Warranty Service on my Escape was optimal

Ford has tarnished a really excellent car with "we don't care about the customer" style service.

Okay, so I'm driving a 2013 Ford Escape… the best car I've ever owned. I'm loving the car. But there are a few issues:

  • The adhesive that holds the headliner to the car is loose in spots and sometimes the headliner squeaks. This is a minor issue and not unexpected for a first-model-year car.
  • The navigation system locks up
  • The audio system doesn't remember iPod settings and randomly doesn't allow them to be changed (shuffle, repeat)
  • The Global Open feature doesn't work

None of these issues are deal-breakers. And, given that the 2013 Escape is a brand new model, I'm okay with a few issues.

First try to get the issues resolved

I made a service appointment with Sunnyvale Ford (where I bought the Escape.) I sent an email to the service folks with a list of what I needed fixed. I arranged to rent a car for the day and had a bunch of meetings in the south bay.

But when I got back to the dealer, none… not a single… item had been resolved.


Ford's process

Ford has complex warranty process. The dealer has to open a ticket with Ford for each of the warranty repairs. Ford has to authorize the repair before the dealer starts the repair. And if the item being repaired is not defective, Ford charges the dealer back for the warranty claim.

I understand why Ford has this policy. It keeps the dealers from churning work. It also allows for a feedback loop between the dealers and the Ford engineers so the engineers can figure out where the cars are not assembled correctly and put in-line fixes into the design and manufacturing.

That's all good.

But if a dealer can't turn my car around in a day, that's a serious impact on me.

Worse, if the dealer doesn't tell me that the repair could take many days, then I have done a bunch of pointless scheduling.

Chatting with Ford

I called Ford on my way home from the lack of any repairs at Sunnyvale Ford and asked that they figure out how to schedule a repair such that I am minimally inconvenienced.

The very polite Ford rep opens a case for me and tells me a case manager will call me back within 4 business days.

Tammy the condescending

Four days later, I get a call from Tammy, my case manager from Ford.

She explains to me Ford's process for warranty repairs (see above) in a very condescending manner.

I explain to her that I now understand Ford's warranty process, but that it's Ford's problem that Sunnyvale didn't explain to me that my car might be in the garage for many days for simple repairs and that if Ford has a policy that causes me problems in getting warranty issues resolved that next time I buy a car, I'll be much more likely to go with a manufacturer that puts customer relations ahead of dealer management.

Tammy arranged a rental car and a new service appointment with a dealer that is 15 minutes from my place rather than 1+ hour from my place. She also agreed to pay for a rental car while my car was in for service.

Service at Serramonte Ford

So, I had my service appointment from at Serramonte Ford.

I brought my car in, met with the service rep, walked through the issues, waited 20 minutes for Enterprise to pick me up, 15 minutes doing paperwork with Enterprise, and took my rental car.

2 days later, my Escape repairs were done. Another drive to the dealer, waiting for the Enterprise guys, etc.

What they actually did

So, it took Ford 2 days to:

  • Glue the headliner back to the car
  • Update the software in the Sync system

This is a ridiculously long time to do very little work. The headliner issue should have been and hour with a glue gun.

The issues with the nav locking up and the iPod related stuff in Sync were purely software. I'm glad the 3.6 software upgrade solved the problem. On the other hand, I am very wary of the other software in the car (the ABS software, the engine management software, etc.) because if the other systems in the car are written as poorly as Sync, the failures are a lot more dangerous.

So, 2 days to glue a headliner and do a software update. Ridiculous.

What they didn't do

So, Ford claims that my car was not equipped with the Global Window Open feature.

Why not? I have a Titanium (highest level model) with the 401A option package as well as a bunch of other option packages.

I chatted with Tammy the condescending about the issue. She said, "your car was not equipped with this feature." Me: "Why not? What option package was the feature with?" Tammy: "that's not my job to find that out." Me: "who's job is it?" Tammy: "our cars are manufactured with a list of options and the global open feature was not on the list of the items your car was manufactured with, so it's not a warranty issue and I cannot help you." Me: "Okay, well I'm very grumpy because I have a car with all the options except All Wheel Drive and the Towing Package and I think it's an error that my car was not built with the Global Window Open feature." And on. And on. Tammy using her most politely condescending tone, like she's explaining something to a 3 year old who simply doesn't understand that Ford has its policies and what I'm asking for is beyond the policies.

Current Thinking

The Escape is the best car I've ever owned.

Dealing with Ford is almost as bad as dealing with Honda.

Ford doesn't really care that I'm a happy driver. They have their policies and their metrics. But they don't have the built in drive to see things from the customers' perspective.

What do I expect Ford to do:

  • Tell customers that it will take days to deal with warranty repairs because of Ford's policies and to have a rental car waiting for the customer.
  • When a customer has an issue like, "gee, I thought this feature was in my car" have the Ford rep take responsibility for figuring out what packages the feature was included with rather than putting the burden on the customer to research and prove things.
  • Open the service bulletins so that when I reported locking issues with the Nav and iPod issues, the dealer could have pointed me to the known issues with Sync rather than have me assume the Sync issues were hardware.
  • Open Source the Sync software (like Android) so that the community can fix this absolute piece of donkey vomit. Really, the Sync team should be fired, the software should be open sourced, and Ford should hire a new team that has an Apple/Amazon orientation to making things work for the user.

But my next car may not be a Ford. I may have to pay an extra $20K for a car that has similar performance and luxury to the Escape… but paying the money to Mercedes or Lexus means that I know I will be taken care of if there's anything wrong with the car rather than being shuffled around and condescended to.