Monday, June 13, 2011

Chrysler Whacks Loyal Customers

Is Chrysler making the most of a second chance by increasing sales or by taking advantage of the customers they already have?  MSNBC posted a great article on one of America’s top automakers last week, “Surprising Chrysler Making Most of Second Chance”.  They cited that Chrysler’s first quarter hit an incredible $116 million dollars profit at a time when other auto makers were not fairing so well.  A wonderful marketing and advertising campaign is thought to be the reason behind this unusual turn around in sales.  My experience with Chrysler involved a request for everything in my bank account, so the finesse of their advertising campaign was lost on me.

Last week the check engine light on my Chrysler Grand Caravan came on.  Not a problem I thought, as my husband had spent a couple extra thousand dollars on an extended warranty and was still paying on it.  Upon my arrival at the dealership I was greeted with an upfront cost of $88.00 to look under the hood.  This I can understand as they had ten vehicles on the rack and many more in the lot that needed to be serviced.   I accepted the terms and left to get lunch.  When I returned I was informed that my van was out of warranty, but they took a look at it anyway.  I'd check it out to for $88.  Apparently the warranty expired three months ago even though we are still paying on it.  Fine, we’ll take our lumps.  What’s the final tab?  That light was going to cost $1642.49. That price includes $403.00 in parts and $1200 in labor.  Honestly, I did not know mechanics were so well paid.

I can hear the extremist’s shouting, “It’s your fault for driving a gas guzzler.”  Let us nip that in the bud right now.  “Shut up.”  The bottom line is clear even to the most enraged mind; Chrysler is cheating consumers on repairs.  My husband found their $160.00 part on line for $60.00 and a YouTube video explaining that this part only has four bolts holding it in.  No fancy machinery is involved.  If you can turn a wrench, then you can fix this part in 15 minutes!  So it doesn’t include the hours of labor listed.  It involves a handy twelve year old with a wrench and the promise of a trip to Maggie Moos. 

Now, the entire $1642.49 did not come from that one part alone.  The big figure came from 12 hours of repairing a head gasket.  After researching this estimate with other auto repair companies I discovered it takes an average of 6 hours of labor to repair a head gasket.  Even better, you can do it yourself if you hire these two kids for a day or even watch their video.  The car is a Honda, not a Chrysler, but these boys were rather impressive to watch.

 The whole of the story is that Chrysler customers of the past are getting whacked with huge repair fees as a part of their “amazing” come back.  The repair center was jumping with business when I was there, but the show room was empty.  Chrysler may be doing well in the sales of new cars, but the mark up is even better on repairing the ones they have already sold.  There is no allegiance, no consideration, and no honor, to loyal customers and the empty extended warranties they have purchased.

Chrysler makes a good car.  My first car was a Chrysler, and every one of my cars since then.  I was one of the first Americans to support the bail out of this company.  However, if this company is using loyal customers, the average American, to push themselves over the top financially, I can be the first to assure you that those profits they are presently enjoying will disappear faster than a housewife and her $1603.49. They will fail as America gets stronger and the old, used up Chrysler customers regain their wealth and look around to buy a new car.  Thanks for the memories Chrysler, but I see a Ford in my future. 

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