In September of 1999, I purchased my first used car from a local dealership. It was a 1999 Ford Taurus SE with 23,000. After checking out the title (I used carfax) and doing additional research, I believed that this dealer, Sexton Ford, Moline, IL, was giving me the best deal. This car has had regular maintenance. It was in the shop on earlier occasions (prior to 36,000) for air conditioning problems, and windshield wiper motor noises. Each were covered by a FAC WARRANTY (I paid nothing) and each computer generated invoice was clearly marked.
In March of this year as I was putting my car into drive after backing out of my daughter's day care center, I heard a terrible crunching noise. Although the car was still idling, it did not want to move forward, and it would not go into reverse. I semi-coasted to my work building (less than 1/4 mile away). I called Sexton Ford who arranged to have it towed to their establishment for an estimate. This car had 42,000 miles on it. In the afternoon, I was called by Ray Jenkins, serviceman, who stated that it was a bad transmission that would cost $2,500 to repair. I told him that I would need to talk to my husband.
After getting off the phone, I called the BBB for a list of reputable transmission repair shops and began calling around, I was told that I could get a rebuilt transmission (although they hadn't seen what the problem was) for $1,000 to $1,500 depending on whether the aluminum casing was good.
When I called Sexton back and told them I could get it repaired cheaper, I was told that Ray had contacted the Ford Motor Company and negotiated a lower price. He said that even though it was out of warranty, since this car had only 42,000 miles, it shouldn't have had this problem. He also told me that he wasn't using a rebuilt transmission but was installing a new transmission thats part were warranted for 24 months and labor for 12 months. I decided to have the work done at the dealer because of the age of the car and the guaranteed warranty.
On Monday, June 4, 2001, I discovered a letter from the Ford Company behind my husband's dresser box. It stated that a Ford Program (00B51) had been initiated for 1999 Taurus/Sable and Windstar vehicles with AX4S transaxles. It stated the reason for this program "the rear lube tube inside your transaxle may fracture and cause a loss of lubrication to and ultimately, failure of the planetary gears. You may or may not hear a noise from the transaxle as the gears fail. The end result will be the inability to move the vehicle in either forward or reverse." It also stated, "Dealers will install an improved real lube tube and stablizing bracket. This program will be in effect until September 30, 2001, regardless of the mileage."
After reading this, I immediately contacted the Ford Customer Assistance Center, where I spoke with a Melissa, employee number 2011. She asked for the car's VIN number, my name and when the problem occurred. She then put me on hold. When she returned, she said that she would see I have this service done on 3/8/01-3/13/01 and stated it was covered under Factory Warranty. When I said that I had paid $1,275.20 and I had the receipt to prove it, she again put me on hold.
After several minutes, she returned and told me that she had contacted the service manager at Sexton's and they would both be researching the problem. After getting of the phone, I began looking at my invoice. I was very troubled at what I saw on the receipt. First of all the program number was recorded on the computer generated invoice and I was charged for the cost of replacement. After the parts and labor had been itemized, the total came to $2,017.95. Next to the total was the words FAC WARRANTY; however, the dollar total had been hand crossed off. The only reference to what I was required to pay was handwritten on my invoice. The only reference to the warranty was handwritten on my copy of the invoice because I insisted that Ray add what he had promised.
After reviewing my other invoices, I realized that I never paid anything marked FAC WARRANTY. In addition, I found out that Sexton Ford had installed a REMANUFACTURED Transmission NOT a new tranmission as agreed too and that the warranty for a rebuilt tranmission was 24 months for parts and labor (although I was told (in writing) it only covered 12 months for labor). I believe that the Ford Motor Company paid Sexton for the repairs but that Sexton charged my $1,275.20. Money I believe they pocketed.
On June 6, 2001, Melissa called back and said that she was sorry but that their would be no further refund. She had spoken to the technician and was told that the problem was unrelated. When I asked for the name of the person she spoke to, she stated she didn't have it written down, but would call me the next day and give it to me (she never called back). I asked that she provide her response to me in writing, as I would be taking additional action against Ford and Sexton and was told that it was against company policy to provide her comments in writing.
I feel violated. I know that both parties, Ford Motor Company and Sexton Ford Sales, are guilty of fraud and I'm sickened to think how often this has happened to others. Since June, I have filed consumer complaints with the Illinois Department of Consumer Affairs AND the Better Business Bureau.
Because Sexton Ford dealership did not respond to the second letter, the BBB has sent me the necessary forms to file a complaint with the Illinois State Attorney General's Office. I have also researched the National Transportation and Safety web site, and found out that Ford Motor Company has issued a minimum of 7 service bulletins on this subject in addition to the owner notification.
This is the first time I have ever formally put a complaint in writing about a company and I am almost 41 years old. Click here to read other Rip Off Reports on Sexton Ford