Friday, January 23, 2009

Even the best of us get recalled now and again

It came via snail mail as a pink and white cardstock mailer. The top was perforated for ease in tear-away access and the words "Recall" and "Notice" were featured prominently on the cover.

The gory details were as follows..."On certain (our year) and (our model) vehicles equipped with power windows, the driver and front passenger door glass bolts may loosen and come off, causing the door glass to separate from the window regulator...

...In the worst case, the door glass may separate from the window regulator, bind and shatter during operation of the power windows, causing driver distraction and/or injury."
Okay, glancing at a popular tv actress picking her nose in her sleek 750li bimmer next to you at a traffic signal is distracting.

Realizing you left your chai latte on the roof of your car and watching it kersplash all over the rear window as you pull out of the mini-mall parking lot is distracting.

Refereeing a back seat argument between a 9-year old who knows it all and a 5-year old who is determined not to let the 9-year old dominate the dvd selection is distracting.

Having my window bind and shatter possibly causing serious injury...that's get-your-butt-off-the-factory-floor-and-send-me-a-pink-and-white-recall-notice-in-the-mail serious.

Well, sorta. Since when I first read this recall notice a few months back, the windows in Wifey's car weren't loose, nor were they rattling abnormally.

Until last week when we noticed that we were having to crank Casey and the Sunshine Band up to a 4 on the stereo to hear him tell us that he's our boogie man, our boogie man (that's what I am) due to the rattling windows.

Having replaced far too many car windows in my days (every car I've ever owned had a window smashed in at one time), I was fairly confident that I knew of which bolt the recall was addressing, and it would have been a 15 - 30 minute job at the garage of shade tree mechanics at the end of my driveway.

But how often do you get a free factory service from a major car dealer, all for the minor inconvenience of driving your car 30 miles to get there.

Besides, history has proven that on more than one occasion, my easy fixit jobs turn into major hassles and headaches when it comes to vehicular repair maneuvers - remind me to tell you about the time I had to pull apart the top end of my Nova's motor due to a dropped spark plug wire holder down a pushrod hole - ugh.

I called the dealer, made an appointment with a service dude named Brian, and after doing some research on the dealers website, packed up my laptop to take advantage of their complimentary wifi in their waiting lounge and caught an outbound tailwind out of my small town.

In exchange for the keys to Wifey's car I was given a salaried cheery estimate of a 2-hour wait to have both windows "fixed" and I made my way to the fishbowl service waiting lounge.

Like all waiting lounges in car dealerships, this one had the air of dread and anxious anticipation filling the air.

I decided to lend my happy homemaker hands to help ease the tension by making a fresh pot of coffee in what looked to be a shiny new industrial strength coffee machine. A brief forage through the adjacent cabinets provided me with a pre-measured coffee filter pack, and since the machine was hard-lined into a water filtration unit, all I had to do was hit "start" and we were off.

An uneasy looking set of elderly women made their way over to the beverage section where I was standing vigil over the still brewing coffee pot. One asked me if there was any Splenda around and I had to apologize that I hadn't found any, but there was the pink stuff sitting by the sugar and cream bar.

The other thanked me for "finally" making more coffee, using a tone that smacked of well practiced subtle sarcasm. It was at this point that I realized they thought I was a paid employee of the dreaded dealership where their 4-door sedan was being serviced, to which I quickly corrected the error of their observations.

As we all found our seats in the lounge, several others made their way to the coffee pot and before my styrofoam cup was half empty, the fresh pot was half gone.

I fired up my iBook which found and connected to the dealers open wireless network with ease and I was happily flying around the net cloud without a care in the world.

The peace was interrupted when a service rep (not mine) entered the double doors, drawing the glared attention of several waiting customers. Like a middle manager delivering pink slips, he was greeted with suspicion and ire as he proceeded to tell an old fella that the last place who installed his oil filter had jammed it on and in doing so, stripped the threads, so much so, that their ASE certified dealer mechanics couldn't "get it off using the standard methods."

You could almost feel the tension in the room mount as we collectively all expected the worst reaction from the now "screwed" truck owner. At the same time, the humanity level also seemed to rise as well for as a group we both felt his pain but also were grateful that it wasn't us preparing for a cavity search on our wallets.

My confidence that the factory service recall work being done on my Wife's car would be simple and painless was quickly slipping away, so I packed up my gear and made my way to safer, less tension filled waters -- the outdoor lot.

Filled with shiny vehicles, the new car lot offers the freshness of whole-hog capitalism, combined with the positive feel good emotions that the marketing gurus of car commercials offer up in spades.

Now, this being the economic downturn that it is, there weren't a slew of new car buyers buzzing around the lot on a weekday morning.

Still, a bored-out-of-his-gourd Salesman took the time to find me wandering up and down the aisles and engaged me in conversation.Salesman - You having your car serviced?
Me - Recall work.
Salesman - Really. Which one?
Me - Loose window bolts.
Salesman - That's a weird one.
[lull as we turned a corner]
Salesman - What year is your car?
Me - 2003
Salesman - Whoa, you ready to trade it in for a new one?
Me - A new what?
Salesman - A new model.
He went on to explain to me that folks around here (I'm assuming he meant Oklahoman's) like to trade their cars in every 3-5 years.

I mentioned something about "keeping-up-with-the-Joneses" which he just smiled and enthusiastically said, "exactly!"

Basically, I told him that for a daily driver, I didn't feel the need to trade in a perfectly good car that I fully expect to roll past the 200,000 mark with ease in 10 years, just so I can have a brand new model every few years or so.

Then I told him I grew up in the Depression, seemingly explaining my thrifty ways.

Then I blamed his car company for making such durable, well made cars.

Except for the window bolts, that is.

1 comment:

Jeff Shaw said...

Here here. BTW, I hate cars.