I've been out to the Oshkosh, Wisconsin EAA air show this week.
Although I try to go each year - it never ceases to amaze me. What
a fantastic event. Anything and everything that has to do with aviation
at all is represented there. There are fighters, antiques, big jets, small jets,
homebuilt airplanes, custom airplanes, fast ones, slow ones and helicopters.
Plus all of the parts, supplies and electronics manufacturers.
Kept looking for Herb's (HK Trucking) Macks in Appleton, but didn't see him.
It was kind of a strange trip this year -
Last Wednesday we left in a downpour. About 2 miles down the road I looked
back at the camping trailer and noticed the window blinds were blowing around.
Kind of odd since they are inside the trailer. So we stopped. The front window of
the trailer wasn't there anymore! And to make it more interesting - it looked like it
was shot out!! No way a stone or road debris could get to it, and no way we could
have hit anything. So we delayed leaving for a day to fix the window.
Thursday we left - still in the rain - and noticed that the trailer seemed to be pulling
hard. The truck was downshifting from 4th directly to 2nd at any little hill or grade.
(2007 Chevrolet Avalanche) But we went on, thinking it was our error and our
Got about seven hours into a twelve ride and launched the transmission in a
Got it off the Indiana Toll Road at LaGrange, Ind. Found a hotel, and found a fantastic
Chevrolet dealer in Sturgis, Michigan. (Kool Chevrolet)
Got in on Friday morning early, and were told that no parts would be received until Monday.
We explained our situation - and the service people drove to two different area Chevy dealers
to gather the parts. The mechanic offered to stay Friday night as long as it took to get us on the road.
Very nice - and very unusual.
Unfortunately, at 8:00 PM, the truck was started and backed off the lift, only to find that the shifting
could not be controlled. Now definitely no more parts until at least the following Monday.
So we were stuck in Sturgis for the weekend it seemed.
Meanwhile, the service guys put our trailer inside and empty building to protect it, and licked our
truck inside for security - and gave us a car for the duration.
We went to the Kalamazoo Air Zoo museum - really nice.
On Saturday we got the bright idea to rent a car and continue on to Oshkosh.
So we got to see at least three days of the show.
Decided to pick up our truck on Thursday so we would be travelling on a weekday,
just in case we needed another repair along the way.
We didn't, fortunately.
Now for the rest of the story -
Apparently GM has no readily available engine, rear axle or transmission exchange program.
And they have definitely lost sight of the customer.
There is no program in place to get a vehicle back on the road, and nobody cares.
The dealer in this case was fabulous, but his hands were tied by GM warranty policy.
There was one full day lost to diagnosis and parts locating. A second day spent rebuilding the
unit. Then the 2nd problem of shift control reared up. A total of a week was lost.
Meanwhile, we learned from another Chevy dealer that it is common for these repairs to be unsuccessful!!
And our Ford dealer friend tells us that Ford policy is exactly the same!!
All in all, if a transmission could have been shipped from a rebuild center to the dealer,
and the core sent back, we could have been back on the road in 24 hrs. or less. And the dealer
has said that the combined cost of the repairs was on the order of $5,000.00. Way more than a
rebuilt transmission replacement might have cost.
Instead, our vehicle, with just 25,000 miles on the odometer, was down for a week. And no one at GM ever
acknowledged that two good, loyal customers were very inconvenienced - out of a vehicle, out of state.
No wonder they are on the verge of bankruptcy. They deserve it.
They forgot how important the customer is.
To make it worse - we reserved a full size SUV at Enterprise in Goshen, Ind. through the national
reservation system. Upon arriving, we found that the Goshen Enterprise rental location doesn't even have
full size SUV's. We took a Kia Rondo as a last resort. It's a little Korean 4wd SUV.
By the time we got to Chicago, Dennis said to me "I'm trying really hard not to like this car - but
I can't". I felt the same way. It was comfortable, powerful, economical, quiet and roomy.
If that's our competition - GM, Ford and Chrysler have a hell of a long way to go!!
And - I'll bet Kia hasn't forgotten about the customer, either.
We, as a country, complain bitterly that Toyota, Honda, Nissan and the other Japanese imports are
eating our lunch. As I see it - we are giving them our lunch on a silver platter every time we put up with
an inferior product or poor service.
Wake up America!! Wake up while there's still time!