Be civilized to your service technician / dealer

I know most of you regulars here on SU are well-behaved, but in case you know someone who is not…

The following was posted in one of our forums. I have taken the liberty of lifting it to the front page because I think it is important to keep the remaining dealers in business and it is especially important to make sure we don’t loose access to the nice people who are qualified to diagnose our vehicles.

I’m a saab tech at a dealership in New York. Been there for 17 years and fixing our beloved car line exclusively for 25 years. I too bleed saab when I get cut. I too drive 3 saabs so I feel the frustration of no parts and no warranty.

What is happening now though is that people are taking out their frustrations toward the dealership and the personnel that are trying to help. I have been trying to help people with the 2010 and 11 cars with out charging. If I can fix it with programming, which is still available by the way, I have been doing it free of charge. Investigating electrical issues, noises and what ever else I can to make sure we are all in the safe vehicle we bought.

But some customers are treating the personnel at the dealership as if it was US that took away the warranty and the parts flow. We are doing what we can to accommodate but lately the anger transferred to us is becoming stressful to say the least. Most people understand that we get paid for what we do, its called flat rate. If we do nothing we make no money. By trying to help these customers we have nobody to submit a claim to so we make no money. How most of you feel if you went to work and made no money for what you do?

Please understand, we are here to help and doing what we can. By belittling the people that have been there for you when you had problems with your car and got you going again you are only adding more stress to a very stressful situation the none of us have any control over. This is not the saab spirit, this is not the saab way. We have always been a small car company, you get to meet the tech working on your car. You might even see him in the store and say hello, does that happen with a large car company(GM)?

Personal service, safety and,respect is something you have always gotten from saab personnel, please now when times are tough we need to stick together and show that same respect to the people that just trying to help.

I think many of us need to vent, but taking it out on the service technicians is counter-productive.

59 thoughts on “Be civilized to your service technician / dealer”

  1. Anyone that bought a 2010 or 2011 and did any research on the car/brand they were buying should have known their was more risk buying a Saab over a Honda or Ford. Many of us (myself included) decided the reward of driving a Saab was worth the risk. The owners of independent Saabs should never blame someone in service for the issues at hand.

    If anyone is to blame, point all fingers at GM, perhaps non-GM franchised dealers can ask customers to vent on the GM Facebook page. I know it won’t bring about change, but often times just the ability to vent in public works for many.

    • There was a known risk buying a Saab, but that risk was more along the lines of resale value if the brand flounders, not losing a warranty and free service plan that was part of your new car purchase. My 2011 makes some pretty radical sqeaking sounds from the trunk area, but I can’t take it to get serviced (probably needs lube or something) because there is no way I’m paying out of pocket for a warranty issue on a brand new car I spent $30,000 on.

      Going into the purchase, the dealer assured me that if anything were to happen I would not be left high and dry, and their parts/service department would take care of my car.

      Rune- if by any chance you work at North Shore Saab, or a dealer nearby, is there any way I can take my car to you for a look at the noises in my trunk? It’s driving me nuts.

      And I agree- it is not the dealer or service department’s fault. They want to help everyone and offer services and parts since it puts food on their tables. We have to stay strong to get through this dark time as a Saab owner.

      • @Eric, I am just a guy somewhere in Sweden. “saabwiz” is the one who wrote the text I quoted. Follow the link at the end of the quote and you may be able to send him a PM through the forum.

      • Re: ”the dealer assured me that if anything were to happen I would not be left high and dry”

        As you appear to have a verbal agreement with the supplying dealer, go & see them about this situation….

      • There were SOME dealers who stated that cancellation of a warranty was not even possible in this country. I believed the same thing, although I did not even bother asking such a question when I bought my 2010. My car has been problem-free after 13 months.

        • AFAICT, statistically speaking very few of us will encounter any warranty issues. For those of you who paid full price, it is of course annoying that warranty is now lost (a fact reflected in recent discounts which also undermines the resale value of our cars).

          If it is of any conciliation to you guys: I paid even more, as cars are generally more expensive in Europe compared to the US. I still have a warranty, but I think I would choose a US priced 9-5 MSRP w/o warranty over my 9-5.

          My chief concern through 2011 was spare parts, and it seems those concerns are now being addressed. (as reported by TimR earlier this week) I have an order in for a minor part (the black plastic that surrounds the side mirror) which I consider to be the litmus test. If they can produce that part, then I suspect we will be OK. (assuming it isn’t a commonly ordered part)

          If we get parts, then hey… I have one heckuva rare car! That kind of tickles me. I wish I could afford another one.

    • I agree with you and we indeed knew that there was risk involved.
      However I have not regretted yet any moment my decision to buy the 9-5 NG.
      My dealer is doing what he can, as always, and if it would come to the worse he will be the last one I would blame.
      I will at that time find a way to ventilate my frustration to the right party of course.

      • I do not regret buying my 2011 93, it is an amazing car and I am totally in love with it. I have 0 buyers remorse about the car itself. Just hope we get taken care of in the end, that’s all 🙂

    • While I understand what you are saying scmit02, I felt and knew of no real additional risk buying a Saab in Aug. 2010. I was very excited and proud of my decision. I had little doubt things would flounder. I was even more confident when the fearless leader, without naming, said on camera at the Geneva Auto show in March 2011 that Saab “is well funded short to mid-term”. We all know what happened in the next couple of weeks. So, not to beat that horse to death.

      I don’t think it’s fair for anybody pre-April 2011 to be condemned for purchasing a Saab. I was trying to spread the word to anybody I knew that was in the market.
      I will continue to support my dealers and hope to be treated respectfully too. I understand the plight of the truly independent Saab only dealers however I would expect the multi-million $$ franchises to cough up a bit or at least meet customers half way as they have future business opportunities with all of us.

    • scmit02 I agree I bought the 2nd 9-5 from dealer back in February 2011..they had only sold 1 9-5 as the 9-5 Aero was priced ..ready $50,000. So when the 9-5’s with a 4 turbos came out they were window stickered ready $40,000. I was fortunate to buy the dealer demo model plus the $1,500 so got it down about 4,000 more off back in Febraury , but it did have some miles.. about me …I am the guy with the family in the article which is still posted on SAAB site. It maybe last SAAB new mag with the 9-4x at the airport. Back in 2011 the “ONLY SAAB” advertising was a billboard that read …NEW SAAB 9-5 with a picutre from the side …and two ads one week on Discovery channel .wow what a marketing strategy..anyways I too kinda figured that money was tight. I suggested the Barret Jackson car shows and auction which is only 3 times a year Arizona…Palm Beach and California..still this would have put the car in front of buyers able to pay $30,000 – $50,000 …not luck …guys the cars price was off about $4,ooo on the 4 turbo base from the start..they should have stickered at $36,0000…why because a Mercedes class and BMW 3 start under $40,000… so many miss steps lead to this warrenty debacle ..which I kinda figured might happen….I did get the 2 warrentied oil changes…worth about $65.00 each..

      If an new owner does emerge the 9-3 is starting to look dated next a Lexus IS 250 …unless the SAAB 9-5 has those LEDs on the light included..something all of the 9-5 should have included..not just the AERO..

  2. Well, at least I got two free oil changes in before the bankruptcy. I did the first one at 6K based off a discussion with the shop manager. As long as parts are available, I can handle paying for the little stuff. However, if my transmission or motor fails within the original warranty period then I’m going to be very upset…but not at the dealership.

  3. It’s not just “counter-productive”…it’s simply wrong, meat-headed, and a thoroughly crappy way to treat people. And it’s definitely NOT the way we would like our fellow SAAB drivers to behave.
    I get upset when I see a SAAB being arrogantly or incompetently driven on the road; this kind of behaviour is even worse. That sort of person should stick to GM products, their corporate culture would be more in tune with such lousy behaviour.

  4. I wouldn’t be and I am not angry with the service dept. but when I was looking to buy my 9-5 in September I was told this in an email which was pivotal in my decision:

    “No one knows how the situation with Saab will continue. That being said, federal laws protect owners when it comes to warranties and no one will be left without recourse to have their Saabs repaired and maintained under factory warranty. At the same time, there is a critical mass of Saabs around the ——– area to the extent that our dealership will continue to offer top-quality service if Saab does, indeed, become dormant from a new car sales perspective”

    OK, so who should I be mad at now? And don’t tell me GM. I’ve bought 3 Saabs from this same salesman over the years, 6 from the same dealership so I trust(ed) him and them. The long time Saab salesman is not retired, btw.

    • We may have had this conversation before, but my memory is wearing thin: What did the dealership tell you when you made them aware of the contents of that e-mail?

      I would say it puts them on the spot. (still doesn’t mean one should fly off the handle though)

      Perhaps they are keeping quiet until the factory’s fate gets decided here in Sweden? I dunno. There seems to be many wheels in motion at the moment and I think we will all know a lot more in a few weeks’ time.

      • The dealership didn’t acknowledge the (in)accuracy of the salesman’s statement, the manager told me that they are meeting with the ownership of the chain of dealers (Elder Automotive Group) to decide what to do with people in the same situation (warrantyless). That was before SCNA’s bankruptcy announcement and they never got back in touch with me about the meeting. I probably, like so many maybe even the dealer, thought SCNA might find a way to contract warranty out to a third party and provide it to the owners but that looks like long shot now. I am taking car in for first service on Monday, I figure I will address it directly then.

        The email does put them on the spot but I don’t know how much legal obligation they’d have. I’m hoping it doesn’t come to that. I honestly would not have purchased the car, especially at a retail price, thinking the factory warranty could be killed. It is a very nice car despite all that but I’m not going to apologize for simply wanting what I paid for and feeling shafted when I think I was mislead. The fire sale of the cars going on now – I understand that, at least those buyers know where they stand up front.

  5. Good editorial Rune. Unfortunately, the people who need to read it probably don’t read SU. 🙁
    My dealer was a Cadillac/Saab dealer, now just Cadillac. I hate both Cadillac and GM, but the people at that dealership are great and I would never treat them with anything but respect.

  6. It behooves everyone to be supportive to the dealers. These folks are keeping the lights on as an act of faith and loyalty to customers, and belief in the product. It is the least we could all do to recognize that, and thank them for being there. At this point no one the Saab business is doing it for the money. I would guess some are hanging onto the hope that somehow the company will survive.

    These are all people with mortgages to pay and families to feed. They are watching, in slow motion, their livelihood disappear. If we can be there for them, and things turn around, they will be there for us.

  7. It’s realy sad that it’s necesary that people form dealers write letters like this.
    People, yes you, SAABdrivers, please be very, very nice to the people of the dealers, exactly how the technican of the delaer in New York asks.
    Think about how you would be treated by other people.To be nice to others will make everything much more pleasant for everyone, including yourself and please don’t forget: WE ARE MANY, WE ARE SAAB!

  8. I think BMW Rider’s entry proves that it’s a case-by-case determination—-whether you should feel nice or nasty toward your dealer. I’d say the overwhelming percentage of dealers feel as vicimized as their customers do. We’re all in this together. We’re both on the same side of wanting Saab to be purchased and start making cars again. But as BMW Rider showed—-some dealers might have been intentionally misleading to make sales. So in cases like that, I can totally understand why a customer would feel cheated and betrayed. Salespeople are agents of the dealer—-it’s disingenuous to say that an individual salesperson is at fault but the dealer isn’t—-if they are working at the dealer and getting paid, they ARE the dealer.

  9. I would just like to state that I was more concerned about my wife’s reaction than anything else when I told her there was no warranty on her car. She actually took it quite well.

  10. I try to support the local dealer, as much as I can. While at times less good (sales and parts), the Saab service rep and techs are quite good, and I don’t mind to pay (a little) extra for parts and labor, as I know they know the car. I feel I need them to help me with my car, who else would do the work with the required knowledge and access to WIS, EPC, TILS…?
    Unfortunately, no Saab indies where I am, so the dealer (now only Alfa) is my only choice and I treat him/the accordingly…. Mutually beneficial, I hope…
    I will drive Saab as long as possible so I need to avail their expertise…

  11. Not to play the poor dealer card, but for many that have bought a new Saab and now are facing an uncertainty of warranty coverage, remember where the dealer is at now too. Most dealers have new stock on their lots that they have paid interest on for the past year and are now also discounting by tens of thousands of dollars of which they will get nothing back on. I understand warranty frustration, but you can’t think the dealer could have done anything different, the dealer is not the manufacturer and the way you feel about being left high and dry is multiplied on the dealers side. You may be out a warranty right now, the dealer is out probably $7000+ on every car they sell right now and if that dealer has only 10 new cars, that’s $70000 plus the interest they’ve paid over the year and most Saab dealers are Saab only and don’t have another brand to absorb that. The main thing I can say to all of this is that we are all in this together, remember, we are many, we are Saab.

  12. I couldn’t get a part at the dealer so I punched the clerk. Now I am in jail and cannot drive my Saab. Just kidding. Please, be nice to your dealer. If they had the part you need, they would install it.

  13. I would support my local dealer if they didn’t try to over charge by 200% on parts. I was told by the service specialist that (1) window roller would cost me $30 and it wasn’t covered under my C.P.O. Limited Bumper-to-Bumper warranty on my ’07 9-5 SC Aero because it was considered a “trim” item (a fastener/retainer). When I tried to argue about it being covered, he tried to bring up SAAB under bankruptcy and that GM was covering them on a case by case basis. The guy behind the parts counter told me they were only around $11 which was consistent with what I found online later. I ordered them for $1.50 each and after shipping i bought 6 (for extra later) for $17. Thankfully there are 2 SAAB specialist repair shops in the area and one is less than 1/2 mile from my office so I only need to go to the dealer for “warranty” items whatever that means now at that dealership. I understand them not wanting to fork out money for something they don’t know they will get reimbursed for but to up-charge by 200% is ridiculous and will definitely keep me from supporting them. It is nice to hear that there are dealerships who are willing to help out their customers.

  14. This is a very helpful post. Over the past few days I have been contemplating all of these various changes that we are facing. I am feeling quite frustrated by the warranty loss. But it’s ironic because when I bought the car I knew the warranty loss might be a possibility. In fact, I traded in my 2007 9-3 on a 2011 knowing that Saab might go under and there would be no warranty. My thinking was that I already had a car without a factory warranty, as it had expired, so why not get a newer car with newer parts that was less likely to have problems. Even so, given my increased monthly payments I wish I had more security, and the free maintenance. I have also been pondering where to take my car for servicing, with my dealer closing. There are several options, thankfully. One of the strongest contenders is a Cadillac Saab dealership. I’m not keen on supporting GM, but in reality, many of the car’s inner workings are GM and most of the remaining dealerships here (incl. the Cadillac Saab place, as well as the well-known Charles River Saab) are part of very large ownership conglomerates with many locations and brands. And, I would rather not have to change service providers twice should another one have to close. In any case, it is not any dealer’s or technician’s fault that GM’s big wigs made the choices they did. They, like us, are dealing with a situation beyond the control of ordinary humans.

  15. My wonderful dealership here in CT sold me my 2010 9-5 Aero in Dec 2010. Three months later I brought the car in for it’s first service and lo and behold they had become a GM dealership. This was well before the current no warranty situation arose. Told me I could have the car serviced at their Kia dealership down the road but that they were no longer a Saab dealer. I recently investigated trading the car in on another make and the dealer said maybe they would give me $18K. Nothing like kicking someone when their down. Needless to say I’m keeping the 9-5 which I really love. Hope this can be resolved.

    • @Angelo V

      Well spotted! Yes, I think you probably can read something into it. Any bidder for the whole will want Saab Parts and Tools. It appears that this deal will allow the Government pretty much to cover the liability regarding the guarantee, eliminate EIB as a stakeholder and, to an extent, exercise some control over who will become the preferred bidder, since they can simply refuse to sell to any party, which they feel does not offer appropriate guarantees about the future of the region. It could be used almost like a veto and would force any prospective bidder to provide something in the fashion of guarantees for development of the region.

      Finally, they may actually be able to sell their interest for a profit. IMHO this seems like a very good move on SweGov’s part.

  16. If only all dealers were like Cambridge SAAB (UK)! Having had no information from my own dealer or their new owners (sorry Martin), the following from Cambridge is probably of interest to UK readers;

    “Then we must confirm that following the collapse of Saab AB, the original manufacturer’s warranty is now ‘null and void’. There is some remote chance that a new buyer for Saab may be found which might suggest that with it the warranty might be restored, but realistically we must advise that the warranty has now disappeared”.

    “Then we are pleased to confirm that the free service offer which was nationally promoted on the new and Approved used cars we and our fellow Saab dealers sold in the period 1st July 2011 up to the date of administration of 28th November 2011 will be honoured by the new Saab Parts UK company and as such the services can be completed in accordance with the original offer, by any Authorsied Saab dealer.”

    • Indeed. I have been hoping that a similar situation might come to pass in North America. Since the assets of SCNA are reportedly much greater than its debts ($75 million in assets vs. $10.5 million in debts), it would only be right if after liquidation of the current SCNA that a fund be set aside to honor Saab’s warranty and service commitments to its customers. It would only have to be for two year’s worth of vehicles, since GM is taking on the pre-2010 warranties, and as we know, sales weren’t that robust in the first place. Saab could even pay GM to take them on. Combined, Saab sold 11,010 vehicles in the US between 2010 and 2011. Add the Canadian figures to that and it’s still not much. Who knows if it will happen (probably not), but my fingers are crossed that something could be worked out.

  17. 2 weeks prior to SAAB bankrupcy filing I bought my 2010 9.5 aero with an exteded 7 year warranty just in case….. I think dealers could reduce signifintly their inventory if they were to offer extended warranty. It does not represent more than $400usd a year.

    • A lot of us have done just that, we have for a warranty coverage to match the new car warranty for 4yrs-80,000kms and are including that as well as a hefty discount. If you look at some of the dealers with $10-14000 off the list price, buying an extended warranty looks pretty cheap considering your discount.

  18. I don’t know for rest of EU, but both manufacturer AND dealer are solidary responsible for carrying out warranty repairs in Slovenia. If manufacturer goes bust, dealer still has obligation to honor warranty claims for the products it sold. I would think that in all EU it is the same, but might be mistaken …

    • that’s a weird setup considering the dealer has no power over the manufacturer (how they spend money and get into trouble) and can do nothing to collect warranty payments. I guess it depends on how warranty is setup, maybe they put per vehicle funds into an account that is drawn on when warranty claims are done, otherwise dealers would be going bankrupt at a higher rate then they are now.

      • As you say, dealer is in “bad” position, however customer is much better protected this way … I suppose at least some dealers might be insured against warranty claims … Our regulations might be an explanation why many technical products with warranty are quite expensive in Slovenia. OTH cars are among cheapest in Europe, especially smaller cars…

  19. I agree with what this service technician or Saab dedicated support is saying. Since this has happened I have been in contact with Just Saab for the last month, even bought another Saab. Key point, they are sticking around, and they treat the customer the way they want to be treated. As for the first post about the retired salesman sorry but there is numerous dealers that shut their doors 21dec and were only there for the profit and when it was not there they lifted and shifted to another brand. So, treat the technicians, parts guys and the sale guy that is still there the way you want to be treated and guess what, they will take care of you

    • My Saab – Buick – Chevrolet – now Subaru dealer here in Lubbock is staying open and is selling “extended warranties” for the unsold new Saabs on their lot. They in fact would be happy to sell the 12 Saabs on their new car lot. Implied is that they plan to service these extended warranties. When I get further details, I will pass them along.

      • That’s the beauty of the extended warranties, they can be serviced anywhere. So we don’t need to worry about GM warranty approval and our customers can be serviced at our location with no hassles.

  20. Henry Rollins of the American punk rock band Black Flag had a great riff during a spoken word tour many years ago about rude people who take out their frustrations against innocent employees – he called them “decorators” – because they decorated the room with their s*hit. He was a riot! But it is telling that there remain people in this world who think they will get better service by screaming at someone. I’ve found that if you go out of your way to be nice and polite with someone, they will bend over backwards to help you. The Saab dealer that services my car gets all of my business because they know what they are doing and they are nice people to work with. I may pay a bit more than going to an indy, but those dealer techs are amazing.

    • Oh well, Henry Rollins isn’t exactly Socrates. If a company does wrong by a customer, who is the customer supposed to express frustration to? The employees of a company are the ones on the front lines, hired by the company to handle customers. If it’s a cell phone provider, cable TV operator, car company, Wal Mart returns desk—-whatever it is—-right or wrong, if a paying customer feels that they are being treated unfairly, they have to deal with—-who they have to deal with. The people in the ivory towers might be more responsible for the mayhem, but they’re unreachable—by design. Does it help your cause to act like a maniac and scream at someone? No. It might even be counter productive. But I think most of the time, when someone has been pushed that hard—-hard enough to erupt—-they’ve given up on the situation and they’re expressing outrage and frustration as a form of self-therapy. If it makes someone feel better, it’s well worth it. The lackey listening to it is being paid to listen to it. I hope Henry Rollins has a 5 hour flight delay, followed by the same Airline losing his luggage—-then charging him to change a ticket to go somewhere else—-then losing his luggage again. I wonder how patient he’ll be and I wonder if he’ll heed his own advice.

  21. @Angelo V. “The lackey listening to it is being paid to listen to it.”
    Nobody at my dealership, not even the guy that washes service customer cars, is a lackey of any sort. Every single person within these walls is an important part of our business. We pay our staff to do a great job and to go above and beyond the customers expectations. I would never expect any of my staff to have to sit and take someone verbally abusing them and if someone chose to go that route then I don’t think they would be a customer of ours for very long. We do our best with absolutely everything, help customers from other provinces find what they are looking for, even when they don’t get it from us and I would never agree that it would be right to take out frustration on a dealers staff even if you have given up and need to feel better by exploding on them. Remember, we are all in this together. The guy or girl on the other side of the desk is probably just as frustrated as you and don’t forget too, the person on the other side of the desk may have in the last year seen a huge reduction in pay or may be doing work share to stay employed, which not every frustrated customer can say the same. There is no REAL justification to take it out on dealer staff that have for years, fought for their customers to provide great service.

    • Jason: Based on your response to my comment, I have a real concern about your own ability to even hear what what customer is saying—or I should say, maybe you’re hearing, but maybe you’re not listening. If you re-read what I have to say—-you’ll discover that if what you say about your dealership is accurate, you have absolutely nothing to worry about, at least as far as I’m concerned or how I would behave there. If you do your best with absolutely everything and go above and beyond, as you say, even with customers from other provinces—your empolyees would never be the victim of my verbal abuse. Treat me good, I’ll treat you better, treat me bad, I’ll treat you worse. My post extended beyond Saab dealers—as I said, re-read it. Next time you’re the victim of a ridiculous policy by a company or horrific service from a company—like I described with the Airline hypothetical—let us know how composed you remain and how chippy you are with the employee of the organization who is screwing you. Much of this discussion (at least my points) were the result of a post by BMW Rider. A dealer did something unethical in that case—-if I’m understanding correctly and if BMW Rider is accurate with what he is saying. It seems as though a Salesperson bent reality and made representations that were false—to close a sale. Some of us aren’t wealthy. Tens of thousands of dollars on a car purchase might happen every 5-10 years—-we really want to get it right when we’re deciding—-and hope for honesty on the part of the dealer—-and the Salesperson is an extension of the dealer—in my world, the Salesperson IS the dealer.

      • I don’t want to beat this to death as I think it is a bigger issue than my single experience but since mine is the basis for some of the posts, all I can tell you is that I cut and pasted that statement verbatim from the email to me from the salesman. Warranty and service availability were obvious concerns I had at the time and that was the response to me, I had it narrowed down to 3 cars, Cadillac CTS coupe, BMW 3 vert, and a Saab 9-5, with the 9-5 priced in the middle, I was open about that and he knew I was shopping but he didn’t pressure me either way. If it would have been my first purchase from him I’d probably have been more diligent in researching his statements but past history with the sales guy and the dealership were always positive. Hopefully there is an equitable resolution but I’m sure they know I’d probably not buy another car from them either way because other than Saab they don’t sell any other brands I am interested in, so other than service work there is no real incentive for them to keep me “happy.”

  22. Well, I certainly don’t have any issue with the service I have received from Perillo Saab in Chicago. They have always performed all of my warranty work on time and satisfactorily until now. My last visit this month required $1,100 worth of work all covered under my exisiting warranty. However, since the bankruptcy they were able to do the work, but I had to pay upfront all repair costs. Needless to say I was not thrilled. Because my 9-5 was produced during the GM era, I was referred to a GM Customer Service phone number. I called them on January 13th and GM is saying they cannot re-imburse me because the warranty service work was not performed at a GM/SAAB dealership. So that’s what it’s feel like when your warranty is held by GM and a bankrupt company, but I don’t blame my SAAB dealer. Just wanted anyone else in a similar situation to beware and be ready to pay upfront. So sad.

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