Ford Motor Complaint - Ford's Owner Notification Program Shell Game
PINCONNING, MICHIGAN -- In 2001 my wife purchased a 1999 Ford Contour with only 17,000 miles at an authorized Ford dealership. During the time since we have owned the vehicle, we received NO information from Ford regarding problems with this particular model.
Well, this summer the interior gremlins decided to become active! The dasboard warped to the point where it is almost touching the windshield, and the fan refused to blow at any speed beside "wind tunnel" high!
When we took it to a local repair garage, two mechanics there told us to take it to the Ford dealership since both problems had been recall items. So, off to the dealership we go, where a computer check on our vehicle gave us the wonderful news that no recalls or TSBs existed on our car. In fact, the dealership even told us that they wished that the dashboard warpage issue was a recall, since they knew of other 1998-1999 Contours with the same problem!!!
The conflicting information caused me to research the situation on the net from the "Contour Enthusiasts Group", "alldata.com", and "BlueOvalNews". Numerous Contour owners described the EXACT same problems and mentioned their cars being repaired at the dealerships for free. I even got the specific numbers concerning the repair procedures and photos of the corrected dashboard.
With this information in hand, I again went back to the dealership, only to be given the same response. Well, I decided to contact Ford headquarters directly, since we all hear so much about their committment to quality and customer satisfaction, right?
Well, I received the wonderful news that the repairs were done free of charge for a short time under what is called an "Owner Notification Program". This is a techinal euphemistic loophole that allows manufacturers to not directly acknowledge defective parts while at the same time placing an arbitrary beginning and ending date upon how long they will be responsible for repairing their defective products! I was told that the notifications were no longer valid - even though I was NOT notified in the first place!!!!
So, after waiting two weeks for a decision on our problem, I was finally informed that Ford would GRACIOUSLY cover 30% of the cost on the dashboard repair since the car was no longer under warranty. This in spite of the fact that during the notification program there was NO cost and NO issue of miles or years in service required to receive the corrected parts and labor.
I could understand this situation IF we had received notification and simply ignored it, but we received NO mailings about these two part defects. In fact, Ford changed the dashboard design on the Contour in 2000 because of the previous defective problem with warpage!
At least this situation helped me in another area. At the time I was debating between purchasing a new Mustang convertible or Chrysler Sebring convertible. After Ford's response, I can only say how much satisfaction I have from driving my Sebring ! I also continue to inform fellow workers, friends, and family about Ford's treatment regarding this situation. I use to recommend Ford products regularly to them. Is this still the situation? I'll let you answer that rhetorical question for yourselves!...Archie Gittins
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