In November 2003, after doing extensive research via phone and internet, I purchased a 2.2 non-turbo motor for a 1992 Subaru Legacy from ASAP Motors & Parts Systems, Inc. Scott was the original company employee with whom I spoke, and he sold me the engine for $695.00, plus a $5.00 oil disposal fee. He also convinced me to purchase a 6-month extended labor warranty for an additional $159.00 to cover the R & R (removal and re-installation) of a possible defective engine, as well as labor costs involved. Total cost: $859.00. Among the reasons I chose ASAP over other companies both locally and on the internet were their claims to sell only low mileage, quality-tested engines imported directly from Japan. The quality-testing claimed to include a leak down test, draining of engine fluids, internal inspection, steam cleaning, and a claim that necessary parts were included before shipment. Also appealing as a potential consumer was the price, especially based on the supposed testing described above administered before shipping, and the offer of the extended warranty to back up their claims. Of particular importance (as will be made clear below), I was aware that, among other things, the warranty was void if the engine was overheated. When I agreed to purchase, I was informed that the motor would be shipped in 2 to 3 business days, and that the shipping cost would be $75.00.
It actually took eight business days for the motor to be delivered to Mike's Garage in Santa Fe, NM, where it was to be installed, and the delivery company, Saia, charged $112.03 nearly $40.00 over the amount stated to me by ASAP. When I called to complain to ASAP about the delivery overcharge, an employee named Jason told me to fax him the information regarding the shipping charge, and that my account would be credited for the difference. I immediately faxed Jason the information, but never received the credit to my account. This brought the total charges by ASAP to $971.03.
Upon arrival of the engine at Mike's Garage, I was informed by Mike Griego, owner of Mike's Garage, that the engine was in filthy condition, not just externally, but most importantly, there was very dirty oil found inside the engine. This immediately raised a bit of a red flag, strongly implying that ASAP Motors never quality-tested this engine before they shipped it out. However, at the time, I considered that the dirty physical state of the engine did not necessarily mean the engine was defective, plus the time and further inconvenience it would mean to pack the engine back up and ship it back to ASAP. Additionally, I had already been without the use of my Subaru for a month, and was anxious to get it back on the road as soon as possible. Most importantly, I had taken what I thought were proper precautions regarding receiving a defective engine by purchasing the extended warranty offered by ASAP Motors. Thus, it made the most sense to have Mike's Garage install the engine, and I instructed them to do so.
A few days later I received a call from Mike Griego, of Mike's Garage. Mr. Griego informed me that although the engine was installed, there was a serious problem. As Mr. Griego has documented in writing (a copy of which I possess, along with all other pertinent documentation related to this purchase), upon completing installation of the engine into my Subaru, he took the car for a test drive. Within a few minutes, the temperature gauge in the car went above the halfway mark. Following the test drive, Mr. Griego checked all the hoses and pressure-tested the cooling system, and found no leaks. Mr. Griego then told me that the only other item to troubleshoot would be the radiator. He ordered a new radiator and installed it into my Subaru. After a short test drive following the new radiator installation, the car's temperature gauge continued to read well over the halfway mark within minutes. Mr. Griego explained to me that based on everything they did (and described above), all signs clearly pointed to a defective engine. In fact, he stated that based on the extremely dark condition of the oil found inside the engine upon delivery, it was highly possible that ASAP sold me a previously overheated engine.
I immediately called ASAP Motors from Mike's Garage to let them know they had sold me a defective engine, and to find out the proper procedures for returning it in exchange for one that worked properly. I spoke to Jason and David, also reminding them that I had purchased the extended warrantee, which would not only cover the replacement engine and shipping, but also any labor charges Mike's Garage charged for R & R (at this point the labor bill was up to $347.00, bringing my total charges concerning this defective engine up to $1,318.03). I also had Mr. Griego speak to both Jason and David, as he could better explain precisely what he did regarding the engine, as well as the results he observed. When I got back on the phone, Jason said I should have the engine palletized and ready to go, then call ASAP, and they would send some one to pick it up from Mike's Garage. Although Mr. Griego and myself asked ASAP if they could ship out another engine first, as, according to Mr. Griego, it is a much easier and far less time-consuming process to have the installing engine readily available to put in immediately after taking the other one out, ASAP refused. David told me that ASAP needed to confirm that the engine I was returning was, indeed, defective, before they would ship out another one. This raised yet another red flag with me, thinking they could say whatever they wanted about the engine once they got it back, denying that it was defective, or blaming Mike's Garage for damaging it. But I also realized I had no choice; I was really at ASAP's mercy to do the right thing, and hoped they would.
I called ASAP approximately 5 business days later to confirm if they had received the engine. I spoke first with Jason, and he told me the company did receive the returned engine, but that there was a problem, and that I would need to speak with David. David proceeded to confirm my worst fears regarding this company. He told me that the engine was fine when they shipped it out, but he claimed that when it was returned the heat sensors were off, and the head gasket was blown. This voids the warranty. In essence, he was blaming Mike's Garage for ruining the engine. I tried to argue, to tell him he was wrong, and that his company was ripping me off. But I realized quickly that I was in a rather helpless position, and was getting nowhere with this man. David wouldn't even give me his last name (although I believe it's Spriggs according to the BBB report on ASAP Motors). I told David he would be hearing back from me. I also asked him if he could fax me some information verifying his company's claims that the engine was quality-tested and in good working condition before they shipped it out. He said he would do a little research, and fax the requested information to me. The information David sent me was a short, one page, checkout list filled out by hand. Naturally, the checklist stated that everything checked out fine. But, honestly, this checklist easily could have been filled out by anyone, at any time, to state whatever they wanted it to state. And considering the situation, the condition of the engine they sent me, and my complaint, I'm certain that ASAP just made up the results.
After speaking with David at ASAP, I went to Mike's Garage to discuss all this with Mr. Griego. Mr. Griego steadfastly denied any wrongdoing. In particular, he specifically recalled discussing with his employees the fact that there were NEVER any heat sensor tabs installed onto this engine. Mr. Griego suggested I come by the next day so we could call ASAP Motors together, and try to rectify the issue. I had no doubt regarding Mr. Griego's honesty and sincerity. Mr. Griego has a great reputation in Santa Fe, shows obvious pride in his work, and concern for his customers, and he backs all this up with a sterling record with the BBB, having no processed customer complaints in at least the last three years. In comparison, further investigation of ASAP Motors (something I realize now I should have done at the outset, and would have avoided all these problems) showed that this company has an unsatisfactory report with the BBB for a pattern of complaints, and consequently is not even accepted as a member of the BBB. In February 2004, according to the BBB web-site, ASAP Motors had 13 pending complaints, 55 processed complaints in the previous 12 months, and 72 processed complaints in the previous 36 months. At the time of this writing, in February 2005, the record is even worse, with 66 processed complaints in the past 12 months and 137 complaints in the past 36 months.
The next day I went back to Mike's Garage. From there, I called ASAP, and again spoke with David. I spoke briefly, then handed the phone to Mr. Griego. Mr. Griego proceeded to explain again what he did with the engine, repeating his assessment that the engine was defective when he received it. He was very clear and concise, as he knows his business. When it became obvious that ASAP Motors were not going to budge on their stance, Mr. Griego handed the phone back to me. David told me that there wasn't anything he could do sorry that's our policy etc. I cut him off, and explained to David, in no uncertain terms, that if ASAP Motors refused to refund the cost of the engine, including the shipping costs, as well as Mike's Garage's labor cost for the initial R & R (as was stated as part of the company's extended warranty) total: $1318.03, then I would do the following: I would absolutely be in contact with the BBB, Consumer Protection, and any other organization I had to that dealt with consumer rights. I told him I was willing to take this as far as I had to. I also informed him that I was well aware of their unsatisfactory record with the BBB, and the number of pending as well as processed complaints against their company. When I asked him if ASAP Motors really needed another complaint against them, David told me to hold on and speak to Dina.
Dina's tone was initially very friendly. She wanted to know everything from the beginning. I gave her a synopsis, then handed the phone back to Mr. Griego so he could repeat to her the rundown on what he did, explaining in terms only a mechanic could. Shortly thereafter, it became obvious that the conversation was becoming heated. Mr. Griego, who is a very quiet, mild-mannered man, was clearly getting upset with this women, as she obviously was not backing down, or believing anything he was explaining to her. As Mr. Griego was clearly getting nowhere with Dina, and completely exasperated, he handed me back the phone. The woman was now very angry, and among other things, said, I will not speak to that man again. I then proceeded to tell her exactly what I said to David a few minutes earlier. This woman, who is supposed to be in some managerial capacity with ASAP Motors, became even more angry and agitated with me. After explaining very clearly and calmly what I was going to do if ASAP didn't refund my money, her professional response was to yell, Go ahead and complain! Then she asked me, in this same, angry tone, if I wanted the engine back. I asked her why I would want a defective engine back. She screamed, Fine! and then hung up on me.
I then told Mr. Griego that it was on to the next step. Mr. Griego told me he would be willing to help me in any way to fight this company, including testifying if necessary, reinforcing his stance that he felt he was absolutely in the right.
I regret very much that so much time has now passed since I have dealt with this problem. Unfortunately, some other more pressing personal issues came up soon thereafter, leaving me no time to address this problem properly. However, I hope that it is not too late to file my complaint. I most certainly wish to recoup at least some, if not all of the $1318.03 that ASAP Motors essentially stole from me. However, at the very least, I feel it is important to do my part to help make this company held accountable for their bad, dishonest, and unprofessional business practices. This issue caused me a lot of unnecessary aggravation and inconvenience, cost me a lot of money I can ill-afford to waste, and I would like to see justice served.
Thank you very much in advance for any assistance you can provide.
Santa Fe, New Mexico