I have an eXmark 52" commercial mower that I purchased 8 years ago for my personal use only. I was having difficulty with the clutch not engaging and more recently the battery was not being charged. When I saw I needed help identifying and fixing my problem I found Homestead Acres Saw and Mower, Inc listed in eXmarks web page. Since they were closer to where I lived I decided I to seek their help in fixing my problems. Because the mower only had just over 400 hours I did not think that the problem I had would be to expensive or complicated for any service center that had experience working on a Kohler engine. My issues started on May 18, 2010. I transported my mower to Homestead Acres Saw and Mower Inc. In Salem, Oregon. When I arrived the mower needed a jump before it would start. At that time I was told that the blades were probably not engaging because charging unit was not working properly. I asked them to go ahead and fix this issue and change the oil and perform other routine maintenance tasks. I had my first encounter when I mentioned to one of the owners that you didnt have to sit on the seat in order to start the mower. When I told him that the manual said you could do this his response to me is then there is something wrong if it will start without having to sit on the seat. He did not like being corrected. The mower can be started providing the clutch is not engaged with the brake on, and the steering arms extended outward. This can be done without anyone sitting on the seat. This is stated in the manual. Note: Mrs. Farr later said that it was I who argued that you had to sit on the seat in order to get it started! I wanted to provide them with the name and phone number of the eXmark service technician who I contacted earlier. The response I got when I tried to do this was nothing more than offending them. They told me that they knew what to do and refused to take this information from me. During this first visit they reported to me that all components of the charging system in the Kohler 25hp engine needed to be replaced, including replacing the flywheel assembly, 15 amp stator along with the regulator/rectifier, and a new battery. This work took them 3 weeks and 4 days to complete. I picked it up on June 12, 2010. The total charges I had to pay for the work they did during this period was $820.50. They said then that the charging problem had been fixed. I began to question whether or not all this extra work was necessary. So I checked the internet for any possible complaints made against this company. There were some derogatory comments with some describing similar problems I was encountering. June 19, 2010. I had to return the mower to Homestead Acres a second time because the electrical system was still not charging the battery. Homestead Acres then reported that they replaced the battery and the clutch. This time the repair took until July 6th before it was completed. They reported to me again that the mower was fixed. Said they had run it for 4 hours in order to test it. An invoice was provided for work done during this period. The total charges I had to pay for this second attempt at getting my mower repaired was $265.00. I picked it up on July 6, 2010. During this second period in the shop I was starting to feel extremely frustrated with Homestead Acres. I was beginning to think that they were taking advantage of me. I could tell that they were frustrated too, but not sure if it was because they knew they were unable to properly repair the mower, or if it was because they were responding with anger against me because they could see that I was unhappy with the work they were doing.
On September 8th I decided to use my mower and during this time I learned that the battery was still not charging. While trying to mow the mower quit working and I could not get it started. I purchased another battery and installed it. It seemed to run ok for awhile, however it did not take very long for this battery to go dead. I charged the battery Homestead replaced earlier and was able to get the mower running. I did a voltmeter test on it and it read just over 12 volts. The research I have done should have shown a charge of at least 14 volts in order to maintain a battery. September 10th I returned the mower to Homestead so they could make a third attempt to repair the charging unit. When I arrived the owner of the business used his portable charging unit so we could jump the battery and take it off my trailer. The portable unit he was using could not start it so he drove a fork lift or some other equipment that he had to use which successfully jump started the mower. I was sitting on the mower when it started and I drove it off my trailer to just outside his shop. I believe I left it running so he could put it where it needed to go. After about a week I called to see how the repair was going. I was told that the work would be started on Monday, September 20th. Later I drove by to see how the repair was going. I went directly to their shop and was told by the technician that he had not started the work because he had been on vacation? I mentioned to him that I was told the work would start during the prior week. The work was to begin within the next few days, now more than two weeks since I brought it to them. Once they started working on the mower things started to get worse. It was concerning to me after I received a call on October 6th at 4:44pm that there was now a new problem which was having to replace the head gasket, but I told them to go ahead and replace it. I was told the mower would be ready in a day or two. During the conversation I had with the technician he asked me who I had working on the mower after them. I told him that they were the only ones who had done any work on it. I told them that the mower has only been in their shop, or in my barn under cover except when they had it. I was told by the technician that what I said was not true. They said that they knew someone had done some work on it because the markings they had placed on it had been disturbed? I told them again that no one had done any work but them. My thoughts were that they would have liked to have an excuse to say that someone else screwed up their work and that they would not cover any of their work already done. That's only speculation on my part! However I did not appreciate being called a liar. On October 7th I went to their shop early to see if they were actually working on the mower and changing the head gasket that they said needed to be done. When I arrived there I did not see them working to replace the head gasket although I am sure they must have done so. They were getting ready to install the grass catcher. I was given a gasket they said came off of the head. They said another stator was installed and would be covered under warranty. Now things were getting nasty! The said things to me that I did not agree with. First he said again that someone besides them had been working on the engine. He pointed out to me a wire that he said was changed. I do not believe I was ever able to convince them that I did not have anyone but them working on my mower. Because I had done research and learned that a battery needs 14 to 15 volts while running in order to maintain a charge, I asked the owner if he would do another check that I could see. He agreed to do this and his meter read 12.6 volts. I told him that I didn't think the charging unit was working. His response to me was that it was working properly and the 12.6 volts was all that was necessary. The owner said to all the Kohler engines were having problems and he would not recommend them to anyone. This was contradictory to what I have learned and I did not respond because I already had enough other disagreements to deal with! While there taking with the owner, another younger employee, I believe might have been related to the owner came out to scold me for having gone into the shop area. He said that should I ever have any questions about the repair of my mower I needed to go directly to him without going into the shop or bother any of the other employees. He said that he was going to have a sign posted which keeps customers out of the work area and needed this for insurance purposes. I told him I was in the shop talking with the owner. He knew that I was not taking his orders very seriously. My thoughts about his conversation were more to keep me from knowing more about what was going on rather than any concerns for customer safety.
While there on October 7th I asked them to provide me with a copy of earlier invoices for work they had done. They said they would give me a copy. When I asked for a copy of the hand written documents I saw which were created by the technician when they were doing the work. I was told I could not have a copy because everything on it was on the document they would provide me. I didn't understand why I could not have a copy of this too. Because of their adamant refusal I felt there was something that they didn't want me to know that they were trying to keep covered up? I told them that I would be there the next day to pick up my mower. October 8th I arrived just before noon to pick up the mower. When I arrived I knew I was in somewhat of a defensive mood. I was met by one of the employees who said I could go in now and pay the $112 due for labor and the head gasket. I asked him if they had copies of the earlier invoices and his question to me was "what did you do with the original ones?" I did not think his method of questioning me was appropriate.Member Comments: Detail Continued: After I loaded and secured the mower to my trailer I went in to pay the current fees and to pick up the earlier invoices. After I paid the $112.00 by credit card, I still had reservations that the work they had done for the third time was still not satisfactory. I asked them if they would have someone go back to the mower and take another reading of the voltage at the battery with the engine running. I asked this so I could have it documented before I left. At that moment one of the technicians overheard my request and shouted from the service desk in the rear of the store that they were done working on my mower and would not do anything else for me. I wasn't sure who he was directing his comments to but Mrs. Farr told him to "shut up". This technician at one time told me not to interrupt him while he was talking. When I started talking with Mrs. Farr the technician was still raving on. At that point I asked him not to interrupt me! A really bad situation. Before I left, the owner's wife seemed to be more accommodating and told me to contact her if I had any further problems. She refused to answer my question when I asked her if they would correct the charging unit if I could confirm it is still not functioning. I honestly did not believe that I would return it to them for a fourth time anyway. At that time I was so frustrated with this company that if I could not get my mower running properly I was certain that I would at least file some form of complaint against them. Summary: Homestead Acres Saw and Mower Inc worked on my mower in their shop for a period of 70 days. The charges for all the work they did was nearly $1200. They never did fix the charging issue which I paid them to do which was the source of my initial complaint. I filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau because of the way I was treated. Diane Farr's response to the many issues I had in her reply to the complaint I filed with the BBB were somewhat "twisted." It was obvious she did not have all the facts. Diane Farr was not present during most of the "encounters" I had with her employees. I don't feel that she was qualified to make comments about my behaviour while at their place of business. It is apparent that her comments were not coming from her but her employees who were being protective of their jobs. Diane Farr tried to discredit me by saying things like I told the mechanic he didn't know what he was doing. I can only say that Homestead Acres employees are good mind readers. This is something I never said to anyone.but I was thinking it. Mrs. Farr said that because they gave me the parts that they changed that I must have known that they were bad. This is not prove anything to me except those parts were changed, but not necessarily all bad. Mrs. Farr said that her husband was trying to correct me by over the issue of trying to start the mower without having to sit on the seat. It was I who was giving him instructions that you didn't have to sit on the seat in order to get it started. Mrs. Farr said that once when I delivered my mower to them that they had to disconnect the hydraulics so they could manually move the mower off of my trailer. This did not occur but I did ask Mrs. Farr's husband how to do this because of my concern to have to move the mower when it was not running. Mrs. Farr said that they were busy which is why it took so long to do the work. Her employees response when I asked him why he had not started the work when I was told he would be started was that he had been on vacation. I was wondering why vacations are allowed during the busy time of the year? The real issue I had was when they insinuated that I lied to them during the time my mower was not in their shop. They told me more than once that someone else but them had done work on my mower when in fact this did not happen.
Other complaints against this company have been filed and some are similar to the problems I encountered with them. Mrs Farr did apologize to me once or twice for the treatment I received by her employees. Mrs. Farr said to me and to my wife that the Flywheel replacement was covered under warranty. I thought that was great but believe her statement wasn't true. She said this to us after checking her computer. There has not been anything said to us since then to indicate that this was in error. If what she said was correct then they have received double payment for part of the services I paid for. Mrs. Farr commented when I asked her employee for a copy of a work document he had and was refused She said that she did not want to spend the time searching through all the records to find what I was asking for. She was unaware that I only asked for one document. Her comment implies that my request was unreasonable. She didn't mention that her employee said I could not have a copy of it because it was on the invoices they provided. I really did not feel there should have been anything secret about this but apparently it was. The charging issue I had was resolved after I contacted the eXmark representative for Oregon. He was able to get the company to pay for the work necessary to repair the charging problem. I was instructed to take my mower to another service location in Mt Angel, Oregon where the work was done. All that was necessary to fix this problem was to apply a $16.95 diode that was designed to eliminate power surges causing the charging system to malfunction. EXmark did cover the labor to install this part. Finally, the complaint I filed with the Better Business Bureau is now closed and is not favorable to Homestead Acres Saw and Mower, Inc.