On Monday, my girlfriend was driving me to work (in a 2000 Pontiac Sunfire) when the engine started squealing and the temperature gauge shot up. She says she saw steam from her side of the engine too. Baaaaaaaaaad thing. She pulled over before the gauge went into the red and pulled out her cellphone to call for a tow through Cingular.
The person on the other end of the phone was apparently as dumb as a bag of bricks and tried to spell Los Angeles three different and very wrong ways before accepting my girlfriend's spelling, but that's just mildly annoying. The tow came and was great, he took us to the Hooman dealership where my girlfriend originally got her car. Now I assumed it was still under warranty at this point, which is why I didn't question it. Unfortunately, it wasn't, and my girlfriend was running on autopilot.
We spoke with Carlos and explained the situation. He said that since the gauge didn't go into the red, we had probably avoided any major damage and it would be a simple fix. We paid $94 for an inspection, and were given a brand new Pontiac Torrent as a replacement vehicle for the meantime. It was so new it only had 56 miles on the odometer, I remember noting it and being surprised.
So, I drive the girlfriend to work (her office was closest) and then head to my job. She sends me a worried e-mail later in the day saying that the dealership want $1400 for repairs. I was horrified, and my bullshit-ometer was going crazy, so I apologized to my boss and left early, driving straight to the dealership to talk to Carlos. I was quite annoyed, but kept things polite and friendly. I asked Carlos for an itinerary of all the parts he wanted to replace, along with a run down of prices. He wrote it all down for me, trying to convince me that we should definitely buy factory parts and not generic. I confirmed that the Torrent needed to be returned the next day, and that we would have the Sunfire towed to a cheaper mechanic.
After missing so much of work on Monday, my girlfriend took the Tuesday off to sort things out. I called her periodically during the day to find out what was happening, and at one point she told me that someone needed her to sign a contract. I hung up, and about three seconds later thought, "what contract?" So I called her back.
"They said we drove 90 miles over their grace allowance." Their allowance is 150 miles. Now, I work in Santa Monica, the dealership is in Culver City and my girlfriend works at the Howard Hughes Center. There is NO WAY that we drove 240 miles in a 24 hour period! I had the car all day in the parking lot at work! I was absolutely furious and got the contract person on the phone and told her that we would NOT be paying the penalty because we did NOT drive those miles. I told her I was more than happy to show up at the dealership with my supervisor and the police to sign a written statement that we had driven 40.8 miles (thank you, Google Maps!) in total and that I had witnesses throughout the day that could prove it.
She went to get a manager and surprise surprise, he graciously waived the charges this time but said that "next time" we wouldn't be so lucky. Oh there is NOT going to be a next time! I don't know if the odometer was broken, or if someone there decided that they were pissed on losing out on our business, but I was pretty damned pissed off.
So my girlfriend has been at the dealership for over two hours now and still no word on the car being put back together. She hasn't had anything to eat, is missing work and still has to arrange a new rental car and a tow to the new mechanic. When she loses patience and goes to find the guy who was working on it ... oh, what a surprise, he's gone to lunch and the car was finished ages ago!
Now, here's the good service. She got a tow to a local mechanic with very good Yelp.com ratings and he gave us a phone quote of $900 if everything the dealership told us was true. Well, we got a call from him today saying he fixed the problem for just $113! Instead of a coolant flush, all hoses, the water pump and the thermostat needing replacing, he just had to replace one hose that had been rubbing against the battery and had burst.
Now, I'm annoyed about them trying to overcharge us. I'm annoyed about how we were brushed off, and I'm VERY annoyed about the mysteriously added miles. But what I'm really angry about is that they didn't actually identify the problem. They weren't honest at all and made us believe that the entire engine would likely overheat and explode sometime soon if we didn't get everything replaced right now!
Today, this letter arrived for my girlfriend:
Thanks again for the opportunity to be of service!
We understand the value of our customers and appreciate that you chose us for your automotive needs. We hope that in the future we can be of service again.
Our goal at Hooman Pontiac GMC Buick of Culver City is to make every customer "COMPLETELY SATISFIED", and we sincerely hope all your concerns were met.
If for any reason you are not "COMPLETELY SATISFIED", please contact me so that I can make every effort to resolve your concern.
Heading things off at the pass, are we, Carlos? I'm assuming that he would much rather have all correspondence go through him rather than his boss. Shame I'm going over his head. To be honest, I really doubt anyone will care, but writing letters to everyone I can think of will make me feel better at least.
For those in the West Los Angeles area, this is the Hooman dealership located at 6101 W Slauson Ave.