Heima
Posts: 97
Joined: Thu Feb 21, 2019 11:46 pm

Is this a rant? Not intentionally, more like education.

Mon Mar 23, 2020 6:04 pm

One would hope that the Dealer / Manufacturer relationship was symbiotic. Unfortunately it isn't always.
To clear the air, generally speaking, car dealerships are independent of the automobile manufacturer who's vehicles they sell.
Similarly, car makers have little influence on the dealers, except for when a situation escalates.
This gives both parties leniency to do as they see fit, and not until there is a problem do they communicate and learn of their differences.
The dealer is not the authority of the vehicles, the manufacturer is. However, the manufacturer would rather you communicate with the dealer, than with the manufacturer.
This puts the customer in a difficult situation should an out of the ordinary or technical question need to be asked.

The manufacturers make the vehicles and warrant the vehicles are of sound construction and use.
Dealers resell the vehicles from the manufacture under the conditions to display manufacturer emblems and logos, follow manufacture guidelines, provide manufacture marketing material, and service the vehicle using only manufacturer parts.

As you can imagine with these conditions, the dealers will find ways around the constraints to better their situation.

Lets take a look at warranty repair.

The manufacturer determines the best way to service a component and that is according to manufacturer standards and guideline criteria.
The manufacturer performs studies or validations to ensure that the procedure to replace the component is repeatable, of quality, and properly replaces the component in the least time.
The manufacturer uses the time from the validation to determine a labor cost, and the parts consumed for a total cost.
This becomes "By the Book". This is also "Flat Rate"

It is considered that when a dealer's service department performs the procedure to replace the component under warranty, the same steps are followed, the same parts are consumed, and the dealer is reimbursed for the total cost.
Whether the replacement is under warranty or out of warranty, the total cost should be the same. Its just who pays for it. In warranty, the manufacturer, out of warranty, the customer.
Note that sometimes there are discounts or adjusted labor rates, meaning the price out of warranty for the customer is more than in warranty for the dealer, also the parts cost for the customer is more than for the dealer.
This is how the dealer profits more from out of warranty repairs, and how they have some wiggle-room when negotiating out of warranty repairs.

Some dealers think that they should be paid more for the work so that they can cover their overhead and profit, or the manufacturer believes the service technician is fully competent at performing the part replacement.
This is how the customer can get screwed, even in a warranty situation.

As a supposition, consider the replacement of a water pump in an ICE vehicle. Coolant is coming out of the bearing so it is time to get it replaced.
The manufacturer believes that only the water pump needs to be replaced because only it failed. The thermostat is also under warranty, but it has not failed.
The dealer believes that the thermostat should also be replaced, either because they believe it will fail shortly or because they want extra money.
So the manufacturer agrees to the water pump, but not the thermostat. The dealership explains to the customer that the water pump will be covered by warranty, but the thermostat probably needs replacement, and that isn't covered by warranty (at this time).
The customer having only interacted with the dealer, and giving good faith to them, agrees to the additional labor and parts cost to have the thermostat replaced.
So the dealer is compensated by the manufacturer for the warranty repair, but the customer pays out of pocket for the thermostat replacement.
If the dealer is really unethical, they might charge the customer, yet tell the manufacturer the thermostat had also failed, and so needed to be replaced under warranty. The dealer is effectively double billing for the thermostat.

If the customer disagreed and said "Just fix the water pump, I'll wait for the thermostat to fail.", the dealer could comply (they should as I will explain in a moment) or they could refuse to do the water pump replacement at all.
If the customer escalates to the manufacturer because the dealer refuses to do the repair, with enough prodding the manufacturer will contact the dealer and ask why not. The dealer will either tell the truth or lie to the manufacturer.
The manufacture not knowing the full situation will probably tell the customer to go to a different dealer.
If the customer escalates, the manufacturer might not understand the customers frustration.
The manufacturer does have a means of keeping a character score of the dealership, similar to a credit score. When certain levels are attained, the manufacture will take disciplinary action.

If the dealer were to comply to the customer's request to "Just fix the water pump", the customer would be happy. If the thermostat were to fail in the future, whether or not the thermostat was still under warranty, the customer would probably return to the same dealer.
The dealer would get paid in either case. Some dealers are short sighted.

But what about the manufacturer believing the service technician being fully competent?
Maybe that tech is level 1 or level 2, the tech has some experience and knowledge, but is unfamiliar with finesse. The tech can replace the water pump, but in doing so, damages another component, lets say the fan shroud.
Even damaged, the fan shroud will fulfill its purpose, but it doesn't look good.
From the manufacturer's point of view, there was nothing wrong with the fan shroud before the service and though it looks like crap, the fan shroud is still functional.
From the customer's perspective, the tech damaged their car.
From the dealership's point of view, the job was not adequately described, that the instructions should have said to remove the fan shroud before removing the water pump.
The dealership is at fault, but they do not want to correct their error, because there is a cost involved. Dealerships do have a fund for this type of situation, but it is usually reserved for body work.
If the customer raises hell, the dealership will state that they are in contact with the manufacturer and waiting for a response, to placate the customer.
However, the manufacturer knows that it is not necessary to remove the shroud to replace the water pump and butterfingers the tech screwed things up.
The manufacturer will look at the character score of the dealership, if its bad, the manufacturer is likely to tell the dealer that they are not going to reimburse the dealership for this.
If the character score is good, the manufacturer might tell the dealership that they will pay, but the dealership will get a hit to their character score. The dealership will probably not go this route, not for a fan shroud.
The dealership will either try to get the money from the customer, or find another way to get the money from the manufacturer or other customer.

Again, I want to stress that the dealer and all of its employees are not employees of the manufacturer.
The dealer is a separate entity that can interface between you and the manufacturer.
The manufacturer does not want to interact with you directly, and that is a reason there are dealers.
How much the dealer wants to help you or prioritze your issue, is up to the dealer. Money is their driving factor.
The manufacturer will give the dealer a little bit more of clout over the average car buyer, because effectively, the dealer is the manufacturer's customer. Not the guy who just bought a car.

Sorry I carried on like so, its just frustrating to me to see so many people believing that the Ford dealer has any organizational reporting structure to the Ford company, and that the dealer has any authority over the manufacturer.

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