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Jane Writes on Customer Service

It's no secret that customer service is vital to any and all business. Jane gets a bit weary hearing industry writers and journalists harping on the necessity of this all-important business tool, mainly because it all sounds like hype today. Back in that Dick and Jane world of the mid-20th century, all acorss America, from the East coast, through the heartland, and all along the West Coast, customer service dictated that the customer was always right.

Baby boomers learned that lesson on their parents' knees. Our parents expected excellent service--and got it--from every merchant or store they visited. Returns were cheerfully accepted, and replacement products were offered without comment. The overall atmosphere was one of mutual respect. Customers did not try to take advantage of merchants by returning items for frivilous reasons, and merchants did not question customers' intent, beyond wondering why the customer was returning the item.

Somehow, customer service, despite its popularity as a topic in business magazines and newsletters, has fallen by the wayside. Let us tell you a story, dear readers, to illustrate our point.

A few years ago we bought a new car--well, not really new, it was a used car, but it was new to us. We chose a  Volkswagen Beetle. Not turbo charged, much to the children's disappointment. The color was (is) a bright, mustard yellow. In a test drive, we found it handled well, and since our goal was to get into a smaller car (we were driving an Intrepid at the time--a car we dearly miss now), we were persuaded to purchase the 1999 Beetle-- which only had 15,000 miles on it, at the time.

Not a day has gone by that we have not lamented over our poor choice! Not only have we come to realize that we were "taken to the cleaners" by the car dealership which sold us the car--they took advantage of us because of our gender, dear readers, there is no doubt of that! But, we have had more trouble with this car than any other car we've purchased in our 30 years of being a licensed driver.

Jane is not going to go into the mechanical problems, nor will we dwell on the numerous times we had to take this vehicle in for work, all covered (luckily) under warranty, but time-consuming and annoying, nonetheless. We won't even mention the stupidity of the German engineering which prevents us from putting anything but the smallest juice glass in the cup holder. No, we would like to write about the LACK of CUSTOMER SERVICE we have received from Volkswagen.

The dealership promised us an operator's manual, only to feign ignorance when we called a month after purchase to ask where the manual was. "You need to write to Volkswagen and ask for a manual," we were told. The previous owner had not provided the manual when he or she traded the car in and the dealership had better things to do than to serve one of its customers by handling this small issue.

We wrote to Volkswagen. We emailed Volkswagen. We received no reply. BUT, we did receive a newsletter. We did receive an invitation to buy toys for our vehicle. We were encouraged to open a VW account online, where we could get the latest information on all the cars VW makes, to prepare us for our trade-in, when that time came.

As the years went by, the car behaved more and more like a machine possessed. The automatic locking system no longer works. As far as Jane is concerned, the car NEVER got good gas mileage, a fact we were assured of when we bought it. Additionally, last summer when one of the headlights went out, it took four men, one of them an automechanic, two hours of scouring the car, then searching through the operator's manual (did Jane mention that her fiance PURCHASED an operator's manual at an auto parts store?) before they could locate the place the headlight was attached to the car, and then replace it.

<sigh> Jane wishes this story had a happy ending, but it does not. Jane is ready to dump this stupid car. We checked our bill over the weekend and logged into the website noted on it, where it said we could set up and account to pay our bill online...thinking we could also, then, get the payoff amount there.

No such luck. The online account is not for anything more than building yourself a new VW! The website does not offer access to your account anywhere. Jane and her fiance looked and looked for it...it was not there. Jane resorted to using that old-fashioned method of contacting people, the telephone, but...she was merely rewarded with an endless string of punch two for this, hit one for that, and finally, "Call back on Monday."

<sigh> We called back on Monday. By golly, that's today, isn't it, dear reader? Yes, it is. We called. We hit the right buttons, we gave them our account number...three times before they would acknowledge it...and when they asked for the last three digits of our social, we punched it in, and--FINALLY-- we got the payoff amount! Oh the hoops they had us jumping through!

We are done with Volkswagen. We are buying an American car. (picture compliments of http://www.b4usplashcash.ocba.sa.gov.au/car.html -- and we paid LOTS more for ours!) Car_pink2

Jane wants Volkswagen to know that in the burgeoning women's market, automobile purchases are a priority--today's woman is very savvy about purchasing a car. We know what we want, we do our research before stepping a foot into the local dealership. We expect to be treated fairly, and with respect. And, we expect service... on-going service...good service... the kind of service and attention you would give to your Mother.

Volkswagen does not get it. Jane cautions all readers to carefully consider their purchase if they are looking at buying a VW. Owning a VW Beetle has been nothing short of a nightmare for us.

There is NOTHING to like about that!

Comments

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Yvonne DiVita

Ok, I stand corrected. VWs don't suck. To anyone but me, apparently. When I see one, I cringe. I find them offensive...

That said, I am eying the cooper-mini, which reminds me of a funny looking VW. I'm not going to buy one anytime soon, but I'm thinking about it.

It's extremely helpful to have folks chime in (even after three years!). I bow to smarter minds than my own. VWs are okay, but they weren't nice to me and I'm still pi**ed about it.

Frank

I think what Jane means is one of the new beetles :) not one of the old ones ... they are completely diffrent. What I am reading here is nothing but bad luck. I myself work in a vw garage. To say I love the beetles, no. But I dont dislike them, not bad cars, sometimes hard to work on. About that operator's manual, it's not like they have boxes of them filled with it in the garage ... they have to order it. And for something wich is far from important in every car no dealer wil hurry :). It's like buying a bik without it ... you can drive without it to. Besides you can find them on the internet for 2buks. Concerning the light bulb, yes indeed, it's not easy to replace them. But have you looked at the size of the car, you have to put the parts somewhere. Concerning the size of the cupholders ... I went to Paris for a week and indeed, drinks are that small in Europe a normal sized coke is in Europe a large :D, look at the movie supersized ... we realy are the fattest nation :D. For the mechanical problems ... they were all covered under warranty, so what's the problem ???? You had your car fixed for free and you're still complaining :s. The only thing you could complain about is the customer service and that doesnt mean vw sucks ...

Catrine

Hm cranky indeed :p. But I do have to agree with Andries (btw, are you dutch ???), I drove 2 bugs, one in the 70's and one in the mid 80's and never had any problems with them. It was the cheapest ride I could afford then ... one thing I remember of the bug is that it was the only car in the street that started right away when the temp was -5F :). Of course when you buy a car that is at least 20years old for 500$ you have got to be very stupid to think it is problem-free :) (what you buy for that price is a wreck ...). Now I drive a Audi A4 and I'm very happy with it. So saying vw sucks, I must disagree!

Yvonne DiVita

Hmmm...cranky, cranky. Photo looks like a VW to me. And that's the point. I don't care much about the car. I loved my Dodge. I hated my VW...still have bad memories of it. And, if it's shaped like a VW, might as well be one.

Totally disagree on the hybrid car issue. Know folks who drive'em and love'em.

AND, I DID take a 'man' with me when I bought the VW. He was no help at all.

Sorry to burst your bubble but, I stand by my post. Incorrect pic or not, VWs suck.

Andries VandenAbeele

What a load of crap! First of all your photo is wrong! That's a BMW Isetta, not a bug! My family has been driving Volkswagen since 1951 but also American. We have had Chevrolet (pleased), Dodge (pleased), Honda (mispleased), Nissan (mispleaed), Rover (mispleased) and Volkswagen (very pleased). I drive a 68 bug to work and never had any problems even in the winter. I bought the car for 350 dollars at a local garage. The rest of my family drives Audi and Volkswagen and we are all very pleased. I myself am a mechanic and have a trained eye for sorting the good cars out. I even helped my neighbour buy a 66 chevy impala. After a half year of rebuilding it, he now owns a musclecar in great shape. To go to work he drives a Audi 100. It's not about the car ... it's the people you buy the car from. You need to realise one thing ... they're trying to make profit ;). My advice is, when you go buy a car, ask someone to go along with you who knows a lot about them and never take for granted what the salesman says, they're always lying. (my bug was priced at 1100$ and after negociating hard I got it for 350 ;) ).

Oh and never buy a hybrid car ... they're loaded with problems, the parts are far from ecological and when you dont drive in the city they dont help at all.

Greetings Andries VandenAbeele

Jane

I feel your pain! I've been through one car nightmare after another over the last few years, mostly of a sort that no amount of customer service can assuage. So far I'm pleased with my latest car (a 2001 Honda Insight hybrid, found online after much online research), so we'll see how that goes...

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