The Story of How Russell and Smith Honda betrayed it's customer's trust.
Here is the quick run down.
- I am the proud owner of a Rio Yellow Pearl Honda S2000. A Honda S2000 is a GREAT car, it is fast, it corners on rails (if you know how to drive). It has been called a sports bike on four wheels, and I think that is an accurate description. This is an important thing to keep in mind while reading the rest of the story.
- Monday, 7/Aug/2006 at almost exactly 6:00 pm: I dropped my car off at Russell and Smith Honda. I gave only a quick summary of issues (as they were closing) and instructions that I would fill in the blanks for them the next day.
- The next day, 8/Aug/2006, before I had spoken with anyone at Russell and Smith, I got a phone call stating that the technician had lost control of my car and wrecked it, while test driving it. Obviously, the first question was "WHAT WAS HE TEST DRIVING IT FOR!?!"
- I was informed that the damage was on the "right rear suspension"
- The Morning after that I took a half day of vacation to inspect the damage and speak with the representative of Russell and Smith.
- Of course the damage was more extensive than they mentioned, including damage to the front nose body panel and the front left wheel and tire.
- The driver's side rear suspension was destroyed, and who knows what other drive train components suffered from the shock of the impact
- I also noticed that the top was down. I thought surely he wasn't driving my car around with the top down (which would make diagnosing my problems almost impossible). To check it out, I got in the car, turned it on and tried to operate the top and it wouldn't work. It seems to me: the service technician was hot rodding my car with the top down, lost control and hit a curb with enough speed to destroy the driver's side rear suspension. (update: and since they didn't file a police report, that would have substantiated any claims made by Russell and Smith, it is all supposition at this point)
- Since there is little body damage (although there is body damage), the pictures aren't as dramatic as you might be used to. If you are a car person: note the broken half shaft, wish bone, brake rotor, knuckle etc...
- Buy my car outright. I asked them to buy my car at the value I could get myself, before the wreck. I got a call from the sales manager who gave me a quote at trade in. He said he made the quote as if I had come in off the street on a Saturday to get another car (trade in is the cheapest value in the blue book). I didn't come in off the street, I didn't ask for this, I didn't want this, and I don't want the hassle of trying to find another car etc..
- Make me an offer on the spread to a new car. Basically, "give me a number that will get me into a new car". Again they have treated me as an average customer (a number really), not as someone who's car I think they took out joy riding and wrecked.
- Fix my car to my expectations, at a location I choose, and make me whole on the diminished value and my trouble. They didn't even have to pay me in cash on the diminished value. They could have given me extended warranties etc... But they chose to refer me to their insurance agent.
- Fix the car (and at first they wanted to do it at their shop, to their standards etc.. But they have acquiesced to my demand that it be at another location)
- Update - I have found that their insurance company DOES have a mechanism to compensate me for diminished value. It looks like they use a formula based on the year of my car and the mileage, and from what I can tell, insufficient. The representative from their insurance company said they will also send out an investigator if I don't think the diminished value payment is fair (more on this later).
- Because I didn't have a wrecked car when it came into the dealership. I will have to tell anyone I sell this car to that it has been involved in a wreck. Not only that, I don't know what other damage might have happened to the drive train (considering the particulars of the collision) that might surface down the road. Beyond that, they were driving my car in a way they shouldn't have been driving it, when they actually shouldn't have been driving it at all. They should at least try to be neighborly.
So far, I have been trying to work WITH Russell and Smith. Obviously that didn't pan, so on to plan B: Tell everyone what I experienced so they will be more informed in their dealings with R&S. Here's how.
- Call American Honda - I will be making this call Monday, 14/Aug/2006.
- Call the Better Business Beaurue - again, Monday (update: just filed complaint online, we'll see how it goes.)
- Call local consumer advocacy groups - More on this later
- Call my insurance company - I haven't decided on this one yet, people have told me it might count as a claim even if they don't pay for any thing, I feel comfortable that isn't the case, but I have enough going on right now that I will put it to the back burner
- Grass roots - I am a member of several local web sites and car clubs (some Honda specific). I will be taking the issue to these groups as well as to friends and family to help spread the word. Also hopefully this website will get dugg (digg.com) or something, who knows?
- Buy a billboard near their dealership - I have no idea how much this costs, but it is a potential course of action. It will probably be cost prohibitive given the amount of money involved, but it's an idea.
- Take suggestions - you have a good, LEGAL idea? I am all ears, put it in the comments.
How Can Russell and Smith make amends?
- Like I said before, the least they could do is try to act neighborly. Maybe none of the solutions I came up with are feasible to them. Offer something else, I have met someone with a somewhat similar experience who was immediately offered an extended warranty. Why couldn't Russell and Smith have done something similar, especially considering my factory warranty runs out very soon, and there will be little time to diagnose any issues that arise from this (much less the items I took in to get fixed when they wrecked it). I mean, Russell and Smith didn't even offer to buy me dinner for my trouble. :)
- In addition to any of the above, I would like a letter of apology, not only for the incident, but for the un-neighborly manner in which they have treated me. Simply, say you're sorry.
In the end, I at least hope that people have a better idea of how Russell and Smith does business, and hopefully this will help them with future purchase decisions.