A fellow Volkswagener and I were reviewing some feedback for a major VW parts retailer and a repair shop. While everyone will make a mistake now and then, and while parts sometimes prematurely fail, the problem deserves a deeper consideration than just venting on a feedback forum.
As I reviewed the complaints, I found that there was a common denominator on the part of the user or buyer. The problem often stemmed from a casual purchase or even a lack of research before buying a product or securing a service. We could avoid many situations if we all would do our homework. I am sure that all of us have had experiences similar to some of mine where I just flat failed to research parts and services—beforehand– to see if they fit my needs!
Knowing what parts are available and comparing products from one company to the next, and origin of manufacture, very often will steer us in the correct direction so that a misstep can be avoided.
Understanding what service is required, comparing service providers and speaking with satisfied customers also can provide a pleasant VW experience.
So what happens in the case when we have done everything possible but still there has been a product failure or a service problem?
I noted that many of the registered complainants, in the feedback forum I visited, never honestly had tried to resolve the problem with the seller or the shop. In fact, the first line toward solving problems should be an honest look at the situation by both parties to see what can be done. Over the years, I have found that most providers of services and/or products are quite willing to mitigate damages by either revisiting the repair situation or by replacing faulty or malfunctioning parts. Generally speaking, the Law smiles upon this type of resolution.
But…not all complaints can be resolved so easily. They may require some compromise by both parties. Some situations are beyond the control of both providers of services and of parts. Sometimes providers must achieve resolution, first, with a manufacturer or first-party provider. This may take time. Patience often is required. We users must recognize that most providers do not want to hold up their customers–it does their business no good to do so. They will do their best to quickly resolve the situation. In such cases, it often is good for both parties to agree on some time-line for the resolution to take place.
Sometimes, there just is no resolution. What to do in such a case? If the issue does not involve a substantial amount of money or damage, I have found times when I just let it drop. If there is substantial money or damage involved, perhaps more involved measures will be required.
Perhaps communicating with a manufacturer one’s self… Perhaps even obtaining legal advice. But remember: obtaining legal services can be costly.
Try to mitigate damages while pressing for the best outcome.
In the case of a service provider or retailer who just will not cooperate, be sure that you don’t fall into the same situation again. Alert other persons carefully about poor service or faulty parts and so forth. It really doesn’t do much good to defame, although it probably gives us some satisfaction!
Here’s an example which happened to me recently. I sold a used brake fluid reservoir to a customer. I thought that I had reviewed the part sufficiently to have made certain that there were no cracks. I missed one. The customer messaged me that she had discovered a small leak. She wanted to pay for the shipping of a replacement. Well—it wasn’t her problem, was it. It was an error on my part. I immediately produced a replacement and
sent it on its way to the customer with an apology—and NO shipping fee. Apparently there was enough good will generated that the customer immediately ordered more parts from me. My customer was happy—I was happy (and more careful).
- 1. Keep all Purchase Receipts. A VW friend told me recently that he bought a starter with a 3-year warranty. He told me that he carefully filed the receipt so that in case of a failure he will have evidence of his purchase and warranty.
- 2. Keep all Repair Receipts. If there is a question, a receipt often will be the first course of action. An important part of maintaining a History of your VW will be keeping Repair and Purchase Receipts.
- 3. Upon opening a shipment, immediately review each part to be sure that it is complete and undamaged—from either the factory or the provider. Shipping firms and providers often have a time-limit on recourse.
- Example: I received a shipment. As I opened the container, an 8-1/2 X 11 pink sheet with large print greeted me, alerting me to a 48 hour recourse limit for damage to contents, missing items or faulty products. There also was an indication of the procedure for the return of products, etc.
- 4. When you find a good provider of parts and services, refer other vintage car owners to those. Give those businesses good reviews via the InterNet and directly to the businesses.
Create good will and help to strengthen the good reputation of quality businesses.
- Filing Claims with the United States Postal System
If you feel that you have a claim against the US Postal System, please see the following Link for information leading to a successful conclusion. Remember—Package items carefully. Insure packages which might contain valuable items or papers. Include Tracking on those parcels.
For claims with other shipping companies or agencies, do a specific search to learn how to file claims.
The old adage: “A stitch in time saves nine” is a good one to remember when packaging and shipping. I have seen people enter the Post Office carrying such poorly packaged items that I wonder how the package even made it to the facility!
Live smart with your Vintage Volkswagen!