Publisher's Page: It’s Time to Look at the Dealer’s Side

Posted on July 1, 1998 by Sara Eastwood-McLean

We’re always providing tips for operators on how to run better businesses.  In this issue, our cover story presents ideas on how to get the most out of your service facility and dealership.  While our editor was hard at work contacting operators for information, I thought it’d be interesting to call a few dealerships to solicit their take on working in our industry.

The number one issue service centers and dealerships mentioned were warrant claims.  The consensus is that there’s an ongoing abuse of warranty claims made by the end-user.

Vehicles are man-made products, so problems will naturally arise.  The dealer, coachbuilder, and factory acknowledge this by providing warranty packages.  A limousine comes with two basic warranties – one from the factory and one from the coachbuilder.  For example, a factory warranty on a new Town Car is three years/100,000 miles.  This warranty will cover the base unit parts.  A standard coachbuilder warranty covers the conversion, electrical system, rear interior, and other conversion parts.  The typical coachbuilder warranty covers two years/24,000 miles.

The general agreement among dealers is that, while there are legitimate claims, most vehicle problems do not stem from defective parts.  They are caused by driver and passenger misuse.

For instance, a common scenario in our business is a limousine that sits idle for several hours with the air conditioning and the stereo on, while the chauffeur waits for his or her client.  However, vehicles are not designed to sit idle for long periods of time.  This puts undue stress on the electrical system, which may cause a fuse to blow or a bulb to break.  In this case, the operator should not expect a new fuse or bulb to be covered under his or her warranty.

Dealers told me that when items break, operators will almost always try to claim them under their warranty.  Further, the dealer is expected to resolve the problem.  One dealer said, “No matter the problem, the onus is always placed on the person who sold the vehicle to fix it.”  Dealers claim they are often pressured by threats to push claims through to the coachbuilder or factory.

Because factories and coachbuilders are inundated with warranty claims that are all too often false, they tend to over-scrutinize them, which slow the process down.  Many are simply rejected.

What would dealers like to see change in their relationships with operators?  They’d like to have a more honest alliance with their customers.  “There needs to be a heightened level of trust between the dealer and the operator,” said another dealer “This begins with operators taking responsibility for wear and tear on vehicles that are put under intense use.”  Warranties are designed to cover defects in equipment and manufacturer installation errors, not a smashed vanity mirror that was damaged by a rowdy passenger.

The next time you bring your vehicle in for service; try to let your conscience be your guide.  I bet you’ll get the true service you deserve.

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