In the great world that we live in, decent customer service is often hard to come by. But sometimes, only sometimes, automakers and dealerships alike have been known to surprise their customers. These are your ten best car company customer service stories.
No official service departments convenient to you for warranty service? If you’re lucky like this reader, you might get 260 miles of flatbed service, at no charge.
About 5 years ago, the Audi dealer in Reno NV closed (a new franchise opened up less than a year later). During this time, my wife’s Q5 needed its 15k service. Audi USA sent a flat bed truck to my house and picked up the car, drove it to Sacramento to have the work done, and returned the car the next afternoon, all at no cost to me. Awesome customer service.
Suggested By: ElGuapo702
When this reader’s 2011 Audi S4 showed signs of needing some very serious and expensive work, his dealer’s service department made sure he would be getting the proper care he deserved right before his warranty ended.
Audi service pulled through just this past December. I had a warning light for the sport differential in my 2011 S4 come up and gave the dealer a call. Turns out, I was on my last day of the factory warranty. Now, this was at about 4:45pm, and the dealer was about 30 minutes away. The service guy told me to hop in the car right then, and that he would keep a tech there to address the issue, since they usually left around 5pm. I headed down there, met the rep, who got me a cup of coffee and said that as long as they plugged the car into the computer, the problem was technically within the warranty period. They had me come back in a week for a more thorough diagnostic, for which they gave me an A6 as a loaner, for free. They found that the whole differential would need to be replaced, along with software updates, an ECU flash, and a routine service. A week later, the part came in, and they kept my car for 2 days, for which I got another A6 as a loaner. After all this work and time, my balance was precisely $0.00. They saved me $5000 for the part, and about $2000 for the labor. I was a very happy man after that.
Suggested By: akant
After only one unique situation where this reader experienced his car’s transmission engaging drive slower than normal, he notified his dealer and they handled it from there. The right way.
A 1990 Chrysler LeBaron with 59,xxx miles on it. Brought it in for an oil change on a very cold morning and I mentioned that it took a couple of seconds to engage in drive that morning with the engine cold.
They replaced the transmission and gave me a loaner for the week they had the car. The car had a 60,000 mile warranty.
Suggested By: Kayemtee
Sometimes you love the service you get from your dealership so much, you want to marry your service advisor. That’s pretty much what happened here.
9 years ago, I was a salesperson at a dealership (where I bought my car too) and was having an oil change done while I was working.
After work I wet back to pick up my car and when I got in it, there was an XM radio installed with a note from the warranty administrator wishing me a happy birthday.
It will be 7 years of marriage at the end of August.
Suggested By: Potbelly Joe
Could you imagine owning a car for eight years, putting over 200,000 miles on it and then out of nowhere, you end up with over a third of its original value back in check form after a recall? That’s a damn dream.
My father owned a 1975 Honda Civic (plain Jane none-CVCC), he paid $3,200 for it new at the local dealer in Erie, Pennsylvania (right off Lake Erie). All the Civics produced during this time were prone to premature rust throughout both front fenders. My dads car in 1983 had over 200,000 miles on it and was a total rust bucket, I needed to attach duct tape in order to hold the fenders onto the hood since there was no metal to rivet or weld the fenders onto the car itself by this time. He would get teased by all his co-workers whenever they say his car, brown Civic with lots of gray duct tape, the car was quite an embarrassment but he couldn’t afford to replace during this time.
In 1983 Honda decided to replace all premature rusted fenders for all those affected Civics in 1983 since it was such a severe issue for those living near the great lakes. When the district rep reviewed his civic at the dealership to decide if his car qualified for new fenders they realized that there wasn’t even enough metal on the vehicle to attach the fenders. They told him they would have to buy back his 8 year old vehicle since they couldn’t make good on their promise. In all actuality his car was worth at most $150 for the working engine or the price of scrap during that time given the very high mileage and the amount of rust throughout the vehicle.
1 month later Honda Motor Car sent him a check for $1,200. Given that he drove the car for 8 years and over 200,000 miles and only paid $3,200 for it brand new it was quite astonishing. He made a copy of the check and showed it to his co-workers who wouldn’t believe the story until they saw the check made out from “The Honda Motor Car Company.” — naturally they were speechless.
Suggested By: CreatingNewYork
Back in the good ol’ days when French cars actually existed in America, this reader was not only lucky enough to have been able to track down a Peugeot dealer in the middle of Iowa, he was even able to find the owner of that dealer, purely by random selection in the yellow pages.
A cold and snowy night, New Years Eve 1976, a day and a half into a NYC to Eugene, Oregon roadtrip we are approaching Iowa City, Iowa on I-80 when the alternator light goes on in my 1972 Peugeot 504.
Yes, this is a cross country roadtrip in a Peugeot in the ‘70’s story.
We pull into a gas station at the next interchange and quickly verify we have a DOA alternator on a French car in Iowa on New Year’s Eve, which just happens to be a Friday. Visions of many days spent in a central Iowa Motel 6 (when that really did mean $6.00 a night) cloud my vision.
Sitting there in the steamy gas station office a spy a phone book yellow Pages, and under the P’s is a listing for a “John Smith Peugeot, This and That” dealership in Cedar Rapids.
See how civilization declines? There was a french car dealership in Iowa in the 1970’s, just try that today.
The dealership is very closed, but taking the bull by the horns, I switch to the white pages and start dialing John Smiths and we get very lucky. A John Smith picks up, and yes, he is the owner of a Peugeot dealership. In my dorky undergraduate earnest way I explain my problem and he says he can meet me at the dealership in 30 minutes. While this has been going on we have been charging the battery and so soon, off we go to Cedar Rapids with directions scribbled on a napkin.
A light snow is falling a couple hours before New Years as we follow the tracks in the snow of a single car into the dealership. Mister Smith, my new best friend, is standing next to a brand new Peugeot 504 with the hood up.
He is wearing a white formal dinner jacket under a snow jacket.
He says he appreciated people who like Peugeots and that the quickest solution was to just take an alternator off one of the new cars on the lot, and proceeds to do just that. In ten minutes I have a demonstrator only mileage alternator and I am good to go.
As a final demonstration of the kindness of Iowans, he then accepts a personal check from a 22 year old drawn on an Oregon bank. New Years Day was pancakes in Des Moines.
Suggested By: redseca2
If only an American auto manufacturer would be willing to provide service like this today. Ha, who are we kidding?
When my great-uncle Alfred, on my father’s side of the family, got out of the service at the end of WWII, he worked for a company that sold textile manufacturing equipment. (Insert ‘travelling salesman’ jokes here.)
According to stories told to me by my father, several times a year, Alfred would go on the road for two weeks at a time in his Buick, visiting customers in Virginia and the Carolinas.
When Alfred returned from a road trip, he would call the Buick dealer, who would pick-up the car from in front of the house, service it, clean it thoroughly and return it the next day.
When Alfred decided it was time for a new car, the dealer showed up at his house with brochures, paint samples and fabric swatches. A few weeks later, a new Buick would be delivered to his front door.
My uncle never set foot in a dealership, all business was conducted in his living room over drinks - a much better arrangement than today IMO.
Suggested By: Green Pig
Never underestimate the power of the internet. After posting on a web-forum for his Volvos, his unique mechanical issues were seen by Volvo corporate, and from then on, his issues were in their hands. They even flew in a tech!
A few years ago, I had a Volvo S60R, and my wife (still has) a Volvo V70R. We had problems with the rear alignment on both, and they were chewing through rear tires. Turns out camber isn’t adjustable on the rears on the P2 chassis. I find a thread on a popular forum for Volvos, and post asking if anyone has had this problem, and if there is a good solution. Shortly thereafter, I get a PM from the Manager of Customer care at VCNA, saying he saw my post, and to please send me the VINs of both cars. I do, and he says he can find the alignment specs from when the cars were built. He looks them up, says they both left in spec, and to sit tight. A day or so later I got a call from the Service Manager at the local dealer (great guys, good relationship with them), and he wants to know when we can bring both cars in, they would arrange 2 loaners.
I asked “Why?”, and he basically said that Volvo was going to fly in a tech to rebuild the rear suspension on both cars, with updated parts (turns out they used the eccentric rear bushings from IPD), all at no charge. One of the cars had a great deal of difficulty, I think they had to replace the rear subframe (going off memory from a few years ago), and they apologized that it took longer than planned. But they got them both done, full alignment, back into spec, all at no charge. We didn’t even buy the cars new, they were both CPO. And to top it off, he even sent a coupon for a discount on parts and accessories.
Suggested By: Beavis McGee
Tuning a new car is always risky, as it can often lead to being left on your own, with no warranty to fall back on. This is another unique situation where someone at a car company was monitoring forums and found a customer in need.
I own an Audi TTRS which I had put a mild tune on from a reputable company. One day while leaving work, the car started running really rough. It felt like a coil pack had gone off perhaps and the service adviser at my Audi dealership said to drive it in.
About 30 minutes later, as I arrived at the dealer, my TTRS coughed out its last breath.
Upon inspection, the dealer found that one of the rings broke in the number 5 cylinder and it gouged out the block. Basically destroying a $15k short block. As part of Audi’s policy, however, they sent the computer data over to Germany which quickly showed my car was tuned
Well, since there are so few TTRS’s in the USA, we have a pretty active forum. After sending my car to the closest independent shop, I went onto the forum and posted my story. Although I don’t believe it was caused by the tune, the fact that it was tuned made it my fault. I accepted that fault and left my story on the internet as a warning to others.
At some point in the following 2 days, someone at Audi noticed my forum post. They contacted me and said that they appreciated the fact that I didn’t put blame on the dealer, or Audi. In the end, they said they would replace my engine under warranty as long as I purchased a new ECU and promised to never tune an Audi again.
I can say that Audi saved my bacon, and likely my marriage....
Suggested By: Craig
It’s not anywhere near the norm for any broken part on a race car to be covered under warranty, especially the transmission. This reader was honest and upfront with his dealer, and they took the time and care necessary to get his car fixed properly, under warranty.
Now that’s some good customer racing service if I’ve ever seen it.
In the early 90’s I bought a Saturn Twin Cam Coupe to go road racing in the SCCA’s Showroom Stock class. I drove it on the street for a year and then installed a bolt-in roll cage, fire extinguisher and 5 point harness and R-compound tires. Pretty much everything the SCCA let us do. After getting my license and a bit of hard racing, I broke 3rd gear the last race of the season. The car was still under warranty but I didn’t want to remove the numbers, stickers rollcage and other stuff just to roll it back to my local dealer with a shrug and an “I don’t know HOW that could have happened!!”
The dealer the next city down the highway KNEW there were 2 of us racing these cars. I took the car in, numbers, stickers, cage and all and told them I could leave the car there for a month for show if they could (wink-wink) fix the transmission and replace the sloppy rear bearings under warranty. They happily agreed and the car got fixed and was on display for about 5 weeks.
Suggested By: Equana
Welcome back to Answers of the Day - our daily Jalopnik feature where we take the best ten responses from the previous day’s Question of the Day and shine it up to show off. It’s by you and for you, the Jalopnik readers. Enjoy!
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