Watch out: No service, no warranty

Watch out: No service, no warranty

Wendy Knowler’s Watch Out for consumers this week focuses on the harsh consequences of missing a service on your car, and on ShopTalk, she cautions companies on compounding a mistake with bad handling of the fallout.

Car keys
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Listen to the podcast here or read the details below the audio: 

If you don’t have your car serviced when you’re supposed to, you risk having its warranty cancelled, and any service maintenance plan too.

It happens to a lot of people.

Most dealerships will allow you a small leeway, a month perhaps, or a few kilometres, but after that, you pay for your failure to keep track of your servicing responsibility.

I took up a case recently with Mercedes Benz SA after they cancelled the Motor Plan and warranty on a car which was only 19 months old.

The owner bought his Merc CLA two years ago - in October 2018; a demo model.

He thought it was due for a service a year after he’d bought it, in other words, this month, but when he took it in to the dealership, he was told that because it was a January 2018 model, and it had to be serviced at least every 12 months, he should have had it serviced in January this year.

HERE’S HOW IT WORKS - Motor manufacturers stipulate service intervals in terms of time (every 12 months) or mileage (every 15 000km), whichever comes first. So people who do high mileage will need to have their cars services in less than one-year intervals, and those who do low mileage must have their cars serviced at least every 12 months, regardless of their mileage.

That Merc owner says he was not told when he bought the car that it was due back in three months later for a service, and more importantly, he got an SMS from the dealership at the end of August, saying the car was almost due for its annual service.

In fact, it should have been done back in January.

"If the dealership wasn't aware of the fact that the car was overdue for a service how on earth should I know?” he asked.

Good question.

He said the dealership said the car was in perfect condition but Mercedes Benz SA refused to put the plan back in place.

I took up the case with the manufacturer.

Their response: “The terms and conditions of a manufacturer warranty/maintenance plan are provided at the point of sale to afford a customer the opportunity to familiarise themselves with knowledge of the implications of the warranty and maintenance plan.

“The customer is accordingly bound by these terms and conditions, so it’s the responsibility of the owner of the vehicle to familiarise themselves with the terms and conditions of an agreement he/she enters into.

“In spite of the above, our commitment to reinstating our customer’s confidence in our brand remains. In a bid to have this resolved amicably, we are investigating this matter further with the dealer and will be in contact with the customer directly.”

ShopTalk - What not to do when your company has a spectacular fail

The shop in this week’s ShopTalk is a virtual one: Woolies’ website.

And the lesson for people who work in retail is - when the company messes up, do not make up reasons for that, especially not ones which infuriate the customer further.

On Monday, Woolworths ran a fabulous online sale, many products selling for just a quarter of their normal price.

The response, as you can imagine, was huge.

Chandre Prince told me she placed and paid for two orders on Monday night, with delivery, confirmed for Wednesday.

“Some of the items I wanted to buy were out of stock,” she said, “but I managed to "buy" quite a bit of the toiletries on sale.”

But instead of getting her package yesterday, she got a call from a someone at a Woolies store, to say they were out of stock “because staff had bought most of the stuff on Monday".

“He said staff gets preference on sales.”

Two other Woolies’ staffers told Chandre the same thing, she says. How appalling.

Vanessa Bonnage was among the many others who had the same experience. "I spent hours ordering and buying sale items from Woolies’ online store on Monday night, only to be phoned the next morning and told they have no stock as the staff had already bought everything!

“When I asked why they couldn’t get stock from other stores they said they weren’t prepared to do that,” she said.

I have no problem with staff being allowed to buy sale items but I feel strongly that the online orders should have been fulfilled before staff (internal customers is the term used by Woolworths, apparently) were allowed to buy.

“The backlash on various social media platforms is gaining momentum, and I strongly suggest that Woolworths honours all the online orders that were made, including mine.”

Well, that’s not going to happen, sadly.

The official response from Woolworths does not involve staff members snatching all the bargains before external customers could. No surprise there.

It went like this: “We apologise to all customers that have experienced ‘out of stock’ items with their online orders this week.  From time to time the Foods team run clearance promotions with large discounts which creates a huge demand and quick in-store sell through. 

“As a rule we don’t load these promotions online as these products frequently sell out in store before we are able to pick the items and deliver the ‘next day’.

“Unfortunately, this week due to an error on our side, some of the products were accidentally loaded online.   As soon as we realised that this had occurred, the items were removed from the site. 

“Unfortunately a number of customers had already placed orders which we were then unable to fulfil the following day as the stock in-store had sold out.  We are currently in the process of contacting and apologising to these affected customers for their inconvenience.”

Another tip: When you’ve got a bunch of customers bombarding your social media with the same complaint, address them in a Facebook post or pinned tweet. Don’t just carry on, business as usual.

Come out and say “we’ve messed up; we’re sorry, and here’s how we’re going to fix it.”

Not hard!

Also read: Wendy looks at Vodacom cell contracts, shares two personal bugbears

Find more of Wendy's podcasts below.

Get in touch with Wendy via her website or her Facebook page. Please note that Wendy is not able to personally respond to every email she receives. If she is able to take up your case, she will contact you directly. Here are other avenues for you to consider.

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