After losing everything I own with 15ft of water for almost month in Arabi, La. after hurricane Katrina, I relocated to higher ground on the Northshore of New Orleans in the early part of 2006. With that said, I bought a house with 3 acres of land, thus needing a riding lawnmower. After a couple months of researching in many forums I decided on a small commercial ztr machine, and felt that a Gravely 44Z was a nice unit within my budget. I sought out units online, which were about $400 cheaper, with free shipping, and no sales tax added, then the closest Gravely dealer in my area. (which is by the way is 16 miles away). The local dealer however Han's Repair Service & Sales offered free trailer rental to customers who bought from them. Since I did not have trailer, and should I need repairs in the future I felt that with that trailer service he would be there for me. So, I decided to go ahead and buy it from the Gravely dealer Han's repair Service.
Here is my story of why I say I am at the mercy of my Gravely dealer:
For the past 7 years I have done my own maintenance, like blade replacement, oil filter, oil changes, air filter, fuel filter changes, and replaced the solenoid and battery. Well a couple of weeks ago my Hydro V-belt broke, so instead of me dealing with it I decided for the first time to utilize the my dealer Han's Repair Service's free trailer rental, and let the dealer change the belt. I was told on the phone by John of the counter people that it would be 45 minute labor at $70.00 an hour, long with $22 bucks for the belt. So I would be looking at around $85 tax included. Since I never changed any of my belts before, and it would require the removal of two of the other belts, I felt that was a fair price. Before I left their shop I told them that the belt was the only work I wanted them to do. Well a couple days later I got a call from the owner Mr. Han, telling me the bill came to $234.00. Needless to say, I asked why, and was not happy! He said that I needed a Hydro oil and filter service change, and new blades too. I told him, well I have a new set of blades at home, and was planning on putting them on after picking up the mower from him. I told him that I only authorized a belt change replacement to John behind the counter, at the price he quoted me on the phone. I am out of work, and coming up with an extra $150 bucks would not be easy to do. I then said you should have called me first, before doing work you were not authorize to do. Then the owner told me that they do the work that their customers need all the time like that, and that is just how it is. I used an example that if he went to his auto mechanic shop to have his shocks replaced and they replace his tires along with his shocks, saying well your threads were low so we replaced your tires, would you be happy with that? He then got mad, and said he would take the blades off, but that it is to late for the Hydro service. (I might add that in my Kawasaki manual has this hydro service being done at 500 hours, not at the 163 hours that I have on my Z44) So with him taking off the new blades off that he replaced, my bill was reduced to $193 bucks including a solenoid I purchase when I picked it up.
Here is where even bigger problem occurred.
First, I want to say that it was ready on Friday, and I was schedule to pick it up using their trailer on Saturday morning. But on Friday evening I got a call back from the Mr Han telling me that their trailer had an axle problem, and it would not be available until Tuesday. He also made a point of saying that he put my old blades back on for me. When I got there on Tuesday there were a total of 4 trailers available to use, so since he was not there Tuesday, I figured I was pushed back to Tuesday because he was working on Saturday and did not want to face me. (I figured pushing me to Tuesday was his way of getting back at me for getting him mad with my shock/tires illustration.) When I got home I changed the solenoid with no problem, but none of my 15/16 bolts on the blades would budge, even with my impact gun. The first time I replaced the blades from the factory install, I removed them with my small 1/2 ratchet with no problems, and the last time I replaced these blades I tighten them back up with my 1/2 torque ratchet to the torque of 115ft lbs as recommended in the manual. It seemed strange how he left my old belt and air filter on my mower when I picked up, but yet he reinstalled my old blades back on my Z44, knowing I would be replacing them when I got home. In my heart I believe that the reason he went though the trouble of reinstalling my old blades, is because he wanted to either use "locktite" to make sure I could not get them off when I got home, or impact them so tight that I could not remove them with an non-industrial compressor and impact gun.
With this happening, I had to get my mower to a car mechanic friend who said he has an industrial strength compressor and an impact gun that should get it off, because it removes bolts up to 1,000 ft lbs. So the next day I got it to him, and he removed the blades telling me that he seen no sigh of "locktite" but that it took more that 500ft lbs of pressure to remove the blades. So the blades were differently over impacted in Mr. Han's repair shop far beyond the recommended Gravely manual stating that it be torqued to 115ft lbs.
The next nearest Gravely dealer is 26 miles away, which is who I will be using in the future.