Tuesday, September 29, 2009

And Why Did We Stop Traveling By Horse and Buggy???

Ok. So most of the people who read here have either heard the car story or actually lived it, but I want to get it down anyway…if only for my own memory.

So, it all started on August 17th. I was at work when I got a call from the kids’ day camp. Bubbles had been stung by a wasp…three times! Both Bear and his brother are allergic to bee and wasp stings, and we have always worried that one of the kids might inherit the allergy. This was the first time Bubbles had ever been stung, so we didn’t know what would happen. We decided it would be best if I went and got her so that if she had a reaction, I could get her help quickly. I decided to pick Animal up at the same time so that I wouldn’t have to make two trips.

As we were pulling out of the parking lot, my car started acting REALLY weird. When I put my foot on the gas, the engine revved, there was a loud KUCHUNK, the entire car shook, and then it started to move. This whole process was repeated every time it attempted to change gears (automatic car).

I called Bear at work and told him what was happening. He said he would look at it when he got home. When he got home, he added some fluids, tinkered around, took it for a drive and then came home and announced we needed to take it to a repair shop. My car hasn’t had many problems through the years (thank goodness!!!) so we don’t have a regular repair shop that we take it to. Bear had heard good things about one near us, so that is where he decided we would go.

We dropped the car off that night, and they promised to look at it in the morning. The next day, they called Bear and told him it was the Torque Converter (apparently part of the transmission??) and it was going to cost us $3600 to have it repaired. Bear called me and I hit the roof. I demanded that he call around and see if there was a better price available. He did…there wasn’t…we agreed to have the work done. They said it would be ready by Friday (this was on a Tuesday).

Friday came and they said it wasn’t ready but it would be by Saturday. Saturday came and they said there was a problem. They had gotten a (refurbished) transmission and installed it, but when they test drove it they discovered a problem. Apparently there was a broken part and the car wouldn’t stay in park. They were going to have to get another new (refurbished) part. It was going to be a few more days.

At this point, the timing gets a little fuzzy for me.

It took forever for the 2nd transmission to arrive…mainly because they didn’t want to play money games with the parts place so they shipped back the damaged one before the new one was sent to them, and then they had it shipped at the cheapest rate for them…cause, you know, they didn’t have a customer that had already waited too long to get their car back!

They put the 2nd transmission in and informed Bear that it too was damaged. This time the car wouldn’t even GO into park.

This is when the lies started. We were told that a 3rd transmission…this one brand new…was going to be used. This turned out to be a LIE! We don’t have any real idea of what they were doing during this time frame. We assume they were trying to fix the 2nd broken one, but who knows.

Bear had been dealing with a guy (we shall call him Asshat!) who claimed to be the manager. Asshat did very little to try to help. His main purpose seemed to be making excuses. Bear was calling multiple times a day to talk to Asshat, and it turns out that 99.9% of the things he told us were so very untrue.

But I am getting ahead of myself. Almost 3 weeks after we left our car with these people, Asshat called and said that it was fixed. We could pick it up that night (a Friday). That evening, the whole family went to pick up the car. Bear paid for it (there was a SLIGHT discount given for our inconvenience…and by slight I mean insulting) and we headed out. Now, you need to understand that I know NOTHING about cars (if that hasn’t been apparent already). You need to know this in order to understand how NOT fixed my car was.

Bear and the kids were riding in his car. I got into my car, adjusted the seat, noticed that all of my preset radio stations were gone, and backed out of the parking space. By the time I was completely backed out, I KNEW my car wasn’t right. I called Bear and told him just that.

Bear: How is it not right?

Me: I don’t know…it’s not right! It doesn’t sound right! It doesn’t feel right!

Bear: How does it not sound and feel right?

Me: I DON’T KNOW!! I just know it’s not RIGHT!

We pulled into the first parking lot we could find. Due to traffic, I had never gotten above 20 MPH. I got out of my car and Bear got in. He left me with the kids and his car and took mine for a drive. About 10 – 15 minutes later, Bear called me and gave me directions back to the repair place. I asked what was wrong. He informed me that once you got above 25 MPH, the car was still doing exactly what we brought it in for!!

We went back and Bear went in to talk to Asshat. I was not “permitted” to come in because Bear seems to think I have a temper and he was worried I would go overboard. I have no idea where he would have gotten such an idea.

It is probably just as well that I didn’t go in. When Bear told them they needed to give us a refund on our credit card for the payment, they tried to tell him that they couldn’t do it that night. It would have to wait until morning! He informed them that he would not be leaving without our money, and Asshat miraculously figured out how to process a refund!

About a week later, Asshat finally had a day off, and when Bear called, he got hold of RM (Real Manager). It was RM who informed us that Asshat was not who he said he was. RM also inadvertently revealed most of Asshat’s other lies. We also found out that my car was dying every night and required a jump start every morning. I about hit the roof at this point! They had actually tried to return a car to me that was not only NOT fixed, but was actually worse off than when we brought it in. I am sure they were thinking that when I went to get in the car the next day and it was dead, I would assume it was a new problem and not think to blame them!

Anyway, Bear “had a discussion” with RM about the “service” that we had received thus far, and he promised to try to make it better. He suggested trying a used transmission as apposed to a refurbished one.

Evidently, the difference is that a refurbished transmission had a problem what was supposedly fixed. A used transmission was salvaged from a car that was no longer working for some other reason unrelated to the transmission.

They were able to get us one that came from a car with 54,000 miles (or something like that) on it. Since my car has 106,000 miles, this seemed pretty good. It also came with a lifetime warranty, so that is nice too.

They also changed the battery, which was evidently what was causing the nightly deaths.

A few days later, my car was finally ready to be picked up. This was exactly one month and one day after the work originally began!!! When we went to pick the car up this time, I informed Bear that I WOULD be going in with him. I had a few things I needed to tell Asshat!

We went in and Bear insisted on test driving the car before we paid. Once he got back, we asked for Asshat and the “discussion” began. I am not known for having a quiet voice, and I was not making any attempt to keep it down when we spoke. I am certain the fairly full waiting room caught at least bits and pieces of the things we were saying.

By the time we were done, Asshat had dropped the price of the repair by $1000.00 dollars. It still doesn’t come close to making things right…and I have every intention of making a few calls about this whole thing (can we say Better Business Bureau, AAA, etc.), but I have to say that it felt good to come out ahead.

We will never be using that particular repair shop again, and we have made a point of telling all of our local friends to avoid them too. I guess that is the most justice I can hope to get.
Oh…and I did get one last parting shot in before we left that day! Bubbles and Animal had been sitting in the waiting room (where we could see them) while we took care of business. When I went to get them, Bubbles asked if the car was finally fixed. My response, “Well, honey, we sure hope so. But did you know that you can bring a car in to be repaired by these people and pay them good money for those repairs and then after you get it back you can have the same problems that you brought it in for, and it isn’t their FAULT?!?!” The looks on the other customers’ faces made me feel MUCH better.


  1. You should actually say the name in the post in case people don't read the comment. Lake Ridge Auto. I'm so glad we are done with that!

  2. God, I would probably be in jail right now....