Thursday, July 14, 2011

My Capitol Subaru San Jose Horror Story

Over the July 4th weekend 2011 my battery light came on in my 2006 Forester. When I brought it in to Capitol Subaru in San Jose, CA on July 5, the service consultant Mike Wallace gave me an initial estimate of $145 and said it would be ready that afternoon.

Since I did not have another car, Mike offered me a ride to the public transit station. I chose to walk.

That afternoon Mike called me and told me that the alternator had gone out and they did not have a replacement in stock. He said it would take two days to get a replacement and he did not offer me a loaner car. I was surprised the alternator on a Subaru went out at barely over 70,000 miles. I have had Hondas, Acuras, Toyotas and even Fords, Chevys and Dodges and I never replaced an alternator at 70,000. I was also surprised a dealer did not have that part, that they wanted $750 to replace it, and that it would take two days to get it. But, what really surprised me was that there was no loaner car offered. When I take my wife's Honda in for service, even if it is a matter of only a few hours they always say, "would you like a loaner car Mister Sloan?"

Two days of using public transportation later Mike called again. He said the Subaru part will not be in for ...two months. So, he said, they could put in a third party rebuilt (used) alternator. But, he said, there would be no warranty on the installation. When I complained he said he could give me a 10 percent discount. The cost was about $675 for the installation of a part I could have gotten put in at a gas station. I still do not have my car. It was in pieces at Capitol Subaru. There was still no offer of a loaner. What choice did I have?

I already told them to get me my car, fix it. I also told them I am never buying another Subaru, or going back to Capitol Subaru. The whole situation reminds me of the car dealer in Fargo (reference is to the movie).

I began to wonder if my car would have the undercoating applied when I got there. I am sure their equivalent of "Jerry" has already taken care of it. If I see William Macy in the show room I will know for sure. Even so, as a Honda owner I have NEVER heard of a Honda alternator dying at 70K!

Just got my car. After sticking me $700 for a no warranty alternator I noticed as I was driving home, they didn't even reset my clock in the car. I know it’s a little thing. But, it seemed symbolic. Capitol Subaru, what a joke.

It is still hard to believe they did not have a single new Subaru replacement alternator in the whole US (according to my Mike.) But, they were happy to sell me a rebuilt third party alternator for the same ..price (they charged me $499 for the part) without a warranty. Now, before you say "it's just the dealer." It's who Subaru US authorized to carry their brand. Oh yea, they had me walking on the street and taking the bus and light rail for two days. When I drop off my Honda, I am offered a loaner car; no cost, no question. Subaru offered to give me a ride to the light rail station. I walked.

A week before this happened, my wife and I were talking about replacing her 2004 Honda Accord. We were considering a new Subaru Impreza. After this experience, I would never buy another Subaru again.

Just for grins I checked Amazon for new alternators for my car.....  $185. Then I went to Kragan, they wanted $230 for the part that Capital  Subaru charged me $499 for.  We obviously feel we were ripped off and  got horrible service and are extremely dissatisfied that we were left with a used part and no warranty on the labor.

My letter to Subaru USA, in PDF format, on this subject is here.