Monday, September 26, 2011

Honda Service Center Review - Harrisonburg, VA

The below post is a copy of an email sent to the General Manager, the Service Manager, and a Service Adviser for Harrisonburg Honda located in Harrisonburg, VA.  It detailed a horrible customer service experience that my wife and I had over the course of a few years in dealing with that dealership.  I wanted to share it here so others could be warned to steer clear of that dealership.

I also have listed here the files that were attached to the email as evidence of the experience.

Diagnostic - 09082011.pdf
IMA Warranty - 09202011.pdf
Invoice - 06112009.pdf
Invoice - 09202011.pdf
Invoice - 12282010.pdf
Product Update - ECM Update (Sept 2011).pdf
Warranty Extension - Oxygen Sensors (Sept 2011).pdf


Good Morning Mr. Horne -

This email is to first and foremost inform you of the horrible service that my wife and I have received while having our vehicle serviced at your service center.  This level of service has occurred multiple times in our dealing with your team.  And I have taken notice of other upset customer reviews spread across the internet that directly mention your team.  I must also inform you that I am in no way looking for any type of reimbursement or compensation due to this lack of service.  I simply want for you and Honda to be aware of this terrible service being provided.

I also wish for you to know that I will be, in fact, printing out this message and all corresponding paperwork (attached) to send to American Honda via certified mail.  This way the Honda corporation is also aware of the happenings in your service department.

Around June of 2006 our Civic's engine light came on which prompted us to bring the vehicle in to your service center to have it diagnosed.  At the time the vehicle was still fully covered under warranty.  We were, however, told that if the diagnostic and visual inspection revealed that physical damage due to our negligence was the cause of the error, that my wife and I would be responsible not only for the repairs but also a charge for the diagnostic.

Regardless of the potential charge, we requested the diagnostic ran.  It was revealed that an error code of P2000 came up.  We were told that the catalytic convertor would need to be completely replaced and we would not be charged.  As it was covered under warranty.  We had the convertor replaced on June 11th, 2009.

Roughly a year and a half later the engine light came on again.  This prompted us to again bring the vehicle in to the service center to be diagnosed at a cost of roughly $60 as we were told that we were no longer under warranty.

Much to my surprise, the error code came up as P2000 again.  This time, I was told that I would have to pay for parts and labor for the convertor to be replaced.  Parts alone a little over $1200.

I asked that an emissions test be performed but, I was told that they do not perform that kind of test to confirm or deny if the convertor is actually the problem.  I debated with Doug Meadows, a technical adviser, about the validity of the sensor reading.  Stating that I felt the sensor or computer might be the issue.  I did not feel a newly (1 1/2 years) installed convertor could go bad that quickly.  I was also told there was no warranty on the convertor itself.

I was told to discuss this further with Larry Trainer, your service manager, to see if I could make any special arrangements as I was only 2 weeks over the warranty expiration date on the vehicle.  I was told, after calling him, that he would discount $200 but couldn't do anything else.  And the same story regarding reading sensor output only and no emissions testing.

My wife and I discussed the matter in private and decided that the readings were likely wrong.  At that point I monitored, over the course of another year, the emissions myself.  And also monitored my MPG.  Neither of which indicated a catalytic convertor malfunction.

Imagine my surprise when I received a letter from Honda in September of 2011 indicating an ECM update to improve issues related to... you guessed it... error code P2000.  And that I would reimbursed if I had previously paid to have the catalytic convertor replaced.

I will be, shortly after mailing this to Honda, submitting to be reimbursed for the $60 diagnostic charge.  This leads me to my next experience with your service center staff and their inability to listen to the customer.  Who I believe, in my opinion, they treat as always wrong and never right.

Around September of 2011 the IMA indicator light came on in addition to the engine light.  We decided to avoid your service center by taking the car to an independent mechanic.  They ran their diagnostic (for FREE!) and found that error codes P1600 (malfunctioning IMA) and P1433 (high voltage battery) were the culprits.

We were informed that the high voltage battery had lost it's charge and needed to be replaced.  They told us that special tools were needed to perform this task which only Honda has.  Therefore we were, in lack of a better term, forced to come back to the dealership.

I called in and spoke with a person who referred to themselves as Lloyd or Floyd.  They gave me an estimate of $2,400 for the work to be done and told me they could replace my battery at 9:15am on September 15th, 2011.

I arrived right on time to be told by Doug that they did not order the battery nor have one there at the shop.  I was told that they have to run the diagnostic themselves or they are not allowed to order the battery.  Your service manager, Larry, sitting right behind Doug throughout the entire conversation.

I told Doug that this was not what I was told over the phone.  He proceeded to tell me that Lloyd or Floyd did not work there.  Now at this point, I really don't care who works there or not.  The person who scheduled me is the one who told me.  So this mysterious employee gave me incorrect information regardless.

I asked why the second diagnostic, which I have to pay for, was required.  The answer I was told was that American Honda required it for parts to be ordered.  I informed Doug to go ahead with the software update (remember that ECM update I mentioned earlier?).  I signed to have that update done, though I didn't sign anything stating to do the diagnostic yet.

I then proceeded to go outside and call American Honda.  I was informed over the phone, by a CSR named Tiffany, that the inability to buy parts without a diagnostic is untrue.  She told me that they only require a diagnostic like that in the event warranty work is being requested.

So with that knowledge and a recommendation from her to speak with the Service Manager I went back inside.  I asked to speak with Larry (remember the guy sitting right behind Doug?).  Larry proceeded to inform me, and I quote, "I don't have time to talk to you, I have six orders to finish up. So?".

I informed him I would be more than happy to wait in the waiting area until he "had time".  Around an hour and a half later, Larry came into the waiting area.  He didn't say "Mr. Allen..." or "Sorry for the wait..." or anything remotely close to this.  The words out of his mouth were "So, did you need to still speak with me?" in a very impatient tone.  My response was along the lines of "Yes, but not out here.".

It was at this point that we contacted American Honda on the phone in Larry's office.  He argued with them on the phone regarding a bulletin he received that contradicted the requirements of a diagnostic for parts.  After some time debating I finally gave in and said I just wanted to get this over and to run the diagnostic.

Again the service center never ceases to amaze me as Larry comes back into the office and told me that they had already run it because I approved it.  I am sure if you pull your records you'll see a signature for the ECM update but, not for a the diagnostic.  I argued with him about that too!

I gave up and asked out of curiosity what codes they got.  Yup, P1600 and P1433.  $60 for something I already knew.  So they ordered the battery and rescheduled to come back in on September 20th, 2011 at 9:15am.

I decided before leaving I better inquire about the estimate on the repair.  Since our mysterious scheduler quoted me at $2400.  I was told by Larry and Rick Turner (manager in the parts department) that I was looking at a cost of around $5,000+.  Woah!

So I asked "Well, what are you doing with the spent core?".  And I get a response of "Well, Honda will refurbish it and resell it.".

After much conversing back and forth, and me arguing about giving the core over from the car as it was.  They found that there is a IMA trade-in program from Honda.  You give over your core for the new one and get a discount.  Seems that Floyd or Lloyd was right, because the price tag was back down to $2,400.

I gave great thought when I got home to calling, cancelling the order, and taking my business to Staunton or Winchester to avoid the dealership.  I clinched my teeth and trudged through.  I arrived at the scheduled time and gave over the car for the replacement.

Now, I am sure you are wondering at this point how could this experience get any worse.  Well it does.

After the work was done I received only an invoice of the work performed.  I asked Doug, "Where is the warranty paperwork for the new battery?".  At which point he tried to convince me that the invoice was the warranty.

Nice try!

I told him that he needed to go check and so he went back out into the service area.  At which point he returned with the warranty paper I have attached to this email.

That is the end of my dealings with your service department.  Again, I am not interested in any type of reimbursement or compensation for the awful experience I have had to endure dealing with your service team.

One would only hope that you will find a suitable action for your service department to let them know that behavior such as this is in no shape or form a reflection of good customer service.  This is likely the reason you get an "F" rating from the Better Business Bureau.  You can see for yourself at  I promise to you that your service department will be the sole reason for my not purchasing another Honda.  I will also, by word of mouth and posting of reviews on the web, never encourage anyone to purchase from Honda because of this as well.

I have decided in closing of this email that I would go ahead and post some other customer reviews floating around the web.  Particularly the ones detailing your service department.

Some other reviews:

Nick F wrote:
I had the worst experience at a dealer/shop ever here.  I had just moved to the area, and needed to get a recall performed on my Honda.  I called the dealership(the only place that can do the recall within an hour away) and tell them the problem with the car and that it was the recalled part(ignition switch) that was the problem and i needed the recall performed.
The service writer(i guess this is the name of the position) that dealt with me on the phone immediately questioned if I knew what I was talking about and had a slight attitude.  I immediately informed him of the symptoms and what the symptoms of the recalled part were and that they matched.  He accepted what I told him, but I could tell he didn't have much faith in what I had to say.  I should have knew it was going to be a rough REQUIRED RECALL REPAIR from this point.

I brought the car in as scheduled, dropped it off after hours and wrote a short note saying "RECALL REPAIR, ignition switch" then quickly listed the symptoms and that these were the exact symptoms of the faulty recalled ignition switch.

I get a call the following day saying it was not the ignition switch that was bad, but something else, that happened to cost $500 to fix.  I told them no way, but then they said since it wasnt a recall that was the issue, that I owed a "diagnostic fee" of $40.  I was a little stunned, but I figured they must be right, they are the dealership, so I paid via credit over the phone.  My mistake.

I called back 5 minutes later and said that regardless if they think the problem was the recalled part or not, they needed to do the recall, after all it is a SAFETY recall, and they are required to do it when I specifically request it.  They didn't like me calling back, MISTY SCOTT, the service person I spoke with, was VERY rude, even bitchy at times, and eventually told me "your not getting your money back" and that it wasnt her problem.  I was so pissed.  I called back to speak with a manager and of course I got voice mail.  As I did the next few times I called. Surprise...

I wound up writing a LONG email to the manager and owner of the dealership.. It has now been 2 months and I have yet to get a response from any of them...

So long story short, I was "robbed" and had the worst experience of my life there.  Ecspecially from Misty Scott in the service department.

Hopefully my incident was isolated, otherwise i have no idea how they have any business.
kwikstix wrote:
On 5/2/08, I took my 96 Prelude to Harrisonburg Honda (HH) for service on a minor oil leak, AC problem, and inspection. I had diagnosed the AC problem to be a faulty condenser fan switch, which caused the fan not to run. After about an hour, a service rep at HH called. The tech said the condenser fan did run, and the AC problem was due to low refrigerant. I didn't believe this was the case, because I had observed the fan not running, and had refrigerant level tested by a licensed HVAC tech, and the level was normal. (The car has never needed a refrigerant recharge since I’ve owned it.) I declined service on the AC, but still had the car inspected. Just before lunch, I arrived and paid for service. As I approached my car, I heard it hissing. I went back inside and asked
the Service Manager (Larry) to accompany me. To diagnose the hiss, he called a service tech, who found that pressurized refrigerant was escaping from a hole in the condenser. Larry verbally quoted just over $500 to replace the condenser. I declined the service, told him I would think about it, and left. It occurred to me that there was no mention of the hissing leak or condenser replacement in my service ticket. I drove back to HH and confronted Larry about this. I said the evidence indicated that the hole in the condenser was created while the car was in the care of HH, and asked that the damaged condenser be replaced. He denied liability, and said that I would need to speak with the General Manager (GM), who was not in. I went back to my car and again
heard the hissing and saw moisture on the frame below the condenser, which was not there when I first heard the hissing, indicating the hole had been punctured not long before I first heard the hissing. I met with the GM on 5/6, and was told that the issue would need to be addressed by the owner, who was out of town until 5/11. As of 5/15, I still had not heard anything, so I called, and was told that the owner had been too busy to review my issue, and that it would be several more
days. I let them know I intended to contact the BBB, and they hung up on me. Today is 5/29, and I still have not heard anything from anyone.

1 comment:

  1. I am from Delhi. I have been using a Honda Activa Insured with ICICI Lombard. I had purchased this in January 2012. And its good experience to have it. It has both options like Kick start & Self start. 2 Months ago, I met with an accident, after which my scooter got damaged badly and turned into a total scrap. I thought to claim for insurance from ICICI. I was thinking it would be an easy task to avail the claim but I was totally wrong because their commitments pushed me to file a complaint against them in Consumer Court. Because when I claimed for my Insurance amount they were just committing me wrong every time. When I called to Bank Customer Care they also made me wrong commitment. One of the person was saying that the cheque is dispatched at your residence and one of them was saying that the cash has been transferred to your account but everything was worthless. I was just fed up with their commitment. So I had to go to consumer court. Let’s hope for some help from their side soon.