The “Can Not Duplicate” Conundrum

March 27, 2009
By: Robert Silverman

More and more consumers are calling into the 1-800 LEMON LAW hotline with a problem that “can not be duplicated” by the service department.  Whether it be braking, a sensor light, an alignment issue or a strange noise in the engine, nothing is more frustrating than having a well-intentioned service adviser tell you that they can’t figure out what you are complaining about.

As we have written about in our blog many times before, the automobile manufacturers have been cutting costs across the board as a result of the troubling economy and the service departments have suffered significantly.  Manufacturers have instructed dealerships that they are only paying a certain amount toward a repair, and if the dealer cannot locate the problem within a certain period of time to send the consumer on their way. You will also notice that many of the top-level service representatives have been laid-off, replaced by those who have less experience, and thus require a lesser salary.  In addition, manufacturers are not producing as many parts as they used to, resulting in various components being on back order for long periods of time.

If you find yourself in a situation like the ones described, that does not mean you should not take action.  It is very important that when you are dealing with the dealer, you do the following:

** Make sure you clearly outline your problem or complaint with the service manager and confirm prior to leaving the dealership that your complaint is clearly written on the repair invoice as described.  Do not hesitate to correct it if it is not.

**Upon return, ask to review what had been done to the car, if anything.  Ask if any parts or components are replaced, and make sure these are listed on the repair invoice.

**If they cannot find the problem, ask to take the service adviser or representative on a test drive to try and duplicate it.  If they cannot go for a test ride then, make sure you schedule the next appointment right then and there.

**If the problem is still present because a part needs to be ordered, make sure that is clearly listed on the repair invoice, as well as an estimated time as to when the dealer expects to receive the component.

**If a sensor light is still on, or there is still a noise because the part has not yet been replaced, and the dealer insists that the vehicle is still okay to drive, make sure they write this on the repair invoice.  UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES SHOULD YOU BE DRIVING A CAR WITH A CHECK ENGINE LIGHT ON.

**If they insist they cannot find the problem, take the car to another authorized manufacturer dealership to have a fresh pair of eyes look at the problem. A manufacturers warranty enables a consumer to take their car to ANY authorized manufacturers dealership, regardless of where they purchased the car.

**Finally, please make sure you never leave your repair facility after a repair without an invoice.  These invoices provide much needed information and should be kept in a safe place. Never accept an excuse from the dealer as to why you cannot have a copy (i.e. we are keeping the ticket open, our printer is down, we will mail you one.)  Do not take delivery of your car without it.

This situation should not prevent you from looking into your rights to remedy under State and Federal Laws.  If you feel as though you are being stalled in your repair efforts, please contact us or another consumer attorney to determine if you are entitled to remedy.

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One Response to “The “Can Not Duplicate” Conundrum”

  1. #1 Vikram Talwar says:

    I repeatedly told the service advisor to mention wind noise problem in my new X5 2015 at BMW Morisstown he didn’t
    I wrote an email complaining about the vehicle to BBB and the dealer replied the mail where the BMW mentions me complaining the wind noise in there mail as reply to BBB, now I have a copy from BBB
    It is frustrating that u have been there twice already to the dealer for fixing my new car but they can’t duplicate the complaint
    Once the technician Brian with whom I went for a test drive did acknowledge but later when he came back to workshop he meet up with service director and just refused about his finding
    what a shame ?
    As I bought my 2015 X5 brand new on Feb -05-2015, I have visited the BMW Morristown twice already and now will go to a different authorised dealership to identify the problem of wind noise as we’ll as distortion noise in front cabin near driver door and passenger side

    Kindly advise if anything else needs to be done
    Vikram Talwar

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