Poor Service & Business Decisions
BALLWIN, MISSOURI -- I have since been in contact with Ford Corporate, including the Executive Offices, Zone Manager and District Manager. There attitude towards the customer has been deplorable. I plan on resubmitting the below letter back to the Executive Offices with an update of what has transpired. I strongly urge anyone who reads this not to buy a Ford product. It is no wonder that they are being debt has been downgraded. I actually spoke to the District Manager on a day where there was an article in the paper that sales on Ford Explorer's were down 35% within the last year. Also, that this % decline is higher than comparable SUV's of other manufacturers. I would think customer satisfaction would play a large role into that.
Just see the letter, I sent to Ford Corporate below:
I am writing you this letter in reference to the experiences that I have had with my 2002 Ford Explorer and the level of service (or lack thereof) that I have received from my local dealership (Bo Beuckman-Missouri). In June of last year my rear axle seal began to leak. I brought the car into the dealership for repair. Within a few weeks, one of my alert lights on the dashboard was activated, so I brought the car back into the service shop to have it checked out. The Dealership informed me that the rear axle had a groove in it, caused by a faulty seal, was causing the leak. The rear axle would have to be replaced. The axle took over a week to be replaced. Once I took possession of the car, it had a discernable knocking to it as I drove. I immediately turned around and gave the car back to the service department. The Service Manager claimed that one of the technicians had forgotten to reattach a brake cable that was then hitting the tire.
Two days after picking up the car once the knocking noise was repaired, I was driving my son (one year old at the time) to his grandmother’s house on my way to work. I noticed that the car did not “feel” right. It almost felt that the car was out of alignment, but it was not driving terribly. After I dropped my son off and went to work, I started thinking more and more about the car and the way it drove on the way in. I called the Service Department at Beuckman and told them that I would be bringing the car back in at the end of the day. As the day went on, I had a sneaking suspicion that I should not pick up my son on the way home in that car. I really had little reason to feel that way, but the car just did not “feel” right. For me to pick up my son, I have to go 15 miles further than if I would go straight to the dealership (all highway). I called my wife at her work and asked her to go get him and take him home. This was no small task as her place of employment to pick up my son and back, in traffic, is about an hour and half.
On the highway on the way to the dealership, the car started to shimmy at 50 miles per hour. I slowed down the rest of the way, and thought it best that once I got close to the dealership (which is not far from my house) to cut through neighborhoods. After I exited the highway and had started to cut through some subdivisions, I started to hear a crunching sound from the rear of the vehicle and the car was bucking wildly at any speed over 5 miles per hour. I peered out to the left rear wheel while driving only to find that it had lodged loose and had all but fallen off. I stopped the car just three miles from the dealership. I just sat there stunned, thankful, and angry before calling the dealership. I realized that had I picked up my son, that the two of us would have been on the highway at the time. The ensuing accident would have had the potential to be very serious. We got lucky that something had told me not to go get him. The service department stated that faulty bearings caused the reason for the mishap. At the same time they informed me that every time that you recalibrate those bearings like you have to when you replace the axle, they weaken. They should have put new bearings on the car. Rather, they took the cheap way out and put my family and I in great risk.
At that time, I contacted the General Manager of Beuckman Ford, Mr. Larry Perez, to discuss what had happened. I explained the entire situation with him from the beginning. I was very courteous, patient, and polite. He even commented to me at the time how reasonable and forgiving I was being considering what could have happened to me and my family. I never asked for one thing other than Mr. Perez’s word that the car would be fixed and be safe for me and my family. Mr. Perez gave his word that the car would be thoroughly tested and that if anything happened in that area of the car again, that I could contact him directly. He also offered me an Extended Service Contract for my trouble and again thanked me for being so understanding. I thanked him and told him that I hoped I would never have to discuss this matter with him again.
About one month ago, a fluid started leaking from the rear of my vehicle again. I immediately knew what the cause of it was. I made an appointment with the service department and emailed Mr. Perez and reminded him of what had happened previously. I informed him that my car would be there on the following Monday and that I would speak to him then about what to do about the situation. The service department called that afternoon to confirm my suspicions, the rear axle seal was leaking again. The same repair that escalated into an extremely dangerous situation last time. I called Mr. Perez once I knew that it indeed was the same issue that he gave me his word would not occur again. He agreed to meet with me at the dealership.
During this meeting, I discussed my frustration and anger at the situation, that there needed to be some kind of resolution to the situation. I told Mr. Perez that I no longer wanted the car. I reminded him that I could have sued or complained last time since they put me in such danger last time. I could have demanded a new car (by trying to enforce the lemon law) or some sort of compensation, but I didn’t. I am not the type of person who asks to gain something for nothing. I told him that I was giving him and Ford one more chance to back your product and service. I asked him to give me some numbers to look at on trading the car back in and purchasing a new one. I reiterated to him that I was giving him one chance to make good on what happened previously. Mr. Perez called me back (after I had to call him a number of times) the next day quoting numbers, saying he was saving me a lot of money because I was such a good customer. I told him that I would look at the numbers and talk to him following day. To my surprise, I awake the next morning I see an ad in the paper, quoting the exact rebates that Mr. Perez had quoted me. When I spoke to Mr. Perez, he also said he could not do much on trade-in value other than wholesale. In essence, he would give me the exact same deal as I could get walking into another dealer that I had no history with. I felt that he was giving me a snow job, telling me that he is going to give a great deal because of what happened, and what a great customer I am.
I decided later that day to go into see Mr. Perez to discuss this further and go through the numbers. I also showed him the ad from his competitor. He gave me some excuses as to why the other dealer was offering a very similar deal that he offered me. Beuckman even has two 2004 models that they cannot get rid of, that I told him would be acceptable automobiles to talk about. The only stipulation was that I did not want my payment to greatly increase. I told him, that I really did not want to buy a new car right now as I have a two year old and a 7 ½ month pregnant wife, but they had put me in a position that I felt I had to. We went back and forth for about an hour and he would not move on the price. We were still $3500 apart on a car that they self admittedly could not unload off of their lot. Mr. Perez was saying that they were handcuffed by the corporate office on the price.
This was the first time I let my frustration be known. I requested to discuss the matter directly with Mr. Beuckman and informed him that I would be contacting Ford’s corporate office if there was not some sort of resolution (He told me that traditionally corporate Ford will not do much to assist the customer). I told him that given what had happened to the car that they sold me and serviced, that I should be entitled to some greater leniency than a customer off the street. Especially since their product and service had previously endangered my family and I. I also reminded him again, that in the past I had been a stand-up, honest person in a situation that others would have taken advantage of. I felt that I was being punished now for doing what I thought was the right thing when the problems first escalated. It made me feel that the only way they would work with me was to have gotten into a bad accident. This is a horrible way to do business! They are more interested in the “short term” bottom line than self admittedly putting me and my family at risk. I am a relatively young man with a young family who will buy many cars in the years to come. This was/is an opportunity to gain a customer for life, and quite frankly I feel as if I am getting the short end of the stick here. Trading $3500 (Less actually if you count the turnaround on my trade-in) for a potential longtime customer willing to put more of his money on the table, even though he has had some serious issues in the past. Joe Beuckman, through Mr. Perez, went even so far as to say that “making me right” is not a good business decision. I work in the business world and have never seen such blatant disregard for the customer. I also have never seen such shortsightedness in terms of long term profitability and customer satisfaction.
The really aggravating part is that during this whole process, it took their service department four days to fix my car when it should have taken a maximum of two. Once I did get the vehicle back, it was leaking heavier than when I gave it to them. They had to come get the car from my place of business. Their claim is that, they did not properly clean the residual fluid once the seal was again replaced. Now that I have the vehicle back, I fully expect it to start leaking again in the near future. I will be trading in that vehicle at some point in the near future, whether it is on another Ford product is up to Ford.
Mr. Ford, I hope you can think of some resolution to this matter. I have been as fair as I can be. I was not asking for much and was willing to pay over $22,000 of my money for your product. I was basically told that my business was not wanted. You are in danger of losing a customer for life due to your dealership’s lack of willingness to do the right thing. Also, something needs to be done to correct the errors that are made in this particular shop. If not for me, then please do something for the next customer. I do not know how these service shops receive and maintain their “Blue Oval” certification, but quality is not something I would associate with Beuckman’s service. Most of the problems I referenced above were a direct result of not only the product, but poor service. I am afraid one of these days, they will do something to a customer similar to what they did to me, but that person will not be as fortunate as I was.