If you can believe it, I just got a call from Chrysler and spent the last half hour or so on the phone talking to a guy named Nate. Apparently, Mayone answers to him and my articles here on Project-JK.com, the thread I started over on JK-Forum.com and all the emails you sent on my behalf compelled him to make this call. While my conversation with him was professional, agreeable and in a surprising way, even somewhat enjoyable, this is what I got out of it.
Long story short, I was told that it’s Chrysler’s policy to have dealerships immediately flag any and all Jeeps that comes in and can be identified as having been modified. Apparently, this scarlet letter is placed on your VIN as a way to help all dealerships know that your Jeep needs to be reviewed prior to having any warranty work performed as the part you are hoping to have fixed or replaced most likely failed due to those modifications. I specifically asked and have confirmed that this would apply to ANY lifted Jeep regardless of height or even if the lift in question was a Mopar kit. Yes, you heard right, even a Mopar kit installed by a dealership is supposed to be flagged.
Having said that, I think it’s clear that many dealerships do not adhere to this policy and the proof of this is, there are many of you out there who have highly modified Jeeps and get warranty work done all the time and without issue. Certainly, I’ve had my own 2007 Rubicon Unlimited serviced under warranty on more than one occasion and without incident and in spite of the fact that it is highly modified. Of course, when I confronted Nate with this point, his answer to me was that he didn’t have an answer and that all our Jeeps should have been flagged. Fortunately, the reality of life is that there are dealerships out there who understand that most of their customers do not come in to have warranty work done but rather, come in to have their oil changed, tires rotated and have routine maintenance performed on a regular basis. These dealerships understand that providing good service is important not only to keep customers coming back but rather, it can help them generate more business through word of mouth recommendations. If every dealership went around flagging every modified Jeep that came in to their doors, that would effectively make it more difficult for them to perform warranty work if and when needed and I can only imagine how that would sit with their loyal customers. Having said all that, the one thing I was able to verify for sure is that the Tuttle Click Jeep in Irvine, CA, is ultimately responsible for the flag I now have on my orange Jeep JK Wrangler Unlimited.
Regarding the matter of why Tuttle Click chose to flag my Jeep, what I can tell you is that Nate confirmed that my customer evaluation was in fact recorded and shared with them. Apparently, this is standard practice and intentionally done as a way to help improve customer service. I was told that a message should have informed me that I was to be recorded but Nate admitted that no information regarding the confidentiality of my call or how it was to be used was provided. When I informed him of how my call was ultimately used to harass and intimidate me, he apologized and let me know that’s not how it was supposed to work but, that he could see how something like this could be twisted in this way. When I asked Nate if it was possible that Tuttle Click flagged my jeep out of retribution for my customer evaluation, he insisted that it was their obligated to flag my Jeep the minute they noticed it was lifted and regardless of the purpose of my visit. In response to this, I reminded him of the highly modified 2007 JK Rubicon Unlimited I have and how I was able to get a new locker and steering box replaced under warranty at another dealership and let him know that no flag that I know of exists over it. And to this, he said that the dealership in question should have flagged it. He even suggested that it was possible unsanctioned under the table dealings might be at play but that standard policy is to flag any modified Jeep and subject it to review prior to doing warranty work. Funny thing is, I don’t doubt it for a second that under the table dealings happen all the time and that dealerships do it to find ways to keep loyal customers happy. The only problem is, I now see they also happen all the time to people like me and just because of an honest evaluation I made that ultimately hurt them. At least, that’s the way looks to me.
So where does this leave me? Well, if you haven’t guessed it already, nowhere. I still have a scarlet letter on my Jeep and one that Chrysler is unwilling to remove. I was told that any future warranty work I might want to have done would be met with a road block that requires a thorough review of the part in question. I was told that aside from anything suspension related, warranty work should be allowed and that would apply to something like my exhaust manifold as well. If the work were to be denied, proof would have to be offered but that I would be at the mercy of their technicians to make the call. As a gesture of good will, Nate did give me his personal number and informed me that I should call him if I had any problems like this again. He let me know that being in the position that he’s in, this isn’t something he would normally do but given the circumstances, would be sure to help me. And, while I’m infinitely grateful for his offer of help, I find that I’m still troubled that it took so much effort to get and I’m also left to wonder if I would have gotten anything at all had I not been in the position that I’m in.
Not that this needs to be reiterated but, I’ll say it once again, if you’re unhappy with the service you received at your dealership, you’re better off just keeping your mouth shut. Again, Chrysler IS NOT your friend here and customer evaluations are NOT kept confidential. Anything you say can and will be used against you by your dealership and that can lead to your Jeep getting flagged. Remember, it is Chrysler’s policy to flag ANY and ALL Jeeps that have been modified regardless of the kit or who installed it. If your Jeep hasn’t been flagged already, don’t give your dealership any reason to give it one. A member of JK-Forum.com suggested that my plight was the result of me stepping on the toes of Tuttle Click and to that, I say he’s probably right. Not that I should care but clearly, when it comes to dealerships, customer satisfaction is not what’s most important but rather, you giving them high praise to Chrysler is. That is, it is if don’t want to lose your warranty anyway.