The Honda dealer

I never did write about our experience with the Honda dealer last weekend that had me extremely pissed off.

Mid-week-before-last I booked regular maintenance at our local Honda dealer Newmarket Honda. We bought our '99 CR-V used from this dealer in Fall '04, and have generally been quite happy with how they've taken care of it since then. The service to be done was a "type 3", which involves a bunch of maintenance and checks, takes 2hrs and costs around $225 total (full details here).

I arrived at the dealer last Saturday at 8:50am -- service was scheduled for 9am -- and just after 9am I was home again thanks to their shuttle service.

Note: I needed to get a ride back to the dealer to pick the vehicle up (and they knew this).

Time passed.

At 11:20am, 20min after the 2hr service was supposed to be done, nobody had called.

At 11:45am I called the dealer. The woman at reception tried to transfer me to the Service department, but nobody picked up and it rang back to her. She took a message and said she'd have someone call me back.

By 12:15pm it was almost 3.5hrs since I'd dropped off the vehicle and nobody had even called me back. I was well down the road of being pissed, especially since we had plans for lunch with my parents that involved us shopping for food first. I called again. The same woman at reception tried to put me through to Service, and I went into a queue.

I sat in the queue waiting for someone in Service to answer for 12.5 minutes. Then I bounced back to the woman at reception, who quickly gathered that a) I was pissed, and b) it was justified. She asked if she could take a message, and I said I'd already tried that almost an hour ago.

At that point she recognized my voice and in a slightly horrified tone confirmed that she had indeed passed a message to the Service folks for me after my original call and they really should have called me back. She put me on hold again, walked over to the Service department, and talked to someone directly (I like to imagine that she used a few choice words). A few minutes later she came back on the phone, confirmed that my vehicle was ready, and that she'd talk to the shuttle guy to come get me.

About 5 minutes later the shuttle guy called and confirmed where we live. He showed up in record time, we bundled ourselves into the 2007 Civic Sedan he was driving, and were finally off.

We arrived back at the Honda dealer at right around 1pm, 4hrs after I'd dropped it off for 2hr service.

I walked directly from the shuttle to our CR-V, because I was so angry by then that I would likely have just started shouting if I'd gone into the dealership. E. and Bri went in and to ok care of the bill, and E. confirmed that the place was extremely busy. Apparently they'd had a lot of people show up with no appointment.

We went shopping for food and a few other things, got to my parents' place at around 2:30pm for lunch, and I fed my irritation hot wings and salad.

Before the service there was a bit of a squeek in the front suspension, which we assumed was because it needed a good lube. E. said the Service people had found a "loose brake spring" that they figured was causing the squeeking.

Immediately after the service we noticed that the front suspension was squeeking a lot whenever we turned, stopped, etc. E. had the upcoming Friday (yesterday) off work, so we were going to book a follow-up visit to the dealer to have it looked at.

Note: The type 3 maintenance specifically includes inspecting the suspension.

By Tuesday night the squeeking had turned into a nasty crunching when the brakes were fully applied. E. no longer felt safe driving the vehicle more than required, so opted to work at home and take it in again Wednesday morning.

I'm not sure what conversations E. had with the Service people on Wednesday. They determined that our front-end ball joints were shot. They also determined that our vehicle was still under extended used-car warranty, which we had originally purchased with the vehicle but I thought had expired, and so we just had to pay a $50 deductible instead of $400+ that it normally would cost.

There are a lot of ways to look at this, and I could come to lots of unflattering conclusions. I will resist the temptation.

I still like the quality of Honda's vehicles. I will definitely consider buying another Honda vehicle. And I will absolutely switch to another Honda dealer if I ever again have to deal with the level of incompetence, both in customer service and shop work, that I saw in the past week from our current dealer. That they went the extra mile to not overcharge us for the second service visit was good, but only good enough to give them one more chance.