Update: Dealers$$peak Service ripoff

Submitted: Wednesday, Jul 13, 2005 at 20:11
ThreadID: 24698 Views:2748 Replies:12 FollowUps:10
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This is for those who have been following the story of the $575 service charge to run a new ground wire to fix a malfunctioning security system (NATS) in a Nissan Patrol. Whole story in a long post PostID24583. Sorry about the odd characters which invaded the original post.

On Saturday morning I emailed the dealer principal to:

1. provide a fully itemized invoice (in plain English – not dealerspeak and codes) to explain the charge of $575 to run a new wire,

2. explain why I was not contacted with a quote before work began. I had requested this verbally & in writing – 2 copies - when I dropped off the Patrol

3. explain why the service manager told me that they had worked on my vehicle for 5.6 hours (at $102/hr) to fix the problem (when their invoice clearly showed that the vehicle hit the workshop at 12.45 and I have a saved - and timestamped at 4.03 - voicemail message from the service manager telling me my car is fixed and ready to collect)

(un)surprisingly I have not heard from the dealer.

In the meantime I took the advice of another forumite and phoned another dealer near Bris and asked for a quote on the work.

I was told that the diagnostic test would cost $80. If the test confirmed that the problem is in fact a resistance in a ground wire, it was a minor job to run a new wire and the cost of the wire and the labour to do the job would all be included in the $80. That price would also include the re-registration of any keys which ‘fell out’ during the work.

Well …. quite a difference between $575 and $80!!! Even if I allow some extra time for the first dealer to poke around to find the problem (since they have the dealer diagnostic gear and since I understand that the FIRST thing to be done when working with electrical/electronic gear is to check power in/power out) I expect $200 should cover it.

It looks like it is time for another email to the dealer – set a timeline and demand the return of my $375 or I move on to the next stage of my campaign to help a dealer to put HONESTY back into their customer service mission statement!

Thanks to the many people who gave advice as I tried to research the cause of my Patrol’s initial problem and as I tried to understand this (original) dealer’s behaviour.

I have even discovered that there is a Nissan Owners’ Club in Brisbane, so I may meet some of you at the meeting on Monday!
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Reply By: Bob of KAOS - Wednesday, Jul 13, 2005 at 20:17

Wednesday, Jul 13, 2005 at 20:17
Excellent work Patrolee. I guess they are seeking legal advice while they delay a response to you. I'd love to see them publically shamed.
AnswerID: 120218

Reply By: angler - Wednesday, Jul 13, 2005 at 20:39

Wednesday, Jul 13, 2005 at 20:39
I feel sure that if you in fact asked for a quote first before any work was to be done then if they in fact did do some work it should be free of charge. ie you didn't want it done and you were not asked first.
AnswerID: 120223

Follow Up By: Member - Trevor R (QLD) - Wednesday, Jul 13, 2005 at 20:53

Wednesday, Jul 13, 2005 at 20:53
I'm with you on your thoughts regarding free of charge cause they didn't ring with quote before going ahead with the job.
Good work Patrolee.
And good luck chasing a dealer for money.
FollowupID: 375272

Follow Up By: Utemad - Thursday, Jul 14, 2005 at 15:41

Thursday, Jul 14, 2005 at 15:41
I agree that if the dealer did any work on your car without giving a quote first when you asked for it then any work should be free.

A friend of mine who had a Holden took it to a Holden Dealer when the air con died. He asked for a quote but instead recieved a phone call to say that it needed a new compressor and the job had already been done. They wanted over $500 from him. He of course told them to get stuffed and got straight onto Holden Head Office who sorted out the problem. In the end he got his car back complete with the new compressor for no charge!

If someone told me they wanted to charge over $100/hr for work done on my car I would fall over laughing!!!
FollowupID: 375415

Reply By: angler - Wednesday, Jul 13, 2005 at 21:11

Wednesday, Jul 13, 2005 at 21:11
Just re-read your original post, I also suggest you take back that Tekonsha to where you purchased it and tell them the brake lights come on occassionally and they WILL replace it with another one. Don't accept the same type, pay a little extra (about $50.00) and get a prodigy, they are simply the best you can have. I had the same brake light problem,(without all the other drama) and my caravan dealer did the change over even though it was not the place where I purchased the original.

On the other problem, my son works at a dealership and he would never start something expensive without first contacting the customer, especially if it was on the job sheet to cantact first. He also says service advisors cause quite a few problems that can usualy be sorted once the problem is aired by the customer.

Another place where something may be done is the web site notgoodenough.com.au they seem to sort out a few things for customers.

My best wishes to you and I hope you can sort it out.
AnswerID: 120235

Follow Up By: Truckster (Vic) - Wednesday, Jul 13, 2005 at 21:13

Wednesday, Jul 13, 2005 at 21:13
yea was going to post that just now


as does a letter in the local paper... cause LOCALS to the dealer will read it
FollowupID: 375286

Follow Up By: Patrolee - Wednesday, Jul 13, 2005 at 21:32

Wednesday, Jul 13, 2005 at 21:32
Thanks for the website info. I was thinking that I had heard about one of those, but could not remember what they were called, so your info came just in time.

So many people have mentioned the Voyager, so I will have to get onto that next. I actually had my auto electrician have a look and he installed a diode, which he said would do the job. However, that was the same person who assured me that my NATS problem was not a grounding problem, even after i shared the wisdom of this forum (and those who responded sure were right!).

What makes the Prodigy a better unit? And how do you suggest I go about getting the unit exchanged? Is there a dealer/distributer I should contact? The Voyager was installed by the auto-electrician mentioned above, so he thinks it is fixed with the diode - could make things a little tricky!

Letter to local paper sounds interesting, but in smaller towns the paper is not very keen on publishing letters which do not reflect kindly on one of their main advertisers!
FollowupID: 375294

Reply By: Member - Captain (WA) - Wednesday, Jul 13, 2005 at 22:58

Wednesday, Jul 13, 2005 at 22:58
Hi Patrolee,

Have been following this post with interest. Glad to see you have finally resolved your NATS problem, just got the payment issue to deal with now!!! Unfortunatley I don't like your chances of getting money back from the Nissan dealer without a big bunfight, but hopefully I am wrong. Good luck with the next stage of your campaign, be sure to keep us all posted here.

How about posting the email address of the dealer principal, I'm sure there are quite a few readers here willing to email him, asking what he is doing to help resolve this matter!!!


AnswerID: 120268

Follow Up By: Member - John C (QLD) - Thursday, Jul 14, 2005 at 08:10

Thursday, Jul 14, 2005 at 08:10
Good idea about emailing the dealer.
Post the email address if you can find it.

Even a few of us non NIssan owners would help out.
When I look for the next car (may be soon for me) this is one dealer I will not be going to!
They might get a surprise how many friends you have.
FollowupID: 375328

Reply By: Tony N. (VIC) - Thursday, Jul 14, 2005 at 09:10

Thursday, Jul 14, 2005 at 09:10

Had a simular problem with a Holden dealer and I did a shootgun approach, got immediate response.

Took my commodore into them for a service and they told me the heads where shot after 100,000 Kms. It was going to cost $2500 to fix and this was a known problem with these cars, especially when fitted with gas, (factory fitted from new BTW).

Not only did they not tune the car as they said they couldn't until the heads were replaced, they even stuffed the tuning so that it would not start on GAS any more, did before they got at it. They had the nerve to charge me for a service and tune for both petrol and an extra charge for a gas tune.

So I got on the Holden web site and gave them a serve there cr@ppy design and manufacture, saying things like I would never buy another Holden and would encourage all my friends not to buy one either.

Within 2 hours I had a phone call from Holden Head Office wanting to know which dealer I was dealing with.

I then had a phone call form the Service manager appologising for the "Missunderstanding" and offering a refund for the services.

It still has the same Heads (nothing wrong with them) 50,000 Km later.

So I would recommend you get straight onto Nissan Australia and get heavy and let them lean on the Dealer Principle, as you have a great documented history and it is their reputation that is being sullied too.

Hope things work out for you in the end.

Tony N
AnswerID: 120297

Reply By: Member - Jeff M (WA) - Thursday, Jul 14, 2005 at 11:35

Thursday, Jul 14, 2005 at 11:35
And what's with $102/hr!!!????

We charge $88/hr for specialist electronic/computerised ONSITE licensed security work. These guys need to get a grip!

Bloody hell, I'd change oil and filters for $102/hr too! Maybe I need to change professions!

Another reason why I do my own work where possible...
AnswerID: 120329

Follow Up By: Member - ROTORD - Thursday, Jul 14, 2005 at 12:38

Thursday, Jul 14, 2005 at 12:38
'Stealing As A Servant' is very common . One method is for a Service Manager to make out a false invoice with increased charge time . You pay the inflated ammount , the false invoice is cancelled and replaced by an accurate invoice . The servant pockets the difference and an audit reconcilliation is happy with the correlation of engineers hours and income . Ask the principal if this has happened to you , it should at least attract his attention .
FollowupID: 375384

Reply By: rassie - Thursday, Jul 14, 2005 at 14:29

Thursday, Jul 14, 2005 at 14:29
Don't go in there and accuse people of stealing. I work in the industry and that
sort of approach upsets me. Talk to management, talk to the VACC, take them to small claims but make sure you have your facts right before you accuse the poor old service manager of stealing.
AnswerID: 120350

Follow Up By: Member - ROTORD - Thursday, Jul 14, 2005 at 16:18

Thursday, Jul 14, 2005 at 16:18
Sure it requires tact and circumspection .But when discussing what happened with the principal keep it in mind as a possible cause and bring it up if he can't explain what happened .I have been on the receiving end of this type of theft , twice , and I would have appreciated some obviouse indications being brought to my attention .
FollowupID: 375422

Reply By: Patrolee - Thursday, Jul 14, 2005 at 18:59

Thursday, Jul 14, 2005 at 18:59
Hmmm... Had not thought about an employee doing a 'double cross'. Hope this is rare. To the industry insider, I hope you have read the original post and understand the bigger picture. I have (so far) been more than polite with my dealings with the Dealer Principal. I have given him 4 1/2 working days so far to respond to my first email. So far it has not brought a response, so I hope he has not misread my manners as a lack of serious determination!

With the extra info about possible issues about an employee, I am thinking that I will mail (snail mail) my second (and last - before I start contacting other organisations of interest) communication to the Dealer Principal, complete with copies of all supporting documentation. In my email I had simply referred him to doc# of the invoice ... but if there is some internal interference, this could be a problem. Best to cover all bases, without making accusations (other than that I was clearly RIPPED OFF!)

Thank you for all the offers of "friendly" emails to the Dealer Principal! When it comes to that I'll let you know. I am trying hard to give him a chance to make it right. So tonight I draft the second letter and wait a bit more. May find time to ride the horse who has been ignored while I check forums and write emails and learn more about my Patrol from the many helpful people on this forum.

And yes, I will keep you posted on progress.


AnswerID: 120391

Reply By: Member Boroma 604 - Thursday, Jul 14, 2005 at 20:08

Thursday, Jul 14, 2005 at 20:08
Gooday, Would definitely return the Voyager brake contoller, there have been many ,many, postings of problems like you have experienced with a variety of vehicles over past 6 months on Caravaners Forum. All reported having had it replaced without any hassle, apparently Voyager know they are a problem but only come good when you complain.
Cheers, Boroma604.
AnswerID: 120408

Reply By: Grumblebum and Dragon (WA) - Friday, Jul 15, 2005 at 00:57

Friday, Jul 15, 2005 at 00:57
If you need to stir the 'poo pot' to get some results advise the Dealer to resolve the issue by x date. Also advise him that an unsatisfactory outcome will result in you taking the issues up at the highest level at Nissan Australia (or whatever) after a while it also pays to involve the media, politicians, Dept of Fair Trading, Small Claims Tribunal the Ombudsmen - Industry watchdogs and anyone else you can think of - including lawyers.

My experience that bleep only flows effectively downhill.

Best wishes
AnswerID: 120447

Reply By: banjodog - Friday, Jul 15, 2005 at 13:42

Friday, Jul 15, 2005 at 13:42
Patrolee - you typed 4 letters in your first post that caught my attention as well as specific and crucial instructions you left with the service desk.

Feel free to email me for a possible solution I can advise you on - jarvisjl@netscape.net

Also, if you haven't already seen -Fair Trading Qld
AnswerID: 120496

Follow Up By: banjodog - Friday, Jul 15, 2005 at 13:44

Friday, Jul 15, 2005 at 13:44
Sorry can't get the link to work - http://www.fairtrading.qld.gov.au/OFT/OFTWeb.nsf/0/2DB4D77768F9898B4A256B430012F5BA?OpenDocument&L1=Consumers
FollowupID: 375554

Follow Up By: banjodog - Monday, Jul 18, 2005 at 08:19

Monday, Jul 18, 2005 at 08:19
Patrolee - your email address kicks back - unknown account/user.

I have sent it twice but still kicks back. Please re-send to me with a contact number. Thanks.
FollowupID: 375930

Follow Up By: banjodog - Tuesday, Jul 19, 2005 at 15:46

Tuesday, Jul 19, 2005 at 15:46
Please check - should be there this time from my work email.
FollowupID: 376180

Reply By: Glenno - Sunday, Jul 17, 2005 at 00:08

Sunday, Jul 17, 2005 at 00:08
If its the same Nissan inner north dealership I used to get my Pulsar serviced at then I can relate to them.

I remember I got them to do a wheel alignment as part of the regular service. Got it back and the steering wheel wasnt straight when the wheels were straight ahead. They gave me some crap about the steering was worn that way blah blah.

Took it to the local tyre shop, and 30mins later it was all straight.

Also has the Motorama service manager give me some bollocks excuse thats its very hard to find good staff. He didnt have a comeback when I asked why he charges me a "good staff" price when he only has "average staff" work on my truck.

Shameless plug for Wayne Park automotive in Milton. If you have seen the race cars they work on in their workshop, I have full faith they can work on my stock standard vehicles.


AnswerID: 120714

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