Don’t Take NO for an Answer. Let Me Help You
- Are you satisfied with the resolution to any warranty claims you’ve had with the supplying or servicing dealer of your car?
- Do you have an ongoing or persistent problem with your car that can’t be diagnosed let alone fixed?
I’m Bob Aldons, the owner of Car Business. Over the years as a dealer, I’ve gone into bat for my customers and in more cases than not I’ve arranged a satisfactory resolution.
As part of Car Business, I’ve started a new division to assist car owners to get their deserved outcomes in a battle with a new car franchise dealer or manufacturer
Here are a few examples where I’ve had success.
Mike and Jenny Bergman
A friend of mine from the Sunshine Coast in Queensland referred Mike and Jenny to me.
It seems that Mike’s 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee had a transmission problem whilst towing their van. The Jeep broke down just outside Bairnsdale in Victoria and limped into the local Jeep dealership. The vehicle needed a replacement transmission. The dealer ordered it and had it swapped over within a week, but Mike was told his Jeep was out of warranty and that he’d have to pay the $12,000 repair bill. Fortunately, Mike had a ‘free’ Harrier warranty which covered the first $5000 of the $12,000 repair.
After speaking to Mike, I told him that there was an excellent chance of recovering the $7000 he’d paid to the dealer from Fiat Chrysler Australia.
I contacted the Customer Assistance Centre to lodge a claim and, guess what? Initially, I was advised that the vehicle was out of warranty by time and distance and there wasn’t anything that FCA was prepared to do. Bad luck Mike.
One thing I don’t do is take no for an answer. Call it obsessive compulsive if you like, but I’ve found over my forty years in the car business, that when dealing with manufacturers, you have to dig in for a long fight.
I always carefully analyse the ownership history of any car concern I’m involved with before taking on the task. There’s no point if the owner has neglected to service a vehicle correctly whether with a dealer or independent.
In Mike’s case, to maintain the free extended warranty he was given, he’d returned the Jeep to his local Jeep dealer for every service. He had the best service book I’d ever seen.
So, again I asked Fiat Chrysler for the case to be reviewed, pointing out the excellent service history and suggesting that under current consumer protection laws that it was unreasonable to expect a relatively new transmission to fail, particularly when it had been serviced by a Jeep dealer.
As expected, Fiat Chrysler then agreed to refund Mike’s contribution of $7000.
Another win for the good guys!
My Own Story
I purchased a second hand Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland from an auction.
The leather dashboard was crinkled – the glue holding the leather in place had let go. The Jeep was out of new car warranty on both time and distance. (By 18 months and 27,000 kilometres).
I contacted the Jeep dealer and asked them to submit a goodwill claim to have the dash repaired. And of course the first answer was no and that I’d have to pay for the replacement. Cost? Over $6000.
I suggested to the dealer that they speak to Jeep again, as under Australian Consumer Law the defect wasn’t acceptable. Surprise – claim approved.
When the dealer was replacing the dash top, they found a leaking air conditioning condenser. I asked them to submit a goodwill claim and as in the first instance, the claim was denied.
I asked them to submit again citing Australian Consumer Law and suggesting that the condenser shouldn’t have failed this early in its life. Claim approved and repaired at no cost.
And a week before I sold this car, the sunroof motor failed. Guess what? The same story – submit a goodwill claim, have it denied. Asked the dealer to resubmit and cite Australian Consumer Law. Approved.
The moral to this story was a potential repair cost of over $12,000 that, knowing the right way to ‘discuss’ this with the dealer and manufacturer, resulted in no out of pockets for me.
The ‘out of warranty’ excuse happens more often than you realize.
Jamie works for a friend of mine in Brisbane.
His Mitsubishi Triton broke down and was towed to Zupps at Aspley. The service people diagnosed a problem with the engine and quoted almost $3000 for the repair.
The Triton was 6 months out of warranty on time but had only travelled 85,000 kilometres. I spoke to the service manager and asked why he hadn’t submitted a goodwill claim to Mitsubishi. He told me that since it was out of warranty there was no point.
I asked him to explain Australian Consumer Law to me. I still remember his response. What’s that?
I’m flabbergasted that manufacturers still haven’t taken the time or insisted that their ‘customer facing’ staff know exactly what the ACL is. Nonetheless, I explained to the service manager what the law was, what it covered and the expectation that a consumer has in relation to that.
I advised the service manager to submit a goodwill claim to Mitsubishi Motors Australia Limited and get an answer. It took a week before he contacted the vehicle owner (not me) to tell him that MMAL would pay for the parts but he’d still have to stump up the labour of $1000.
Jamie called me and let me know what he’d been told. And he asked me whether he should just pay the bill. In the strongest words possible (not publishable here) I suggested that I’d contact the dealer.
I called the service manager again and explained that the customer wasn’t happy with the outcome and expected that the vehicle repair would be fully covered by Mitsubishi. I also asked for the name of the case manager and advised that I’d contact them directly.
When I called the case manager, she was surprised. I told her I acted for Jamie, that I had authority to deal with the matter (official authority had been provided to Zupps). I suggested to her that Mitsubishi was in breach of Australian Consumer Law and that if she didn’t approve the total claim that further action with the ACCC and Queensland Civil Administrative Tribunal would follow.
I’d comment here that most of the customer service people I talk to are fully aware of the strength of the ACL but continue to deny a claim until someone (in this case me) refers to it directly.
Ultimately, the matter was settled. Mitsubishi provided a courtesy vehicle whilst the short motor was replaced. Jamie and his partner, Rhonda has their Triton back and are extremely happy with the outcome I was able to achieve.
One of my suppliers of long standing is Tony Doyle of SuperFinish. Tony and I have been dealing with each other for as long as he’s had the Superfinish franchise.
Tony purchased a used 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland in May 2017. It was still covered by the manufacturers warranty until late July, so he had some time up his sleeve to make sure that the vehicle was fit for the purpose that he purchased it for.
Early in June 2017, the engine developed a noise. Tony took it to my old dealership, Northstar Jeep. The service department diagnosed a fault with the heads and submitted a warranty claim which was approved by Fiat Chrysler. The dealer had the Jeep for over 3 months. Part way through the repair, they advised Tony that he’d be getting a new engine. Apparently, there was metal in the oil and they thought it best to replace the whole long motor.
A week or so after Tony collected the Jeep – mid-October 2017 – the transmission developed a noise and certainly wasn’t operating the way it should. Theoretically, the Jeep was out of manufacturer’s warranty and the dealership submitted a ‘goodwill claim’.
A month after that Tony was advised that Fiat Chrysler would contribute 30% of the transmission cost and that he’d have to fund the balance – just over $9500.
It’s at that point, January 22nd, 2018, that Tony approached me for assistance.
I contacted Fiat Chrysler, online as they insist, and submitted a claim through their customer assistance centre. When I hadn’t heard from them within a week, I called their 1300 number.
The lady, Hannah, insisted that she couldn’t find a submission and asked that I email an outline of the problem with any support documents.
A week went by and again no contact. I called Fiat Chrysler again, Hannah was busy on another call and I left my number for her to call me.
Another week went by without any communication. At this point, I felt that FCA needed a good touch up, so I went about locating a contact for Steve Zanlunghi, The Fiat Chrysler CEO. I contacted him through LinkedIn and outlined the lack of communication.
Mr Zanlunghi replied (good start) suggesting a member of his executive team would contact me. Despite not hearing from anyone for 48 hours, finally, a lady named Avneet Brar contacted me via email.
I outlined the poor communication and lack of follow through. I sent her a copy of the documentation again (3rd time) and eventually received an offer. FCA would contribute 50% of the parts and Tony would have to pay for the labour.
Now, this offer was made on a vehicle that had travelled only 104,000 kilometres, had an engine change during the warranty period and had not be used by the customer since early June 2017 save for a couple of days after having its engine replaced.
Needless to say, I wasn’t happy with the offer and suggested the same to Ms Brar. She advised that the matter would be referred to their technical team.
Another week went by and finally, I received an offer from Avneet that FCA would pay for the transmission in full, but Tony would need to fund the labour charge to swap the transmission. Cost of this was around $2500.
In a lot of cases, the customer would simply think that this was the best they were ever going to get and accept the $2500 invoice and move on.
Tony and I spoke at length about the offer. I suggested to him that FCA was playing the deny game. I suggested to Tony that we should continue the fight and that another week wouldn’t be that much.
Thankfully, Tony agreed. We spent a bit of time together formulating a timeline from early June 2017 to the present date.
I was able to submit this timeline to FCA and show that the vehicle hadn’t travelled much since the engine failure. I suggested to FCA that they replace the transmission and provide the labour. The alternative was to take the matter to court for a hearing.
Under Consumer Law, I was confident that Tony would be clearly vindicated and that FCA would be ordered to settle 100% of the invoice. I suggested that again to Ms Brar, and received this reply:
Please note that we have spoken with Shaun at the dealership and there is still a discrepancy in the dates they have provided for the engine and transmission repairs.
However, I have relied on the timeline that you have provided and requested the technical team to cover the labour costs in full.
Please note that an amended authority will be provided to the dealership tomorrow.
So the ultimate outcome was that Tony received a new transmission for his 2014 Jeep and didn’t have to contribute one dollar for the repair.
The only thing that he did have to invest was the time. Tony’s vehicle was not available for his use from 22nd January until March 6th, 2018. FCA refused to provide a replacement vehicle but thankfully, Tony had another vehicle that his wife Wendy could use.
Mrs Deon Wylie
Deon Wylie was referred to me by another satisfied customer. She’d recently purchased a 2012 Ford Focus from a used car dealer that had travelled just over 100,000 kilometres in the 6 years since new.
Coupled with the low kilometres, the Focus had been serviced by a Ford dealer for all of its life – tick.
Shortly after taking delivery, Deon had the car serviced by Nova Ford of Caboolture in Queensland just to make sure that everything was good.
Only four thousand kilometres later, an engine warning light came on. Deon took the vehicle back to the dealer who couldn’t determine any fault and sent her on her way.
And guess what? A short time later, that same warning light illuminated. The dealer had told Deon to come straight in with the light on so they could diagnose the fault, which they did. It was a faulty PCM – Powertrain Control Module. Now the PCM is the brains of the car and without it, the car is useless. The cost to repair was around $2300 or 23% of the total cost of the car.
The dealer advised that the part wasn’t covered under warranty and that Deon would have to pay. Now Deon is a feisty lady and felt that given the history of the vehicle it shouldn’t have faulted. She contacted the Ford Customer Experience Centre and they reiterated that the problem wasn’t covered and that they wouldn’t do anything to assist.
Through a mutual friend, Deon contacted me. I listened to her explanation and determined that there was a good chance for me to advocate to Ford for their assistance.
So over the next three weeks, I discussed the matter with Ford. Initially, they said no and then no again. And after saying no for the third time, they offered to pay for the part whilst Deon would have to pay the labour charge of $900.
In discussions with Deon I suggested, and she agreed that there was a better outcome. I contacted Ford Australia one last time and advised that if there was nothing more forthcoming that I’d apply to the courts for a determination in Deon’s favour.
The lady I was speaking with suggested that I should go ahead as there was no more that Ford would do for this customer.
As I was about to submit the court documents, a senior manager from Ford, Josh Bovington, called me and advised that on a goodwill basis, that they, Ford, were prepared to pay for the total repair of $2330.
At the outset let me tell you that I don’t work for free. You’ll pay me a retainer to start the review and I’ll go to work for you and try to resolve the issue between you and the car manufacturer.
If there’s no outcome in your favour then there’s nothing more for you to pay. If there is an outcome that’s satisfactory then and only then, with the matter resolved, do I take payment for my service and the outcome.
You know right from the start what the costs. And those costs are certainly a lot less than having to repair your car.
After 40 years as a franchise dealer. I understand how car makers work and how they think.
Let me help you get justice! You’ve paid good money for your car with the expectation that it will be relatively trouble-free.
Don’t accept NO for an answer.
Bob Aldons is the owner and founder of The Car Guy, reviewing cars, reporting on Car Industry Matters, Car Tech and the world at large. He’s spent the last forty years immersed in the automotive industry from salesman to the owner of a 7 brand multi-franchise dealership. Bob knows cars.
If you’re hunting around for a great price on your next new car, you should call the auto expert, Bob Aldons from Car Business. My company, a car Broker, Car Buyers Agent or Car Buyers Advocate based on the north side of Brisbane, will return your inquiry within 24 hours and make the process of buying a new car easy and stress-free. Are you tired of salesperson tricks? I protect you from the pressure exerted by car dealer’s salespeople. There isn’t any obligation – just a pretty significant saving.
You’re where? Seriously, my services are available for you in any Australian state and territory: from Darwin to Hobart, Cairns to Perth. Car Broker Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth, Hobart, and Darwin – I’m available when you need me to be.
Here’s an example
Matt wanted to purchase a Mazda 3 SP25 GT Manual Hatch. The retail value, drive away on that car is around $35,000. Car Business managed to purchase the same car for $28, 123.90 and with our fee Matt paid $25, 588, a saving of over $6000. And how do we know? Another customer, (looking for a new Holden HSV) just paid $35,000 for the same car – but he did it himself, without our assistance
If you’ve got a vehicle to trade, we have some clever ways to maximize the value – from used car dealers keen for your car to assist you to sell it privately. Finance and Insurance? We can handle that too, and we promise you will not be paying exorbitant dealer markups there either.
Trade In Value Example
2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited. Average dealer trade value – $16500. We achieved $22,000
2014 Volkswagen Tiguan 118TSI. Average dealer trade value – $14000. We achieved $16000
So, to get the best new car price, talk to others and then talk me. I’ve got the experience to handle the dealers and achieve the lowest new car prices. If you think you’re entitled to fleet pricing, I can often get better than that too. Whether you’re a small fleet or a large national fleet, Car Business will go to work and get that price down. Lower new car prices are my goal. So you’ll get the best prices from us rather than hoping you can help yourself.
If I can’t get you the best new car price, better than you can get yourself from a car dealer, we won’t charge you any fee. No Saving, No Fee. – that’s what you should expect from a car buying expert.
Car Business WILL save you money on your next new car purchase – guaranteed
The Australian Road Safety Foundation is a not-for-profit organization whose charter is to reduce serious accidents on our roads through training and education. Car Business donates to the ARSF for every car we sell. If you’d like to support this worthwhile foundation, donate to the cause, become a member today or just buy your next new car from Car Business
My reviews aren’t based on power performance or high-speed handling capacity. They’re not based on 0-100 Kim/hr of 4.0 seconds. And they’re certainly not super luxury vehicles that many other “old timers” are feted on by the likes of Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Aston Martin
Back when I started in the motor industry salespeople were schooled and skilled in a process called the road to the sale. Part of that process was a presentation of the car that the customer was ultimately considering,
The six position sell showed the features, advantages, and benefits as it related to that specific car in the eyes and thought process of that particular customer
Those days of a true car sales professional seem to have gone.
Nowadays it seems that all salespeople want to do is accept that the customer knows everything about the car they’re interested in, want to crunch the customer as quickly as possible and get onto the next sale
In my opinion, this is one of the reasons that there’s such a high turnover in salespeople in this industry of ours.
Now I think that I’m a car industry expert, not because I sell lots of cars, but, as I was taught over 40yeras ago, time sells motor cars.
The more time you spend with a customer, the more information you provide them and the more you’re there for them Even AFTER they take delivery of their new car, the more repeat and referral business you’ll get.
Typically second and subsequent sales only provide 10% of a car salespersons business. Referral business, where an existing customer refers a friend, relation or work colleague back tot eh selling salesperson as someone to trust and buy a car from is even less – probably 5%
So, if you’re a young salesperson reading this article, let me tell you that you should be getting 40-50% of your business from repeat and referral business.
And how do you get that much? Well, that’s a story for another article or an opportunity to join me in a training course.
For your interest, my motoring reviews are my opinion of the vehicle I’m testing. The manufacturer or distributor, in this case, Kia Australia, doesn’t tell me what to write or ask for a ‘nice’ review. Nor am I paid for these reviews – I simply call it as I see it.
I often wonder about the ‘truth’ that I see from other motoring journalists. And I’m particularly referring to newspapers, online forums, and magazines where the company that owns the publication receives substantial advertising support from the various manufacturers.
Do the owners or editors tell their journalists to go easy on the review? I’m not sure, never having been in that position. Would I turn to softer reviews if my company was being paid for good reviews? Not likely. My independence as a writer is not for sale. I’d rather say no than be bought.
In any case, If that ever happens, rest assured that I’ll be telling that story with interest.