Ford

To whom it may concern,

I write to you today on behalf of a distraught friend. So distraught is this friend infact that she had to be committed to an institution. I felt compelled to write – given that she’s currently muttering the word “Ford” over and over as she tries to break free of restraints in the psych ward. The words of her temporary insanity have made me think of nothing but the sordid tale of events that got us into this situation in the first place.

My friend Amie was once an excited twenty year old with hopes, dreams, ambitions – and a small portion of saved money. Finding the negatives of a similarly-aged Honda Civic soon outweighing any positives, she eventually found herself needing a reasonably priced upgrade. Soon enough she stumbled into a prominent Brisbane based Ford dealership to give the budget oriented Fiesta CL vehicle a test drive, and quickly decided to buy one. Little did she know this purchase would soon change her life forever.

Before the madness, Amie told me of the day she picked up her first brand new car. She described it as one of the happiest of her life. You know, one of those ‘milestones’ as you get older. Up there with other important achievements; your first day at school, the first friendship forged or even your first birthday – her very first brand-new Ford™ motorcar meant something. Apart from the new (to her) creature comforts of power steering and tinted windows of-course.

2011_ford_fiesta_cl_sedan_review_00-4de5c99c58093The model of vehicle in question.

Amie soon found herself driving everywhere. No longer worried about something going wrong with a vehicle the same age as it’s owner – a brand new car meant reassurance that she could finally go anywhere! She was positively beaming – finding comfort in the fact her investment in a Ford Motor Company vehicle meant something important: backing a company with over a hundred years experience! Quality is assured!

Or so she thought.

As the kilometers ticked over – Amie, her boyfriend, and the most glorious Border Collie this side of south-east Queensland travelled far and wide, getting assured services at Ford Service Centers™ as necessary. She ticked all the boxes you should tick when you buy a brand new car. That is to say she took care of it in a manner befitting that of a new born baby. Notions of being dropped on the head aside, some… cracks started forming in the tale of her wonderful vehicle. Like the extremely tenuous plots of the Fast and Furious film series, the cracks in this case revealed the need for a similar suspension of disbelief – so absurd as to be as equally unacceptable as the aforementioned film series.

One fine autumn day recently, my friends went on a lovely scenic mountain drive in the local area – a drive not unusual for them. Need I exhaustively retread each event from later that day, allow me to sum it up for you: they suffered a flat tyre. Oh yes, there are plenty of facts sprinkled on your website about the differences between each model, but the ‘poverty pack’ CL model, as my friend likes to refer to it, and the higher models are all similarly featured in one extremely important area – Temporary Mobility Kits. I personally didn’t realize this was a thing, until I received a call to help Amie and co. out of their rapidly deflating situation.

Ford KitThe absurd pump in question.

Nevermind that the boot clearly has room for a spare tyre – in your infinite wisdom you simply include 12v pumps that are supposed to seal off the damage and re-inflate the tyre long enough to have it properly repaired. Nevermind that the tyre in question had a busted sidewall that couldn’t be seen until it was taken off. What’s that? You can’t take it off? I know. Because there is no included tool kit or jack in the vehicle. That wasn’t an issue though, because I had both of those included as standard in my Japanese built car of a competing brand. What’s that? The bolts are smaller than any competitors size? I know. Because my tools wouldn’t fit the Fordstandard wheel nuts.

Over five painstaking hours we made various trips up and down the mountain to get tools and get the wheel replaced. What’s that? We should have bought Ford/RACQ Roadside Assist? I know we could have, but it’s an eighteen month old car. It shouldn’t break down, let alone be sans a spare tyre as standard. Don’t even get me started about the fact authorized Ford dealers (or wreckers) are the only ones that sell spare wheels due to the custom wheel mounts, because that’s an absurd argument I simply don’t want to have.

So with a freshly retreaded Fiesta CL, Amie and co. soon find themselves clocking up kilometers well into June. Or they would have, except the car started violently shuddering and purring about as well as the neighbors 2-stroke lawn mower. Picture this: Your eighteen month old car otherwise treated like a baby, noisily cowering in shame on your driveway. That’s what Amie found. Obviously the prerequisite call was made to a ‘nearby’ Ford Service Center™, at which point my friend was informed that she would need to front the towing cost as driving it further would void the warranty.

So some favours were called in and the car was relocated in a proper, non-warranty voiding manner. It’s good to have friends.

Wheel2The absurd pump wasn’t going to fix this.

Seeing as it was also due for it’s 60,000km service, it was a no brainer to carry that out while the main problem was investigated. Turns out the car had suffered a cracked engine mount and due to complications from that, needed an Automatic transmission clutch replacement. Not bad for an otherwise well treated car with low kilometers you might think. As a blatant manufacturing defect, it was repaired entirely under warranty. “Great!”, you’re thinking.

Until you get an invoice for $754.

We phoned another similarly authorized Ford Dealership to confirm the procedure and pricing with them just incase – as it should obviously be the same. As it turns out, Amie was infact ripped off to the value of $284.90. After being confronted and arguing for over thirty minutes, the Service Center in question reluctantly confirmed that we were entirely correct. They erroneously charged items that should have been covered under warranty. I shudder to think how often this happens to others served by that office.

Having been double crossed by colleagues reporting the right costs, the dealer reneged on their obvious long-weekend slush fund scam. Gritted-teeth apologies and assurances of a cheque being cut after the long weekend noted, we were finally on our way out of there. Amie’s beloved car was finally back in action!

Or it would have been, except we only got three kilometers down the road before it broke down at a set of lights. This is no joke.

You know when Mr Burns attempts to steal Maggie’s lolly-pop in a golden-era Simpsons episode? You are Mr Burns and we are Maggie. Infantile resistance against the feeble clutches of the evil Ford Dealership that subconsciously revoked our rights to the vehicle. AGAIN.

Fighting a bright “Engine Malfunction – Service Now” computer error and the resulting very short rev limit in peak hour, we were soon clumsily rolling down a side street at 15km/hr. The once mighty Ford™ – self-destructing in a haze of purposely under-equipped and needlessly user-unserviceable vehicles. I get it – your decision to roll (so to speak) with Ford standard parts all over the entry level models, ensures that you infact end up with the money you missed out on at the beginning. It also ensures I’ll personally never buy a Ford.

At the end of the day, the dealer would have caught this computer problem had they, you know, test driven it after repairing the problem. By now we were on the front porch of the Queen’s Birthday long weekend – the car was certainly not getting fixed in time.

photoA picture of the obnoxious problem in question.

To be fair; after being contacted yet again, the only guy left in the office felt bad enough to give Amie 12 months of the fabled Road Side Assist I alluded to earlier. He also arranged for a loaner car over the weekend. In that sense they really came to the Customer Service party. The only thing missing was a bag of lemons on the front passenger seat of the Fiesta when she picked it up again the following week.

Oh, and don’t be disappointed if we leave your company off our Christmas Card lists this year.

Yours sincerely,

Sam Mortimer

P.S. My friend didn’t actually get committed over this, but she’s rightfully unhappy.

P.P.S. Did you notice I even resisted any digs regarding, you know, that thing you’re doing in Adelaide?

P.P.P.S. Also, custom wiper blades? Come on.

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