Auto service trouble…again

I brought my car in for service the other day. It’s never a fun thing because of the expense and inconvenience. This time it was far worse, however. Despite how close the place is, I find myself needing to research alternate service arrangements.

I wrote the service manager with a description of my experience. It’s not as bad as the Honda Dealer charging me $400 for service not completed, but the two things I point out to the service manager are issues I have with the way the place is run. I can’t fathom how they could be mistakes of any kind.

My letter to the service manager follows. Be warned, it’s a bit lengthy.

April 25, 2009
Mike Lavigne
Service Manager
Hunt Club Volkwagen

[address]

Mr. Lavigne,

I brought my car in to Hunt Club Volkswagen for its 32,000 kilometre service on Thursday. I’ve been bringing it to you for service since I bought it in August 2007. The way the service department is run has given me cause to rethink my trust in Hunt Club Volkswagen. Let me give you two reasons.

You apply a convenient sticker to the inside of the windshield so your customers can clearly see when their next service is required. This is very convenient, except that the sticker doesn’t always accurately report when the next service is required. As shown in the service chapter of the owner’s manual, my TDI requires service at 8,000 kilometres, 16,000 kilometres and every 16,000 kilometres thereafter. Trusting your reminder, I brought my car in for a 24,000 kilometres oil change, which is not a Volkswagen recommendation according to the manual included with my car. It’s a required service for the GTI, but as I mentioned, I have the diesel TDI and not the high performance gasoline GTI.

I checked the reminder when I picked up my car from its 32,000 kilometre service, and sure enough, the reminder is for a 40,000 kilometre oil change. My thought that the 24,000 kilometre reminder was a mistake is clearly not correct because it’s happened again.

So here I am, thinking that although you did do me a service, it wasn’t necessary. I’m left feeling that I’ve been taken advantage of to the tune of $105.95.

Yesterday, I was surprised to discover a licence plate frame in my trunk, wrapped in a “VW accessories” bag. I looked at the rear plate on my car and was even more surprised to see a new frame in place, advertising Hunt Club Volkswagen service. I can kind of see the thought behind your installing a licence plate frame where none exists, though I still think it is not appropriate. This situation is completely inappropriate because I already had a licence plate frame. One of your people removed the frame I purchased and installed myself, and replaced it with yours.

I’m not a big fan of advertising. Even worse is when company tries to make me advertise on their behalf. You perform a service and I pay you for it. That’s the extent of our business relationship. If you’d like me to advertise your service, make me a proposal and we can discuss terms. But I came in to have you service my vehicle. The licence plate has nothing to do with it.

Given your willingness to do things that you shouldn’t be doing, as you’ve shown in these two instances, I’m left wondering if my trust in your organization is misplaced. It was suggested to me that some brake-work would be to my advantage so I gave approval. Now I wonder if I made a mistake in agreeing.

Times are tough, but this is not the way to treat your customers. You may indeed achieve a short-term gain, but where will you be when your customers question the trust they’ve placed in you? We have have differing ideas about what’s appropriate in terms of a business/customer relationship because I can’t begin to image how the two events I’ve described could be accidental. Rather, I wonder what you could possibly be thinking to do these things. It’s clear to me that I need to investigate other Volkswagen service options in the area. You’re very close to my home, but the convenience is not worth the uncomfortable feeling I have in dealing with Hunt Club Volkswagen.

I don’t really expect they can do anything to smooth this out, but I’m willing to listen if they have any reply. I’m typically explicit in what action I want taken, but I couldn’t do this here because I have no idea. The problem is that these are not mistakes. They can’t be. And they’re way over the line in terms of what I’ll accept from a company I do business with. This is why I am not hoping for much.

We’ll see.

I’ve had my say. If nothing happens, then so be it.

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2 Comments

  1. Dee
    Posted April 26, 2009 at 08:14 | Permalink

    It’s great how you follow up on these things rather than just being silently dissatisfied, Rick — something I’d like to learn to emulate. I hope you get an apologetic response, at the very least.

  2. Shawn
    Posted April 27, 2009 at 07:48 | Permalink

    And to think this is the best VW service in town. The other two are far worse. As to the oil change more is indeed better. The VW recommended is way too long, synthetic or not. I change oil every 7500 Km, compared to the 10K they suggest.

    Now about the license plate frame. That I would blow a gasket over. How dare they remove something I put on and replace it with their own.

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