Service Review – Capitol Honda

This is the email I sent to Capitol Honda in response to their badgering me to rate my service experience excellent. I thought I would share it. I already posted it as a review on Yelp.

Perhaps you should not have emailed me.

Having recently moved from Arizona to California, and needing a minor service, as well as obtaining a smog test to register my S2000, I booked an appointment at your dealership. While my car is long out of warranty (and even the extended warranty), in Arizona I had great experience with the two dealers I went to, Dobbs Honda in Tucson, and San Tan Honda in Gilbert.  My experience at Capitol Honda was not so shining.

Going in for a minor service, something I have come to expect to be in the $75 range, I was shocked at the first estimate shown by the service advisor. Still, I needed service so I just signed the form. If I recall, the initial estimate with the smog check was on the order of $275. I can’t say exactly what it was, because I didn’t get to keep a copy of that estimate. I was told to expect the service to be done around 9:30. A little longer than I had become accustomed to, but not an issue. I had also mentioned that the keyless remotes for my Honda factory security system (installed shortly after I bought the car) were non functional, and that I would like the system fixed. I was also told that there would be a 10% discount applied to the total.

About 9:00 while I was waiting in your “lounge” my cell phone rang. It was the service advisor, who was urging me to change transmission fluid, and differential fluid.  I was a little hesitant, but he was insistent. I should point out that since the day I bought my S2000, it had been takes solely to a Honda dealer, and had the recommended service done at every interval.  Additionally, he mentioned that there was some leakage on the battery, and that it would cost $60.00 to clean up. Not quite sure how a little water and baking soda, plus a dab of petroleum jelly and 5 minutes of work justifies $60, but by that time I just wanted to be done with the experience. The service advisor then advised me that the normal troubleshooting of the remotes failed to identify any obvious issues (like dead batteries). If I was interested in the technician diagnosing it, it would be $125 an hour.  I declined that.

At about 11:30 I get the call that the work is done. The total was a little over $580, and numbly I paid.

The real disappointment, and the reason why I will not be returning to your establishment, EVER, is around the security system. The service advisor mentioned that since there was another S2000 in the shop, the technician programmed and verified that those key fobs worked. I was stunned, because he should know that the Honda factory alarm system uses different remotes, that are tied to the central unit, and that while the standard fobs would still lock and unlock the doors, they are not activating and clearing the alarm. The conclusion by your technician and your service advisor was that I just needed new remotes. Oh, and for a mere $307 each, plus a small programming fee, they would be happy to supply them to me. Of course a simple internet search shows that I can buy them for $120 each, and programming them is trivial, so the price quoted, even with the promised 10% discount is a complete rip-off.

As if this wasn’t enough, to find out that Capitol Honda doesn’t have a car wash facility on premise, and that the customer (who just spent close to $600) is given a voucher for a local carwash, I can tell you it was a challenge to not laugh in the service advisors’ face. Additionally, I would like to comment on the “lounge”. I do not expect Honda to have the opulence that you expect in a Lexus dealership, but clearly, Honda doesn’t have standards of what is expected of dealers. In Arizona, the lounges were large, with plenty of comfortable seating, some private work areas, coffee and fresh pastries. In general, they were places you didn’t mind spending a couple of hours at.  Your lounge, is small, uncomfortable, and lacking comfortable seating. It is almost as if you do not want people to wait for service, and to push them to your shuttles or the local businesses.

For these reasons, I can assure you that I will never set foot into your dealership again. Clearly I had become spoiled by dealers in Arizona who felt compelled to offer as good of service as the independent shops, and to compete on price, yet differentiate with amenities. I guess I will be looking for a quality independent shop. Fortunately, the S2000 club tells me of several outstanding local shops who will take as good, or better care of my S2000.

To add the icing on the cake. On Sunday afternoon, I received a phone call from the service advisor to “remind me” to rate him excellent. Bothering me on a weekend is an unforgivable sin.

Auto Dealer Service “Fun”

I have been spoilt. In Arizona, the major dealers all competed with each other to provide awesome customer service. As there was plenty of competition with the independent service shops, many who were excellent, they needed an edge to keep customers coming back.

I had become accustomed to fast internet, good coffee, fresh donuts and pastries, ample “quiet” comfortable chairs, and workstations to focus on doing my real work. I never minded spending a couple hours with them when I needed service.

Of course, here in California, I am in shock. Small, uncomfortable lounge area, bad coffee made by a machine, packaged pastries for free (but a vending machine), and a loud TV blaring gameshows and soap operas in the background.

Add to that prices that are about double for the same service in Arizona, and pushy upsell. I know I have a sports car, and I expect there to be additional service, but fuck me, you are taking advantage of me.

Since my extended warranty is long gone, it is time to find a local independent shop. Fortunately, in the San Jose area, I should be able to find someone who can treat my S2000 right.

Customer support followup – Bose Headphones

Last Thursday, my Bose Quiet Comfort 2 headphones broke. I was bummed, but hey, they were almost 10 years old, so I couldn’t complain about the life. I tweeted about it, and somebody (not Bose) said that I should call their support line, as they often offer smoking prices to exchange your broken headset with a new one.

I figured, why not try.  So I called.

After a very simple IVR, I got to the headphone area, and the agent was on immediately. No on hold music, no pitches while waiting for an agent. I got someone immediately.

He was very helpful. I explained what happened, and was inquiring whether they could repair the set. The answer was no, but I could swap it for the 2 generation newer headphones for << 1/2 the price of a new set. I deliberated for a few seconds, and said why not.

Turns out that I was in the system (the ear cups were crumbling a couple years ago, so I bought a new set from them online). This happened on Friday.

Saturday, I took the prepaid shipper label, and hiked on over to the local UPS store.

Tuesday, I got the email that they had established that I shipped the old ones back, and that they had shipped the new set to me. Since their shipping warehouse is in Tolleson AZ, they arrived on Wednesday.

This AM, Thursday, I have my new headphones, and I am blissfully listening to my music at my desk. Awesome.

The real pluses:

  • The process of navigating their IVR system was easy- peasy. It took like 2 touches of the dial pad to get to the headphones people. Nothing is more annoying than an IVR tree that is 4 or 5 layers deep.
  • Once I got to the headphone department, my call was answered instantly. No on hold music. No on hold sales pitches. A real live person. If you live and die by customer support, be sure to have enough agents to take calls quickly, and don’t try to sell people more stuff while they are waiting.
  • The agent was pleasant and very helpful. I went into the conversation thinking that if there wasn’t a reasonable ($25) repair option, I would just walk away. But he was quite effective at getting me to part with $130 for a new set of better headphones.

Consequently, I will probably continue to be a Bose customer, at least for their noise canceling headphones.

Well done!