How many owners? When was the last time you had it serviced? When was the last time you changed the oil?”

This is followed seven minutes later with…

“How often have you used the glovebox? Is the glovebox fully operational? How about the headliner? And the driver’s side cupholder. Do all the cupholders work? Do you have a Carfax? Good. How many owners?”

The Dreamer: “I see you’re selling a Harley on Ebay. Let me ask you a question. I have never been on a highway while driving a motorcycle. Do you think I can drive it up to Tennessee?”

NOTE: After explaining to her the Darwinian nature of her quest, she still ended up becoming the winning bidder. Following a two month wait, her son came down to Atlanta in a Saturn with some bungee cords. He was going to tie the Harley up on the roof and drive it back.

The Hardsell Discount SOB: “Hi there. I want to buy car! You sell it at discount?”… after explaining that I don’t negotiate over the phone and the car is listed for $10k… “You take $6000? I have cash! I have cash money!”…

NOTE: You never, ever, want to deal with these people face to face. What they will usually do is only speak in their native language and then act completely clueless when you explain to them the price. This will be done over an agonizing two hour period where you will find renewed interest in sorting out your trash bin, paying bills, and dialing in a 34-part Taco Bell survey.

The Needle-(nose): “Yeah. I saw that Mercedes window regulator you have on Craigslist for $80. I have $20 cash and I’ll take it off your hands. Will you take 20?”…

Five minutes later…”Will you take 25? No? Well call me when you’re ready to sell!”

Text, fifteen minutes later: “Cmn man! I ned it! Ur car a deesl?”

Seven texts later: “OK30. Final ofr!”

Two days later: “Stel god it?”

NOTE: This is by far the #1 reason why most dealers won’t part out a crappy car on Craigslist anymore.

The “I don’t know.”: “Hi there. I’m looking for a car.”

Me: “Great. I have plenty available. What’s your price range and what models interest you?”

IDK: “I don’t know. I’m just looking for something that is safe and reliable.”

Me: “Well, I have a 2003 Volvo S40 for $5000. It was dealer maintained since day one and I can email the Carfax and pictures if you like.”

IDK: “I don’t want a European car.”

Me: “Do you want  American, Korean, or Japanese?”

IDK: “I don’t know. I’m just looking for a car.”

Me: “Well, what price range are you looking for?”

IDK: It doesn’t matter. I’m just looking for A to B.

Me: “Well, I have an 02 Corolla. It…”

IDK: I want something bigger and newer.

NOTE: Fifteen minutes later you will find out that they want to spend no more than $5000 on a five year old car… with leather.. and it must be a Toyota Camry LE.

The Life Story! : 

Me: Hello?

“Yes, I’m calling about that 1998 Subaru Outback. You know I used to have one of those and let me tell you… those cars…”

Fifteen minutes and 1 very strong cup of coffee later…

“Well, I’m just looking. But call me if any more of those get in…”

NOTE: On a slow day the Life Story can be one of your most enjoyable customers because they actually know something about cars. The life story is more often than not a bored enthusiast who also has a long list of hobbies, random stories involving their kids, and an unusual desire for “that one car”. I even had one fly down to pick up a car from me, sight unseen.

The “I saw it on TV” Caller #22:

Me: Hello?

TV: “Wha-cha got for a thousand dollars!”

Me: “I’m sorry. What is it you’re looking for?”

TV: “I’m a wholesaler. I’m looking for a cheap thousand dollar car. I need one with a good engine and good transmission. I wholesale cars.”

Me: “Where are you out of?”

TV: “Well… umm… I live in Marietta.”

Me: “Why are you telling me you “live” in Marietta if you’re a wholesaler?”

TV: “Well, I’m just getting started.”

Me: “OK then. Where is your place? I know plenty of wholesalers out of Marietta. None of them sell thousand dollar cars out of their home.”

NOTE:  Most TV customers have visited public auctions and haven’t quite grasped the fact that cheap cars at those sales are cheap for a reason. Most cars wholesaled for $1000 these days are worth more parted out than kept together.

I usually average about two to three of these calls a month.

Every business deals with these types of customers in one form or another. So since we’re headed to the thick of another nice long three day weekend, feel free to share your stories. All the best!

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New Improved 2013 Volt – Now Charges 30 Percent Slower (Push “Leaf” Button To Fix) Tue, 04 Dec 2012 18:20:04 +0000

In late 2011, photos of melted and damaged Volt charging cords appeared on the internet. GM initially blamed wiring problems in the electrical outlets, eventually, the company announced that they would replace all the 120V chargers in all 2011 and some 2012 models with a new unit. About 9,500 charging units were replaced.

When the 2013 model came around, Volt owners were faced with a new and improved feature: Longer charge time. In self-help groups on the Internet, the culprit was quickly found:  GM had reduced the default circuit load of the charger from 12 Ampere to 8 Ampere. Then, a low intensity war on the message boards ensued, and is still rages on. Here the latest dispatches from the front:

Volt owners found out that there is a way to make the Volt charge at 12 Ampere and therefore faster. But that is buried a few levels deep in a maze of menus – and most annoyingly, it can’t be made sticky. Must wade through menus every time. Of course, the most practical solution would be to use the 240V charger on a 240 V circuit (something yours truly could install in a few hours, including a trip to the hardware store), but owners confess that they are too lazy/stingy to do that, and the complaints continue.

“Melissa” of  “Chevrolet Customer Svc” intervened. Chevrolet must have the matter outsourced, because Melissa identified herself as an “Associate of Morley Companies, Inc.” On its website, Morley introduces itself as a “group travel, business theater, interactive, research, performance improvement, exhibit, display and experiential marketing firm,” which more than establishes its credentials to handle the matter. Especially after its associates receive some remedial English lessons.

Melissa informed the frustrated Volt owners that it’s not a bug, it’s a feature:

As a safety feature the Volt will automatically default to the 8amps. This was designed by the engineers as a safeguard the Volt needs. This is to assist and remind owners that the Volt needs to be on a dedicated, grounded, oriented outlet on an individual circuit to be able to charge. This feature is to prevent the outlet getting “warm” and overheating.”

To change from 8A to 12A, says Melissa, is very simple. It also reminds the Volt owner that there is a competing product from Nissan:

“The 2013 owners only have to push the “Leaf” button, select the charging tab, then charge level, and then push the amps they would like to charge at. You can change this level while driving. “

Oops. Don’t let Ray LaHood read that last. No, you can’t make the 12A setting sticky, and don’t hold your breath that this will ever change:

This is the way the Volt was designed for the 2013, there will not be an option to retrofit, or change the charge cord charging design. We truly do value your feedback regarding this safety feature.”

Howls of protests ensued. “This is absolutely idiotic form a usability stand point.” You honestly want us to push FOUR times?

Yep, says Melissa. “I understand your frustration for the safety feature and we appreciate your feedback for the option.”

That exchange happened in early September. It did not appease the Volt owners, and the discussion is raging on, wisely sans Melissa. Tired of talking to themselves,  enraged 100 Volt owners  widened the conflict.  Complaints appeared in comment sections of Forbes.  Expect more elsewhere. TTAC just received a reader’s letter, complete with headline! (See above.)

BS comment: Of course, pushing buttons four times won’t make charging at 12A any safer, and it won’t help the outlet keep its cool. It simply gives GM opportunity to instruct the user each and every time of the potential hazards, and (hopefully) lets GM off the hook.  A standard three prong (with ground) U.S. outlet is good for 15 Amp, should be connected to a 15A wring with a 15A breaker, and therefore plenty for a 12A load. If something else is on the line, the breaker should blow. Note the shoulds.

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Piston Slap: Porsche Customer Service doesn’t Stink? Tue, 27 Dec 2011 17:47:54 +0000


Sam writes:

Hello, can you tell me what ever happened with the Porsche IMS concern? At 18K miles, an IMS bearing failure has caused a catastrophic engine failure in my Porsche 911. My Porsche dealer (who has done all of the Porsche recommended service on the car since new) just told me that there is nothing that they or Porsche can or will do, and that it is an isolated incident. I have since been doing research online, and I find out that an IMS bearing failure is not at all a rare occurrence.

I am not a litigious person and I am not out to tarnish the Porsche name. But with a repair cost of $19k, I cannot afford to get my car fixed. I am looking to get Porsche to step up and address what would appear to be a bearing design defect.

The problem exists in Carerras, Boxsters and Caymans, and Porsche has redesigned this bearing 4 times and have even designed the IMS completely out of the newest 997 direct injection engines. I need some help please and would be sincerely grateful for any help you can give me.

My Porsche dealer here at first told me that only the stud on the Intermediate Shaft had broken, and that they had caught it in time to prevent catastrophic engine damage. They quoted me on a $2000. repair in which they would install an aftermarket-3rd party bearing manufactured by LN Engineering. They told me that they have installed as many as 6 of the LN Engineering bearings in cars brought in for Porsche authorized service. Then 3 days later when the aftermarket bearing arrived and they went to remove the IMS from my car they discovered that the damage had been much more severe than they had initially thought and thus would only be able to proceed using a Porsche factory rebuilt engine at a cost of $19K. Even if the failure rate is <1%, the cost to the car’s owner is huge (I will not be able to get mine repaired as I do not have that kind of money). It is very telling that an authorized Porsche dealer would be installing non-Porsche manufactured bearings in Porsche engines unless of course…….it is because they know that there is a problem with the OEM bearing design.

While I do not want to see the dealer get into trouble with Porsche Corporate (call me selfish since I only want my car fixed and not some class-action lawsuit) I think that this is significant.

Respectfully yours,

Sajeev answers:

Your assessment of the situation is complete and seems even more accurate. Yes, the IMS bearing is junk and they fail on many Boxsters, 996s non-turbos and even 997s…except for the latest DI motors which silently resolved the problem. My question to you, at what year of ownership did this happen? Because at 18k, any late model 911 is under warranty and they are legally obligated to fix it under that warranty.

Reading between the lines, many Porkers run out of warranty because of time, not mileage. Such is the life of a play toy. And in that case, I fully understand your situation and I wish you and your 996 (probably) the best of luck.

Months later, Sam updates:

Mr. Mehta: Porsche came through for me in a big way. My 2003 now has a new engine and my feeling is that they went above and beyond for me. I will be buying Porsche again as they stand behind their Products.

Sajeev Concludes:

Maybe Porsche isn’t the only one, but they are in our scope for now: this Piston Slap shows that a loyal customer gets the treatment they deserve, warranty or not.  And those who deviate from the dealership’s paper trail tend to not get what’s coming to them. And heaven forbid you put your Porker on the track, accidentally hit the rev limiter (Big Brother is Watching) a couple times, put a K&N/cat-back exhaust and get your service work done elsewhere.  My argument hinges on your statement:

“My Porsche dealer…who has done all of the Porsche recommended service on the car since new.”

Congrats Sam, I will consider you one of the lucky ones. Best and Brightest, your thoughts???

Send your queries to . Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.

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