Senior Car Buyers Beware

You may be seeing car advertisements on television like the cute little vehicle coming out of the ocean and driving up on the sand, or another darling little car driving across the desert as if it is a mirage, and must seem too good to be true. Well, maybe it is.

One unknowing purchaser bought the cute little car for her husband’s birthday and was pleased to learn there was a 4 year, 50,000 mile warranty. The purchase was made in California with the intention that the car was to reside in California. When circumstances changed and the couple relocated to Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, they checked if there was a dealer there and were relieved when they found out there was, so they shipped the car at great personal expense.

When the first thing went wrong with the car, they took it to the dealer and were told they didn’t have an authorized repair person on the Big Island so the car would have to be transported by barge to Oahu were they could have an authorized repair person fix it. It was something minor, so they didn’t see the sense of sending it all the way over there so called Detroit and spoke to customer service. After many, many hours on the phone negotiating with them, they finally agreed to let it be fixed locally. The couple had to pay for it and then send in the bill to Detroit and then they were reimbursed. They said that it was a “One-time goodwill gesture.” The overall cost was a couple hundred dollars after many hours of their staff time and the couples’ time spent haggling over it. Blood pressure was raised.

Several months later when the car was around 2 years old and had only 31,000 miles on it, it stopped driving in a shopping center parking lot when it wouldn’t shift. The husband had it towed by his insurance company to a local repair shop who he knew could fix it. Again, a call was placed to the headquarters in Detroit. After much negotiation and the car company agreeing to pay for the car being transferred, it was sent by barge to Oahu to the dealer with the authorized repair person. The husband suggested they fly the mechanic over to do the work because that would be cheaper than the transport fees of approximately $1200.00 round-trip.

Once the car was in the car dealer in Oahu, the repair person determined that it was the clutch plate assembly and it MAY be covered under warranty. The husband again called Detroit and was told that it was not covered, that it was “Normal Wear and Tear.” The husband was incredulous and explained that he had driven a standard shift all his life and 31,000 miles was not enough on a two year old car to be “Normal Wear and Tear.” He asked to speak to a supervisor. He spoke to a man who said that he would get back to him. He didn’t so the husband called for three more days in a row and the man was always out. Meanwhile, the husband was also without a car so he and his wife had to share one. With a limited retirement income, they couldn’t afford to rent a car, and the car company wouldn’t give them a rental because the deal they had with a rental company was on the wrong island. The couple’s insurance company wouldn’t cover the rental either because the car hadn’t been in an accident.

At this writing the F__T Car Company has not called the man back, the work has not been done on the car, the couple has only one car, the dealer has it taking up space at their lot, and nobody is remembering the commercial of the happy drivers coming up the beach!

Ask these questions before you buy:
1) Who does the warranty work if I move the car someplace without authorized dealer repair?
2) How much money will you take off the purchase price of the vehicle if I can’t get the warranty work done?
3) Who do I refer interested prospective buyers to that take up so much of my time asking about the car every where I go because it is so cute? And, do I tell them that the $20,000.00 purchase price is only good for the first 31,000 miles?
4) Are they an “Aging-Friendly” business or do they take advantage of older adults by wearing them down with lack of communication and customer satisfaction?

Let the Senior Car Buyer Beware!

Thanks for reading! 😉

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