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Senior Editor, Printing Impressions Magazine

Printers’ Pulse

By Erik Cagle

About Erik

Erik Cagle is senior editor for Printing Impressions magazine. He has reported on the graphics arts industry for 11 years.


One Hyundai Ride Not So Comfortable...

Customer service is a pet peeve of mine, and from time to time I have railed about personal experiences in which CSRs and/or sales folks have dropped the ball. First off, I recognize that CSRs are people too, imperfect beasts no different than myself and prone to missteps. But there are times when a little preparation, some research and a modicum of common sense go a long way toward preventing misunderstandings and nuclear levels of anger.

Case in point: my 2007 Hyundai Accent, which saw its transmission go sour during the holidays. A little was purchased, used, in 2009 with about 15,000 miles logged, from a Toyota dealership. Hyundai loves to tout its coverage, "America's Best Warranty," a 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty. Ordinarily, a transmission repair would be covered under the powertrain warranty; however, the powertrain warranty isn't transferable to second owners.

Unfortunately, at the time I purchased said Hyundai product, the Toyota dealership informed me I would have the balance of both the five-year/60,000-mile bumper-to-bumper and 10/100,000 powertrain warranties. However, the only documentation I was provided at closing was a Carfax report showing mileage remaining on both warranties; if that was my smoking gun for small claims court, surely I'd be dismissed out of hand. So Toyota would not help me, and my local Hyundai dealership informed me that the powertrain was not transferable.

The tranny needed to be replaced. The tally was just under $2,600.

Incensed, I wrote a letter to Hyundai through its Website to chastise the company for not standing behind "America's Best Warranty" on a second owner, hoping the process would be therapeutic. Here it is:

"I am writing to express my profound disappointment in your Accent model. In 2009 I purchased a 2007 Accent with 15,000 miles on it. At about the 70,000-mile mark, I began experiencing transmission problems. Upon contacting my local Hyundai dealership, I was informed that the 100,000-mile powertrain warranty did not extend to second-hand owners. I purchased the vehicle from a Toyota dealership, which had reassured me that the powertrain warranty applied to me. In that sense, my beef lies with Toyota. However, I find it curious that 'America's Best Warranty' does not apply to secondary owners, and that in an age where cars (particularly their transmissions) are built to last, my tranny wouldn't even make it to 75,000 miles, the majority of which is highway mileage. And now, I face the prospect of paying thousands of dollars to replace a bad transmission. Given Hyundai's unwillingness to stand behind its craftsmanship, I will not be purchasing one of your vehicles, or recommending that my friends buy one, anytime soon."

Note the following from this rant:

• Hyundai purchased used, with 15K miles logged.

• My car has more than 70,000 miles currently.

• The car is out of warranty, given its mileage, and the powertrain warranty does not hold carry over to the second owner, which I am.

That was sent on a Friday. Saturday morning, I ordered a remanufactured transmission through my local Hyundai dealership. Two hours later, I received a call from Hyundai.

"I have good news for you, Mr. Cagle. We would like to consider you for a reimbursement," the CSR said, who then instructed me to send a bill for the repair, the bill for the part, along with a copy of my registration. Even though the repair was being done at a local shop as opposed to the dealership, the CSR encouraged me to send it in and the bills would be processed. She made it sound as if a full reimbursement was a fait accompli.

"You said they would consider me. Given what I've told you, is there any reason to believe I wouldn't get refunded?" I asked.

"No, just send it in and we'll process it for you," she replied. It made my day. Hyundai stepped up to the plate and would help me on what would have been a crippling repair bill!

When the work on the car was completed on Wednesday, I sent the requested documents. On Sunday, I received the following e-mail:

"As a subsequent owner the transmission in your Accent had warranty coverage under the New Vehicle Limited Warranty period of five years from the date of first use or 60,000 miles, whichever comes first...As your Accent is outside the warranty period by miles, we will be unable to grant your request for reimbursement for the replacement of the transmission. We apologize for any disappointment this may cause."

Disappointment? The arteries in my neck and head are permanently misshapen, resembling an abused Stretch Armstrong doll. My blood pressure measured in the "livid" range and was rising by the minute.

I felt as if I'd been duped. Clearly, the information I had related in the initial note to Hyundai had already provided the details that would lead to this very conclusion. Why put me through the trouble of sending in documents and getting my hopes up when you know, from the start, that:

• The car was purchased used, killing the powertrain warranty.

• Its current mileage was beyond the New Vehicle Limited Warranty on the mileage side (60,000).
Why on earth would you ask me to submit documents for a reimbursement, knowing these facts ahead of time, unless you were willing to make an exception? That was the logical conclusion I'd reached. I may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer, but I think any reasonable person would reach the same conclusion.

A few more e-mails and calls later, it became apparent that Hyundai was not going to offer any comfort. Perhaps its customer service team is populated with the most unlikely collection of dullards ever assembled. There's no other reason to explain Hyundai's customer service team sending me on a frustrating wild goose chase.

Had they reached out to me following the initial rant, quoted their warranty policies and just apologized that my experience with one of their products was an unpleasant one, I would have grumbled and walked away. But to jerk me around like that and ultimately pull the rug out from under me makes it a particularly egregious experience.

Look, that Hyundai makes inferior products and does not stand by its word is my bitch fest. Your takeaway should be obvious...if a client's beef with you ultimately cannot be remedied, come right out and say as much. Don't pass the buck from sales rep to CSR to billing. Be honest from the start, tell the customer why he/she is SOL, and offer 5 percent off the next order. Or don't offer the future discount. Either way, you shouldn't string the client along if there's no satisfaction to be provided. Stay true to your word. In the end, they'll respect your honesty, even if they don't particularly like it.

As for me, not even a free oil change...

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