The Question of the Week: What is the right and just thing to do in this situation?
The dealership sells me a new car that has water damage because of defects in the sunroof drain tube. These things happen. Factories don’t produce perfect products each and every time.
- What should the dealership do?
- What should I expect?
- What should the manufacturer do?
Lemon Law of Virginia
At this time, we don’t know if the car is a lemon. I am gathering information, in case Jeep #4 has repeated problems.
The lemon law of Virginia is good for 18 months after purchase. If after three attempts to fix the problem, the problem returns, the consumer may file a lemon law claim. If the problem is a safety issue, the problem must be fixed the first time. The first step in the process is for the consumer to notify the manufacturer of intent to file a claim (mailing a certified/return receipt letter), and give the manufacturer 15 days to fix the problem. [Again, I guess.]
My main concern is that the car’s defect caused water damage that existed before the sale. This damage reduces the value of the car. If I tried to sell this car, I would be asked if this car has ever had water damage, and I would have to say yes. The value is affected significantly. (How much exactly I don’t know, but certainly this car’s value is much less than one that has not had this problem.)
Customer Service Asks About My Car Buying Experience
Yesterday (day 5 of ownership) I received a boilerplate e-mail from the dealership’s Customer Service department. I wondered why she was not already aware of what was going on, as I had sent at least half a dozen e-mails, probably more if we count them, to the sales manager and general manager. (That is an aside.)
Patience Is a Virtue
I succeeded in practicing patience (for the briefest of periods and with the help of Other Plans) by not responding right away. It is Lent and a Friday, so I had plans to go to church and pray the Stations of the Cross. It also happened to be the First Friday of the month, a day where I go to First Friday Mass and Adoration as a devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. This was a perfect opportunity to stop and put all this in an eternal perspective and to ask for the Peace of Christ to enter me regardless of the outcome.
This was an expensive car. Not the most expensive, not the least, but a pretty penny, for sure, and without question the major purchase of the next decade of my life according to my known budget.
Putting Things Into Perspective
My neighbors help me put this issue into perspective. Marilyn and Leonard are both 80. Leonard has been caring for Marilyn since she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease 20 years ago. I took them some soup and salad on Thursday because Meals on Wheels does not deliver if schools are closed. I was pretty sure, with the bad weather, they would not deliver Friday (yesterday) either. Marilyn’s Parkinson’s is advanced. Leonard describes her as being in the third quarter. When I visited the past two days, her eyes were closed for most of the visit. She was not able to speak to me very much, but she knew I was there. I told her all about my new car drama. When I asked her if she enjoyed hearing my story, she was able to say yes. Yesterday I fed her dinner and said something that made her laugh really hard. They helped me forget about worldly things and re-center my mind and heart on more important things. It is my hope that I was able to lighten their burden, if only ever so briefly.
Ready to Respond
I came home from church last night ready to respond to the e-mail from Customer Service. I began my e-mail by asking for forgiveness. I assumed from day 1 that the dealership would not do the right thing, but now Customer Service has said they do want to resolve this problem.
I requested that the dealership allow me to return the car and void the sale.
…this story is to be continued…
Probe me, God, know my heart; try me, know my thoughts. See if there is a wicked path in me; lead me along an ancient path. — Psalm 139:23–24
Blessed are those who trust in the Lord; the Lord will be their trust. They are like a tree planted beside the waters that stretches out its roots to the stream: It does not fear heat when it comes, its leaves stay green; in the year of drought it shows no distress, but still produces fruit. — Jeremiah 17:7–8