Customer service you say?

Reacties uitgeschakeld voor Customer service you say?
juni 24th, 2006 Permalink

Not to long ago I purchased something I actually find an overexpensive luxory, because cars for me are something to move from A to B. Nonetheless I had the feeling that I needed something really secure and safe (I drive a lot, especially at night), so I got me a Volvo S60 D5, all-bells-and-whistles-including-iPod-connector-and-lots-of-hps edition with a few non-factory tailored extras including special airbags between front and rearseats, special curtains protecting front seats against stuff being launched from the rear seats (like computerbags), extra rear airbags again to prevent stuff flying through the car, reinforced side impact system and a navigation kit that’s integrated with the gearbox (bad weather means the car automatically slows down, when put in dummy mode). Really cool and safe car, designed to withstand everything, propably except for a direct attack by the IDF. I bought it private and paid cash (no lease, no loan).

Cars like that have more electronics than a prostitute has underwear. And electronics mean one thing: eventually they break down. We all know it, a Volvo dealer knows it … and the big question of course is how to handle a situation in such a way that the customer remains a happy one (not just the expensive customer!), and the dealership gets the credits for being a good ‘partner’. An example of how NOT to do it.

I’m on my way to a trade show where I’m supposed to do a lecture when my navigation kit stops operating for the second time in four days. The first time Volvo solved the problem by cleaning the DVD player. So this time when I call in, I ask for a cleaning set so I can do it myself. I mean: it’s no fun when you drive to an unknown location and you can’t rely on your expensive-follow-spoken-directions-with-soft-Belgian-accent-kit. The cleaning gears appears not available for customers, so I have to make a new stop at a Volvo shop again.

“It’s broken sir and we have to replace the DVD player.”
– “That’s no problem. Order a new one then.”
“That will cost you Euro 568,04 and taxes, because it’s out of warranty.”
– “Out of warranty? That’s a good one. How long am I driving this thing? 14 months?”
“Yes, almost 15. But standard warranty is 12 months.”
– “You are kidding me right? 12 months on such an expensive navigation set (List price: Euro 3.500,-)? I get 24 on a vacuum cleaner of Euro 300,-.”

The guy just gives me a funny look: “That’s the rules sir. Do you want me to order it?”

Too bad that in these situations you always have to make a matter of principle out of it. So I explain the guy that:

  • I bought a nice and expensive toy that used to work for 100%.
  • It stopped working when I bought a new DVD kit for Europe and had Volvo mechanics replace the DVD’s during regular maintance. Meaning: I never touched the thing.
  • I don’t believe in standard warranty for things like this, especially not when they are expensive and have been paid for in cash.
  • We have Dutch law that says that electronic stuff has to operate at least for a certain amount of time and that warranty only has to do with abuse.

He understood my case, but insisted I had to pay Euro 568,04 and taxes. I of course disagreed completely so I told him to get me the salesman who sold me the car. He appeared to be on holiday. That’s a pity, because I love a good public argument with a salesman. So the guy asks me what to do and I give him two options:

  • You order it, install it, charge me nothing and send me on my way.
  • You order it, install it, charge me something or the whole thing, I will pay without complaint and will program the navigation kit to the nearest Mercedes dealer to exchange the car right away. Meaning: you will never see me again.

He again gives me a funny look: “Do you want me to order it?”
Well, I thought I had been very clear on that one: “Yes.”
He hands me over the order form, I sign it and he responds with: “I’ll call you in one or two days to have it installed.”

It’s three days later when I get a call from Volvo: “The DVD unit has arrived, so we can replace it. Can you bring the car in right away, or this afternoon?” He also adds that they will replace the unit for free, because of the situation. Before I can ask about “What situation” he hangs up. I mean, I’m pretty curious if they do it because of the warranty/money balance, or because of the Mercedes-threat.

At the Volvo shop it gets even more interesting. Not one word at all on the whole matter. They take my keys, replace the unit for free and send me on my way. The salesguy even escapes the moment he sees me entering. Really strange, since 14 months before he was more than willing to kiss the floor I was walking on.

So I drive off with a new FREE DVD kit. If they had handled their communications like they should have, I would have felt king of the world, but now I leave with a very bad feeling on this dealership. You know, this even might be last Volvo I have bought while living in this town.

Love the car though … so maybe I should move, before switching brands :)

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