Customer Evaluations Can = Dealership Harassment

A few months back, our new Sunburst Orange Jeep JK Wrangler Unlimited X started to experience issues with the ever dreaded death wobble.  And, after going through the standard checks of making sure that the track bar bolts were tightened to the proper torque specs, the mounts and bushings were in good shape and all of them coming up clean, I decided to give other things a look like the ball joints.  Sure enough, even though our Jeep at the time was only several months old and only had about 7,500 miles on the odometer, a quick inspection revealed that the ball joints may in fact be toast.  Needless to say, I thought it might be a good idea to get a second opinion at a local dealership called Tuttle Click Jeep in Irvine, CA and with any luck, maybe get them replaced under warranty.

Now, I should point out ahead of time that I chose to go to Tuttle Click Jeep as they came recommended by a friend who said they were really friendly towards modified Jeeps.  And, being that I’ve had things warranted like a steering box and even a rear locker replaced under warranty and on a built up Jeep at Orange Coast Jeep in the past, I figured that a pair of ball joints wouldn’t even be enough to raise an eyebrow.  How little did I know that this particular dealership would give me the grief that they ultimately did.

After dropping off my Jeep, I was told that I would receive a phone call that afternoon to let me know what’s going on.  And, much to my disappointment, the day came and went without a call and being that I was busy with work, I never got around to calling them before their service department closed.  Needless to say, I was without a vehicle that evening which was annoying but, what are you going to do.  The next morning, I still don’t get a call and so I call them and I’m promptly told that the ball joints are in fact bad but that they will not replace them under warranty.  When I asked why, I am told that it’s because my Jeep has been modified with a suspension lift.  I in turn explain that there are countless people with JK’s that have had ball joints fail prematurely and with lift kits installed and have had them replaced without any issue but, as you can imagine, this results in nothing.

Frustrated, I decide to call up the Chrysler complaint line and see if I can get them to assist me.  After explaining the situation at hand to the Chrysler rep, I get put on hold and he calls up Tuttle Click Jeep to find out what their story is.  After a few minutes, the rep explains to me that the service manager at Tuttle Click Jeep will not replace the ball joints under warranty because I “did not have a heavy duty steering stabilizer installed” and that caused them to go bad.  Yup, you heard it right – the Jeep JK Wrangler experts in the service department at Tuttle Click Jeep was actually blaming the premature failure of my ball joints on a steering dampener that technically doesn’t even need to be installed.  As calmly as possible, I try to inquire about how this would cause my ball joints to fail but no reason is given other than the fact that it was decided that Tuttle Click Jeep would not be willing to help me.  I explain to the Chrysler rep how I’ve had other more expensive parts replaced in the past and without any issues on my other Jeep JK Wrangler and he explained how each dealership is independently owned and operated and that it might be a good idea to try another one instead.  I in turn let the Chrysler rep know that I may just do that but wanted to make sure he knew how annoyed I was with the situation and how I was told that I would get a call back but never did and how it took me calling Tuttle Click the next day to get any news at all.  At that point, the Chrysler rep informs me that while not getting my ball joints didn’t amount to a legitimate complaint, the fact that I never got a call back was and if I wanted, he could file that as a formal complaint and so, I agreed to have him do as much.  He explained that a filed complaint helps them to encourage better customer service from their dealerships and that my voice would be heard.  After getting a ride back to Tuttle Click Jeep, I picked up my Jeep without incident, talked to my service advisor briefly who was very apologetic about the whole thing and decide to just replace the ball joints myself.  Being that they’re cheap and easy to swap out, I kick myself for even bothering to take my Jeep to this dealership in the first place.

Fast forward to almost five months later to the day, I made the mistake of taking my same Sunburst Orange Jeep JK Wrangler Unlimited X back to Tuttle Click Jeep to have a pair of factory fog lights I recently installed turned on and, while there, have the exhaust manifold looked as as it recently started to make some noise that sounds a lot like an exhaust leak.  As I started to explain to the service advisor what I’d like to have them do, he gets interrupted by a phone call from someone who proceeds to ask him a series of questions about me and why I was there.  After the service advisor gets off the phone, he starts to interrogate me as to why I gave them a “zero” the last time I was there.  Unsure of what he means, I ask him to clarify his question and he explains that I gave them a negative review and wanted to know why.  He further explains that Tuttle Click Jeep does not warranty any suspension components on a modified Jeep and that’s when I ask him who called him and why was he now harassing me.  He informs me that it was his service manager and so, being that this guy apparently was too much of a coward to come out and harass me in person, I ask to see him.

After being lead to his office, the service manager comes out, says hello and I ask him what his problem is.  I ask if he would prefer that I go to another dealership and he responds by saying no, he’s more than happy to service anything on my Jeep but will not warranty anything suspension related.  I say fine, I’m not there for my suspension and that if he wanted to get technical on me, the last time I was there, I was looking to have a “STEERING” component warranted.  After rolling his eyes and not having any response to that, I then ask him if it’s the policy of Tuttle Click Jeep to tag certain customers and harass them in the manner that he was and he responds by saying, no, he just happened to recognize my Jeep and wanted to know why I “dinked” them.  He explains that I caused them financial hardship and I let him know that while I did agree to have a formal complaint filed against them, I was unaware that this would “dink” them and for what it was worth, I had no idea of what that really meant.  Annoyed, he informs me that he knows who I am and that I know exactly what I did (let me just say for the record that this is the first time Project-JK has ever come into the conversation) and that he had me on tape to prove as much.  Surprised by this claim, I ask to hear this so called tape but, as I suspected, no such tape exists.  And, that’s when it all hits me… why should I even care?  Last I checked, I was the customer here and my well being was supposed to be their responsibility and concern and NOT the other way around.

As it was explained to me by Chrysler, the point of having a customer complaint line is to help them encourage good customer service.  They do this through the “Five Star” rating they give to exceptional dealerships and as I have come to find out, penalize those who do not perform to the standards that Chrysler hopes to have.  Of course, the last thing I expected from my call to Chrysler was to get red flagged by the service manager at Tuttle Click Jeep and be harassed for an honest evaluation I gave regarding their service.  Again, I WAS NOT able to “dink” them or give them a “zero” for them not replacing my ball joints under warranty but, them not returning my call as promised was a legitimate enough of a complaint and one that apparently resulted in real consequences.  However, had I known that my honest evaluation of Tuttle Click Jeep’s customer service would have resulted in the subsequent service that I received today, I hate to say that I may not have said anything at all and that’s a real shame.

I know that there are other Jeep owners out there who have told me that they received great service from Tuttle Click Jeep in the past and for whatever it’s worth, who am I to say that they didn’t.  My only point in writing this article is to share my personal experiences with them and to let you know that your customer evaluations are shared with your dealership.  Of course, if you “dink” them or give them anything less than a stellar review, you may find yourself wanting to find a new dealership to get your Jeep worked on.

23 Comments

  1. Thanks for that writeup. It’s great to know that Chrysler is paying attention. My dealership sucks but I stupidly bought a service plan through them and take full advantage of the “free” maintenance, but they’re so damn slow I’m now going to tell them I have the customer complaint line on speed dial; maybe that will light a fire under their collective asses.

  2. Ima, they may be paying attention but apparently, so are the dealerships that you complain about. Just be careful what you say as your dealership may use that information to harass and work against you. At least, that’s what happend to me.

  3. Interesting. I bought my JK over the internet and Tuttle Click was the dealer where I had to pick up my JK. They of course tried to sell me a extended wwarranty but since I live over 100 miles away, it would have been silly to buy it. After reading you post, I am certainly glad it was not practical for me to get the waranty. Because of their attitude, I am removing the license plate frame because I do not wasnt to give them free advertising. Small thing I know, but every little bit helps.

  4. I am not familiar with that dealership, I live in VA but I too am experiencing the exact problem. I bought the jeep brand new 09 JK stock, I had lift kit put on, by a friend who is a mechanic and got in the jeep, I have the death wobble, the jeep at times is all over the road, the guy that installed it said it may have a setting on it that the dealer now needs to reset? I called the dealership, they said I could bring it in but “to let you know up front any problems caused by modifications will void your warrenty” Really, the jeep is only 6 mos old, brand new, I made appt but had to cancel havent taken it in yet but now Im very discouraged, I dont think they are going to fix this… hmmm this sucks, I have sunk from purchase to upgrades 33 thousand dollars into this jeep.

  5. Good for you! If a company wants to treat its customers bad, then everyone should know it and let the consequences of commerce ensure.

  6. Greetings Eddie,

    My first experience with this same stealership – unfortunately, the closest one to where I live – resulted in me having to write a complaint letter to Chrysler. And, as you know, my JK is pretty much totally stock. Nothing came about from my email complaint to Chrysler or to the letter I subsequently mailed, but after three trips to the stealership to have my complaint resolved, I guess they believed me when I told them that I wasn’t just going to go away.

    I was there again today for just maintenance, and again they told a lie and the customer service was negligible.

    There are four major dealerships now out of business in that auto center. The loss which accompanies that is unfortunate, but when any business starts treating their customers with total disregard, they’re not going to be around long in today’s economy. And they don’t deserve to be. Sadly, it’s the corporate greedy glad-hands who’ve caused this shift. And perhaps Lee Iococca was F.U.S. when he said: “The thing that lies at the foundation of positive change, the way I see it, is service to a fellow human being”. Or perhaps that is why he left the car business.

    If you think you have problems with these lot lizards, imagine dealing with them in my (dress) shoes. *sigh*

  7. Kelly, If you don’t mind a long drive, the dealer in Aberdeen, md has been nothing but a good expiriance for me, and they are knowledgeable about and even install lifts on their brand new Wranglers.
    I had a terrible expiriance at a dealership in Waldorf, MD. Unfourtunately this is where I bought my JK. I later learned of the dealership that I currently go to in Aberdeen, MD. It’s a night and day difference. The one I go to now has excellent service, it makes me wish I had bought my JK there. They even service my girlfriends Mazda (they are a Jeep only dealer), when Jiffy Lube or any other quicklube won’t even touch it (and for a better price than the closest Mazda dealer). Now my girl wants to buy a Jeep from them. This is why I think that how a dealer serves it’s customer’s is critical to it’s success.

  8. I’m sorry to hear about the trouble with the dealership, but I do think you did the right thing by posting your story on your website.

    Somewhat relatedly, does this mean there’s going to be a ball joint write-up coming in the future? 🙂

  9. Tracie, I can only imagine how they would treat someone with a dress on especially after my last experience with them. Unfortunately, there really aren’t too many places we can go here in the south OC but I won’t be going back to this place ever again. If you’re willing to make the drive, I’ve actually had decent service from Orange Coast Jeep in the past and I might recommend you give them a try next time. I know it’s a drive but, I’ve also heard that Jack Powell in Escondido is good as well.

    isuadam, I was in a hurry to get the ball joints on and so, I wasn’t able to take good pics of the swap. I can try and piece something together anyway or, do another swap just for a write-up in the future. It really isn’t too hard to do and it will save you a lot of grief.

  10. Well, if you can believe it, I just did a google search for “tuttle click jeep” and this article already shows up on page 2:

    Tuttle Click Jeep

    Of course, I just posted this yesterday afternoon. With any luck, it’ll keep moving on up and get on page 1 for other Jeep owners who might be interested in using this dealership to see.

  11. What is this magic phone number to Chrysler you people have? Sounds like it could be a good tool.

  12. I had a bad time with Tuttle Click in Irvine as well when I bought my 07 JK there that has a little irony to your story. Purchased it through the Costco auto plan and had the dealer Costco rep pull the jeep I had picked out aside for me to get down there later that day (which was an awesome deal, and the perfect setup I wanted to build on). By the time I got down there the dealer rep couldn’t find the jeep because the sales manager had pulled it in the shop with the tires off, BD spacer lift kit and 20inch rims on the floor and slapping the plastic factory side steps on.. After a lot of crap and the sales manger blowing a cigarette smoke in my face back in the shop I got them to stop the lift but since there were two nuts on the running boards they wouldn’t take them off and stuck on $250 accessory price to my Costco quoted price. I still got the jeep but the experience was terrible.. They want to put on the lift kits in house yet the don’t want to satisfy your warranty on a raised jeep, sounds like the theme of this dealership take $$$ from their customers. And their management team has some serious issues Dealership complaints, Chrysler complaints got no place so went to better business bureau (bbb.la.org) and put in a complaint, I didn’t get anything out of it but hopefully a new buyer would get a heads up… and if I dropped there “rating” any I’m glad.

  13. I purchased both of my JK’s at Tuttle Click Irvine and despise their customer service. They are extremely unprofessional in my opinion.

  14. The dealership that has serviced my JK has treated me in the same manner. After several complaints and I wouldn’t go away, we worked things out.

  15. Well, Eddie…you’re a very intelligent guy. It sounds like you did and said all the right things. I’m glad that they got “dinked”…not really by you, but because they did it to themselves. In fact, I would call that Customer Service dude right back and let him know how much worse the service was THIS time. And then i would make it clear that i would not be taking my jeep back to them even if it required a little bit farther driving distance to the next dealership.

  16. This leads me into a greater debate. I own a JK with the limited lifetime power train warranty. I have been eyeing suspension lifts for a while but haven’t pulled the trigger due to stories like this. It seems dealerships are going out of their way to not honor the warranty. Eddie, from your experience and knowledge, is it safe to say modifications to the suspension will void the warranty? From talking to dealerships around here, they seem to agree with that statement unless I purchase it from Jeep and have their techs install it.

    Thanks!

  17. I have a 2007 Rubicon & have been told since 2007 that I lifted it and good luck we can’t fix it. SO, SO, SO many times. It is the saddest thing about the Jeep. I hate going to the Dealer(Fresno Jeep) I have even driven to LA area to have work done under warranty. It is a shame. This will be my last new Jeep.

  18. I know what your going through. I went through the same BS cause I have a lift on my JK. Here’s the link to the story:

    edmontonjeep.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=9075

    Extended warranties are a joke,don’t get sucked in. They make so much $$ off it.

    You would think they would be quicker to react as this is very bad publicity for them considering the number of people that have viewed the topic.

  19. Good article. We should start a thread, (and maybe there already is one, I just can’t view the forum on my work computer), confirming good experiences with dealers. More or less, to help the dealers that help us. If Mopar sells 2-4 inch lift kits to be installed on their Jeeps, then they should be able to warranty the vehicles that they are installed on, (within reason of course). I know that may create a ‘grey’ area, but on issues like the ball joints which seem to be an issue on even mildly modified Jeeps, there should be no question on them being covered. I personally feel that Jeep should be installing braces for the C-sections on the front axles. Even with 33’s my front end is starting to “smile? at me when I look at it. I guess I can understand a little with the Dana 30, but Rubi’s are having these issues also, that’s ridiculous.

    But, back on subject, we should take care of the dealers nationwide who take care of us. Recently I brought my Jeep into Jim Riehl’s Friendly Chrysler Dodge Jeep in Lapeer, MI. Best off, I brought it in there while on vacation from St. Louis. I had a leaky transmission line, granted not much to do with the modifications, but likewise; they looked at the Jeep, complimented me on the modifications and how it looked. Then they ordered the parts and covered it under warranty, no questions asked, that week before I left. It’s nice to get that help. A lot of Jeep owners follow this site, and with dealers on board, we can build relationships and help us and them out.

  20. Thanks for the write up and getting this out there.

    The only real regret I have in trading my WJ for my JK is the dealer I bought it from (Ken Garff West Valley) in Salt Lake City. Though the staff has been friendly every time I’ve been in there, they have been extremely unhelpful in every regard. I too have experienced the 2+ days without a phone call to tell me what was going on. I have had to find rides to and from the dealer (about 45 miles from my house) just to attempt simple warranty work only to be told that what I need won’t be covered by warranty. I didn’t even get a simple apology from the dealer when after my first oil change (free w purchase) someone forgot to tighten the oil filter and the Jeep developed a nasty oil leak.

    I emailed Chrysler and actually had a representative call me a couple days later to ask me about my experience. I give Chrysler props for doing that. After addressing several of my complaints, I too filed the formal complaint against the dealership. The next day I received a call from the general manager and later the service manager, but both seemed accusatory towards me in “going behind their backs” straight to Chrysler. I tried to address the problem in the dealership, but couldn’t get anywhere.

    I too now feel flagged at that dealer (especially after the steering box, dash rattles and oil leaks, etc. I’ve had to have them replace and fix). Ken Garff is a chain of 19 dealers throughout Utah selling pretty much any brand out there. I know I will never buy another vehicle from them and will never recommend them to anyone. If filing a complaint through Chrysler does anything to turn their attitude around, I’m all for it.

  21. I don’t understand why there are is no uniformity when covering defective parts from dealer to dealer. I think the dealership would have been more wise to fix the problem due to the potential fallout from other JK members in that area boycotting that dealership. Maybe they should have thought this issue thru- before rendering a no- fix decision.

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