Friday, April 10, 2009
Seekin' service at Toyota's largest dealership in South Carolina? Take note of your repair order, which informs you that "THIS TRANSACTION IS SUBJECT TO ARBITRATION PURSUANT TO THE SOUTH CAROLINA UNIFORM ARBITRATION ACT." Read the fine print, and you'll discover that once you sign, if things go wrong, you'll be required to submit to the arbitration process before you can take the matter to court. Worse yet, Toyota selects the arbitrator, which turns out to be the so-called Better Business Bureau. How many people do you know who won their case in front of an "arbitrator"? The process is exactly what you would expect from a bully like Toyota: its a deck stacked in favor of big business, which tends to wear the consumer down and discourage further action. 'Course, when folks take their vehicles in for service, they're usually in a bit of a bind - over a barrel, you might say - and don't have time to consider a mess of legal niceties. Which brings us to the crux of the matter. Why does Toyota's largest dealership in the state find it necessary to hamper a consumer's right to have their case heard in court? Must have tons of unhappy customers...
Monday, April 6, 2009
DICK DYER TOYOTA (Columbia, SC): When I noticed my oil was suddenly several quarts low, black as coal, and the engine was losing power, I took my car to Dick Dyer Toyota, proudly touted as the largest Toyota dealership in South Carolina. They didn't even do an oil consumption test, replaced the exhaust system without telling me what had clogged it, and sent me on my way with an engine that was literally coming apart (when the engine was rebuilt - at a different dealership - it was confirmed that a piece of the catalytic converter had blown into the exhaust system, which accounted for the rattling sound I had mentioned to Dyer's service tech). Of course, the car was in no condition to be driven, and this is particularly troublesome because the service tech and others at Dick Dyer were well aware of the fact that I used the car to transport my elderly father, who has Alzheimer's. He also suffers from a heart condition and is legally blind with macular degeneration. I'm thankful we didn't wind up in an accident, or simply stranded alongside the road, perhaps at night, perhaps without heat. For my dad, who is subject to sudden, violent chills, it would have been a life threatening situation. Safety concerns aside, the new exhaust system was exposed to oil, etc. being blown into it from the rapidly desintegrating engine, and I'm lucky the new exhaust system wasn't also ruined. When I called to report that my engine was still using way too much oil, the service tech said he would have to ask around to see if anyone would be willing to rebuild my engine, and when he hadn't called back after a week or so, I contacted a different dealership, the Toyota Center.
Apparently, Dyer didn't have a mechanic qualified to rebuild an MR2 engine. Actually, that's not too surprising given the fact that one of their mechanics - supposedly an ASE and Toyota Certified Master Diagnostic Technician - couldn't even fix the hood release, and suggested that I switch to another grade of oil - thicker than what the manufacturer recommends - to see if that would reduce the oil consumption. I eventually learned that the hood release was yet another of Toyota's design defects, and should have been replaced. Furthermore, Toyota dealers had been notified of this via a Technical Service Bulletin.
Talkin' with other folks around town regarding my experience at Dick Dyer Toyota, I repeatedly heard a vulgar cliche, apparently long known to most. Its "D... Dyer before he d.... you." Trite, to be sure. Even humorous to some people. But I don't like dirty jokes. And considering my experiences with Toyota's dealerships, I'm certainly not amused. Speaking as a newcomer to the Toyota brand, "deeply disappointed" would be more like it.
THE TOYOTA CENTER (W. Columbia, SC): The Toyota Center's "Senior Mechanic" rebuilt my engine. There's unevenness at a certain rpm, and the Check Engine light keeps coming on. I've taken my car back several times regarding these problems, but to no avail. Search the Internet, and you'll find plenty about Toyota's problem with Check Engine lights coming on.
Regarding Toyota, I guess you could say I've "seen the light... "
Update 12/13/2010 - The Toyota Center also attempted to fix the hood release, but I finally had to take my car to an independent shop (See "Speaking of Hoods, Toyota"). Same regarding the engine problems (See "Hey, Toyota: Someone else fixed my car").