I’ve written about it before and I’m sure I’ll write about it again. ‘The Power of the Bitch’ means not letting yourself get walked on, screwed or taken advantage of by companies and corporations.
Too many times I’ve let things slide. Spoiled food, empty soda cans in a 12-pack, poor service, employees with bad attitudes, etc. Well I for one won’t put up with it any more. If I’m unhappy with something I buy or some service I’ve had done I WILL speak up about it. I refuse to throw good money away on bad products and services. I refuse to be treated like crap by some cretin in a store uniform.
We purchased our 2007 Hyundai Accent back at the end of June. In August I decided to have the transmission and radiator flushed. The tranny fluid was pretty crappy looking and the radiator looked like it had WAY too much water than coolant, I wanted a clean slate to start from. Since I was slightly annoyed with the Hyundai dealership about the sales tactics and lies the salesman told me I decided to have the work done elsewhere.
I called around and Firestone of all the places I was the only shop that said they used the specific (SPIII) fluid the manufacturer calls for and not a multi-vehicle fluid they throw additives in to make it ‘compliant’. I made the appointment and took the car in for service. When they’d finished the job they asked me if I wanted a copy of the compliance sheet. When I asked what that was they said it was a printout that listed the vehicles their multi-vehicle transmission fluid was compliant with. I was annoyed but they assured me that this was perfectly safe and fine in my car. I walked out unhappy but hopeful things would be okay. This shop had, in the past, cut me a great deal on tires for my previous car.
Just as an FYI the severe driving service schedule, which I guess my driving (short trips, stop and go traffic) and Florida weather actually do fall under calls for the transmission fluid to be changed every 30,000 miles. The ‘normal’ driving schedule for the service is over 100,000 miles!
Last month I my mom and I drove across the state to visit my father’s grave (see previous blog post ‘Promises Kept’). A few times on the way there, while starting out on hills (I actually found hills in Florida!), the transmission felt like it was slipping in and out of neutral for a second or two then it would be fine. On the ride home, and from then on, the car would frequently… stumble when it shifted into 2nd and 3rd gear. It wasn’t making noise or grinding but it was seriously annoying and caused me to worry about the health of the transmission.
After discussing the issues with several people online, one a Hyundai master technician who very kindly volunteers his time answering questions from Hyundai owners, the consensus was that the Versa-Trans fluid was garbage. It needed to go and Hyundai specific SPIII fluid was what should replace it.
I had barely put just one thousand miles on fluid that was supposed to last a minimum of THIRTY THOUSAND miles and I was calling the dealership for an appointment to have diagnostics done on the transmission and (another) transmission flush if that was all that it needed. I was looking at putting close to $300 more dollars into the car. Happily the dealership waived the diagnostics fee of $95 when I agreed to have the transmission flushed for $185 which was what Firestone also charged me. They reported that nothing appeared to be damaged or wrong in the transmission, then reset the computers that control everything, installed a couple software updates and flushed the transmission.
On the ride home it was like driving a completely different car. Night and day from what it had been. Shifts were, and still are, crisp and quick. There’s no stumbling between gears. The difference was amazing.
When I got home on Monday (Nov. 5th) I fired off a letter to Firestone detailing the issues above and stating that I expected my money back. I didn’t have much hope but I had to at least let them know how dissatisfied I was with their people lying to me and how badly their product performed in my car.
Wednesday morning (Nov. 7th) the phone rang. It was the district manager for Firestone. He was very sorry for my bad experience and promised to look into their employee’s actions in promising their product was specific to my vehicle as opposed to a general multi-car fluid as well as looking into the compatibility of the transmission fluid they do use. I figured that was going to be it, that this was just a “Sorry about that, Chief.” phone call. Then he said “…of course we’re willing to offer you a full refund and if you’d like I can have it sent to you by overnight air.” I like! I like! And true to his word Thursday afternoon (Nov. 8th) UPS delivered an overnight envelope with a check for $185 in it.
Kudos to Firestone. Granted, your employees may lie and your products may suck but not only were you readily and cheerfully willing to refund my money you got back to me and got my refund to me faster than any other company has ever responded to a complaint. Well done!
So there’s my tale once again. Never let your dissatisfaction with products or services go unheard. The response might just surprise you.
Hawk (waiting for the bank to open)