On 10/6/08, I brought my 89 Dakota to Auffenberg Herrin service dept for diagnosis of problem stalling we had been encountering. We made it quite clear to the service writer that we wished to be contactedwith a diagnosis before any major work was done. The service dept kept the truck for a full week and we contacted the dept several times during that period, reminding the staff of our original request to be contacted before any major work was performed so that we would not be hit with the” $400 surprise”. During the week, Auffenberg staff told us they “couldn’t get to it” they were” covered up” and that “the guy who should work on it was tied up”, which was OK with us as long as our request was honored. At about 11: 13 AM 10/13 we received a call from Auffenberg’s service manager informing us that the radiator had been removed, the engine had been ” torn down” and the resulting bill would be over $300 plus the cost of the faulty part which was discovered to be a throttle positioning sensor ( Chrysler part # 5276012)- totaling around $400.In light of our repeated requests for notification and your staff’s ignoring of our directions, we were, to say the least angry and disappointed at Auffenberg’s lack of concern, a fact which we communicated to your service manager in no uncertain terms, only to be rebuffed by his statement ” You don’t know who you’re talking to, do you” and his assertions that he was a deacon in his church, etc etc. His attitude was terrible, completely without understanding, empathy or any willingness to work toward a mutually agreeable solution. He told us the truck would be ready later that afternoon. Imagine our consternation when the service writer called us back about 4:11PM, and informed us that during a test drive, “the rear end fell out” and the truck was now inoperable. It is not too hard to imagine what we were thinking after our earlier episode. There were NO REAR END PROBLEMS when we drove the truck to Auffenberg. If there were, the prediagnostic test drive(which I authorized) would have revealed it. So here, we are, stuck with a $400 repair bill for work we did not authorize, and an inoperable truck with anew estimated repair cost of $500-1000. Our regular mechanic is willing to testify as to the condition of the truck. It is standard practice for Auffenberg (and all other major dealers in the area) to charge a basic diagnostic fee in the $85-$100 range, and when that threshold has been reached, to contact the customer to determine his /her wishes whether to proceed. Standard practice- even at Auffenberg. However, his was not done at Auffenberg Herrin, despite our repeated requests. The $400 surprise, indeed. On top of that, we now are facing another huge repair bill that should never have happened in the first place. We should not be held liable for work not authorized. The rear end repair is not our responsibility as it spuriously and convenientlyoccurred under Auffenberg’s care after a dispute with their staff that never should have happened if these people had any sense of customer service. I conducted some further research regarding the replacement of the throttle positioning sensor as Auffenberg’s staff informed us that the engine had to be “torn down” , and the radiator removed to diagnose the problem and replace this part. The HaynesRepair Manual for the 1987 -1996Dakota(ISBN 1 56393 214 2 799-1181) outlines the replacement procedure as follows: “Replacement (V6 and V8 engines) 87. Remove the air cleaner assembly 88.Disconnect the negative cable from the battery 89.Disconnect the electrical connector from the throttle position sensor. 90. On V6 and V8 engines, remove the two screws and lift the throttle position sensor off the throttle shaft. 91. Installation is the reverse of the removal procedure.” ( Chapter 6 ,section 6-7) I do not see any reference to an engine tear-down or radiator removal here. In fact, I could have done the job myself in less than one hour Auiffenberg had notified us beforehand as to the nature of the problem as we repeatedly requested.. Max time for this job, according to our mechanic, would be 1/2 hour for a professional mechanic. So it looks to me as if we’re not only dealing with Auffenberg’s staff ignoring our request for notification and presumably proceeding with an unauthorized repair to the tune of approximately $400 and a very convenient “blown rear end” but also an apparent padding of the bill to include unnecessary work. On 10/14/ and 10/15/08 I sent 2 email messages to Jamie Turner, General Manager of Auffenberg, and was able to reach him by telephone around 11AM 10/15/08. He had read my emails and assured me that his corporate service manager, Mr. Martin, was also aware of the problem and would be contacting me later in the day. At approx 2:30 PM, Mr., Martin called me and indicated that he had reviewed the situation with the Herrin Auffenberg staff and it was his judgment that the charges were entirely justified with regard to the replacement of the TPS. When I questioned him about their statements regarding the radiator removal and the engine tear-down by referring to the procedures as outlined in the service manual, Mr. Martin discounted my reference, stated that his service people were entirely correct, and that in addition, “the plenum” had to be taken off which takes time, etc. etc. and therefore the charges were correct. THERE IS NO PLENUM ON THIS TRUCK (per our regular mechanic) . Mr. Martin did not address the fact that Auffenberg had ignored our repeated requests not to proceed without our authorization. With regard to the damage to the rear end and the inoperable state of the vehicle, he offered no assistance at all and claimed no responsibility for the occurrence, as “after all the truck is 20 years old”…He told me the charge would be $310. I paid the bill by check on 10/15/08 . I refused to sign any type of agreement or approval and directly informed the cashier of our displeasure. We contacted our mechanic and arranged to have the vehicle towed to his facility at 305 1/2 Carbon St. Marion, IL 62959. The vehicle remains there. Tom Marion, IllinoisU.S.A.
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