BANGOR, MAINE -- In all my years of dealing with car dealerships NONE has been as pathetic, unprofessional, dishonest, and completely without a shred of professionalism as my experience with Darlings Honda in Bangor, Maine. This company is one of two major companies that own most of the dealerships in the greater Bangor, Maine area. Quirk owns 50%, Darlings owns 40% and the other 10% are everyone else. I have a 2003 Honda Pilot that I bought in Ft. Myers Florida. It was certified and I dropped another $700.00 at the time of purchase for the zero deductible extended warranty.
I moved to Maine and have been faced with bringing my Pilot to Darlings or traveling about an hour to go to the next closest Honda dealership. I first went to Darlings Honda for a replacement of a sensor under my brake pedal that was interfering with the proper starting of my Pilot. I was told it would be about an hour for my vehicle to be ready. They offered to shuttle me to the local mall during that time but I figured an hour was not that long so I opted to wait.
There of course was no offer of a rental car, even though my warranty provided for one and I waited four hours before I was told by Rick ** that they didn't have the sensor in house and would have it the next day. Only then was I provided a rental car. Bad enough but wait it gets much worse. When I picked up my Pilot the next day the bill was $0.00 because it was all done under my extended warranty.
At least three times at the dealership and once at home by phone I was reminded by Darlings Honda staff that I might get a phone call from American Honda asking how my service was. They said it was their report card and that anything less than perfect was failing. Well I never got that call. What I did get was a return trip to Darlings Honda a few months later for an issue with an oil light that seemed to come on for no reason. I made my appointment, made a preliminary phone call to American Honda to confirm that I was entitled to a rental car (I was not going to wait another 4 hours this time) and showed up on the date scheduled.
After being checked in again by Rick ** I proceeded to get my rental car after mentioning I had already checked with American Honda. When I first inquired about the car Rick told me they didn't have rental. only the shuttle. Lie. Rick seemed to be irritated that I had called American Honda and informed them of my potential problem with the oil light and was told it should be covered under my warranty. He said it might not be covered if it was say "mice that had crawled up into my engine block and chewed on the wires". O.K. fair enough. I understood that. I took my rental and headed off to do some errands with my kids (ages 2 & 4).
As I drove by the dealership about 25 minutes later I noticed my Pilot was already in the customer pick up area. I returned to the dealership and found my Pilot was ready! Well all sounds good until I get the bill. $75.00 not a big bill BUT $75.00 for a diagnostic fee. What? It seems the problem with my oil light was stemming from the fact my battery needed to be replaced and batteries are not covered under my warranty. This is a fact I WAS aware of. What I was NOT aware of is that because of this reason I had to pay this $75.00 diagnostic fee. I had not paid it or been aware of this during my first visit since the cause was covered under warranty.
Rick was not at the dealership at the time as I protested that I was not told of this potential fee and had never seen it outlined in my extended warranty booklet. With my two kids screaming I was told that they would just run an authorization on my card and I could leave and call Rick about the issue when I got home. I did just that. Rick was no help at all. Just regurgitating the same lines I had gotten before about the fee was because the reason was not covered under warranty. I asked if it was possible to have the fee removed this time because I simply was not aware of it and I was told "No".
Realizing I was wasting my time with this low-level employee I called American Honda and relayed the story to them. They were surprised at the issue and mentioned the reason the problem had been diagnosed so quickly was because it was just sent out to Honda dealerships in a mass email that outlined the problem. It seems that on a regular basis American Honda emails dealerships about new problems they may run into and how to diagnose and address them. My rep at American Honda said that Darlings Honda technicians should have diagnosed the problem in about five minutes.
I was informed I should contact the dealership and ask for a "Goodwill Courtesy Credit" which I did. I called and asked to speak to the service department manager Sheldon **, who was of course not in, so I emailed my request to him. Long story short after being bumped from Sheldon ** to the dealership manager Bob ** to the VP of fixed operations Carrie D. Meo I was told that no way were they going to refund or credit my $75.00.
Oddly enough during our emails the diagnostic fee went from $75.00 to a company wide standard $85.00? During this time I filed a dispute with my credit card and despite numerous logical requests for this massive $75.00 profit be traded for good customer service and positive word of mouth the best offer I received from the VP of fixed operations was a $75.00 gift card for future parts or service. My offer to credit my account and to utilize the gift card for the diagnostic fee was flatly rejected.
The VP of fixed operations Ms. Carrie D. Meo sent me this gift card in the mail with her letter saying how proud she is of her staff and how I was told by Rick about the fee and blah ,blah, blah, included a photocopy of the paperwork I signed at check in. My signature is in a dialogue box that states I hold Darlings Honda not responsible for any potential damaged that my occur while moving my vehicle in the lot or on the roadway for diagnostic reasons. As I found in my warranty book I have to give my authorization for "tear down" which is directly tied to this diagnostic fee. I was never told of the fee nor did I give my authorization for it.
The fee of $75.00 and the MYSTERY FEE of $85.00 where hand written on to the work order after the fact and not present when I signed the paperwork at check in. DISHONEST LIERS! BOTTOM LINE: IF YOU ARE IN MAINE DO NOT VISIT A DARLINGS AUTO DEALERSHIP!