Saturday, September 1, 2012

My car

While I have taken the opportunity to tell this story to many people, I feel it is necessary to share it with the rest of you folks who I haven’t seen in the last few weeks.
On a whim, I decided to go up and volunteer at the 2nd Rev3 preview day. It was a week before Hood to Coast [post(s)] will come, and I thought it would be a nice easy long ride if I were to lead the “C” ride. Let’s just say that my original plan for this ride didn’t work out, and I was grateful that I thought ahead and rushed to the aid station to make sure that the Spin/Second Sole guys didn’t leave before we got there. (As I got there, they were packing up, it was taking that LONG). On the drive home, my car started to act up and with about 4 miles to go, all the dials on my dash dropped to zero, but my car was still working so I kept going. Like an idiot, I got to the exit ramp and didn’t let my car idle, but turned it off to see if it would restart. No was the answer to that question. Now, the problem was that NOTHING on my car was working: no hazard lights, no locks, nothing. I get honked out by more than a few people, and I got out of my car screaming at a few of them. It was not a fun evening!
I opted to have it towed to my apartment because my brother, a bus driver mechanic, yes I have a brother, assured me it was the alternator and was relatively confident he could replace it. Well, when he got to my apartment on Sunday afternoon, he discovered that my alternator is below the engine, in a not so convenient place. After taking off the shield on the bottom of the car, he realized, he just couldn’t get to it. So, we watched some Shark Week and let the battery charge enough to get me the mile down the road to the dealership. We made it down there without much trouble, and my brother gave me a ride to my parents’ house where I would pick up my mother’s car and drive it until my car was fixed… or at least that was the plan.
Around 9 am, I got a call from the dealership rattling off a list of items on my car that merited some significant attention. This particular phone conversation left me in tears as the money I was thinking of spending to go to South Africa would now be enabling my 8 year old car to function. With that said, the car does have nearly 150,000 miles on it, and it really hasn’t been that big a pain. But, here is what bothered me: If it was going to cost so much to repair, mostly in labor, how would it only take less than a day to complete? Questions without answers…
Then, around 4:15pm of the same day, I get another call from the dealership….
Car guy: “Miss Rote, it’s Montrose Ford. We have some bad news.”
Me: “No, you had bad news at 9am this morning.”

Car guy: “Well, we had a tech take your car out for a test drive to make sure everything was working on your car. Shortly into the drive, he heard a squeak and decided to pull into a parking lot to investigate.”

Me: “Okay…”
Car guy: “He got out of the car, leaving the door open and as he looked under the hood, someone hit your car.”

Me: “Huh?”
Car guy: “We are very sorry, but it was other guy’s fault. We are going to need you to come and pick up a rental as it is going to take some time to get the door and panel ordered and on your vehicle.”

Me: “Ok, I will be in at lunch tomorrow.”
When I went to pick up said rental, the rental company tried to give me a compact. For you fellow cyclists, if you ever want a free upgrade, talk about putting your pick and your greasy chain in the back seat, and those guys become much more accommodating about giving you a bigger vehicle…and a bigger vehicle I was given, the ulimate soccer-mom-mobile: a Chrysler Town & Country. The Enterprise guy even put the seats down for me. While the car was definitely well-accommodating for my bike, it was huge, easily 1-2 feet wider and longer than my beloved Escape. I am not going to lie, I did not enjoy this vehicle. I also didn’t like things like, “do you want to pay $20 a day for incident insurance.” “NO! ARE YOU F****** KIDDING ME??!?! I AM NOT PAYING A PENNY FOR A RENTAL THAT I ONLY NEED BECAUSE THEY HAPPENED TO GET MY CAR HIT IN A PARKING LOT!”
On Wednesday, I called the dealership to ask about my car and to inform them that I would be going out of town and to contact my mother if they had any questions. When I called, they informed me that they were still waiting to receive authorization from the insurance company, and that once they get the parts, it’s a 3 day repair. For those of you would have not worked in insurance, let’s break this down for you. The big problem is that the authorization was/is contingent on the guy who hit my vehicle calling his insurance company and starting the claim process. According to the actuaries at my previous place of employment, the likelihood of someone filing a claim reduces almost exponentially with every passing day. To hear that it was now Wednesday and no claim had been filed left me wonder if Spot was destined to be forgotten in the back room of the Montrose Ford body shop(yes, my car’s name is Spot). But, it didn’t bother me too much as I would be in Portland driving a stripped-down version of the soccer-mom-mobile so my car would be sitting regardless of whether I had possession of it or not.
Now, on Friday while in Portland, I received a phone call in the middle of the night, or 5 am Portland time. I was making my way to the elliptical machine in the hotel gym to sweat out some of the beverages I had consumed the night/morning before, and I decided to call them as I warmed up the machine. Once again, a little public service announcement, if you are hit by someone with State Farm insurance, just start banging your head against the wall! I knew this fact a long time ago, but they are infamous for nickel and diming people, and they will drag things out for as long as possible. Here is just a little tid bit of the conversation I had with the agent.
State Farm Agent: “Miss Rote, could you tell how the accident took place?”
Me: “No.”
SF Agent: “It was your Ford Escape that was hit in the Home Depot parking lot on Cleveland-Massillon Road, right”
Me: “Apparently.”
SF Agent: “Ok, were you driving your vehicle when the accident took place?”
Me: “No.”
SF Agent: “Oh, was this Montrose Ford tech Christopher driving your vehicle then?”

Me: “Apparently.”
The questions continued…

SF Agent: “Do you know what garage you would like to have take care of your vehicle?”
Me: “I don’t know, where it is at currently.”
SF Agent: “Oh, okay, they are a preferred garage so that will work.”
Side note: This statement is approaching steering, which is illegal. I have the right to take my car anywhere I please to have it fixed, whether it’s a preferred garage or not.
SF Agent: “Do you need a rental?”
Me: “I have a rental.”
SF Agent: “Oh, your car was still driveable so we are not covering the rental until the car is actually in the garage for repairs.”
Me: “It’s currently sitting in the garage waiting for repairs.”
SF Agent: “Oh, well, we aren’t covering that until it’s authorized then.”

Me: “I am hanging up now.”
I then received a call from my mother who informed me that Montrose Ford had called, asked her for approval to make the body shop repairs. They also said that the guy who hit my car was trying to fight it, trying to deny responsibility for the accident. Of course he is! Thankfully, police reports have been invented, and Montrose Ford was making sure this guy didn’t shirk his responsibilities.

Fast Forward to Tuesday:
On Tuesday, I received a call that my car was ready to go. Because of the Westlake Crit, I didn’t have time to go after work, so I went before work on Wednesday.
After moving half of my stuff, I noticed that the liner my brother took off while trying to fix the car was still in the back of my vehicle. I asked them if it was possible to put it back on, and they said sure, but that they didn’t have a tech in until 8am. I said that it’s fine, I will come back at lunch.

At lunch, I went back to the dealership. I put all of my stuff in my car (including my bike, pump, bike bag), then took a look at my new driver-side door and realized that the keypad was no longer on my vehicle. I don’t know why 1) I didn’t look for it in the morning or 2) I didn’t look at it before moving my stuff, but alas, I hauled all of my stuff back to my soccer-mom-mobile and off I went.
Since I had a group ride that evening, I told them I would come back Thursday morning and pick my Escape up before work.
I picked up my vehicle, and everything seemed to be okay…the keypad was on the car, the liner was on the car. Finally, my car was back in my possession, and I was rid of the soccer-mom-mobile! As I drove to work, I started to notice that the radio didn’t sound quite right. After a little investigation, I realized that the speaker in my driver-side door was not working?!?!? Seriously!!! At lunch, I once again took my vehicle back to the dealership. They had already processed my rental, so I once again got a new rental—this time a Ford Fusion. No, I don’t want the insurance, no, I am not happy, but at least this car fit into the parking spaces at work.
Finally, without drama and hoopla, my car was finally finished Thursday evening. No free oil change, no coupon, no discount on future service, just a “sorry about the whole accident thing.”
In total, my car received nearly $4,500 worth of repairs. It’s a 2005 Ford Escape with nearly 150,000 miles. I can honestly say that I believe that more money was spent on it than it was actually worth, but I am hoping that I can keep it running for another 75,000 miles.

1 comment:

  1. Meaning, your car problem took more than a week to fix? That’s so unbelievable! I feel so sorry for Spot; she’d been through a lot of headaches! Good thing that she’s fine now.