Jeep #4 Report: Dulles Motorcars Revives the BBB Complaint

I would much rather be reading and writing about a Saint of the Day or religious freedom, and more important than that, interior freedom, or why Saint John the Baptist is my favorite saint, but instead, I have a Jeep #4 report.

The last Jeep #4 Report (06-23-15) detailed the interest of the general manager at Dulles Motorcars to meet in person to discuss his “ideas” about resolving “the situation with my Jeep Cherokee.” I was surprised to hear from him after months of no communication. When I asked him to share his ideas in writing, he refused. So I then sent him the following reply on June 23:

I would like to know specifically what Mr Hamid Saghafi and Mr Kevin Saghafi have authorized you to do.
I was clear in my complaints to the State Attorney General’s office and the Better Business Bureau as to the kind of outcomes I was looking for.
  • Will the owners allow me to return the car for a full refund?
  • Are you looking to replace the water-damaged vehicle you sold me with a brand new one with an extended lifetime max warranty?
  • Are you looking to correct the overcharging of fees?
There is no point for me to come to the dealership if we have not already agreed upon a fair resolution. Further, I will not take any action until a consumer protection lawyer familiar with the details of the sale reviews your offer and verifies that the outcome is fair and reasonable.

Dulles Motorcars next move was to reply to my complaint (#10536653) with the Better Business Bureau, which they had ignored since March 27. The dealership stopped responding back in April to my complaints with the State Attorney General’s Office and was probably hoping the BBB would follow suit and auto-close the complaint. If you go to the Dulles Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram page on the BBB Web site, it shows four complaints with the following status:

BBB has not heard back from the consumer as to their satisfaction with the business’s response, or the business addressed the issues within the complaint, but the consumer remains dissatisfied. (4 complaints)

Indeed, I remain dissatisfied. And rightly so.

The latest reply to the BBB was supposedly signed by one of the owners of the dealership (as I had requested that the customer service manager escalate the complaint to the owners). He claims that I have been unresponsive and unreasonable.

Is it unreasonable that a consumer expect to get a new car without water damage at the price confirmed via e-mail? Is that really an unreasonable expectation? Apparently, the owners and staff at Dulles Motorcars think so. Is it unresponsive that I have more than 50 e-mail messages (to and from the dealership) related to the purchase of this car in addition to filing complaints with the manufacturer, the State AG Office, the BBB, and the Federal Trade Commission (see recent FTC actions in the auto marketplace), in addition to putting dealer rater reviews on several consumer Web sites?

I am many things, but no one has ever called me unresponsive or unreasonable.

As Trungpa Rinpoche likes to say “Aren’t we ridiculous?”

Indeed we human beings are ridiculous. That I will readily agree with!

Looking toward the next installment of the Jeep #4 drama:  Mr Saghafi also indicated that he forwarded his letter with my June 23 e-mail above to the Chrysler (FCA) Mid-Atlantic Business Center. In my reply, I asked for contact information so I could follow up with the manufacturer since the dealership no longer wanted to work toward a fair and just resolution. I found Charlie Glymph on LinkedIn; he lists himself as Head of Customer Experience for Chrysler’s Mid-Atlatic Business Center. I can’t find a phone number or e-mail, which I need to confirm that Mr Saghafi did forward his letter and my e-mail for resolution and to which I will add the 50 e-mails and actual timeline of events, the full contents of the AG and BBB complaints, evidence of the dealership’s continued resistance to doing the right thing (dealers take cars back all the time and there was every reason to do so in this case), and my award-winning endurance and persistence!

Interesting Factoid of the Day:  In 2014, the BBB received 1,884,957 inquires about auto dealers / new cars and 24,739 people filed complaints. This industry ranks 9th for inquires and 4th for number of complaints. 88% of complaints were settled. Source: BBB Complaint and Inquiry Statistics


Jeep #4 Report: The Dealership Reaches Out

After an Extended Silence and Much Defiance, the Dealership Reaches Out

I’ve been driving Jeep #4 for more than three months and have now logged more than 3,000 miles. The Virginia State Attorney General’s Office chose to close my complaint (that happened May 1) instead of holding the dealership accountable, but the BBB complaint is still open, I believe, unless they closed it and forgot to tell me. Perhaps the BBB complaint went into Unresolved Limbo, which is what I believe happens when the company chooses not to resolve a consumer’s complaint. It’s been six weeks or more since I’ve heard from anyone.

Then… lo and behold, out of nowhere, last Friday I get an e-mail from the general manager at Dulles Motorcars.

Of course that would happen right after my dad buys me WeatherTech mats and gives me the present on Father’s Day! He held off on buying them for me, because he knew I was trying to return the car and had filed complaints, etc. He kept asking me the status while I remained delusional that the car dealership would do the right thing and take the car back.

Them DigitalFit mats are pricey! But considering the low quality materials car manufacturers are using, especially on interior carpeting, they are much needed, especially for people who tend to get muddy. You should see how thick the carpeting is on my friend’s husband’s 15+ year old Toyota 4Runner, and I’m talking under the floor mats.

Back to the e-mail from the GM, which says this:

I would like to discuss the situation with your Jeep Cherokee . Please let me know when we can meet. I have some ideas that might work for you.  I’ll be here today and tomorrow till 7 or Any day or time next week.

I wrote back that he should feel free to share these “ideas” in writing via e-mail. (I’m suspicious and stubborn like nobody’s business, and I already spelled out acceptable resolutions in my  BBB and AG complaints.)

The GM replied

I have been authorized by ownership to discuss options with you if you are interested. However, we need you here I person to discuss. I’m here all week and my cell is xxx-xxx-xxxx.

After polling family and friends and consulting my intuition, the consensus is that the dealership wants to make a sales pitch and try to get me to trade in #4 and try to profit yet some more. If the “options” were just and fair, they would put it in writing and would have resolved this long ago.

I have to run all this by the consumer protection lawyer who is reviewing The Facts of the Case, and may have to hire her to attend the “meeting,” if I get proof that the “options” are legitimate and fair.

…I thought the story was over, and I was another consumer out of luck, but the drama continues…

(To see all blog posts related to the Jeep #4 drama, go to Categories, on the right, and click the 004a Jeep #4 report link. Or you can go back to Day 1 and read forward.)

Today’s Gospel reading at Mass included The Golden Rule from Matthew 7:

“Do to others whatever you would have them do to you.
This is the Law and the Prophets.

“Enter through the narrow gate;
for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction,
and those who enter through it are many.
How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life.
And those who find it are few.”

Jeep #4 Report: AG’s Office Closes Complaint

The Virginia State Attorney General’s Office sent me a letter to inform me that they are closing my complaint against Dulles Motorcars. The irony of it all is that the reason they cited was the exact same reason I filed the complaint:  an “impasse” between me and the dealership.

The “impasse” was that the dealership [Dulles Motorcars (Jeep)] simply stopped communicating.

I had thought the AG’s office would do more than they did (serve as an additional post office between disputing parties). The Better Business Bureau does the same thing. My hope is that if the AG’s office receives enough complaints, they will act, and join the Federal Trade Commission and other AG offices in states across the country in protecting consumers from deceptive sales practices.

So this recent development leads me to the Question of the Day:  Where are consumers being protected?

It is the job of the office of attorney general to enforce state laws. So Question of the Day 2 and 3 and 4 are as follows:

  • What are Virginia’s laws regarding deceptive and unfair advertising and auto dealer fraud?
  • Are Virginia laws in line with the FTC or do they need to provide greater consumer protection?
  • How many complaints must the Virginia AG’s office receive before taking action against a car dealership? Is it 10 or 20 or 50?

See Virginia Consumer Protection Act

Note:  To see all blog posts related to the Jeep #4 drama, go to Categories, on the right, and click the 004a Jeep #4 report link. Or you can begin with Day 1 and read how it all began.

The slaves of the householder came to him and said, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where have the weeds come from?’

He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ His slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’

He replied, ‘No, if you pull up the weeds you might uproot the wheat along with them.

Let them grow together until harvest; then at harvest time I will say to the harvesters, “First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning; but gather the wheat into my barn.”’ — Matthew 13:27–30

Jeep #4 Report: Status of Complaint w/ State Atty General’s Office

The Virginia Attorney General’s Office received my complaint, assigned it, and forwarded my complaint to the business. Participation in this dispute resolution process is voluntary, so Dulles Motorcars may say “no thanks.” The VAG office has requested a response in 10 business days.

I’ve been thinking about what I will do if that happens. Before I can decide, I need to talk to some lawyers. I have found a law firm that handles consumer protection issues, so I need to discuss the particulars with them to see if I have a case for getting a refund or brand new replacement vehicle. If I do have a case, then, though I do not want to, I think I will move forward with a lawsuit. It is common for law firms to take on consumer protection cases on a contingency basis (meaning little or no money up front, which will influence my decision.) While this is not how I want to spend my time and energy, and not what I signed up for when I was searching for my next 10-year car, this has turned out to be the mission at hand.

Note:  All complaints to the state attorney general’s office are available for public review under the Freedom of Information Act.

Jeep #4 crossed the 500 mile mark and has been christened with sesame seeds from the bun of my Burger King hamburger food product, which I ate in the car last Thursday.