I am in a quandary. In mid June my wife's 96 Saturn with 104,000 miles lost reverse in the transmission. On the advice of a local mechanic whom I trusted when I shouldn't, I took it to a local AAMCO repair shop that sold me a complete transmission rebuild which came with tax to $2224.87. When they gave it back the transmission reved rather than go into high gear. They keep it for a second week allegedly replacing the valve body a second time. When I got it back the second time the service engine light was continually on. So I took it in a third time and this time waited four hours while the guy replaces a fuse he'd knocked out.
By this time I was not trusting them. I had found another mechanic who told me that in his opinion the transmission had never been off the car. I then called Saturn who told me they had sold AAMCO initially a valve body and that the core had been returned. They had no record of selling a reverse clutch housing and no record ever delivering a second valve body to replace the first defective one. The AAMCO people got very angry with Saturn for informing me of their dealings and lack of dealings with them. I am concluding in other words that AAMCO lied about the valve body and the clutch housing because they can show me no record of having made a purchase of the parts. They claimed that they fixed the slipping in hi gear problem by replacing the valve body for a second time. When I confronted them other than getting angry that Saturn had given me any information, they refused to answer any questions about what they had done except to say with no proof that they had replaced the valve body a second time.
I charged back the full $2224.87 on my credit card to them.
I also opened a complaint with AAMCO corporate. I was told on July 25 that the owner said he would give me a full refund if I gave him the car and allowed him to return it to the original condition. I just received a letter from AAMCO corporate dated Aug 7 saying this in writing and giving me 10 business days to accept or reject the offer.
I am seriously considering accepting. I would get a charge refund on surrendering the car and sign a release on his giving me back the car somehow drivable forward but not in reverse.and presumably worth $100 at the local junk yard.
Kelly blue book says the car is worth 1410 in a trade in and 2465 sold in private transaction. I don't drive enough to justify two cars. And on July 1 I had to buy my wife a new Honda civic. In 6 weeks I have driven the Saturn 130 miles. Insurance on it is $460 a year and in 30 days the next insurance payment is due. Keeping a car in the road to drive 1500 miles a year in my opinion is foolish. We did reasonably well on one car for 11 months.
I have 8 pages of letters documenting every hiccup of the process, and 9 other pages of documents sent to my credit card company but no assurance that I am going to win the dispute pursued through them. I could spend money on a lawyer but considering what is at stake that would be foolish.
my letter accepting the offer
1701 Princeton Ave
Trenton, NJ 08638 August 14, 2004
Dear Mr. Bajwa:
I am pleased to accept your offer as documented in writing by Michele Philpot AAMCO Customer Relations representative in her letter to me dated August 7.
We need however to work out a few details. When I bring you the car I will do so only under the condition that you agree to:
1. process a credit slip for the full refund with all authorizations in my presence and give me a copy of the slip signed by yourself.
2. we will sign a letter of credit that obligates you not to revoke the refund and not to charge my card in the future and obligates me when the refund hits my account to cancel the charge back proceedings. If this is done expeditiously it will avoid your bank receiving my documentation package from my credit card company.
3. the letter of credit will also obligate you to disconnect reverse and return the car to me on the day that I bring it in to you. (Return to original condition means drive forward in all gears but not in reverse. You will also agree to describe in writing how you will achieve this.) After I have been on a road test with you to ascertain that I will be able to drive the car home, I will sign a release that obligates me not to take further action against you. If you don't meet these conditions, I will not sign the release and will continue several alternative courses of action.
Please let me know if you are prepared to accept these conditions. I require your acceptance not later than August 23. If you have not accepted by then, I shall send a copy of the AAMCO letter of August 7 and a copy of this letter to my credit card company which informs me that they will then be able to send my complete package to your bank.
my most recent letter to my card company
Dear Universal Card, August 16, 2004
This case gets ever more strange.
In late July as I documented in an earlier letter Sabrina Pullen from AAMCO customer relations said she had spoken to Dave the owner of RKH Inc, 1701 Princeton Avenue Trenton, NJ. As I documented in my letter to you of July 25 she stated: He will refund all your money if you bring the car back to him and allow him to return the car to you in the condition it was in when you brought it. Namely it will drive ok in all forward gears but won't go in reverse. As that letter to you explained, I did not find this to be a credible offer.
After July 25 I did nothing further except to sit back and wait. Then on August 12 I received the enclosed and unsolicited letter from AAMCO. On August 14, I sent the enclosed letter accepting AAMCO's offer on behalf of Dave. Dave is Indian originally from Vadoroda on the subcontinent he had told me, and I assumed that Kausar Bajwa was his Indian name.
This morning I called the AAMCO shop for the first time since early July. The man who answered called himself Kausar not Dave. I turned out that he is the new owner of the 1701 Princeton Avenue franchise. After 19 years Dave, whom I'd estimate to be 45 to 50 years old, called it quits and sold to Kausar. Very interesting timing. Kausar was very pleasant and said that he knew nothing about my problem except that AAMCO corporate had sent him a letter saying that my case was resolved. That allegation on AAMCO's part is false.
Furthermore Kausar said that the offer to refund the money was Dave's and not his. When I asked why AAMCO put his name on the letter to me had said he didn't know. Kausar said that Dave was around and that he will check with him. He said that someone from AAMCO Corporate was there installing a computer system for him today but he would be happy to discuss these issue with me later this week. He also said when I asked that Joe was still the chief mechanic.
At this point I know that prior management was lying to me about purchase of a replacement valve body. I suspect that they are lying about doing the complete rebuild. Sabrina told me that techs were required to keep write up sheets of what they found when they took the transmission off. She promised that she would collect the set and send them to me. I never received anything. At this point it really looks like customer relations folk at AAMCO are in full cahoots with their franchisees. I also cannot help but wonder if RHK was dieing when I went in June. I spent 4 hours there on Monday June 28 from 12:30 to 4:30 pm. The shop has eight bays. Four were empty. I saw two technicians and did not see any of them doing any actual work on the four cars that were there. I spent most of the time seated in a chair where I could watch what if anything was happing to my car. Thus my observation of the south bays was almost continual. I saw the north one on several occasions as I walked in and out of their main office. The place was dead. As I believe I wrote in an earlier letter while he could show me the seals and gaskets for the reverse clutch housing that he did buy from Saturn of Bordentown, he could show me no parts from the alleged rebuild.
Stated plain and simply they defrauded me and it appears that AAMCO Corporate is helping them cover up. I would love to be able to ask their bank how many charge backs the old management was generating. Plenty I bet. Finally please note the enclosed copied complaints on AAMCO from the website badbusinessbureau.com. I read a good deal in their forum over the weekend where it was stated that AAMCO corporate has no interest in the health of their franchisees since whenever one goes belly up they can always find someone else to buy it for $140,000. I am sure that not all 700 franchises are bad but, from what I read, my experience with this Trenton one was not a-typical.
Given the change of ownership I doubt that the legal responsibility for the $2224.87 charge will have anything to do with Kauser. It looks like under these circumstances Kausar would have no reason to issue a refund since he is not responsible for the $2224.87 to begin with. I tried to contact AAMCO corporate. I spoke to a Roxanne in customer relations who gave me no information saying that neither Michele Philpot nor Sabrina Pullen was in. Roxanne refused to buck me up line to a supervisor and said that Sabrina or Michele would call be back. Of course that hasn't happened.
I am no longer willing to even consider paying for half the repair. I am noting in writing on your inquiry to me that I am disputing the full $2224.87. I have been forced to buy my wife a new car. I have driven the Saturn approximately 140 miles since the repair. I have seriously injured by these people. I hope you will help me.
PS. It is now 2:26 pm. Michele Philpot from AAMCO called me back just now. She claims that she did speak with Mr. Bajwa and that it is really his (Bajwas') offer. She could not explain why he denied having spoken to her. She said she would call Bajwa and would call me back.
PSS: It is now 3:42 pm Monday August 16. No further response from Michele Philpot.
I want to end this letter with what a I hope is a rather straight forward conclusion: AAMCO's offer to refund the money in return for the right to break the transmission's reverse is surely a straight forward admission that they are wrong and I am right in my complaints against them. I hope you will rule in my favor as expeditiously as possible.
PSSS: Michele Philpot called back at about 4:15 pm EST. She had talked to Kausar. Kausar admitted that he was aware of the letter that she had sent me and now she would have to talk to Dave the prior owner who was not available today. I asked her why Kaausar should have any responsibility for rectifying the problem as the new owner. She claimed that the contract for new franchisees required them to take on legal responsibility for the debts and other service issues of the previous owner. I asked where I could see documentation of that assertion. You can't was the answer only prospective franchisees may see it. This makes no sense. Why would anyone pay $140,000 for taking over the legal responsibilities of a prior owner? The stench of fraud is growing stronger.
Ewing, New Jersey
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