Thursday, March 30, 2006

Nissan strikes again

I don't know if it's good customer service or not, but Nissan tested my patience today.

As an update to my previous reports regarding the defective windows in my Nissan Altima, after the "consumer affairs specialist" contacted me and told me Nissan would do nothing to resolve my problems, I sent a reasonably lengthy complaint letter to their headquarters in California. I must say, at this point I have resolved that Nissan really doesn't care about my satisfaction and going to do anything about it, my only real purpose is to make sure they know that they've made a thoroughly dis-satisfied customer.

After the frustrations with Nissan are all but out of my mind, what happens today? The SAME rep who called me the first time telling me that Nissan would do nothing about my problems, and had an excuse for everything in an attempt to convince me that my problem was not their problem, calls me again! For a brief moment I thought perhaps they had decided to own up to their problem... not so fast. No, this person had the courtesy to call me back and tell me that she "received my letter", gave me more of the same excuses that she gave me the FIRST time I talked with her, and informed me that Nissan has not changed their decision. My thought? WHY DID YOU EVEN BOTHER CALLING ME TO TELL ME THAT NOTHING HAS CHANGED?! Ridiculous if you ask me. She did say that she would forward my letter on to the "executive" level... which is really what the intent of the letter was in the first place. Put it in the hands of someone who actually should know how customers are satisfied or not.

One more thing to add to my collection of "examples of bad customer service".

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Marketing spin at its finest

Here's one for you consumer advocates out there. Today I receive my monthly statement in the mail from Bank of America, enclosed in which was a notice of updates to my check card. Reading further couldn't help but make me laugh:


We reviewed our Bank of America Visa Check Card benefits and discovered that while some check card benefits are frequently used by our consumer customers, others are not. In an effort to serve you better, we have streamlined our consumer check card benefits to provide the services you use most.

With this in mind, we want to make sure you are aware of the upcoming changes to your Bank of america Visa Check Card benefits, effective July 1st, 2006. At that time, Bank of America Visa Check Cards will no longer provide: Purchase Security, Warranty Manager, Concierge Services, Price Protection, Purchase Security and Extended Protection, or Travel Accident Insurance. Current consumer benefits provided with your check card depend on your check card type.

Bank of America will continue to provide the popular benefits that mean the most to our customers, including:

[ long list of features they haven't removed ]

To translate and filter through the marketing-speak: "In order to serve you better, we're removing half of the benefits on your check card. Rest assured the remaining benefits will remain unchanged. No new features have been added." It's amazing how all it takes is a positive tone and suddenly a bad thing sounds like a good thing. How would that work in the real world? Let's take a look:

On being fired: "We realize times have been difficult lately, so in an effort to improve the office work environment, we will be providing you an involuntary opportunity to leave the company."
On your car being reposessed: "Thank you for your continued support of our company. We realize you have been unable to make the required payments on your luxury vehicle, and in an effort to help you solve this problem, we are happy to inform you that we will be taking your car off of your hands. Rest assured that you will still have the same access to bus service that you have always enjoyed."

It's nice to know big companies still care about the customer.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Nothing's ever easy when it comes to cars

Well, what I hoped would be a simple fix turns out it will take another day to come to some sort of resolution. Where we're at now is:

I took my car to the Nissan dealership this morning bright and early. Dropped it off, got a courtesy shuttle ride to work, no problem. Plenty of nice people at the North Seattle Nissan dealership's service department.

Got one call from them around noon asking for more details of the problem. Explained in further detail the problem, and all was well.

Then got another call around 3:15pm explaining that they'd looked into the problem, verified that 2 window regulators need to be replaced, but that the almighty Nissan corporate warranty folks are denying coverage (because my car is at 62,000 which is over the 60,000 warranty extension). The dealer tried to negotiate with the corporate folks to get it covered, but got nowhere. However, TJ (the service guy) gave me Nissan's number so I could try to fight it out myself.

A call to Nissan got more nice people, who were rather helpful, or shall I say, as helpful as they could be without actually resolving my issue. The first person updated all of the basics, took all of my information, praised my choice of a Nissan Altima since it's the "most popular passenger car in the world", yadda yadda yadda, gave me a case number, and then passed me off to another "specialist" who really did nothing more than told me that a "specialist" (if everyone's a specialist, doesn't that make nobody one?) would talk to the dealer and I would receive a resolution by the end of the day tomorrow. I got no indication whether or not anything would actually be done about it, nor did I get the feeling that anyone I spoke with had any power to actually do anything to resolve it.

I called the dealer back, who were also surprised that Nissan wasn't going to do anything immediately, but agreed that the corporate people will probably breakdown and cover the replacements. So tonight I'm back to pick up my car, with no repairs done to it at all. Hopefully once I get to a person who can actually resolve my issues, the reason will stand out and they'll stand by their product and fix the defective parts in my car. Then I'll make ANOTHER appointment to get the windows fixed and hopefully have it taken care of. Fortunately I'm in a position where it's not a critical problem that "must be fixed now", so I can fight until the bitter end if necessary. I'll say one thing, the longer and more trouble it takes to get this resolved, the less I'll be looking at buying another Nissan.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Windows... essential feature, or optional?

I suspect that 90% of you who read the title of this entry will assume this is going to be some geeky rant about Microsoft Windows and some buggy feature, or perhaps a dissertation on the merits of Windows versus Linux, or perhaps something completely unrelated to windows at all.

Well you're all wrong. The complaint I have is about the power windows on my 2001 Nissan Altima. As anyone who has ridden in my car with me no doubt knows, sometime last fall, just at the tail end of the Seattle heat waves of 2005, my passenger-side power window stopped working, well, effectively. It went down without any problem at all, but had serious issues rolling back up. Obviously something was broken in the mechanism, which I verified by actually ripping half of the door apart to see if it was anything easily fixable, which it wasn't. My conclusion, "hey, these things happen" and I'd get it fixed in the Spring when I actually cared about having a window that opens again.

Flash forward to February, for some reason I had the need to roll down the rear window on the passenger side, and as I was rolling it back up what happened... it was starting to act just like the front one! One broken window, reasonable accidental breakage... two broken windows, something's definitely not right.

After a little research on the internet last night, I find that there is a known issue with the windows on certain 2001 Altimas, exactly the issue that I am having. So this morning I gave a call up to my local Nissan dealer and talk to their service department. They look up the VIN number of my car in their system, and lo and behold, there's a voluntary recall / replacement program for all 4 window regulators on my car. Though in Nissan's infinite wisdom (or at least their lawyers, no doubt), they were covered under a 5-year/60,000-mile warranty extension, which puts the warranty expiration out to... March 30, 2006. Good thing I called when I did.

Of course, I don't recall ever getting a notice about this impending failure of my window regulators, or I probably would have done something the moment I noticed a problem. The minor caveat is that the mileage on my car is I believe about 61,000 miles. If they disqualify my warranty replacement because of that, just watch me go after Nissan's corporate goons and raise a fuss. I've been 100% satisfied with my car, many times extolled the greatness and trouble-free maintenance of my car, and would definitely consider getting another Nissan next time I buy a car... that should be worth far more to Nissan than angering me over silly window regulators that they know are faulty. I don't expect it to come to that, but I'm ready if it happens because no doubt retail price to fix 4 power window regulators probably runs in the $1000+ range.

Long blog short, I have an appointment to take my car in on Tuesday to get all 4 regulators replaced. Hope for the best.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Long time no update...

Well it's been close to a month since I actually updated my blog. Several reasons for that I suppose...

1) I was on vacation for the 3rd week of February. Didn't go anywhere, but Andrew came to visit, so there was much fun to be had, along with the Olympics being on TV for what seemed like 24-hours a day. All in all, some much needed time off.

2) Curling has been keeping things busy. This past weekend was the annual "5 and under bonspiel" which is a curling tournament open to all curlers in their 5th year of curling or less. It was quite a fun, yet extremely exhausting weekend. Out of 15 teams, my team was 8th, which by my calculations is about as middle-of-the-pack as you can be. Still, the fun is what matters. Only a little over a month of curling season left before the 6-month hiatus.

Not much else of any significance that I can think of. Some observant blog readers may note that the Amazing Race 9 started last Tuesday, and more importantly that I made no blog of it. There's good reason for that, blogging it is too much work and I'm less than inspired at the moment. However, AR10 might see a resurrection of the blog... we'll have to see.

Now I'll have to keep up more with my blogging. I'll try to have more interesting things to say sooner than later.