Saturday, January 21, 2012

Give Me the Choice

I hate to be negative on my blog, but something has really ticked me off.

We just had our car fixed here in town by a garage that we've done business with for years. I feel that we've built up a relationship with this place from tires, tire pressure monitors, oil changes, brakes,...This time it was the throttle body. Let me back up to Christmas night so you can get the full effect.

We left my mom and dad's around 11p.m. Christmas evening after spending a wonderful holiday with my family. My parents live about an hour and a half away. As we were pulling out of the driveway, the car packed to the ceiling with Michael's gifts, the engine light came on and a message read reduced engine power. The car crawled down the driveway toward the road. My husband stopped the car, turned off the engine, and restarted it. No engine light and no message. Good. We headed for home. Thank you God and what ever angels helped us make it safely home without a hitch.

On the Tuesday following Christmas day, I had some errands to run. I started the car and the engine light came on with the same message, reduced engine power. I turned off the car and restarted it. No engine light and no message. I went on my merry way. I went by McDonald's for a much needed peppermint mocha, stopped at the bank to make a deposit of Christmas cash, and went by the Dollar General for some paper towels, dish soap, and toilet paper. Everything was fine until my last stop. When I got back in the car and turned on the ignition the engine light came on and the message read reduced engine power. I turned the engine off and back on only to see the engine light and message. Five tries later nothing had changed.

I decided to try and make it to the garage since it was located in the same parking lot as the Dollar General. The car crept toward the garage. What normally takes five minutes took fifteen. I pulled up to the door and turned off the car. When I went inside I was thrilled to see my friend working. He's one of the managers. And he's really my friend. His wife and I taught together. Anyway, I just wanted to know if I would make it home. He was kind enough to pull it in and hook it up to that handy dandy machine that tells what's wrong with the car. You know the one; it spits out codes that only mechanics can decipher. My friend told me that it was the throttle body. The part would cost $270, but the labor wouldn't be bad because it wouldn't take much to fix. And yes, I would make it home, but I really shouldn't drive it once I got there.

We couldn't get the car fixed right at that moment since we just celebrated Christmas. You know how it is with gifts, food, driving all over God's green acre. We pretty much live from pay check to pay check. About a week of hitching rides later, (I live 30 minutes from school in a whole other town) we took the car in to get it fixed. My husband said while they had it they might as well change the oil and clean the fuel system. "No problem," the new manager said. In that week my friend quit for a newer, better job. Maybe that should have been a warning.

The next day, we picked up the car, paying $270. That's it? Wow! I thought the part alone would be that. They said everything was running good, and we shouldn't have anymore problems. The throttle body just needed a cleaning. The car ran great for four days until last Tuesday morning when I was ready to drive to work. You guessed it...engine light and message. UGH!!!!! Frantically I called my best friend to see if she had left town yet. She was already on her way and would have to turn around to come and get me, which she was willing to do, but it would make us late to school. I decided to call my other friend who lived on the way to school and see if I made it to her house if she'd take me the rest of the way to school. I drove the second car, our Ford Focus, which by the way is only running on two brakes at the moment. Yes, when we needed the second car the most the brakes went out on it. When it rains it pours.

That brings us up to the present. We took the car back in, and they hooked it up to their fancy code machine, only to find that the throttle body needed to be replaced. Gee. Didn't we already know that? It would cost $470 to fix the car. Now this is in addition to the $270 we already paid them to fix the throttle body in the first place. When my husband asked them why they just didn't replace it the first time, they said they were trying to save us some money. Now, I can appreciate that in this economy, but why not give me the choice to make.

The Choice they could have given me:
A) We can clean the throttle body, do the oil change and fuel system for $270. But, we can't guarantee how long the throttle body will last.

B) We can replace the throttle body with a new one at a cost of $470. Pretty much guarantee there would be no problems.

Yes, $470 is more than $270, but I would have a new throttle body and the assurance of knowing that my car would get me safely to and from school without breaking down. And do you think they will work with us on this?! NO! We've been round and round with them this week. They will not give us any kind of a refund on the first fix it job, nor a discount on the second repair. We brought the car home last night.

Bottom Line: They lost our business, and we will not refer anyone to get their car fixed in that garage again.

Thanks all for letting me rant and get this off of my chest.

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