Today’s post is more of a vent, but it is also a cautionary tale. I spent most of the day at my car dealership. I own a 2006 Suzuki Grand Vitara 4×4 with about 36,000 miles. And I should have known it was going to be a lemon when, not even a year after I got it, the transmission failed. It was a new car! Since then, the belt, radio and power sockets had to be replaced, wires corroded (and that isn’t covered under warranty; cost almost $400 between parts and labor) and the back door has had to be adjusted every so often. Now, my whole engine may have to be replaced. Not to mention the slightest touch of the bumper causes it to crack. An SUV should be durable. Suzuki may have “America’s Best Warranty” for a reason: You’ll need it. I’d say all the time wasted, waiting while my car has been repaired over five years would total at least a week. SUZUKIS AREN’T A BARGAIN.
Now, when things like this happen, make sure you have every repair documented. Why? Because this is when you write a letter to the top three or four officers at the company, in addition to customer service. Write a polite letter, tell them that many friends and family recommended the product (doesn’t have to be a car; it could be a service) and say you are going to tell them not to bother buying the product anymore. I, as a journalist and now a blogger, have even more leverage: bad publicity.
But you have leverage if, at the bottom of your letter, you CC every consumer news journalist in your area (Arnold Diaz on Fox 5 or Nina Pineda on Eyewitness News, to name a couple). Let those company bigwigs know you mean business. Remember the documentation and be polite (I know a lot of my friends are going to laugh when reading this). Make sure you’re clear, sound reasonable and check your grammar and spelling!
By simply writing letters, I’ve gotten hundreds of dollars in airline travel and food vouchers, a free lifetime membership for Hertz #1 Club Gold, free months of gym memberships and free hotel stays or upgrades. Don’t underestimate the power of the pen (or keyboard).
I would take a couple of extra dollars to send your letters with signature confirmation. I’m sure I will have a positive update to share with you soon.
If you have a letter-writing success story to share, Tweet me @SamiLiebman.