The dealer responds

I’m impressed. I would’ve been very surprised if my message to Hunt Club Volkswagen’s service manager went unanswered, but after sending my message late Saturday, I did not expect an answer on Monday morning. Very nice.

Let me bring you up to date on the two issues in reverse order. The easy one is the licence plate frame. You’ll recall that they removed my frame and replaced it with theirs without consulting with me. You know … me, the owner of the car? His reply was,

Regarding your license plate frame I am sorry and did not mean to offend you in anyway our policy is if there is another frame from another dealer/service provider we do replace it with our plate frame ,We do not touch any personalized plate frames we also return any frame removed to customer .

My frame is exceedingly plain. There’s no writing on it, and that’s the way I like it. The only reason I have it is to keep a nice non-scratch layer of plastic between the metal licence plate and the paint. They removed this and installed their own, which has no back at all, completely invalidating the whole point behind my purchasing a licence plate frame in the first place.

I agree that this is not tragic or a violation of epic proportions. But since it’s my car, shouldn’t I be able to have it the way I want without anyone changing things on me?

My licence plate frame wasn’t from another dealer, but it also isn’t what you might call ‘personalized.’ The fact remains, I put it there and I paid for the car. My wishes trump their policy, especially when I brought the car in for a tune up and this maintenance has nothing to do with the licence plate.

Curious about how it looks? Here’s my plate with my frame reinstalled:

20090427_plate_frame

And yes, I did change the numbers around.

Like I said, this issue is dead-simple. I appreciate knowing the thinking behind their actions, but I reject it as an acceptable policy. It’s not acceptable to me, and guess what? I’m the paying customer.

The other issue was about the service interval. The service section of the owner’s manual states that service is required at 8000 km, 16000 km, and every 16000 km thereafter. Despite this, the dealer reminders customers of a service every 8000 km, contradicting the manufacturer’s statement. His response:

The maintenance intervals on your vehicle are every 1yr/16000 km but under extreme driving conditions such as our climate here it is stated in your book that a service be carried out in between service .This information can be found in your maintenance book in section1.1 page 5 in the section of why service.

I checked the cited reference. The manual states:

The interval shown in the table on the following pages are based on vehicles operating in normal conditions. In the case of severe conditions, such as extremely low temperatures, excessive dust etc., it is necessary for certain operations to be carried out in between the given intervals. This applies particularly to engine oil changes and the cleaning or replacing of the air cleaner filter element.

Fair enough. But the problem is the mushy words. What is ‘normal’? What are ‘extremely low temperatures’? I’m guessing that being so vague is the result of some legal issue in the past. Make it vague and cusomers who experience problems can’t sue them.

The fact remains that I’ll likely need an oil change in the very late fall if I adhere to a 16000 km interval, and April to October in this area doesn’t involve anything resembling ‘extremely low temperatures.’ But still, I’ll contact VW Canada directly and see if they can manage to be any less wishy-washy about this paragraph. Shame on them.

So what are my thoughts? I do appreciate the response. No doubt about that. On the other hand, No one likes to hear, “That’s the way it is” and that’s pretty much what I read into the response I received. Regarding the licence plate frame, claiming that it’s simply policy is laughable. Getting in my business because it’s policy doesn’t make it right, appropriate, and it certainly doesn’t make me want to go back. About the service interval, I did not know about the notice he cited. I’m having a difficult time taking it to mean that service is required every 8000 km, year round however. I’ll see what the manufacturer says.

The licence plate issue and response are enough to have me look elsewhere, frankly.

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2 Comments

  1. Shawn
    Posted April 28, 2009 at 07:51 | Permalink

    I have to disagree with you. HC has the best VW service in town and the other will be worse. As i said, VW service interval info sucks and most knowledgeable folks are indeed doing more as seen in the various VW forums. As to the license plate, other dealers do it too and while not right it is what they do to compete. i would go back for service, but have them put a note on the workorder to not mess with the plate. I ask them not to wash the car as their brush usually leaves swirl marks. They will comply.

  2. Brett
    Posted May 2, 2009 at 01:03 | Permalink

    Honda Canada had given us a verbal response to the same ‘service interval’ question ,(our Mississauga dealer was pushing the same _severe conditions_ angle),,Honda Canada responded with “You only need to have performed that which is outlined in the Honda manual in order to maintain your vehicle warranty”.

    I would have been less than diplomatic had any shop removed anything from my car (in your case the license plate frame) without my expressed permission. If they want to pay me to advertise their dealership via a license plate frame – ask & we’ll negotiate. In the mean time – leave the busted up cracked rusty old license plate frame right where I bloodywell left it. 🙂

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