The Right Perspective

Monday, March 07, 2011

Mercedes Rules and Ford Blows Chunks

Catchy title...don't you think?

Take a few moments, grab a cold drink and settle into a comfy chair...I have a tale to tell and it might take a while.

I think that my readers will recall that back in October of 2010, my Ford Windstar minivan was unceremoniously recalled for a cracked rear axle. I was given a rental, which lasted approximately 10 minutes from the dealership to the rental car lot, where I let them know that the tiny not-quite-car-not-quite-anything type vehicle was not going to work for our family of four for the coming 4+ months. So Ford grudgingly looked for something larger, while giving us a small sedan to drive. But knowing that Thanksgiving and Christmas were rapidly approaching, and we always travel with two young kids, two of the largest carseats known to mankind, a large stroller and all of our luggage, I requested that Ford provide something larger. It wasn't even remotely fair to take away a minivan and stick us in a small car for months on end.

We drove the car for about a month, and then about a week before Thanksgiving, we were finally able to switch to a larger crossover vehicle. It took a lot of haggling with the dealership and Ford, but I was satisfied.

Fast forward to January: I had found the NHTSA website to be quite helpful in providing updates on what was happening with the recall, as well as a resource for finding other areas that they were investigating on the Windstar...and I had noticed that it looked like there was another very similar issue being investigated on the front subframe involving corrosion and cracks/separations which would affect steering and control of the van.

I had a feeling there would be another recall, and at the end of January, the second Windstar recall was announced....while my van still sat on a dealership lot, waiting for the first repair to be performed.

Here, I'll take a quick break and let you know that Andrew has been driving a two-door, ten-year-old, reeks-of-gasoline, has no heat (but paid-for!) car. It needed serious, significant repairs, not to mention the fact that we were quite literally having to leave the garage door open to make sure that the house didn't explode due to the gas fumes from his car. Since the repairs would have cost more than the car was worth, and the car really didn't fit our family at all....we started looking for a new small SUV for Andrew. We didn't know whether we would get the van back at all, or whether we would keep it, because quite frankly, we weren't too confident in it's safety at this point.

Back to our story....
Well, four and a half months after the initial recall was announced and our van was "grounded" at the dealership, I got a call on a Monday morning (while waiting for my OBGYN!) from the Ford dealership that my van would be ready to be picked up at 5 pm. that evening. Well, as luck would have it, that evening was the same evening that I would be meeting Andrew at a different dealership way across town (more than 40 minutes away) to purchase his new vehicle. In between my doctor's appointment, paperwork that had to be done before the new (used) vehicle could be purchased, naptime for Ethan and picking up Emily from school (in yet another direction at least 40 minutes from the dealership with my van), I knew that there was absolutely no time for me to thoroughly clean out the rental car, uninstall two car seats to switch them to the different rental car that would drive us to the dealership, and then install the two carseats back in the van before or after I picked Emily up from school. It just wasn't doable, so I told the Ford dealership that I wouldn't be able to get there by 5 pm that day, but that I could be there first thing in the morning.

That seems reasonable, doesn't it? They told me the van would be ready by 5 pm and I would have picked it up by 9, 9:30 am the next morning. Not even 24 hours after I'd been notified it was ready. Perfectly reasonable to me.

Well, apparently, it wasn't reasonable to Ford. The dealership told me that now that my vehicle was going to be ready, Ford would no longer cover the rental vehicle. Not even until the next morning! They were giving me less than 8 hours in their specified time frame, to get my vehicle off their lot, or else I would have to pay $40 for the rental.

To which I replied, "Are you kidding me? That is totally unacceptable. I cannot be there at five and I am NOT paying for the rental."

Of course, I'm immediately boiling mad, but I'm sitting with Ethan in the waiting room of the doctor's office, so I can't totally lose it, but in my mind....I was. I kept standing my ground with the service manager and told him to call Ford, or give me the number and I would call them, but no matter what, I was not paying the rental fee when I wasn't given adequate time to pick up my vehicle. No way, No how.

So, after my doctor's appointment, I got a call from "Russ" telling my that he'd called Ford and that they would not change their mind. I told him yet again that this whole thing was ridiculously unfair, that I had been more than patient for four and a half MONTHS and that I wasn't asking for anything unreasonable and that I would not be paying the rental fee. I also told him that I would be calling Ford myself....and I did.

Since I've already taken quite a long time telling this story, I'll just sum up my conversation with three Ford "customer service" representatives for you:

They are the most unhelpful, useless group of people I've come across in a very long time. I tried my best to remain calm and polite, but I also did my fair share of letting them know EXACTLY how I felt about Ford and their dealership and their "customer service". I really hope it was recorded. I said nothing that I am ashamed of, but if they couldn't hear the frustration and just plain anger in my voice, then they weren't listening. I was in tears by the end (and this was over the course of hours) and I am not one to cry easily at all. I was a huge ball of stress and felt awful.

Yes, it was "just" $40, but not really. That $40 wouldn't have made much difference in our budget, but it was one of those times in life where it was time to take a stand against poor customer service and a company which had put our family's safety in jeopardy and then made every step of the way a hassle. This was the straw that broke this camel's back.

In the end, Andrew left work early to go pick Emily up and keep the kids while I cleaned the car and uninstalled the carseats and did all the switching. Even without all the carseat maneuvering, it took a couple of hours to accomplish everything, which never would have been possible without Andrew's help. It was a huge inconvenience on a day that was already jam-packed, but I took my stand, and got my van back and did not pay the extra fee.

Of course, I got my van back with almost no gas (literally not enough to get home) and three completely tattered and unuseable windshield wipers (which were absolutely NOT left in that condition, but I have no proof).

And so, Ford and a local Ford dealership have forever lost my support. I will quite literally never buy a Ford product again. If this is how they treat customers who the company themselves have greatly inconvenienced....then I don't ever need another one of their products. And we followed through on this promise by not purchasing the Ford extended warranty plan on Andrew's new (used) vehicle (we happened to be dealing with another Ford/Toyota dealer).

And so while Ford blows chunks......

Mercedes is awesome!

Meet Andrew's new 2004 Mercedes!

(Wow it feels weird even typing that!)

Isn't she beautiful?

We ended up finding a fantastic deal on a gorgeously maintained, loaded Mercedes ML350 SUV. We traded in Andrew's car, plus put a little money down and now have a smaller car payment than we paid for either of our other vehicles..significantly smaller (and they weren't big at all)!

We figured this would likely be the only time in our lives when we would find a vehicle this nice in our price range....and so we jumped on the chance, and I am so glad we did. We all fit nicely in this car, and there's even one extra seat if needed. We have room to haul things and best of all, it's nice and safe and has heat! (Andrew's in love with the heated seats!)

The only downside....the car quite possibly may be smarter than we are! I've never seen to many owners' manuals and fancy buttons. We're still trying to figure out what everything does. We even went out and sat in the car in the garage one night, after the kids went to bed, and read through the manual in an effort to figure out how to work the radio!

But all in all, at least we have one nice, safe dependable vehicle and one that still needs some more work, when the parts are in (Oh goodie, more dealings with Ford), but is paid for.

And that's the story of why Mercedes Rules and Ford Blows Chunks. You're welcome!

Stuff and Such

Ethan ADORES Mickey Mouse. So when I saw a Mickey chair at Toys R Us, I knew exactly what to use his TRU gift card on.
Of course, it took three separate shipments from TRU, all damaged, and then a trip into the store, but we finally have Ethan's Mickey chair.
Isn't he cool in his shades? I found some baby-sized little boy sunglasses (with sharks on the lenses!) and he's a happy camper.

His chair rocks too.

And it's great for kicking back and lounging.

Speaking of lounging....

Ethan wanted to be just like Emily. "Anything you can do, I can do better...."