A long and frustrating road
August 5, 2002
I am new to the valley. I hail from New York City. I recently had a shocking and infuriating experience with a local car dealership service center.
Upon my arrival in Boulder, I bought a ’93 Subaru station wagon, as I knew I would need front-wheel drive in this area during the winter. My car was great for five months, no problems. Then one day, as I was making my way to Boulder to visit some friends, my car decided to spontaneously shut off.
I was lucky I was on my way downvalley and stopped in at a Subaru dealer to find out what was wrong with my car. I was told it was a “knock sensor” and that would fix the problem. For $250 the part was changed, and as I went to pull away my car died again. I guess it was not the knock sensor.
Next I was told that there were wires that were cut and I would need to leave my car and rent a car for another $120 to get to Boulder. The service center never offered to refund the money for making an error in diagnosis.
Upon my arrival after my weekend I was hit with another bill for $245. Two weeks later my car exhibited the same symptoms and had to be jumped five times before I could make it all the way to Glenwood.
This time I was told that I needed a new battery – $115 later I had a new battery. When I went to drive away I noticed that the FM on my radio would not work. Four mechanics and a supervisor later, no one could seem to figure out how to fix it.
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Upon requesting that it be fixed and demanding that they give me a replacement radio in the two weeks that I would not have a radio due to their own faulty work, I was told that that I could not prove that they broke it (so I was now essentially being called a liar). Never in my life have I gone to a mechanic to have something fixed and had something else broken.
Five days later my car died again, this time in Basalt. Absolutely infuriated at this point, I requested that the car be towed at their expense and that a rental car be provided to me also at their expense.
I had to speak with two arrogant and insulting managers and fight with them about the simple fact that I have paid them over $650 to fix my car, and it was still broken with the same symptoms. My car was then diagnosed with a bad alternator, which I suspect was the problem from the beginning.
I told them not to fix it and that I would bring it to my mechanic in Boulder. Upon getting my car back this time, I found that my driver’s seat was broken.
Can you honestly believe that this is happening, I am thinking. The manager who again made me feel like a liar by telling me that there is no way they could have broken it, fixed it himself when I told him that I would have my lawyer contact him.
At this point I call the original mechanic from whom I purchased the car to find out that the knock sensor – a part that I have never heard of – had been replaced within the last six months, as well as ALL of the wires and the battery. So at this point I am seeing red and all I want is my money back.
I call to speak to the owner of the dealership, who I guess does not answer phone calls, then am referred back to the general manager, who says to me, “You must not understand the mechanics of cars.” I’m thinking, “Good one genius! Of course I don’t understand the mechanics of cars; that’s why I bring my car to your service center, because you are supposed to know about cars.”
The general manager was supposed to call me back after he spoke to the dealership in Boulder, and I still have not heard from him three weeks later. And finally I speak to the first manager, who refuses to give me my money back even with all of the facts pointing to the fact that they consistently misdiagnosed my car and were not willing to guarantee their work.
As I made my way down to Boulder, my car died three times, the last one finally in Loveland, where I had to get towed at a cost of $209 and three hours of wasted time spent waiting for the truck.
I have since heard of many people who are less than thrilled with the local dealership’s practices and who have demanded their money back or sued for their money back and gotten it, mostly men.
Coming from New York, I would more likely expect treatment like this in New York City, but out here in a small town, where people pride themselves on being reputable and honest, I must say I am honestly shocked.
Their subsequent misdiagnosis cost me over $1,400 in repairs and a loss of $700 in wages, not to mention the embarrassment and humiliation of having to borrow money from family and friends in order to cover my rent and such expenses, and the indignity of feeling like I have to defend myself when clearly it was their mistake.
I just felt that honest, hardworking, reputable people have a right to know about the unethical practices of local businesses that they are doing business with and that claim they are part of the community and work to serve the same people.