ED Magedson – Founder
Smart Start Inc.42111 Irwin Dr. Harrison Township, MI 48045 Harrison Township, Michigan USA
Smart Start Inc. Poor customer relations and service Harrison Township Michigan
I have had an ignition interlock device installed on my vehicle since August of 2011 with an approved provider Smart Start as a result of poor decisions on my behalf. Generally the device has functioned properly the entire time I have had it installed. The device started intermittently malfunctioning beginning mid June 2013 where it would lose power and reconnect due to the power cord becoming worn from years of use. I have to take my vehicle in every other month for calibration around the 9th of each month. When taking the device in for my July appointment I stated to the technician the intermittent problem with the disconnecting and that I thought it might be the power cord as the outer housing that holds the internal wires was visibly worn. The technician looked at the housing and agreed it was quite worn but advised me he could not replace it until it actually didn't work. He calibrated unit and that was all he was authorized to do.
A few days later on July 13, 2013 the unit had lost power and reconnected several times that morning. I then made a call to Smart Start's Michigan Corporate office @ 888-234-0198 to report the problem. I was unable to get anywhere with them to resolve this issue. I then made a call to Smart Start's main office/ call center and spoke to a customer service representative and explained the problem, what the technician told me, and my attempt at contacting Michigan's corporate office. She advised me to demand that the technician replace the cord so the unit will continue to function as it should. I advised her I have tried this and they claim there is nothing they can do until the cord doesn't work completely.
Another couple of months had gone by with very few disconnections and I have grown tolerant to the situation. I took my vehicle in for my November service and again stated that for the most part it was functioning as it should, but every now and then it loses power. The technician again told me that it cannot be replaced until it was not functioning at all. The morning of November 12, 2013 the unit had multiple problems sustaining connection. Later that day after work I turn my key, unit powers up, I provide sample and am able to start vehicle. I hang unit on holster provided and proceed to drive down the road. A few minutes later I hear a clicking noise coming from my dash and look down and notice the display on the unit is not lit up. I wiggle the wire and unit connects, then reconnects and requested a retest which I took and passed. The unit then functioned with few intermittent problems for about a month.
On December 16,2013 I go out and turn the key on my vehicle, NO Power to the unit. After a couple of minutes of trying to get the unit to function, power finally gets to the unit and I am able to provide a sample and start my vehicle. I then hung the unit on provided holster and within a minute it loses power and does not regain power at all. I immediately call Smart Start@ 1-800-880-3394 and state problem to customer service representative and he advised me to drive to my nearest service center to have the problem fixed. I then drove as advised to Auto Lab in Battle Creek, MI as they were the closest location with the earliest open time of 8:00 A.M. The technician pulled my vehicle in and shut it off @ 8:06 A.M. He then tried to turn the key and get power to the unit and had no success. He inspected the power cord, deemed it defective and replaced it with a new one. He then turned the key to make sure the unit would function and it did. He then had to calibrate the unit and remove the circumvention violation as a result of the defective cord. He pulls my vehicle around and hands me receipt for the service. I look at the receipt and notice it says "lockout charge" in the amount of $50.00. I ask him why it says that and he advised me that was for the resetting of the unit and also don't be surprised if Smart Start tries to charge me for the power cord even though it was not my fault that it was defective. I thank him for the fix and I provide sample and I'm on my way to work. I call Smart Start's Michigan office to inquire why my receipt says "lockout charge" and why am I responsible for the $50.00 charge when they replaced a defective cord and was told I would have to speak with the Manager regarding this but he was not available at that time. I was then transferred to his voicemail and left a brief description of the issue. After not receiving a return call by the end of that day, I then sent an email to Smart Start via their "contact us" link on their website.
The following day about 3:50 P.M., I received a call from Steve the manager at Smart Start and stated what happened and he reviewed the log records and agreed that the cord was worn out from years of use and waived lockout fee and cord replacement fee. He also said I have nothing to worry about for the violation related to this incident. I thanked him for this and we hung up the phone. Unit was functioning properly for about the next week. Then on December 24, 2013 after all was well with the unit all morning at about 12:05 P.M. while I was driving the unit's display faded out slowly and completely lost power again. I immediately called Smart Start @ 1-800-880-3394 and spoke with Amber a customer service representative and stated problem and also that the power cord to the unit had been recently replaced. While on the phone she was troubleshooting with me and had me check all connections to make sure they were properly secured, and they were. There was then a clicking noise coming from my dash again and she put me on hold to call my local service station to see if they were opened so I could drive in and have them fix it. She then came back on the line and informed me all service locations were closed in observance of the holiday and I would have to wait until they reopened on the 26th of December. While she was notating my account, the display on the unit slowly lit back up and said “ violation lock" and called for a rolling retest. I then provided a sample as we were on the phone and passed as usual. She explained that the reading of "violation lock" was normal because the unit was powered down and thinks I tried to circumvent it. She continued to note all relevant information related to this and said the fee would be waived when I take it in to be fixed and reset. I then left work and drove home and shut the vehicle off to avoid being stranded. The unit functioned normally for the duration of my drive home. I shut vehicle off when I got home, waited for the stall protect to expire, then turned my key to reinitialize the test process. Provided sample and passed as usual and shut vehicle off.
On the morning of the 26th unit was in normal operation. I left work and had the unit serviced at my local service center at 11:15 A.M. I explained to the technician about the most recent issue on the 24th and also the cord replacement on the 16th. He reset unit and checked all connections and deemed it loose wiring. There was no fee for the reset as the unit malfunctioned. Unit has functioned properly to date. Went for my bimonthly service in January and had normal calibration preformed and unit still functioning as one would expect. On January 28, 2014 I received an "order of action" from Secretary of State advising me that my license will be revoked effective 02/03/2014 for circumventing the unit on November 12, 2013 and December 16, 2013. I then called Smart Start @ 1-800-880-3394 to question why were these alleged circumventions sent to Secretary of State when it has been documented they were beyond my control? The customer service representative advised me this is something I would have to take up with the corporate office in Michigan. I had to call them the next day as their offices were closed at the time. I called the Michigan office the next day and spoke with Nicole and stated what happened with the " order of action" and events leading to it. She advised me she would be in contact with Lisa Page, the person who sent the violation report to Secretary of State, and to try and call back tomorrow to see if the has been any resolve to this matter.
On January 30, 2014 I called Nicole with Smart Start at 8:28 A.M. and left her a voicemail inquiring if she had heard anything back from Lisa Page yet. After not hearing back all day, I then called Nicole again and got her on the line and as of that time she had not heard back from Ms. Page yet. I then called back at 4:38 P.M. and requested that the fax or email all logs, notes and any other relevant information for the dates of 7/13/13, 12/16/2013, 12/24/2013, 12/26/2013 and all service visits starting May 2013 so I would have evidence to support the issue at hand. I was told by Nicole that I would have to speak with Steve Cleveland (manager of some sort that is authorized to process my request). Steve was busy at the time, but guaranteed a return call that evening. I did receive a return call from Steve at 5:43 P.M. that evening and discussed the problem at hand and inquired why the other relevant information like notes, service records and anything that shows equipment failure was not sent over with the alleged circumvention log? He stated that they use computer software that recognizes certain “violations” and automatically generates a report and sends it to Secretary of State. I then inquired why they had not sent over the other information to show defective equipment was the cause of circumvention and he advised me that nobody reviews log information sent to Secretary of State. I was then lectured by Steve that the cord was not defective and it was simply just worn out over time. I did not argue with him that there was no difference as I feel I have to be as polite and agree with anything they say if I want any kind of assistance from them. I then requested all information from dates above to support my cause. He then asked for my email, which I gave to him, and promised that he would send me my request by the end of the day of January 31, 2014.
At the end of the my work day on 1/31/2014 after checking my email and not receiving promised information, I called Steve from Smart Start at 3:37 P.M. to check if he had attempted to send email yet. I spoke with Alex and he advised Steve was busy but would get back to me as soon as possible. I have not received anything from Smart Start to date! I was puzzled by this as I am their customer and they should treat me as one. They even go as far to state on their website, “ because we value our customers – and we’ll treat you like a valued customer, not an offender”. This has only been the case when contacting the main contact number 1-800-880-3394 and not when contacting the Michigan office at 1-888-243-0198. I have consistently been talked down to and treated like they could care less. Because the Michigan corporate office of Smart Start refuses to provide me and Secretary of State with all relevant information, my license has been revoked as of February 4, 2014. Since that day I have had to rely on relatives, my significant other, and coworkers to help me fulfill my obligations to the company I work for because while I have definitely made mistakes in the past that put me in the predicament I have been in, I refuse to add more complications to ever having a chance at being granted an unrestricted license in the future. Something needs to be done about their lack of customer service and improper reporting methods.
This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 02/12/2014 07:07 PM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/reports/smart-start-inc/harrison-township-michigan-48045/smart-start-inc-poor-customer-relations-and-service-harrison-township-michigan-1123200. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.
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