The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of General Motors …


THE GOOD:

I have a 2001 Chevrolet Tahoe that has been very good for me over the years. I have put over 475,000 miles on this automobile and never had an ounce of problems with it. As a matter of fact my mechanic – Richard Morris – is always telling people it’s one of the few cars he’s known of that never had a wrench put on the engine.

I’ve always taken care of this old vehicle with oil changes every 3,000 miles and nothing but premium fuel since the day I bought it. I’ve never had to change the spark plugs or any wires in the engine compartment. I did have to install a new alternator, a new air conditioning compressor and a new Anti locking brake system as well as a set of tires (3 times on the tires) … but other than those few things … no issues. “She” has truly been good to me and the only thing she really needs is a paint job since the Mississippi Sun tends to do a number on the clear coat that covers the green metallic paint. I’ve had many people want to purchase the car from me … even now with 475,000 miles on it and I refuse to sell it.

My 2001 Tahoe on a rainy day

In a few more years it will be considered an antique in Mississippi which means I no longer have to pay for license plates. Let’s see … 2001 + 25 means she’s eligible in 2026 (just a little more than five years from now). If I have it at that time … perhaps a new paint job will be in order. My wife and I will still drive it to the golf course from time to time and it saves my brother a car rental fee when he flies down here to visit our mom.

So … the good is … GM generally makes good cars that you can buy and keep for a long time.

THE BAD:

In the spring of 2017 while planning for my retirement I decided to purchase another vehicle that I hoped would last the rest of my life. Let’s face it … I was 66 and was retiring at 67 years of age and if I could get another automobile to last for at least 17 years I’d be 83 and either dead or too old to be out on the road doing much driving.

I settled on a 2017 New Chevy Silverado Z71 pick up truck. Not that I really needed a pick up truck. I’m not in the business of hauling anything or in the farming industry. I just have always wanted a pick up truck. With the full cab it is equivalent to having a car with a huge trunk, and I do a lot of traveling by automobile and can always use the extra space provided by a covered pick up bed.

Now I bought this vehicle from a reputable (I thought) CERTIFIED Chevrolet Dealer in Terry Mississippi – Skinners Chevrolet. To me this meant that if the vehicle ever needed service or warranty work they would be the ones to get it done. The vehicle came with a 5 year/60,000 mile warranty, and the first couple of years and 55,000 miles I did not have a problem.

Then, I started having a “Check Engine” light come on from time to time. It would not come on and stay on … but would come on and go off intermittently. I had my mechanic check it and he was told by his computer that it was actually a transmission issue.

One day while headed to the golf course the light came on and I went directly to the car dealership. They put there computer on it and the code indicated a bad transmission temperature sensor … even though the transmission fluid was not overheating. The light indicated that it could be. I was told it was a bad sensor and it needed to be replaced. I had a little more the 55,000 miles on the vehicle at this time.

I asked them to fix it and they told me that they did not have a transmission mechanic at the shop and that they would have to send it to a transmission shop locally to get the work done. They provided me a loaner vehicle and kept my truck and sent me on my way. Two weeks went by and they finally called me and said nothing would be done to the truck since the guys at the transmission shop said nothing was wrong with it.

I picked up the truck and about a month later the light came on again. I had about 57,000 miles on it by this time. Again, I was told there was no trained transmission mechanic on duty at this dealership (Skinners) so they would send it to Rogers-Dabbs … a dealer in Jackson Mississippi. However, it would be awhile before they could send it because they did not have any loaner cars available for me to drive. I told them I’d keep the truck and they were to call me the minute they get a loaner car in.

Two weeks later … the light had gone off and back on … I called and still no loaner car was available. This scenario played out for another month or so. Finally when the truck had 59,800 miles on it they were able to take it in and give me a loaner vehicle.

About 2 weeks later I got a call from Rogers-Dabbs and was told that the only problem with the truck was that it needed new tires. I knew that, and told them that tires would not cause my check engine light to come on. Seems to me since they had the truck there … they were looking for a way to make some money.

They indicated they knew the truck was brought to them because of a temperature sensor in the transmission but that they could not service it as the light was still off. The light needed to be on to service it. I had never heard of such nonsense. If they knew the light was going on and off intermittently, because of a temperature sensor, what stops them from replacing it. Apparently they are not paid by General Motors under the warranty arrangement if the light is not on at the time of the replacement, is my only guess.

I called the service man (Jeff Hughes) at Skinners and he said he would get right on it. Rogers-Dabbs should have taken his word for it that the light was on when I delivered the truck to Skinners weeks earlier.

After about a month without having my truck I finally got a call from Jeff at Skinners and was told that he had taken the truck back and put some miles on it and could not get the light back on … therefore … GM would not allow them to do the work needed on a warranty basis. He understood that the light coming on and going off was an intermittent problem … but that the light needed to be on before the transmission was pulled to put a new sensor in it.

I told Jeff I thought this was ridiculous. He said to just drive it and the next time the light comes on bring it back and they would get it to Rogers-Dabbs and start working on it right away. I reminded him that this is what I was told before, but because the light was off when it got to Rogers-Dabbs they would not take care of it. I also asked what would happen if I were out of town when it happened or if the 60,000 mile warranty had run out. He said, “Oh, don’t worry about that, we have it documented.” Sounded to me like I was really getting the runaround.

I picked up my truck and checked the mileage they had put on it. Only 57 miles had been added. How they were supposed to get the light to come on with only 57 miles being added is beyond me. It generally takes hundreds to a thousand miles for the light to come back on. In any event I was not very happy with the service.

My 2017 Silverado on a rainy day

So … The Bad … seems to be that GM will not honor their warranties on a local level.

THE UGLY:

By the time I got home I was furious. I got on the internet and figured out who I should call. I found a number for Chevrolet’s Customer Service Specialist. I called it and talked to a Marie (who sounded like she was from India or some other country – though she may have been from here).

I told her my story and she promised me that someone from Level 2 would be in touch with me within 48 hours. This was the afternoon of 09/14/2020. She did provide me with a file number to use if and when I called back. She must have known I’d have to call back.

By 09/18/2020 I had not received a call back, so I called them back. This time I spoke to a person named Dawn who also sounded like she was from the same country as Marie was. She informed me that the case was assigned to Jaydon on 09/18/2020. Then, I indicated it was set up on Monday the 14th and I was supposed to hear from someone by Wednesday the 16th, and I was trying to understand why it was not assigned to Level 2 until Friday the 18th — she did not have an answer. However, she agreed to transfer me to Jaydon’s phone (the person who was assigned the case) so that I could talk to him about it.

She transferred me and all I could do was leave him a message. I requested that he call me by close of business Monday 09/21/2020 so that we could discuss the issue and told him that if he did not I would have to take it further up the line to his supervisor.

On Monday, 09/21/2020 at 1:07 PM when it looked like I would not get a call from Jaydon, I called back. This time in the Customer Service department I was able to talk to a person by the name of Paula. Again, she sounded just like Marie and Dawn. She must have been from the same country. They all spoke good english but you could tell from the accent that they were not from America (even though they could be living here now and seem to have American names). I asked again to speak to Jaydon. He was not available.

Therefore, I asked for Jaydon’s supervisor. Paula informed me that she was not available but that she would have her (Jacqueline) call me back as soon as possible.

I waited a couple of hours to no avail. I was furious (and still am as you can tell from the tone of this article). I got back on the internet and found that Mary Barra is the CEO of General Motors. I then went into my LinkedIn account and sent her this message:

I also forwarded the exact same message to her in an email to Mary.Barra@gm.com which is her business email.

Keep in mind, this was two days ago. Today I called the GM Phone Number (313) 556-5000 and was informed that there are no longer operators answering calls at this number and that I should contact GM using the internet. Oh Boy! Here we go again. When is corporate America going to learn that there are still millions of us who appreciate the human touch and not the digital nonsense.

Today is 09/24/2020 and at 10:16 this morning I finally did get a call from Irene who told me my case had been assigned to her today. Wow! What happened to Jaydon who had the case back on 09/18/2020. I had to go through my story again for her since apparently good notes are not kept by the General Motors Customer Service Department. She understood my dilemma. When I asked her why one dealership could not take the word of another dealership about what the problem was her response was, “These dealerships are independently owned and operated and have their own sets of rules they follow.”

She agreed to search for a dealer in the area that had a transmission person to see if they could fix my issue under warranty … even though my warranty is now over with my mileage at 60,254 miles. She did indicate it could take a day or two. It is Thursday … so again I will hold off on this publication until Monday of next week to let you all know how it goes. However, I am not counting on anything happening at this time.

While checking my voicemail on my phone on 09/25/2020 it seems I did receive a message from Jaydon, the person assigned to me, and he had left me a message on 09/21/2020 at 9:40 AM. Of course I did not know this until 09/25/2020 at 8:33 AM and had already talked to Irene the previous day. If I wanted to call him back I could not because his phone number was all “garbled” and I could not understand it.

Also, on 09/25/2020 at 1:32 PM Central Time while I was in the middle of teeing off in a charity golf tournament I did get another call from Irene. I told her what I was doing and asked if she could email me her contact information and I’d call her back as soon as the tournament was over. She agreed to do that. However, the story was the same … there would be no “fix” until the dealer saw the light actually is on. I never received that email from Irene.

On 09/28/2020 at 3:30 PM I got a final call from Irene. She informed me that the dealer who is going to fix my car has to have the light on at the time so that they can run other tests. I guess the computer then is sending the wrong message if it is stating the Transmission Heat Sensor is bad and it really is not. That would be an engineering issue, I guess. I any event I told her that I could not assure I’d be available in my home state and city when and if the light came back home. She assured me that regardless of where I was when the light came on I was to take the vehicle to the nearest dealer and call her and she would make sure they got it fixed. My response was, “Yea right! I’ve been told that before.”

I asked Irene why I had threatened to write this up on the internet if I did not hear from Mary Barra, CEO — and she informed me that she was calling me at the request of Mary Barra.

So … the Ugly … seems to be that like most large corporations, GM really does not care to meet their obligations to their customers.

EPILOGUE:

It is October 12, 2020 and as of now I have not heard from Ms. Barra directly, so I am fulfilling on my promise to publish this article. If your reading and feel the need to share it (I will post it on Facebook) please feel free to do so.

As of now the vehicle has 61,000 miles on it (1,000 past warranty amount) and the light still has not come back on. It likely will at the most inconvenient time, however.

In January 2019 I wrote an article, What Happened to Customer Service in America. You can read that article by clicking on the link. If you read the article you will find that this cartoon seems to be very true …

"Your call is important to us, just not as important as whatever else we're doing."

Apparently it is just as true at General Motors. It is hard to believe that the government used our “tax dollars” to bail out General Motors when they were facing insolvency back in 2008-2009 and they (GM) cannot even give us the decency of providing better customer service. They could really care less about the customer. To them it is all about the ‘Almighty Dollar’ and selling more vehicles. Their warranty does not seem to be worth the paper it is written on, so why even have it and why build the price of the warranty into the price of the vehicle (and we all know they do that).

If any lawyers are reading this … I’d love to fight this one in court and win us both a large settlement from a company that quit caring years ago and that writes warranties (Contractual Promises) they refuse to fulfill when things go bad.

I do understand that GM Dealerships (Chevy Dealerships) are independently owned and operated. So, in essence they are Franchises. I worked several years as a Franchisee for a Franchisor in the Financial Services Industry. If we ever allowed our client service to get this bad we would have to answer for it … and many lost their franchises because of it.

It seems to me that if General Motors is going to have their legal teams put together Warranties they need to make sure they have the teeth to back those warranties when their franchisees try to weasel out of them.

Rest assured – even though they do generally make a good automobile – I have likely purchased my last GM. If and when I have to purchase another I will look to Ford, Chrysler, Tesla or some foreign made automobile. As far as I am concerned GM can go “Belly up and stay Belly up!”

Please feel free to let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Thank You,

Jerry Nix | Freewavemaker, LLC | 10/12/2020

2 thoughts on “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of General Motors …

  1. Ellen Walker

    Jerry-You always have great things to share. I get this same amount of frustration with AT&T who also now own Directv and who knows what else! I have lost many hours I’ll never get back talking to or trying to understand Someone who passes me off to another department, only to start over with no luck!
    Miss you and your wisdom but Forrest is taking good care of me.

    Like

    1. Ellen Walker, so glad to hear Forrest is taking good care of you now. Makes me proud. As for AT&T … yes they are one of those companies that have grown to be gigantic from previous years of good customer service but have lost there way. We have to get back at them. I’ve recently gave up on direct TV and cancelled the service. I was paying $165 per month. Since the world is going digital anyhow opted for You Tube TV with Google Chromecast at a cost of just $65 per month and the same 90 channels … which is more than I need. Perhaps I will write an article about that someday. Keep reading and I will keep fighting large corporate America.

      Like

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