Monday, July 30, 2007

Don't Ever Order a Car from the Factory

Always wanted to do this. One of my first cars was a Porsche 912, kind of a 911 with a VW engine. But they made it possible, and still do, for you to order it new, just the way you wanted it, from the assembly line in Germany. There was a package so you could fly over, pick it up and drive it around Europe before they shipped it to the U.S.

As you imagine in the '60s I was in no position to take them up. Or to get one new. Although at the time, I think they were only a few thousand dollars. Mine was used.

Well I tried it again but this time with a new Jeep Wrangler, but with no trip and no tour. Just off the line, just as I wanted it. Went to the folks at Morgan who had helped me with a handful of cars this decade. Took a print out from the Internet with everything selected that I wanted or could afford, including a built in navigation system with the radio.

Everything was smooth at the dealer end. But the nav system showed backorder, and it was stalling the assembly. I asked them to go ahead with the radio without the nav. Within two days, I notified the dealer to remember that I have Sirius, a system they had adapted to my last Jeep. And that's where things went south.

I picked it up a month later, asked if the Sirius was already registered and got a nod. But when I got home I couldn't find it, even after studying the manual forward and back where the Sirius is explained.

Turns out, once it is on the line, you can't make a change. And instead of moving to the next radio down from the nav, Jeep had dropped it down to one that didn't even have Sirius. Nearly three months later, I've been told I'm on my own to get this remedied. Dealer has tried everything (and believe me they no longer have much sway). I was told I could buy the radio I want for $800. It would have been about $200 if installed at the factory.

I was told I could try the 800 number and they might help.

No one is really at fault, except the rigidity of the system and a failure to communicate. But no one is taking responsibility. Everyone is pointing at someone else.

My advice. Never buy one new off the line. You get all the flexibility you want if you ask for what you want and the dealer swaps with other dealers until they find it.

But the factory? No flexibility at all.

I'll probably go buy a $300 paste-on solution. But I'm in the consumer satisfaction business, and you can bet I'll write to the President of Daimler, the President of Blackstone (company buying Jeep), President of Chrysler, President of Jeep Division, chief officer over customer satisfaction, chief officer over the plant where it was assembled… maybe even the President of Sirius.

My request: Make it possible to make a change on the line, especially for little things like radios, which are probably stacked by an installer near the end. Little thing. Huge difference.

No comments: