Dear Mr. Jackson:
I am writing this letter so that you will be aware of a nightmare I experienced recently regarding the repair of my 300ZX in your body shop and subsequently in your service department. I will detail the events in chronological order.
I dropped the car off for repair of rust damage in the following areas:
Roof—along the top of the windshield area
Left rocker panel—under driver’s door
Left quarter panel—near end of bumper
Rear body panel—under license plate
I was told it would take three or four days.
I called to inquire about the status of the car, since this was the fifth day the car was in the shop. I was told that I could pick up the car any time after 2 p.m. My wife and I arrived at 5 p.m. The car was still not ready. In the meantime, I paid the bill of $443.17 and waited. At 6 p.m. the car was driven up dripping wet (presumably from a wash to make it look good). I got into the car and noticed the courtesy light in the driver’s door would not turn off when the door was closed. I asked for help, and Jim Boyd, body shop manager, could not figure out what was wrong. His solution was to remove the bulb and have me return after the Labour Day holiday to have the mechanic look at it. I agreed and began to drive off. However, the voice warning, “Left door is open,” repeatedly sounded. Without leaving the premises I returned to Mr. Boyd, advising him to retain the car until it was fixed—there was no way I could drive the car with that repeated recording. Mr. Boyd then suggested I call back the next day (Saturday) to see if the mechanic could find the problem. I must emphasize, I brought the car to the body shop on August 28 in perfect mechanical working condition—the repair work was for body rust. This point will become important as the story unfolds.
I called Jim Boyd at 10:30 a.m. and was told that the car had not been looked at yet. He promised to call back before the shop closed for the holiday, but he never did. I later learned that he did not call because “there was nothing to report.” The car sat in the shop Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.
I called Jim Boyd to check on the status of the car. It was 4 p.m., and Mr. Boyd told me nothing had been done, but that it should be ready by the next day. At this point it was becoming obvious that my car did not have priority in the service department.
I called Jim Boyd again (about 4 p.m.) and was told that work had halted on the car because the service department needed authorization and they did not know how much it would run. At the hint that I would have to pay for this mess I became very upset and demanded that the car be brought immediately to the mechanical condition it was in when it was dropped off on August 28. At this point Ted Simon, service department manager, was summoned, and he assured me that if the problem was caused by some action of the body shop, I would not be financially responsible.
I had not driven the car since I dropped it off, and I could not fathom the evidence anyone could produce to prove otherwise.
Again late in the day, I called Mr. Simon, who said that Larry (in the service department) knew about the problem and switched me over to him. Larry said that they had narrowed it down to a wire that passed several spots where body work was performed. He said the work was very time-consuming and that the car should be ready sometime tomorrow.
I called Mr. Simon to check on the status of the car once more. He told me that the wiring problem was fixed, but now the speedometer did not work. The short in the wires was caused by the body work. Larry got on the phone and said I could pick up the car, but they would send the car out to a subcontractor on Monday to repair the speedometer. He said that when the mechanic test drove the car he noticed the speedometer pinned itself at the top end, and Larry thought that someone must have done something while searching for the other problem. I asked him if there would be charges for this and he said there would not. My wife and I arrived to pick up the car at 5 p.m. I clarified the next steps with Larry and was again assured that the speedometer would be repaired at no charge to me. The car was brought to me, and as I walked up to it I noticed that the rubber molding beneath the driver’s door was hanging down. I asked for some help, and Mr. Simon came out to look at it. He said it must have been left that way after the search process for the bad wire. He took the car back into the shop to screw it on. When it finally came out again, he said that he would replace the molding because it was actually damaged. When I arrived home, I discovered that the antitheft light on the dash would not stop blinking when the doors were closed. Attempting to activate the security system did not help. The only way I could get the light to stop flashing was to remove the fuse. In other words, now my security system was damaged. Needless to say, I was very upset.
On Sunday evening I dropped off the car and left a note with my keys in the “early bird” slot. The note listed the two items that needed to be done from the agreement of last Friday—the molding and the speedometer. In addition, I mentioned the security system problem and suggested that “somebody must have forgotten to hook something back up while looking for the wire problem.”
On Monday I received a call from someone in the service department (I think his name was John), who said that the problem in the security system was in two places—the hatchback lock and “some wires in the driver’s door.” The lock would cost me $76, and the cost for the rest was unknown. The verbal estimate was for a total of $110. I asked him why he did not consider this problem a derivative of the other problems. He said that both the body shop and the mechanic who worked on the wire problem said they could see no way that they could have caused this to happen. I told the fellow on the phone to forget fixing the security system because I was not going to pay for it. At this point, I just wanted the car back home, thinking I could address the problem later with someone such as yourself. I told him to have the speedometer fixed and again asked about charges for it. I was assured there would be none.
The service department called to say I could pick up the car any time before 8 p.m. He also said that the molding had to be ordered because it was not in stock. The need for the part was known on September 8, and NOW the part must be ordered. This will cause me another trip to the shop.
When I went to the service department to pick up the car, I was presented a bill for $126. I asked what the bill was for, and I was shown an itemized list that included speedometer repair and searching for the security problem. I said my understanding was that there would be no charges.
Somebody at the service desk was apprised of the problem and released the car to me with the understanding that the service manager would review the situation the next day. My car was brought around to me by the same person who brought it to me September 8. As I got into the driver’s seat, I noticed there was no rear-view mirror—it was lying in the passenger’s seat, broken off from its mounting. I was too shocked to even get mad. I got out of the car and asked how something like this could happen without anyone noticing. Jim Boyd said someone probably did not want to own up to it. He requisitioned a part and repaired the mirror mounting. Mr. Jackson, I realize this is a long letter, but I have been so frustrated and upset over the past three weeks that
I had to be sure that you understood the basis for that frustration. I am hoping you can look into this matter and let me know what you think.
555 South Main, Turnerville
Questions for consideration (do not answer as questions).
1. Categorize the quality problems in this case.
2. What are the probable causes of so many mishaps?
3. Prepare a cause-and-effect chart for “failure to remedy repair problem to customer satisfaction.”
4. What specific actions should Jackson take immediately? What should some of his longer-term goals be?