This is Not How You Do Service

From the Author

Well, it’s tomorrow and I’m not happy.

Last fall I took my car in for a routine oil change, and I was told that two clips holding the skid plate of my Honda Fit were missing and need to be replaced. They were out of the part that day but could order it for me and give me a call when it was available. I never got a call. Life got busy.

When I took my car in for the next oil change and inquired after those clips again, I was told there were no clips missing and I was fine. The skid plate was hanging a bit low but that wasn’t a concern. After the next oil change (or was it two?) this issue with the disappearing reappearing clips would come back to bite me.

I had an oil change done in February. In a week (maybe two) after that service the skid plate had partially fallen. This was discovered driving home after an event at about 1am. Some very gracious family nearby let me switch cars so I wouldn’t have to drive mine before I could get to the dealership the next day.

I took the car in the next day with DawnRay Ammon accompanying me. So, we both heard what came next. DawnRay had done some checking online and discovered that the skid plate of the Honda Fit falling after an oil change was not uncommon, often because the cars are not put back together right. We let the dealership know our concern and the timing. We were told this was not uncommon by the tech as well, and he’d have them make sure it didn’t go anywhere this time.

After waiting for the car (and having some good hot chocolate. They do have that going for them), the representative came back and let us know what had been found. At this time, he told us he had made certain the plate was securely attached and it wasn’t going to go anywhere. Furthermore, he told us the skid plate had NOT been damaged when it dropped and would not need to be replaced. Oh, and he mentioned that the tech who’d worked on my car during the oil change had been fired due to incompetence.

Fast forward three months, through a trip to California, and I don’t know how many miles working on life and Fyrecon. DawnRay and I are driving to Sundance when I hear a grinding noise. We park, and I check under the car because it was familiar and guess what? That skid plate that wasn’t going anywhere and was dragging.

The awesome firefighters at the North Fork station right by Sundance graciously opened their door when we knocked (outside of their hours) and responded to our query of duct tape with “Of course. Let us look for it.” One of them ended up grabbing T-Rex Tape from his own vehicle and crawled under the car to help us tape it up.

That pretty much ended the drive and we headed home. The service center was closed on Monday, so DawnRay took the car in after dropping me off at work so I wouldn’t have to miss any time.

When she was at the dealership she was told several fishy things. First, she was told that the “securing” they had done previously had included using zip ties instead of clips. Yep, zip ties. Which I was NEVER told about. I was NEVER told it was a temporary fix and that I should come back for the actual clips. Again, I had been assured it was completely secured on the previous visit and fine.

DawnRay was also told that they’d had to replace six of the clips (today they said four, but I’m getting ahead of myself).

The service person was relieved when DawnRay told him the firefighters had used the duct tape on the car. He’d apparently been worried it was their employees doing that. This makes me wonder if their employees have done this to other people.

When she asked about the zip ties, she was told that this was standard practice if they didn’t have the clips in stock. Having a busy day, she went home but called me letting me know all about the zip ties and asking how irate I wanted her to be when she called the dealership to ask why they’d used zip ties. I told her very irate.

She called the dealership three times without ever being able to speak to a manager. Including leaving a message with he receptionist that they needed to call back an angry customer.

Seeing as I was at work without a car, DawnRay came and picked me up. While driving home I shut off the music because I thought I heard a familiar sound.

Scrap. Scrap. Scrap.

After a bit of silence DawnRay asked if I heard that too and I said “Yes, that’s why I turned the music off.” We stopped at a service station and I got down on the ground to look under my car. If you’re guessing that the skid plate had fallen again, you would be correct.

This is what prompted my I’m irate post last night.

Now it’s today.

Today, when I had to take time off of work to go deal with a problem that shouldn’t have happened.

I took my car into the dealership with DawnRay accompanying me, and we asked for the general manager. The receptionist goes to get him when he doesn’t answer his phone. I’m guessing she recognized us from when we tried to come Monday when the service center was closed, because when he showed up the service manager was with him.

They took us into his office, and we explained everything that has happened. Their response to all this was brief. There were no real apologies given. The service manager takes my key to get my car right in the bay, and we go sit to wait.

Not very long later the service manager comes back and takes us to show us the car while it’s on the lift. There he explains that they replaced the clips (again) but that there is damage to the skid plate here, and here, and under the skid plat. And oh, by the way, there were no screws.

Screws? What screws? Does anyone else remember screws being mentioned? Just the clips? That’s where I was at.

Apparently all four screws were missing from the skid plate and the tech yesterday had replaced the clips as directed but not the missing screws. He’d said nobody told him to replace the screws. You know, the screws, the main thing that holds the skid plate to the car. Why would we want to make sure those there?

Oh, and that zip tie thing I’m still not over? That wasn’t done because they were out of clips like I’d been told. That was done because the skid plate was damaged where that clip had originally gone. That’s a slightly different story than the skid plate is perfectly fine and completely secure.

The service manager continued to act like this was no big deal and everything was perfectly fine despite the damage to the front and the back of the skid plate. He also told me this was damage from normal driving. Because things like snow and ice will break the skid plate. And while that may be true, I don’t know if the damage was from normal driving or because the skid plate was hanging down. I don’t know about you guys, but I don’t think car parts should hang down lower than designed.

When DawnRay firmly asked him why the screws weren’t replaced yesterday and why they didn’t let her know they were missing, his response was “I don’t know. I wasn’t here. I don’t know how that happened.” See more variations repeatedly. Generally, when you are a manager of something your job is to make sure your employees are competent even when you are not there. This doesn’t seem to have been the case here.

I loved when DawnRay asked him if he would use zip ties as a permanent repair on his daughter’s, wife’s, or mother’s car. You could literally see him trying to think of a way to answer that. Let’s just say his answer was not impressive and he tried to quickly change the subject.

Basically, while we were standing by the car, we got excuses and what do you want me to do. I might have told him I wanted to be able to trust their service again. Especially since they were the only ones who had serviced the car since I had bought it new at that dealership. For being experts on Hondas, they seemed very uncertain about how to do the repairs.

I told him I felt like I’d been lied to. Which lead to him saying “Why would I lie to you? If I can sell you a part, I’m going to sell you a part.”

Hmm, let me think. Ignorance you’re trying to cover? Laziness? Apathy? Trying to ensure I have to do a bigger repair later? Or just making me have to buy a new car completely because what you failed to do ruined my car? Yeah, I can think of a few reasons. And I don’t like any of them.

If I can’t trust that you can fix a skid plate, which should have been a quick and easy repair, what service can I trust from you? Am I putting my safety at risk going to your dealership?

He never offered anything. He only acted the innocent party while saying he would secure the plate with screws. Great, you didn’t cause the problem, but you’re the manager. You should have stepped up. A genuine apology would have been the easiest step.

Instead we ended up back in the general manager’s office.

I wish I could say it got better here, but I got more of the same. “We can’t tell what happened. It could have been this. It could have been that.” This is not a problem that should have taken four trips to the dealership to fix.

Oh, and my favorite parts from the excuse list form both the general manager and the service manager when he rejoined us: “It could have been your driving.” “It’s a bad design.” “We don’t know what condition the car was in when you bought it used.”

First, you’re blaming the angry patron for the problem. I only do normal driving. I don’t off road. Talk about insulting your customer.

Second, you the service manager, told me it was a bad design. From the company you work for. So, you’re telling me the car I paid you guys for is crap?

Third, general manager, I knew you weren’t really paying attention to me the second you said that. I bought the car brand new from your dealership which was in the file sitting open in front of you. The car is not quite three years old.

In the end, we basically had to demand that the skid plate be replaced (still to happen since they had to order the part. Let’s see if they actually call me when it comes in). This was never offered. And they never genuinely apologized. And the excuses basically stayed the same. I wish I didn’t feel that this treatment was at least partially coming due to me being female, but I do. I know they haven’t treated my father the same way when he does business there.

Up to this point I have not named the dealership. Here it is: Ken Garff Honda of Orem.

For a company with the slogan “We hear you,” you did not hear me.


What I forgot to mention earlier is that when we mentioned that one of the techs who worked on my car had been fired, the general manager told us today that none of their techs had been fired, and he would have known if they had been. So either he lied to me today or the rep did that day to try and appease me.

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