Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Raise a Ruckus

It seems I have a scanner that nobody, nobody can figure out how to use. Maybe that's why it's been just sitting on my computer desk for years. But that's well past the end of this story, so let's dive in a bit earlier.

Paul has had his car in for warranty work. For THREE WEEKS! I've heard the jargon explanation now - twice - and it still doesn't make much more sense than that a previous repair part was missing some piece and it's spurting out oil. Bad move.

They did hand him a rental unit, but told him he had to pay for it. Something about the car being purchased at a different dealership than the one doing the repairs on it. Complete hooey, but he's not happy about it. The delays are just salt in the wound, each day more on the tab, and worse gas mileage besides.

Tonight I got a call from him a few minutes after he usually leaves work. I figured he was either well on his way home or picking up his car. Nope. Still at work. He'd gotten a call telling him he'd need a copy of his title or the cab card from renewing his tabs to prove his ownership of the car before they'd give it to him.

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WTF?

I suggested he call for clarification, offer to raise a bit of a ruckus, and even be prepared to call the police if need be to verify whatever he needed to verify in order to reclaim his car. Between his drivers license and his possession of their rental car, what more did they need to give him back his car? I was working my way towards him, as it turned out, nearing my last drop of the day a couple miles from the dealership. I was preparing to head over there myself if need be. Paul is not much at creatively creating a scene, or doing one much of any other way for that matter. I was willing to help.

That's me. A helper.

He called me back after a bit having made absolutely no headway. In fact the regional manager got into the mix and refused him his car. Now, the paperwork needed was sitting at home, a mere 40 miles away, each way. If he went home to fetch it, and came back, would they even still be open? And who ever heard of needing to do all that to get their car back?

I walked into the dealership a bit later with a full charge of adrenaline, ready to do battle. No slinking in to the service bays, uh-uh, not me. Right into the front sales lobby, in front of however many potential customers might be there who ought to hear how they might be treated later if they purchased the cars they were looking at. I figured my best shot of getting some action was to be loud, angry, and as public as possible. And if that failed, I was ready to make my own 911 call to complain about a car theft in progress (by the dealership against us), further complain about it here with all my three or four readers, and even vent on Angie's List.

They have more than 3 or 4 readers.

I gained the attention of the general manager. We adjourned to his office, only because he convinced me he needed access to his computer to gain information on the situation. It opened on the showroom floor, so I figured I could still let it be known we were being shafted if it still was necessary. I relayed the whole story as Paul had relayed it to me, going back to this being a repeat fix. He looked up the file, located some paperwork, made some calls.

There was some immediate good news: no fee on the rental car. Then, the reason for the paperwork was not to prove ownership, but that Paul was the original owner! Somebody lost an important word along the way. Anyway, the warranty on the powertrain only followed the vehicle if it was in the original owner's hands because the first part of the warranty had expired due to mileage, and this was the extended section. In other words, it follows the car for the first 70,000 miles, but between that and 100,000 miles you need also to be the original purchaser of the car.

Did he have the title, aka green card? Sure, at home. How about the cab card from the last tabs update? Threw it away, saw no need to keep it. (That's now changed.) He could look up the next one on the web with his license plate and last 3 of the VIN and print something off that would satisfy part of the requirement as long as he showed the title also. It just wouldn't give his name, but if they thought it would help, he was willing.

Now you have to understand at this point we were having a three-way conversation, the manager with me, me with Paul on our cells, and back to me with the manager. It needed to become a four-way. I called Richard. He got the email address of this guy at the dealership, then called Paul so he could explain where to find the title, then Rich could scan it and email it to the dealership. Slick, huh? Or is your head spinning by now?

After about a ten minute wait, during which I told Paul to head on over to the dealership - he was still at work, phone and web access - since it looked now like he was going to be able to get his car after all. I called Rich back to see what kind of problems he was having. He'd just gotten the power supply reconnected to the scanner, don't bother him now....

Meanwhile the manager had an idea and accessed the DOT website using their own "back door" for information and verified date and location of purchase, that Paul was registered owner, in fact everything except proof of continuous ownership needed by the car company itself in order to OK the coverage for the repair. No OK, and Paul would need to pay the bill himself to get his car.

I saw the list of everything done for the repair. It was not going to be cheap. One tiny missing part seemed to involve half of everything under the hood. No way were we leaving there without that OK.

The manager called another supervisor and verified that this info sheet plus the title should give all the information necessary. Paul had arrived by then and much was explained to him about what was going on. Then the manager got another brainstorm, and had the service guy bring Paul's car around front so they could go through the paperwork in the glove box from the original sale. Sure enough, no title (who'd be that stupid as to leave the title in the car?), but bill of sale, financing info, all kinds of goodies to show he was the original purchaser. The manager left the room to make copies, figuring out loud that if they buried the warranty people in enough paperwork they'd have no questions about their proper need to honor the bill.

I called Rich again. He'd gotten the scanner to claim it copied the document, but couldn't get it to save it, much less transfer it to a blank email form to send. I was able to thank him for his efforts and let him know his efforts were no longer necessary. I'm not sure which made him madder, the nutty scanner or all that work for nothing.

The manager returned with the copied paperwork, called his contacts again to verify what he had should enable releasing the car to Paul, and was putting it all back in Paul's folder, when he opened one last document. "Oh, you purchased the extended warranty, 100,000 miles bumper-to-bumper? You're covered. Even the rental car."

Never mind. (Don't you miss Emily Litella?)

With a few gentle words about showing that next time he came in for service, he handed Paul his keys, and hands were shaken all around.

I do remain convinced, however, that none of this would have happened had I not walked in ready for bear. Angry. Loud. Public.

So, do you supposed that scanner would make a good paperweight?

No comments: