Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Smoke and Mirrors

Cast of Characters:

Charlie – helpful service rep at Nissan car dealership where we bought used VW Passat last Fall.

Carol – unsatisfied car owner due to fact that above mentioned VW Passat has idle problem, the Check Engine light is lit and smells and SMOKE emit from the vents.

Act I (phone call Monday evening ten minutes before closing)

Charlie: “May I help you?”
Carol: “I’m having a problem with my Passat. I brought it in a few months ago when the Check Engine light went on and it seemed to be fixed.”
Charlie: “What’s wrong now?”
Carol: “Where do I begin...(I list all problems)..So, do you think I could drop it off tonight?”
Charlie: (sympathetically) “Of course. We’ll get right on it.”

Act II (phone call this afternoon on way home from work)

Charlie: “Your car is done. You may pick it up any time.”
Carol: “What was wrong?”
Charlie: “A vacuum pump (blah, blah, blah). The Check Engine light is off and
you’ll be able to accelerate with no problem.”
Carol: “Great, but what about the smoke and the smell.”
Charlie: (hesitates) “We never found the source of the problem. We tested it …
(blah, blah, blah) but everything turned up negative. It’s not your heater
core or (blah, blah, blah). Again, we never saw any smoke and didn’t
smell anything until we were pulling it out of the garage and parking it.”
Carol: “So it’s not fixed.”
Charlie: “We didn’t find anything wrong.”
Carol: “But there was smoke.”
Charlie: “We couldn’t find anything wrong.”
Carol: “But there was a strong smell and you did finally smell it.”
Charlie: “Again, our machines were unable to diagnose any problems. Did you purchase our extended service contract?”
Carol: “No, I was told everything was covered for a year.”
Charlie: “Why don’t you drive it and see if the smoke comes back. If it does, bring it back and then we’ll probably have to send it over to the VW dealer.”
Carol: “But there was smoke.”
Charlie: “We couldn’t find anything wrong. The Check Engine light is off and there will be no charge.”

About two hours later I dropped off Ella and Chris at the dealership the car and headed with Harrison to his last soccer game. When Chris arrived, he informed me that the car had to go back in. About five minutes into his trip to the game, a new light came on. “Pull over immediately. Oil Pressure problem.” (I’m not sure what it exactly said, but that’s what he told me.)

So tonight we trekked back out with the kids to drop off the car and keys once again.

Carol: “Charlie – I think the smoke and smell are symptoms of a problem.”

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