Sand in the Vaseline: The Ed Schmidt Service Experience

For reasons that escape me currently, I took the '03 Passat to Ed Schmidt, the local VW dealer, yesterday for a scheduled oil change, and to have a couple items checked out.  Thinking it would be a short event, I decided to take advantage of the WiFi in the waiting area and work while the car was serviced.  How long can an oil change and a quick diagnostic take?  Over two hours, as it turns out.  Yep, for a scheduled appointment.

Oh, well, as the service dude explaind, the "secondary hood release" dongle needed to be replaced.  He interestingly explained that it was worn.  That's more than hilarious for a variety of reasons. Hint: as far as I can tell, it was missing altogether. Guess who last did work on the car? But I digress.

This morning, I found a pool of oil under the Passat, Dark, dirty oil.  Huh?  Again?  Yeah, this has happened before. And has only happened after an Ed Schmidt oil change. One time, rather than remove the aerodynamics improving belly pan that covers the oil plug, the crack Ed Schmidt mechanic emptied the oil into the belly pan.  Naturally, I'm wondering: did they do that again?

Just after discovering the oil puddle in the garage, a Customer Satisfaction Survey from Ed Schmidt landed in my email.  So, I launched the survey.  All I wanted to do was query about the oil puddle. The genius that designed the VERY LONG survey configured it such that a respondent must answer every single question in order to submit the survey.  All I wanted to do was submit a question. Nope, can't do.

Ah, ha! Instead I'll reply to the survey invitation email. An email sent to rrandall@edschmidt.com should get my question to a living breathing Ed Schmidt employee. Right?

Nope. Email sent in reply to the customer satisfaction survey generates this response:

Delivery has failed to these recipients or distribution lists:
The recipient's e-mail address was not found in the recipient's e-mail system. Microsoft Exchange will not try to redeliver this message for you. Please check the e-mail address and try resending this message, or provide the following diagnostic text to your system administrator.

So, I pulled up Ed Schmidt's web site in search of a contact.  A live chat dialog appeared. A Todd queried as to how he could assist me.  (Immediately, I'm wondering if he has a sister or girl friend named Margo). OK, game on!  I shared with Todd  the fact of the pool of oil on the garage floor and the saga of the bounced customer satisfaction email. Todd promised to have someone contact me.

Amy, Ed Schmidt's Internet Manager, called me a short while later. She promised to have the service manager call me and asked that I forward to her the customer satisfaction survey invite email with the bouncy return address. I did.

Jeff, the SM, called a short while later, and "Sir'd" me a lot. Jeff says, "sir" in a way that implies an effort to put one in his/her proper place (not to be confused with the respectful "sir!" as voiced by military personnel). "Sir, I can't know for certain with out examining the car, but it could be, what we cal a 'messy oil change.' Sometimes the guys fumble the oil filter when removing it and oil gets spilled in nooks and crannies in the engine. You would need to bring the car in, sir, for us to examine it and make sure everything is OK."

So, this is a problem that happens so frequently that Jeff has a name for it?  Not a good sign. This is the fourth time a simple oil change has required a repeat trip to Ed Schmidt to have post-service service performed on the car. If I've experienced problems subsequent to oil changes at Ed Schmidt this often, it suggests major gaps in their quality control.  Rather than name the error, how about instituting processes aimed at eliminating the occurrence of the error?

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