Bad Service Kills good brands or why Honda is failing. @honda
Subtitle: Bad service can KILL good brands.
This is the story of a Japanese brand that got no respect, rose to stardom and is now on the way down. Honda…
In a recent trip across the U.S. I had the “opportunity” to observe the grass roots Honda service experience in multiple states. The news is not good.
It’s unusual to be wowed by service personnel…usually it’s the opposite. My most recent is an experience with Honda while driving across the country. I have owned two Honda’s and two Acura’s and my son has two Acura’s and my daughter has a new Pilot. In summary, I have generally been a fan. The product overall is really quite good even though the design can be a little clunky. But overall, a great product. But the service is another story….a bad one.
Before we embarked on our trip from Colorado to South Carolina, I took our Honda Pilot in to get checked out for the trip. The report from my dealer…other than the oil change you needed…everything is great. They remarked “it’s in great shape..it’s clear you really take care of this vehicle.” We have always taken the Pilot to Honda dealers for service. No mention of service notices due etc.
In Missouri, the SRS light came on as my wife turned around in the passenger seat. The manual says this is a safety hazard and should be fixed immediately. In fact there is a service bulletin on this issue that lengthens the warranty on this item(a good thing). We stopped and had the vehicle scanned in Columbia Missouri at the Honda dealer there. They said is was the OPDS unit and it needed to be replaced…they didn’t have one but we could wait there in the middle of the trip for one to arrive in the next day or two.
I had to ask/beg them to see if one was available in St. Louis since I was going that way anyway. They finally said there was and they were waiting for the service mgr there to call them back so we could get it fixed there. We agreed that I would get on our way to St. Louis and they would arrange service and call me on the road. I was outside St. Louis and no call so I called the service department in St. Louis. They answered right away actually and said “No, we don’t have you on the docket and we are booked solid…we might be able to work you in tomorrow”. We decided to keep driving to South Carolina and try to get this fixed in Aiken, SC.
In Aiken, I called the local dealer to see if they had an OPDS unit since the other dealer had already scanned it and diagnosed the problem. They said I would have to come in and have it scanned and they could get an OPDS overnight. I did that, after they scanned it they said they could get a unit in about 5 days!!! Why? I found out it was because it might cost them $20 to have it overnighted. I said I would pay the $20 if need be. They had it overnighted and I came in to have the install done. Three hours later they said…..well, it didn’t work…the sensor must be defective.
I was planning on traveling the weekend and now could not…I didn’t want to keep driving without the airbag working. I asked about a loaner car, “no we don’t do that”, I asked about the manager “He left for the day”. They said they would get a new unit for Saturday. I called in and found a “assistant service supervisor – John” because the real service supervisor was gone for the day and he promised he would ensure the right parts were ordered (doh). OK…..
Saturday AM… No call, so I called them….parts department said the part was in….but I needed to talk to my service rep to schedule service. I was transferred to him…he said “Gee, we are booked up today!” Are you kidding me? This will be the fifth trip to a Honda dealer without getting my SRS fixed and they don’t have room for me? I pressed and they promised to get it working for me so I came in.
Sitting there at the dealer service area and a guy with a Honda shirt comes by..I say…are you John the service guy? He says no…can I help you? He says “John’s not in today….” I tell him my story and he says…”be patient with them…..have you thought about trading your pilot in!!!!!!”. It was a sales guy looking to sell me something after I have made 5 trips to Honda dealers and still have a failing SRS.
I can’t blame this 100% on Honda PRODUCT. I have always been pretty happy with the products…but the service experience has been so bad that I now wonder whether I will ever buy or recommend another Honda product.
Funny, now that Hyundai is HUNGRY to take the market like Honda once was, they seem to be doing whatever it takes. Lexus still seems to be service oriented. Who knows? All I know is that Honda is moving out of my list of quality auto brands.