Thursday, October 16, 2008

No Ulterior (Auto)motives ...

All I want is for companies to do what's right.

I was having car trouble. My father correctly identified what was happening and a mechanic he trusts confirmed it.

It's a common problem in a slew of GM cars, yet GM has never issued a recall to correct it.

So yesterday, I picked up my newly repaired baby (repaired by the mechanic my dad trusts, because I sure as hell wasn't about to take the car back to the dealer that refused to correct the problem) and came home and penned this letter to the chairman and CEO of General Motors which I will mail today, along with a copy of the invoice.

I'll let you know how things turn out.

October 15, 2008

Mr. Rick Wagoner
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
General Motors Corporation
300 Renaissance Center
Detroit, MI 48265-3000

Mr. Wagoner:

In 2002, based on several recommendations, I purchased my first-ever Chevrolet. I went to Smith Chevrolet in Hammond, Indiana, a dealership with which my father has had a long-standing relationship, both as a customer and automotive businessman.

Larry Hill was an outstanding salesman and on the day of delivery, I drove off the lot in my 2003 Impala confident that I’d enjoy years of hassle-free driving. And I did indeed. Until recently.

My car was running hot. I lifted the hood and noticed that cap to the coolant reservoir had popped off. Assuming the antifreeze had evaporated, I filled the reservoir, replaced the cap, and resumed driving. But my car continued to run hot. My antifreeze was consistently low. I thought I had a leak in the reservoir. I mentioned the problem to my father and he said, “It might be leaking into the engine.”

So I started doing some research on the Internet. I was dismayed to learn that my problem was not unique. In fact, it was shockingly common. On message boards everywhere, people were discussing my exact problem, and mechanics were weighing in, offering that the intake manifold gasket on an engine used in many GM cars was made of plastic that was melting, allowing antifreeze to leak into the engine.

Moreover, I learned that GM never issued a recall for this problem, despite being aware of it.

On the “Experience GM” tab of the corporate web site, it states: “Quality, our top priority at GM, begins with understanding what you want and need from your vehicle – and then delivering above and beyond those expectations.”

Mr. Wagoner, I expect a GM car to be built with quality parts. In the event that those parts fail because of poor engineering or manufacturing, I expect the automaker to resolve the problem.

I took the car to a mechanic who confirmed my concerns and provided me with an estimate for repair. My father called the service department at Smith to ask if my car would be repaired out of warranty, given that the problem stemmed from a faulty GM part. He was told that there was no recall issued for the part in question and therefore the problem would not be resolved unless I paid for the repair.

I opted to have my car repaired by the mechanic who provided the estimate, someone my father knows and trusts. I am enclosing a copy of the invoice. For the sake of customer relations, I am requesting that GM reimburse me for this nearly $700 repair.

At a time when the value of General Motors stock has recently fallen to figures not seen since the 1950s, at a time when the company is considering a merger with Chrysler, and at a time when it is looking to the federal government for financial assistance, GM can ill-afford to alienate its customers.

But rest assured, if this situation is not resolved in a satisfactory manner, my next car will surely be a Toyota.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Beth Kujawski


Blogger Jeff Hunter said...

I gave up on American cars in 2001. Go for the Honda.

8:50 AM  
Blogger Martwork said...

I predict you will get a form letter and no reimbursement! And I love my Toyota, BTW!

9:17 AM  
Anonymous Cannon said...

If the GM-Chrysler thing doesn't work out, your next GM car might be a Toyota anyway,

8:58 PM  

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