Monday, July 05, 2010

My Car, My Hassles (Part 6)

Long time blog readers will remember just over three years ago I bought a new car; a Saturn Ion. The car has served me well over that time. Very low maintenance. Just some brake work. Until this week.

This week, Ottawa saw some record highs. It went up to 34 degrees on Tuesday, and 35 on Wednesday. While I usually take the bus to work, I drive to work for extreme temperatures. If it's supposed to go above 30 degrees, I drive in. I'd rather have 1 hour in an air conditioned car, than 2 hours in a full, stuffy, stinky, sticky bus.

Everything was fine on Tuesday. Then, on Wednesday I drove to work. I didn't need the air conditioning in the morning. In the afternoon, the temperature at Gatineau Airport was 35 degrees Celsius. I was looking forward to my nice, cool car. I got in the car and started it. I turned on the air conditioning. I put my hand up to the vent. Only warm air was blowing through it. I didn't think too much of this. It usually takes a minute or two for the air conditioning to kick in.

After an hour, when I got home, the air blowing through the vent was still warm. I thought that because it was so hot out, the air conditioning system was constantly fighting the warmth outside, and since the car was sitting in a hot parking lot all day, that maybe the whole car was so warm, that by the time the air conditioned air came out of the vents, it had warmed up. I took the car out again in the evening, after it had been sitting in the shade for a while.

Still no cool air.

I opened up the hood to see if there was anything obvious like a big "On/Off" switch stuck in the "Off" position. No such luck. Nothing obvious. So I closed the hood. Except it wouldn't close completely. There are two latches that keep the hood closed. The first one keeps it all the way down. The second one prevents the hood from flying up if the first one fails. The first latch was broken.

This is not good. I was willing to live with out air conditioning for a while, but I need my hood to close. On Thursday I called a local GM dealership to see if I could bring my car in for a servicing. My car is just past the basic warranty plan. I was hoping my extended warranty would cover these repairs too. Air conditioner fixes are not cheap!

When I bought it in, I told the guy I bought the extended warranty. He said the repairs should be covered, minus the deductible. "The deductible will be about $100 or $200. You could have gotten a $0 deductible, but those are usually really expensive, like over $3000."

I said "Yeah, I probably got the $100 deductible. I'm too cheap the pay an extra couple of thousand to save one hundred."

So I left my car there and went to work. He said he'd call me when he knew what was wrong, and what needed to be done to fix it. I got that call in the early afternoon. "Well, the good news is the hood latch just needed to be lubricated, so that was quick and easy. The bad news is we need to replace your air conditioner clutch compressor coil. Now, if you had gotten the extended warranty, it would just cost you the $100 deductible. As it is, it's going to cost you over a grand."

I had a mini heart attack. "I thought I did get the extended warranty."

"Are you sure? Here, let me check the GM system.......Oh yeah! I'm sorry! My mistake! You did get it. You have a $100 deductible."


"Do you need wheels tonight? We're going to need to keep the car over night. We'll get you a rental for the night - covered by your warranty."

"Yes, please. I need the car to get home."

When I got home, I took out my folder with all my car purchase information. I took out the paper detailing my warranty - called Schedule A. It said I had a $0 deductible. What?! That guy said I had a $100 deductible! I'm being scammed!

Then I took out my "GM Warranty Service Plan," which is something GM sent me after the purchase of my car. It said I had a $100 deductible. Okay. What's going on?

I called GM.  I told the customer service representative that Schedule A had different information than the Service Plan.  She told me that Schedule A would be correct because that's what I bought at the dealership, and they probably made a mistake when they entered the info into the computer.  She told me to fax her Schedule A and she would fix it in the computer.  Then I could have the dealership call GM for confirmation if they wanted.  I faxed her my Schedule A and waited.

The local dealership that had my car called me to tell me about the repairs. I told them about the $0 deductible, which I had just told GM about, and that they should could call GM to confirm. She checked the computer and said she still saw that it was still a $100 deductible. She told me to get GM to call them.

So I called GM to ask if the change had been entered into the system, and if they could call the dealership to notify them of the changes. The guy at GM told me "Oh yeah, I don't know if the girl who got your Schedule A put it in the system, and she's on break now so I can't ask her. And if she did, it takes 3 business days for the update to go through."

While I wanted to tell him they have these new things called "computers" and "the Internet" that allows information to be updated and disseminated in seconds instead of days, I decided to ask him to call the dealership.

"We don't call the dealerships. If you could get them to call us, we'll happily confirm."

I'm getting dizzy from going around in circles.

"Or you could try to get them to not submit the warranty claim until Tuesday. Or, better yet, you could just pay the $100 + tax deductible now, and on Tuesday call us, and we'll cut you a cheque."

Fat chance. I don't trust companies to do that. Getting money out of companies, even large prosperous companies like GM, to give you money can be harder than plugging an oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico. "Look," I explained, "the dealership told me to get you to call them to explain this to them."

"Okay, what dealership did you take it to?" I told him. He put me on hold for a few minutes. He came back and said "Okay, I just spoke to the dealership, and they have the updated information, so you won't charged for anything the warranty covers."

"Thank you very much."

I have to say I thought I was going to have a hassle when I got to the dealership to pay for the car, but I didn't. I got my car back, and drove home with the air conditioning on! Oh it felt so good!

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