Toyota Yaris / bad service
2 September 2009
To Whom it may concern:
When it was time for me to get a new car, I trusted in Toyota Motors for a variety of reasons. Generally speaking, Toyota is known for producing quality cars—and in the past, I have been very satisfied with the Toyota cars that I have owned. They have great gas mileage, they do not require as much maintenance as other lesser brands do, and they are aesthetically pleasing. I support Toyota’s Lean Manufacturing. I have always recommended Toyotas to friends, family and colleagues.
However, unsatisfactory customer service can change all that. And, that it exactly what I have experienced at the Carlsbad Toyota Service Center.
I currently own a 2008 Toyota Yaris in Polar White. I have never had an issue with my car before. My reason for visiting the service center was due to an interior leak which (evidently) resulted from a clogged drain pipe for the air conditioning condensation. I first noticed the leaking drainpipe on August 30, 2009. It was the only time I ever saw anything leak from the interior of my car. I decided it would be a good idea to bring it in for a service check and I assumed that this type of thing would be covered under my 100, 000 mile warranty. On September 1, 2009, I took my Yaris in for a service check.
David Ramstad is the person with whom I spoke with for most issues regarding my Yaris that day. Mr. Ramstad told me that the issue was not covered under my warranty but that the service check would be done free of charge on “goodwill.” He explained to me multiple times what the issue was. He employed the use of technical jargon, which obviously, I did not understand because I do not work on cars for a living. I asked Mr. Ramstad to explain what was going on inside my car in more elementary terms, but he proceeded to explain the issue the same exact way. He also seemed rushed, and told me, “I only have 15 minutes.” He seemed eager to get to the next customer, but I left without having my questions answered. Today, I still do not understand how a brand new Toyota could end up with a clogged drainpipe after not even two years of ownership. I left confused and unsure about the stability of my car.
When I asked if my car came installed with a cabin filter (because I had read that some Yarii do not), Mr. Ramstad told me that the computer system reads that my Yaris does, in fact, come equipped with a cabin filter. I had asked him to physically check if I have one before my car was serviced. When I picked my car up, I asked him if he found a cabin filter. Mr. Ramstad said he did not check—he only looked in the computer system. He then slid his fingers in the glove compartment and said he could feel it. But again, I left feeling very unsure about this, too, because I couldn’t see or feel it.
After I left the dealership I felt better (despite the bad customer service) because I thought my car was is good condition again. I was wrong. After making a quick stop at home, I was on my way to school when my “check engine” light came on. I was at a stoplight just a block and a half from my house when this occurred. Then, while sitting at a red light still, the “overheating” warning sign came on. When the traffic started moving I immediately pulled over—obviously baffled! How could a Toyota with a little over twenty thousand miles on it be overheating?
Of course, I immediately called Toyota Carlsbad to sort this issue out. Only an hour has elapsed between the time I left the dealership and the time my car began overheating. When Mr. Ramstad called me back about my Yaris, he immediately blamed the accident I had. But there are a few noteworthy points to make: first, my accident only dealt body damage to my vehicle—this can be easily confirmed; second, the accident happened in January and since then, I have made two trips to Northern California (a long drive) and over five trips to Palomar Mountain (which is a strenuous drive); and third, my vehicle was in perfect health, aside from the clogged drain pipe, before taking it to the Toyota Dealership.
Mr. Ramstad claims that the hood of my car was never even opened during my service visit precisely because of the front end body damage. Since I was not there, and there are no witnesses I can trust, how can I believe this? It is ridiculous to ask me to believe that I brought my car in for service, and the hood of my car was never opened. Why would Mr. Ramstad and/or any other personnel not open the hood of my car if I am clearly bringing the vehicle to be serviced? Mr. Ramstad never offered me any advice and was cold on the phone, even as I sat in my car with smoke coming out from under the hood on the side of the road. He simply blamed some minor body damage for the reason my new car was overheating!
When I realized that Toyota Carlsbad was not going to help me, I simply hung up and waited for my car to cool down. When it was safe to do so, I popped the hood of my car myself. Upon inspection, I noticed three things: the radiator cap was off, the intake pipe was completely off, and the engine coolant cap was off. I do not know a lot about cars, but I do know that if my car was in this condition before I had finished having it serviced by Toyota Carlsbad that I would have never have made it to the dealership—rather, I would not have had any other choice but to tow it there. The situation seemed like too much of a coincidence to me.
Luckily for me, I was able to sort things out without the help of Toyota Carlsbad’s service “professionals.” I cannot prove whether or not one of Toyota’s service employees opened the hood of my car and made an honest mistake in leaving the engine coolant cap off. But, Toyota’s success had to do with GM and its dealers ignoring customer complaints, not servicing warranty claims, and substandard products. Perhaps Toyota and its dealers are headed in the same direction.
I will be elevating this issue as far as I can go with it. I did not feel that I was treated equally or with respect during my visit to the service department whatsoever. I have always held Toyota in high esteem. I will never service my car again in the Toyota Service Center in Carlsbad, CA—and I will never recommend that anyone goes there for anything. In fact, I’ll be pretty vocal about discouraging anyone I know from going there. And, if anyone else wants to hear my opinion (JD Power & Associates, my attorney general, the Better Business Bureau, newspaper, and/or any consumer reports that will listen), I will gladly explain my experience in full detail.
It is really too bad that coming to your service center had been such an aggravating experience. I hated being rushed out and feeling like I had been lied to and/or misled. No one enjoys being patronized or dealing with a condescending service professional. Maybe Honda will treat me better.
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