Friday, March 8, 2013

Ripped Off In Mesa

Those who read my last post will remember that our next adventure was to have the oil changed in the truck. And an adventure it was. While I was in Massachusetts, Sarah gave up some of her time playing in the studios as Monte Vista RV park and took the truck to the nearby Berge Ford ( for the oil and filter change. While there, the service agent told her that the truck also was overdue for fuel filter change, power steering flush, transmission flush and there appeared to be a small leak from the transmission. She didn't want to agree to all those items without talking to me. Unable to reach me that morning, she didn't let them do the work. When we spoke about those items that evening, Sarah was confused about where the leak was. She told me it was a power steering leak. I told her to go ahead and have the recommended work done. I purchased the extended power train warranty when I bought the truck and I didn't want to compromise it by failing to do timely required maintenance  The next day she returned to have the work done. They told her they could do the fluid changes, but she would need to make a separate appointment for the transmission leak. That appointment was made for the Monday after I returned to Arizona.

On the appointed Monday, we returned to Berge Ford to have what Sarah and I both believed was to have a power steering leak fixed. Neither of us had bothered to re-read the printed receipts Sarah received at the previous appointments. Apparently, neither did the service representative who checked us in that morning. When I asked how long it take would take to fix the power steering leak, he told me about two hours. We found a nice coffee shop with free wifi nearby where we could wait for the two hour repair. It's A Grind Coffee House ( is just a short walk from Berge Ford. The coffee was good and they made us feel welcome while we waited for the work on our truck to be completed.

After spending a couple hours working on the blog, we walked back to the Berge Ford. We were told by the cashier that the truck was not ready yet. We waited in the reception area for another hour and still the truck wasn't ready. I went and spoke to the service agent. He told me he didn't know what the delay was and called the technician to find out. The service agent then told me that the leak had been fixed the last time the truck was in. Today, they were doing a minor recall repair on the anti-knock sensor, but they hadn't started it yet. I asked him to forget the work and just bring the truck. "Would you like it washed", he asked. No, just bring the truck. He then called the technician to tell him to not start the work and that a "lot rat" (a young person who move vehicles around) would come and get it.

While waiting for the truck, I spoke to the service manager and expressed how disappointed I was in the service we had just received and that I believed he had some serious problems with both his customer service as well as his human resources department. The cashier seemed to be aghast at what the service agent had called the young man who delivered my truck.

When we arrived back at the Mary Joan, I read the paperwork that had been given to Sarah. The receipt from the first day's oil and filter change clearly stated that the filter and fluid changes were "overdue per millage". I then checked the owner's manual that came with the truck. The fuel filter did not need to be changed for another 10,000 miles, the transmission fluid didn't need to be changed for another 110,000 miles and there is no millage requirement for changing power steering fluid. The small leak in the transmission was included as the final item that needed to be addressed. However, there was no mention of any work being done to address the transmission leak on any of our receipts.

I called the service manager and asked him to check on whether or not the transmission leak had indeed been addressed since there was no comment on the receipt about it. He said he would check and call me back. I told him that when he did, I wanted to discuss the other recommended items.

Despite poor cell phone reception at Lost Dutchman State Park, the manager did work hard to communicate with me. After many dropped calls, I learned that the technician had just tightened the screws holding the transmission plan in place and therefore, didn't see fit to charge for it, hence it wasn't on the receipt. When I pointed out the fact that I was upset about the extremely premature fluid changes he attempted to argue that this was just their recommendation and preventive maintenance. After a lengthy discussion, during which he tried to convince me that this was necessary, I asked him to not insult my intelligence any longer. I told him we could resolve the issue if he would agree to refund 50% of the cost of the fluid changes or that I would take the matter directly to Ford and my credit card company. He took this as a threat, but I told him that I was just reminding him of my options. He agreed to the refund and told me a cashier would call to get my credit card information. I received that call a short time later and the transaction was pleasantly completed.

This was the first poor experience I have had with service of the trailer or tow vehicle since we have been on the road. The lesson learned was to check reviews on the internet. While I always take anonymous reviews with a grain of salt, especially if there are not enough of them to discern a pattern, the reviews given of Berge Ford ( would have kept me from going there. The other lesson was to make a reasoned and calm argument and to offer a solution that both parties could live with. 

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