Thursday, August 16, 2012

Poor Customer Service: Ford

Normally I wouldn’t take my blog down this path, mostly because it can open up a can of worms, but I think the key is to get the word out, however I can.  In the grand scheme of things, I realise this is a blip on most radars, the fact that I own a car and took it to a dealership are things some people can’t afford, and before any of you harp on me about taking it to the dealership, they did have the best rate, though the price was one I didn’t quite fully appreciate until later.  I realise that complaining doesn’t change things, but I hope that this will prove as a good lesson for car buyers out there.

About two months ago, I took my car in for the state inspection.  As expected, they came back telling me something else is wrong with the car.  Of course they do, this is why, as a whole, people don’t trust mechanics.  There’s always something more and it is never covered under any warranty or maintenance plan.  They asked me to bring it back in, which I did the following week.  I had initially decided that if it were a couple hundred dollars, to just get it fixed and be done with it.  The quote came back at over $500.  In this instance, they got the car back to me quickly when I made it clear I couldn’t afford that much on my car.  It was an oil leak of some sort, but they used enough technical jargon to keep me from understanding it fully.

I took my car back, calling BS on their assessment.  My father has a friend who isn’t really a great mechanic, but a somewhat reliable one.  I figured, if Ford was charging me $500, this guy should be less, right?  Wrong.  He didn’t have the right equipment and was asking for $1200.  My father warned that I needed to get it fixed.  I do want to digress here enough to say that if this had been my sister, he would have paid for it and moved on, but since it’s me, my parents don’t offer to pay for things, because I’m well off or whatever they tell themselves to justify always helping her and never helping me, but I digress.

I waited a few weeks more, then called Ford up and dropped my car off on the 31st of July, at 7.30, as I always do and took the shuttle back to my office.  Scott, my team lead or whatever, told me he’d let me know when the car would be ready.  I grant you, that is enough of an ambiguous sentence to absolve him of some responsibility.  I wait and wait and wait.  At about 12.30, I call and ask him what the status is, but I have to leave a message.  At 3.15 I get a call back.  Math isn’t my strong suit, but isn’t that more hours than it should be for a call back?  Scott says the car won’t be ready today, but should be ready tomorrow, do I need to make arrangements to get home?  Of course I do, you have my car and now the only ride I had home is gone (my mom) – so I ask him to have the shuttle come get me.  He does offer a rental car, but I assume the car will be done the following day, so I decline.  Besides which, the added hassle of having the rental car is rarely, if ever, worth it.  As per usual, the shuttle shows up at 4.10.  Mind you, I get off of work at 3, so I’m waiting an extra hour because Scott can’t return phone calls in a timely manner.  Imagine how annoyed I am at this point and we’re only halfway through the story.

Wednesday rolls around and I’m thinking, surely my car will be done by midday.  Once again, I call at noon, this time it only takes Scott 2 hours to call me back, a nice change of pace.  He says the work is really complicated and he hopes to have the car done by the end of the day today.  When he says that, he means 5.30 PM, not my business hours.  So I grab a ride with someone else and get a phone call after 5.30 telling me the car is ready.  I bite my tongue to say anything at this point, knowing Scott has been less than helpful and rather passive aggressive in his dealings with me.

I pick the car up the following afternoon, carless for almost three days, thank you very much, and much to my surprise, the car actually does work properly.  On at least one occasion I’ve had to return the car immediately because something else didn’t work.  It’s a crapshoot when you drop your car off at the dealership, especially Cowles Parkway Ford.

At this point, I’m patiently waiting for the survey.  At no point during any of this inconvenience did Scott, or anyone, at the dealership offer any compensation for the extreme delay in getting my car back.  One could argue that they were ‘doing a thorough’ job or something along those lines, but I don’t buy it.  I checked my odometer, and while it didn’t look like they’d been joyriding, they’d know how to adjust it if they had.  The whole episode just stunk of dirty dealings.

The survey shows up a couple days later and to say I body slammed Scott would be putting it mildly.  I used the 500 character limit as best I could and gave them the worst review I could.  And what was the dealership’s response to this?  Not one, not two, but three different phone calls and a promise of something I don’t know that I’ll ever get.

The first phone call is from Richard, I have no idea who Richard is.  But he asks me if I have concerns.  No, I don’t have concerns, you idiot, I have a complaint that you’re not dealing with.  Richard hems and haws, but doesn’t really offer anything, nor does he seem all that interested in what I’m saying, just doing his due diligence in making the call.

The second call comes from Matt (he’s a ginger).  I’ve actually known Matt for several years since I’ve brought this car in here for check-ups over the course of its lifetime.  Matt’s a little more reasonable to talk to and agrees that waiting for a return call for an excess of two hours is unreasonable and he didn’t make excuses, unlike Richard, who cited being very busy.  Guess what, we’re all busy, it’s called work for a reason, Richard.  Matt offers me a full detailing.  Given how I’ve seen them clean my car before, I think, fine, that’s the best I’ll get, there’s a 20% chance they might actually a) remember and b) do it when I drop the car off again.

And then there’s the third call, from our antagonist, Scott.  Why Scott would call me and why either Richard or Matt would tell him to call me is beyond me.  The call was yesterday morning, but I was too angry to write anything then, but have since calmed down (yes, this is calmed down) and am able to get my thoughts together.  As Richard had intoned, Scott too asked me what concerns I had.  What my response is, I couldn’t tell you, but needless to say at no point was Scott apologetic in any way.  The word I’d use would be righteous.  He was right, I was wrong, and he proceeded to let me know why I was so very wrong.  When I brought up the fact that he’d had my car for three days, he countered with, I offered you a rental car.  But you see, Scott, that’s not the issue, I continued, I didn’t think I’d need the rental car because I expected to have my car back in a timely manner, but you never returned my calls in a timely manner, so I never knew how to plan.  I then went onto suggest that if he couldn’t return calls in a timely manner, maybe he should ask the girl at the front desk to help.  To say that this was the wrong thing to say would be an understatement.  Scott raised his voice to tell me ‘we don’t do things that way’ and ‘she doesn’t call customers.’

The only interpretation I can make from any of this discussion is a) Scott is a misogynistic, womaniser who thinks women can’t handle this simple task and b) Scott has no integrity or accountability to speak of.  At no point during any of our brief conversation did he apologise for not calling me back or holding my car hostage for days on end.  To him, it was clear, he had done everything right and I was utterly wrong and stupid.

This isn’t a discourse on who is right and wrong, though I know it looks that way.  My issue now is, what kind of customer service did I receive?  I think the answer is pretty clear.  After spending in excess of $30,000 on a car, I now know, without any ambiguity or doubt, what Ford thinks of me and my money.  They don’t care about it.  To employ someone who reacts in this manner is unprofessional and inappropriate.  This incident has affirmed what many of us all knew about dealerships and mechanics, and it makes me sad to think that I’ve fallen into that stereotypical trap.  Scott was disrespectful and rude, but more than anything, he was condescending and rude, treated me like a ‘stupid woman’ and that is where I draw the line.

Ford has now joined Comcast and Verizon in my mind for terrible, terrible customer service.  Any daydreams I ever had about buying or owning a Shelby Mustang (white with blue racing stripes, oh yes, that much detail) are long gone.  I don’t know if Ford will ever take the time to read this, or care, I’m not optimistic, but I can at least warn the few people that read this that Ford is not a brand you want to support.

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