March of 06, I drove my company passenger van on a business trip from Lynchburg, VA-Fredericksburg, VA (135 miles each way) At the start of my trip I noticed the battery seemed weak on startup and felt like it may need replacing but I would wait until my arrival in Fredericksburg to see if a good trip would help the battery to bounce back. The trip was un-eventful, but unfortunately did not help the batteries condition. Merchants Tire and Auto Center was a short walk from my customers office
so I dropped the car off and described what I thought was going on with the car. But left it to the experts to diagnose and repair the problem. With instruction on a repair limit and a phone number to call if any major problems (Other than just a bad battery or alternator were found) That afternoon at approximately 4:00pm I returned to pick up my vehicle and as we had expected " The battery was D.O.A. and had been replaced but only after checking out the charging system which was reported to be working just fine) ((I Have all the paperwork to backup any statements made in the complaint and I am willing to share with anyone that want copies)) !!!!!!!!
I paid the bill with my credit card, thanked them for their help and proceeded to head out for my return 3-hour trip home.
Not So Fast!! When I left the auto center. The car was parked heading out of the lot so I jumped in and fired it up. And dropped it in gear, but what gear. I noticed that I did not have any shift indicator (P,R,N,D,L). When I stepped on the gas to drive into the parking lot next to the auto center. I noticed that I was also missing any speedometer miles per hour indicator and the car would not shift out of Low gear. It did not make any difference what forward position I tried to put the shifter into, the card would not go more than about 15 miles per hour. The transmission would not up-shift. Please keep in mind. This was in the shopping center parking lot right next door to the Merchant's Auto Center. I could not get the car out of the parking lot. I drove the car 135 plus miles. They drove it into their shop, changed the battery and I could not drive it off of the lot.
I immediately returned the car to Merchants Auto Center lot and went inside and told the on duty service manager of the problem that I was having. The on duty manager drove the car back into the shop area and had one of his techs try to find out what had happened to the van. (I was told that the tech that had worked on the card had gone home for the evening) After several hours of trying to figure out what was wrong and a phone call back to a Lynchburg transmission shop, the tech did manage to get the speedometer working again but no shift indicator( P,R,N,D,L ) and no up shift. Its now after 7:00pm and the assistant manager and the tech have the dreaded conversation with me. " Mr. Harvey it is obvious that we did something to your car, but the tech that worked on your car will not be back until tomorrow morning.
We know that you are from out of town, What we would like for you to do is to stay in one of the hotels within a couple of blocks from here, Don't worry, we will get you a ride to the hotel and we will pay your hotel bill and in the morning, When the tech that worked on your car comes in. we are sure he will have your car fixed and ready to go in an hour or so of his getting here. You should be on the way home by 9:00 or 9:30.
I agreed and assured them that that was fine with me, as long as I was able to get back to my office the next day."
They got me a ride and I checked into the hotel and the next morning I called Merchants to check on the progress of the repairs. I was told that they were working on the car and call back in about and hour or if they were able to get it fixed before then they would call me on my cell phone.
An hour passed, so I call Merchants again to check the progress.
This is where it starts going down hill fast.
I was told Mr. Harvey, we can not find out what is wrong with your car, we are still working on it, but if we cant find and fix the problem within the next half hour or so, we are going to have to refer you and your car to someone else. My response was " If you refer me to someone else, who is going to pay for that repair? I was told. " Mr. Harvey you will be responsible for that, we can't be responsible for that"
I made arrangements to rent a car for the trip home and to get back to work. Once I had the rental car. I went back my Merchants and my van was still in the shop bay. No one working on the car. I ask the on duty manager what was being done to repair the car. I had driven the car from Lynchburg to Fredericksburg and now it could not be driven off their lot.
I was told that something was wrong with the electronics in the transmission and they did not feel that it was their responsibility to repair the problem since they did not do anything to the car.
I told the manager that I was going to have the car towed to a local AAMCO transmission shop to see if they could find the problem. (I have the bill).
I made the trip back to Lynchburg and gave AAMCO until the next afternoon to examine the car and hopefully fix the problem.
Luck was not on my side. AAMCO Transmissions reported that for them to be able to tell what was wrong with the transmission they would have to be able to communicate with the transmissions on board electronics, but that would be impossible since the electronics (SOME TYPE OF MODULE/MODULES) were burnt up.
Please keep two things in mind. I drove the car 135 miles without any problems and Merchants tech gave me an invoice stating that the electrical system checked out ok, which caused them to replace the battery. SO how did the transmission module mysteriously get burned out between the time that I dropped the car off and the time that the tow truck picked the car up?
The folks at AAMCO told me that they did not have the equipment and parts to repair the vehicle in their shop. The car would have to be towed to the local Chrysler dealership for the correct repairs. So a second tow truck is called to take the card from AAMCO to the dealership. Once the car has arrived at the Chrysler Repair Shop. The transmission is repaired and the car is ready for me to pick up on my unscheduled return trip to Fredericksburg.
I now have a battery replacement bill; two tow charge bills, plus repair bills, plus rental car bills, plus hotel bills and the cost of driving back to Fredericksburg to pickup my repaired van.
I have all the invoices and to date I have spent in excess of $1,200.00 and Merchants Tire and Auto have refused any responsibility for the damages to my vehicle. I have provided copies of all my invoices and details of my problem to Merchants Insurance claims dept. (I will gladly provide free copies via fax or email to anyone that wants them) Merchants said that after a complete examination of the information. They did not feel that they had any responsibility for the damages and would not pay any portion of my expenses.
I have called Merchants Tire and Auto home/ corp. office numerous time's And each time I call them I speak to someone different that promise a return call from someone that will get this issue taken care of. Well it's been 12 months and I have yet to recoup one red cent from Merchants Tire and Auto.
I have a toll free number 866 828 7246 that anyone can call and I will gladly Fax or email you copies of invoices, times, dates, along with names and dates of anyone I have been in contact with in this matter.
In the interim Choose you auto repair center carefully
V.P. Piedmont Micro Inc