When Taking Your Car in for Warranty Service, You MUST Control the Contents of the Repair Order!

Hello Readers,

Quite some time ago, manufacturers discovered that they can derail lemon law cases by slight twists of language on the repair orders. It works like this: vehicle owner is having transmission problems, and brings it in first time for “hard shifting”, which is what the dealer’s service writer writes down on the repair order. Then, two months later, owner brings car back in again for “hard shifting”. The manufacturers now have a “flag system,” wherein any customer who brings a vehicle in for warranty service for the same problem a second time has their vehicle “flagged” on the computer screen. The purpose of this system is to alert the dealer technicians and service writers that there is the potential of a lemon law claim with this vehicle.

So, the service writer hears “hard shifting” as a complaint; perhaps he writes it down on the repair order because the vehicle has not yet been “flagged”; perhaps the vehicle is already flagged, or gets flagged as he’s entering data into the manufacturer’s online warranty repair system. Either way, the service writer knows, or learns, that this vehicle is a potential lemon law claim. On this visit, or on the next one, he no longer writes down the customer’s complaint as “hard shifting”; instead, he thinks of another way to express it which diverts attention away from the transmission, such as “gas pedal sticking,” or “engine over-rev”, whatever alternative words that the dealer’s service writer chooses instead of “hard shifting”.

The purpose? When the customer goes to file his or her “lemon law” claim after five or six repair attempts for “hard shifting”, he is surprised to discover that he has only two repair orders which mention “hard shifting,” whereas he has five other repair orders that talk about different problems. The manufacturer can then argue that they did not have enough repair attempts for the “hard shifting,” and so can give themselves an unfair advantage in the lemon law claim.

How to you protect against this? You write out your complaints before you go to the dealership (or type them out on a computer), copy them and present your own written description of the problems to the service writer. Insist that they attach your written sheet to the repair order. That way, you ensure that YOUR description of the problem is what appears on the repair order. This leaves no room for the service writer to play any games. Obviously keep copies of everything in its own file, so you have a clear record of what you have handed to the service writer.

I hope this short blog entry is of use to you.

Bob Brennan

Comments are closed.