When I was the automotive editor at Pioneer Press, I took my car to the local dealer in the burbs because it was convenient. I loved them. They washed my car and gave me a flower when I took it in. They steered me straight and kept my 10-year-old car working like clockwork.
And then it happened. They called my work place to tell me I needed extra work after a routine oil change and left a message on my voice mail that included something like: "You're an automotive editor? Are you trying to pull something over on us?"
That was my first clue that something wasn't quite right. Then they told me I needed more than $1,500 worth of repairs. And that if I wanted to go ahead and trade in my car, they'd give me $500. My car on KBB.com was worth $3,500.
So, I took my car to a friend who's a mechanic, and he replaced my EGR valve for $60. I immediately rucked up a fuss directly with my friends at the automaker, and the owner of the dealership called an apologized and offered me free things. I didn't want or take any of it. All I wanted was for everyone who walked through their doors to be treated honestly and fairly. Because I had a voice in the media I eventually was.
But others out there aren't so lucky. Take, for instance, what happened to Mohan at the Pep Boys in Cicero recently.
Similar to my situation, he found a place he trusted to take his car for repairs. And then it all went pear shaped.
It started with a check engine light and a knocking sound in early May. It has now been more than 50 days. The result? The car has been in the store for 16 nights. Mohan has had no less than 11 visits to the store. He's had to take 2 full days off work to deal with the problem and made more than 30 phone calls. He's spent almost $800, and the car still isn't fixed. (Below, I've pasted a detailed summary of his travails.)
The kicker: The car is STILL IN THE STORE. And as of June 25, he still hasn't received a call back or any kind of satisfaction from the store.
Mohan has started an all-out social media onslaught against Pep Boys, and refers to the store as #820 in various letters he's published around the Web. Here's the address and phone number:
2501 S. Cicero Ave.
Cicero, IL 60804
So, my point? Well, there's a few.
- Anyone out there have contacts at Pep Boys so we can get Mohan some satisfaction?
- Boycott, boycott, boycott this Pep Boys.
- Anyone else out there have a similar horror story to share? Misery does love company after all.
- And perhaps this is a stretch: But are there any good and honest mechanics out there? (My friend who helped me was in Indy, otherwise I'd throw his name out there.)
The excruciating time line of events according to Mohan:
May 6: Date of original and first trip to the store to fix my check
engine light, knocking sound and driving in a very low power added with
May 7: While driving, I feel a hiccup in the engine, check engine
light comes back. I take to the store right away, after a full
diagnostic - I am told that it could just be some dust in the fuel
line. Technician tells to drive at least for 10 days and then come back. However on my way back, it again happens. Gradually every day, the engine becomes worse (worse than before).
May 27: I return to the store, after 30 minutes wait, I am told that
there is no technician, and I should come earlier in the day. Also, an
advisor insists, that with the long weekend coming up, weekend would be
busy, so Friday is better.
May 28: I take a day off, as the car is in a very bad shape.
After 2 hrs wait, I am told that computer used to scan the car is not
working since morning. However, it is already 1pm, why I should be made
wait 2hrs, if the computer was not working since morning? I am told to
come back on Tuesday, since Monday is still long weekend and the
computer won-t be fixed.
Jun 2: A diagnostic is done for the 3rd time. A different advisor, who
is not aware that I would claim warranty, tells that I need to replace
both induction coils and catalytic converter. If was not aware of
warranty, a few more $$$-s would have been shelled out. Upon claiming warranty, manager comes- now the whole diagnostic procedure changes. Manager wants to have the car for a night, to thoroughly check.
Promises to car will be fixed for the problem and the check engine
Jun 4: Picked up the car, was told that the gasket seal which
was installed, was not properly seated!! So, had I not claimed
warranty, I would paid for new induction coils and catalytic
converters, while the gasket was leaking (for the past two diagnostics). Weekend no driving
Jun 7: I drive to work, and the problem repeats. I immediately call and report it. I am told to again drop the car.
Jun 8: Dropped the car.
Jun 10: Picked up the car, this time, cables which were installed
as a part of the tune up and other procedures were filled with oil -
thus causing misfire. Again, technicians fault.
Jun 11: Problem repeats and dropped the car in the morning.
Jun 12: Morning, I call and talk to the manager, who is unaware
that I picked up the car on Thursday evening and returned it on Friday.
I quote his words - -I have been daily testing and driving your car,
even today morning, there is absolutely no problem. Not even the check
engine light-. I am just confused and again call him in a few minutes
to ask, -How could you have been testing daily, did you even know that
I took it on Thursday and returned on Friday, with the same problems.
It is there right now with the check engine light on-. Manager now
pretends innocent and gives the phone to technician after a 20 minutes
hold. Technician, acknowledges to me that, there is indeed a problem
and he will work on it.
Jun 16: After several days of trying to reach the manager or the
advisor over phone, I am finally told to come take my car. It takes
exactly 2 mins of driving and boom, check engine light is back and all
the problems. I return to the store in less than 5 minutes and return.
Manager not in store.
Jun 17: I again go in person to remind all of these and insist that,
he just return my money. He says that it would not possible now, but he
would take it to a dealer to fix my car. I insist to him that I will
contact corporate office, he tells not to do it, as it would not help
me. I tell him that, it is financially taking a toll on me, but he
says, that is how cars are. He promises that I would get a car on or
before June 21 (Monday) from the service advisor.
Today is June 23, no call or nothing. I just need to here stress that,
in this full process; I have got only one call (in 48 days).