Gear Vendors Fail

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Public Relations

Gear Vendors

I would like to “thank you” for making this letter/ blog post/ forum fodder so easy to write.  It takes a deep employee-commitment-to-a-belief-in-product-superiority-and-poor-customer-service to get me so riled up, that I would vent my dissatisfaction with you in so many public ways.  So that you understand why I am so mad, I will lay out my dealings with your company and how I feel about them in the order that they happened.  Sit back, as I break this down all Unsolved Mystery style.

October 2012 (End of the month): The overdrive solenoid on my 82 Volvo died preventing me from engaging 5th gear on my Volvo’s transmission.  I contacted you to get a new solenoid. I was told this will be no problem, as your over/under drive units and Volvo’s overdrive unit are mechanically the same (You guys bought Volvo’s overdrive patents and started making your own improved product.).  I was very happy at this point, as your re-manufactured solenoid is cheaper than Volvo’s replacement and it comes with a good warranty.

February 2013: The overdrive solenoid I purchased from you starts to fail, pulling so many amps on my Volvos wiring harness that it fries the circuits relay and blows numerous fuses in the fuse box.  Thinking that the Volvo’s wiring harness could be the culprit for the solenoid pulling so many amps, I build a completely new harness/ circuit and install a new Volvo relay ($40). No luck, the failing solenoid proceeds to fry its new harness/ circuit again with a 40+ amp draw. 

This is when I contacted you through your website, to see how many amps your solenoid should be pulling and at what amperage draw the solenoid is considered defective.  I received no reply from you about my online inquiry for a week.  That’s ok though, I know the internet is hard and big.  That is why I decide to call you.

So, I called you (around 4pm EST) and am promptly redirected to a voicemail where I ask the same questions I asked online.  I receive a call back at 7 pm-ish EST (I understand how time zones work, so should you) by one of your customer service reps.  First, I am arrogantly told that your solenoids very rarely fail and that it must be the car’s wiring that is causing my issues. I was also informed, in a condescending tone, that you do not service Volvos.  What? Did you forget about what you told me in Oct?.  I then explain that I have built a new harness for the overdrive solenoid and experienced the same issues as with the old harness. After talking some more with your seemingly-distracted service representative, we agree that I will get some official amp drawing readings and get back to him the next day.

I called back the next day and talked to your service rep again, to report my amp measurements.  Once again, I am told that your solenoids rarely fail and am forced to endure a lecture on how you test your solenoids, before they are shipped, i.e. Heated in a magic chef toaster oven and then hooked to a loose car battery.  Finally, your service rep relents from his products-superiority-lecture for a brief moment, and agrees that there may be something wrong with this solenoid.  Your service rep then tells me that he will send me a replacement solenoid under warranty but with some conditions.

1: I will pay for shipping. – Really, It’s your part that has failed, it’s not a pair of shoes I didn’t like the color of and you now have to re-stock them!

2: This will be the ONLY solenoid that you will cover under your “unlimited mileage, 2 year” warranty. – For all the hype on your site about this warranty, I am truly amazed that I would be given only 1 replacement.

3: I understand that you do not service Volvos and that this is not a Volvo part, which could be the reason for the solenoid’s failure.  Which is why, I will be getting only 1 warranty replacement. – First off, way to alienate a whole group of uber-loyal car fans!  Secondly, your overdrive unit is an improved Volvo design and the solenoid in question is a direct bolt in part for my Volvos overdrive unit.

Finally, I agree to all of your service reps conditions and give him my card credit card # to pay for the solenoids shipping.  I then ask what the shipping charge will be, roughly.  I am told by your service rep that he can not calculate that till it is shipped. Ok, sure… I then ask if an e-mail can be sent with the shipping cost and tracking # once the Solenoid is shipped.  Your service rep agrees to my request, I think.

Insert Wanes World time warp sounds here as 2 weeks pass by.

March 2013 (Beginning of the month):  Having not received my replacement solenoid or an e-mail with a tracking # and shipping cost yet, I decide to give you a call (Why am I the one always calling in this relationship?).  Your nice secretary tries to find me in your system but can not, because you have misspelled my name so badly, I can not even offer a suggestion for her to look under.  Finally your secretary finds me (she thinks) and tells me that my part was just shipped the day before.  My reply to her was; What?!  How can that be? Your service rep guy said that he would send the part out soon. (I am sure your secretary gets this reaction a lot.).  I then hang up with your nice secretary and started to think about writing this letter.  Your secretary then calls me back twice leaving 2 messages on my phone stating that she had wrongly told me the ship date due to the bad spelling of my name and that my part would be there shortly (For a second there, I thought this relationship was all about me giving you things.). 

2 days later: Your replacement solenoid is delivered.  I open the package and find the solenoid to be clean but with a metal shaving stuck in between the first o-ring and the valve body and promptly posted photos of this on my Facebook and Twitter feeds.  I then ask myself “I’m sure the part is good, right? Quality control and cleanliness don’t walk hand in hand together?”  Products are never recalled from contaminates ruining them, no never!  So, I call you again to relay how I found my replacement solenoid and was promptly transferred to yet another service rep.  After I explained the reason why I was receiving a warranty part, I informed your service rep of my concerns with how I received the solenoid from you.  Your service reps reply was “So, I do not understand what the issue is? We are a machine shop here, we machine stuff all the time.  Your solenoid was fully tested before it went out the door (In a Toaster Oven).  The solenoid is brass and you stated that the metal shaving looks like aluminum. So, there is no way that other aluminum shavings could be in the solenoid as it is brass.” I then ask your service rep what would happen if this solenoid failed within 6 months like the last one I received from you. Your service reps reply was “Well, you will just buy another one.  We test every part that leaves our facility (back yard shed) and the fact that this part is going into a Volvo, which we do not supply parts for, is why you are only getting 1 replacement under warranty.”  I then asked what happens if I do install this solenoid and an unseen shaving works it way into the valve body of my overdrive unit causing me to make further repairs to my overdrive. I am told that this will not happen, that I should just pull the shaving out and install the solenoid.  Finally, your service rep did offer at my cost to ship the solenoid back to you and he would then ship me a different unit. I declined this obviously generous offer, telling your service rep that I would be bench testing the unit on my own.  If I found an issue with this replacement, I would not be dealing with him for the warranty issue and hung up the phone. 

After all of this, I have installed your solenoid.  Currently it is working, but so did the first solenoid I purchased from you (at first).  When this solenoid fails, as I believe it will before your “Best in the industry” 2 year warranty is up, I will not be contacting  you directly (you have already made it very clear that I am not covered under your fantastic warranty now). I will instead be taking you to small claims court in my state, where I will be suing you for the cost of a replacement solenoid from Volvo directly and the cost of the court case.  I will also be posting this complaint letter on my blog and dropping a link to it on a few of the Volvo forums and my Twitter accounts and my FaceBook pages.  I would send you a copy of this letter via your “contact you” tab on your website but I tried that method of contacting you before and I am pretty sure that your service reps can’t use the internet.  I will also be sending a copy of this letter to the local Better Business Bureau that you are a member of.  I know they will have questions for you about all of this.                                        

Good Day, I said GOOD DAY SIR!

Herr Falco

PS. I know this rant is a little dated but, a thing like this needs to fester a little. A person needs to make sure that going full nuclear is the right option in a case like this. In the end I have dropped this bomb and Boom Goes the Dynamite!

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