Cynical Synapse

Sat, 07 Nov 2009

Why Do They Call Them “Service” Departments?

Filed under: Behavior, Business, Cars, Customer service, Life, Paradoxes, Rants — cynicalsynapse @ 10:02 pm

An automotive service department

My 2005 sport utility turned over 170,000 miles today. Yesterday, it was at the dealer for the third time in a year. Last December, the driver side airbag sensor module needed replacement. In January, the passenger side airbag module went bad. The current problem is no heater fan.

This is my second vehicle from the same manufacturer, both bought new. I truly had no issues with the first vehicle, but have been less satisfied with the second. I attribute that largely to the dealership. For the current vehicle, I received a letter from the sales manager thanking me for choosing them, with a rubber stamp signature! What? When I called him on it, his response was “Do you know how many of these I have to sign every day?” Excuse me? If you can’t sign them personally, don’t send them. After that, I received a personally signed letter. Now you’re just patronizing me.

When the airbag light went on, I took the vehicle to the dealer. The “service advisor” bludgeoned me about preventive maintenance and whether or not I’d done what was in the book. She recommended services on a basis not consistent with the owner’s manual. Then, come to find out, they didn’t have the replacement part for the driver side airbag. So, they ordered the part, which I had to pay for then and there, and then they installed it when I came back the following week. They washed the vehicle after the first service, but not after the second. Do you only get one wash per problem?

No service

A month or so later, the airbag light was on again. As you might suspect, I was not a happy camper. When I scheduled the appointment, I told them to make sure they had the necessary parts on hand. Would you be surprised to learn they didn’t have the part? Well, they didn’t, but they were able to get it in and install it that day. Of course, it was almost closing time when I got my vehicle back.

Yesterday, I went to the dealer because I’ve got no heater fan blowing. That’s a problem in Michigan with winter approaching. Surprise! No heater control head on the shelf, but we can get one by Tuesday. Don’t they have anything on the shelf? Oh, and there’s a recall for driver side airbag module covers, which they’ll fix for free. Do you think maybe that might have been the issue with my first trip to the dealership? The heater control head will be in on Tuesday, so I’ve got to go back to the dealership to get the problem fixed. In fairness, the technician installed a jumper to bypass the short-circuit in the control head, but there’s no guarantee how long that will work.

Once the work was done today, the dealership sent the shuttle to pick me up from my house. That took a good 45 minutes even though it’s only about a 20 minute trip. Once at the dealership, I paid for the service performed and the part that’s on order, and was told the vehicle would be brought up shortly. Ten or 15 minutes later, I went in to ask the service advisor about my vehicle. She was on the phone and ignored me until my car was brought up and I started toward it. Then her response was there must have been a back up at the car wash. When I questioned this, she said policy is to not wash vehicles until the customer is present. Hello! Your shuttle is picking me up. Why not wash the car while I’m on the way so it’s ready when I get there? How come I have to wait an extra 15 minutes? “It’s policy to not wash the car until the customer is here.”

While they apparently had the driver side airbag cover recall part on hand, they’ve not had the part on hand for any of my last 3 visits to the dealership. So I have to buy the part for them to install it later and make another trip to the dealership to get the work finished. And they wonder why I’m not pleased with their “service”?

Update:

15 Nov 2009

I had intended to be at the dealership about 10 minutes before the service department opened on Friday. Unfortunately I didn’t set my alarm correctly, so I was about 20 minutes later than expected. They hadn’t been that busy the previous week, so I figured I’d be ok. On arrival, I was 4 cars back from the service advisers. Not a good sign. I steeled myself for a long wait.

Shortly, I got up to the service advisers. My adviser from last week bee-lined to my car, told me she’d take care of things, and offered coffee in the waiting room. She popped into the waiting room at least 3 times to give me an update. And I was out of there, including car wash, in under 45 minutes. Thanks for taking care of me this time!

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