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Hello All,

I hope you find my unsatisfactory dealer experience interesting and useful to you.

Like so many of you, I received a mailing last month about the airbag recall for my CR-V. I was already aware of the Takata recalls, as my Odyssey was recalled and "repaired" last year and I have also been following the developments in the media. The Odyssey is another story, since the replacement inflator was also Takata and I will be going back to ask for a unit from a different manufacturer.

Well, last month I called the local, Southwestern PA Honda dealer where I bought the CR-V and two Accords. I spoke with a service advisor who told me an appointment was not necessary and to just come into the dealership. I asked some other questions, such as the manufacturer of the replacement airbag inflator and the ETA for the part...which was not yet in stock. I called again last week and spoke to another service representative, who answered my question with the response, "Just come in Saturday between 9 AM and Noon."

This morning, I drove to the dealership but stopped on the way at the nearby car rental (rhymes with weather-wise) to see which vehicles were available for the recall program. The rental agent told me there were no more cars available since they had already today provided ten to the dealership. Mind you, it was 10:30 AM and the business is open from 9 AM until Noon.

Next, I headed to the dealership and met with a service advisor. When I told advisor A why I was there, he told me there were no more rentals available. I politely asked him if I may speak with the service manager, to which he said "The service manager is not here today." I then asked him, "What is plan B?" and he told me "There is no plan B." It was clear that they wanted me to leave without a car and come back another time. This did not sit well with me. I have "been around the block a few times" so I was not going to give in. Unfortunately, there are many customers who do not know their rights and would have gone home without a rental car. My tone changed a bit and I told advisor A that I had called on March 31st and spoken with advisor B and that I was told to "just come in." As it turns out, advisor B was sitting at the other end of the counter so he spoke up and I then walked down to his station to discuss the issue with him. Advisor B asked me if I had schedule a service appointment, and I said I had not...because when I spoke with him on the phone on the 31st, he told me to just come in. I told him another advisor told me last week to stop in between 9 AM and Noon..."so here I am." Advisor B told me I should have made arrangements and I responded that he did not schedule an appointment for me when I spoke with him on the 31st, and knowing what he knew about the rental availability that he should have made the appointment when I called. The advisors were pushing back, not treating me as a loyal customer, and "not putting the customer first." I told advisor B that advisor A gave me the wrong answer, that "no cars are available." While advisor B was grumbling and not providing answers or good service, I said "I can call American Honda," to which he replied "Sir, you can do whatever you want." I asked about the possibility of them calling another car rental office and the advisors demeanor changed and he became more helpful. The advisor called three rental offices of the same chain, and the best they could do (or wanted to do), was offer a mid-sized truck or van. I said I did not want either (mainly because of the relatively poor fuel economy). [Side-note: while the advisor was busy on the phone, I viewed a service order on the counter (upside-down) which indicated another CR-V owner has stopped in this morning and asked for/received an SUV rental vehicle] What I settled on was picking up a mid or full sized sedan tomorrow morning, after the rental office had time to receive back some cars today. I asked the advisor about the possibility of getting an SUV rental, and he said that American Honda is paying the rental agencies $35.00 per day, and if I wanted him to...he could call Monday and seek an approval for an SUV. I told him I was fine with a sedan. Now, many of us know that car rental agents have the authority to make deals and that the pricing is quite flexible. By this point, the advisor had become much more cooperative and friendly. I am sure the advisors and the dealership management do not want customers to call American Honda with complaints. I signed the paperwork and offered a handshake to seal the deal.

It is a shame that we customers have to sometimes put up with this poor service, especially considering the time, risk, and inconvenience of the airbag defects and the recall process.

Thank you for reading. I hope your recall experience is better than mine.

Jeff
 

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Update to dealer / airbag recall / rental story:

When I arrived at the rental office today, they wanted to put me in a Hyundai Accent...which is quite small. I told the rep that that car would not work for me, as it was not comparable to a CR-V and safety was my prime concern. There was a little push back but I let them know I was aware of the pricing flexibility they work with, and they then offered me a new Chevy Malibu...which I accepted.

Stick to your guns, people.

Jeff
 
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