Friday, January 23, 2009

Customer Dis-Service

I'm not rich, but I can afford a nice car. But I'm not the type to need a nice car. Oh, if I could afford to own 4 or more cars, at least one of them would be a very nice car. But I am a truck person. I feel at home driving a pick-up. If there are Red-neck Asians, I guess I'm one of them. Yee-haw, where dem doggies at?

I do like fast and/or sporty cars. I have experience working on cars too. I'd like to think that if I had the time and money, I would have several old cars and trucks in my backyard, in various stages of repair, or dis-repair. Probably dis-repair.

For 6 years, I had a GMC Sierra, Full size pickup, extra cab with 4 wheel drive. It did everything I wanted and needed it to do, except for one thing. It got 13 miles per gallon. 16 mpg if I went on a long trip and only drove at highway speeds. Not enough when gas prices were headed towards and eventually over, $4.00 per gallon, and I rarely used the 4 wheel drive.

So, before gas went over $4.00 a gallon, I traded my faithful truck in for a 2008 Mazda 3, 5 door hatchback. I should have kept my truck, because I have had a need for it since then, and I got hosed on the trade-in value. But that's a whole nudder story.

My Mazda is fun to drive, holds most everything I want to haul, and gets a minimum 25 mpg. I just about doubled my mpg! When I went to Big Bear for a day trip, I got just under 30 mpg. Overall I like my car. But I don't love it.

The competitors of the Mazda 3 are the Toyota Corolla, and the Honda Civic. Both get at least 30 mpg, with 35 hwy mpg. And though I haven't compared the standard equipment lists, I bet they both have automatic headlights when it gets dark, and automatic door locks when you put the car in gear. Heck, my truck had those as standard equipment. My Mazda doesn't do those things. AND I bet they both are made with higher quality assurance than Mazda.

I have some complaints about quality issues. And this is where the point of my story starts. Today, I took my car in for it's first scheduled maintenance. As a gift for purchasing the car from CLIPPINGER Mazda, a relatively new Mazda dealership in West Covina, I was told my first maintenance service would be free.

Though they did hose me on the trade-in value of my truck, the salesman and the experience I had was not that bad. I would have given them at least 4-5 stars if I was still on Yelp. Maybe they're lucky that I'm not on Yelp anymore, for I would give them the minimum for what happened today.

I drove to CLIPPINGER Mazda, and pulled into their Service Dept. I told them I purchased my car there and it was due for it's first service, and reminded them that it should be free. Then I told them about the 3 things that I wanted them to address.

1. A lighter was not given to me before I left with my new car, and I did inform them of this as soon as I noticed it. I don't smoke, but come on, there's a hole there. I might put my finger in it and get an unpleasant surprise.

2. There is a mark on the windshield. Every windshield is actually two pieces of glass and somewhere in between these two pieces, is a half inch mark, probably made with a grease pen.

3. The front passenger window seems a little "loose" and does not track right when closing. It is minor but has become much more visible after I had the windows tinted. Now you can plainly see how it "tilts" forward before closing.

On the first issue, they told me they couldn't do anything about it, and it would be up to the Sales Department to give a lighter to me. Okay, I guess that's how things work within the system, but wouldn't it have been much better Customer Service if the Service Department did that for me? Answer: YES.

On the second issue, the service writer seemed apathetic. He acted as if there was nothing that anyone would do about it. Sure, it is minor, but a windshield is supposed to be 100% clear, not 99.5%. I would have been open to negotiate some kind of compromise instead of a replacement of my windshield, but now, I may just ask for it. Conclusion: Act as if you care, and that you are there for the customer.

The above had me thinking that they were not going to be sympathetic to my issues. I started thinking that they would start giving me the run-around, give me some excuses, then send me on my way with nothing fixed.

On the third issue, the service writer got in my car and worked the windshield. Up, down, up, down. He saw exactly what I was talking about. But he was unsure of what to do. He called over another older service writer, or mechanic. This guy told me that it could be due to my windows being tinted.

Already thinking that they were going to give me the run-around, I called bullshit on that right away. I said that there was no way that the tint could cause that, and that I wasn't dumb enough to go for that. He immediately became angry with me and told me not to have a bad attitude and gave me some excuses as to how a tint job could affect my window.

Excuse 1. Some shops remove the window from the door and tint it.
Excuse 2. Water could have leaked into the door and affected the window motor.
Excuse 3. The door panel could have been removed and the Tinters did something to the track.

Anyone who has ever had their windows tinted knows how it's done. A little of it is placed under the INSIDE lip of the weather stripping, then laid onto the INSIDE part of the window, and then trimmed to fit the INSIDE measurements of the window.

Tell me how that process can cause excuse # 1 & 2, and even if they did # 3, and removed my door panel, how that affected the window track.

So after a little heated argument, that would have died had they learned anything from their Customer Service handbook, the last thing the older service person said to me was, "If you want me to work on your car, you need to have a better attitude."

"I" needed a better attitude? Obviously, I didn't know how privileged I was to have my car serviced by CLIPPINGER Mazda. I didn't know that there was a line of people there to have their car serviced, or that there were throngs of people in the dealership buying their cars. Obviously, there is nothing wrong with the economy, and CLIPPINGER Mazda does NOT need loyal customers.

That was it. I got back in my car and drove away. If I was in a restaurant, the waiter would have spit in my food. I wasn't going to get service here, I was going to GET serviced. But not in a good way.

Sometimes I wonder. I have had better service from service people, but mostly when I owned cars with a higher MSRP. When I owned a "cheaper" or more entry-level car, I didn't get treated as well. It must be the perceived wealth that a person has by the car they drive. And Automotive service people usually don't argue with people who buy cars with a higher MSRP. I guess if you buy a "cheap" car, and get treated that way.

If you own a Mazda and think that you might be lucky enough for them to want to work on your car, go to CLIPPINGER Mazda on Citrus Ave in West Covina just North of the San Bernadino (10) Freeway.

If you are a no good low-life with a bad attitude like me, go to Sierra Mazda in Monrovia. They won't argue with you, and they will say "Thank you." You don't need that.

5 comments:

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PuPCakes said...

I think I will get that Honda Fit instead.
Of course, since you want a truck so badly, I could trade you my SUV for your Mazda...

Ninja said...

I would want a whole lot of baked goods for that trade to happen... sweet buns, pies, cupcakes, etc.

L'aura said...

As someone who's worked in the auto industry for years, I can sympathize. Most dealership employees don't give a rat's arse about you and will try to throw blame on you to get you to leave them alone. Unfortunately, since you bought your car there, THEY should be taking care of your problems.

Best thing to do since you already tried reasoning with them is to call Mazda Customer Service(all manufacturers have one) and complain about the dealer and the problems with your new car.

Ninja said...

I already have that ball rolling. I'm even going to have a friend e-mail Mazda Japan, in Japanese.